No outdoor kitchen or backyard kingdom is complete without a griddle. This versatile piece of cooking equipment is great for preparing all types of foods for small families and large parties.
When a home chef is in the market for an outdoor griddle for their backyard, they have many choices. Blackstone is one of the most popular manufacturers of griddles, for many reasons.
Blackstone makes many different models, but which is the right one? Many factors, which are covered in this article, come into play in making this decision.
This compare-and-contrast guide should help highlight the many differences and similarities in features to simplify this decision between two specific types of griddles: the Blackstone 28-inch model and the Blackstone 36-inch model.
Where and when you buy the griddle will impact the price. Both the manufacturer and individual retailers hold periodic sales that sometimes lower the price of both sizes of griddle.
In general, though, the smaller size griddle will almost always be less expensive than the larger, depending on the accessories that come with the griddle. This does not necessarily mean that it is a better value, however.
Each chef must consider all of the factors in this article to make the best decision that makes the most sense for them, both practically and financially. For some, the smaller model is more than sufficient and may even better suit their needs, while for others, the higher price for the larger model is worth the additional cost.
If cost is a major factor, plan ahead, and research the best time of year to buy a griddle (hint: it is not the spring). Also, look for deals with individual retailers, such as interest-free credit or store-wide coupons.
Size and Capacity
Obviously, the 36” griddle is larger than the 28” model, but bigger is not always better. First, let’s break down the actual size difference, since 36” versus 28” only refers to one of three dimensions of the griddles.
According to Blackstone’s website, here is a breakdown of the exact dimensions of each griddle, compared side by side:
|Dimensions||28” Griddle||36” Griddle|
|Height||33.5 inches||36 inches|
|Width||19.5 inches||22 inches|
|Length||44.5 inches||62.5 inches|
In terms of cooking space, the 36” griddle has 720 square inches of cooking space versus 448 square inches of cooking space on the 28” griddle. This means that the 36” griddle has approximately 38% more cooking space than the smaller model.
The 36” griddle comes with more preparation space as well. Preparation space is the shelving on the sides of the griddle and underneath the cooktop for storing tools, food to be cooked, perhaps a beverage, and many other items.
The additional prep space on the 36” model is very convenient, but if you plan to use the griddle in an existing outdoor kitchen or if you have ample table space in the backyard, it may end up being superfluous.
The additional preparation space may also be counterproductive if the portability of the griddle is important.
There are many good reasons why the 28” model might be a better fit. Especially houses in newer developments have smaller yards and your own backyard real estate is valuable, especially if you have other equipment and items such as a grill, a pool, an eating area, and more.
Also, consider whether you will need to move the griddle around. The 36-inch model is about 45 pounds heavier than the 28-inch model. Both units are on wheels, but if the griddle will be stored in a shed or moved on and off a porch, it will occasionally need to be lifted.
Many users like to take their griddles on camping trips or other outings and vacations, especially tailgating at sporting events, meaning that portability is very important. In this case, the larger cooktop may not be worth the great increase in weight.
Twice the Burners for Less Than Twice the Space
One of the biggest and most important differences between the two models is the number of burners they each have. The 36” griddle has four burners, while the 28” griddle has only two.
This is a significant difference for a much less significant increase in size of the cooktop. With two additional burners, the heating capabilities of the larger model are much greater.
In addition, four burners give the chef more control over the heat of the griddle. The more burners there are, the more the heat can vary from one zone of the griddle to another.
With four burners, meat could be cooked on one side of the griddle at one temperature while potatoes are cooked on the other side at a different temperature. This is much more difficult to accomplish, and sometimes impossible, with only two burners.
Keep in mind that having twice the burners does not necessarily mean that the griddle can cook twice the amount of food. That is also an issue of space and, as has already been established, the larger model is not 50% larger than the smaller.
What the extra burners do mean is that the heating capacity is almost doubled, from 34,000 BTUs to 60,000 BTUs. BTUs is the standard measure of heat used in the United States and is an abbreviation for British Thermal Units.
BTUs work in much the same way as calories in animals; the more BTUs the griddle can expend, the more heat it is capable of producing. In essence, it is a unit of energy in the form of heat.
Therefore, the 36” griddle is capable of getting significantly hotter than the smaller model. This is important for cooking certain dishes and cuisines that require a very hot cooktop (one good example is grilled flatbread pizza, or Thai cuisine, which often involves quick, hot cooking).
In addition, the larger griddle will be easier to use in cold weather. Colder temperatures will naturally mean that it will take longer for a griddle (or any cooktop) to heat up; if there are more BTUs, that process will be quicker and more sustainable.
One downside to having more burners is that it will use more propane, meaning that the propane tanks will need to be replaced more frequently, creating an added expense.
It is possible to only use two or three of the burners on the 36” model instead, but then the cooking space is reduced to smaller than that of the 28” model.
The number of burners and the size do not impact even cooking, which is very important to many chefs. Both models heat very evenly depending on the burners underneath them, which is a benefit of the Blackstone brand itself.
Blackstone uses a rolled carbon steel for their griddle cooktops, which is arguably the best material possible. It heats the cooktop very evenly.
That said, this is another difference between the two models: the 28” griddle has a 10-gauge rolled carbon steel cooktop while the 36” griddle has a 7-gauge rolled carbon steel cooktop.
It seems counter-intuitive, but metal gauging actually runs backwards, meaning that the 7-gauge cooktop is actually thicker than the 10-gauge. This further increases the heating capabilities of the 36” griddle and helps explain the much higher BTU range.
What Kinds of Foods Would Be Out of the Question on the 28” Model?
There are a few foods that would be much more difficult to cook on the smaller 28” griddle than the 36”. However, the biggest difference in what can be cooked on them has to do with quantity; the larger griddle can cook much more food at once than the smaller.
Here are some side-by side comparisons of actual foods to give potential griddle owners a better idea of what they can cook at one time (all amounts are approximations):
Think about typical occasions and gatherings during which you will use the griddle. If they are large, a larger griddle makes more sense.
How large? The 36” model can cook for about 15-20 people in one batch. On the 28” griddle, a chef can prepare food for about ten people at one time.
Even if you do not ordinarily host large gatherings, do you want to spend less time cooking and more time with guests? If so, a larger cooktop on which you can prepare all of the food for everyone at once will free up the chef to mingle much more quickly than having to cook food in batches.
In terms of foods that are harder to cook or impossible to cook on the smaller griddle, anything that requires a large surface area is more difficult. A couple examples of this include some stir fries or fried rice dishes and paella.
Many chefs in the market for a griddle aspire to master a full hibachi meal. A larger griddle would make this goal much easier to accomplish, since most professional hibachi chefs have very large cooktops and that style of cooking is tailored to the larger workspace.
Consider how much heat you need. While both griddles are capable of becoming very hot, the larger model puts out more heat at once so foods that require a very hot cooktop, such as pizza, may not cook as well on the smaller model.
It is also more difficult to prepare a meal with multiple dishes on the smaller model, for example, steaks, scallops, and potatoes. If three different levels of heat are necessary for this meal, the chef is out of luck.
They may have to cook them in batches, which means some of the food will sit out and cool off before the meal can be eaten.
Also, consider how close together you want your food items to be cooked. If you are making pancakes, bacon, and eggs, you may not want the bacon grease to reach your pancakes and that will be harder to prevent on a smaller cooktop.
This proximity of foods can sometimes be dangerous. If raw meats are being prepared, the juices they excrete during the cooking process contain bacteria that can be harmful if they get on other foods that are eaten before the juices have time to cook off.
What Do the Griddles Have in Common?
Thus far, this article has covered the features of the griddles that are different to help consumers choose which is best for them. However, it is also important to point out which features are the same or similar so that consumers know that the change in size will not affect these features.
Both griddles are mostly made out of the same materials and parts. Neither has superior metals or other parts and the burners on both models are basically the same, composed of stainless steel.
Both are on the same wheels and have a grease tray (so grease does not drip onto the ground), the same burner controls, and the same propane tank attachments. The assembly process is similar in both sizes as well; the larger model just has some slightly larger parts.
The two sizes even have similar optional accessories, including a cast iron seasoning kit, the same basic tools for both, and a cover, depending on which package is purchased.
Blackstone also protects both griddles with similar manufacturer’s warranties and customer support.
For many chefs, the decision will come down to portability versus cooking capacity. If you are looking for a semi-professional griddle to feed a crowd, the 36” model is the way to go.
If you ever plan to take the griddle on the go, or perhaps if you are new to griddle cooking, the smaller 28” model might be more sensible.
In conclusion, a Blackstone griddle is a big purchase, not only in terms of expense but also because it is an item that most owners hope to keep and enjoy for many years. It is smart to be smart about it and consider all of the similarities and differences between the available models.