5 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Stovetop Grill Pan
If you’ve ever ordered a steak at a steakhouse, you’ve likely marveled at its beautiful, masterfully developed char marks. Those marks give the meat the distinctive smoky, caramelized flavor we love.
But if you don’t have access to a grill, you’re probably wondering—how can I get that same look and flavor at home? Three words: stovetop grill pan.
If you haven’t used a stovetop grill pan before, they’re a game-changer for those without access to a grill. They give you those same expertly crafted grill marks and caramelization.
And if that’s not enough to make you want to run out and grab one, we’ve got 5 more reasons why you should get a stovetop grill pan for your kitchen.
What is a grill pan?
A grill pan, in its most basic sense, is simply a frying pan with raised ridges on the surface. These act like a grill in that they can create distinct, charred grill marks onto meat and impart a flavor similar to what you’d get on a grill.
Grill pans are typically made of cast iron or enameled cast iron and can either be flat, made with wide walls and handles like a skillet, or made reversible with a griddle on one side.
Benefits of a Stovetop Grill Pan
There are several reasons to consider adding a stovetop grill pan to your kitchen collection.
The biggest benefit of a stovetop grill pan is getting those coveted grill marks. And those things aren’t just for show—those grill marks impart a very distinct smoky, caramelized flavor to food.
This is called the Maillard reaction, and to get it to kick in, you want a surface hot enough to activate the enzymes that cause it. The trick is to preheat the grill pan before adding the meat or vegetables, then let your food rest in one spot as the grill marks form. For cooking meat, rotate it 90 degrees halfway through the cooking time on each side so that you heat it evenly and generate cross-hatched grill marks.
When you cook food on the grill, any extra fat or oil is cooked out of it and drips between the grates and off your food.
You get the same effect (mostly) from a grill pan. The elevated ridges in stovetop grill make direct contact with the food, and the space between the ridges allows for airflow. This allows steaks and burgers to cook with a drier heat and prevents them from poaching in their own fat.
Grill pans are incredibly versatile.
Some come with long handles similar to a skillet and are used in very much the same way. These are great for recipes that call for cooking items in the oven and finishing them on the grill. And, if you have limited space, these are roughly the same size as a medium-large cast iron pan, which makes storage a breeze.
Other grill pans are reversible and are made with a smooth, flat surface on one side, often called a griddle. These are ideal for, well, most everything—pancakes, bacon, burgers, shrimp, even toasting some bread! They’re made to be placed on top of your stove and use the heat from the burners to cook the food. This will allow for more control when cooking the space directly above the burners gets hot and the space between remains cooler, allowing you to move food around to prevent overcooking.
One thing to note: if you have an induction cook top, you’ll want to look for a grill pan made from an “induction safe” material, such as cast iron. Watch out for items made from copper, aluminum, or glass, as they won’t work on their own.
Grill pans are usually heavier than skillets and are typically made from materials that heat up quicker and retain heat longer, like cast iron.
This means you’re less likely to get cold spots while cooking (with the exception of stovetop griddles that develop cold spots between burners), and you’ll have more control over the temperature to ensure food is cooked the way you like it.
Easy Clean Up
A lot of people see the ridges on a grill pan and immediately think: “Oh no, this is going to be so hard to clean!”
But if you’re ever in a pinch, here’s a helpful tip for cleaning your grill pan:
After you remove the food from the pan, pour a small amount of hot water into it. Using tongs and a clean dishrag, move the sizzling water around and pick up the food particles that are stuck to the surface. If you do this while the pan is piping hot, you can pick up any food particles that may be cooked on or hard to remove.
If you’re looking to add to your kitchen collection—or perhaps you’re wanting to grill but don’t have access to an outdoor space—consider snagging a stovetop grill pan. We suggest you test it out with our Grilled Garlic-Rubbed Lamb Chops. Can you say “yum”?
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