It doesn’t matter what your vision for your restaurant is. Whether you dream of pouring out perfect pancakes, cooked evenly golden brown from edge-to-edge, laying out dozens of grilled cheese sandwiches for hordes of hungry lunchtime guests, keeping dozens of burgers ready to flip and serve at a moment’s notice, or char-broiling a perfectly cooked steak, at the heart of it all sits one major commercial appliance, one of the most popular standards in nearly all types of restaurant cooking: The commercial flat top griddle or charbroiler.
If you want to save money on commercial charbroilers and griddles, check out of inventory of used equipment below. We carry top brands like Empura, Toastmaster, and Cecilware. Click here to browse our full inventory of used restaurant equipment.
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Whether you’re cooking in an upscale restaurant, a diner, cafeteria, fast food business, or even in a mobile business such as a concession trailer or food truck, the flat top griddle can be an indispensable tool in your cooking arsenal; any menu item from bacon to French toast that would benefit from a large cooking surface, and even, flat cooking can be cooked on a used commercial griddle.
Options to Consider When Shopping for a Used Commercial Charbroiler or Griddle
Like most pieces of heavy duty commercial cooking equipment, charbroilers and griddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes designed to fit into your specific cooking environment. Because charbroilers are used mostly for cooking over open flame, gas models are by far the most common.
But when it comes to griddles, the first important decision to make is whether to buy an electric model, or one powered by propane or natural gas. Each has their own specific advantages and disadvantages, depending on your cooking situation.
Electric griddles are typically slightly less expensive to purchase initially, and can be a great option for installations where propane or natural gas isn’t available. In some municipalities, electric griddles may be seen as a “safer” alternative to gas griddles, and may require less ventilation and fire suppression that gas versions; check with your local code enforcement office to be sure.
Over the life of the unit, an electric griddle will also generally be more cost-effective than its propane or natural gas guzzling counterpart. However, some electric griddles have difficulty reaching as high an operating temperature as gas models, which can make cooking some foods take longer (and cause infinitely greater frustration in your line cooks).
While the heating power of gas griddles is measured in BTUs, when selecting an electric griddle, you’ll be evaluating different models based on their voltage: 120, 208, or 240 volts. While 120 volt griddles are small and portable, they’re generally considered underpowered for heavy commercial use; shop for a 208 or 240 volt griddle, many of which are powerful enough to keep up with their gas-powered counterparts. For electric griddles, remember: More watts=more heat.
In locations where there is already a propane or natural gas hookup, as well as adequate ventilation and fire suppression installed, a gas-powered griddle or charbroiler tends to be the more popular choice. These griddles get hot faster, can reach higher peak temperatures, and tend to be a lot simpler technologically, which can often translate to fewer breakdowns and visits from the costly griddle repairman.
How to Evaluate a Used Commercial Charbroiler or Griddle
When evaluating a used commercial charbroiler or griddle for potential purchase, there are a few key variations to consider in the different models available.
The first thing to look for in a good-quality used commercial griddle is the overall thickness of the griddle plate. Thicker plates tend to be more durable and hold heat better, and can also withstand the rigors of heating up and cooling down hundreds or even thousands of times. Thicker griddle plates also don’t cool down as much when cold food is added to the hot surface, which means quicker turnover of food.
Commercial griddle plates are almost always made of solid stainless steel, and are sometimes coated in a few layers of non-reactive, nonporous chrome that makes griddles look gorgeous, and prevents the transfer of flavors between foods.
Chrome can also act as a nonstick agent, and simplify maintenance and cleanup, since chrome surfaces don’t need to be seasoned before and after each use. Because chrome is nonreactive, it also prevents a metallic taste in high-acid foods, and will keep light-colored foods from turning dark. Where possible within the constraints of your budget, look for griddle plates which feature a chrome coating.
When deciding on the used commercial griddle that’s right for you and your space, consider the dimensions you have available for space in your kitchen. Most griddles are a pretty similar depth; between 20 and 30 inches, in most models.
The side-to-side measurement is where things get interesting; commercial flat top griddles can range from 24 inches all the way up to 72 inches wide. This is the primary determining factor in how much food you can cook at one time, as well as how much space your new griddle will take up in your kitchen.
Choosing the Right Griddle Size
When choosing a griddle or charbroiled size, remember to account for the clearance required by your local fire marshall on all sides of the unit, as well as the separation required between other cooking appliances.
All commercial griddles feature one of three different types of heat controlling thermostats: Modulating, snap-action, or solid state. Modulating thermostats are most often found on less expensive, economy-level griddles.
There’s good only for keeping temperatures in a 40 degree range around your target temperature, which can be significant depending on the type of food you are cooking. Snap-action thermostats keep griddle surfaces within 15 degrees of your target temperature, which makes these a good choice for balancing quality and budget.
Finally, solid state thermostats are found in the higher end commercial griddles. Because they keep the surface of the griddle operating within only 5 degrees of variation, these tend to be the most precise (and also the most expensive).
When evaluating a used commercial griddle or charbroiler for potential purchase, begin with the simplest things: Does the unit have all of its knobs? Is the griddle surface pitted, cracked, or showing signs of corrosion? Are all igniters functioning correctly? Has the unit been cared for and cleaned regularly?
A griddle with a grease sweep drain that’s full of years of built up fat and debris is probably a griddle to avoid. Don’t be put off by used commercial griddles that appear to have rusted over; this probably indicates that the griddle wasn’t properly seasoned before being retired or put in storage, and most of this superficial rust can be cleaned easily (as well as used as a negotiating point for a better price).
In addition, if you’ve found a good price on a used commercial griddle or charbroiler that seems particularly dirty or covered in grease, remember that commercial grade industrial degreasers can work miracles; we’ve seen griddles that looked like they were headed for the scrap pile brought back to showroom condition with just a few hours of elbow grease (and some gnarly solvents).
Next, check to make sure that all elements or burners are providing consistent heat output. For gas models, check for any leaks in the gas lines, and particularly in the ignition system, which is prone to failure and/or general funkiness.
Use an infrared thermometer to scan the surface of the griddle plate, checking for any cold (or exceptionally hot) spots. Ask the seller about any service calls or replacement parts, and remember that when purchasing used equipment, you’re probably going to experience a breakdown sooner rather than later; place a quick phone call to the manufacturer of the unit and ask about the cost for replacement parts for components that are known to commonly fail.