You’ve tried the traditional steel grate gas grill, you’ve even gone full Kamado—ready to take things in a different direction?
Plancha grills are used in restaurants, kitchens, and delis all across the country.
They originated from Spain and France, but because of how effective they are, they’re still in use today.
Let’s go over what a plancha grill is, and the top tips and tricks to completely master yours in no time.
- 1 What Exactly is a Plancha Grill?
- 2 How to Use a Plancha Grill Properly
- 3 How to Use a Plancha Plate
- 4 Tips and Tricks to Master Your Plancha
- 5 The Best Plancha Recipes
- 6 A New Way to Grill
What Exactly is a Plancha Grill?
Plancha grills originally come from two sources: Spain, where they are called planches, and France, where they are called planches.
Plancha grills are very similar to flat top grills.
They feature one huge slab of metal that heats up, and then you drop food on it to cook it.
In theory, they’re similar, but in practice, planchas and flat tops are very different.
While a flat top usually uses an S-shaped coil system underneath the metal, heating it consistently across the entire cooking surface, a plancha grill utilizes burners located underneath that piece of metal.
With a plancha, you’re going to have a higher concentration of heat directly over those burners.
Planchas can feature 1,000 square inches of cooking surface and have as little as two burners, or as many as ten burners, all located in key areas underneath the metal cooking surface.
You can cook food directly over the burners, and move them away from the burners (to a spot in between two separate burner locations) to keep it warm or slow the cooking process if you’ve successfully seared it.
Planchas can reach staggering temperature heights of around 800° F, allowing you to rapidly sear meats in under two minutes and move it off the burner to consistently cook it through.
How to Use a Plancha Grill Properly
This video shows how to use a plancha on a Weber electric grill, but the principle is the same with any grill.
You want to sear foods in the center of a burner (you should know where these are depending on your specific plancha grill), and then move them away from the burner to continue cooking at a lower temperature.
Applying this rule to everything you make on a plancha is basically your key to success.
Understand the way the burners work. Preheat your grill, drop your food onto the plancha burner area, and then begin grilling.
You’ll notice consistent marks on your food since you’re using a flat top surface.
When it’s time to clean, plancha grills are usually designed with a water trough area.
You just apply water to the grill top, and let the trough pull the runoff.
Use your spatula and scrape the cooktop so that it moves towards this trough, and you’ll have a clean hot plate in no time.
How to Use a Plancha Plate
Now, a plancha plate is something different.
It’s a metal plate that you can drop in the middle of your charcoal or gas grill to get a plancha effect on your food.
It’s not quite the same thing, but it gets the job done. It’s consistent.
The entire plate heats up, which offers pretty consistent cooking.
This isn’t like a traditional plancha, but it still combines grilling with the feel of pan cooking, or more consistent cooking through a heated metal.
Tips and Tricks to Master Your Plancha
If you’re going to use an outdoor plancha grill that isn’t powered by electricity, then you’re not going to have burners.
Instead, you’ll be left with a hot plate that’s left up to the coals to heat (which may be more consistent across the entire cooking surface).
For the sake of argument, we’re going to give you tips that can be used with both types of planchas.
Electric Plancha Cooking Tip #1
Keep a squeeze bottle of water handy by the side of your electric plancha at all times.
Whether food is sticking or you want to accelerate the caramelization of the exterior of your meats, this is perhaps the most important thing you can do.
Electric Plancha Cooking Tip #2
If you’re searing large meats that you plan on cutting into smaller portions before serving (such as one of the recipes we’ve listed below), then you want a perfect sear all across the board.
If you’re cutting that roast into six steaks, cut before they’re done, and take 30-45 seconds to sear the new, fresh sides of the cut steak.
This gives everyone perfect flavor around the entire area of their food, but it doesn’t take much time at all.
If you have that squeeze bottle handy, splash a bit on the plancha, then toss the fresh side of your meat down onto it.
The water will rapidly boil and heat up the side of your meat without making it wet.
Electric Plancha Cooking Tip #3
Don’t go easy when it comes time to clean.
Use your spatula, and scrape. A real plancha doesn’t have a non-stick coating.
There’s no Teflon, no need to go easy at all. You should be able to scrape away, boil some water on it, dry it off, and it should look like new.
That’s a fact, but the tip is actually this: planchas doesn’t retain odors.
They’re made of metal without those coatings, meaning they don’t keep scents lingering to affect the next dish you put on the grill.
No unnecessary, stale flavors or aromas.
Coal Plancha Cooking Tip #1
Don’t start cooking on the plate until you can watch water boil and evaporate in the span of five seconds.
Drop a little bit of water on the hot plate, then watch it bead up.
If it doesn’t bead up, then it’s not hot enough. A drop should rapidly boil away and evaporate in five seconds.
Coal Plancha Cooking Tip #2
Use coal chimneys.
These things are lifesavers, so long as you have an appropriate mit to be able to dump them out with.
For a medium-sized plancha with about 400-550+ square inches of cooking space, you will need two coal chimneys.
Basically, one for every 300 square inches of space. I cannot stress how important these are; they’re going to make things a lot easier on you.
Coal Plancha Cooking Tip #3
Arrange your coals.
You need your coals to be in a certain order if you want them to heat the plancha plate properly.
Fold coals over so you have a blend of red hot coals across the entire basin of your grill.
Once positioned, return your plate and let it heat for about eight minutes before using it.
The Best Plancha Recipes
Pork Strip and Roasted Pepper Platter
Throw your chops right on the plancha, and start searing them.
Once seared on all sides, remove from heat and slice into thin strips.
Place them back on the center of the plancha, flip over after about one to two minutes for an even sear across all slices.
Place red and green pepper slices on the plancha surrounding the pork, where the heat will be slightly less concentrated. Flip peppers after three minutes.
Drizzle a thin streak of olive oil across pork and peppers, then mix them together.
Plate, garnish with arugula, salt, and pepper before serving.
After coating your boneless skinless chicken breasts in a thick layer of panko bread crumbs, drop right into the center of the plancha burner.
Cook for two minutes on each side, getting a nice crisp, golden brown color on those pieces of chicken.
Slice tomatoes into crescent shapes (usually eight pieces per tomato), and put directly on another burner of the plancha. Grill for two to three minutes, do not flip over.
Check chicken and serve it alongside the tomato slices, the grilled side facing up. Garnish with plenty of arugulas, drizzle with lemon for the best flavor.
Create a zero-rise pizza crust. These will be ready to cook right away.
Use whatever toppings you like, but for this example, we will simply be going with cheese and vegetables.
Have your plancha on a low setting. Flatten out the pizza dough and lay it over the center of the plancha burner.
Quickly apply your sauce, cheese, and toppings. We would use mozzarella cheese, diced tomatoes, green bell peppers, and sauteed garlic and onions.
Once you can see the center of the pizza cooking (cheese will melt), move it off the center of the burner.
Keep it in between burners so the residual heat cooks the edges.
The center will continue to cook (but this will avoid most homemade pizza problems where the center isn’t fully cooked).
Once it looks done, remove, slice, and enjoy.
A New Way to Grill
Planchas aren’t necessarily new, but it’s more than likely that you haven’t been using a plancha in your home until very recently.
The rules of engagement change, and the recipes you can make open up.
Use these tips and tricks we’ve shared with you to get an edge over your plancha grill right now and make something truly spectacular.