The 10 Best Outdoor Griddles
10. Bull Outdoor Products Stainless
9. Coleman Triton Series
8. Camp Chef FT600
7. Camp Chef FG16
6. Royal Gourmet 4-Burner
5. Camp Chef SG60
4. Blackstone Table Top
3. Lodge LDP3
2. Royal Gourmet Portable
1. Blackstone Restaurant-Grade
Where The Heart Sizzles
According to an old folk standard, the ideal home is on the range. In the kitchen, that’s largely true, as a good range top is where most cooks do the majority of their best work. If that’s the case, however, I would argue that the heart belongs to the griddle. You may not realize it if you’ve never spent any time in the kitchen of a good brunch place, but a tremendous amount of the foods you adore come sizzling off a griddle.
What happens when you take the kitchen outside? Well, as we know from our experiences with grilling — and with using range-style burners attached to the best grills — cooking outdoors often results in delicious cuisine. It also has a tendency to produce some bonding time between a cook and their guests, as everyone hangs out around the heat source. This is a primal thing; we’ve been crowding around heat sources together, cooking food and growing close to one another, for millennia.
When you bring a griddle outside, you experience many of the same results. The added bonus here is that you do so while enjoying beautifully cooked hash browns, tender strips of bacon, fluffy pancakes, and perfectly prepared eggs.
The griddle isn’t just for breakfast, either, though that is one of the places where it truly shines. Many griddles have a reverse side with lines that resemble the grating of a grill. These are especially useful if you’re cooking over bare coals or an open flame and you don’t have a grate for grilling handy. Those lines will sear beautifully into steaks and burgers.
What Kind Of Outdoor Griddle Is Right For You?
Griddling outdoors may seem pretty desirable to you at this point, but we still need to figure out what kind of outdoor griddle will suit you the best. There are a number of types available, and examining each one will reveal the type of cook and the cooking environment where it will work its magic to the fullest.
The simplest style of outdoor griddle is shaped to fit inside a larger grill. Some of these are meant to fill the grilling space in its entirety, while others only take up a portion of a given surface, allowing you to grill and griddle simultaneously. These are my personal favorites for the very reason that they allow you to multitask. Keep an eye on the wall design of these, however. If you plan on flipping flapjacks in a tight space, and the wall is too tall, it could interfere with your spatula work.
The biggest downside to this kind of griddle is temperature control. With a griddle sitting atop charcoals, it can be difficult to ascertain whether or not a surface is hot enough for cooking. Depending on what you’re making, its also possible that the surface will raise to too high a temperature to properly cook an item. If you’re an experienced cook, you can get a good sense of the surface's temperature by hovering your hand close by, but that’s not an ideal solution for many weekend grillers. If you already own a full size grill, you like the idea of dedicating a little space to a griddle, and you don’t have the time or money to attend culinary school, the best way to keep an eye on that temperature is the way I do it: with an infrared thermometer.
If you don’t already own a grill, or you own both a grill and a significant amount of outdoor space, you can invest in a griddle that has its own stand, burners, and propane tank. These resemble the finer grills on the market, but their surface is solid from edge to edge. The most appealing aspect of these units is the ease with which you can adjust the temperature of the burners and, by extension, of the griddle surface. Anyone interested in making pancakes understands how responsive they are to changes in temperature, and how humiliating it is serving up burnt flapjacks with mush on the inside.
Another feature too look for in an outdoor griddle is a drip pan. If you plan on cooking meats that are liable to generate a lot of fat runoff, a griddle with a drip pan is a must. Some models make it easy to catch that runoff, and bacon lovers can use this method to capture clean, unburnt bacon grease for use in a variety of recipes. (Try it in your next batch of cornbread and let me know when the wedding is.)
Tips For Looking Like A Pro With Your Outdoor Griddle
Grillmaster is a title bestowed on that one individual in a group of friends who has enough free time and few enough other hobbies to get better at grilling than anyone else. If you hear any hint of envy in that, it’s because I’ve had some bad luck in the grilling department. My skills have much improved over the years, but I am still a lot more comfortable in the kitchen. That said, put a griddle in front of me on a Sunday morning, and the title Griddlemaster is liable to come bounding from my bloody-Mary-stained lips.
So, how can you become a Griddlemaster? Well, there are a few tips you can follow to look more like a pro out there. First, get your hands on a few condiment bottles. These are clear versions of the plastic ketchup and mustard bottles you’ve seen at diners. Fill one with water and the other with your favorite cooking oil. Also, label them clearly.
Once the griddle is hot, spray it with water from the proper bottle, and let your guests hear that magnificent sizzle. Then, before the water cooks off, rub the griddle down with a cloth. This is a great way to clean it up before use.
When it comes time to actually get cooking, make sure you have a dedicated set of hardware — a mix of grilling and range top utensils — that you only use for the griddle. The more uniform a set the better. Good food is all about perception, after all.