Pancakes, paninis and hamburgers can easily be yours at home, even if you're short on kitchen space. Griddles are generally compact enough for most kitchens and require only a small counter or another flat surface area to provide a convenient extra cooking surface. It's important to keep your griddle surface clean to prolong its useful life. Fortunately, it's not terribly difficult to clean most kitchen griddles, even if food has burned onto its cooking surface.
Types of Griddles
Many griddles made for home use are powered by electricity. You simply plug the griddle's cord into any available outlet and adjust the heat with built-in controls.
Alternatively, you may have a griddle surface built into your stove top or a removable griddle surface that's not independently powered but placed on top of a heated stove top surface. The built-in stove top griddle is usually made of chrome or stainless steel; the removable kind is usually made of aluminum or cast iron.
You can also find gas-powered griddles that are operated by natural gas or propane. These are typically found in commercial settings (diners, for example) or attached to outside propane grills.
You may have a specialized panini or sandwich griddle, a type of electric griddle, designed just for pressed grilled sandwiches. They usually feature a two-sided heated plate design, either ridged or flat. They can be cleaned like any electric griddle.
Built-in Stove Top Griddles
Typically featuring flat cooking surfaces, built-in stove top griddles can be difficult to clean.
If food is sticking to the surface or you note some transfer of tastes between foods cooked on your griddle, it's probably time to clean it. The best cleaning method for your type differs slightly, depending on the material.
If your griddle is made of stainless steel, you'll need:
- A flat-edged spatula
- Thick paper towels folded twice together
- A drop or two of gentle dishwashing detergent (optional)
Clean your griddle while the surface is still hot, but make sure it's turned off. Use a flat-edged spatula to scrape any remaining food particles off the still-warm surface. Keep the edge flat against the surface to avoid scratching it.
Once the food particles have been removed as much as possible, but while the surface is still hot, pour a bit of warm water onto the surface. If the surface stains are particularly stubborn, you may want to add a drop of dish detergent to the water. Allow it to boil a bit to loosen up the grease residue. You can then mop up the water and grease with the folded paper towels, using the spatula as a handle and guide.
If your griddle is made of chrome, you'll require:
- A flat-edged steel or hard rubber spatula
- Palmetto brush (natural bristle with a long handle made for cleaning grill surfaces)
- A nonabrasive polish that's safe for food-cooking surfaces
- Clean dry cloth
Start with a hot surface and scrape off food particles as much as possible. Add hot water to the surface and wash with a palmetto brush using gentle strokes. Repeat if necessary, then allow the surface to cool down and dry naturally. When completely cool, apply the polish, then remove the polish with a clean dry cloth.
To clean any kind of electric griddle, first unplug the unit. If your griddle features a removable grill surface, you'll probably find it easier to remove the surface from the rest of the unit for cleaning. You can then wash the removable part in warm, soapy water with a nonabrasive sponge.
Otherwise, dip a nonabrasive sponge in soapy water then wring it out thoroughly to avoid dripping water that can damage electrical components. Wipe the surface with the sponge, removing hardened bits with a little additional pressure. Once the surface is clean, wipe the surface with a clean damp sponge several times to remove the soapy residue.
Alternatively, you can use a mixture of 1 cup white vinegar to 2 cups warm water, applied with a soft cloth or sponge. Stubborn stains may respond to a paste of baking soda and a bit of warm water, applied with a sponge or paper towel. Don't forget to wipe with a clean sponge dampened with water only to remove any vinegar that's left behind.
Any drips or spills on the rest of the unit should be wiped off with a damp paper towel.
Avoid Damaging Your Griddle and its Surface
To avoid damaging your griddle, be very careful not to expose any of its electrical components (including the cord and plug) to water or cleaning agents.
Avoid using steel wool, as well as abrasive sponges or scrubs, on the surface of your griddle. These products can easily scratch and damage any nonstick coating on the cooking surface.
Finally, never place your griddle in a dishwasher or immerse the entire griddle in water. Clean only the cooking surfaces using the recommended methods to keep your griddle working beautifully for years to come.