How to cook with different temperature zones on a Blackstone griddle

How to cook with different temperature zones on a Blackstone griddle

If you’ve ever eaten at a diner or greasy spoon enough times to call it your favorite, you’ve probably taken a seat at the lunch counter a time or two. Sitting at the counter is great if you’re dining solo or don’t want to wait for a table.

But it also brings something that’s not on the menu for the other customers. You get served up a front-row seat to watch an orchestrated dance between the short-order cooks and servers. With small kitchens and big orders, everything must be cooked quickly, efficiently, and be ready to serve at the same time.

The sheer volume of food these places serve is astounding.

They have widely diverse menus and often serve breakfast (along with lunch and dinner) at any hour of the day. A typical order for a table of four could include biscuits and gravy, a Denver omelet with hash browns, a bacon cheeseburger, and corned beef hash with buttermilk pancakes and a couple of sunny-side-up eggs.

If you were to attempt to make this amount of food at home and have it all ready at precisely the same time, you’d need a stove with ten or more burners and you’d have lots of pots and pans to clean up.

So how is it that these places are able to feed hundreds of people a day while barely breaking a sweat?

For starters, they are often cooking on a flat-top grill just like the Blackstone you have at home. But there’s a secret these restaurant cooks have for griddle cooking that may not be apparent to the home cook. The professionals use different temperature zones and you should be too.

What are different temperature zones?

Different temperature zones allow for multiple foods to be cooked simultaneously but at different temperatures. If you were using a stove, you could cook food on all four burners with one on high, one on low, and two on medium heat. But for griddle cooking, it’s a little bit different but far more effective.

How do you set up your griddle for different temperature zones?

Any Blackstone griddle that has two or four burners can be set up to cook with different temperature zones.

You’re basically adjusting the amount of heat, based on what you plan on cooking and the best method for having all of the food ready to serve at the same time.

Let’s say you are making a bacon cheeseburger, for example. There are three things to cook for this dish - bacon, burger patty, and the burger bun. The bacon will take the longest to cook so it gets a head start on the hottest area of your griddle. Set your griddle to a zone on high heat and another on low heat.

After the bacon has cooked for about four minutes, it’s ready to flip. Once flipped, you can move it away from the hot zone and more toward the cooler zone.

At this time, you can also place a little butter on the warm or low zone and begin to toast your burger buns.

With the bacon and buns cooking, drop your burger patty in the hot zone, or where you’ve established as the hottest part of the griddle.

You’ve now got three different foods cooking at three different temperatures and they should all finish cooking at about the same time.

If you establish that the bacon or buns are sufficiently cooked, they can be moved to be kept warm, and placed on a warming rack that sits directly on the cooler side of the griddle.

When the burger is ready put your cheese on it and allow it to finish cooking. When the cheese is melted it’s ready to serve.

Which griddles are capable of establishing different temperature zones?

If your griddle has more than one burner, you can establish different temperature zones for cooking.

Two burner griddles like the Blackstone 22” or the Blackstone 28” are simple to set up. Because there are only two burners, one burner provides the majority of the heat and the other burner is there if you need it.

Four burner griddles allow for more options when establishing different temperature zones. Because you have four independently controlled burners, you can establish one or two burners for the hot zone and adjust the other burners accordingly.

Some cooks like to have all the heat on either the right or left part of the griddle. Others will cook with one or both of the middle burners heating the griddle and leaving the side ones completely off.

Regardless of how you establish different temperature zones on your griddle, it’s a cooking method well worth exploring.

Once you’ve orchestrated cooking with different temperature zones on the griddle, you’re ready for the big crescendo and can serve the food piping hot and perfectly cooked. 

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