The Cuisinart Griddler & Deep Pan is a benchtop appliance that easily lets you grill, bake and fry a range of foods on its hot plates or in the supplied deep pan, and it's easy to set up and clean. More versatile than a sandwich press thanks to its adjustable temperature controls, timer and grease collection tray, the Griddler is ideal for those who don't have space for a huge gas barbecue or who want a simple hot plate fit for many uses. However, it's no substitute for a traditional BBQ experience and it may take a bit of trial and error to get the cooking times right. We also found that grease can splatter on the benchtop while you're cooking.
The Cuisinart Griddler & Deep Pan is handy for people who don't have space for a barbecue or who want a quick way to cook a range of meals on a benchtop hot plate (with more options than you'd get from a typical sandwich press). Our small appliances expert Matthew Tung took it home during the Sydney lockdown to test how well it cooks steak, chicken wings, cake and toasted sandwiches.
What is the Cuisinart Griddler?
The Griddler is a 5-in-1 benchtop cooking appliance that comes with:
- a griddle unit and cooking plates
- a deep pan with a detachable handle
- a cleaning and scraping tool
- instructions and a recipe book.
With a height of 19cm and a width/depth of 34 x 35cm when closed, the Griddler does take up a fair amount of room on your benchtop – and if you're cooking with both hot plates open, its depth becomes 55cm.
The cooking plates are reversible, so the flat griddle plates resemble an open barbecue and are good for searing foods, while the ridged surfaces in "grill" mode are ideal for allowing fat to drain from burgers and steaks. There's also a drip collection tray for fatty foods.
What can you cook on the Griddler?
The comprehensive recipe booklet suggests a range of foods such as chicken satay, French toast, grilled salmon and vegies, bacon and eggs, deep pan pizza, chocolate cake, cheeseburgers, toasties and chilli con carne.
What controls are there and are they easy to use?
Matthew found the Griddler quite easy to use. You can choose from several temperature settings up to a sear setting of 230°C using the dial and pressing to confirm the selection. Once the pre-heat is completed, you can use the dial to set the timer at 30-second or one-minute increments.
The Griddler auto detects whether you've got the deep pan or hot plates inserted, and you can turn the upper plate off or on or set it to keep warm mode, with the indicator light reminding you which mode the plate is on.
How well does the Griddler cook?
Steak: Matthew cooked several steaks on the Griddler following the manufacturer's recommended instructions (which advise cooking with the lid closed and in sear mode for two minutes, after which the grill will revert to 200°C). While this speeds up cooking time, you can't see how things are going until you lift up the lid.
Matthew assessed the steaks' doneness, colour and tenderness using our CHOICE kitchen lab guidelines. The steaks were slightly dry and overcooked the first time, so the process may need some trial and error depending on how thick the steaks are. After reducing cooking time by a minute or two, the steaks were fairly moist and tender. While cooking with the lid open takes longer, Matthew felt it was more of a real "barbecue" experience (albeit on a smaller scale) as you can easily monitor how well the steaks are cooking.
Chicken wings: Matthew also cooked chicken wings which was an easy process – with the lid closed, they were ready within eight minutes, though they'd need more time if you wanted them to crisp up. You'll get a strong barbecue smell when cooking so make sure you're in a well ventilated area to avoid lingering scents, especially if you're inside most of the time!
Cake: Matthew couldn't get the cake working as there was too little batter in the recipe to fit into the large deep pan properly, and it's probably not a substitute for an oven when baking.
Toasted sandwiches: The Griddler can also be used as a sandwich press – all you have to do is set a temperature and it can be used straight away. Matthew says using it with the grill side can produce sandwiches with nice charred tops.
How easy is it to clean?
Plates can be detached with the press of a button and can be placed in the top rack of the dishwasher or washed by hand. Be careful when cooking fatty foods as the oil and fat may splatter on your benchtop, so the surroundings may be more of a hassle to clean than the unit itself. There's also no drip tray for the top tray so keep this in mind if you're cooking with it open.
Should I buy this appliance?
If you want something a bit more versatile than a sandwich press (and have the space to accommodate it), the Griddler's worth a look for some meals and is a good way to recreate the barbecue experience indoors.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.