What’s inside this buyer’s guide
- Types of commercial grills
- Heat/Power sources
- Things to consider when buying a commercial grill
- Best commercial grills
- Frequently asked questions
- Commercial grill glossary
- Keep your cash, Use ours!
Perfectly seared steaks, mouthwatering sandwiches, or deliciously singed veggies – commercial grills fuel the American love for the unmistakable char-grilled flavor and enticing smoky aroma.
A commercial grill is a high-capacity, versatile cooking equipment that can take your food business to new heights.
Restaurants, food trucks, or catering operations – grills can efficiently fit the need and give your dishes the signature flavor customers will love.
This commercial grill buyer’s guide covers the types, energy sources, top models, and everything you need to know to find the best commercial grill for your business.
Types of commercial grills
There are four types of commercial grills:
- Char grills/ Charbroilers
- Griddle / Flat-top grills
- Contact grills / Panini grills
- Salamander grills
Char grills / Charbroilers
Charbroilers, commonly known as char grills, employ the technique of ‘direct heat’ cooking through gas or charcoal flames.
Here the food comes in direct contact with the flames, which adds a charred look and smoky flavor, perfect for culinary items like burgers and steaks.
Restaurants and eateries across the USA, especially those dealing with BBQ cuisines, frequently make use of commercial charbroilers.
These appliances are available in various shapes and sizes, allowing you to select a model that aligns perfectly with your requirements.
Griddles / Flat-top grills
A commercial griddle generally has a flat, smooth surface constructed of chrome or steel, which is heated through electricity or gas.
These are used for preparing food items that need a flat cooking surface, like eggs, pancakes, and bacon.
Commercial griddles are often preferred in breakfast or brunch setups because they are simpler to clean.
On the other hand, a commercial flat-top grill showcases a grooved or ribbed surface heated by gas or electricity.
This type of grill is usually utilized for preparing foods that benefit from grill marks and searing, like burgers, vegetables, and chicken.
The choice between a flat-top grill and a griddle depends on the cooking methods you prefer and the type of food you plan to cook.
Some commercial food establishments might even opt for both if their menu spans a broader spectrum of cuisines.
A commercial contact grill, alternatively known as a panini press or panini grill, or simply panini maker, is a convenient countertop device utilized for the quick and uniform cooking of different types of foods, including sandwiches.
The grill plates usually consist of non-stick materials or ribbed cast iron heated by electricity.
Panini press or panini grills are frequently used in sandwich shops, cafes, and delis.
They are available in a variety of sizes and designs to cater to diverse commercial kitchen demands.
Panini grill plate styles
Most commercial panini grills or contact grills are equipped with flat, smooth plates as a standard feature.
They provide the maximum cooking area, thus making them suitable for preparing foods like eggs, pancakes, and sandwiches that need even heating and less cooking time.
Panini press with ribbed plates is an excellent choice for foods that can benefit from grill marks.
Here the elevated ridges produce grill marks comparable to those created by a charbroiler or char grill.
These are perfect for cooking vegetables, steaks, and burgers.
Moreover, they assist in draining surplus fat from the food, making it a healthier alternative.
Some commercial panini presses or panini grills feature plates that are a combination of both ribbed and flat surfaces.
This feature allows for cooking various types of food on the same grill, making it a versatile and practical addition to your kitchen.
A salamander grill is professional-level grilling equipment utilized in top restaurants, pizza establishments, and other food service venues for broiling and dish finishing.
This specific variety of grills is typically affixed to the ceiling or wall and is equipped with a high-heat broiler powered by either gas or electricity.
The shelves or racks of the salamander grill can be adjusted nearer or farther from the heat source to regulate the cooking temperature.
Owing to its high-heat broiling proficiency, salamander grills have the capability to flawlessly brown and melt toppings for sandwiches, pizzas, and casseroles, resulting in a crunchy and golden exterior.
Electric grills are quick to heat, easy to use and maintain.
They don’t produce smoke or harmful gases and are eco-friendly.
They are adaptable to diverse culinary tasks and can be operated both outdoors and indoors.
Usually, they lack the power that other types of commercial grills possess, restricting their capacity to deliver the much-desired charred or smoky flavor in the cooked food.
Also, the expenses associated with electric grills might be higher compared to other grill types.
Gas grills offer swift heating and impressive effectiveness, making them ideal for bustling kitchens and outdoor cooking.
Usable with propane or natural gas, they offer precise temperature control and are typically easier to clean and maintain compared to charcoal grills.
The price of gas grills can be higher than that of charcoal grills.
According to some professionals, they don't provide the exact smoky flavor that a charcoal or wood-fired grill does.
Infrared grills provide speedy, even cooking with excellent searing capacity that creates a perfectly charred surface on the food.
They're typically easier to clean as they leave minimal residue and cause fewer flare-ups.
These grills can use either gas or electricity.
The costs might be higher than other grill types, and they may need extra maintenance, such as periodically replacing worn-out parts and cleaning the heating component.
They might not be suitable for certain cooking techniques, like smoking or slow roasting.
Gas char grills Vs. Infrared char grills
Gas char grills
Infrared char grills
Gas flames move towards the metal grates, which directly cook the food.
A solid surface, such as a ceramic burner or carbon emitter panel, is heated by a gas burner positioned beneath it. The heated surface cooks the food via infrared radiation.
Offer a constant temperature roughly ranging from 100°F – 750°F.
Maintain a steady temperature that falls roughly between 250°F – 1300°F.
Heat is concentrated at a single spot. The grate cools down towards the sides, creating a substantial temperature difference between the hottest and coldest spots, potentially hindering cooking efficiency.
Heat is evenly distributed across the entire cooking surface, eliminating hot or cold zones. Special burners and super-charger walls facilitate even heat distribution.
Food tends to lose more moisture during cooking, risking dryness.
Food retains more moisture and is less prone to drying out.
A broad temperature range gives the flexibility to cook a variety of food items such as meat, shrimp, vegetables, and more.
Ideal for cooking meat dishes that require a seared exterior and juicy interior. It excels in cooking red meat, fish, and lean proteins.
High energy consumption.
Utilizes up to 50% less fuel, signifying exceptional energy efficiency.
Takes longer to cook.
Can cook food in much less time.
Precise control over cooking may pose a challenge.
Although initial use may necessitate learning, control over cooking becomes more manageable over time.
Widely used for cooking a broad spectrum of food and diverse cooking styles.
Still relatively new to the market and less versatile compared to traditional charbroilers.
They offer a unique smoky flavor, much sought after for grilled dishes.
Wood-fired grills have excellent searing capabilities and can reach high temperatures swiftly.
More advanced and efficient models are eco-friendly.
Some models might be trickier to control than others, making them more challenging for beginners.
Additional maintenance might be needed, like ash removal and changing the pellets or wood.
Commercial charcoal grills can yield a more potent sear than common traditional grills and infuse the most-coveted smoky flavor into the food.
Charcoal grills are generally less costly than gas grills, making them more accessible.
Warming up might take longer.
Charcoal grills require more effort to maintain a steady temperature.
They also produce more smoke and consume more fuel than gas grills.
Combination grills can utilize multiple heat/power sources and cooking methods. Ideal for high-heat searing, slow cooking, smoking, and other techniques, depending on the available heat sources.
They generate less waste and can use diverse fuels, making them more versatile and environmentally friendly.
Due to their complex design, they might be more expensive than single-source grills and require more maintenance and cleaning.
Usage can be challenging for beginners as each heat source will require different adjustments for optimal performance.
Things to consider when buying a commercial grill
What will you be grilling?
The type of cuisine you plan to serve will determine the sort of grill you should opt for.
Below are a few examples of food items and the grills they're typically prepared on:
- Steaks, hamburgers, and various types of meat
- Poultry cuts like breasts, thighs, and wings
- Seafood and fish fillets
- Veggies such as capsicum and asparagus
- Skewered items and kebabs
- Barbecue-style dishes like ribs
- Breakfast treats like pancakes, waffles, and French toast
- Breakfast staples such as eggs, sandwiches, omelets, and breakfast rolls
- Hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs
- Grilled sandwiches and paninis
- Mexican dishes like quesadillas and fajitas
- Breakfast potatoes, hash browns, and fries
- Stir-fried meals and fried rice
Contact grill/Panini grill:
- Paninis, sandwiches, and grilled cheese toasts
- Hamburgers, chicken breasts, and other types of meats
- Seafood and fish fillets
- Veggies like bell peppers and onions.
- Breakfast fares like waffles, French toast, and others
- Mexican cuisines like quesadillas and similar dishes
- Broiled meats, like beef cuts and poultry
- Toasted subs and sandwiches
- Gratins and casseroles
- Creating a soft, melted cheese layer on dishes
- Browning dessert tops like in crème brûlée.
Size/ Capacity & output of the grill
Several aspects should be evaluated when planning the output capacity of a commercial grill, including:
A larger grill with diverse surface types may be necessary if you offer a broad array of dishes to accommodate the quantity and variety.
Decide the number of people you anticipate catering to during rush periods, and select a grill that can manage the volume.
This will facilitate efficient kitchen operation.
Consider your kitchen space and workflow to decide the appropriate size and shape of the grill.
The installation prerequisites for different types of commercial grills, like char grills, panini grills, griddles, and salamander grills, can vary based on the specific model, brand, and local construction and safety regulations.
However, some general installation requirements apply to most grills:
Electrical or gas connection
The kitchen must have a suitable power or gas supply that aligns with the grill's requirements.
Adequate ventilation is essential for safety and adherence to building codes.
A hood ventilation system above the grill ensures the effective extraction of smoke, heat, and grease.
To avoid overheating and to aid in proper cleaning and maintenance, grills should have enough clearance from all sides.
Depending on the model, a certain distance from walls, ceilings, and other equipment might be required for proper installation.
Grills should be set up on a steady base like a durable stand or countertop to prevent accidents.
If the grill needs a gas connection, get a licensed professional familiar with local regulations for the installation.
If the grill operates on electricity, hire a certified electrician to ensure correct grounding and connection to the power supply.
If the grill requires a water source for cleaning purposes, ensure the water line conforms to local regulations and is properly hooked up.
Check the manufacturer's instructions and local safety and building codes to ensure safe and correct grill installation.
Take into account energy efficiency when choosing a commercial grill.
This will promote sustainability and curtail operating expenses.
A commercial grill’s energy efficiency can vary based on the design, insulation, and the type of fuel it uses.
For example, char grills or charbroilers typically use gas and, owing to their infrared technology and well-insulated cooking compartments, they can be relatively energy efficient.
On the other hand, griddles use more energy as they need more time to heat up and have larger cooking surfaces.
Contact grills or panini grills use direct heat and have shorter cook times, which makes them typically energy-efficient.
Salamander grills, known for their rapid heating and broiling, are also energy-efficient.
To safeguard both the user and consumer, every commercial grill and the kitchen where it is installed should incorporate crucial safety features.
Some of the most significant ones are:
Automatic shut-off valves
Immediately ceases gas flow to the grill in case of a gas leak or other emergencies.
Prevents the grill from overheating, mitigating the risk of fires and burns.
Grease management systems
A built-in mechanism to prevent fires caused by excess grease accumulation.
Flame failure device
Instantly detects when the flame extinguishes and cuts off the gas supply to avoid accidents.
Hood and ventilation systems
Proper ventilation ensures no buildup of gas, fumes, or heat near the grill.
Prevents the grill from being switched on if all the safety mechanisms are not operational.
Detects and extinguishes fire rapidly in the grill vicinity.
Cast iron plates
· Good heat retention capacity
· Most commonly used
· Perfect for busy establishments
· Should be seasoned regularly
· Takes time to heat up
· Rapid heating
· Usually more budget-friendly
· Should not be used continuously over a long period
· Almost instant heating
· Cleaning is simple
· More expensive as they use infrared to heat up the plates
The heating capacity of a commercial grill is determined by its BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating, which signifies the amount of heat it can generate in an hour.
A higher BTU measurement generally suggests a more powerful grill capable of reaching higher temperatures to cook food at a quicker pace.
For instance, large dining establishments with high demand might require a grill with a high BTU rating.
On the other hand, smaller businesses might be adequately served with a lower BTU grill, which would also consume less fuel.
It is vital to select a grill with a BTU measurement that aligns with the unique requirements of your catering venture.
For outdoor catering or food truck services, the portability of a grill is a key aspect to consider.
Portable gas grills prove to be a great selection due to their lightweight nature, effortless maneuverability, and simple setup process.
Propane-fueled grills are a handy choice for outdoor purposes.
Best commercial grills
Cooking Performance Group
A trademark of Clark Associates, Inc., and headquartered in the USA, Cooking Performance Group is a trusted brand with a performance-driven commercial kitchen product line.
Their product range covers commercial ovens, ranges, grills, fryers, and more. CPG is committed to the highest quality and services.
CPG griddles offer maximum productivity in a compact design.
These are known for faster recovery time, high output, versatility, and ease of use. CPG char grills or charbroilers are designed to offer quick and consistent heat with superb heat control.
Among the popular models, the 36-inch countertop gas griddle GM-CPG-36-NL with 90,000 BTU output is a good choice for concession stands and snack bars with smaller kitchen space.
The compact design with precise manual controls is ideal for serving grilled items, burgers, bacon, and other dishes quickly.
The 48-inch radiant charbroiler CR-CPG-48-NL with 160,000 BTU output is another popular product from the brand.
Globe Food Equipment Co. is a leading provider of professional-grade cooking equipment known for its quality and performance.
Founded in 1991 in Dayton, Ohio, the company has etched its place in the culinary industry with its wide array of commercial kitchen products.
Globe's line of commercial char grills, griddles, and panini presses are renowned for their robust construction, energy efficiency, and advanced features designed for optimal cooking performance and durability.
Made with high-quality materials, these units are designed to withstand the rigors of commercial kitchens.
Globe's panini presses are popular among chefs for their heavy-duty cast iron plates and durable stainless steel construction.
The GPG1410 and GPGDUE10 double sandwich grill, for example, are well-loved for adjustable temperature controls and easy-to-clean surfaces.
Globe's gas and electric griddles, such as the C36GG Chefmate and GEG36 countertop models, stand out for their exceptional heat control and evenly distributed cooking surfaces.
Avantco Equipment is a respected supplier in the food service industry, offering a comprehensive range of commercial kitchen appliances at affordable prices.
The company has built a reputation for producing reliable, high-performing equipment that supports efficiency and productivity in commercial kitchens.
Avantco's portfolio of commercial grills is acclaimed for their durable construction, innovative design, and precise temperature control.
These appliances offer restaurant professionals the consistency and dependability needed for high-volume services.
One of Avantco's most sought-after models, the P78 grooved commercial panini sandwich grill, is recognized for its rapid heating and sturdy cast iron plates.
It delivers perfect grill marks and even cooking for a wide variety of foods.
Avantco's griddles, like the EG30N, a 30-inch electric countertop griddle, offer spacious cooking areas and adjustable temperature controls, making them versatile and easy to use.
Vulcan, a trusted name in the commercial cooking industry, was established in 1865.
The company is reputed for delivering cooking equipment that seamlessly blends convenience and efficiency.
Known for their power and performance, Vulcan's commercial grills and griddles are designed to withstand high-volume usage while delivering consistent, outstanding results.
One of the company's flagship models is the Vulcan VCRG-M Series, a line of high-performance manual control gas griddles with exceptional durability and precise temperature control.
The Vulcan MSA36-101, 36-inch countertop gas griddle with thermostatic control, has also garnered good reviews.
The VCRB36-1 low-profile radiant charbroiler makes an excellent choice for kitchens with high demand but limited space.
Vulcan’s VTEC series infrared charbroilers are praised for high-end technology, excellent energy efficiency, and quick service.
Garland, a part of the Welbilt, Inc. family of companies, has a rich history spanning over 140 years.
Garland's products are known for their blend of durability, cutting-edge technology, and energy efficiency.
One of Garland's iconic lines is the heavy-duty GTBG series of charbroilers, which offer impressive heat control and a range of customizable options to suit different cooking styles.
They are built for high-volume operations, promising longevity and reliable performance.
Garland ED-30B designer series countertop charbroiler is a good option for businesses looking for an electric variant.
Another popular range is Garland's E24 series electric griddles.
These units are compact, energy-efficient, and boast a swift recovery time, making them ideal for smaller spaces that require high productivity.
Frequently asked questions
Will a gas grill work in cold weather?
Yes, a gas grill can operate in cold weather, but there are some considerations to keep in mind.
The cold can affect the pressure in the propane tank, potentially making it more difficult for the grill to reach high temperatures.
To overcome this, you will need to preheat the grill for longer and adjust the grill's temperature settings.
Using a full propane tank and grill cover to retain heat can be helpful.
Can a commercial panini grill be used for other types of food?
Absolutely, a commercial panini grill, while primarily used for pressing and grilling sandwiches, is quite versatile.
It can cater to a variety of other culinary needs.
For instance, it's effective for grilling meats such as chicken breasts, fish fillets, and burgers, providing a delicious sear.
Vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms can also be grilled to perfection.
Additionally, it can be used to prepare breakfast items like French toast or even to heat tortillas for Mexican dishes.
The press feature adds unique grill marks and speeds up the cooking process, enhancing the presentation and taste of many dishes.
However, they are best for handling food in smaller quantities.
What’s the difference between open grilling and closed grilling?
Direct grilling, also known as open grilling, involves positioning food directly onto an exposed grilling surface.
It's optimal for dishes such as burgers, hotdogs, and certain vegetables, as they can be quickly cooked at high temperatures, enhancing their taste and texture.
On the other hand, closed grilling encompasses cooking food within a covered area, often using a contact grill or panini press.
Ideal for lengthier, lower-temperature cooking like meat cuts, sandwiches, or paninis, this method encapsulates heat and moisture, promoting even cooking and maintaining the food's juiciness and rich flavors.
What is a hotspot on a commercial grill?
A hotspot in a commercial grill is a portion of the grill surface that heats up more than the rest.
This can be due to uneven heat distribution, accumulated debris, or damage to the surface.
It can result in inconsistent cooking and potential fire hazards.
Preventive measures include regular cleaning, adjusting the burners properly, and avoiding placing food in the hotspots.
However, some experienced chefs use hotspots for unique flavors and textures.
If the problem persists, you may need professional help or even a replacement.
Commercial grill glossary
Burners are the components of a grill that generate high heat for cooking.
They are usually constructed of materials like stainless steel or cast iron.
Barriers / Radiants
These components shield the burners from grease and food debris.
They reflect heat back towards the cooking surface, promoting uniform and efficient grilling.
Also, minimizes flare-ups.
These elements allow the user to manage the level and distribution of heat.
A sturdy plate or grate, often made of stainless steel or cast iron, where food is placed for grilling.
Drip tray / Grease tray or pan
A pan or tray designed to collect excess grease and food particles that fall during cooking, mitigating sudden flame bursts.
It also simplifies the cleaning process.
Flame failure device (FFD)
This critical safety mechanism automatically stops the flow of gas to the burner if the flame extinguishes.
This minimizes the risk of gas accumulation and potential fires or explosions.
This occurs when fat or grease drips onto the grill's heating component, resulting in a sudden flame eruption that could scorch the food, harm the user, or damage the grill.
A grill hood removes air laden with grease, smoke, and steam from the cooking area, improving indoor air quality, reducing fire hazards, and creating a comfortable workspace.
In gas grills, a small, continuously burning flame is used to ignite the main burners.
This flame is called the pilot light.
A common ignition system in gas-powered devices, like stoves and grills.
This system employs a piezoelectric crystal to create a spark that ignites the gas, eliminating the need for an external power source such as electricity or a battery.
These components mix air and gas in precise ratios to create a flammable combination.
This mixture is then ignited by either an electronic ignition system or a pilot light to produce a steady cooking flame.
Keep your cash, use ours!
We hope this guide has helped you better understand what you need to look for in a commercial grill and how to choose the right model for your needs.
If you want to know more, you can always reach out to the SilverChef team.
Hospitality equipment can be expensive, and paying for it outright can put pressure on your business’s cash flow.
Our finance solutions allow you to get the equipment you want now and to pay for it in small, regular amounts out of the revenue it generates for you.
Rent–Try–Buy® not only helps you maintain your cash flow, it gives you unrivaled flexibility to adapt your equipment to the changing needs of your business.
You can upgrade or buy the equipment at any time or, after 12 months, return or continue renting it.
If you decide to buy the equipment, we’ll give you back 60% of the net rent you paid in the first year and 20% of any rental payments thereafter — to put toward the purchase price.