They say that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes and the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center immediately speaks to that.
Most outdoor griddles are rectangular, but one of the first things you notice about the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center is that the cooking surface is round.
The 22” griddle sits atop a two burner system that transfers heat from two independently controlled burners to the griddle surface. Independent temperature control is a nice feature to have on a griddle so you can cook food at different temperatures, or cook on one side and keep food warm on another.
The griddle and burner system fit snugly on a sturdy cabinet that holds a standard 20 pound propane tank. The wide wheelbase has four independent casters (two of which lock) making it relatively easy to wheel the unit around on your deck or patio. Not that you couldn’t take this cooker camping or to a tailgate party, but weighing in at about 60 pounds without the propane tank this outdoor cooking center is probably best suited for cooking at home.
Out of the box, the Cuisinart 360 comes with a few convenient features. The lid or cover is made of stainless steel and fits nicely over the cooking surface. A cover comes in very handy when griddle cooking because it allows you to trap additional heat and often helps foods like boneless chicken breasts cook more evenly. Covers are also great for melting cheese and keeping foods warm. This cover is about ten inches tall at the apex and has a round vent with three holes which when open will let steam escape if desired. Of course, a cover is helpful for storing the griddle as well.
On its left side, the Cuisinart 360 also has a folding prep table or shelf with a paper towel holder and three hooks for hanging spatulas, tongs, and other utensils. For its size, the side table is surprisingly sturdy and great for setting down a cold beverage or keeping a plate or serving dish handy.
The round shape of the Cuisinart 360 has a rolled infinity edge where food scraps, oils, liquids, and other debris can be scraped off the sides. The waste is caught in a 360-degree grease pan with a grease cup located in the rear. You have to be diligent about staying on top of cleanup both during the cook and when the meal is done. The grease pan has a smooth coating that makes it easy to wipe with a paper towel.
Note that the griddle surface of the Cuisinart 360 does not come seasoned, so you need to season it like a cast iron pan before your first cook, and it may need occasional re-seasoning depending on usage, weather and storage conditions. I have found flaxseed oil to be one of the best oils to use for seasoning griddle surfaces, but basic vegetable oil also works.
Before you begin seasoning, give the entire surface a complete cleaning with mild soap and water to clean any factory debris or oils that may have been on the griddle to keep it from rusting during shipping. Give it a good rinse and thoroughly dry the entire surface.
The manufacturer instructions recommend seasoning with oil two to three times or until you get a smooth black finish on the griddle. This is a good rule of thumb. After having seasoned a few griddle grills, I find that it works best to start with a very small pool of oil roughly the size of a quarter then spread the oil across the surface with a paper towel or lint-free kitchen towel. If using a kitchen towel, be sure to pick one you don’t mind discarding because it will most likely be ruined afterward. If the griddle seems a little dry, add a little more oil. Do your best to prevent any pooling of oil or large streaks or drips while seasoning. You want a nice even coating of oil.
Ignite the griddle and once it begins to smoke allow the oil to smoke and burn off completely before turning the heat to off and repeating. For safety reasons, I like to let the griddle cool for about five minutes between seasonings.
I ended up seasoning this griddle five times in total before cooking on it. The entire process took a little over an hour to complete.
While the griddle was seasoning, I took surface temperature readings using the ThermoWorks Thermapen IR thermometer that is designed to measure both surface cooking temperatures and internal temperatures of food.
The griddle was seasoned with both burners set to the highest setting. I found the temperature to be relatively consistent at about 500F with some areas near the edges and directly over the flame of the burner registering as high as 517F. Getting a hard sear on a burger or steak should not be a problem on this griddle.
Some people think that the first thing you cook on a new griddle should be bacon. I tend to disagree because bacon often contains sugars that leave burned bits on the griddle that food can stick to. Nonetheless, for this review, I started with bacon because I wanted to get a good amount of rendering fat to test how well the grease pan handled the flow of grease. I was pleasantly surprised that the bacon grease flowed from the center to the outer infinity edge of the griddle, dripping into the 360-degree catch pan just as it was designed to do. I tested grease flow over five separate cooks and was very impressed that oils, grease, drippings, and juices made their way into the removable catch cup with no assistance required.
Having cooked on a variety of outdoor griddles and commercial flattops, the one thing I missed on this round griddle was the vertical back and sidewalls for me to clang the spatula against to corral loose items like strips of bacon, chunks of potatoes or long pieces of asparagus. Surprisingly, this was not a deal breaker. I was also concerned that when making scrambled eggs or an omelet the infinity edge would be more of a burden than a benefit. Taking that into consideration, I carefully poured the eggs slowly on the griddle and paid close attention to where the raw eggs were flowing. Again, to my surprise, scrambled eggs did not require the training wheels of a sidewall, which I appreciated.
I was able to get a decent amount of food on the Cuisinart 360 (it can handle about 16 burgers at once) but the 22” cooking surface should be taken into consideration if you volunteer to cook pancakes for St. Alfonzo’s Annual Pancake Breakfast.
Compared to the other 22” outdoor griddles that are currently available, the Cuisinart 360 is an excellent option for home use on the patio. It’s compact size makes it great for cooking on and then rolling out of the way to reclaim some of your deck or patio space.
Looking for some fun griddle recipes?
For more detail info on this cooking method, check out my book, The Flippin’ Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook: Tasty Recipes, Pro Tips and Bold Ideas for Outdoor Flat Top Grillin’. It's full of tips, techniques, and 50 recipes that will inspire you to cook creatively on the griddle, just like the pros.
Date Reviewed 04/26/2019
Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
Cuisinart is a home appliance brand owned by Conair Corporation. In 1971 Cuisinart introduced the USA to their electric food processor. They now offer a wide variety of cooking equipment including blenders, coffee makers, rice cookers and outdoor grills.