Author Archives: Josh Hull

How To Find a Griddle You Will Love

If all goes well, you will be spending a lot of time with your griddle. With a few nuggets of wisdom in your back pocket, you can find a griddle you will love, and that will last you a long time. Every grill or griddle manufacturer has to make compromises in order to sell their product at the price consumers are generally willing to pay for grills and griddles. The less you pay for a griddle, the more likely one or more of these things can become an issue. I’d recommend either getting your hands on the griddle your’e thinking about buying to actually touch and feel it, or taking the advice of a trusted friend.

In this article, I’m going to reflect on my experiences with three units:

Here are the things you should pay attention to:

1. Sheet Metal thickness, and structure

Sheet metal is the main way manufacturers construct the body of the griddle. This can be a positive or negative based on the design choices they’ve made. Sheet metal can be very strong when reinforced properly. It can be pleasant to handle, and totally adequate for the purpose of holding up a very heave piece of cold rolled steel:

First take a look at where you will be handling the griddle to move it. On my char-griller, the wheels aren’t very good, which makes it difficult to move. They didn’t build any handles into the griddle for the purpose of moving it. Therefore, I have to hold onto the side tables to push it in and out of my garage for use. Every time I do this, I can feel the sides flex, and the shelves bend up a touch. It’s thin enough to bend back, but you know that flex is going to weaken the metal, and eventually screws are going to start pulling through.

Where do you push and pull??? They forgot about that part!!!

Secondly, the shelf I have to grip to move it has a hole cut out near the griddle that seems like they intended that to be used as a handle to pull it, but the metal is so thin that its very uncomfortable because it cuts into my hand (not literally cutting it, but making a crease, you know?)

Contrast this with my pit-boss smoker, it has a handle fashioned specifically made for moving the unit. They didn’t just present a piece of sheet metal, but instead folded a hefty square tube of metal and wrapped it at the edge of the unit so you’re using it to lift and move the heaviest part. This is critical for that unit, because it’s VERY heavy since it’s made with thick steel instead of flimsy sheet metal. But it highlighted the reality that the griddle could have a handle strong enough to move the unit.


The 28″ Blackstone has a tubular handle which is used to move the unit. Amazing. In addition to that, the shelf is thick enough metal, and strong enough to be used to push the unit without any flex. If you take a look at the 36″ models you’ll see they’ve made the shelves very deep, and I think that’s partly to add structure so that they are rigid and capable of being used to push it.

Then look at the internals. When you remove the top to maintain the unit, are your hands in danger because of the thinness of the edges? Does it have doors, and do they bend and flex easily? Again, char-griller’s flat-iron has thin sheet metal, and its not confidence inspiring. The Blackstone’s thicker sheet metal is thicker, and the edges seem to be more rounded.

Third, check out the base. Do the castors connect in a way that puts the weight directly down from the frame into the wheels? My Char-Griller does not, and the thin sheet metal did not support the wheels as I try to push it in and out of the garage. I’ve actually replaced the castors and added some support to make this work better because those connections are so bad in the thin sheet metal. I’m not sure thick sheet metal would have lasted much longer, it’s just a bad design decision.

Can you see that flex? And that’s after tightening it.

The big loser in this category: The Char-Griller. Not surprising for what I paid for it. I think it was around $400, and it had a lot of great features. You can tell those features came at a cost, and I’m still not sure I am happy with that compromise.

2. The Right Features

When I upgraded to the Char-Griller 36″ Flat-Iron model, there were a few stand-out features that I consider to be game changers now that I’ve had a summer of operation with it.

In every model of griddle, there tends to be extra fluff here and there. The best you can do is pick the model with the right compromises. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a “perfect” griddle out there yet.

First, look for a model with a lid that hinges. It won’t hinge exactly like a propane grill, it will likely have an articulating, double arm mount because of the constraints of swinging back over the top and staying rigid. I love the lid on the Char-Griller. It has been a major benefit to my cooking, and to keeping a clean surface. It provides a decent amount of heat retention which helps with pre-heating, as well as with steaming up your food.

Second, find something with wind-guards. I’m not sure why Blackstone hasn’t gotten in on the wind-guard game. Maybe there’s a patent out there preventing them. It’s a darn shame. As a consolation prize from them, they offer an add-on wind guard. The integrated wind guard on the Char-Griller was a huge improvement for me, and the main reason I chose the it as a replacement for my smaller Blackstone griddle. The Char-Griller wind guard wraps up and overlaps the sides of the steel top. This effectively blocks all wind, and makes for a MUCH quicker pre-heat, and more consistent heat retention. I can tell you from experience that it really works, and its worth it.

Third, the “condiment tray” on the front of the Char-Griller is awesome. Somehow they’ve managed to block most of the heat from reaching the front-apron tray, which means you can keep plastic bottles there without melting them. I’ve melted a few bottles on the Blackstone getting them too close to the grill top on the side-tray. Another benefit of the wind-guards is they shield the side trays from heat! The front tray is even cooler, it keeps the oil, water, liquid smoke, etc at a nice reasonable temp, and right at hand to be used when you need it.

3. Grease Management

Each griddle manufacturer has to make the difficult choice of what grease management option to use.

First try to find something with a grease trap in the rear. Blackstone seems to have patented the rear grease trap. In my opinion, that’s the best, and offers the optimal movements and direction for cleanup.

Second, if you can’t get that, go for the square hole in the top, near the front. It’s not ideal, because some of the movements you have to do to bring the grease to the trap with a spatula are in danger of bringing the grease to YOU! I am always paying attention to the direction and flow of the grease on my Char-Griller. The grease hole square is front-left. It works. It’s fine. You can’t cook in that corner. I don’t love it, and it even has the added downside of having the trap-way mis aligned with the actual bucket so grease has gotten further down the cabinet and into the wheels. YUK.

Avoid at all costs: The front grease gutter. All the worst parts are present here. For one, you are DEFINITELY bringing grease and crud dangerously close to the edge. My in-laws have a griddle with this grease management strategy. Other than that it’s a beautiful griddle. The worst is that there is a small hole at the end for the grease to flow through, and that gets clogged. The horror!!!


  1. If you have the money, stick with Blackstone 36″ with hood from Lowes. Why there is a different model at every store beats me, but this one is the best blend of features and price I’ve seen. There’s no wind guard, but you get an attached lid, front condiment tray, solid construction, good wheels, rear-grease management, and the company is awesome.
  2. If you can’t find the Blackstone, or you live in a windy place, see if you can find the 36″ Char-Griller with wind guard and lid. Sure, the sheet metal is flimsy, and you’ll wonder how long it’ll last. But as a first-entry into the world of griddles, it’d be hard to beat the flat-iron for the features it provides. Menards often runs an 11% rebate, so you can pick it up for around $360 if you factor that in (which I don’t… I’m so bad at the rebates).
  3. And the best option of all is to go and explore! go out to Lowes, Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Or whatever local store is selling griddles right now. Look at the features I talked about in this post, and figure out what makes the most sense from what’s available for you today. I certainly have not gotten my hands on every brand of griddle. I’m attempting to work my way into more of them, so that I can compare and contrast with more knowledge, and fewer assumptions.

Why Every Family Should Own A Griddle

A propane griddle is like a secret weapon. It gives you shortcuts, and hacks you never knew you needed. Parents need every advantage they can get, and a griddle is just the thing for meal time.

I consider myself somewhat of a seasoned veteran of family meal prep. With over a decade of family meal prep, and five kids under my roof, I have suffered through enough dishes, tantrums, and exhaustion to know this is serious. We need all the optimizations we can get!

Another facet of this discussion is my love for lean manufacturing principles. I love the philosophy of continuous improvement. I like Paul Akers’ commendation to sweep, sort, and standardize your workspace. I think 2 second improvements every day will yield huge benefits long term. When I see a strategy that will improve something significantly, I jump on board.

I’ve been cooking meals on the 28″ Blackstone griddle for three years now. After the first year I gave away my standard propane grill. Now at the end of my third summer, I realize I haven’t touched the charcoal grill in over a year. It’s time to dial it in further, and give that way.

Three years in, I can easily say this is the most beneficial cooking device possible for our family. In the summer there have been weeks we cook every meal on the griddle. In the winter, I keep it at the ready, and cook often from my garage (which I would never attempt with the grill, mind you). Why is it good for a family? Lets explore the ways:

1. It makes it easy to cook a multi-course meal on one surface.

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we have many meals that can be done exclusively on the griddle. The fact that you won’t be losing anything through a grate opens up a whole world of possibilities. Need some bacon for your burgers? Great! Cook up the bacon, and then cook the burgers in the bacon grease! Cook the veggies next to the burgers, and use that same bacon grease to add a smoky depth to them. Cooking breakfast? Cook a whole batch of pancakes, and then cook a pile of eggs all on the same surface. Lunch, don’t even get me started on the sandwiches you can grill up.

2. It makes it possible to cook a LOT of food at once.

My go-to example for this is pancakes. I used to dread pancake day, because it invariably meant a very long session of cooking pancakes in several pans, a couple at a time. NO MORE My friends! Now I cook a whole batch at once on the giant surface of the griddle. In fact, we’ve resorted to cooking two or three “batches” in one session, which gets us through a meal with leftovers! When you can cook nine or ten pancakes at once, you can blaze through that huge vat of pancake batter.

Veggies are another great example. It’s possible to cook up a family size pile of vegetables, perfectly steamed and browned on the griddle.

Hamburgers? No problem!

Hot dogs? Just put the whole package on the griddle, and let them warm up, and brown. So easy, and you have much more time before they burn, since they’re not exposed to the flame. Who likes charred hot dogs anyway?

3. Cleanup Simplified

Griddle Cleanup is a breeze. Take a few moments when the cook is finished to clean the griddle, and you’re all set. Scrape the burned on food bits off, push it all to the back where the grease tray is, and sometimes add a little oil to layer on the seasoning, and your’e done! Forget all those trays, skillets, etc. Using one food cooking surface radically simplifies the cleanup process, and the fact that it’s so hot, and not electric means you can squeeze on some water to get the food to release, and finish with the scraping and cleaning process.

4. Theatrics with spatulas is fun.

The kids enjoy using the spatulas, and I love impressing them with my fancy hibachi skills. Having two spatulas is highly recommended for the things it lets you do, and on top of that – even the sounds are fun!

5. The food is delicious, and takes less thought.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve delivered a whole meal’s worth of food to the table and had everyone raving over the delicious flavors. It’s a wonderful moment, and a needed win for us. Our kids can be picky which is very frustrating. The griddle has brought peace to our home where there was once strife. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.

The extra bonus is that it’s simple. I don’t think too much about veggies. They just steam for a while, and then when soft, I let them get a little char. Burgers are quick, and finish all around the same time. Planning is easy, There’s just one path. This is the way.

BONUS: reheating food

There is magic in the griddle when it comes to reheating foods. Particularly foods with cheese or crust. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog, but there was a moment I decided to reheat our leftover fancy home made Jalepeno Mac and Cheese on the griddle. That was a good moment. It was borderline heavenly. I’ll leave the results up to your imagination, and a future blog post.

Essential Griddle Accessories

Backyard Propane Griddles are gaining traction in the US for good reason, but recently, I’ve had a number of friends buy one only to be perplexed when their experience wasn’t as great as they had hoped. For every disappointed friend there was a key tool they were missing. I’d like to point you to the essential griddle accessories so your experience is good from the start.

The proper tools can make grilling delightful. The cold rolled steel cooking surface is a powerful instrument that needs a few key items to make it sing.

These are my favorites. I think you would benefit from every one of the things on this list. I’ve put them in order from most essential, to least. Keep in mind: why I don’t use ads, and why I do use affiliate links.

Everyone should have these things:

Spatula & Essentials Kit

You Absolutely need two specialized long-bladed spatulas. These are the undisputed champions of the griddle. I have tried other spatulas a few times, and it just doesn’t compare. Do yourself a favor – if you don’t have two, or any, get this kit. it will be the best $19 you spend.

The two condiment bottles are also game changers. Put some oil in one, and some water in the other.

The scraper… Take it or leave it. I use the spatulas to scrape my cooktop clean most of the time. Every once in a while, the scraper is helpful. It’s also helpful in the kitchen, since it’s essentially a pastry scraper. During the quarantine I used mine to shape sourdough bread. It was fun. Don’t judge.

Tongs are another absolute essential. You probably already have one, so I don’t consider it an essential to include it in a kit.

What to look for:

  • Long, flat spatulas, with heat resistant handles
  • Flip cap on the condiment bottle.
  • Long-ish tongs

Various Options:

Griddle Smith verdict: Must Buy

Long Handled Tongs

Long handled tongs are essential. You probably already have a set for your grill, or for your kitchen. You will need these to make best use of your griddle. If you don’t have one, get any set that’s over 10 inches. These can get really long!

Various Options:

Griddle Smith Verdict: Essential

Steaming / Melting Dome

This is a very close second. This accessory will open up a whole new world to you on the griddle. This is traditionally used to melt cheese on burgers, but it’s far more useful for other things. My favorite way to use it is to steam vegetables or potatoes. This is one of the magical opportunities a griddle will give you that you won’t get with any other backyard grill. If I had my way, I’d have two square ones. I have the official Blackstone melting dome, and it’s well made, and easy to recommend. However, these also look like they would get the job done just as well.

What to look for:

  • Stainless Steel (aluminum gets weird with acidic foods)
  • Handle – (not a knob) The cover will get VERY hot when you’re using it. You won’t be able to use your fingers, and a handle is much easier to use with a spatula or tongs. Get one with a handle.
  • 12 inches, or square. Smaller than 12 inches, and you won’t have enough space to steam veggies, or do other amazing things.

Various Options:

Griddle Smith verdict: Highly Recommended

That’s the end of what I consider absolutely essential griddle accessories. I have advised many friends who are new to griddling to invest in each of these things. The following are still helpful, but not necessarily essential.

You will benefit from these things:

Hard Griddle Cover

If I knew everyone lives where it rains, this would be on my essential list. As it stands, many people rarely see rain, and a soft cover will be fine (although annoying). I have recently migrated my griddle to my attached garage, which is amazing, and another reason to use a griddle. That’s for another post though. Let me tell you why soft covers are annoying:

  • A soft cover will not keep the water out
  • You will have to wait until the griddle cools before putting the cover on.
  • The soft cover will get nasty inside from touching the surface, and the grease trap.

Why doesn’t a soft cover keep the water out? Because the griddle top is flat, with a lip on all four sides, water will pool on the soft-cover. No matter how water proof your cover is, it will eventually wear through and allow water. It might take one month, it might take a summer. It depends on your weather.

Why does it matter that you have to wait until it cools? You will forget to put it back on, that’s why. And it might just rain before you remember.

The hard cover solves all of these issues. No water pooling. No waiting to put it on. Doesn’t get nasty since it’s only touching the edge.

In addition, it can serve as a wind screen, which is very handy if your griddle is in a windy location.

What to look for:

  • Stainless Steel, or powder coated surface
  • Legs to hang off the back of the griddle when in “wind screen” mode.
  • Substantial Handles

Various Options:

Griddle Smith Verdict: Highly Recommended

Cooking Apron

This is getting less “Essential” and more about “Convenience”. But the fact is there is more oil flying on a griddle. Things splatter when you flip them, and move around. An apron can help a ton to keep your clothes from grease, which is hard to get out. I’ve donned (my wife’s) apron a handful of times, and it’s been helpful. On the other hand, I’ve done many griddle sessions without one, and haven’t noticed much staining. Maybe I’m lucky. That said, buying my own nice apron is on my list.

What to look for:

  • Durable, quality fabric that you’ll be glad to wear
  • A style you’re comfortable being seen in
  • easy-on and off. (you won’t wear it otherwise)

Various Options:

Griddle Smith Verdict: Optional

What next?

I’ll keep my eyes out for new accessories and post updated lists of essential griddle accessories as I give them a go. If you feel like your griddle seems underutilized, consider whether one of the accessories on this page would get you past that rut your’e in. It might make all the difference.

Blue Rhino Razor Griddle vs Blackstone

These are two of the three main companies making griddles today. The third would be Camp Chef. Any of the propane griddles from these companies will change your life, so don’t hear me wrong. If you already have one of these, count yourself lucky and enjoy the features of your griddle without thinking twice.

Here, I’d like to outline the differences between Blue Rhino Razer griddles v.s. Blackstone’s offerings, which I would personally prefer, and how you might make a choice between them if you don’t already have one.


One thing I tend to pay attention to is whether a product is a company’s main gig, or a side offering. Take note: Blackstone has built a company on making outstanding propane Griddles. Blue Rhino is a large propane company that also makes griddles and grills. Keep that in mind. What I’ve seen over the last few years is that Blackstone has been rapidly evolving their product line in response to customer feedback.

Blue Rhino “Razor” Griddle

Blue Rhino has three griddles in their product lineup. You’re probably most interested in the large, 36″ model. The specs are largely the same as the Blackstone model, with very few meaningful differences in terms of BTU, cooking area, and materials. I’m going to skip straight to what’s different.

  1. Integrated cover

Notice the latch in the middle. The cover is actually the two side tables folded onto the top. I really like this design.


2. Folding Legs

Blue Rhino’s 36″ model has folding legs to level up the portability. This is similar to the 28″ Blackstone model.

3. A double burner on one side.

This is an interesting design choice. Having a hotter side can actually hinder your cook if you want a uniform temperature.

4. A concealed grease cup under the cooking surface.

Blackstone 36″

One product among many, we will examine the closest Blackstone model to the Blue Rhino Razer. Blackstone’s basic 36″ model.

The 36″ model has a lot of similarities in terms of basic specs.

Blackstone 36″ Propane Gas Griddle (amazon link)

Looks pretty similar, right?

Here’s what’s different:

  1. Rear Grease Management

This is a big deal, because it opens the entire surface for food. You don’t have to worry about accidentally moving a piece of food to the wrong spot. This is one of the changes Blackstone made to their product lineup a few years ago.

2. Upgraded End Table

The 36″ model now has a sweet integrated cutting board, paper towel holder, and garbage bag.

I’d really like to have this upgraded end table.

Side note: this is an example of how the Blackstone company is listening to customers, and making design decisions based on that.

3. A heavy duty propane tank holder.


While both are typically around the same price, and they have the same basic features, there are some differences. You may find one or the other more compelling, but for my money (they are around the same price), if I were buying for the first time and these were my two choices I’d be going with the Blackstone. In addition to their interesting features, Blackstone actually lists the thickness of their cooktop, a hefty 7 gauge steel.

Blackstone 28 vs 36

For me, when it came time to buy a griddle the size was the biggest question mark.  The rest was easy. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re scouring the internet for any nugget of wisdom that will help you decide to choose the less expensive, smaller, more portable 28″. Otherwise, you’ve probably already purchased the 36″ version.

Most of the internet seems to think you’re crazy if you pick anything but the biggest and best.  Before my purchase, I read many “Should I get” threads on forums, and saw all the hyper confident “36 or bust” comments.  Apparently it’s inevitable that for any purchase, you’ll wind up with the biggest model offered by any brand in the end.

I want to share why I picked 28″, my understanding of the differences, and my thoughts on cooking with the 28″ model after two years of use. 

Let’s start with some facts.

28″ specs from

  • 34,000 BTUs of Heat from Two H-Style Burners
  • 448 Sq. Inch Cooking Surface
  • Rolled Carbon 10-Gauge Steel Griddle Top
  • 2 Adjustable Heat Controls with Built-in Igniter

Price in the wild: $175-$275 (depending on season and specs)

36″ specs from

  • 60,000 BTUs of Heat from Four Burners
  • 720 Sq. Inch Cooking Surface
  • Rolled Carbon 7-gauge Steel Griddle Top
  • 4 Adjustable Heat Controls with Built-in Igniter

Price in the wild: $275-$500 (depending on season and specs)


  1. The equivalent 36″ model is usually about $100-$200 more than the 28″ model.
  2. The steel on the 36″ model is thicker gauge. In theory that will retain heat better, for a crustier sear, as well as holding enough heat to blacken a whole pile of food.
  3. The thicker steel, and more burners required will cause you to go through more propane. Based on the BTU capacity, you’ll use about twice as much.
  4. The height of the cooking surface on the 36″ is taller, making for a more comfortable cooking experience. I can’t find the exact specs (I will research and update this), but the reason the 28″ is shorter is that the legs have to fold up, so it is constrained to that height of legs.
  5. Strangely Blackstone says the 28″ model fits more steaks than the 36″ model. I don’t think they meant that.

Now for the subjective reality: I’ve found the 28″ Blackstone to be entirely adequate, and life changing.

I tend to be a minimalist, and I try to be a realist. I try to use the solution that uses the least amount of resources to satisfy the actual requirements (not just things I feel like would be nice). In this case my requirements are this:

  • Big enough size to cook a full meal for my family of 7 (five kids). This means 10+ burgers, or brats and veggies, or any other various combination of things.
  • Small enough to be out of the way when not in use.
  • Tall enough to be comfortable to cook on.
  • hot enough to get a great sear.

And the reality is: I’m on the fence. I think the 28″ is worth far more than its $175 price tag. If I were to make the purchase today, I would buy the version called “Griddle Station with hood”. And I’d again be conflicted between getting the $500 36″ version, and the $275 28″ version. If I had to guess, I would predict I’d again end up with the 28″ version. If I had someone buying it for me, I’d take the 36″ version. If I were spending my own money, I’d buy the 28″ version. It’s an easy choice. At $275 It’s far superior to every grill in its price range.