Making a griddle. What material to use?

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
I've got a 2 burner Kamp Kitchn stove (think of an old Coleman 2 burner stove converted to propane) but I want to get rid of the 'grill' and add a permanently mounted griddle, hinged on the back so I can flip it up and light the burners and then set it back down and cool away.

My first preference is to find an existing griddle close enough to work, even if I have to modify it a bit I'm fine with that.

However suppose I wanted to start from scratch and build a griddle. What material would you use? I've seen cast iron, aluminum and steel options? Maybe stainless? Material specs? I've been bouncing around some pros and cons in my head for each material but the truth is I cook far more when camping then I do while home, hence I have zero long term experience and given many of you have likely worked in kitchens, resteraunts or built something similar I'd greatly appreciate your advice.

Thinking of something like this:
 

Salue

Adventurer
If weight is not that big of an issue, I would vote to go with cast iron. I have one that I purchased and I picked that one specifically because it fits perfectly on my camping grill. All I do is take the cast iron grate off and put the griddle on. Not sure what size your stove is but you might want to look at some griddles that might fit as is. Could save some time so you don't have to build it. But, that's all part of the fun for some.:chef:

Here's the one I have and it's a little smaller than others which is why I picked it:



Cheers,
Salue
 

Terrainist

Explorer
I'm partial to stainless steel. Definitely do not go with aluminum. A fabrication shop should be able to form you up a griddle like the one you posted a pic of. Might want to have a flange formed on 4 sides rather than 3 though, and weld the corners - to keep it from warping. The thicker the better on the stainless as well. If you are going to have one made, go stainless.

I've been thinking about having a shop fab me up a griddle as well. I can't find one in stainless. All the ones I've seen are non stick garbage. How that proliferated I'll never know. Non stick surface = junk.

No restaurant kitchen with any sense or pride would ever cook with non stick pans. They don't last, they aren't durable enough to be cooked on commercially. So they would have to be replaced far, far too often. Not to mention the carcinogenic non stick surface coating that ends up in your food as the surface disintegrates. So if you run across a griddle to buy, don't go not stick. Stainless baby.
 
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INSAYN

Adventurer
1/4" mild steel plate, or stainless steel plate. Sand blasted to remove mill scale and roughen up the surface. Then season it a few times, like you would with cast iron to aide in non stick properties.
 

Patman

Explorer
1/4" mild steel plate, or stainless steel plate. Sand blasted to remove mill scale and roughen up the surface. Then season it a few times, like you would with cast iron to aide in non stick properties.
x2

A properly seasoned and maintained steel cooking surface will last forever, however stainless would naturally require less upkeep, and allow for less militant moisture abatement.
 

frgtwn

Adventurer
When cooking on a griddle, mass is your friend. You will have better heat distribution, and not as likely to have hot spots. That is one reason that SS frying pans have not worked so well- they are often too thin. Some have a thicker bottom, and perform better, but I'll stick with cast iron.

Commercial griddles are sold in 3/4" plate, and are milled flat. They are wonderful to cook on, but, of course, at 30 lbs/sq ft, they will outweigh your bumper! I have no experience with 1/4", but at 10 lbs/sq ft, it may still be a heavy beast. SS will be about a pound heavier in 1/4". And a lot more expensive, of course. I do not see the advantage in this application. Rust? Bacon helps most everything!

I have seen, and handled griddles like the one pictured, but have not cooked on them. My concern is that they will not remain flat over the long term and many hot/cold heat cycles. They also seem thin to be used on what is often an undersized heat source like is common on camp stoves.

My opinions are informed by well cooked pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Master the slow cooked pancake, and you're well on your way to getting up early just to feed all your friends.

Dale
 

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
Right on everyone, thanks for the advice and suggestions, very helpful. So it seems like aluminum is a no go. Its light, its easily formed and fabricated but I don't want to deal with having to apply a non-stick or protective coating for the exact reasons Terrainist mentioned. That leaves mild steel (cheap, easily fabricated, heavy), stainless (expensice, easily fabricated, heavy) or cast iron which I guess I'll have to cross my fingers I can find that is the correct size.

I've got a second Kamp Kitchn shipping to me now, hence the griddle need/want.

This is the basic KK stove currently (during my propane swap):


And here is a picture showing the KK on top of my dry foods box (propane complete)


My first step with the new KK is converting the burners to run on standard 1-lb propane bottles similar to my first KK.

At that point I want to ditch the grill all together and turn this one into a griddle setup as mentioned above. I plan to setup both KK's on bigger trips. While it sounds like extra packing I've got 100% of my cooking gear (sans food) in my single KK now. If I can use the back side of the 2nd KK for my dry foods, then I'll eliminate an additional box that I normally take and pickup the griddle option. I often end up cooking brekkie for 2-10 people on any given trip, in those cases the 2nd KK will come along, otherwise I still have my current setup. Clear as mud.

I guess I need to start shopping around for some dimensions that will work for me and go from there. Thanks for the pic Salue, I traced the image back to Lodge Cast Iron Cookware, looks like they have 10 1/2" square & 3/4" depth, 16 3/4" x 9 1/2" & 9/16" depth, 20" x 10 7/16" & 7/8" depth. Camp Chef has a 13"x13", 16"x14", & 15"x16" professional w/sides. I'll need to measure mine but I'm guessing I'm more like 12" x 22".
 

frgtwn

Adventurer
Lodge Grill/Griddle Combo

I am no fan of that Lodge pictured. Each time you turn it over, the bottom side will have your carefully managed seasoning burned off. Not such a big deal on the grill side, but don't mess with my griddle. :chef: Also, why, oh why, is branding so important that they cast in their (hard to clean) logo on the griddle?

Lodge does, or did, make a one sided griddle. I own one, and enjoy it the times that I have been able to make use of it. If someone told me that I have a hundred pounds of Lodge, I would not argue.

When you measure your KK, will you post the numbers? Pehaps one of us will see or have something that will work for you.

Dale
 

Corey

OverCamping Specialist
I have the same Lodge one posted above, and I use use the griddle surface only.
My Camp Chef Denali has a grill built in at the middle burner.
I remove that when I place the griddle over the Denali which is a perfect fit for it.

Never gave any thought about it by flipping it over you lose the seasoning, but I guess it would not apply to me since I only use the griddle surface of it.
 

spressomon

Expedition Leader
Well you've gotten lots of good thoughts and I'll add mine :)

Aluminum is really the best for heating quickly and spreading heat. Ditto for quick cool down. I would suggest a milspec hard anodized coating...I have made numerous items out of aluminum, anodized as above (not expensive BTW) and it works great. In fact you can buy commercial and high end cookware/pans with the same coating...so it works. I'd start, if you want to cover both burners, with 5/16" plate aluminum. You might be able to find a piece of scrap for reasonable $. Additionally its super easy to work with as far as cutting goes...

You might contact the guys at Partner Steel. They offer three sizes of aluminum hard anodized griddles. Maybe they would make one to your size. I have one of their small griddles and it works great. http://www.riverconnection.com/partner-steel-anodized-aluminum-camp-stove-griddle-p-280.html

Cast iron is great too. But it would be a little high maintenance especially if exposed to moisture on the back of your rig. Rust loves cast iron...

Stainless is a poor heat conductor. That is why all the great stainless steel pans are bonded with copper or aluminum. Won't typically rust...but by itself not fun to cook on griddle wise.
 

Terrainist

Explorer
That's good points about the heat distribution. All my stainless cookware has a copper plate on the bottom for heat distribution. As for getting something like that fabricated... a bit iffy. I'm not familiar with the manufacturing process by which they get the copper and stainless to adhere to each other (can't weld the two together, brazing or soldering would melt away).

One of the ways I look at my cooking surfaces is this... do I want that in my food. I don't want aluminum in my food, so I don't use it (Alzheimer's anyone?). Any surface coating (anodizing) will break down, it's inevitable. Heat + being scraped with metal spatulas and utensils = deterioration.

Stainless steel is an alloy. Chromium, carbon, nickel, manganese, etc (base minerals needed in the human body?). It has various forms and applications where it's noncorrosive (non-deteriorating) properties are desirable (surgical containers and instruments for one) and its lack of pits and pores to harbor bacteria are needed (same surgical applications).

The kitchens I've been in used mild steel, but they cooked day in and day out - rust was not an issue. And they were fry kitchens. Cooks, not Chefs. If you want to know what to cook on, look to the kitchens and restaurants... they don't use aluminum, or non stick pans, or cast iron typically. They use steel or stainless. These high dollar Chefs we see on television use stainless (if they are serious, jokers use non stick). There are some cast iron cooks to be sure that tout the iron content being an attribute to cooking on cast, and tout the food tasting better. My Grandmother cooks the best fried chicken on the planet - only in a cast iron skillet. She also grew up with all the major appliances being out on the front porch. There is something to be said for 'modernization'.

So, to each his own, we all have our druthers. This has gotten me looking to see what is available as I would like to find a griddle as well. One that can pull double duty on the campfire grate or the stove though.

Ran across this one, has a heat distribution plate. The product description is lacking, they don't specify copper or aluminum for the heat distribution plate (go copper if you can, better expansion contraction qualities). Was surprised to find this out there nonetheless.
http://www.google.com/products/cata...log_result&ct=image&resnum=5&ved=0CD4Q8gIwBA#
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Stansport...ess-Steel-Griddle-with-Heat-Diffuser/10957702
And I did find a few more stainless griddles on the net, they don't mention the heat distribution plating though. Good luck with whatever direction you decide to go!
 

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
Thanks for the reply Dan. Very inspiring to see that partner builds their griddles out of aluminum. Given the fact their stoves were inspired for use on the rivers I'm sure both the lack of corrosion and weight savings would be a welcome trait. So they have a 9x12, 16x26, and 12x18".

So I measured my stove setup, its pretty shallow, I would need something to the tune of 20" wide but only 8-9" deep. Thats going to leave me cutting down a commercial one or building. I'm partial to the 'commercial' look as shown on the Camp Chef setup I have pictured above, if nothing else because looks like it will keep some of the mess out of the back of the stove. As you can see by the design of the KK they are not the easiest to clean, manageable but less work is better in this situation.

At this point I'm still a little partial to mild steel because I can fabricated it easily enough though aluminum wouldn't be much of a task either, I'd just have to send out for the welding but I've got a guy I use.

Dan do you have a recommendation on coating if I were going to go with aluminum? I'd be dumb not to look into it.
 

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
...Ran across this one, has a heat distribution plate. The product description is lacking, they don't specify copper or aluminum for the heat distribution plate (go copper if you can, better expansion contraction qualities). Was surprised to find this out there nonetheless.
http://www.google.com/products/cata...log_result&ct=image&resnum=5&ved=0CD4Q8gIwBA#
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Stansport...ess-Steel-Griddle-with-Heat-Diffuser/10957702
And I did find a few more stainless griddles on the net, they don't mention the heat distribution plating though. Good luck with whatever direction you decide to go!


Interesting, that one would just about work with my size constraints but the height (5") is the deal breaker. I need this to store inside of the KK when folded up, that leaves me with something roughly 20"x9"x2". Stansports site is lacking in details on the heat distribution too. Might have to stop by some camping stores to peak at that one in person. I did see some other distribution plates made of cast, but I've ruled them out because the complexity, weight and storage is just more than I'm willing to deal with.

While looking on Stansports site for more info on the SS distribution griddle I did find a 20" x 9" cast iron griddle that may work for me:



I could cut the handles off, weld some 'feet' to the bottom that will clip into the KK's base. I'm liking this option if nothing more as a proof of concept before making my own. Its $20, cast iron and close to the right size. Edit: I'm wondering if the 9x20 is the actual cooking surface size. Add the grease trap and sides and it could be more like 11x21 which is just outside my bounds.
 
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spressomon

Expedition Leader
Thanks for the reply Dan. Very inspiring to see that partner builds their griddles out of aluminum. Given the fact their stoves were inspired for use on the rivers I'm sure both the lack of corrosion and weight savings would be a welcome trait. So they have a 9x12, 16x26, and 12x18".

So I measured my stove setup, its pretty shallow, I would need something to the tune of 20" wide but only 8-9" deep. Thats going to leave me cutting down a commercial one or building. I'm partial to the 'commercial' look as shown on the Camp Chef setup I have pictured above, if nothing else because looks like it will keep some of the mess out of the back of the stove. As you can see by the design of the KK they are not the easiest to clean, manageable but less work is better in this situation.

At this point I'm still a little partial to mild steel because I can fabricated it easily enough though aluminum wouldn't be much of a task either, I'd just have to send out for the welding but I've got a guy I use.

Dan do you have a recommendation on coating if I were going to go with aluminum? I'd be dumb not to look into it.

Kurt,
I suggest, based upon my own experience with same, a hard milspec anodized treatment for your raw aluminum. It will be the same treatment as Calphalon uses on some of their pots and pans (including a Calphalon griddle I have owned for many years and use on a regular basis). We have a great anodizer here in the Reno/Sparks area...I imagine you have many anodizers in the SLC area too.

Just know: Hard anodized is not the same as non-stick. Hard anodized is a tougher more durable finish and needs to, at least initially, be seasoned/broken in...which is a quick and painless process. I use metal spatulas, etc. with mine with no degradation in the surface treatment. BTW: The Partner Steel aluminum griddle (I have their smallest griddle) utilizes the same type of hard anodized coating.

Apex is who has done hard milspec anodizing for me: http://apexanodizing.com/
 

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