Griddles open up opportunities for outdoor cooking that no other tool will give you. A good griddle can be used to make an entire meal – including appetizers, entrees, sides, and even desserts (all made better with our signature Bearded Butcher Blend Seasonings). It is also an ideal companion to your barbecue, grill, or smoker for quickly cooking vegetables, toasting buns, or cooking smaller food items that tend to fall through the grill grates.
The best outdoor griddles offer a large cooking surface area, a sturdy and stable design, and a flat top griddle surface that can take years of high-heat cooking without warping. Not all griddles measure up, and quite a few of the budget options are actually dangerous to use.
The best outdoor gas griddle doesn't have to be the most expensive, but we have found that you will get much better quality and performance by spending a little more when you buy a griddle.
What Are Flat Top Grills?
Any time that we think of a flat-top grill, the first thing that comes to mind is hamburgers grilled in a roadside café with onions and fluffy rolls. There is something about the smell of sizzling beef and onions that just evokes a mouth-watering effect. Those flat-top grills are awesome, but they are hardly appropriate for at-home use because of their size and the need for special air ducting and plumbing.
In the most general terms, a flat-top grill is a large piece of heavy-duty cold rolled steel or cast iron with round burners underneath. A flat-top grill and a griddle are different because a griddle uses tube burners like a gas grill to heat the cooking surface. This is what you'll find most often when looking at outdoor cooking equipment.
What Are the Different Types of Flat Top Grills?
There are a few terms used to describe different types of flat-top grills and griddles that can make the search for the best one more difficult. The most important thing to keep in mind is the fuel source. Most outdoor gas griddles use a refillable propane tank just like a traditional gas grill. Most countertop or in-home designs will use electric heating coils to heat the cooking surface. Generally, electric griddles have thinner metal which leads to temperature control difficulties.
There are also single-sided and double-sided griddles. Most at-home designs that use double-sided cooking are small appliances. Think of the George Foreman Grill as an example, though the typical double-sided griddle doesn't press the food.
Blackstone vs Pit Boss vs Camp Chef
Blackstone has been our favorite griddle company now for several years. We have found that the griddles they make offer the perfect blend of quality and affordability, along with a customer service department that is actually helpful when things go wrong. Pit Boss and Camp Chef are two of the biggest competitors, and they also make good quality products. We are going to look at the features of all three brands by comparing their most popular models with four burners.
- Blackstone Model 1554: We chose this model over the newer and more expensive 1984 model because of the better value. The 1984 adds a front tray, a paper towel holder, and a magnetic strip, but is otherwise identical to the 1554 model.
- Pit Boss PB757GS: We like this griddle for its size and versatility. The specs closely resemble the Blackstone griddles.
- Camp Chef Flat Top Grills 600: Many of the Camp Chef models are portable griddle designs. This one is for cooking on the porch or patio, just like the Blackstone and Pit Boss models.
Burner output refers to how much thermal energy is produced, measured in British Thermal Units, BTUs. Most manufacturers advertise the output per burner with the total griddle BTU simply being the value with all burners on high. Multiple burners let you set different heat zones across the griddle surface.
- Blackstone: Each of the four burners is rated at 15,000 BTUs for a total of 60,000 BTUs. The 1554 model includes stainless steel gas burners that are built to last.
- Pit Boss: Pit Boss claims a total of 62,000 BTUs from the four burners. That works out to 15,500 BTUs per burner. The burners are stainless steel.
- Camp Chef: Four 12,000 BTU stainless steel gas burners give the Camp Chef griddle a maximum of 48,000 BTUs.
Griddle Size and Materials
The burner output is only one part of how a griddle performs. The size of the griddle surface and the type and thickness of the metal makes a huge difference.
All three griddle models are about 1/8" thick, 4.7mm, or 11 gauge metal. Blackstone and Camp Chef use cold-rolled steel griddles, while the Pit Boss is made from cast iron. Cold-rolled steel tends to offer a smoother surface – this is important for preventing food from sticking. Pit Boss does a decent job smoothing the cast iron surface of their griddle and we have not heard many complaints once the griddle is seasoned. None of the three models uses a stainless steel griddle plate.
The Blackstone model offers a total of 720 square inches of cooking surface. This is a large area that benefits from the high-output burners. It features a rear grease management system that drains to a catch tray. The griddle surface heats very evenly with only minor temperature changes between burners.
Pit Boss has an even larger cooking space at 753 square inches. The pre-seasoned cast iron griddle surface and powerful stainless steel burners work well, but there are more areas with large temperature differences than either of the steel griddles. The grease drips through a hole in the front of the griddle into a removable grease tray.
Camp Chef offers the smallest area at just 600 square inches. The smaller size is appropriate for the lower output burners. Grease drains to a trough on the front of the griddle plate. The smaller griddle size led to lower temperature differences but also a lower top temperature.
Griddle Combo Package
The Blackstone griddle comes with a sturdy stand and folding side tables. A metal tray below the griddle offers extra storage and stability. Casters are at all four corners. The wheels on one side swivel and lock for ease of moving it around. The griddle sits about 36 inches off the ground. A 20lb propane tank hangs on one side with an included adapter. The package weighs around 120lbs with the griddle surface accounting for 55lbs.
Pit Boss uses a sturdy stand to support the griddle. Shelves are lever-folding designs that offer plenty of stability. All four casters swivel and lock which makes moving the griddle easy as can be. The tray beneath the griddle is made from plastic, which helps this model come in at the lowest weight at 116lbs. We couldn't find the official weight of the cast iron griddle, but expect it to be between 45 and 60lbs.
Camp Chef has two lower metal trays and dual folding shelves on either side. This model tips the scales at 142lbs. with an estimated 70lbs going to the griddle. Wheels are on just one side, so you'll need to lift the other side in order to move it around.
Quick Reference Guide:
|Model||Burner Output||Size & Material||Price|
|Blackstone Model 1554||60,000 BTUs||720 sq. in. cold-rolled steel||~$500|
|Pit Boss PB757GS||62,000 BTUs||
753 sq. in. cast iron
|Camp Chef Flat Top Grills 600||48,000 BTUs||
600 sq. in. cold-rolled steel
Things to Consider When Choosing an Outdoor Gas Griddle
Before you decide to buy a griddle, there are a few things that you will want to think about. The most important thing is space. All of these models are fairly large and require about as much room as a traditional grill. You also have similar concerns for fire safety, though an outdoor griddle can be somewhat safer than a grill. Griddles will eventually make a mess, either from grease splatter or leaking drip trays, so consider putting the griddle somewhere that is easy to clean.
The material the griddle is made of also makes a difference. While we typically love cast iron, cold rolled steel is easier to care for and heats up faster, but does not retain heat as well. Griddle plates with stainless steel construction are the ultimate in efficiency, but are very expensive and require more care. Aftermarket replacements in stainless can cost nearly as much as a new griddle.
Griddle cooking means having the right griddle accessories on hand. From scrapers and spatulas to cleaning products and cooking domes, there are a number of excellent things you will want to have on hand that are not borrowed from the charcoal grill. Don't forget a cover, either. Very few products include one but they are important for keeping the griddle clean and protected.
We chose the three models based on a size we think is generally the most useful. Too much surface area can be a waste when you are cooking just a small amount of food, and we have found that griddles with four burners and around 36 inches offer the best of both worlds. Larger and smaller models are available including portable gas griddles small enough for camping.
Why is Blackstone the Best Griddle?
We've used all three of the brands on this list and found them all to be good quality products. But at the end of the day, we find ourselves in front of the Blackstone 1554 the most often. The griddle's cooking surface is easy to care for. The front lip prevents food from sliding off, though the rear grease trap design can get messy and might require leveling to get the griddle to drain. The powder-coated steel frame is rust-resistant and has held up well. It's our opinion that the Blackstone 1554 is the best outdoor griddle.
The Highest-Rated Outdoor Griddle
Amazon reviews often provide insight into how a product performs in the real world. When we checked reviews to write this article, the Blackstone 1554 had over 9,800 reviews and 4.7 stars. Those are remarkable numbers that we think are accurate enough to say the 1554 is a top-rate griddle. Neither of the two other griddles have anywhere near as many reviews, but both are well-regarded. Buyers looking for the best outdoor gas griddle should take a serious look at Blackstone.
A flat top griddle won't always replace a grill, but the versatility these outdoor cooking tools offer makes them ideal for big get-togethers, block parties, and cooking that takes lots of space, like making a dozen pancakes all at once. The biggest mistake people make with a gas griddle is not cleaning and seasoning it correctly. We have an entire article to show you the right way and the wrong way. A griddle makes it easy to enjoy outdoor cooking and opens up menu possibilities you never considered before. We frequently make breakfast (or brunch), then make lunch and dinner on our outdoor gas griddle. How many cooking appliances are that flexible?
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