Most grill pans are square. So they seem rather intriguing since most types of cookware are round, like skillets and frying pans. So, why are grill pans square?
Grill pans are square because the square shape offers more surface area for cooking. It also allows even distribution of heat on all sides of the pan, including the edges. Additionally, square grill pans are the right choice for grilling as you can place food in a single layer to grill it properly.
Let’s talk about this in more detail now.
How Does A Grill Pan Work?
Food cooked on an outdoor grill has delicious smoky flavors and beautiful sear marks.
Unfortunately, a grill pan can’t recreate the same flavors.
However, it will produce similar sear marks and have a smoky flavor like in barbecued food.
While you can use grill pans on outdoor grills, most of them work on stovetops as well.
So, you can use this piece of kitchen equipment to grill meat or vegetables indoors.
A grill pan is heavy and has raised edges. The defining characteristic of this pan is the ridges on the base.
These ridges are a few centimeters apart.
When you place an ingredient in a grill pan, it sits on top of the ridges, and the entire surface doesn’t touch the base.
The juices, fats, and oil in the food drip into the base of the pan.
So, a grill pan separates the food from its juices and fats.
Grill pans use high heat for cooking.
The combination of high heat and the separation of the food from its oil and juices creates a distinct texture for the food.
It’s entirely different from what regular pan-cooking delivers. It will be moist but not oily.
What Is A Square Grill Pan Used For?
You can use grill pans for cooking various ingredients.
Square grill pans are the best choice for cooking dishes where you don’t want the sauce and juices to mix.
The ridges on the base of a grill pan allow fats and juices to drop off the food and pool within the gaps.
Therefore, the higher the ridges, the better the pan recreates the effect of an outdoor grill.
Now, most grill pans are square since this shape holds more ingredients, and it’s easier to spread the food out on the surface.
A square pan also tends to heat more evenly.
It will have the same heat at the edges as the center of the pan.
Hence, square grill pans are efficient and easy to use.
A round pan can’t hold much food.
Such pans are better suited for stir-frying as the round shape makes it easy to toss and turn ingredients.
Most grill pans are made of cast iron, aluminum, or stainless steel.
You will also find non-stick and ceramic pans.
Grill pans with a heavy base distribute heat better. Hence, they are better suited for grilling food.
Recommended Further Reading:
- Does A Pressure Cooker Feature in Chef’s Kitchens?
- Are Anodized Pans Coated with Teflon?
- Does Food Stick to Ceramic Pans?
Important Factors To Consider When Choosing A Grill Pan
While all grill pans can produce grill marks, they may not deliver the best taste.
To achieve a delicious smoky flavor and beautiful charring on the surface of the food, you should pay attention to the following factors.
1. Pan Shape
Square grill pans are better than round grill pans for two main reasons.
They offer more surface area for cooking, and the base heats evenly.
For proper grilling, you should place the ingredients in a single layer on the surface of the pan.
A square pan has enough room to hold a large number of ingredients for grilling.
2. Construction Material
Cast iron is the superior choice for grill pans since it heats evenly, retains more heat, and produces better grill marks.
This metal also produces a more pronounced smoky flavor than grill pans made of other materials.
However, cast iron pans are often heavier than stainless steel, ceramic, and aluminum pans.
So they are bulky and difficult to clean and store.
Cast iron pans are also difficult to handle because of their weight.
Hence, they easily scratch glass and ceramic stovetops.
3. Height of the Ridges
Grill pans with higher ridges grill food better.
Although pans with shallow ridges also produce grill marks, they don’t produce the same charred effect or rich crust.
Deeper ridges allow fat and juices from food to trickle down effectively.
So, the food cooks better in pans with deep ridges.
Related Further Reading:
- Is it Essential to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
- Can a Grill Pan Cause Smoking?
- Using a Dishwasher for Cleaning Grill Pans
- Do Juicers Need Water? (When To Add Water In A Juicer?)
How To Improve Your Results With A Grill Pan?
Regardless of how good your grill pan is, it will not perfectly replicate the effect of cooking on an outdoor grill.
An outdoor grill uses raw coals and an open flame for cooking.
Grilling occurs at very high temperatures, which a stovetop can’t achieve.
Hence, there will be visible differences in the results in either case.
Nevertheless, you can improve the outcome by choosing a good grill pan.
Here are some more ways to enjoy better results with a grill pan:
1. Use a lid for your grill pan.
When cooking on an outdoor grill, you will usually close the lid to cook the food well.
To create a similar effect with a grill pan, choose a pan with a matching lid.
By placing the lid, you can trap the smoke, heat, and flavor of food.
Using a lid will also improve the smoky taste to a great extent.
2. Use a grill press to improve your results.
Many manufacturers make matching presses to go with grill pans.
You can use these to produce better sear marks by pressing them down on the food.
Using a grill press will produce even, beautiful char marks that make the food look like you cooked it on an outdoor grill.
3. Use thin and evenly cut pieces of food.
Proper preparation of the ingredients will also make a big difference.
Slice vegetables and meat into thin, even slices so that they cook thoroughly.
Avoid thick cuts of meat that will not cook through the middle because of the limited depth of the pan.
4. Spray oil on the ingredients instead of adding it to the pan.
A good grill pan will have a non-stick layer that makes food slide off the surface smoothly.
You will not need much oil to cook in such pans.
Instead of brushing food with oil before placing it on the grill pan, spray oil on the food.
It will help the food remain moist and succulent.
5. Maintain even heat.
Grilling involves high heat.
However, heating your pan on high heat on a stovetop for too long will produce a lot of smoke.
To prevent your pan from smoking, preheat it at medium-high for a few minutes.
Wait for the base of the pan to heat thoroughly.
Place your ingredients only after the surface is evenly heated.
Maintain medium heat throughout the cooking process.
It will enable you to cook the food thoroughly and produce beautiful char marks on the surface.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Does Discoloration Occur in Stainless Steel Pans?
- Do Juicers Remove Seeds? (Should You Remove Them Manually?)
- Can Griddle Be Used For Grilling? [How To Grill On A Griddle?]
- What Pans Does a Michelin Chef Keep in the Kitchen?
6. Don’t flip the food too frequently.
To produce distinct sear marks, you should allow the food to cook well on either side.
Allow the food to cook thoroughly on one side before you flip it.
Avoid flipping the food too frequently as it can also cause the food to break.
Choose the right time to turn the food over based on how thick the ingredient is and how long it needs to cook through.