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May 8, 2009 04:05 PM

Stovetop grill pan - what's best?

I want to get a rectangular (or square) grill pan to fit over one or two burners on my gas range. I rarely cook for more than two (or at most four) I can't decide between a one-burner or two-burner model. More importantly, I can't decide if I want a cast iron (such as made by Le Creuset), or an aluminum or steel model such as made by either Calphalon or All-Clad? And lastly, since easy cleanup is always important to me, should I opt for a non-stick surface. Does anyone have a stovetop grill pan that they absolutely love...that cooks evenly, that puts good grill marks on food, that foods do not stick to excessively, and that is easy to clean?

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  1. I like my Lodge cast iron grill pan.

    I also have a Maganlite reversible grill/griddle that fits over two burners, and it's pretty good when I need more space than I have in the Lodge grill pan, but the Lodge has higher grill ribs, so there's better air circulation, which makes for a better crust on grilled meats and better grill marks. Magnalite is an alloy that cooks like cast iron, but doesn't rust. I don't believe it's being made anymore.

    Don't bother with nonstick, because you can't get it hot enough, and I wouldn't get anything enameled for this purpose. Seasoned cast iron will be sufficiently slick, if you keep it seasoned, and it looks better and better the more you use it. When mine gets stuff baked on it, I clean it with a metal grill brush. If I haven't had to really wash out the oil, I just wipe it out after cleaning, reheat it to redistribute the oil in the pan, and hang it up when cool. If I have to reseason, I just wipe the inside with oil or rendered beef fat, heat, cool, wipe it out, and hang it up.

    2 Replies
    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

      I agree with DAG; I have the same Lodge cast iron pan-- but in the 2-burner size-- and I've been very happy with it. I enjoy the large cooking surface even if it might be a bit more unwieldy than the smaller pan; it gives you a lot of freedom, and plus the smooth side is great for making tortillas! It does take a while to cool down enough to handle it, though.

      1. re: David A. Goldfarb

        David A. Goldfarb makes excellent points. If, after considering them, you still want to ponder nonstick, here is an unusual and intriguing alternative.

      2. A two burner model is better than the single type.

        Cast iron is the way to go. Once you get it to the proper temperature, it will hold the heat when you start adding food. Forget non-stick, cast iron, when properly seasoned, is about as non-stick as you need. Cast iron is easy to clean and will last forever.

        Aluminum can warp. You turn on the burners to get the grill pan hot, walk away for a few minutes and before you know it, the thin cheap aluminum grill pan (I am referring to the Calphalon) WILL warp. This I know from experience.

        1. I love to use my double size cast iron grill by Lodge, but it is a nightmare to clean, involving steel brushes and lots of black, flaky mess.

          On the other hand, my LeCreuset grill pan has a non-stick lining, and it is much easier to clean. The only reason I use the Lodge most of the time is that it can get really, really hot, I need a double size and I usually don't mind cleaning it (sometimes I do). I have a similar pan from Tim Love's collection, and it too is easier to clean that the cast iron pan. When feeling not up to the cleaning task, I actually use both smaller, square pans because they are easier to clean.

          2 Replies
          1. re: RGC1982

            Really? I have both the lodge cast iron round grill pan and two burner grill/griddle -- and I've never had any trouble with cleaning them. What do you typically cook in them to cause you so much trouble?

            Are you sure your LeCreuset has a non-stick coating? All that I have seen are actually a matte enamel, not non-stick.

            1. re: mateo21

              marinades -- anything with sugar is a bear to clean.

          2. I have both a Le Creuscet grill pan and a Lodge Pro Grid two burner grill/griddle. I hardly ever, ever, use the Le Creuscet. The Lodge is much more useful to me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jacobp

              Is the Lodge easy to clean? The sales staff at both Sur La Table and Willians/Sonoma are strongly pushing the non-stick All-Clad over the Lodge...both say the the Lodge is difficult to clean unless you use it all the time and it becomes very well seasoned. I don't think I will use it more than once per week.

              1. re: josephnl

                I use mine about once a week or perhaps less, and I don't find it difficult to clean.

                I just broiled some salmon fillets on mine last night, which reminds me of something you may want to consider. A single burner grill pan is easy to move from the stovetop to the broiler for fish. The fish I made last night I cooked three minutes in a smoking hot grill pan, and then moved the whole pan to the broiler for 3-4 minutes to finish it. I can't do that with my double-burner Magnalite grill/griddle, because it's too large to fit, so measure, if you're considering the two-burner version. On the other hand, Lodge cast iron isn't expensive, so you could get both.

            2. My experience is that the double burner grill/griddle is an excellent griddle and a troublesome grill. Since no sides, lots of splatter mess on the cooktop. Also, cleanup is easier if you can let it soak a little -- can't really do that with the flat grill.

              I would get the single burner grill pan -- looks like a regular skillet except the cooking surface has ridges. The downside to the high sides is that it complicates turning food. Anyhow, Lodge makes a square and round grill pan.

              Another issue with the double-sided griddle/grills: the side that you use less frequently will struggle with the seasoning. Since we use ours mainly as a griddle, the flip side has areas where the flame has burnt off the seasoning on the grill, and the metal is nearly bare. I could oil it, but that just make lots of smoke.

              I caught a "Good Eats" where Alton laid down a layer of kosher salt to manage the gook that bakes into the nooks and crannies. The meat is not supposed to be resting on the salt itself. Something worth trying.