Grills & Griddles: An Overview

Grills have heat sources located below the cooking grate and food, while griddle controls determine how much thermal energy is stored.

Light, medium and heavy-duty grills are available in both floor and countertop models, though the most common configuration is a counter-mounted unit on a refrigerated base. Alternate profile models are available for installations with higher counters, different refrigerated bases and operations that need an altered working height.

These units are sized in 1-foot increments, with the most common being 24, 36, 48, 60 and 72 inches. Some grills are sized to accommodate smaller kitchens. Grates on gas-fired units typically measure between 24 and 72 inches.

Grills offer a choice of heat sources, including charcoal, wood, gas or electricity. The majority of commercial units utilize cast-iron radiants, which are durable and emit more heat than sheet metal radiants.

Lava rock or briquette style grills also are available. These units are more popular with display cooking concepts.

While heavy-duty grills can burn between 18,000 and 20,000 Btus every six inches, entry-level units provide 15,000 Btus in the same amount of space. There is typically one burner for every 6- to 12-inch width of cooking grate area. Cooking temperatures typically range between 450 and 850 degrees F.

These units' exteriors are typically made of stainless steel for ease of cleaning. Aluminized steel burner boxes and chasses provided added strength and corrosion resistance.

Grill grates are constructed of either cast iron or fabricated steel. Reversible grates offer an inclined position or a mechanical adjustment to provide greater flexibility to compensate for temperature variances across the cooking grate.

Like grills, griddles can be mounted on stands, refrigerated bases or other pieces of equipment. Countertop models also are offered.

Griddles can run on electricity, gas or propane. Gas units generally have a rating of 20,000 to 30,000 Btu per hour per burner. Electric countertop models run from 8 to close to 33 kph.

Griddles have flat or grooved plates that measure from 2- to 6-feet wide and 18- to 30-inches deep. These are generally ½-, ¾- or 1-inch thick.

Burners on these units are either manually or thermostatically controlled, with either spark or electronic ignitions. On thermostatically controlled griddles, the thermostat is typically located in 1- to 2-foot intervals.

Griddle plate surfaces are constructed of cast iron, polished steel, cold-rolled steel or a chrome finish. Cabinets can have either welded or bolted frames.

The type of controls helps determine how much thermal energy the griddle can store and how quickly the griddle plates transfer heat to the product for cooking. Manual griddles with gas valves across the front can reach temperatures in excess of 800 degrees when run wide open. Electronic controls provide faster temperature recovery.

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