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Charcoal BBQ vs. Blackstone Griddle cooking

BBQ is as American as apple pie - it’s friends and family together for delicious meals. Barbecuing has existed since ancient times, and it became a favored family custom with the invention of backyard grills in the 1940s. Most people think of grills when it comes to BBQ, but flat tops can also be used for these dishes. Griddles have even heat distribution to sear, simmer, and sauté meals. Enthusiasts pick this appliance for outdoor cooking for its efficiency and versatility to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. And it locks in the flavor since there are no leaks of juices and sauces through grates.

What is a Grill?

A grill is an appliance that cooks meals with direct or indirect heat. Fire from charcoal, wood, pellets or propane bring up the temperature of grates, which cook meals slowly.

A Brief History of the Grill

Grilling is a cooking method invented by the Arawak natives during pre-colonial times. These people from South America and the Caribbean roasted meat on wooden grates over an open fire. The Spanish adopted this invention and gave it their own name - barbacoa. This became “barbecue” in English, along with the “BBQ” abbreviation. The BBQ is a worldwide custom, with different dishes and styles from country to country. In Brazil there’s the Churrasco with all you can eat buffets; in Argentina, there’s Asado with sausages and pork; and in the Koreas, there’s Galbi with marinated pork and chicken dishes. BBQ got closer to the family cooking experience in the 1890s thanks to Edward Kingsford. He decided to reuse wood scraps that were going to waste from a factory and turn them into charcoal briquettes. These later were sold to feed the fire for grills.

Man cooking on a charcoal grill in the 1950s

And after the Second World War, the USA went through an economic boom. People started living in the suburbs, and that’s when backyard cooking became popular. The first type of grill was the Brazier Grill, an iron pot for the fire with a steel grill plate on top. Brazier grills had a problem cooking during windy days, so this lead to the invention of the Kettle grill with a lid for even heat distribution and to protect the flames.

What Are the Types of Grills?

There are several types of grills, but to keep things simple we will consider as grills only cookers that have grates.
  • Brazier Grill: a pan of charcoal with a spherical metal grate on top
  • Kettle Grill: a lower chamber with charcoal, a metal grate, and a lid for even heat distribution.
  • Pellet Grill: a grill fueled by a fire box fed by wooden pellets.
  • Ceramic Grill: a ceramic shell with a lower charcoal chamber, metal grating, and lid. Retains heat more efficiently than the kettle grill - up to 750 °F.

What is a Charcoal Grill?

A Charcoal Grill is a cooker that uses heated coals to cook food. It’s the most popular type of grill for backyard cooking in the USA. The food is cooked indirectly, and the smoke gives it a distinct BBQ flavor.

What is a Griddle?

A griddle is a flat top made of stone, brick or metal. Most models use charcoal or gas.

A Brief History of the Griddle

Griddles were used by ancient peoples worldwide to cook meals that need a flat surface. In Latin America, the first griddle was the buldare for tortillas and arepas (a thick corn pancake). In Scotland, there was the girdle: a flat disk hung over an open fire to cook scones, pancakes, and oatcakes. Modern griddles are made with metal - usually steel or iron. Restaurants used them first because of their even heat distribution and flat surface. It’s the most efficient way for cooking batter dishes, such as pancakes, without the food falling down the grates. And seafood venues prefer flat tops since exposure to open fire from grills can ruin some dishes.

What Are the Types of Griddles?

Flambé cooking on a Japanese Teppanyaki griddle

  • Comal: a traditional flat griddle from Central America made of clay or cast-iron. Latin Americans pass it down from mother to daughter still today.
  • Teppanyaki Griddle: a flat top made of steel for cooking Japanese Teppanyaki style dishes, such as yakisoba and monjayaki (batter mixed with meat and vegetables).
  • Tava: an Asian griddle used in India, the Caucasus nations (Azerbaijan, Georgia), and South-east Asia. It has a convex surface and is used to cook flatbreads and pancakes.
  • Blackstone Griddle: a flat top made of cold-rolled steel with up to 36” of cooking space. Used to cook meat with steakhouse flavor, veggies with Asian marinade, pancakes for breakfast and even more. Used in backyards, tailgates, campsites, and the wilderness by people worldwide.

What is a Gas Griddle?

A gas griddle is a flat top made of metal that uses propane as a heat source. Gas heats up quicker than other sources, such as charcoal and electric. The heat distribution is also the most even since the gases form an equal film beneath the flat top.

What Are the Grill BBQ Cooking Styles?

  • Smoking: The traditional BBQ technique that cooks meals slowly for several hours with a smoky taste.
  • Roasting: Cooks meals quick with high flames. Cooking is faster than the smoking method, and sometimes meals get direct contact with the fire.
  • Braising: A pot is placed on the BBQ grill for this technique and is ideal for meals with sauce. You can grill the meat on the grate first, and then add it to the pot later for extra taste and softer texture.

What are the Griddle BBQ cooking styles?

Seared burgers with cheese and toasted buns on a Blackstone Griddle

  • Sautéing: Cooks food with high heat and little oil. Ingredients have to be tossed around, so they don’t burn.
  • Toasting: Food is browned on dry heat with no oil. Ideal for people on a diet, since this technique reduces the fat from the food.
  • Simmering: Food is cooked on water that’s just below boiling point.
  • Shallow frying: Fries meals with little oil on a flat top.
  • Blackening: A style from Louisiana that cooks meals with butter, herbs, and spices. Food gets blackened and has a caramelized taste.
  • Searing: food is cooked quickly on high heat to form a caramelized crust.

What Meals Can You Cook on a Grill?

Chicken Legs on a charcoal grill

Grills can cook any ingredient that fits on the grates. It’s best-suited for dishes that won’t rot or get spoiled outdoors since it can take hours to prepare the grill and start cooking. In the case of a brisket, it takes an hour to cook every pound of meat. Most dishes take half an hour, which means you have to cook ahead of time - and not be dying of hunger. Also, most BBQ grills use charcoal, which doesn’t provide consistent heat and can not light up if the weather is humid. This means you have to be careful while cooking not to leave any parts unexposed to the heat. And if the charcoal isn’t lighting up, you’ll need a chimney starter to make sure the flames ignite.

What Meals Can You Cook on a Griddle?

Burgers, peppers, onions, and mushrooms cooked on a 36” Blackstone Griddle

Griddles cook a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes but are most suitable for ingredients that cook well quickly at high temperatures. Griddles are flat tops that cook full-course meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are the most versatile outdoor cooking appliance because of the consistent heat without any grates. For breakfast, you can cook batter for crepes, pancakes, and waffles. For lunch, cook up steak, sausages, burgers, and corn on the cob. Then for dinner, you can make things fresh with griddled fruit, skewers, and toasted bread. Griddles are the premium choice for steakhouses because of their searing capacity. The flat top locks in the juices for meatier flavor and a seared, browned crust. Seafood venues also use griddles because of the even heat distribution and no flare-ups, which can ruin dishes.

What Is the Blackstone Gas Griddle?

Blackstone Griddle with the Surround Table Accessory at a tailgate party

The Blackstone is a gas griddle that comes in commercial-grade sizes of 36” for your home use all the way to the 17” table top to take outdoors. It’s cooks up to 28 burgers on a single go on the biggest model. And even the smallest model cooks up to 12 eggs at once. All on the same heat with the same, delicious flavor. The products are made by a family of outdoor cooking enthusiasts that wanted to bring the professional cooking taste to the backyard. Every product goes through a series of tests with technical experts, and then test drives with our customers. Blackstone takes care for no product to have issues, but if there’s a problem, it’ll come up with a fix. The goal is to make your cooking easier, quicker, and better.

Which Comes on Top - the Griddle or the Grill?

In terms of versatility and performance, griddles win. Griddles have the same heat distribution every time thanks to propane gas. Unlike charcoal, the BTUs don’t go up or down unexpectedly. And they have precise temperature control with fully-responsive knobs - outdoor cooking enthusiasts can sear meats on high heat and slow cook vegetables at the same time. Also, gas griddles are more reliable when out and about. No worries carrying heavy bags of charcoal, having to light it, and spend hours waiting for the flames to heat up. Gas Griddles only require a propane tank and light up in an instant. And griddles come in all shapes and sizes for high portability. From 17” Table Tops and 22” Table Tops to Tailgater Combo griddles that cook up meats, vegetables, eggs, and pancakes in the campsite, tailgate party, and the woods. Grills might come on top when it comes to flavor for fans of smoked, slow-cooked meals. But griddles from Blackstone can work as a grill too with the grill box add-on. And with the smoke hack, griddles can provide smoky taste to food: torch up some applewood chips on tin foil and then cover it beside the food with a basting cover.
The conclusion is that griddles can do anything a grill can, with more cooking possibilities.