It’s time to redefine the word plancha if you’ve heard it somewhere else and are still confused. Most probably, you’re one of the many that have misunderstood it. Usually, people consider plancha a high quality, eloquent, chef term for griddle. However, that’s not the case.
Here we’ll discuss the main differences between a French plancha vs. a griddle. The Spanish plancha is much like a griddle. So for reference, I’d be referring to French planchas when mentioning planchas.
Keep reading and allow yourself to get acquainted with this masterpiece. So that in the future you can make use of it. It, in turn, will impress other people with an unmatched sear and ultra-quality caramelization.
Comparison: Plancha vs. Griddle
|Requires higher preheating time||Requires lower preheating time|
|Max temperature range of about 570-750 F||Max temperature range of about 500-570 F|
|Temperature gradient throughout the plate with highest in center and lowest at edges||Modifiable temperature gradient with a flat plate and portable heat sources|
|Manual temperature control||Automatic temperature control|
|Bulged from the center||Flat plate through and through|
|Very fast searing||Relatively slower searing|
|More energy efficient||Less energy efficient|
|For the higher amount of orders to deliver per unit time||For the lower amount of orders to deliver per unit time|
Differences between a plancha and a griddle
Here’s a little incident from a restaurant on my street, which I came across. This incident gives a very clear portrayal of how important the difference between a plancha vs. a griddle really is. That’s the reason I am discussing this incident. The chef at the restaurant cooked great prawns.
The style of cooking was pan cooking rather than a flat plate griddle cooking. Once he visited another restaurant himself to taste the food, for rating the restaurant. He found great pleasure in the taste of their prawns. At close inspection, he came to know that they use Planchas.
Upon reaching his own restaurant, he ordered a plancha quite hastily. The delivered plancha was nothing like he saw at the restaurant he rated. It was a flat plate griddle. Due to the miscommunication, we missed upon the best-seared prawns for two days until finally, he reverted back to pan cooking.
The moral of the story is that planchas are unmatched in their style and taste in cooking. And, griddles are very different from planchas. So, the difference between a plancha vs. a griddle is of substantial importance if you know the individual benefits of both.
So, generally speaking, a griddle is something that has a proper thermostat to control the temperature. It is often powered by electricity to heat up the whole plate. That’s not the same case with the plancha. So what’s the story behind it? A traditional plancha is manually controlled.
It has no such thing as a sensor to read the temperature and adjust the power accordingly to maintain it. Where the plancha shines, is its temperature range and technique to cook the food. Plancha is actually a great choice for the cooks who are constrained by time.
So it’s capable of cooking and searing at a very fast rate. This is possible due to two main differences with respect to Plancha vs. Griddle that will be discussed further. One of the main differences in terms of Plancha vs. Griddle is that a plancha is capable of hitting very high temperatures.
Where a griddle mostly tops at the range of around 500-570 F, the plancha is capable of hitting the high 750 F! Due to such high-temperature requirements, it also requires a higher pre-heating or preparation time than the griddle. Moreover, a griddle entails a flat plate for cooking, that’s not the same case with a plancha.
A plancha has a more raised, floating type surface. Grease surrounds the area around the food from all sides. Its surface is steel made. Cast iron requires more maintenance and chrome deteriorates over time on high heat, so steel is the way to go. Another thing to notice is that a plancha’s cooking surface is a bit thinner than a griddle’s.
Speaking of a slight bulge towards the center, one of the main differences between a plancha vs. a griddle is yet to be discussed. A plancha has an extremely high heat originating right from the area above burners (usually center). It creates a temperature gradient throughout the plancha.
There are, therefore, very high temperatures concentrated at the center. These temps lower as you go towards the edges. Compared to a flat plate griddle, this allows for additional functions on the fly. One can sear the meat quickly in the center.
This gives a scrumptious caramelized crust. Then gradually lower the temperature of the food by placing it towards the edges. It also allows for different ingredients to be cooked simultaneously. There’s a controlled and consistent yet a variety of temperatures available throughout the plate.
What is a plancha?
So, a plancha is in fact quite similar in appearance to a griddle. This is the reason many people can’t differentiate right away between a plancha vs. a griddle. However, in this segment, I’ll tell you about the distinct features.
In terms of both apparent and discreet functionality, it will allow you to spot a plancha right away. Like the griddle, a plancha cooks on a direct cooking surface, open to air. A plancha has a slightly obtrusive center. Usually beneath this center lies the heat source. The heat source is capable of enough thermal power, to raise the temperatures to as high as 750 F.
The overall design of the plancha is a very clever one and personalized for specific purposes. It’s best for quick cooking with a high amount of orders pending. A large plancha surface is good enough to cater to large outdoor parties efficiently. With temperatures this high and a specialized surface, you will get a beautiful caramelization and a neat spicy sear on your food.
The temperature gradually drops toward the edges. So, the food can be shifted there in later stages to bring it to usual temperatures and give it a good saucy finish. So within the same plate, you can get the sear and the saucy flavor finish. How efficient is that, right? Moreover, the high heat of the plancha can also be used for indirect heating by using pans on the surface.
Technically speaking, the Plancha’s system utilizes the Leidenfrost phenomenon. It is a physical phenomenon where a liquid stays in contact with some mass. On the other hand, the mass way hotter than the boiling point of the liquid. In this phenomenon, an insulating layer of vapor is produced.
This, in turn, keeps that liquid from boiling rapidly. So in the end, the liquid ends up slightly floating above the surface. Through this mechanism, the food gets a uniform sear through its surface. This produces a profound and intense crust, filled with caramelized juices.
When is it not the best option?
So now the question arises, when is a plancha not an ideal choice? Of course, with all the features discussed and benefit of the plancha, you must be wondering why you haven’t been using it until now. The fact of the matter is that a plancha uses high heat and thus require a higher preheating time compared to a griddle.
In fact, some griddles are designed to reach operating temperatures within 5-10 minutes. On the other hand, a traditional plancha gives foreseen results after around 20 minutes. It’s not ideal for when you’re making small meals for a little gathering, or your family, or your kids. So, it’s best to leave the small dishes to other cooking appliances. A plancha would most certainly be an inefficient option in this case of Plancha vs. Griddle.
Planchas are efficient in the preparation of fish and steaks. The foods which require high-temperature surface searing, all that, while the insides are meant to be kept tender and rare. After the desired sear, the food is meant to be moved towards the edges, keeping it only slightly warm over medium temperatures.
Griddles are best for the quick and calculated recipe of foods. While a griddle can perform the same tasks as a plancha, it’s not going to do it as well. On the other hand, a plancha would be an inefficient choice where the overall quantity of food to be prepared is low. Moreover, if the gathering is small and the cooking is only one time.
So to sum it all up, when talking about Plancha vs. Griddle, a plancha is used for high production. It’s best for large gatherings where recovery time should be least and an initial preheating time isn’t an issue. The type of food also determines which the better option is. If the requirements aren’t as stated, then a griddle might be a better option. Like for casual breakfast or a quick evening snack.
I hope this addition to your dictionary helps you in your cooking endeavors. An addition like a plancha would surely spice up your cooking life and get you the sort of praises you’ve never heard before. Be sure to consider it and make sure to buy the plancha rather than a fake plancha griddle!