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What to use if no griddle pan? (Explained) 

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What to use if you do not have a griddle pan?

Depending on your living situation, grilling can be hard. Whether you live in an area where the temperatures plummet into single digits during the winter, skyrocket into the triple digits during the summer, or live in an apartment where you cannot use a grill, the feeling remains the same.

You want to grill but you cannot. Could a griddle pan be part of your solution? What is a griddle pan, and what do you use it for? If you do not have a griddle pan, can you use a normal pan in its stead? What are some alternatives to a griddle pan?

What is a griddle pan?

A griddle pan is a cooking pan, usually rectangular with ridges running across the cooking surface to replicate grill marks. 

They can be used on a stove or over a fire to cook meats or vegetables. If you are looking for perfect grill marks on a steak but you do not have access to a grill, a griddle pan is a perfect tool to use.

They are usually made out of cast iron, so they provide even heat over the entire cooking surface. You can sear steaks on the stovetop and then transfer them to the oven to finish cooking to your desired internal temperature as well.

What are griddle pans used for?

Griddle pans are typically used to cook meats and vegetables on your stovetop. Due to the ridges running across the pan, you would not cook foods that you want a full-surface sear or are liable to ooze between the ridges.

You likely would not use a griddle pan for many of the typical breakfast foods. Eggs, French toast, and pancakes would end up between the ridges, resulting in food being left behind and even potentially burning.

A griddle pan can be used for more solid foods that you want to leave grill marks on. While steak would be quite common, burgers would work well on a griddle pan. If you like grilled vegetables, you can use a griddle pan as well. Sliced eggplants or zucchini would char up nicely on a griddle pan.

You can also toast burger buns or flatbreads in your griddle pan as well to add color and a little crunch. 

Can you use a normal pan instead of a griddle pan?

The only typical difference between a normal pan and a griddle pan is the ridged cooking surface.

 If you do not have a griddle pan and still want to cook on something made out of cast iron, you can do so. Your food will have a seared exterior over the entire surface that is in contact with the pan rather than grill marks.

If you are searing steaks, you have a bit more flexibility in how you cook as well. You can add butter and herbs to add flavor to your steak as you are cooking it. You can even replicate smash burgers in a normal pan, while you cannot do that properly in a griddle pan. 

If you are using a cast iron pan with a smooth cooking surface, you can still sear a steak and finish it in the oven like with a griddle pan.

Grill pan alternatives

The best alternative would be to cook your food on a grill, but there are other tools you can use to cook your food, such as a cast-iron skillet or an electric griddle. 

If you are unable to use a grill due to your living situation or the weather is absolutely miserable for standing over a grill, the next best thing would be a cast-iron skillet. You retain all the advantages of cooking on a cast iron griddle pan except for the grill marks, but you can also cook things like eggs and pancakes as well. 

There are electric griddles that have ridges much like a griddle pan that you could use. Most electric griddles have flat surfaces, so you can cook most foods like a skillet as well. 

Final Thoughts

If you are in a situation where you cannot use a grill at the moment, a griddle pan can at least help visually recreate using a grill. The ridges of a griddle pan can leave what looks to be grill marks on food when you sear it.

You can use it for steak, burgers, vegetables, or even burger buns or flatbreads. If you do not have a griddle pan, you can use a normal stovetop pan to sear your food, or perhaps an electric griddle that could even come with a reversible plate that has ridges.