A flat top grill makes a great choice for simple home meals or outdoor parties with friends and neighbors. But it’s tough to find the best flat top grills without planning ahead or knowing what to look for.
Should you choose a model with a sole burner or up to four? Or do you prefer a gas-fueled unit over an electric one? Those are just some of the things you have to take into account, and there are plenty more.
If you want to get into the details, read on for our buying guide and reviews.
Flat Top Grills Vs. Griddles: What’s the Difference?
Generally, a griddle can cook simple and small items like kebabs or skewers right on its surface. It’s an appropriate choice for couples or small family meals with minimal hassles and adjustments.
Meanwhile, a flat top grill can handle bigger items like steaks and cutlets, as well as heating up cookwares indirectly. It makes a better outdoor cooking option for friends and family with up to 10 people. And you can set different temperature zones on the same surface to speed things up.
To recap: a flat top grill is the best option for huge outdoor parties with lots of people and food. If you have decided that this is for you, read on for our buying guide.
How to Find the Best Flat Top Grill
Looking for the right flat top grill is easier said than done without clear guidance. Here are some of the key pointers you need to bear in mind before making a purchase.
1. Which Is the Right Size?
Factor how many people you’re serving into your consideration. You don’t need to figure out the exact number of attendees, but at least have a ballpark figure in mind.
Anything with a single to double heating elements is enough for two to six people, a typical family. In terms of serving, a tabletop unit should suffice for breakfast staples like bacon slices and omelets of different styles.
Meanwhile, a full-scale model equipped with triple or quadruple heating elements should do it for parties with more than ten attendees. A flat top grill with this much capacity can serve all-time classics like steaks and grilled cheese sandwiches.
2. Types of Flat Top Grills
If we’re going with the size approach, we can classify all flat top grills into portable and full-scale models.
Tabletop models prioritize convenience and ease of use over heating ability. They work well with simple items like pancake mixes or eggs, but that’s about as much as they can handle.
Given their size, tabletop models aren’t meant for cooking a large amount of food at the same time. Still, you can use it for home meals and invite another friend or two over, but no more than that.
On the other hand, full-scale models emphasize their heating prowess and their ability to cook for a larger crowd. With a more expansive cooktop, they can cook larger items that a tabletop model couldn’t, like burgers and hotdogs.
Full-scale models are meant for family reunions or neighborhood cook-offs on weekends while watching the big game on TV. With plenty of food to go around, everyone can always come back for another helping and feel full.
This table can help you narrow down options when navigating the market.
|Tabletop model||Full-scale model|
|Area surface (square inches)||From 200 sq. in to 350 sq. in||From 350 sq. in to 750 sq. in|
|Runs on||Mostly electricity||Mostly gas, electricity|
|Cost||From $100 to $250||From $300 to $500|
|Heat zones||One to two||Three to four (up to six)*|
*: depending on the models.
3. Gas or Electricity
You also have to decide whether to buy a gas-fueled unit or an electric one. But if you are unsure which to choose, here are their pros and cons for your consideration.
More often than not, a flat top grill runs on propane, though there are models compatible with natural gas. With a sparker, the combustible fuels provide these grills with stronger heating potency through intense flames.
If you frequently go camping or picnicking, a gas flat top grill is the obvious choice by a long shot. And since the majority of flat top grills are gas-fueled models, you’d also have an abundance of options to choose.
If the fuel starts to run low, keeping a spare canister nearby for your own convenience is a smart decision.
Electric flat top grills have their merits as well. For one, the plug-and-use design stays true to its name and keeps things simple. These grills preheat fast and evenly, covering spots around the corners and edges.
For apartment- or studio-dwellers who have to settle for indoor cooking, an electric model might be your best bet. And as long as there’s access to a reliable outlet, campers should also consider an electric unit for the road.
4. Heat Zones
To measure a flat top grill’s heating efficiency, you can refer to the British Thermal Unit (BTUs). The higher the number, the more intense the burn rate.
Moreover, the number of heat zones can make a huge difference to your cooking.
One to Two
A tabletop unit limits itself to just one or two heating zones for the sake of compactness. You can use it to cook and stir-fry simple dishes like chicken nuggets or fish sticks and that’s it.
The heating range goes from 10,000 BTUs to 15,000 BTUs per hour. Due to its limitation, don’t count on the golden brown sear marks on the burger patties and caramelized onion.
While two zones may not be a lot, it should be perfect for two to four people. If you’re not planning anything big, then this is as far as you should go for the time being.
Three to Six
A typical full-scale model with three to four burners yields from 30,000 up to 60,000 BTUs per hour. With this configuration, the grill can fit three to six heat zones on the same surface, maximizing every square inch.
You can utilize the zones however you see fit: the most popular uses being for searing, grilling, and warming. Each zone is designated to handle a specific task or certain dish, saving you precious time when cooking steaks and ribs.
If you often hold big cookouts, this is just about the right fit for the occasion. You can use the extra heaters to accommodate a hungry group with up to 15 attendees. That’s about the same number of people at a family reunion or neighborhood welcoming party on the weekends.
The material for the flat top surface bears great importance because it affects the temperature and cooking time. The metal plate often measures 1/16 to 1/18 of an inch thick (or 1.6 to 3.2 millimeters).
Even with different options, some of the most popular materials are:
- Stainless steel: With impressive durability and oxidation resistance, stainless steel is also very easy to clean. Thanks to its weatherproof properties, it’s reserved for premium outdoor cooking equipment.
- Cast iron: Its exceptional heat retention rate makes cast iron a great choice for many appliances. However, it's heavy and prone to rusting, so there’s a coating of porcelain-enamel or ceramic on its surface.
- Carbon steel: Lightweight and inexpensive, carbon steel makes for an economical choice for budget-saving grills. Grill makers often season the carbon steel surface with oil to protect it from discoloration and food sticking.
Reviews of the Best Flat Top Grills in 2021
After navigating and sorting through the market, it’s time to examine our picks for the best flat top grills in detail.
- Blackstone 1554 — Best to Buy in 2021
- Royal Gourmet PD1300 — Best Budget Flat Top Grill
- Royal Gourmet GD401 — Best Portable Flat Top Grill
- Vevor 14” — Best Electric Flat Top Grill
- Cuisinart CGG-888 — Best Propane Flat Top Grill
- Camp Chef FTG600 — Best Camp Chef Flat Top Grill
Read on for our in-depth analysis and reviews.
1. Blackstone 1554 — Best to Buy in 2021
The Blackstone 1554 is a barbecue grill/griddle hybrid that combines and inherits the best qualities from both worlds. With stable and reliable heating as an obvious given, this unit also comes equipped with plenty of other features.
Uniform gas flow
Side tables and cart shelf
Cart design with swivelable casters
Secure propane tank holster
Short warranty (90 days)
Designed for Huge Parties
When assembled, the whole thing measures 62.5 inches long by 36 inches tall by 22 inches wide. And just by the look of it, you can already tell there’s plenty of real estate to work with.
Now let’s talk about its specialties. The rectangular surface offers as much as 720 square inches of cooking area. With that much room, you can fill up the entire surface with 28 burger patties, 16 steaks, or 72 hotdogs.
To put those figures in better perspective, the grill can accommodate up to 20 people.
Powerful Heating Range
With four separate burners, this grill can handle a large amount of food in a short period of time. When dialed to the maximum setting, the quadruple heaters combine for a blazing 60,000 BTUs per hour output.
In case you’re wondering, it's okay if you don’t want to fire up all four burners at the same time. With its own ignition and fine-tuning mechanism, each burner can function independently without interfering with the others.
To save cooking time, you need to maximize the flat top area and all of the burners. If possible, try to divide them into four different temperature zones with designated tasks and items to speed things up.
Without a lid or cover, heat loss to the surrounding environment is a problem during winters. Thus, try to position the grill away from wind and rain.
Blackstone uses rolled carbon 7-gauge steel for the griddle top. Of course, it’s no stainless steel in terms of durability, but it comes close enough nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the body and frame are made from powder-coated steel with weatherproof properties. But however effective that protective coating may be, it’s bound to lose its effectiveness at some point down the road.
The Little Conveniences
To kick off, the rear grease management system collects all sorts of droplets and keeps things spotless. Other additional features include a pair of side tables, a bottom shelf, and a propane tank holster.
As for maneuverability, the whole assembly rests on a set of swivelable casters with locks. You can move the 120-pound grill around smoothly as you would with a shopping cart on the concrete ground.
However, the sole blemish on this otherwise versatile grill is its warranty policy whose 90-day coverage is a major letdown.
The well-rounded Blackstone 1554 is a robust workhorse that can process just about anything thrown in its way. From toasting sandwiches and sesame buns to stir-frying pulled pork, this flat top grill can do it all.Check Latest Price On Amazon
2. Royal Gourmet PD1300 — Best Budget Flat Top Grill
It makes little to no sense to purchase a full-size grill if you only cook outdoors once in a while. Thus, the Royal Gourmet PD1300 here should suffice if you want to keep things straightforward without overspending.
Food sticks to the surface
Small oil cup
Small Cooking Area
The flat surface provides 326 square inches, which is fair enough by any standards. To put it in perspective, the griddle is about the size of two fully spread palms, maybe three at best.
With a limited area, the grill is more appropriate for direct cooking rather than heating up pans or pots. If anything, a skillet alone may take up a large chunk, if not the entirety, of the surface.
But don’t worry, at least kebabs and skewers are still on the menu, which seems like a good bargain. Even though it looks small, you can toss up to 15 burger patties at the same time.
Royal Gourmet has been a reliable brand for years with high-quality craftsmanship, and this model is no exception.
The three stainless-steel burners feel like a strong starting point, followed by the porcelain-enameled surface to prevent rusting. All in all, the whole thing is well-built from start to finish.
To further sweeten the deal, Royal Gourmet offers coverage for the grill and its parts. The burners are under a five-year warranty, while the rest of the assembly is covered by a one-year limited warranty.
Instead of running along the griddle lengthwise, the three circular stainless-steel burners reside underneath the surface in different zones. The burners can either function alone or together depending on your setting, yielding up to 27,000 BTUs per hour.
This grill tends to get messy during and after cooking. To minimize cleaning effort, coat the surface with oil/butter before preheating and empty the grease drain every half hour.
Save for the sticky surface and tiny grease management system, the Royal Gourmet PD1300 nevertheless passes as a decent choice. Well-spent to the last dime, it’s among the models that can give the best value for your money.Check Latest Price On Amazon
3. Royal Gourmet GD401 — Best Portable Flat Top Grill
Outdoor cooking in the backyard or while camping would be a whole lot better with the Royal Gourmet GD401. It’s a versatile and portable flat top grill that can fire up the party wherever it goes.
Two-in-one cooking surfaces
Tool hooks and side tables
Swivelable and lockable casters
Expensive for its specs
Flare-ups on the grate
The Right Size
Combining two distinct surfaces, the entire area comes in at 584 square inches. Royal Gourmet claims this grill can cook for15 people, though it’s better for gatherings with ten attendees or so.
Double Cooking Surfaces
Instead of being just one piece of metal, the surface divides itself into two halves: a griddle and a grate. If you can’t determine whether to purchase a grill or griddle, why not get both for the price of one?
Each surface provides 292 square inches on its own and works wonders with all ingredients, so don’t hold back. On top of that, the four burners yield up to 48,000 BTUs per hour and handle all tasks.
Durable Material and Craftsmanship
The stainless-steel burners are similar to those of other grills, which are under warranty for up to five years. Meanwhile, the porcelain-enameled surfaces are durable and resistant to moisture like rain, dew, and snow.
When extended, the whole grill measures 66 inches long by 21.7 inches wide by 36.6 inches tall. You may think it’s bulky until you learn that the entire assembly is collapsible.
Thanks to its design, you can fit the grill inside car trunks or RVs before heading to the camping spot. And the grill is easy to set up, taking about 15 minutes to pop up and get ready for action.
The Little Add-Ons
Other additional features include two side tables and several tool hooks, all of which are attached to the swivelable cart. You can also find a propane tank holster on the side with fasteners.
Even though it may exceed your spending budget, the Royal Gourmet GD401 makes for a solid choice for frequent campers. Wherever the party may be, you can always rely on this flat top grill to dish out delicious meals.Check Latest Price On Amazon
4. Vevor 14” — Best Electric Flat Top Grill
Living in condos or studios can hamper your cooking enthusiasm, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The apartment-safe Vevor 14” flat top grill is a viable solution to recreate the outdoor cooking experience at home.
Safe for apartments/studios
Front-access grease tray
Similar to most electric flat top grills, this model eliminates all the redundant features and instead focuses on cooking. In a way, you can even think of it as a portable stove.
When assembled, the whole thing measures 17.3 inches long by 13.8 inches wide by 8.7 inches tall. You can put it on the dining table without worrying about it taking up too much space.
Meanwhile, the semi-square surface measures 15 inches long by 14 inches wide, translating to 210 square inches. Admittedly there isn’t much room to work with, but given the price, this is as good as it gets.
Shaped like a fork, the 1500-watt heating element can preheat in just three to five minutes. Just plug in, wait a while, and you can start cooking in no time.
To further simplify things, the sole heating element can handle any task. Its range goes from 125℉ to 575℉ with a ±5℉ increment adjustable through a temperature dial.
Easy to Clean
As the surface comes coated with a food-safe nonstick finish, there’s no need to apply oil or butter before cooking. In addition to that, the grill stores all the grease and juice within its front-access bottom drawer for easy disposal.
The only thing that could have improved this unit is if it was dishwasher safe, but too bad it isn’t.
The plug-and-use Vevor 14” is meant for studio- or apartment-dwellers with little to no access to outdoor grilling options.Check Latest Price On Amazon
5. Cuisinart CGG-888 — Best Propane Flat Top Grill
The Cuisinart CGG-888 doesn’t look like your ordinary flat top grill, but performance- and heating-wise, it comes quite close. Its unique design will come in handy, along with plenty of other conveniences as well.
Swivelable cart with locks
Lid > paper towel holder
Side table with tool hooks
Unlike other flat top grills with rectangular surfaces, this grill boasts a circular griddle whose diameter measures 22 inches. The 380-square inch area can fit six steaks with plenty of room left for greens, veggies, or other side dishes.
If you’re not planning anything big, then this model should suffice for parties with ten attendees or less. After all, there’s no point in going big if you have a small backyard or very few people show up.
This grill equips two stainless steel burners, each of which yields a burn rate of 15,000 BTUs per hour. Considering the cost, don’t get your hopes up too much because this is the best you can hope for.
But on the upside, the lid cover prevents heat loss to the surrounding atmosphere. That way, your food is always sizzling hot from the griddle to your plate.
A convenient grease pan captures all sorts of liquids coming from the surface. It won’t spare you from cleaning afterward, but at least things will be less greasy and messy than you’d expected.
The swivelable cart houses the propane gas tank at the bottom. It won’t have any room left to spare for anything else once the tank is secure in its designated position.
Other extras include a side table, a series of tool hooks, and a holder for paper towel rolls as well.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anything as well-made as the Cuisinart CGG-888 at this price point.Check Latest Price On Amazon
6. Camp Chef FTG600 — Best Camp Chef Flat Top Grill
Once you’ve decided that you want to go all the way, then how about the Camp Chef FTG600? This all-rounder of a flat top grill can whip up a decent meal and keep a party going strong.
Four powerful burners
Large cooking area
Grate and griddle included
Double bottom shelves
Difficult to move
Appropriate for Any Party
The entire surface gives you up to 604 square inches, cooking for as many as 15 people at a time.
Swappable Cooking Surfaces
Unlike other flat top grills with permanently fixed cooktops, the cooking areas are removable and interchangeable. The griddle and extra grate are pre-seasoned and protected with a nonstick coating to make cleaning less of a hassle.
Impressive Heating Prowess
Jam-packed with firepower, the four burners crank up to 48,000 BTUs per hour. You can use them to sear steaks or potatoes with distinct charred marks.
Even with two people, the 144-pound grill is tough to push. To make matters worse, there are only two non-swivelable wheels and two leg stands. So, go slow when traversing across rough surfaces strewn with pebbles or rocks.
You can find small extras here and there, including two side tables, two cart shelves, and a propane tank holder. There’s also a grease tray that catches food dripping for easy cleaning and disposal.
The Camp Chef FTG600 is a strong consideration if you want a medium-large flat top grill that feeds a big crowd. Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this workhorse can tackle it all with ease.Check Latest Price On Amazon
Top-Rated Flat Top Grill Comparison Chart
|Models||Cooking Area (square inches)||Runs on||Burners||Extras||Warranty|
|Blackstone 1554||720||Gas||4||90 days|
|Royal Gourmet PD1300||326||Gas||3||---||1 year limited|
|Royal Gourmet GD401||584||Gas||4||1 year limited|
|Vevor 14”||210||Electricity||1||---||2 years limited|
|Cuisinart CGG-888||380||Gas||2||3 years limited|
|Camp Chef FTG600||604||Gas||4||1 year limited|
Flat Top Grills FAQs
Here are some of the burning questions and our attempt to answer them to the best of our knowledge.
How to Clean a Flat Top Grill
Like it or not, your flat top grill sometimes underperforms once in a while due to poor maintenance. Some tell-tale signs that your flat top grill needs thorough cleaning include:
- Irregular, uneven, or spotty heating
- Grease buildup
- Discolored cooking surface.
The ideal time to start is about five to ten minutes after cooking. That’s the sweet spot when the grate is safe to approach but manages to retain enough warmth for easy scrubbing.
If you don’t want caked-on smudges or burnt stains, here’s how to clean a flat top grill:
- Use a sponge or scraper instead of a brush or steel wool
- Scrub from one end to another. Don’t leave anything unchecked
- Pour warm water on the surface
- Apply light soap through spraying for better effect
- Rinse with clean water
- Dry off with a towel.
Don’t worry about scratching the surface: it’s bound to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Even if you use a spatula to scoop things up, the surface will take damage here and there.
How to Season a Flat Top Grill
Pre-seasoned as the griddle may be, sooner or later the effect will wear off. That’s why you should always keep the grill in tiptop condition. Here’s how you can season a flat top grill.
- Dial the heat to high (350℉) for 40 minutes to burn off remnants
- Let cool for ten minutes
- Apply and spread vegetable oil on the surface
- Dial the heat back to 350℉ again to improve nonstick properties
- Turn off the grill when the oil smokes
- Let cool, and wipe with a rag.
Safety Concerns About Flat Top Grills
With a barbecue grill, little bits of food may drip off the grate and catch on fire. That won’t be a problem with a flat top grill.
With its layout, the cooking surface spreads all over and covers the heating elements, making flare-ups unlikely to happen. And to prevent grease splashes, the surface slightly slants downward to drain excess oil and fat away. That way, the meat doesn’t have to sit or stew in its own juice.
But even when the fire is kept in check, smoke can still rise up. When you’re flambéing with alcohol, be careful with sudden and violent bursts of flames that can catch you off-guard.
Hopefully, our buying guide and reviews of the best flat top grills have been informative and helpful. If you have any comments, we’d love to hear your input.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.