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Camp Kitchen? Griddle, Grill or Pellet Smoker: Which Is Best?

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Deciding what’s the best way to cook while camping can seem daunting. Do you go for a versatile griddle, a classic grill or something more specialized like a pellet smoker? 

Here we take a look at the pros and cons of each option to help make your decision easier. Happy camping!

As someone who owns all three, I can tell you they each have their pros and cons. Some require power that might not be readily available when you are camping. 

On the other hand, the Forest Service rules or camping region you are in might prohibit open flames (yes, even for cooking). 

Even with all of those variables, some folks jus prefer certain types of food and flavors that not all devices can produce. If you are someone who loves smoked food, a griddle might not be your go-to. 

So, lets lay out the pros and cons, talk some prices and logistics and help you determine what type of camping cooker is best for you, a griddle, a grill or a pellet smoker. 

Start With Your Personal Preferences

Here’s the deal, I can go on and on about which grill is going to be “best for camping” but none of what I say matters if it doesnt fit into your personal preferences. 

So, let’s start right off the bat with your personal favorites. Are you someone who loves rich smokey flavors that only a smoker can create? 

Well, then a charcoal grill or pellet smoker might be best for you. 

Do you love cooking multiple things at once and overall cooking versatility? Well then, a griddle might be right up your alley! 

Take a minute and just think to your self about what you personally like, and then, the rest of this advice in this article will resonate a bit better with your preferences in mind. 

A Quick Word on Packing Space

Any grill, griddle or smoker you buy will need to meet your personal cargo and storage requirements.

All of the products mentioned today are about as small as you can get without going for a tiny backpackers stove.

If you truly dont hav the room for these types of grills we recommend today, then consider something like the FireDisc or a Skottle. They are perfect for packing up VERY small but delivering big meals with big flavor.

Read more about FireDisc and RTIC Skottles here.

Knowing Your Camping Area Rules

My family and I recently wanted to escape the Wyoming winters and we headed south to Texas to visit the Guadalupe Mountains National Park (and the warmer temps).

I packed my PKGo Charcoal Grill and Smoker (which BTW, if you dont know about PK Grills, check out our review here). 

The first night at the National Park campground, I was so excited to smoke up some juicy prime rib burgers

I fired up the coal chimney and once the coals were right, I dumoped them into the PKGO and was juuuuust about to toss the burgers on the grill when I was greeted by a Park Ranger who advised there were NO Open Flames Allowed. Bummer. 

The park ranger was polite, but still, no grilling when camping? Yes, that can be true when the climate is dry and burn risks are elevated. 

So, lesson learned and fine avoided, but it left me thinking, what type of grill could I have brought? 

Turns out, according to the park ranger, I was able to use the little camp stoves with the 1-lb green propane bottles. 

I’ll just have to ignore the fact that those also create an “open flame”. Oh well, I dont make the rules. 

To make my long winded rant faster, heres the deal: Know the rules where you are camping and that might quickly make your decision for you. 

Griddles For Camping

This wouldnt be a griddle themed blog if I didnt start with a griddle. After all, I own several and I am very familiar with their pros and cons. 

When it comes to camping, there are a lot of different ways to cook your food. But if you want the most versatile option that will allow you to cook just about anything, then you need a griddle. 

Heres more on 9 Things I wish I knew about owning a griddle BEFORE I bought one.

A griddle is a flat surface that can be used for grilling, frying, or even baking. And because it’s portable, you can take it with you wherever you go. 

That means no more lugging a heavy grill around or trying to find a flat surface to set up your stove. 

Plus, a griddle is big enough to accommodate multiple dishes at once, so you can feed a whole group of people without any hassle. 

So if you’re looking for the best way to cook while camping, make sure you bring along a griddle!

Our pick for the best griddle for camping goes to the Camp Chef VersaTop 2X Griddle. Its a step up from the single burner model and has enough heat and cooking surface real-estate to do just about any job. 

Editors Choice
Camp Chef Versatop Portable Flat Top Grill 250 and Griddle
  • Includes True Seasoned, non-stick & ready to cook flat top griddle
  • 16,0000 BTU burner
  • Matchless ignition

Buy Now
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11/27/2023 01:44 pm GMT

Grills For Camping

When it comes to the types of grills for cooking food while camping, there are a few different options to choose from. 

You could build a fire and cook your food directly over the flames, or you could bring along a portable grill. A charcoal grill is a great option if you’re looking for that classic campfire flavor

If you’re looking for something a little more convenient, however, a propane or electric grill might be a better option. 

Portable grills are easy to set up and take down, and they make it easy to cook your food without having to deal with the hassle of building a fire. 

No matter which type of grill you choose, however, you’re sure to enjoy delicious camping meals all summer long.

Charcoal Grills For Camping

A charcoal grill is the best option for cooking food when camping for several reasons. 

First, charcoal grills cook food using an open flame, which imparts a delicious smoky flavor to meat and vegetables. 

Second, charcoal grills are typically more portable than gas grills, making them easier to transport to and from a campsite. 

Finally, charcoal grills are less expensive than gas grills, making them a more budget-friendly option for campers.

For all these reasons, a charcoal grill is the best choice for campers who want to enjoy great-tasting food while spending time in the great outdoors.

Editors Pick
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
  • Holds up to eight burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • Compact and lightweight for grilling on the go
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, and won’t rust or peel

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11/28/2023 11:54 am GMT

Gas Grills For Camping

When it comes to cooking while camping, gas grills have a lot of advantages over other methods. 

For one thing, they’re pretty easy to set up and take down, which is always a bonus when you’re trying to pack light. 

Plus, you don’t have to worry about lugging around charcoal or firewood – all you need is a small canister of propane

As far as the actual cooking goes, gas grills give you much more control than, say, building a campfire. 

You can adjust the temperature quickly and easily, so you’re less likely to burn your food. 

All in all, gas grills are just way more convenient than any other option when it comes to cooking while camping.

Editors Pick
Weber Q1200 Propane Grill
  • One stainless steel burner produces 8500 BTU-per-hour to heat 189 square-inch total cooking area.
  • Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates and cast aluminum lid and body

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11/27/2023 06:47 pm GMT

Electric Grills For Camping

When it comes to cooking while camping, electric grills are the way to go. For one thing, they’re much easier to set up than traditional charcoal grills. 

All you need is a source of electricity, and you’re good to go. Plus, electric grills are generally easier to cook on, since you can control the temperature more precisely. 

This means that you’re less likely to end up with burnt or undercooked food. 

And cleanup is a breeze with an electric grill – no more scrubbing charred food off of a dirty grate. 

So, if these pros and cons are up your alley, then the next time you camp, ditch the charcoal and go electric. 

Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill, Chrome
  • 1560-watt electric heating element to heat 280 square-inch total cooking area
  • Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates and cast aluminum lid and body

Buy Now
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11/28/2023 11:58 am GMT

Pellet Smoker Grills

If you’re looking for a great way to cook food when you’re camping, you should definitely consider getting a pellet grill. 

Pellet grills are unique because they use wood pellets as fuel, which gives food a really nice smokey flavor. 

Plus, pellet grills are much easier to use than traditional smokers – pellet grills have an automatic temperature control, so you don’t have to worry about constantly adjusting the temperature. 

And pellet grills are also much more portable than traditional smokers, so you can easily take it with you when you go camping. 

So if you’re looking for a great “set it and forget it”  way to cook food when you’re camping, pellet grilling is definitely the way to go.

Our Pick for the best pellet smoker for camping goes to the Country Smokers Portable Griddle. Its just as capable as the bigger named competitor, but it comes in at HALF of the price, and thats always a good thing!

Editors Pick
Country Smokers CSGDL0590 The Highland 4-Burner Portable Griddle, Large, Black Country Smokers CSGDL0590 The Highland 4-Burner Portable Griddle, Large, Black
  • Total cooking surface: 256 square inches. Main surface: 191.4 square inches. Removeable upper rack: 64.6 square inches
  • Cooking temperature: 180°F to 500°F
  • Digital Dial-in temperature control
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11/28/2023 04:38 am GMT

Final Word

So, what’s the verdict? It really comes down to personal preference and the style of cooking you want to do. 

If you want a versatile grill that can handle everything from pancakes to steaks, go with the griddle. 

If searing meat over an open flame is more your style or if you’re looking for a smoker that can also grill, then the pellet smoker is your best bet. 

And finally, if price is your deciding factor, the is a great option that will get the job done without breaking the bank. 

No matter which one you choose, make sure to get outside and enjoy some good old-fashioned camping fun!


Lover of the outdoors and great food. If I'm not in my backyard cooking up a feast, I'm deep in the backcountry camping....and cooking up a feast! Follow along and let's create something great.