Engineered with chefs in mind, the Cuisnart 360 XL Griddle, with its 700+ square-inch cooking surface, will change how you griddle in your backyard.
Disclosure Cuisinart compensated me for this review. Opinions are my own.
When it comes to cooking outdoors, grills and smokers get a lot of hype, but cooking outdoors on a griddle is so much fun, and griddles offer a ton of versatility. They definitely deserve more attention.
With a griddle, you can sear, steam, roast, stir-fry, grill, bake and even smoke.
How the Cuisinart 360 XL Griddle Is Different
I’ve cooked on a few griddles over the years. Most have a standard rectangle surface, but the Cuisinart 360 XL Griddle is different.
With its 30-inch diameter griddle top, it has more than 700 square inches of cooking surface. But because it’s shaped in a circle instead of a rectangle, it’s engineered to take up less patio space than grills with substantially smaller cooking surfaces.
Most griddles are arranged with a front cooking area and three side walls. They’re setup so that you only cook from the front side. But with the 360 XL, there are no side walls. You can cook from any side, which is fun if you want to bring the party to the griddle and get others involved.
Also, because there are no walls, the grease can drip off the side at any point. This is great news for griddle cooking. If you cook something like bacon where you accumulate a lot of grease, you don’t have to scrape it to a tiny hole throught all the rest of the food on the griddle. Nope, just take your spatula and let it drip off the edge.
To Get Started
The Cuisinart 360 XL Griddle requires some basic assembly. While the griddle top is pretty much in tact, you’ll need to build the cabinet that holds the propane tank.
All you need is a screwdriver to connect the cabinet walls to the four legs. You could do this by yourself, but it helps to have a second set of hands to keep things square.
After the cabinet is assembled, you’ll place the burner unit on top and secure it with a few screws. Then, all that’s left is adding the shelf brackets and lid and door handle. Everything else like the griddle top, knobs and lid are added without tools.
Cuisinart 360 XL Griddle Features
When you assemble the griddle, you’ll start to see the features come to life. The most impressive to me is the burner setup.
The 360 XL has three independent burners, so you can cook on the whole surface or limit your cooking space to one or two areas. You can also crank one side to a higher temp for cooking and keep the other side on low to keep cooked food warm before service.
Another feature of this grill that I’m especially impressed by is the grease chamber. There is a non-stick channel that runs along the entire outer ring of the cooking area.
As grease drips off the side, it travels through this channel to the removable drip tray. You’re probably wondering why a grease chamber would impress me. It’s the fact that it has an incredible non-stick surface.
While I was cooking, I scraped all sorts of grease into the chamber, along with cooked-on food like melted cheese and charred meat. All I had to do was wipe it clean with a paper towel. Nothing stuck to it. Then, when it was time for cleanup, I just removed the drip tray, dumped the grease in the trash and cleaned the tray in the sink.
When Cuisinart designed this, they must have talked to a few chefs. The overall setup is really smart. It has two large shelves that are perfect for holding trays of food before or after they go on the griddle.
Each of those shelves also has knobs where you can hang your griddle tools. And there is even a paper towel holder that fits under either shelf.
So once you’re ready to cook, you can have everything at your finger tips without having to run in and out of the house.
When it comes to other accessories, I highly recommend buying the 7-piece griddle kit. It comes with two squirt bottles. You’ll want to fill one with water for steaming vegetables and melting cheese and one with oil for searing meats or frying eggs.
It also comes with two spatulas, which are essential for griddle cooking, and a scraper and egg rings.
Before you cook on your 360 XL Griddle, you need to season the cooking surface. Treat this like an extra large cast iron pan. If you give it a little love up front, it will serve as a non-stick surface for years.
After giving the griddle an initial wipe down with some warm soapy water. Rub it down with vegetable oil. Then, burn it off for about 15 minutes. I did that about three times.
Then, after I cook on it, I scrape it clean while it’s still hot, using a few squirts of water. Then, I season it again with a thin layer of oil and let it burn off for another 10-15 minutes.
Controlling the Heat
When it comes to griddle cooking, it’s important to understand your heat. Honestly, that’s the secret to mastering all outdoor cooking, whether you’re on a grill or over an open fire.
The burners have settings of low, medium and high. I usually find my happy spot to be on medium or medium-low.
I ran a few infrared tests on the griddle surface. When I had the burners on low, the griddle ranged from 300-375F degrees. When I increased the heat to medium, it ranged from 375-450F. There are rarely times I want to cook above 450F.
By running this test, I also found the hot and cool spots. The center area closest to the front tended to run 50-75F degrees cooler than the rest of the griddle. If you scroll back up to the burner picture, you can see why. There is no direct flame under this section of the griddle.
That’s good to keep in mind, because as you cook on the griddle, you can move food that’s mostly cooked to this section to keep warm.
My First Cook on the 360 XL Griddle
Call it cliche, but I had to break in the griddle with a traditional breakfast of bacon, eggs. and pancakes.
To me what I love about griddle cooking is that you can cook the bacon and then fry up the eggs in the bacon drippings. So good.
I’m a sucker for sunnyside up eggs. That’s when you cook an egg without flipping it. It’s not always easy to pull off, but because the 360 XL Griddle comes with a lid, it was a breeze.
After cracking the eggs, I just put the lid on top. Then, 1-2 minutes later, the egg whites were cooked all the way through, and the yolks were still runny.
An added bonus with the lid is that when you’re not cooking, it protects your griddle plate, so it’s always clean and ready for your next cook. You can also purchase a cover for even extra protection from the elements.
After a hearty breakfast, we opted for fajita night.
Griddles are great for cooking up skirt steak and sauteing veggies, and because the 360 XL is so XL, I even had room to cook up Mexican street corn and heat up the tortillas.
I didn’t come across any cons when I cooked on the XL other than my arms are short, so I can’t quite reach to the back of the griddle. But that’s really not a problem, because I can just walk around the circle and reach any point at any time.
You also want to make sure that you set the griddle up on a level surface, so your eggs don’t slide away when you crack them onto the grill. Might have happened once :)
360 XL Griddle Specifications
Height: 35 inches to the griddle top, 42 inches with lid
Width: 60 inches h with shelves extended, 43 inches with shelves folded in
I’m going to have lots of fun with the 360 XL. When I cook on a griddle with a spatula in each hand, I always feel like a short order cook. And I love the nostalgia of the food that comes off the griddle. It reminds me of classic Sunday diner meals with my family.