What’s a grill pan? This is a pan you can use inside on your grill, on your stove top, or even in your oven. Most grill pans have raised grooves to give your food the appearance of grill marks. There are so many different types of grilling pans that some people have more than one, including me. Before deciding which grill pan to purchase, you need to think about the surface you will be cooking on. This will greatly affect which pan to buy.
Types Of Grill Pans
There are a few different types of grill pans, trays, and baskets you can use for different ways of cooking.
- Cast Iron: This grill pan can be the best and worst for cooking inside. Cast iron can withstand extremely high heat, if you were going to be cooking in the oven with it. Depending on what type of stove you have, this may not be the type of grill pan you want to purchase though. Cast iron can be seasoned to help flavor food and become non-stick. This takes a fair amount of time, and you always have to clean it properly to maintain the condition of the cast iron.
- Porcelain Enamel: This type of pan is great for easy of upkeep. It can be used virtually on any surface that you might be cooking on. I would be careful using this directly on the grill for fear of scratching the bottom of it. Also, you will need to check how high of a temperature your particular pan can withstand.
- Grilling Basket: This is exactly what it sounds like. It looks like a basket with small holes. The raised sides keep your vegetables or meat from falling off and down into the fire of the grill. I would not use this inside as the holes will allow any food drippings or marinade to fall down into the bottom of your stove top burner or oven.
- Grilling Tray: A grilling tray is usually a thin pan with small holes. This type of pan I only recommend for outdoor grill use, for the same reason as the grilling basket. I like to use this option for food that might fall through the grill grates.
- Broiler Pan: This one is different, but some still consider it a grill pan. A broiler pan is actually two pans. One pan goes on the bottom and a slotted pan sits on the top. This allows the food drippings/fat to fall under and away from the pan. If you are cooking with this type of pan I recommend a stainless steel. The enamel coated steel one may crack under extreme heat.
Flat Top, Electric Or Gas Stove
If you plan to cook on a grill pan inside you need to know which kind of stove top you have. If you have a flat top you will not want to use a cast iron grill pan on it. Cast iron can scratch your glass cook top. Also, cast iron is slower to absorb heat, it will take much longer to cook with it on a flat cook top. I would recommend a porcelain enamel grill pan, if you have a flat top stove.
If you have electric or gas stove, then the possibilities are wide open for what type of grill pan you would like to use. I personally would still stay away from cast iron, it can be work to keep up. On the other side of that though, cast iron is also going to be the only indoor grill pan that you have any chance of adding extra flavor to your food.
Gas Or Charcoal Grill
It really doesn’t matter which type of grill you have for deciding if you can use a grill pan on it. The decision to make is going to be which kind of pan, tray or basket will be needed if at all. When I am grilling outside, I really only ever use a grill tray when I am cooking fish. Fish can easily break apart and fall through your grill grates. Otherwise, I season well and use oil in my marinades or spray some non-stick spray on the grates prior to putting food on. This will help prevent sticking, when you are turning your food.
I absolutely love my grill basket. It is probably one of the best grilling accessories I own. I love the ease of being able to chop and season my vegetables ahead of time and let them sit in the refrigerator until I am done cooking my protein. Then I put my grilling basket over the direct heat and toss the vegetables in. Flip or stir them around a few times and just pull the basket off and onto a flat pan for transporting to the serving area. You don’t want to just carry it around, the juices or marinade from your vegetables will be dripping.
Now that what’s a grill pan has been discussed you can start choosing a great pan for your type of stove top, oven, and grill.
I much prefer cooking outside on my charcoal grill. I grill everything I possibly can, even bacon. To me it is the best way to cook. I end up using my outdoor grilling tray and basket so much, I have to purchase new ones each year, when spring arrives. During winter though, the desire to be outside grilling can create a real struggle. For a way to take the edge off of the grilling itch, you can have your own indoor grill pan. It can really change the appearance of a meal, or possibly even add a little touch of flavor.
Let me know what kind of grilling pans, baskets or trays you have and love?