We choose food based on our tastes. So, whether it’s the spicy flavor of a sushi roll, the sweetness of a donut’s glaze, or the crunchiness of grilled chicken, enjoying good food can lift your spirits.
Food is much more than it seems on the surface. It is inventive, inspiring, colorful, social, and delicious. However, the greater appreciation for food comes with understanding the different techniques of preparing food. And this comes with choosing the perfect appliance for your cooking style.
The proper stove does not just complete your kitchen. It also opens your imagination in the world of cooking. But most people still find it difficult to nail down the perfect stove, especially when it comes to the French top vs. the griddle.
Today’s post will go deep into these two cooking appliances, tackling what they are, their differences, and how to use each of them.
Without further ado, here’s a quick comparison between the French top vs griddle.
|Material||Steel or cast iron||Iron or steel metal|
|Size||Typically, 24 x 24 inches||Different sizes|
|Cooking Technique||Boiling, simmering, sauteing, etc.||Toasting, frying, searing|
|Portability||No||Depending on size|
What is a French Top?
French tops come with rings with varying degrees of heat. Heat is highest in the centermost rings and least intense in the outer rings. The top’s center usually has an 8–9-inch removable ring, which, when removed, would enlarge the central opening.
When all the plates are in place, you have a flat surface to move pots and pans around.
French tops are excellent for cooking different types of meals at the same time. For example, the center ring is ideal for high-temperature cooking like searing, while the ring next to the center ring is ideal for simmering food. The edges have low heat and are suitable for things like melting chocolate, butter, or sauces.
Because of its flat, smooth surface, you can place pots and pans of different sizes, unlike conventional stoves with burners. As a result, you can have a pot and frying pan side by side with no problem. You can also remove the center ring if you want to use open flames for, say, Italian stir fry in a wok.
Benefits of French Tops
Keep Food Warm
Because of the varying temperatures, you can place cooked food on the outer rings to keep it warm without drying out the food. You can also develop flavor without evaporating the liquids.
French tops save time for those who prepare multiple pot meals frequently. Even better is the fact that they can hold randomly shaped pans. So, say you have a couple of big pots, you can still slip in a small one in between them without worrying that it’s going to draw away heat from the center pots.
Chefs are master jugglers when it comes to moving pots around at superfast speeds. You have no worries about uneven surfaces like a gas stove on French tops. And hey, spilling food is a no-no on French tops.
The indirect heat is gentle on food, so it’s better to hold sauces and food that needs to cook for long periods. It’s also great with cream soups, rice, and other food that scorches easily. This is because you don’t have a blazing flame
Different Cooking Styles
The graduated heat allows you to simmer, saute, and warm your food at the same time. You won’t be fiddling with knobs like you would with burners. Instead, all you do is slide pots around to find the perfect spot for cooking.
What are French Tops Used for?
Large and Elaborate Meals
This type of cooktop is best for meals that require long simmering or preparing food for a large group of people. You can deal with delicate sauces in the less heated areas, warm dairy products on the outer rings without burning them, and simmer or sauté entrée and side dishes in the medium and hot regions.
The dry heat on a French cooktop is an excellent option for sauteing vegetables and meats with a hot pan and butter. It allows food to get a unique brown surface which gives it unique flavors and aromas.
In this cooking technique, you can start soups in the central ring then move it to the middle rings for simmering in the second cooking stage. Its gentle heat will cook food at a temperature below the boiling point.
Disadvantages of French Tops
Different Approach to Cooking
French tops bring restaurant-style features to the home kitchen. Because of the broad range of temperatures and only one knob, you have to find the appropriate heat level rather than setting it. It’s an approach that needs adjustment.
You can’t cook directly on the top
Unlike Teppanyaki grills, where chefs cook directly on the top, you cannot do the same on a French cooktop.
Difficult to Clean
Over time, a French cooktop develops stains from cookware and spills. It isn’t easy to clean, so most people place a decorative metal cover on the cooktop when it’s not in use.
It takes a long time to heat up and cool down
Typically, you have to wait for 15-30 minutes for a French top to come to temperature. It also takes hours to cool down. That’s why it’s not ideal for quick meals or boiling water.
Gas is the only heat source for French tops. Unfortunately, you cannot find an electric French top, so it cannot be used in an electric-based kitchen.
French tops are pro kitchen equipment. They range in price from $10,000 and upwards of $50,000.
Creates Extremely High Temperatures
A French top creates lots of heat that will leave you sweating. This is especially so in a warm climate. Therefore, it needs proper venting to draw out the excess heat.
French Top Tips
Use large, heavy-bottomed pots. Large so that heat does not just bypass the pots but stays within the pot. And heavy to prevent food from scorching easily at the centermost ring.
Also, remember to handle them with caution since cast-iron plates can take an hour or so before cooling off.
Before Buying a French Top
Look for a retailer that offers floor models connected to a gas line where you can do a test drive. Do more than turning the burners on. Fry and egg or melt a chocolate bar and observe if it keeps its shiny gloss or it turns grey.
You can also look for showrooms that host pro techniques and chef demos. Again, it gives a hands-on experience, so you’ll know what to do when you get home.
Choose a Set-Up
Ranges come in four sizes, just like the Wolf or La Cornue French tops. That is. 30, 36, 48, and 60 inches. French tops start at 36 inches, and you can have both the grill and French top on a 60-inch model.
Cleaning a French Top
Cast-iron plates need cleanup pronto to avoid build-up. Use soapy water and avoid abrasives if the top has a ceramic coating. Towel-dry the plate and rub cooking oil to any exposed metal.
What is a Griddle?
A griddle is a large cast-iron or steel metal plate. It can be part of a cooktop/range or a standalone piece of cookware like a non-stick griddle that you heat over a burner. You will also find electric griddles that you plug in and rest on a counter, separate from a stovetop.
A griddle is also heated indirectly from underneath the surface.
Features and Types of Griddles
Griddles have a smooth, flat surface. Most are rectangular, which gives you more cooking space than a cast-iron skillet.
Mostly, stovetops with four burners usually have a griddle in the middle. But, like I said, there are different types of griddles.
Electric griddles are portable since you can use them anywhere in your kitchen and even outdoors for, say, camping.
Cast Iron Griddle
Such griddles are usually reversible with a grill and griddle surface. For example, you can sear food on the grill side with two cooking surfaces and cook pancakes and eggs on the other.
Also called a panini press, a contact griddle can cook food using both sides simultaneously—a small contact griddle designed for one or two sandwiches at the same time or any press-style food.
On the other hand, large contact griddles can fold flat to create two face-up cooking surfaces and can also cook press-style. In addition, they usually include reversible plates for both griddle and grill cooking. You’ll even find some with waffle plates for making waffles.
Cooking on a Griddle
Griddles are good because of their consistent heat across their flat surface.
Griddles are ideal for
- Frying bacon- The smooth rigid side on a griddle allows grease to run down the meat. That’s why a griddle is a better option over a frying pan for bacon.
- Grilling- from steaks to pork chops, vegetables, and even chicken, you can create perfect char marks thanks to the raised edges.
- Toast paninis and grilled ham
- Cook breakfast- It’s perhaps the best-known use for a griddle. A griddle works well for pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and many other breakfast items.
- Hot Sandwiches – Another excellent use for griddles is making burgers, grilled cheese, and many other hot sandwiches.
Benefits of a Griddle
A griddle does not have warm and hot parts. It benefits from even heat distribution that’s why it’s great for cooking items directly on the surface.
Electric griddles, in particular, have a few advantages over a griddle on the stovetop since it does not rely on the heat from the burners on a range. Instead, the cooking surface is heated evenly throughout.
You can control the temperature on a griddle. This feature makes it great for cooking foods that need an exact temperature. This way, you can set the temperature for that food to preserve its flavor. That’s why it’s perfect for eggs, vegetables, and meat.
Easy to Use
There’s no learning curve with a griddle. Unlike other cooking methods like a charcoal grill, they are typically effortless to use, where you need time to master creating a fire and controlling the temperature. In addition, griddles have a large surface area, so you can cook different items at the same time.
You also have more room for error since you can flip pancakes without them falling off.
It comes with a Drip Tray
Another great advantage of a griddle is the drip tray. It comes in handy to catch spillages like grease and extra juices. It reduces clean-up time, so you won’t be spending hours cleaning after the food is ready.
Cooks Almost Anything
A griddle is a versatile piece of equipment. You can cook just about every fast-cooking food. Breakfast and lunch items that don’t need lots of time to cook are the most ideal for cooking on a griddle.
Disadvantages of a Griddle
Food tends to stick on the surface
It’s best to apply a thin layer of vegetable oil with a paper towel to prevent food from sticking. Otherwise, it’s not going to be easy to remove all that stick-on food.
Are a bit pricey
Griddles range in price but tend to be costly the more features you have. Commercial griddles are the most expensive.
It takes long to heat up
You need to wait a few minutes for a stovetop griddle to come to the ideal cooking temperature. Therefore, it’s not the best for cooking one-person meals.
Apart from using cooking oil or non-stick cooking spray to prevent food from sticking to the griddle, you can also create different zones on your stovetop griddle. That is, use the different burner strengths to create hot temperature zones and cool zones.
If your griddle sits over a grill, separate the hot area from the warmer zone. It will allow you to cook at precise temperatures while keeping your food warm while other items are cooking.
Caring for a Griddle and Cleaning
To extend the life of a griddle, it’s best to clean it after every use. When you finish cooking, scrape off the food residue and any food cooked in the griddle. Then, use a damp rag to wipe and clean any remaining food.
Always wear protective gloves because the grill will still be very hot. And finally, before storage, dab a little cooking oil and wipe the excess off with a rag or paper towel. Your griddle will be ready for the next time you use it.
French Top Vs. Griddle – What is the Difference?
The material determines what you can cook on them.
A griddle is used as a plate to cook food directly on it, like eggs and bacon. You can sauté, fry, and grill directly on a griddle.
You can’t cook directly on a French top. You need to use a wok, a saucepan, or any pot for simmering, boiling, sauteing food, etc.
The main advantage of a French top over a griddle is that you can start cooking on high and then transfer the food to the cool area to finish off.
Wolf French Top vs. Griddle
Wolf range is available in three series. All gas, induction, and dual fuel. There are affordable and premium options with BTUs as high as 18,000 BTUs in the premium models. You can have a Wolf range configured with a griddle or French top.
There are a variety of sizes 30, 36, 48, and 60 inches. Unlike most ranges, you will get flame recognition, stainless steel bezels, and an infrared broiler on your cooktop. This brand also touts itself for having the Star-K Kosher certification and exterior trim.
Other personalization options include red or black knobs, natural gas or propane, brass bezels, and even hidden touch control panels.
A pinnacle of cooktops, Wolf, is the leader in high-end kitchen appliances.
French Tops vs. Open Flames
Open flame comes in the form of burners. A French top allows you to cook with several pots simultaneously while you have to dedicate which pot will go to the open flame. Also, for some people, handles of pots on French tops do not get as hot as when the handles have a flame blasting over them.
Since both the French cooktop and griddle are heated from underneath, the flame cannot be seen. This feature makes it difficult to know whether the top is on or not. In addition, it can pose a danger to kids and pets around the house.
French Top vs Griddle -Which one should you choose?
Here are a few things to consider before opting for a griddle or a French top.
Type of Cooking Style
If you like meals with liquids like soups and stews, you should choose a French cooktop. This is because it allows you to cook together lots of ingredients for a considerable amount of time. But if you prefer grilling food and rarely use stir recipes, a griddle is the best option for you.
Number of People
If you need to cook for many people, a French stove is the best option. But if you have only a few people, you can nail meals easily on a griddle.
Griddles are ideal for fast cooking like toasting and flash frying, while a French cooktop is best for simmering, boiling, and melting delicate items.
What is a French top surface?
A French cooktop, also “simmer plate,” is flat and usually made of cast iron.
Is a French top useful?
You can cook multiple pots at different temperatures, making it ideal for foods that scorch easily or soups that need to cook for a long time.
Can you use a French top and griddle interchangeably?
No. Cooking directly on a French cooktop’s surface will damage the metal plate because it is difficult to clean. French tops also have a high heat capacity to withstand hours of simmering. Cooking the same way on a griddle will damage its heating elements because of the hot spots on the surface.
Choosing between a French top and a griddle can be daunting. They are similar in many ways but with distinct features that set them apart. The easiest way to distinguish them is by the tasks you will use them for, the size, and the material.
I hope the above discussion will give you an easy time choosing between French top vs griddle.