Cuisinart 360˚ XL Griddle Review
Cuisinart 360˚ Griddle XL Review
May 9, 2020
We did a review of the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center a while back (link here) and we had a ton of fun with it so we were pleased when Cuisinart announced they were launching a larger version of that griddle that would double the amount of surface area to grill on.
We have now been using Cuisinart griddles for over a year and a half including typical cooks like searing steaks, smash burgers, breakfast skillets, smoking ribs, baking pizzas, steaming stir fries and bacon and egg breakfasts. Once we got the new 360 XL Griddle assembled, we know there were some benchmark cook we had to try out. So we called up our butcher and got some ribeyes, beef chuck and bacon ready to put this griddle through it's paces.
- The cooking surface is a 30-inch diameter circular cold rolled steel grill top. You can think about this as being identical to cooking on cast iron. The cold rolled steel retains a ton of heat just like cast iron.
- The griddle has three propane burners that total 45,000 BTUs of heat giving enough power to get the surface of the griddle above 650˚F.
- The stainless steel lid that lets you not just sear, but also smoke, roast, steam or bake. This lid is really what helps make this a more versatile product than traditional griddles
- Two side tables that can fold away. There is a paper towel holder under one of the side tables as well that comes in handy when you’re cleaning the griddle after use
- Grease trap that goes all the way around the griddle to catch the drippings that come off the cook top while you’re cooking. This system then funnels the grease around to a cup in the back.
- The griddle is mounted on a wheeled cart allowing for it to be easily moved around the backyard.
What are the main differences versus the regular Cuisinart 360 griddle?
The good news is the griddles perform almost identically, but there are a few key differences that we should flag:
- The most obvious one is the size. The XL comes with a biggie sized grill top that's 30-inches versus the 22-inch top of the regular grill. Now that might not sound like a lot, but if you remember your grade 10 maths, that takes the amount of grilling space up from 380 square inches to just over 700 square inches. I can confirm this this is an absolute beast. During our smash burger test, we managed to get 20 patties on the griddle at the same time and it wasn't even crowded. This thing so so big, we assembled the griddle in the front yard and then we couldn't get it into the backyard between our house and our neighbors. So if you like hosting, go for the XL and you'll never be short on space.
- The price is nearly double at $396 versus $199 at Walmart. That's still really affordable for a solidly made product and when you look at the market, there are some brands with pricing that goes up to $4,000 so you're certainly on the more affordable end of the spectrum.
- They added a second side table. One of our complaints about the regular griddle was the side table was just too small. The second side table helps out with that, but I still feel they're a little undersized for the griddle.
- The grease trap is closer to the front of the griddle on the XL version. Initially I didn't think I was going to like that, but in the end it's proven to be more convenient for two reasons. One, I find it easier to scrap off the residual grease at the end of a cook into the trap at the front making clean-up easier, but it also leave the back of the grill free to hang the lid on when you're not using it. We have our griddle against a wooden fence so that hanging lid acts like a splash guard for any grease that splatters off your proteins as you cook. A small change, but I really like that.
What we like about griddles in general
One of the big trends we saw in grilling in 2019 were griddles. They were all over the place and having owned one for a year now it’s pretty obvious why as there are a couple of key benefits
- The main benefit is that you lock-in the juices your proteins give off while they’re searing away. The flat top keys all the rendered fats as opposed to letting them escape down through the grill grates. The result? Amazing sears, unrivaled crusts on burgers or steaks and incredibly moist and juicy food. Just imagine frying your bacon and having your hashbrowns right next to it sopping up all that bacon goodness.
- We all use our grills for dinners and lunches but adding a griddle to your arsenal of grills really opens up the ability to cook for every meal outdoors. These grills are ideal for making incredible breakfasts like bacon and eggs, pancakes or cast iron skillet breakfasts with hashbrowns.
- There’s something about moving your food around the griddle with steel spatulas that makes you feel like a teppanyaki chef clinging and clanging your way through your cook.
- Not having grill grates also prevents losing any food through the grates. Any time we’re searing up scallops, shrimp or asparagus, I’m almost guaranteed to lose one through the grates but you don’t have that problem with griddles
What we like about the Cuisinart 360˚ XL Griddle
Cuisinart does a great job creating affordable products that target grillers where value is really important. But that doesn’t mean they cheap out on features or compromise in other places. Here’s what we like about the Cuisinart 360˚ Griddle Cooking Center.
- This griddle is incredible value and at the time of writing this article, you could buy it at Walmart for only $396.
- The cold rolled steel top is just like cooking with cast iron as we have mentioned before. Most of the competing griddles or flat tops are a thinner gauge steel that doesn’t retain the heat anywhere near as well as the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center. It’s also really easy to maintain. After a cook, squirt a bunch of water on the grill, scrap it off into the grease trap and then re-season it with a high smoke point oil like canola or avocado.
- The three burners also allow you to setup multiple cooking zones. You can have one on max heat if you’re trying to sear steaks and the others on low if you’re keeping a side of vegetables warm.
- This griddle was really easy to assemble. I was done in an hour and you absolutely don’t need any help. Given the number of grills we put together in a year, I always appreciate a quick and easy assembly.
- The paper towel holder holder is a nice touch. You’ll find yourself using paper towel with every cook and it’s not only to clean and season the griddle, but it’s handy to have it close by for your hands during your cooks.
Drawbacks to the Cuisinart 360˚ Griddle Cooking Center
While we have been really impressed with the griddle, there are a few drawback or shortcomings you should be aware of. I'd note these are virtually the same drawbacks that we saw with the regular 360 Griddle.
- The griddle doesn’t come with the stainless steel spatulas. In my mind a griddle isn’t like a BBQ where people likely have tongs kicking around the house. I don’t know anyone that has a set of griddle flippers kicking around the house. The good news is this is an inexpensive accessory (more on that later in this review)
- While not having the juices from your proteins escape through grill grates is a definite plus with a griddle, it does result in a lot of grease splattering all over you. Be aware of this and wear an apron.
- Lastly, the side tables are definitely undersized. While you can usually have room for your ingredients, you don’t have any prep room left over. I bought a wooden prep table for the backyard from Ikea for ~$50 that I just wheel over to the side of whatever grill i’m using and it really comes in handy for this griddle.
Most grills have optional accessories but there are a few with the Cuisinart 360˚ Griddle Cooking Center that in our mind should come as part of the base package so you’ll want to check these out.
- The griddle doesn’t come with steel flippers/spatulas. The good thing is that Cuisinart sells a set for $22 AND, that also comes with two squirt bottles (you’ll want one for oil and the other for water to make cleaning the griddle easier), two egg rings and a griddle scraper. You should think of this as a necessary purchase if you’re buying the griddle.
- If you’re thinking about steaming anything on the griddle, like a burger to melt the cheese, a stir-fry or anything else, you’ll want to get the 12” stainless steel dome. It’s an inexpensive accessory and you’ll crank out the best cheese burgers of your life.
- If you’ll be storing the griddle out the in the elements you may want to consider getting a cover for the griddle. This also helps to protect the seasoned top of your griddle; the stainless steel lid covers the top of the griddle but not the edges.