Why this steel? Cold Rolled Steel and Griddles

Who uses it?

You will often see “Cold Rolled Steel” in the marketing of various griddle makers. For example, at the Blackstone homepage, they write:

Forged with the sturdiest cold-rolled steel to last a lifetime

blackstoneproducts.com

Camp Chef merely mentions it in the “features” of their griddle offerings, like the Flat Top Grill 900.

Cold rolled steel griddle

Camp Chef

Interestingly, the Blue Rhino marketing is devoid of the claim of cold rolled steel. https://www.bluerhino.com/products/grills/razor. Nor do they suggest that it’s a stainless steel. Blue Rhino leaves that question unanswered. Even at the Lowes listing for the Blue Rhino Razor, it merely says “Rolled Steel”. Only in the “Specifications” section on the Lowes page does it say cold rolled steel. Who knows.

Before researching for this article, I assumed all griddles were made of cold-rolled steel. That is not the case!

What is Cold Rolled Steel?

Cold rolled steel is different because of the extra processing done to it rather than the actual chemical composition or grade of the material. Various steel manufacturers websites like “Metal Supermarkets“, explain this process for us. Cold rolled steel is worked a second time at room temperature in order to produce desirable characteristics.

Cold rolled steel is essentially hot rolled steel that has had further processing

Metal Supermarkets

The outcome of that extra processing is a finished product that has tighter dimensional tolerances, slightly higher strength, and more options for surface finish.

Why should we care what our griddles are made of?

It’s the surface we’re interested in.

On a griddle, we need the smoothest surface possible so that food doesn’t get embedded and stuck while cooking. The seasoning process can mitigate these surface imperfections to some extent, because minor imperfections can be filled in by the oil that is heated to the polymerization point. That oil sticks in those holes, and creates a smoother surface.

The seasoning process can only do so much for us though. Cold rolled steel brings us the rest of the way to the finish line.

We also get the side benefits of a very durable, long lasting pice of steel. Along with that comes a slightly higher price tag for the steel, in order to do that extra processing.

Are there other suitable materials for a griddle top?

Alternatives to cold rolled steel are:

  • Stainless steel (Sometimes used on flat-tops in restaurants. This is an even smoother surface, but requires more attention to cleanup. A backyard example is the Blue Rhino Grill Griddle)
  • Hot Rolled steel (Cheaper, rougher unless they’ve done other post-processing)
  • Cast Iron.

Side note on Cast Iron: Anyone who has used the budget friendly modern cast iron knows the process leaves significant roughness on the surface. If you need more evidence, watch this video by Cowboy Kent Rollins. The more expensive brands will do surface finishing of various kinds to create a machined, or sanded smooth surface. This can be a good option, but is more costly, especially at the surface size we’re looking for in a griddle.

What should you do about with this cold rolled steel knowledge?

Look for cold rolled steel in any griddle you’re considering. If you don’t see it in the marketing material, just take a closer look at the surface, and thickness of the griddle top. You might still really like the griddle!

Lastly, let’s all take a moment, and be glad for the Griddle makers who are not just making a very useful piece of equipment, but also one made out of quality materials.

4 comments

  1. Josh! Great Article! Thanks.

    I have a Camp Chef (Cold Rolled) and a Razor/Blue Rhino (Thick Rolled Steel).

    I find the smoother Razor much easier to cook on and to clean up.

    Am I just missing something on the Camp Chef?

    Thanks,

    Jeff

    1. Hey Jeff, that’s a good observation.

      I think the reality is that the type of steel doesn’t dictate the surface finish. I suspect Blue Rhino did a better job of finishing the surface than Camp-Chef for the models you have. Or, possibly the seasoning on your Blue Rhino just happens to have formed a smoother surface.

      I’ve noted there’s a balance. If the surface is too smooth, it doesn’t hold onto the patina/seasoning that keeps things non-stick. If it’s too rough, it drives you crazy because it’s hard to keep clean.

  2. One thing not mentioned is that Hot Rolled is coated with machine oils during the hot rolling process which can be toxic, especially over time. These oils cannot be washed off as they are applied when the metal is hot and, just like seasoning a griddle or pan, that oil is held by the metal.

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