Are you tired of grilling the same ingredients over and over again? If so, you might want to expand your repertoire by investing in a flat-top grill. Our Camp Chef vs Blackstone review will fill you in on the pros and cons of each unit.
The Camp Chef brand was founded in 1990 by an entrepreneur named Ty Measom. At the time, choices were limited when it came to outdoor cooking supplies. Measom attempted to bridge that gap with the invention of the Camp Chef Pro60, a 2-burner cooking system designed for camping enthusiasts.
Today, Camp Chef manufactures many different types of grills, from pellet-fueled units to regular gas grills. However, since Blackstone is known mainly for their flat-top grills (see below), we’ve selected the Camp Chef Flat Top Grill for this matchup. This is a 4-burner unit, which puts it in line with the Blackstone model.
- Dimensions-22″ L x 62.5″ W x 37″ H
- Weight-139.65 lbs
- Cooking Surface-604 sq in (griddle), 501 sq in (grill)
- Total BTU Output-48,000
- Side Shelves-2
- Clever, appealing design
- Can be used as either a grill or a griddle
- Straight legs offer stability
- Plenty of prep and storage space
- Slightly heavy for a portable grill
- Offers less cooking space than the competition
As a brand, Blackstone attempts to make outdoor living as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Their flat-top grills make up just one aspect of their lineup, but they’re also the heart of the Blackstone experience.
The 36″ Blackstone Griddle debuted in 2005, and it’s the company’s flagship offering. In this matchup, we’ll see if the modern version can hold up to Camp Chef’s rival grill.
- Dimensions-62.5″ L x 22″ W x 36″ H
- Weight-120 lbs
- Cooking Surface-720 sq in
- Total BTU Output-60,000
- Side Shelves-2
- Easy to assemble
- Built from quality components
- Friendly and efficient customer service department
- Generous surface area; great for large groups
- Initial seasoning process may take a while
- Insufficient grease management system
Camp Chef vs Blackstone: Features Face to Face
In addition to being comparable in size, these two grills are set at a similar price point. Depending on where you shop, you might end up spending the same amount on the Camp Chef as you would the Blackstone.
That said, it’s usually easier to find the Blackstone at a slightly lower price. The build quality is still decent, and it’s not exactly cheap, but if you’re looking for a bargain, the Blackstone is the way to go.
The design for these two cooking systems is quite similar at first glance. However, there are some notable differences.
The Camp Chef is a cart-style unit with a double set of shelves beneath the cooktop. The grilling area is flanked by a pair of shelves, both of which feature bar-style handles along the edges. The control knobs are red in color, which is a nice touch, as it helps you see what you’re doing when grilling at night.
Two of the legs on the Camp Chef Flat Top are equipped with large wheels, so you can move the grill from place to place. The other two legs help the grill remain stable on questionable terrain.
The Blackstone comes with a set of wheels also, but they’re present on all four legs. Two of the wheels are outfitted with locking mechanisms, though, so you don’t have to worry about the grill rolling away once it’s in place.
Blackstone’s offering has a cart-style design too, with just one shelf below the cooking station. There’s one shelf on each side, but they’re smaller than the ones on the Camp Chef unit.
On the whole, we think the Camp Chef Flat Top offers a more efficient and attractive design. It’s also slightly smaller, which is a desirable feature if you plan to take the grill on camping trips.
Winner: Camp Chef
Like the Camp Chef, the Blackstone features a steel frame and four stainless steel burners. This construction offers longevity in addition to a fine performance.
The griddle surface of the Blackstone unit is especially impressive. Made of thick cold rolled steel, it’s designed to heat quickly and evenly. The burners are especially efficient, allowing you to control the temperature across multiple heat zones. Note that the surface needs to be cleaned and seasoned as soon as possible after it’s unpacked.
The Camp Chef has a similar frame, but the flat top is made of cast iron rather than steel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it provides you with a nonstick cooking surface when it’s properly seasoned. However, the seasoning and cleaning process is enough to deter some people.
This is a close race to call. The Blackstone griddle requires less maintenance after the initial seasoning, which is a huge plus. If you’re looking for a regular flat-top griddle, you should be pleased enough with this model.
However, the Camp Chef offers grillers a choice between two cooking surfaces. After making a batch of pancakes and bacon for breakfast, you can replace the griddle with steel grilling grates for burgers and hot dogs later on. This versatility gives it the edge here.
Winner: Camp Chef
Although both of these units feature four burners, there’s a marked difference in the amount of grilling space they provide. The Camp Chef model features 604 square inches on the griddle surface and 501 square inches when it’s used as a traditional grill. The griddle on the Blackstone unit, meanwhile, provides 720 square inches.
The extra space on the Blackstone allows you to cook for large groups with ease. As a bonus, this model is a bit lighter than the Camp Chef. That means the larger grill is just as easy to transport as the modest-sized unit.
To be fair, we should remind you that the Camp Chef offers more versatility than the Blackstone. If you want a regular grill in addition to a griddle surface, then the Camp Chef should be your choice. If you’d be satisfied with a griddle and could use the extra room, give the Blackstone a try.
Grillers who appreciate a ton of storage space should gravitate toward the Camp Chef model. In addition to the sizable side shelves, the unit offers a pair of flat surfaces beneath the firebox. Because the propane tank sits adjacent to the grill, both of these shelves can be used to store plates, utensils, and any other supplies that you might need.
The Blackstone also features a set of side shelves, but they sit slightly lower than the ones on the Camp Chef. In my opinion, the configuration is a bit awkward, especially when you’re trying to plate up the food. There’s also a single lower shelf for additional storage.
The second shelf on the Camp Chef would be enough to give it the lead in this department. It earns bonus points for the convenient upper shelving units, which are equipped with bar-style handles along the edges. Because you can use the handle for hanging tools, the Camp Chef gives you a generous amount of storage space.
Winner: Camp Chef
As we pointed out earlier, the burners on both models are constructed of stainless steel. This helps them withstand both the heat of the flames and the punishment of the outdoor elements. It’s also relatively simple to clean, as long as you tend to them regularly.
The Camp Chef has a combined BTU output of 48,000, with 12,000 BTUs assigned to each burner. The burners on the Blackstone crank out 60,000 BTUs per hour, which averages out to 15,000 per burner.
Does this mean the Blackstone is more powerful than the Camp Chef? Not exactly. For one thing, the BTU output only refers to the amount of energy expended. If the grill doesn’t heat evenly, or if the surface is unable to retain its heat, then these numbers are essentially meaningless.
Secondly, remember that the Blackstone has a larger cooking surface than the Camp Chef. When you do the math, the Camp Chef model offers just under 80 BTUs per square inch. By way of comparison, Blackstone’s bigger griddle offers around 83 BTUs per square inch. The difference is so small that it’s barely noticeable.
So which grill comes out on top in the burner category? Blackstone’s grill offers 4-zone heating control, which is both convenient and effective. While the Camp Chef flat-top surface heats evenly, cast iron takes longer to reach the desired temperature. That means Blackstone comes out on top.
The cold rolled steel on the Blackstone griddle offers excellent heat retention. The individually controlled burners make it easy to keep the heat where you want it, without affecting the rest of the grilling surface.
When the Camp Chef’s cast iron flat top has been properly seasoned, it also retains its heat well. As we pointed out, it heats up more slowly than the rolled steel on the Blackstone. Still, once it’s achieved the right temperature, it does an admirable job with everything from eggs to stir-fries.
Winner: Camp Chef
Ignition and Temperature Control
Each of the four burners on the Camp Chef is controlled by its own ignition switch. Once you turn on the propane, you can choose which burners to switch on. To do this, simply push the button and turn the knobs to your desired setting.
The Blackstone griddle also has a push-button ignition system. It differs from the Camp Chef in one important respect: The burners must be lit in sequential order. Here’s what that means.
To fire up the Blackstone, you have to turn on the propane, then switch one of the ignition burner knobs as high as it will go. Hold down the ignition button until the burner lights. If it takes longer than five seconds to ignite, switch off the burners and try again. Repeated ignition failure could indicate a problem with the switch.
Once the first burner is lit, switch the knobs on the remaining burners, beginning with the one closest to the first. Because each of the burners is controlled independently, you don’t have to light them all, but you have to repeat this process every time you grill.
While both units allow you to easily control the temperature of the griddle, the Camp Chef ignition system is more straightforward. When faced with a potential tie, we’ll take the more user-friendly model every time.
Winner: Camp Chef
Ease of Assembly
Some assembly is required for both of these grills. The Blackstone comes together in about 15-20 minutes once you’ve cleaned the cooking surface. Remember that the flat-top needs to be seasoned before you can start grilling.
Putting together the Camp Chef takes about the same amount of time, but it might take longer to season the cast iron. For this step, we would recommend adding a thin layer of neutral oil and turning the burners to medium for a few hours.
Cleanup and Maintenance
If there’s one drawback to the Blackstone unit, it’s the poorly designed grease management system.
For one thing, the system is located toward the rear of the Blackstone griddle. A small hole leads to a drip cup that hangs beneath the cooking surface. During cooking and cleanup, any excess grease or drippings can be directed through the hole and into the cup.
In theory, this system would work fine. In practice, however, the grease tends to miss the cup entirely and run down the leg of the grill, collecting on the ground. Considering the otherwise strong performance of the Blackstone, this is an unfortunate flaw.
The system on the Camp Chef is much more reliable, not to mention user-friendly. A trough runs along the front of the grill’s surface and collects any grease runoff. From there, it flows into a drip cup that can be removed and emptied whenever necessary. While the grease drain hole could be slightly larger, clogging isn’t usually an issue.
I think it’s easier to move hot grease toward the front-facing trough than the rear hole. Therefore, I would prefer the Camp Chef system to Blackstone’s even if it weren’t for the design flaw.
As for the cleaning process itself, the cast iron cooking surface on the Camp Chef may require more long-term maintenance. That said, it cleans up well once it’s properly seasoned. If you’ve worked with cast iron cookware before, you probably won’t mind taking the extra time to clean and season the flat-top.
Winner: Camp Chef
The Blackstone unit carries a 90-day warranty on all parts, workmanship, and finishes. As warranties go, this is a pretty weak one. To be fair, though, the grill should last long enough to make the investment worth it.
For this type of cooking system, Camp Chef offers a warranty for one year following the date of purchase. This excludes paint and finishes. The warranty only covers defective parts and doesn’t apply to any damages that might come about from regular use.
Despite the limited warranty on the Camp Chef, it’s clearly a more generous offering. The Blackstone holds its own in plenty of other categories, but here Camp Chef is the obvious winner.
Winner: Camp Chef
Camp Chef vs Blackstone: Standout Features
When pitting two grill types against one another, it’s natural to assume that one will include features that the other one lacks. Let’s find out if that’s true when it comes to Camp Chef and Blackstone grills.
- Second Lower Shelf—Offers a great deal more storage space
- Micro-Adjust Griddle Levers—Gives you more control over the cooking process
- Adjustable Leg Levelers—Allows for more stability on uneven terrain
- Grilling Option—Switch to a 501-square inch grill to round out your cooking options
- 4 Industrial-Strength Wheels—Make the grill easier to maneuver; two locking casters offer stability
- Adjustable Heat Zones—Allows you to cook multiple ingredients at once
- Cold Rolled Steel Cooking Surface-Durable and easy to care for
The Bottom Line
Use the Camp Chef if:
- You want a grill that starts up easily
- You prefer a cast iron cooking surface to rolled steel
- You frequently use your grill at night
- You plan to set up the grill on uneven terrain
- You’re looking for a flat-top griddle that can be converted to a regular grill
Give the Camp Chef a try if these qualities rank high on your hit parade.
Use the Blackstone if:
- You need a lot of cooking space for larger groups
- You frequently prepare multiple ingredients at once
- You want the option of moving the griddle around from place to place
- You prefer a grease management system with a rear-facing drain
If this sounds like it would be a better match for your grilling style, take a closer look at the Blackstone.