Let's face it, we've all been there—you’re trying to flip pancakes on a campfire, only to get an ash-flavored disaster. Heating steaks, or perhaps even an over-enthusiastic approach to making a Naples-style pizza without an oven, is exhausting, and nobody wants to repeat it.
This article reviews 2023's best camping griddles—the unsung heroes of outdoor breakfasts.
With the right griddle, not only do you kiss burnt breakfasts goodbye, but you also elevate your camping cuisine to gourmet levels.
Imagine sizzling bacon, golden-brown pancakes, perfect medium-rare steaks, and perfectly grilled sandwiches, all while surrounded by nature's best views. Hungry yet?
Let's break down everything you need to know about a camping griddle, along with a detailed buying guide of the five best griddles on the market. Let's get started!
What Is the Purpose of a Griddle?
The purpose of a griddle is to provide a flat, heated surface for cooking a variety of foods efficiently. They're actually very common in South Asia and are often referred to as a "tawa." Unlike a traditional skillet or frying pan that has sloped sides, a griddle typically has a flat surface with little or no sides, which allows for easy flipping and maneuvering of food items.
This makes griddles especially useful for cooking foods that require a flat surface area, such as pancakes, omelets, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. Exactly why they're an excellent choice for a camping trip.
The best part? Griddles are versatile and can be used for both indoor and outdoor cooking! They come in various forms, including stovetop models that can be placed over burners, electric versions that plug into an outlet, and standalone units that can be used for outdoor cooking or larger events.
In summary, a griddle serves to make the cooking process more convenient and efficient for a wide range of foods. This often provides a more uniform heat distribution than other cooking surfaces and makes them excellent for camping setups.
Reviewing the Best Camping Griddles in Detail
The Royal Gourmet PD1301R portable tabletop gas grill griddle is a powerhouse for outdoor cooking.
It offers a robust 25,500 BTUs across three stainless-steel burners. Also, it’s a portable griddle, ideal for camping and tailgating.
The 316-square-inch cooking area is perfect for various foods like rice, eggs, and burgers. The griddle also features a porcelain-enameled griddle top that is designed to retain heat efficiently.
The piezo ignition system guarantees quick start-ups, and the large grease cup simplifies post-cooking cleanup. The best part? This griddle comes with a specially designed PVC-coated cover for added durability and protection.
The Royal Gourmet PD1202S is another portable and reliable gas griddle. It comes with a BTU output of 12,000 and has a compact size.
The griddle offers 221 square inches of porcelain-enameled cooking surface. Think of it as spacious enough to cook 8 patties simultaneously.
The unit heats up quickly and evenly, thanks to its single rectangle-shaped burner.
The PD1202S also features a slide-out stainless-steel grease tray for hassle-free cleaning. As compared to the PD1301R, this one's lightweight and easy to assemble.
The PIT BOSS PB336GS two-burner flat-top griddle falls between the first two griddles.
So, if you’re looking for a two-burner and flat surface top, buy this one! A griddle like this is usually perfect for both your backyard and outdoor adventures, like a tent camping getaway for the weekend.
You’re looking at a spacious 289-sq. inch. cooking area and dual burners. Plus, you get a pre-seasoned surface, heat-protecting burner shrouds, and four non-slip legs.
Though the unit’s burners raise some minor concerns, it remains a reliable choice for outdoor cooking, especially at this price point.
The Royal Gourmet PD1203A is a 2-burner portable griddle designed for outdoor use, perfect for tailgating, picnicking, and camping.
It’s compact and lightweight.
It can easily fit in your car or carrying bag.
The griddle features a 23-sq. inch detachable porcelain-enameled cooking surface.
Last but not least, this flat-top portable griddle by Flame King is made from cast iron with a Teflon coating. Surface-area-wise, you’re looking at 267 sq. inches of cooking space and a 12,000 BTU heat output.
It is compatible with both 1-lb. propane canisters and up to 20-lb. propane tanks.
The griddle is equipped with an adjustable heat knob with a built-in igniter and features a grease shelf tray for easy cleanup!
What Is the Difference Between a Griddle and a Grill?
A griddle has a flat cast iron or aluminum surface. A grill, on the other hand, is a grid of a sort and is usually made of steel, cast iron, stainless steel sheets, etc.
When you cook something on a grill, the food comes in direct contact with the heat and fire, giving it a smoky taste. Grilling also can have a steep learning curve, so you have to be very careful with timely flipping. In addition, some items just do not cook well on a grill, as compared to how they would on a griddle.
When cooking on a griddle, you need to heat it nicely, but you don't panic about unintentionally charring the food because the heat distribution is even.
The food is not in direct contact with the fire. It's just a lot more convenient and quick. However, it does lack the smoky grilled taste that you only get through direct fire contact.
Which One Is Better for Camping—Grill, Camp Stove, or a Griddle?
Choosing the best cooking equipment for camping—be it a grill, camp stove, or griddle—depends largely on your culinary preferences. For instance, what type of meals do you plan to make? How much gear are you willing to lug along?
Grills offer the irreplaceable smoky flavor that many outdoor enthusiasts love in BBQ foods. But keep in mind that they're generally bulkier and take longer to set up and heat. So if you can carry them around and want to have BBQ foods, a grill will serve you well.
Camp stoves are the multitaskers of the outdoor cooking world. They're lightweight, easy to set up, and offer quick heating. Secondly, it's just basically a stove.
What you're putting yourself down for is a portable design stove (just like the one you have in your kitchen) that allows you to make a variety of meals on your camping trip. The only downside? You'll have to carry pans and skillets along.
For starters, griddles provide even heat distribution. This makes them perfect for cooking breakfast items like pancakes or more delicate foods that would otherwise be ruined on a high-heat grill. Griddles are also quicker and more convenient!
If you want a versatile pick, griddles are your best bet. But, if you're fond of BBQ foods and like it done the traditional way, you'll need a grill. Camp stove? They're just a good take-along if you have space for them and will only suit you if you also wish to carry pans and skillets with you.
Features You Should Look for When Buying a Griddle
The size of the griddle you choose will depend on how many people you usually cook for and how much space you have to store and transport it. Larger griddles can cook more food at once but are harder to carry and store.
Griddles can be made from various materials like cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminum. Cast iron is durable and retains heat well but is heavy. Aluminum and stainless steel are lighter but may not have the same heat retention properties as cast iron.
A good griddle should have some system for containing and removing grease. It could either be a built-in grease tray or a channel. However, there are simpler griddles that do not have this feature. You might just have to manually clean the surface with a towel.
Consider the actual cooking surface area. Some griddles offer multiple cooking zones for versatility. But this often comes at the expense of a large, unified cooking surface, which is preferable for some dishes.
For instance, if you're searing your steak in a heated area, you could put it down to rest on the side with less heat so the juices can diffuse easily.
The weight of the griddle is crucial, especially if you plan on taking it along for camping. Lighter materials like aluminum might be preferable for portability, while heavier materials like cast iron offer better heat retention.
Griddles can be fueled by various means, including charcoal, propane, or electricity. Choose the type that's most convenient for you and fits your cooking style. If you're camping, a propane or charcoal grill will likely be your go-to option. But if you have an RV, you could also get an electric griddle.
Look for a griddle with good heat control features, such as multiple burners or adjustable temperature settings.
Some griddles come with extra features like lids, side tables, or cooking utensils. While not strictly necessary, such features can be useful! Also, try and find a griddle that can operate as both an electric griddle and a charcoal/propane griddle.
Before making a purchase, check what kind of warranty or customer support is offered. A longer warranty can be a sign of confidence in the griddle's quality.
People Also Ask
How much does a camping griddle cost?
A camping griddle can cost anywhere between $20 to $100 and beyond, depending on its features, burners, size, brand, etc. On average, a good quality camping griddle will cost you around $130. It's recommended to explore different options and read reviews to find a griddle that suits your camping needs and budget.
Is a cast iron griddle healthy?
Yes, a cast iron griddle is healthy. The only thing a cast iron griddle can omit upon heating is iron—and that’s usually considered good for the body.
The only unhealthy angle to this might be for individuals with specific health issues—individuals who cannot handle excessive iron intake. However, it must be kept in mind that a cast iron griddle won’t always release iron into your food.
Cast iron's heat retention and distribution properties contribute to even cooking, and it's compatible with various heat sources. Seasoned cast iron griddles can also provide a naturally non-stick surface, so that’s a benefit, too.
Can you cook steak on a griddle?
Yes, you can cook steak on a griddle. In fact, the griddle's flat surface allows for even heat distribution, creating a consistent sear on the steak. Remember to flip the steak halfway through the cooking process for even cooking. It's important to monitor the steak's internal temperature using a meat thermometer to achieve your desired level of doneness.
The key is to preheat the griddle to a high temperature and ensure the steak is well-seasoned and patted dry. Thicker cuts of steak, about an inch thick, are recommended for griddle cooking to achieve a nice sear on the outside.
To make sure the inside stays juicy and tender, you must put a thick steak to rest for 7-8 minutes on the low-heat surface area of the griddle.
With thin steaks, your steak will usually be done in 1-2 minutes max. The doneness is usually easier to tackle with thin steaks, and a griddle is really helpful due to the high heat.
Is a griddle a stove?
No, a griddle is not a traditional stove. Instead, it’s a ready-made stove with a pan attached to it. So basically, you have a cast iron flat top on a unit that’s heated through either gas, fire, or electricity.
Why is it called a griddle?
The word "grill" has its roots in the French "gril," which comes from the Latin "craticula," meaning a gridiron. The term "griddle" itself can be traced back to Old French and Anglo-French influences, with origins in the early 13th century.
The term "griddle," as we know it, currently refers to a large, flat cooking surface used for cooking foods like pancakes, eggs, and burgers.
Is a griddle a form of a tawa?
Yes! The only difference is that a “tawa” is traditionally placed on top of a stove. A griddle, on the other hand, is a ready-made tawa with its own heat source. So, just like with tawas, you can use a griddle to make your pancakes, steaks, burgers, eggs, and more!
Are there any DIY alternatives for a camping griddle?
If you’re looking to make a camping griddle yourself, the goal is simple—have a heat source and a flat surface of cast iron that you can place on top of it. Whether you do that utilizing mounting on bricks or welding is up to you. For a heat source, just place coals below the cast iron and make sure you can heat the sheet/cast iron enough to cook your desired food. Also, make sure your iron is free from rust or contaminants.
Looking for the best camping griddle? You’ve come to the right place! Here, we reviewed the five best camping griddles, and we hope you found one that’s perfect for your needs. Don’t forget to check out our site for expert grilling guides, information, and reviews!
About the Author
Tamara J. Sims
As a seasoned kitchen and food writer, Tamara has a remarkable ability to weave words together, transporting readers to the heart of the culinary world. Tamara’s articles are written with an engaging blend of insightful commentary, honesty, and real-world examples based on personal experiences. She has the ability to captivate seasoned food enthusiasts and novice cooks alike.
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