When it comes to camping, the joy of outdoor cooking is unparalleled. Whether you're flipping pancakes at sunrise or grilling steaks under the stars, choosing the right cooking equipment can significantly enhance your experience. In the debate between using a griddle or a grill for camping, each offers unique advantages and can affect the outcome of your outdoor culinary adventures.

Key Takeaways:

  • Griddles provide a flat cooking surface ideal for cooking breakfast items like pancakes and eggs, as well as stir fry and hash browns.
  • Grills offer a traditional open flame experience, perfect for searing meat and imparting a smoky flavor.
  • The choice between a griddle and a grill often depends on the type of food you plan to cook, the convenience, and how you want to manage space and cleanup.
camp griddles

cook steak

Understanding the Basics: Griddle vs. Grill

What is a Griddle?

A griddle consists of a flat cooking surface made from materials such as cast iron or non-stick coated steel. It's powered by a heat source like a gas burner or camp stove, providing even heat distribution across the surface. This makes griddles ideal for cooking foods that benefit from a flat surface, such as pancakes, eggs, and even frying bacon.

What is a Grill?

A grill features metal grates that sit over a heat source, which can be charcoal, wood, or gas. The grates allow food to cook directly over an open flame, giving it a distinctive charred flavor and grill marks. Grills are perfect for cooking thicker cuts of meat like steaks, burgers, and hot dogs, as well as vegetables and bread.

frying pans

Cooking Performance

Heat Control and Distribution

Griddles heat evenly, making them excellent for cooking foods at a consistent temperature. This control allows for delicate foods like pancakes and eggs to be cooked without burning. In contrast, grills can provide a high heat which is great for searing meats but may require more attention to avoid overcooking.

Variety of Foods

The flat surface of a griddle is not just for breakfast items; it's also perfect for stir-frying vegetables, making hash browns, or even cooking a quick stir fry. Grills are versatile for cooking different foods as well, but they excel particularly with meats, providing the high heat needed for a perfect sear.

Practicality in Camping

Space and Portability

When camping, space is often at a premium. Griddles can be found in compact sizes, making them easy to store and transport. Some griddles, like the Blackstone griddle, are designed specifically for camping with features that enhance portability. Grills, especially charcoal grills, might require more space and are a bit bulkier, which could be a consideration depending on your camping setup.

Ease of Use and Cleanup

When it comes to camping, the ease of use and cleanup are crucial considerations in choosing your cooking equipment. Griddles generally require less effort in both aspects compared to grills. With a flat cooking surface, griddles can be wiped down easily with some hot water and a bit of dish soap, making them a convenient option for campers who prefer a quick cleanup. This simplicity helps in maintaining a non-stick surface, ensuring consistent cooking performance over time. Additionally, the absence of charcoal or heavy metal grates simplifies the preparation and post-cooking processes.

Conversely, grills, especially charcoal grills, involve more steps in both setup and cleanup. Preparing a charcoal grill can be time-consuming, requiring the management of charcoal and waiting for the right cooking temperature. Post-meal cleanup might involve disposing of ash and scrubbing grill grates to remove food residues, which can be challenging without access to running water. Gas grills offer a bit more convenience compared to charcoal grills, with easier temperature control and no ash cleanup, but they still require dealing with grease and burnt food on grates. Thus, for campers looking for ease and convenience, a griddle might be the more appealing option, especially in scenarios with limited space and resources.

outdoor cooking

Versatility of Cooking Surfaces: Griddle vs. Grill

When debating which is better for camping—a griddle or grill—it's essential to consider the versatility of the cooking surfaces. Griddles provide a flat cooking surface that is ideal for frying eggs, making pancakes, or cooking hash browns, all with ease due to their smooth, flat nature. This makes them particularly suitable for breakfast items or any dish that requires a consistent heat distribution. On the other hand, grills, with their open flame and metal grates, offer a unique flavor profile by allowing fat to drip away from the food, creating that beloved smoky flavor, especially when cooking meats like steaks or burgers.

Grills are often celebrated for their ability to cook a variety of meats and vegetables with those appealing char marks and a smoky taste that can't be replicated on a griddle. However, griddles can accommodate more delicate foods that might fall through grill grates, such as small vegetables or even certain types of seafood. The flat surface of a griddle also makes it easier to stir fry or sauté vegetables, making it a versatile option for those who love cooking different foods with minimal equipment. Whether you're flipping burgers or frying up a stir fry, the choice between a griddle and a grill often comes down to the type of meals planned and personal preference in flavor and cooking style.

Safety and Environmental Considerations

Managing Open Flames

Grills operate with an open flame, which requires careful handling to ensure safety, especially in dry, wooded areas where there is a risk of fire. Griddles typically use a contained heat source, which might be deemed safer in certain camping environments.

Impact on Surroundings

Both griddles and grills should be used responsibly to minimize environmental impact. Proper disposal of grease and charcoal, if used, is crucial to preserve the natural surroundings and adhere to Leave No Trace principles.

Personal Preferences and Experiences

Flavor Preferences

For those who love the smoky taste that only a traditional grill can provide, the choice might lean naturally towards grilling. However, for families with diverse tastes or dietary preferences, a griddle might offer the flexibility to cook a variety of dishes that please everyone.

Cooking Skills

Choosing the right cooking equipment is crucial for your culinary success. If you're new to cooking, griddles are often recommended as they are user-friendly and versatile, perfect for beginners. On the other hand, grills are typically favored by more experienced chefs, especially those who enjoy the art of barbecuing. Understanding your comfort level with these tools can greatly influence your choice and enhance your cooking experience.

camping stove


Choosing between a griddle and a grill for camping depends largely on what you plan to cook, how much space you have, and your personal preferences regarding taste and convenience. Griddles offer versatility and ease of use, making them suitable for a wide range of dishes and ideal for families. Grills provide a traditional cooking experience with the unique flavor of food cooked over an open flame, preferred by many for cooking meats and vegetables.

camp griddle faqs


Can I cook the same foods on a griddle that I can on a grill?

While both can cook a variety of foods, griddles are better for foods requiring a flat surface like pancakes or eggs, whereas grills are ideal for foods that benefit from direct flame and high heat, like steaks and burgers.

Is a griddle safer to use while camping than a grill?

Griddles typically use a contained heat source which can be considered safer in terms of fire risk, especially in dry, wooded areas. However, both require careful handling and adherence to safety guidelines.

Which is easier to clean and maintain while camping, a griddle or a grill?

Griddles are generally easier to clean as they often require just a simple wipe down with hot water and dish soap. Grills, especially those using charcoal, may involve more cleanup of ash and grease.