If you love backyard BBQs, juicy burgers and steaks, or even veggies grilled to a crisp, you have to get one of these flat top grills. Just think of all the great stuff you can do with it!
For the longest time, using a charcoal grill was fine. But tons of possibilities opened up for me and my family when we went to a Japanese restaurant for a special birthday dinner and we saw the chef cooking on a flat top grill.
Of course, we didn’t plan on perfectly replicating the authentic taste that the chef had cooked up, but we knew we could at least try.
The question was, however, just which one was the best?
Another thing to contend with is the fact that we live in the downstairs of a duplex. We are fortunate to have a small backyard patio, but space is an issue and we cannot encroach upon the neighbors’ space. Therefore, we had to choose a quality small flat top grill.
Thankfully, we were able to narrow it down to three great choices, and you won’t go wrong with any of these; they all take the cake as the best flat top grill, as far as we’re concerned.
Why a Flat Top BBQ Grill?
You’re probably wondering why I’m making such a fuss over the use of a flat top grill over that of a regular old charcoal grill. The truth is, there are lots of great benefits to using a stainless steel flat top grill compared to other types of grills.
First and foremost, you retain more of the juices of the meat. Using a charcoal grill has the flames licking at your meat. Sure, this lends a nice taste to the chicken, beef or fish, but it also dries it out. Second, the flat top is designed in such a way that the surface heats up very quickly. You can feed more people this way, and much faster too.
It’s similar to a griddle that you might use to cook pancakes, eggs, and hash browns. Many restaurants use flat top grills because they can quickly cook up a lot of food and serve hungry customers a lot faster in this regard. You too will enjoy cooking your meats, eggs, hash browns and pancakes faster, more evenly, and with greater efficiency than before.
Food also does not break. Instead of chunks of meat or potatoes, veggies or whatever you’re whipping up falling into the grill, it all stays on there.
You get more to eat and less food waste by using a flat top grill!
You also have greater versatility when it comes to using a flat top grill. You can cook up your favorite meats with ease on this style of grill. As you season the meat, you don’t need to worry about it falling into the bottom of the grill. If you enjoy buying gourmet seasonings that cost a bit more than your typical old salt and pepper, you can appreciate more of the spices and seasonings sticking to your meat instead of just falling away.
You also don’t need to lug around big bags of charcoal and dangerous lighter fluid using these types of grills. Nothing is worse than having to pour out the charcoal, light it up, and then wait for them to turn white before you can even start to cook your food. With a flat top grill, just turn on the propane and get ready to cook up something good and tasty for the family.
Superior temperature control is another great benefit of these grills. You can cook anything, from eggs to steaks, with no worries about the food burning up. Nothing dries up and you get a nice, juicy piece of meat to enjoy.
No matter how you spin it, these grills really have a lot going for them. Now that you know about all the good stuff you can look forward to with one of these grills…
Take a look at the top four choices!
* Blackstone Outdoor Flat Top Grill
The first thing we noticed about this cool looking grill was that it was on wheels. This is super convenient. This means we can wheel it around the patio with ease. We can also wheel it small distances away; for example, if we would like to join the neighbors for a cookout or get together, transporting the grill is no problem.
The casters lock into place, so you won’t have a runaway grill, either. The black and stainless-steel color combo looks good anywhere and lends this grill a professional but tough touch. I have to admit I was really impressed when I first saw this grill!
But how would it hold up during testing?
Before we get into that, let’s examine some of the features to look forward to. You will enjoy the new and improved side shelf that gives users a handy removable cutting board, which was nice for the grilled zucchini I enjoy. I could chop it up and converse with my guests instead of chopping in the kitchen and then bringing it out to the patio.
There is also a nice paper towel holder underneath the cutting board area. I like this feature, but I choose to keep my towels away from the grill as I am a bit paranoid about fire and paper coming into contact with one another. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of this flat top outdoor grill’s feature, though!
There are also hooks all around the grill. I couldn’t figure out what these were for until my husband advised me they were for holding up trash bags — an ingenious move that makes it a lot easier to keep things clean and sanitary while you work.
Granted, my puppy picks up any food scraps that fall, but this is another nice way to keep things clean and tidy. When separating cheeses from the dividing papers, I no longer have to worry about the papers blowing away — I just toss them into my attached garbage bag. Same goes for grill debris.
Grease is another factor when we think about grills. We have to dispose of it properly to ensure safety. With this grill, you simply remove the trap from the back of the grill and in it will be all the grease. You then collect the grease into a container and dispose of it properly. I simply use a silicone kitchen funnel and an old milk carton.
The heat zones on this grill were a big winner, too. My toddler son wanted a grilled cheese to eat, while my husband and myself wanted some shrimp. I separated the two foods for safety and was able to prepare my son’s sandwich to a nice golden brown, while I cooked up our shrimp so it was hot, delicious, and seasoned how we like it. The 36-inch cooktop here makes it easy to make lots of different foods at once.
We all were happy with what we got.
I also was able to appreciate how easily this grill turned on. All I had to do was simply push the electric starter and it was warming up before I knew it. You fuel this grill using propane, which you can get at your local convenience store just about anywhere.
Overall, I really liked it, and so did other users. A popular retail site online boasts a near five-star rating from other happy users like me.
- Cooks up a lot of food, really fast!
- Features four zones so you can set four different temperatures and cook different foods at different temps.
- Handy side shelf with cutting board for convenience.
- You can use one burner or all four depending on what you are making and how many you are serving.
- The cooktop is 36 inches long – that’s a huge area to spread out and move freely.
- You can pack it up and take it with you camping.
- Does not come assembled. It was easy for us to put together but may not be that way for everybody.
- The top is not pre-seasoned.
* Camp Chef Flat Top Grill 600
Here is a great, professional grade restaurant quality grill designed to handle all of the tough stuff that life throws at you. This one was another great choice from the grills we had a chance to look at.
At first glance, you notice that the grill is on wheels. As mentioned before, it’s nice to wheel it to the neighbors’ or move it to accommodate more guests on the patio. That was a nice touch. I also noticed that the tank is off to the side in this particular model, and not underneath like most grills.
This might take some getting used to, but it did not affect my usage of the flat top grill. Another thing we noticed was the heavy-gauge of steel used to build this grill. This adds to the durability of the grill overall and prevents warping.
Lastly, I got another big impression from this grill: the knobs are red. Now, this may not seem like a big deal for anybody else, but my thought was that red is typically a “danger” or “stop” color. Therefore, it would be easy to tell kids not to touch the knobs unless a grownup is helping.
Now, this next part is going to be ideal if you have a HUGE group to feed. I noticed that the total surface area was 600 square inches. That’s a lot to work with; you can make enough franks and burgers to feed nearly 50 people per hour. If you take this thing to a festival or fair, you could make some good money cooking on this and charging some money!
We tested out burgers and Polish sausages with the neighbors on this particular day. We even put some water in the kettle on the edge of the grill and it made the kettle whistle with no trouble at all.
In this respect, it was easy to make homemade iced tea without having to run inside and watch the kettle. Then, our sausages and burgers were nicely seasoned and juicy, everybody was so full. There was plenty of room to work with and I even fried up some onions for the sausages off to the side.
We were very impressed with the grill.
It heats up quickly and evenly, and you can adjust the settings on each area of the grill. There was a huge amount of room to work with. Even viewing photos of the product online shows 20 burgers cooking on the grill at once. If you do not want the flat top, you can change it with the standard grill netting. We did not try this as we did not care for it, but other users report that it works well and cooks things up nicely.
Naturally, there was a bit of grease to clean up after our cooking adventure. The grease management system caught all the drippings and it was a cinch to just pull it out and dispose of it using our funnel and old plastic bottle.
Another great thing about this grill is that the shelving on either side folds down. I kept it up to season the burgers and hold my tools, but you can fold them down if you do not require them. Assembly was easy and took us only 45 minutes to complete with just a screwdriver. Even if you are not so good at putting things together, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
All in all, this is definitely a good one, especially if you have a large group to feed.
- Easy to put together
- Interchangeable flat top griddle, seasoned finish
- Grease tray is superb at catching drippings
- Huge surface to work with
- Propane tank sits off to the side. This may be annoying to some who like it underneath the unit.
- Cannot take off the griddle and take it with you for camping/away from home use.
- Interchangeable griddle seemed difficult to put on and take off, according to some users.
* Royal Gourmet GB4000
Here we have another great contender for the Portable Flat Top Grill championship.
This Royal Gourmet features 4 stainless-steel burners coming in at 13,000 BTUs per burner (the last grill had 16,000 per burner). The surface here is pre-seasoned, which I really liked as it took some work out of the process of getting the taste we wanted.
The surface on this particular grill was a bit smaller than the previous option, coming in at 33.5 inches compared to the 36 inches we were treated to last time. Despite this, I did not have such a hard time making my family breakfast, even with two extra people.
I liked how this one looked, too. This one has a tough but elegant stainless steel and black iron construction. It looks tough and yet really modern and cool sitting out there on the patio.
Testing this grill was a lot of fun.
This time, we did a breakfast trial run with the grill. We brought out shredded frozen potatoes, bacon strips, and a container of eggs. I also mixed up a batch of pancake batter and brought some of that out too. My in-laws were staying with us for the weekend and this Sunday morning we were sending them off with a huge breakfast.
The handy shelves that grace each side of this grill were a godsend in this situation. I was able to keep the eggs nearby along with my different kitchen tools (cooking different foods, of course, calls for different utensils to prevent cross-contamination).
Four separate burners made it very easy to cook everything up at the appropriate temps. I made my son’s pancakes on one burner, while cooking up eggs and bacon at the same time on another one at a different temperature. Meanwhile, the shredded potatoes cooked to a nice, crispy crunch. I was able to add oil as needed; I kept a small bottle of the stuff on the handy shelf alongside the eggs.
This grill definitely made it easy to keep things going for the group, and the shelving made it super easy to have everything at hand. I did not need to run back into the house all morning long to get the appropriate supplies.
One real value-add about this particular grill is the lip that goes around the outer edge of the surface. This makes it easy to prevent spills and foods from rolling off. I did not make link sausage that morning, but I could just picture someone accidentally rolling the sausage off the surface of the grill and wasting a few links (or giving the dog a treat).
I also enjoyed the casters on the grill, so we could move it around if necessary. The casters also lock, so there will definitely be no runaway grills.
Others who tried out this grill seemed to love it, too. Most reported that they appreciated the sturdiness of this grill, and the powder-coated metal pieces really lent a professional touch to the grill’s already excellent quality.
Another great thing about this grill is that it features the push-button ignition. I like not messing around when it’s time to get cooking — just push that button and away you go. As you may have guessed, this propane flat top grill is powered with those cylinders you can find at any gas station around your neighborhood for easy use.
- Four different burners so you can cook different foods
- Handy holding shelves support 25 lbs.
- Steel surface is easy to clean and pre-seasoned
- Shelves fold down, so you can easily transport it for travel or camping
- You can buy the 2-burner option if you have a small family.
- Does not come assembled; you may have to buy the assembly package.
- One user claimed they got a part that was not made correctly and it was hard to get in contact with customer services.
- Surface is slightly smaller than the previous product.
* Blackstone Restaurant Grade Outdoor Grill
Here is a nice little grill for those of you that might have smaller families or small groups of friends that come over. At first glance, this grill looks a lot more industrial and tough than the other products that have been examined today. This is because this grill is of restaurant-level quality, and you can feel the toughness as you cook.
The primary features of this grill include the adjustable heat zones, which mean you can cook many different things at once and not worry about burning it all up. You will also enjoy the cooktop; although it is smaller than the others mentioned here, it still is effective and great for cooking up some quality food. This griddle makes stir-fry, pancakes, chicken breasts and fish taste like a gourmet dish, not just an ordinary meal for an ordinary day.
You will also appreciate the casters that go on the bottom of this grill. Like the others, it is easy to move around, and they lock in place, so no grill will go rolling down the street. If you are like us and have a small patio or balcony space, this grill will be a nice addition to your home. You can also fold up the legs, so you can take it with you on the go-camping, visiting a family member, or even if you are moving to a new home.
As you can see, the grill is like the other Blackstone we tested — but would it hold up as well as the last one?
For the test run of this grill, steaks were made for the family. For myself and my son, well-done steaks are protocol. My husband likes his medium rare. Therefore, I needed to cook these cuts of meat at varying temps.
I was able to cook and season the meats at the two different temperatures with ease. Dinner was on the table at the same time; nobody had to wait around for the grill to heat up, so we could cook the steak at its preferred temperature. I even added some mushrooms and onion off to the side for a garnish, and those turned out wonderfully.
This particular grill features only a shelf to the left, no cutting board or paper towel holder here. I did have to slice my mushrooms and onion in the kitchen but enjoyed keeping the bottle of oil and steak seasoning right on the side with my tools. All in all, it did a fine job for myself and my family; we simply cooked up two steaks and some veggies with no trouble. If this was a bigger group, however, I would seek a larger size grill.
Other users of this grill report mainly good reviews, too. A popular online retail site shows that the overall rating is 4.4 out of five stars. The grease collection on this grill is located in the back and pulls out for easy cleaning. It is fueled using a 20 lb propane tank, very easy to find around your neighborhood.
- Easy grease trap cleanup
- Great for smaller spaces
- Low in weight, very easy to move around on wheels
- Griddle is durable and quality in its construction; restaurant quality
- 4 burners to choose from with temperature regulation
- Shelf on side for easy holding of tools and spices
- Not as large as the other grills featured today
- Difficult to reach customer services, indicated one user.
- Lack of shelf on both sides is bothersome.
Keeping Residential Flat Top Grills Clean
You are probably concerned with how to keep these products nice and clean for a sanitary and hygienic dining experience. I know I was.
The good news is that cleaning this machine is very easy. You should clean the grill after every use. Make sure that you cover it so that insects and other critters don’t get inside.
Start by using a scraping tool to get all the food debris off the surface. Next, pour on some clean, warm water and scrub it using a special brush called a palmetto brush. It is advised that you do not use a scouring pad or a grill brick. Just keep doing it with the palmetto brush until the grill is clean.
Once that is all done, cover it.
Then, you will be ready for the next use. You can also add a thin coating of Cast Iron Conditioner and spread it with a paper towel once the grill has cooled off as a means of preserving your investment even further.
Choosing the best flat top grill is not so difficult, as we have narrowed down the three very best right here. My advice? Take a look at all three of the choices we have laid out here today. The best thing to do is think about what you need for your family in particular.
Do you have a big group that you need to feed? What is your space situation at home?
Do you have a small area outside? Do friends come over often?
Ask yourself these questions as you make your buying decision. Be sure to also locate where you can find propane tanks as a means of refueling these grills, so the fun never has to end.
Once you start using one, you just can’t stop. It really helps in one’s quest to feed a hungry bunch in a fast and easy way. You’ll also want to consider looking at some accessories to make sure your grill stays in top condition and remains safe and sanitary to use.
Consider a cleaning kit and a cover to put over the grill for those days when you aren’t using it. You will be the most popular spot on the block once everybody smells and tastes the good food you make on the best flat top grill. Happy grilling!