Camping Griddle Buying Guide: All You Need To Know!

Camping griddles are a common way to increase the versatility of your outdoor grills whether cooking on a back deck during an extended weekend or summer vacation or enjoying the great outdoors with a camping trip. If there’s one thing that really makes a long-term outing really enjoyable it’s great food. Especially since getting away from screens and the hustle and bustle means a lot of time. It’s way less annoying to take the time to cook a great meal when you have hours of nothing ahead versus feeling rushed every second of every day.

While admittedly I do most of my camping on a grill over the open fire, often putting cast iron pans or pots on top for when I need a flat surface or the dish calls for it, sometimes you just want that flat even surface that takes the heat, spreads is out, and is easy to operate with a spatula.

A good camping griddle is ideal for a variety of foods and is especially good for “spatula” foods that are common with breakfast (sausage, eggs, pancakes, bacon) foods and some lunch foods (hamburgers).

two cast iron camp griddles

QUICK VERDICT: Lodge Reversible Grill & Griddle

If you don’t care about the full reviews, all the history of griddles, details, etc, and just want to know the best overall camping griddle, it’s the Lodge Reversible Grill & Griddle. This is versatile, reliable, good for indoors or out, and made of good old fashioned cast iron. You take care of this and it will take care of you for decades.

Not to mention the versatility allowing you to have grill and griddle in one piece as opposed to needing to make room for two separate pieces of cooking equipment.

I love this thing – it’s one of those few pieces of gear that always goes with me regardless of the camping trip, so I can highly recommend.

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I’m a big fan of camping griddles because sometimes you love the conventional grill, and sometimes you need a flat surface that evens out heat and lets you cook items that otherwise would be harder to grill. Fish is notorious for slipping through even small gaps in a conventional grill, and you’re not cooking eggs on the grill. And let me tell you, after a long day of 20+ miles of hiking or trekking through the woods, having a good dinner followed by eggs the next morning is 100% the way to go.

And if you want to cook eggs over a campfire you’re going to need that griddle!

So Just What Is a Griddle?

Don’t overcomplicate things. Basically a griddle is any flat surface that can be used to cook things over a campfire that otherwise would be harder or impossible to cook. Technically a cooking sheet, a long flat pan, those would all be griddles. Though most modern campers will be thinking of a long thin rectangular pan that goes right on a grill, on grill supports, or otherwise becomes the main cooking surface.

Here’s a picture to give a classic example:

griddle on coleman camping stove
Good look at a griddle being used on a Coleman Max camping stove. It gives a different type of surface to cook on, which many camp chefs including myself appreciate.

I have friends who put on a griddle before cooking steak or burgers because they prefer the even heat and actually don’t care for the direct grill marks. To each their own – I think more times than not this comes from a bad experience with someone who didn’t handle the grilling well, but as I say, to each their own. You can get great meals using either one, and I have done just that!

Griddles aren’t complicated pieces of cooking equipment, but just as you may have those baking sheets that hold up well in the oven, and the ones that want to warp every time, there are major differences between the good ones and the bad ones.

Luckily my start with griddles was way back in the Scouting days when we went camping all the time and even though I didn’t particularly like pancakes back then – I loved cooking them, and was VERY good at it. Thirteen bubbles and the lightest rim from the top view and they were ready to flip. Worked every time!

If space isn’t an issue, then I will generally pack both grills and a griddle, but there are times where it might make sense to have one as opposed to both. I’ll do a deep dive based on my over 35+ years of camp cooking to go over the pros and cons of a camping griddle, how it compares to a camping stove or normal grills over the fire, and then give you all the knowledge you need to make a smart decision.

Let’s jump in!

Should You Even Buy A Camping Griddle?

The first question should be whether or not you even need to buy a griddle for your next campout, travel adventure, or other outdoor excursion. You may find a normal camping stove or basic grill over a fire pit is enough thanks to other pots and pans you have.

While I’m a big fan of having choices when going outdoors, not everyone is going to have the same priorities when cooking, or interested in the same foods. If everything on your menu can be grilled without issue, or you tend to make stews in big cast iron Dutch Ovens, then you simply don’t need another piece of cooking grill.

On the other hand, if you hate grill marks on your burgers or want foods like pancakes, eggs, or bacon and want to be able to cook those on a small camp oven, or without having to have multiple other pots and pans, then going with a camping griddle can be a great move. This provides a flat surface that can be heated, keeps direct flames away from the food (and grease from food dripping into the fire causing it to flare up and burn the food), and generally will provide a more even heat than direct cooking over an open fire.

If you’re not sure, talk to other people who do the type of camp cooking you’re looking at whether that’s RV travel, old fashioned tent camping at fire pits, cooking on a camp stove, etc.

You might even have a neighbor whose backyard grill has a griddle setup, and they will be able to tell you the pros and cons of those grills compared to other setups and why they went with that one versus another grill. While this won’t necessarily be an apples to apples comparison if you’re looking for camp griddles, but it’s still a firsthand account and pieces of advice you can recieve, which is always useful.

Personally I’m a fan of a camping griddle, but there are still certain times when camping when I do not use them.

Pros of a Camping Griddle

  • Provide a very large cooking surface
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean (but keep in mind cleaning and maintenance are different things – griddles require maintenance outside of basic cleaning after use)
  • Versatile
  • Allow cooking of more foods that would otherwise offer limited options

Cons of a Camping Griddle

  • They are higher maintenance than basic grills and need to be taken care of
  • Although they offer great even heat once warmed up, they take much longer to heat up
  • The cost: camping griddles tend to be more expensive

What To Look For In A Camping Griddle

Griddle can be wildly different and that’s because a small griddle meant to fit over one or two burners on a small Coleman camp stove is going to be completely different for one meant to be able to handle food for a dozen people while another is just for a few pieces of bacon and a small pancake or two. What your specific needs are when cooking breakfast while camping are going to determine what type of camping griddle is best for your specific needs and what you should be looking for.

IMPORTANT: Don’t buy a “most highly rated griddle” if it’s the completely wrong type to meet your actual needs while camp cooking!

Size, Weight, & Portability

One griddle can be only 10 inches long, very light weight, very portable because it’s designed for use on a small camp stove. On the other hand, many camping griddles are made out of cast iron to be used over a grill that is right over the fire pit.

If you’re going to be hiking or backpacking then the size and portability of the camping griddle matters a lot. This is less of a concern if you’re packing a camping trailer and plan on using it on a fire ring’s grill.

Because of this, it’s important to keep this in minds since how you’re going to use your camp griddle is going to determine what weight and size you will want your griddle to be. Smaller for camping stoves, larger for use over a campfire.

Fuel or Fire?

The ideal material to use also depends on whether this griddle is going to be used over campfires with a lot of heat or flames, or direct flames on gas stoves where the heat is put through flames directly into the camp griddle, but on a small area.

Using a cast iron griddle on a camping stove just doesn’t make a lot of sense – you’d want steel or treated aluminum. This conducts heat faster and allows for a more reasonable and economic cooking time, especially considering you’re burning fuel with a camping stove.

How Many People Are You Feeding?

A couple people can make do with smaller camping griddles while if you’re cooking for an entire Scout Troop or a family with a large appetite you’ll want at least a standard griddle if not a large one.

How many people will you normally be feeding when cooking up a meal? Do you like cooking for large groups or are you traveling solo? The number of people you’re consistently feeding will not only be a major factor in deciding what size or type of griddle you need – but also whether you need one, just need one, or actually need a couple to adjust based on the specific situation being played out.

Personally one griddle is enough for me since I tend to only use them camping and not when backpacking or hiking, and I don’t use camp stoves that much, but for outdoor people who do the equation can change a bit.

Cooking Surface

Just cooking a few slices of bacon or a sausage patty or two, or do you need to cook two dozen pancakes or hamburgers? Whichever way you go with this will make a huge difference in knowing how much of a cooking surface you’ll need, which directly goes to the size of the griddle you’ll need.

What Does It Bring To Your Experience?

For some people adding the foods that a griddle handles better than a grill drastically improves the camping experience while for other campers it really doesn’t add all that much. Everyone’s experience is going to be a little bit different and while I’m all about bringing along a little bit extra for a higher quality of outdoor experience,

My Picks for Top Camping Griddles

There are several really good options out there when it comes to finding a great camping griddle, but as with all outdoor gear there are some that just stick out a bit above and beyond the rest of the pack. And when the prices are comparable, why wouldn’t you pick the one that is the best?

I don’t believe in Top 10 or Top 15 lists, and personally I see these as a red flag indicating there’s a better than even chance that the person writing the article has very little or no experience with most of the items listed. At least 99% of the time that seems to hold up.

Best Overall Griddle: Lodge Reversible Grill & Griddle

This shouldn’t be a surprise as it is the one that I mentioned earlier in this article, however it’s worth noting that this isn’t just the best budget-friendly option or the best cast iron option – it’s just one of the best overall camp griddles, period. As long as you’re looking for a camping griddle that is actually going to be used on a fire versus on a small camping stove, this is my pick.

two cast iron camp griddles

So why am I so big on the Lodge Reversible Grill and Griddle? First of all, I’ll point out I’m not the only one. Ask campers who do a lot of griddle cooking and this name will inevitably come up.

But there are several reasons that it really sticks out in my mind and why the reviews are for this griddle are consistently so high from frequent campers, outdoor cooks, and others outdoor-oriented adventurers.

Number 1: Cast Iron. Cast iron will last forever if you take care of this. This is not only a griddle you could use for your entire life without having to think of replacing it, but your great grandchildren could still be cooking on this…or teaching their own kids/grandkids how to camp cook.

I also love cast iron because the taste. There’s a reason seasoned cast iron is so loved. The flavor it imbues on food is incredible and I have plenty of memories of cast iron food from home (Mom’s stir fry off the oven) or from camping with the Scouts…or with family.

Cast iron is an amazing material and I’m a huge fan of it.

Number 2: Versatility. One side is perfect for grilling…with no danger of the food falling through and into the fire, and one side is flat and perfect for burgers, pancakes, eggs, or anything else you need surface to cook on.

That versatility is great and means there’s potentially one less piece of gear I need to buy for long-term camping, camp cooking, or a permanent camp (private cabin or a canvas tent). This one piece of gear takes care of it, and when not on the fire can even be (when clean) a flat surface that acts as a temporary table space, backstop for writing in a notebook, etc.

Many outdoor cooks prefer a camping griddle grill combo, so why not get the best option right off the bat?

Number 3: Reliability. Between the reputation of the company, the quality of the craftsmanship, and the material used, you know you can rely on this camping griddle. If you treat a Lodge Reversible Grill and Griddle well, it will treat you back for life.

The one major drawback? Cast iron is heavy. If you are backpacking or moving from place to place this might be prohibitively heavy. However, if I’m doing a through hike, I’m not carrying a camping griddle with me anyway so it’s kind of a moot point.

This is one of those pieces of camp cooking equipment where I know I only need to buy it once and then I’m done – and I’m all for that!

Best Cheap Griddle: Nordic Ware 2-Burner Griddle

Cheap griddle is an interesting term because honestly most of the time no matter where you’re shopping there’s not going to be more than $10 separating an excellent premium griddle from an excellent budget griddle. So while I would say in my experience you’re in very good hands if you save money by going with the Nordic Wear 2-Burner Griddle, I’m not sure you save so much as to make it worth not just getting the Lodge griddle.

HOWEVER, there is one very important detail that might change the math and that’s the weight, and therefore shipping costs if you’re ordering online. Nordic Ware is made from a specially treated aluminum which means it is relatively light weight. This is in stark contrast to the cast iron that the Lodge griddle, and many others, are made from and that can change the total price quite a bit.

Remember: The material used to make the griddle can affect many things including heat, how long heat is retained, weight, and to some extent even taste. Make sure to pay attention to whether a griddle is made of aluminum, cast iron, or steel when buying, especially if you have a personal preference among those materials.

That said, if you’re looking for a smaller, lighter, griddle that is designed to work with most camping stoves than the Nordic Ware brand is the one that I would go with. It’s pretty top notch.

Best Griddle for Backpackers

This is a bit more challenging because anyone who has done extensive backpacking knows: every ounce of weight counts. And generally speaking, the need for a griddle for thru hikers going long distances is questionable because your food choices generally mean that a simple camping stove and pot is the smart way to go. So my first answer for the best griddle for backpackers would be: maybe re-check your food and hiking plans and decide if this is really the way you want to go?

But since I have at least one friend (you know who you are!) who insists – if I have to make a choice it looks obvious that the best backpacker griddle would be the Nordic, mentioned above. It’s lighter weight, it is more designed for camping stoves than backpacking stoves, but with the smallest model you may have the ability to set up a relatively safe or decent cooking space and this griddle can still be used in a snap on an existing fire ring with attached grill – just put it on like a surface pan and you are good to go!

Common Camping Griddle Questions

Can you put a griddle on a camp stove?

Yes. Using a griddle on a camp stove is not only a common practice but can be a great way to add some serious versatility to how you can cook during your campout. I’m a big fan of breakfast and you need a griddle if you’re going to cook eggs, bacon, and the such. Just make sure you size it up to have the right size for your camp stove – griddles are not easy to gerry-rig.

Can you take a Blackstone griddle camping?

Blackstone griddles in particular are well-known because the brand has a reputation for high quality from many outdoor enthusiasts. While this isn’t the type of thing you would drag along for a backpacking trip, for a weekend campout, or something to pull out from the RV, this can work extremely well.

Are all griddles made out of cast iron?

This depends on what type of griddle you’re using. Traditionally, yes, a griddle is made out of cast iron as this material is amazing for cooking and can last forever if properly taken care of. There are modern griddles that are portable, electric, or otherwise designed for RV and outlet use that are made of different materials.

However, when most people are talking about griddles in context of camping or a campfire it’s a pretty safe bet to assume they’re talking about the old school designs. Since many griddles now aren’t made for a grill directly over a fire pit, but for camping stoves, you’ll find many camping griddles make of steel or aluminum.

Enjoy Using Your Griddle to Make Delicious Meals at Camp!

Now that you know all you need to know about griddles, how they work, and what to look for before buying a new one before your next outing, you should be able to enjoy the benefits that come with it, which is all the amazing delicious food that fills you up whether you’re getting ready for a day of hiking, fishing, kayaking, or otherwise running around all day or whether you’ve put in a long day and are ready to kick back in the campsite and relax with a delicious hot meal.

A good camping griddle can sometimes make all the difference, and if you see me around the fire cooking on my cast iron camping griddle, feel free to wander over, say hello, and see what’s on the grill!

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