Solving the Griddle Riddle - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Solving the Griddle Riddle

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Cool Gadgets, RVEXPERT

Photos by Lynne Livingston
An RV favorite is cooking meals on a Blackstone griddle, but when there’s not enough space to store even the smallest model, assembling a makeshift counterpart using a cast-iron skillet and induction cooktop works better than expected.

Grilling food outdoors has become a national pastime of sorts. Portable barbecues can be found in virtually every RV site these days. But a new trend in grilling meats — and just about anything else that needs cooking — on a stout steel griddle is growing at a feverishly fast rate and Blackstone is becoming a household name among RV outdoor cooking aficionados.

I have a two-burner Blackstone griddle at my winter digs in Palm Springs, California, and bought into a single-burner model with friends who my wife, Lynne, I travel with frequently. A steel griddle has become our go-to cooking surface, but it’s heavy and bulky so our friends have been relegated to carry the recently purchased 17-inch Blackstone griddle in their fifth wheel, which has extra storage space. When we travel separately, though, we have no access to the griddle.

We really missed it — before the proverbial “thought” light bulb started blazing.

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Why not assemble a portable griddle using a cast-iron skillet and our 120-volt AC induction cooktop? We already carry a portable True Induction single-burner cooktop, which was purchased years ago and used to supplement the LP-gas stove until the galley was remodeled and a built-in LP-gas/induction burner combo unit was installed in its place. For this idea to work, we needed to concoct some type of griddle surface big enough to handle vittles for two people (and maybe a small taste for our Standard Poodle, Reba).

The idea — developed after reminiscing about how we cooked on a cast-iron pan over an open flame during our more rustic camping days — led to the acquisition of a classic 10.25-inch Lodge cast-iron skillet at Walmart for $20. Cast-iron skillets have been around since the 1800s and are basically griddles in a cooking-pan disguise. While the cast-iron skillet has been romanticized by outdoor chefs who like to rough it, current manufacturing practices — to include skillets made by Lodge — offer pre-seasoning for a more natural nonstick surface without taking away from the inherent benefits of cooking on cast iron. These skillets cook hotter and evenly. Plus, burned food can be easily scraped away and the skillet washed by hand (or just wiped out) and coated with a thin layer of your favorite cooking oil.

If “how it was done in the old days” is not your forte, there are high-end cast-iron skillets offered by cookware suppliers that can cost more than $200. We like the more traditional look, and for 20 bucks the cooking process is virtually the same as cooking on a high-zoot version. Besides, banging it around outside doesn’t cause undue consternation. Most people have these skillets for life.

Although the Lodge cast-iron skillet is tough enough to cook over an open flame, we prefer using an induction cooktop, which is cleaner and can be set up in minutes on a picnic bench or portable table. And, since a magnet will “stick” to the bottom of the skillet, it meets the requirement for use on an induction cooktop. The only caveat: 120-volt AC power is needed. Primitive camping environments preclude its use unless your RV has at least a 2,000-watt inverter supported by a decent battery bank and solar recharging (or you’re willing to run a generator).

the table cooking area is covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent making a mess
Most times, the induction cooktop and cast-iron skillet are set up on a picnic table provided by the RV park. As a courtesy to future occupants, the cooking area is covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent making a mess.
the True Induction Ti-1b portable, one burner cooktop sits on the foiled area next to a 10.25-inch cast-iron skillet and two glasses and a bottle of wine
Our griddle substitute ensemble includes a True Induction Ti-1b portable, one burner cooktop and a Lodge 10.25-inch cast-iron skillet we picked up at Walmart for $20. Of course, the wine enhances the ambiance.
a hand drizzles cooking oil onto the surface of the skillet on the one burner cooktop
The secret to grilling is to use the right amount of cooking oil, which is also used to season the metal for those skillets that are not pre-seasoned from the factory. Our choice for grilling just about all meats and veggies is avocado oil, which has a higher burn temperature — and tastes better, too.
a hand with a spatchula flips one of two burger patties cooking in the skillet
There’s not an abundance of grilling surface, but it can easily handle four burgers. We once fried fresh caught fish on this pan for 10 people (of course, in shifts), so there’s plenty of area for grilling enough food for two owners and a couple of guests.
a full patty melt sits comfortably in the skillet

We had a hankering for patty melts one night, which fit nicely in the skillet. It takes some time to figure out the right temperature to prevent burning. Many “chefs” tend to use too much oil to compensate for excessive heat. It doesn’t work that way; all you get is overly saturated, greasy food. Keep the cooktop temperature low (except when frying) and monitor the food throughout the process. The induction cooktop can really get hot.

heavy-duty aluminum foil is wrapped over the top of the skillet to act as a temporary lid
Heavy-duty aluminum foil makes a great temporary lid to keep the heat in, which really comes in handy when melting cheese, for example. A lid specific to the Lodge skillet can be purchased for $25 online, but it takes up more storage space.
a paper towel is used to removed burned-on food from the skillet cooking surface

When you’re done, simply scrape off any burned-on food and wipe out the skillet. It may be necessary to hand wash with soap and water, but traditionalists refrain from that process if the surface can be wiped clean properly. Once clean, coat the surface with thin layer of cooking oil and store the skillet. This skillet fits perfectly under our stacking pots and pans.

There are quite a few single-burner induction cooktops on the market, including the True Induction Ti-1b (pictured), which can be purchased on Amazon for $129.95. Now under the auspices of Lippert (, Way Interglobal, a company well known for its 12-volt DC refrigerators and built-in fireplaces among other products, offers the Greystone Single Burner Induction Cooktop that can be found at Camping World and other online sellers. The Greystone and True Induction models have feet for placing on hard surfaces and a pigtail for plugging into a power source.

Obviously, the cast-iron skillet has a much smaller cooking surface, but we’ve managed to fry fish for 10 people (in shifts) and it’s perfect for the two of us and two guests. As a courtesy to the RV park, aluminum foil is used to protect the top surface of the picnic bench and prevent making a mess, especially when frying foods. Aluminum foil can also serve as a lid, which helps control the heat, or a more formal lid designed for the Lodge skillet ($25) can be purchased online; for storage and weight considerations, the foil is our preferred method.

Granted, some will undoubtedly ask, “Why can’t you simply place the Lodge cast-iron skillet on the cooktop burner inside the RV?” You can — but you’ll have to deal with splattering food and oil. RVers love to cook outdoors, anyway, and doing so will keep the splatters and smell outside. My makeshift griddle is not a perfect substitute for the Blackstone but it does work better than expected — although it’s not as sexy as hovering around an expansive griddle armed with shiny spatula and tongs, pretending to be the best chef in the RV park.

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