Griddles, flat top grills, planchas … No matter what you call them, routine cleaning and maintenance is key in extending the life of your professional kitchen equipment while exacting perfect flavor notes on a food-safe surface.
Our guide shares tips on proper commercial griddle maintenance to keep your valuable foodservice investment operating at peak condition for years to come.
How to Care for Flat Top Commercial Griddles
Daily care is vital to the health of your equipment as well as your customer’s health. A commitment to routinely maintaining your commercial griddle is the best way to keep your food tasting fresh and ensure a long lifespan on your investment.
Eliminating grease and food build up will keep food from sticking to the plate. Additionally, a clean griddle means flavors won’t transfer from meal to meal, maintaining the accuracy of flavor notes your customers expect from their favorite menu items. If grime forms on the surface, the griddle heats unevenly. This imbalance then affects how your food is cooked.
Not only could neglecting daily griddle care affect your food’s flavor but it could also lead to food contamination. If grease and food bits aren’t cleaned off the griddle, it will form a carbonized, sticky layer of grime that is much more difficult to remove and can result in nicks and scratches upon attempt.
If an abrasion were to occur, contaminants can sneak in and live on the surface of your griddle plate, making their way into your patron’s food. Eventually, excess grease will find its way into the mechanics of your equipment, damaging operations.
Griddle Cleaning Basics
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of regular griddle maintenance, let’s get to cleaning griddle plates, grease pans, controls, and burners.
Our number one tip is to refer to your commercial griddle’s equipment manual when deciding on a cleaning routine, supplies, and tools to engage with its cooking surface. Because some manufacturers specify what tools and cleansers to use, going against their recommendations may result in a void warranty.
Next, it’s important to purchase tools based on the whether your cooking surface is stainless steel or chrome. If you have any doubt as to whether you are working with steel, chrome, or something else entirely in your commercial kitchen, first confirm with your equipment manual.
Chromium vs. Stainless Steel Cooking Surfaces
The equipment used and cleaning technique employed during regular maintenance will depend on your griddle’s construction. The two most common kinds, steel and chrome, each have professional kitchen benefits.
Steel Cooking Surfaces
Steel is the most common and economical surface for a flat top. Cleaning routines are straightforward but can be labor intensive. Unless otherwise noted, please follow our basic directions or your manufacturer’s equipment manual.
We recommend the following steps for cleaning a stainless steel cooking surface:
- Be sure to wear heat-resistant gloves during this process.
- Turn off the thermostat.
- Use a scraper to clean grease, crumbs, spills, and buildup while the griddle is hot.
- Apply a manufacturer-recommended cleaning agent on your griddle.
- Using a non-abrasive pad, scrub the cooking surface.
- Wipe down the surface with a wet cloth and then a clean, dry cloth.
- To season, program the thermostat to 350° F.
- Spread a thin layer of your preferred seasoning oil on the cooking surface and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
- Wipe down the cooking surface again, with a clean, dry cloth.
Chrome Cooking Surfaces
Griddles with chrome surfaces maintain their new appearance longer than steel and offer an attractive view for cooking demonstrations. Additionally, they omit less heat into the kitchen compared to steel griddles.
While chromium is easier to clean than a steel surface, chrome plates are easily damaged and require special tools. Abrasive products should always be avoided. If in doubt, please refer to your instruction manual.
We recommend the following approach to cleaning a chrome cooking surface:
- Wear heat-resistant gloves.
- Use a scraper to remove grease, crumbs, spills, and buildup while the griddle is still hot.
- Scrub the cooking surface with a palmetto brush and warm water.
- Cool (air dry) the cooking surface.
- Use a manufacturer-recommended polish to maintain its appearance.
- Remove the polish with a dry cloth, and then a clean, damp cloth.
A list of useful tools to have on hand include:
- Griddle scraper
- Heavy-duty griddle scraper
- High-heat brush
- Scrub pad
- Pad holder
- Palmetto brush for use on chrome surfaces
- Heat-resistant gloves
- Small bottle brush
- Manufacturer-recommended cleaning agents
- Warm water
Avoid: Steel wool, wire brushes, and metal scrubbers
Griddle Cleaning and Maintenance Routines
Every commercial kitchen has its own preferred method of when and how to clean a griddle. The first place to start, however, is to follow the directions provided in its equipment manual.
Why Is Water Temperature Important When Cleaning a Griddle?
Before tackling griddle chores, it’s important to remember what not to do. Water used to clean your griddle must be room temperature or warm. If ice or cold water is used on a hot griddle, abrasions will form on its surface from thermal shock. Cracks and abrasions from the cold temperatures expand when heated and act as grease and crumb traps.
Daily Flat Top Maintenance and Sanitation
Your griddle should remain warm for your daily cleanings. Certain models come with preset cleaning temperatures built in.
- Keep your flat top tidy throughout each shift. Wipe away crumbs, grease, and spills as they occur.
- Perform light cleanings on the cooking surface between menu items so that food cooks evenly and tastes the way the chef intended.
- Thoroughly clean the grease trap as needed and at minimum, once a day.
At the end of each shift, scrape the cooking surface so it is free of crumbs and grease. Use a manufacturer-recommended cleaner, warm water, and a non-abrasive tool to perform a thorough cleaning for the next shift.
Weekly Deep Cleans for Your Griddle
Extend the lifespan of your flat top grill with a once-per-week comprehensive cleaning routine. One thing to keep in mind is grill temperature. Unlike the daily routine, completely cool your griddle prior to a deep clean. Follow with a light coat of oil to re-season the cooking surface and keep food from sticking.
Monthly Commercial Griddle Inspections
Monthly maintenance helps to ensure your griddle is performing like new.
- Check and recalibrate the thermostat when needed.
- Take a close, visual inspection of the surface area, burners, splashguards, and pilots.
- Keep an eye out for cracks, warping, dents, buildup, and seam separation.
Happy Griddle, Happy Customers
Maintaining your griddle between preparing menu items and establishing a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning and visual inspection schedule will extend the life of your equipment. Not only will your equipment last for years to come, but regular maintenance greatly benefits the consistency and taste of your dishes. What are your favorite griddle tips and tricks? Let us know in the comment section!