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Griddle Temperature for Cooking Pancakes

I use a cast iron griddle for making pancakes on the weekends, and I have been heating it slowly over two burners for about a half an hour before I start cooking. It brings the temp of the griddle up pretty well, but I still get a definite hot spot over the burners. So, I have been thinking about pre-heating the griddle in the oven instead of on the stove top. Then placing it on the burners and flipping away (with the burners on to maintain the temperature). So, before I go about testing temps, I thought I'd ask, what temperature should a griddle be to cook pancakes? 300? 350? 400? I.e. what temp should I set the oven to to preheat the griddle?

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  1. 375.

    If you are preheating your griddle in an oven, then it is hot enough when a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on the griddle.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Too hot - water should sizzle and dance on surface, same as preheating on burner.

      That is the problem with those long griddles, nothing really to combat the uneven heating. Cook around it

      1. re: FrankJBN

        Amen. Water sits there, too cold. Water violently spits back in your face or disappears, too hot. Water should dance. Works every time.

        1. re: jvanderh

          At what temp does this dance happen?

          1. re: jljohn

            Sorry, I couldn't tell you. I just adjust the burners as I need to. Truthfully, I haven't had much luck with cast iron. It takes so long to heat up and cool down that unless you guess exactly right, you end up ruining a batch and then waiting and waiting for the temperature to adjust. If you're having to preheat it for 30 minutes, you might as well just cook the pancakes in a regular pan and have the oven on warm to slide them into as they're ready.

    2. I can't see that it should take a half-hour to preheat griddle. certainly takes me no more than 5-10 minutes (less than 10) to preheat ordinary cast iron pan for pancakes.

      3 Replies
      1. re: FrankJBN

        Low and slow. I could probably put the burner on med or med high for 5 minutes, but that would exaggerate the hot spot. I use a low setting for about 25-30 minutes (while I get everything else together and make the batter) and then turn it up to medium just before pouring the batter. This gives the griddle time to allow the heat to dissipate throughout the griddle a bit so the whole thing comes up to temp more evenly. Even still, there is a hot spot.

        1. re: jljohn

          "This gives the griddle time to allow the heat to dissipate throughout the griddle a bit so the whole thing comes up to temp more evenly. Even still, there is a hot spot."

          So you're saying the method you use doesn't work. Keep on keeping on.

          1. re: FrankJBN

            Come now, let's not be obtuse. A 1/2" thick copper griddle would provide virtually no hot spot, a thin steel griddle would have a terrible hot spot. A standard cast iron griddle is somewhere in between. How you heat it impacts the severity of the hot spot. Putting it in the oven is the best case for eliminating it altogether. Putting a blowtorch under each end for a short time is the worst case for hot-spotting. Heating it for a long time over low heat is somewhere in the middle. It's the best case for eliminating the hot spot on the stovetop, but it is not perfect. Hence my question and subsequent comments. Think between the extremes my friend! Inane quips do not further helpful discussion.

      2. Any time you heat a mass of metal with a direct flame you're going to get hot spots. The metal can distribute heat throughout its mass but will always be hotter directly over the flame than anywhere else. If the pan fits the burner, or reasonably so, the heat is more even. As the surface increases you need to either increase the flame surface (a professional griddle has rows of burners over the entire mass of the griddle) or reduce the size of the griddle. The greater the surface the more burners you'll need if you want to have even heat distribution.
        Cast iron griddles are intended for use on a bed of coals, not of the stove top. I know they market them as stove top grills and griddles, but they're not suitable for that purpose unless you want to learn to manage the surface area to avoid the hot spots or heat the griddle so that you cook over the hot spots and accept the lesser browning that occurs in those areas away from the hotter spots.
        If you try lowering the burner flame(s) enough to just maintain the surface temperature you're looking for you may find that the results improve but you'd have to continuously check surface temperature to learn the limits of those adjustments; and you'll still have hot spots to some degree, more or less.

        4 Replies
        1. re: todao

          Thank you--I do understand this, which is why I am trying to manage these issues with the oven. I love pancakes fresh off cast iron, and since I already have a griddle, I am wondering if I can obviate some of the issues associated with a two-burner stovetop cast iron griddle by bringing it up to temp in the oven. I've never heard of anyone else doing it, but many of us preheat cast iron in the oven to make cornbread or sear steaks, so why not try with pancakes? It holds heat very well, and if I can get the whole griddle up to an even temp before I start cooking, the burners will keep it up to temp pretty well, and the hotspot should only develop as my cooking session drags on, right? So my question is simply, what temp should the griddle be to make pancakes?

          1. re: jljohn

            Sorry to have missed that important part of your question. As ipsedixit pointed out, the general rule would be 375 degrees. Depending on your equipment, a lower temperature may work; you'll have to experiment a little to get it just right.
            Your idea for pre-heating in the oven is, IMO, a good one and I agree that oven heating to the desired initial temperature would very likely enhance your chances of success.

            1. re: todao

              Thanks! It sounds like 375 will be a good starting point then. I'll try to report back about how it works.

              1. re: jljohn

                It's always encouraging to get feedback on these threads. Looking forward to reading about your experience.
                Incidentally, if you use an infrared or similar device to sample the temperature of your griddle when it comes out of the oven, don't be surprised to find that the temperature over the entire surface is uneven. Cast iron is porous and the distribution of heat, even in a relatively even heated environment like an oven, is not perfect over the entire mass.
                Copper, the second most efficient conductor known, still has it's "hot spots"; even if they are relatively insignificant.

        2. If you cook a cake in the oven at 350 wouldn't this be a good temperature for a griddle cake? I would heat the griddle for quite awhile at this temperature and try it. You cake should sizzle when you add it to the grill.

          1. I've tried them all and the best is the Presto Griddle, I plug it in, set for 325, in three minutes it's ready, I cook 3 to four pancakes at a time, non stick. when I'm done it so easy to clean and put away. nothing better. And no, I do not have anything to do with Presto. but I do love things that work perfect. papabear

            1. I cooked buckwheat cakes on a CI griddle over two burners this morning. The first few had a thicker batter, so I used a lower heat to let them cook through. My wife likes thinner so I cut the batter with a little milk and nudged the heat up. Point is that best temp differed based on the thickness. I have come to accept the hot spots and cook two cakes, one at each end. As regards preheating, I'd guess I gave it ten minutes. All came out fine.

              1. I set my Presto griddle to 350 degrees, and they come out perfectly. However, I've been experimenting with my cast iron griddle as I'm trying to eliminate all teflon coated pans from usage. Although I have 3 burners under my CI griddle, I have huge differences in temperature all over it. I got out my surface thermometer in an attempt to even it out by adjusting the different burners, but had no luck. I still had surface temperatures ranging from 225 all the way up to 460. I like the idea of using the CI griddle, but am frustrated because the results are so much more consistent with the electric Presto griddle. I'd be interested to know if preheating in the oven worked for you. It seems like even if you managed to get the griddle to a consistent temperature, it would be hard to maintain once it was on the stovetop?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mamamule

                  Preheating the griddle worked well--for one round of pancakes. I got one really even round, and then the iron outside the flame cooled enough that I had the same old hotspot. The second round may have been slightly more even when compared to a stovetop preheat, but not significantly. My conclusion, after a few attempts, is that stovetop preheating works just as well as an oven preheat for all but the first round, so I've returned to preheating on the stove and cooking one pancake over each burner.

                  375 was a good starting temp for a preheat, by the way.

                2. I have never used an oven, are you sure you don't mean stove? Anyway most cooks have a feel for the temp according to what equipment they are using ie: electric or gas,griddle or pan, However 375 F is the recommended temperature, which is the searing temp or deep frying temp. Trial and error will be your best