Griddles -- They're Hot
By Charles Passy
4 January 2008
The new year may be as good a time as any to start giving breakfast its proper due. But how are we going to progress beyond quick and easy solutions like Pop-Tarts and cold cereal?
The short answer: Consider buying an electric griddle.
These classic countertop kitchen appliances, typically designed to offer more room for cooking pancakes, eggs and such than your standard frying pan, seem to be making a comeback. BroilKing, an appliance manufacturer in Winsted, Conn., has expanded its line of griddles in the past couple of years, including one with a splatter guard. And Presto, a century-old name in appliances, has added three new models. Presto spokesman Don Hoeschen says the appliance's continued appeal has a lot to do with its versatility, noting that griddles come in handy beyond the morning meal. "You can use them for grilled-cheese sandwiches, too," says the executive with the Eau Claire, Wis., company.
We wanted to see how some griddles handled the familiar American breakfast spread of pancakes, eggs and bacon. (OK, it's a little on the heavy side, but you can always opt for healthier substitutes, like turkey bacon and egg-white omelets.)
In the case of the Rival griddle we tested, we nearly went hungry. The appliance didn't heat up as well as the four other models we tried and it never got our bacon crispy enough. (And the pancakes came out more like sponge cakes, according to our nine-year-old taster.) A West Bend model performed better in the cooking department, but had other significant flaws, such as a hard-to-turn dial and a narrow frying space (so much for fitting all that bacon on it). Hamilton Beach's Jumbo Griddle came close to the mark, but still didn't quite hit it. The culprit? A drip tray difficult to pull out.
But two griddles made a strong impression. Presto's Tilt'nDrain BigGriddle ($39.96), our pick for Best Value, was 23 by 17 inches, big enough for about 12 modest-sized pancakes. It also gave us the option to position the grilling surface flat or at a bit of an angle, good for anything greasy. Our Best Overall, BroilKing's Professional Griddle ($99), had the edge, with its solid construction -- the handles are stainless steel -- as well as a splatter-guard feature. And at 21 by 12 inches, it still had enough room for all our pancakes -- at least until the call came for seconds.
BroilKing Professional Griddle (model PCG-10)
$99; standard shipping cost $19
The Good: A sturdy model, constructed partly of stainless steel, that made
the other griddles feel lightweight by comparison. Splatter guard, easy-to-
grip handles and relatively large size (21 by 12 inches) were other plusses.
The Bad: It was more than twice as expensive as other griddles on the
The Shopping: A similar model, minus the splatter guard, is available for
Presto Tilt'nDrain BigGriddle (model 07046)
$39.96; standard shipping cost $10.30
The Good: At 23 by 17 inches, this griddle could handle enough to feed a
small family. And the unique tilting system gives you the choice of cooking
with the surface flat or angled.
The Bad: Not dishwasher safe; this was also true of the BroilKing and
Hamilton Beach models.
The Shopping: As always, there are different ways to go with Amazon.com:
You can buy through them or through other retailers on their site.
(Currently, this griddle is available only through other retailers, priced at
West Bend Electric Griddle (model 76220)
$39.99; standard shipping cost $9.95
The Good: Finally, a dishwasher-safe model. The griddle also cooked
reasonably well, though we would have preferred not feeling the heat
radiating from the surface so much.
The Bad: The narrow, front-to-back dimensions (the griddle measures 20 by
10 inches) made it difficult to position a strip of bacon that way. And
temperature dial was the hardest to turn of all that we encountered.
The Shopping: This is the only griddle that West Bend offers on its site,
but it does have a panini press and an indoor grill.
Hamilton Beach StepSavor Jumbo Griddle (model 38510)
$34.99; standard shipping cost $11.20
The Good: Comparable with Presto in quality, though slightly smaller, at 19
by 12 inches. Comes with a handy temperature guide right on the drip tray, so
you know what's appropriate for everything from steaks to eggs.
The Bad: The drip tray was hard to remove.
The Shopping: Well-organized site allows you to shop easily by brand. But
we wish it offered a phone number for customers (Amazon.com has a similar
email-only contact policy).
Rival Digital Griddle (model GR250)
$59.99; standard shipping cost $8.22
The Good: Lots of good features on this 20-by-10-inch griddle, including a
digital temperature setting (our other models were strictly dial-operated)
and removable surface that can be washed separately.
The Bad: If only the thing would actually heat properly. Even when we set
the temperature much higher than the norm for pancakes, we couldn't get
things cooking. The result: "Sponge cakes," to quote our nine-year-old
The Shopping: Griddle is also available directly from the manufacturer at