There is a big difference between charring and burning food. Chargrilling enhances an ingredient’s flavour by caramelising its sugars and bringing a smoky taste to every bite. When food is burnt, these sugars carbonise and the taste becomes overwhelmingly bitter. Nobody wants to eat charcoal.
Finding the magic balance between these two states creates a great complexity of flavour. It’s all about those chargrilled lines, so getting the right griddle pan is important.
We tested some of the best griddle pans available ranging in price, size, and specs to help you find the right one for your kitchen.
Ingredients we used for testing included thick strips of chicken in a yoghurt tikka dressing; thickly sliced halloumi; and rounds of aubergine.
We’d usually recommend brushing your ingredients with a lick of oil, just to eliminate any risk of them sticking, but we fried some of ours dry to see how well each pan fared in a non-stick test. Read our griddle pan reviews to see what we found.
Griddle pan reviews: what are the best griddle pans to buy?
Valera platinum induction griddle pan (28cm)
Best overall griddle pan – star buy
- Great non-stick
- Deep ridges and defined lines
- A large pan for storing
At first sight this looks like a regular big pan, but we found it opened up a variety of cooking options. The 28cm square, straight-sided design maximises cooking surface area and would be large enough to grill a whole spatchcock chicken or two aubergines sliced lengthways.
The non-stick coating is PFOA-free and allowed us to flip and manoeuver each ingredient without them sticking. Despite its size, the pan isn’t overly heavy as it’s made from cast-aluminium.
Valira boasts about its diamond polished base for preventing hot spots, and all ingredients we tested were cooked very evenly with clearly defined char lines.
Other brands offered similar capacity but this one pipped them on price. It also has a four-year manufacturer’s guarantee. Suitable for all hobs this pan is a really practical choice, whether you’re cooking for one or a group.
Prestige Stone Quartz Square Grill Pan (28cm)
Best value griddle pan
- Great ridging
- Large capacity
- Big pan to store
The Prestige offers the same size and capacity to the Valeria pan except the sides on this option rise up higher – useful for preventing splashes if what you’re cooking releases a lot of juices.
We were impressed with the practicality of this pan. It was so easy to use. The ridging was wider than others so you don’t get dainty charred lines, but those achieved were even and well-defined. All the ingredients were evenly cooked and did not stick to the pan’s PFOA-free coating.
Deep grooving prevented any ingredients from sitting in their own juices which is what you want for achieving good charring. There are also pouring lips on either side of the pan for draining off excess juices or fat.
The versatility of it being both dishwasher and oven safe up to 180 degrees / gas 4 means you have real choice over what you can cook in this grill pan. But we found that any residue was easily wiped off with warm water which would not only save space in the dishwasher but prolong the life of the pan. A lifetime guarantee also gives peace of mind.
Go Cook Forged Aluminium Grill Pan (24cm)
Best small griddle pan
- Well-spaced ridging
- Only oven proof up to 160-degrees
We particularly liked the grade of ridging on this grill pan which gave ingredients defined and well-spaced charring, making it easy to achieve that professional style criss-crossing.
The Go Cook pan is smaller than others we tested and would make a good grill pan for one or two people. This is reflected by the price. At £22, it’s a good mid-range option if you’re looking for great quality ridging in an easy-to-store package.
The coating is triple non-stick and seared both meat and vegetables well without them sticking. Oven safe only up to 160 degrees, there are limitations with this grill pan, but if you’re only really looking for a stove-top pan, this will do the job nicely. The Go Cook has a 2-year guarantee and is suitable for all hobs. You can also chuck it in the dishwasher after use.
Available from: British Online Supermarket (£33.15)
Zyliss Cook Square Grill Pan (26cm)
Best griddle pan for fat-free cooking
- Good non-stick coating
- No oil or butter needed
- Ridging too shallow for good drainage
Zyliss has used ROCK-PEARL non-stick technology by Ilag on this grill pan which feels slick and glass-like to the touch. It’s PTFE and PFOA free and food slides off it without needing any persuasion or prior-greasing.
Although Zyliss says it’s safe to use metal utensils, we’d recommend sticking to wooden or plastic, just to help prolong the life of your non-stick pans. This one comes with a 10-year guarantee which is good for peace of mind.
A soft grip handle adds to the ease of lifting this pan with damp or wet hands. It’s suitable for all hob types including induction, and is dishwasher safe, although you can clean it easily by wiping with warm water.
M&S Stainless Steel Non-Stick Grill Pan (27cm)
Best grill pan for a stainless steel collection
- 25-year guarantee
- Small surface area for charring
Made of stainless steel, the pan looks stylish with a long metal handle that sits comfortably in the hand.
It can withstand oven heat up to 240 degrees which is useful if you’re cooking steaks that want some extra oven-time after being seared in the pan.
Despite its large size, the circular design of the grill lines means there’s quite a lot of drainage space around the pan’s edges. Its ridging produced professional looking charring on all the ingredients we tested, so it impressed in terms of performance.
Being dishwasher safe gives this grill pan an additional element of practicality.
Available from: M&S (£32)
Tower Cerastone Grill Pan (24cm)
Best cheap grill pan
- Good non-stick coating
- Not suitable for oven or grill use
Tower’s grill pan has a Cerastone ceramic coating which gives it really effective non-stick qualities. The smallest layer of oil or butter will suffice when using this pan for long periods of time but we chose not to use any and our ingredients could be flipped and maneuvered without any problems.
The pan is limited in that it can’t be used in the oven or under the grill. If you don’t mind transferring ingredients into an alternative dish for further cooking in the oven, however, then this pan will give good charring prior to that. A soft-touch silicone handle makes lifting and moving this pan nice and easy, plus, being small, it’s also lightweight.
Hand washing will prolong the life of the non-stick, but if convenience is your top priority, this grill pan can be put in the dishwasher. It’s a great one for getting started with grilling.
Le Creuset Signature cast iron grillit
Most iconic grill pan
- Life-long use
Le Creuset is known for its classic, hard wearing designs and the Signature Cast Iron Grillit is built to last.
Add a light layer of oil to the pan to heat before placing ingredients onto the ridging to help build the pan’s non-stick surface. The more you use this grill the better its natural patina will become to help enhance its searing capabilities.
Once heated up to temperature, you can seal meat and veg quickly to lock in flavour and moisture whilst also giving slices those iconic griddle marks. The Grillit is heat resistant up to 250 degrees making it a versatile option if you’d like a pan you can move from stove top to oven or BBQ.
Being cast iron, this grill pan is a weighty piece of kit and quite difficult to lift by its short handle alone when full. The additional handle on its far side makes moving the pan far easier.
Why buy a griddle pan?
While a good non-stick frying pan should heat to an adequate level for flash cooking, a ridged griddle pan has the edge (quite literally) and it can be used for plenty of other ingredients aside from steak.
A griddle pan’s design allows for a chargrilled finish complete with darkened, seared stripes and juicy, speedily cooked meat, fish or veg that’s not suffered any flavour-sapping, lengthy cooking.
This is thanks to a griddle’s weight – its heavy base conducts heat quickly and retains it efficiently – plus the beamed surface raises the ingredient from the base so it doesn’t steam in its own liquid.
Some griddles are designed so that the space between ridges act as channels for rendered liquids that then spill down to a little moat that runs around the edge of the pan.
Which griddle pan should I buy?
Choose the size of pan according to the number of people you generally cook for, but if you can’t find one large enough to feed a family of five in one go, remember that meat needs resting anyway, so pop it in the oven while you sizzle the rest.
Weight is more or less a personal preference, but heavy-duty griddles may be more durable than those with a thin base, as repeated use can cause metal to buckle, plus big cast-iron pans can usually withstand more knocks, bumps and scrapes.
What we looked for in our griddle pan reviews
Heat conduction: A pan that gets super hot, super quickly.
Heat retention: One which doesn’t lose any of its heat during cooking.
Non-stickability: While it’s important to oil your ingredients well to avoid them sticking, regardless of your pan, some griddles have better non-stick coatings than others. As well as steak, we tested halloumi cheese, which has a pesky habit of latching to pans like a limpet, making it a good gauge for a pan’s non-stick credentials.
Grade of ridge: To get the perfect striped finish on your food, ridges should be high and sharply defined.
Drainage: We looked for additional drainage channels, such as sloped sides or moats.
Weight: Not everyone has the wrist strength to haul around heavy griddles, so we looked for a range of pans, including lightweight versions that worked just as effectively as their heftier counterparts.
Oven-proof: A grill that can go from hob to oven gives you great flexibility over what you can cook in it.
Dishwasher friendly: purely for convenience, it’s sometimes nice to pop a dirty pan straight into the dishwasher and let the machine do the rest.
Top tips for griddling…
Food editor Barney Desmazery gives us his top tips for using your griddle pan…
- The golden rule of griddling is to oil the food, not the pan. There’s no point in adding oil to the pan as it’ll drain away between the ridges.
- To clean non-stick griddles, leave them to cool then wash in soapy water – don’t use anything too abrasive.
- Avoid griddling anythig with a thick, paste-like marinade as it’ll just stick to the pan and burn. Oil or citrus-based marinades are fine, just drain them first.
- The key to stopping food from sticking to cast-iron griddle pans is to make sure they are well-marked before trying to lift them or turn them. The ‘char’ marks form a layer between the pan and food that will mean it should come away from the pan easily. To get a criss-cross pattern, turn your food 90 degrees once initially marked and to get a diamond pattern turn it about 50 degrees.
- A lot of griddle pans are ovenproof, which is really useful if you’re cooking things like thick pork chops. Make sure the pan is really hot when you place it in the oven so it carries on marking the food while it roasts.
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This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
What griddle pan would you recommend? Leave a comment below…