The # 1 question most griddle owners ask is about the griddle temperature… Like, “What temperature are you cooking at?” or in different words, “What temperature is your flat top grill?”.
But that’s not a simple question to answer… Instead, it’s important to know a few things about temperatures on your griddle, whether you have a Pit Boss, a Camp Chef, or a Blackstone griddle.
If you’re a flat top grill beginner and you want to know about cooking temperatures on the griddle, then this post is for you.
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7 Things You Need to Know About Griddle Temperatures
1. Your flat top grill temperature will constantly fluctuate.
One of the most popular questions that I get on my YouTube Channel is “What is your griddle temp?”.
But your flat top grill temperature will fluctuate as you’re cooking, so there’s not a cut and dry answer. It’s very difficult to keep your flat top grill at a constant, steady temperature, especially if you’re cooking a lot of food or your griddle will be on for a long period of time.
If I start a cook at 350 degrees, and then I put my food down on the griddle to cook, the flat top grill surface may not reach 350 degrees again for the next 10 minutes of cooking.
Instead, you have to learn to gauge the temperature of your flat top grill, and whether it is too hot or too cold, by how your food reacts. What do I mean by that?
If you put a pad of butter on your griddle top to make scrambled eggs, and it immediately starts to burn and turn a brownish color, then your grill is too hot. You need to turn your knobs to a lower setting before putting your eggs on. On the other hand, if your butter doesn’t start to bubble and melt immediately when you add it to the grill, then your flat top grill is probably too cold.
If you really don’t feel comfortable not knowing the temperature of your griddle surface, you can invest in an instant read thermometer (I’ve got some recommendations at the end of this post!) which will give you an accurate temp reading. However, as you’re cooking on the flat top grill, your griddle surface temp will fluctuate dramatically as you add colder foods and as those colder items come up to temp.
Don’t be surprised if you have to adjust the temperature knobs on your flat top grill multiple times when cooking to account for the temperature fluctuations. Here are some of the variables that affect your griddle temperature:
The Temperature of the Food You’re Cooking Affects the Griddle Temperature
If you’re cooking a steak that has been coming up to temp for about an hour on your kitchen counter, then the steak will be warmer when it first hits the griddle than, say, a couple bags of shredded hash browns that came straight out of the refrigerator. Adding the refrigerated hash browns to the preheated griddle will cause the surface temp to drop, probably pretty drastically.
The Volume of Food Affects the Griddle Temperature
Making fried rice for 8 people? That’s a large amount of food that will probably cover most of the griddle surface, so you’ll probably need to adjust the knobs up accordingly.
2. Preheat your flat top grill on low.
This cooking tip applies to pretty much any cooking surface, not just the flat top grill. Not only is preheating on the “high” heat setting unnecessary, it can also cause your griddle to warp. Instead, just start the grill a few minutes earlier and preheat on low or medium-low while you’re prepping your other ingredients.
In fact, there are very few times over the last two years that I’ve ever turned my flat top grills to high… and that goes for the Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Blackstone griddles that I have and use regularly.
Occasionally when you are cooking a large amount of food that is right out of the fridge, like a lot of marinated chicken breasts, then you will need to turn your grill to a higher temp just for a few minutes to offset the griddle’s drop in temperature caused by adding the cold meat. However, once your grill reheats you should turn it back down to a lower cooking temp.
3. Think of your flat top grill like a giant skillet.
Think about this… Would you ever use an infrared thermometer to get a precise temperature reading of your skillet on the stovetop? Do you pull out a temperature gun and temp your pan before cooking scrambled eggs? Probably not.
Instead, you scramble up your eggs and add them to the stovetop skillet without knowing the exact temperature reading. And then, if your eggs seem to be cooking too quickly, you adjust the temperature knob down or take the skillet off the heat for a few seconds. Or, if the eggs are taking too long to cook, you adjust the dial to a higher setting.
The flat top grill temperature works the same way.
You need to adjust the temperature knobs on your griddle based on how your food is reacting.
In fact, for the first 6 months of cooking on my Camp Chef Flat Top Grill 600, I didn’t even have an infrared thermometer. Instead, I would look for how quickly a pad of butter would start bubbling when I put it on the griddle… or if the butter started to burn immediately.
4. Even on a low setting, your flat top grill will get HOT!
Probably the biggest myth that flat top grill beginners believe is that if the knob is set to low, the griddle temperature will stay low.
But that is definitely NOT the case!
With a gas griddle, if your knobs are on then the gas is always on, whether the temperature knobs are set to low or high. That means that even on low setting, the flat top grill surface continues to heat, getting hotter and hotter.
5. The outside temperature will affect your cooking time and griddle temperature.
If you’re flat top grilling when it’s cold outside, then the temp of your griddle will be colder when you start. It will take longer to preheat the griddle and you may have to adjust the temperature knobs higher to maintain a higher heat.
6. When flipping food, flip into an open area on the griddle.
To best illustrate this flat top grill temperature tip, think about the “cool side” of the pillow. When you get hot while you’re sleeping, you may move your legs or your head to find a cooler spot of the bed. The area where you’re laying in your bed will naturally warm up from the heat of your body. So to find a cooler spot, you need to move to a spot where you were not laying previously.
The temperature of your griddle surface works the same way… just in reverse.
When you’re cooking burgers on the griddle, the area where you put the cold ground beef down naturally becomes a bit cooler. So when it’s time to flip the burger, you should move it to a fresh spot on the griddle where the temperature will probably be higher. Then, you’ll be able to develop a deeper crust, like I did on this cheese-stuffed Juicy Lucy Burger:
7. Griddle temperature does not always matter.
It may sound crazy, but your bacon doesn’t care if it’s cooked at 325 or 375 degrees. Obviously it will take a bit longer to cook at a lower temp, but you’ll still end up with the same result. The same goes for cooking ground beef on the flat top. Certain foods can be cooked in a relatively large temperature range, like 325 – 425 degrees, and turn out just fine.
However, certain more delicate foods that are prone to burning or that cook quickly are better cooked at a lower flat top grill temperature. Things like over easy eggs or pancakes that will need to cook on one side untouched for long enough without burning should be cooked at temperatures under 325 degrees.
How to Control the Griddle Temperature
Now that you understand a few basic principles about flat top grill temperature, let’s talk about how you can control the heat. Because knowing that your griddle is way too hot is one thing, but knowing how to bring the heat down efficiently is another.
Here are some different ways you can control the griddle temperature:
Use the knobs on your griddle.
Turning the knobs to adjust the heat of the griddle surface is the most obvious way to control the temperature. For most outdoor griddles, turn the front knobs counterclockwise to reduce the flame output under the griddle top for a lower temperature. Turn the knobs clockwise to increase the flow of propane, thereby increasing the size of the flame and the heat on the griddle surface.
Try water to lower the flat top grill temperature.
Is your griddle just too hot?
Instead of just saying to heck with it and cooking your eggs anyway (they’ll turn out brown and rubbery), just grab your favorite squirt bottle filled with water and douse your griddle surface for a quick reduction in heat. Simply squirt some water on the surface, and then use a paper towel to wipe it dry before adding your cooking oil or butter.
Just be careful! If the flat top grill temperature is too hot to cook on, then you’ll probably create a lot of rising hot steam when you add the water to the surface… so be prepared and step back a bit!
Turn one or two burners off if needed.
Sometimes when your griddle has been on for a while because you’re cooking a full big breakfast, then the heat just continues to build and your griddle is too hot from all of the burners being on. If that’s the case, you can turn off one or more burners to help adjust the griddle temperature lower.
I’ve had great success with staggering the burners on my 4 burner Camp Chef and Blackstone griddles… So, I would have one burner on low, then the next burner turned off, then the next one on low, and the next one off. This allows you to essentially cut the gas flames in half, which helps to control the temp.
*DISCLAIMER – Just do it at your own risk though! Some griddle manufacturers don’t recommend cooking on the griddle unless all of the burners are in the on position.
My Favorite Tools for Checking Griddle Temperature
Infrared Thermometer Gun
An infrared thermometer like the one I have can be used to gauge the temperature of your griddle quickly, since it gives you an instant temperature reading. Just aim the end of the thermometer at the griddle surface and push the button in to get an instant reading of the flat top grill temperature… or even to find out which beer in your refrigerator is the coldest!
If you’re a griddle beginner, you may be more comfortable with a “temp gun” to help you learn more about the hot and cool spots on your griddle surface. Whatever makes you more confident in your flat top grill skills, I say go for it!
Instant Read Thermometer
A good instant read thermometer is another must have, but not just for flat top grill cooking. You should be using an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperatures of meat, no matter if you’re grilling on a charcoal grill, baking in the oven, or cooking on the flat top.
I like to use an instant read digital thermometer because I don’t have to wait for the temp reading. Instead, you just insert the probe into the center of the thickest part of your meat, and the thermometer will instantly tell you the temp. So if you’re cooking chicken or pork, you can be sure to cook it to a safe temp, and if you’re grilling steak, you can cook it precisely to your desired doneness.
A Pad of Butter
If you don’t want to buy any new flat top grill tools, then you can just use a pad of butter. As I mentioned earlier, a quick and easy way to check your griddle temp is to add a pad of butter to the heated surface. If the butter starts to bubble and brown immediately, then your flat top grill temperature could be too hot for certain foods like eggs. Or, if the butter seems to be melting too slowly, then the griddle is too cold.
My wife cooked her very first meal on the griddle recently for our YouTube channel (griddle bacon and eggs for beginners), and she used this butter test to know when it was safe to add her eggs to the flat top grill… and they turned out perfectly!
I hope that this post has given you some good insight into managing flat top grill temperatures! The most important takeaway is to remember that a griddle is pretty much like a giant skillet. Just like when you’re cooking on your stovetop skillet, you’ll probably need to adjust your knobs to get your food to react how you want it to.
And if you have any questions, leave them in the comments section down below! And feel free to tell me what you need help with next… we’re always looking for specific questions from griddle beginners that we can answer in video format on our YouTube channel! Cheers!