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Griddle vs. Skillet: The Difference

Griddle vs. skillet: Which one will make your meals tastier and easier to cook? Let’s break it down and help you figure it out.

So you’re curious about the difference between a griddle and a skillet?

Maybe you’re wondering whether to buy a griddle, a skillet, or both. Hey, or maybe you already own both, but you aren’t sure which one is best for cooking up a steak, burger, or pork chops on your stovetop.

No matter what brought you here, welcome! And rest assured knowing that we’ve got your back. We’ve put this guide together to break down the similarities and differences between a griddle and a skillet—and help you decide which one will make your homemade meal delish.

What’s the Difference Between a Griddle and a Skillet?

Both the griddle and the skillet are types of pans with thick sides and a heavy base, typically used for searing meats. But that’s about where their similarities stop and their differences start.

Griddles, sometimes referred to as grill pans, are square-shaped and feature raised ridges that leave grill marks on your meat, just like an outdoor grill would. Skillets, on the other hand, are round and have a flat cooking surface.

The sides of these two types of pans differ as well. Griddles have short, straight sides, making it easier to handle the meat inside. Skillets, on the other hand, usually have taller, sloping sides, which are great for simmering liquids and making pan sauce.

Before we talk about which one to use when, let’s dive deeper into what griddle pans and skillets actually are.

What Is a Griddle?

A photo of a stainless steel griddle pan with raised ridges

When most home chefs mention a griddle, they usually refer to one of two things: a griddle pan for their stovetop or a griddle plate for their outdoor grill.

Griddle pans, also known as grill pans, are square-shaped pans with raised ridges that leave grill marks on your food. They’re usually made of uncoated cast iron, but they can also be made from materials like enameled cast iron, aluminum, carbon steel, or even stainless steel.

On the other hand, griddle plates are rectangular and can either have ridges or a flat bottom. Flat-bottomed griddles are typically excellent for preparing breakfast items like bacon strips, fried eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and French toast. Griddle plates with ridges are essentially larger versions of griddle pans, and they’re suitable for use on a gas stove.

Griddles can also be electric. For example, if you live in an apartment without a balcony or in a place where gas or charcoal grilling isn’t allowed, one of your top choices is to purchase an electric griddle to use as an indoor grill.

What Is a Skillet?

A photo of a stainless steel skillet

A skillet is a shallow frying pan with a flat bottom and sloping sides. They’re typically made from materials like cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel.

Since skillets are used for high-heat tasks like searing meats and sautéing vegetables, their cooking surface needs to be uncoated to withstand the high temperatures.

And while there are skillets with ceramic or non-stick coatings, we don’t generally recommend them because they can get damaged quickly and need to be replaced every few years. (In contrast, a skillet made from uncoated metal can last a lifetime.)

The best skillets feature handles made entirely of metal. This makes them safe for use in the oven and on the grill, allowing you to easily move from stovetop to oven to grill without any fuss or hassle.

Our picks: The Best Skillets, Rounded Up

Should You Use a Griddle or a Skillet?

Now that we’ve covered the similarities and differences between a griddle and a skillet, let’s discuss when to use each one.

If you’re not particularly interested in giving your food grill marks, reach for a skillet. Skillets are versatile cooking vessels that allow you to sear a steak, brown a burger, or quickly and effortlessly sauté baby broccoli or make French fries. Since fatty foods have the tendency to splatter, you can use a splatter screen to make clean-up easier.

If you’re making breakfast—whether it’s bacon and eggs, pancakes, or a grilled cheese sandwich—use a flat-top griddle. The flat-top griddle provides more cooking surface than a regular skillet, allowing you to cook a large batch of food all at once.

And finally, if you do want those grill marks on your food, opt for a griddle pan with raised ridges. It’s the closest thing to grilling food indoors.

Bottom Line

Skillets are round with a flat bottom, while griddle pans are square and feature raised ridges that leave grill marks on your food.

But remember, there’s more than just one type of griddle: A flat-top griddle is great for whipping up breakfast, and a griddle with raised ridges provides more grilling surface than a regular griddle pan.

Ultimately, the choice between a skillet and a griddle boils down to your personal preferences. You can use a skillet for searing, sautéing, shallow frying, and even making sauces. A griddle, however, is primarily used for searing and dry-heat cooking.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.