I’m a Private Chef and Swear By This Underrated Tool for the Perfect Golden Brown Sear and Crispy Finish

published Mar 22, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Don’t you just hate it when you’re patiently waiting for perfectly charred grill marks or a golden brown sear, only to be left disappointed at your food’s still-pale surface when you think it’s done? I’m a professional cook, and let me tell you, it happens to the best of us. That’s why I was so excited when I found this weighted grill press in a client’s kitchen cabinet. I used it on their sirloin steak, and I got a beautifully even sear — perfectly cooked, too. I already loved Lodge for their trusted line of cast iron pans and cookware, but I was unexpectedly impressed with the brand’s lesser-known grill press. It’s my new must-have for gorgeous grill marks every time.

To be honest, I’d been on the lookout for a tool like this one ever since I saw one of my favorite chefs, Carla Lalli Music, raving about what she calls her “pressy downy.” But after some research, I was taken aback at the $150 price tag on her version. This one from Lodge costs just over $30 — and let me tell you, it gets the job done.

But here’s the best part: This versatile grill press isn’t limited to the grill. At just under 8″ wide, it fits perfectly in a standard medium skillet, Dutch oven, or braiser. The weight of the press ensures food adheres to any hot cooking surface — just step away and let gravity do its thing. Place it on top of chicken cutlets, sautéed vegetables, and quesadillas, and you’ll be amazed at the golden, crispy finish. Pro tip: It’s just what you need to make burger-joint-worthy smash burgers on a flat top grill or skillet. I love using it to smash potatoes for extra-crispy bites all around and to press down chicken thighs for crispy chicken skin. Oh yeah, this thing can crisp.

Seriously, there’s nothing more culinarily disappointing than setting out to grill a bunch of vegetables and ending up with a soggy mess. With this tool on hand, you’ll have perfect grill marks on every strip of zucchini, stalk of asparagus, and slab of eggplant, guaranteed. Of course, your burgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings will be perfectly charred on the outside and juicy on the inside, too. I promise, anyone and everyone can get perfect grill marks using this humble press.

Buy: Lodge Cast Iron Grill Press, $31.95