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Need Advice re: Outdoor Stoves and Cooking Outside

Every time I sear meat, I set off the smoke alarm, and the way things are set up, a call goes straight to the Fire Department (can't even hear anything inside). It's not my house, so I can't change the alarm settings or anything, so I've been thinking of getting a small single or double burner propane camp stove and just doing that sort of cooking outside.

I was thinking of getting something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Stansport-Singl.... I used to have a similar model made by Coleman, and actually cooked three meals a day on it for two years when I didn't have any other stove. But I was a vegan then, and don't know that it will generate enough heat to do a serious sear on meat. The newer models also seem more flimsy than the one I had.

I found this, but think it might be too powerful:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bayou-Clas.... And if it has to be set on the ground, it won't work for me. I need something that can be used on a tabletop or counter outside.

Also saw this, but worry the whole unit may get too hot since it's all cast metal: http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-S... . It wouldn't be so good to avoid setting off the smoke detector but end up burning the house down.

Whatever I get has to be compatible with this sort of propane canister: http://www.target.com/p/coleman-propa..., not the narrow cartridges, as they don't sell them at hardware stores near me.

Any recommendations or suggestions would be most appreciated.

Thanks a lot,

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  1. Hi Ninrn,

    I am looking at the SS Bayou high BTU for an outdoor kitchen for quick boils, wok cooking and such. Price sure seems right.

    They would also work well for deep frying (keep the smell outside). Would make a cast iron pan scream for searing.

    Many different manufactures of such burners......to me flame control....low to high....would be most important and my research has not gotten that far yet.

    An old gutted gas grill with a lid (poss trash picked) would make a good base to anchor the burner down to, hold the tank underneath & protect the burner from the elements. Cheap fireplace bricks are also good insulators.

    1. Keep in mind that propane burns HOT. The flame is HOT. Good way to strip a cast iron skillet, and warp it at the same time. Also, propane knob controls are very very sensitive. There's basically two settings... hot and hotter. Its difficult to get a simmer, although that doesn't seem of a concern for you with only searing meat.

      With that in mind of the faults of propane, dual-fuel stoves are the way to go. And for duel fuel, nobody excels better than Coleman. 99% of Coleman products are of the "at par" or below quality these days, however, their liquid gas stoves are still the best.

      Propane may work for you, but be very careful not to warp a pan. But I'd go with duel-fuel and Coleman.

      I'd also go with dual burners. For if you ever use a griddle or 2 skillets for company. Spend $100 on a 2 burner Coleman duel fuel stove and perhaps another $30 on the propane Coleman single burner.

      Lastly, if all hell breaks loose and your kitchen doesn't work and you're too lazy to make a fire to cook on some night, unleaded fuel works too. It just makes the innard parts dirty more quickly :)

      5 Replies
      1. re: Muddirtt

        When i was a kid Coleman (green color) was a camp stove with a special "white" liquid fuel with a tank that had a little finger operated pump to pressurize the tank. They made lanterns that operated with the same principle.. Lots of fond memories.

        1. re: Tom34

          Yep that's it. White gas and pumping. Still manufactured to this day.

          1. re: Muddirtt

            Fishing poles, aluminum row boat & oars. Pickerel, Bass, turtles & snakes. No I pods back then. Good and hungry at the end of the day too.

            1. re: Tom34

              Heck yeah. And no propane either :)

        2. re: Muddirtt

          Wow, I had no idea cast iron skillets could warp. Good to know.

        3. We use our weber grill, outside on the balcony, for searing larger quantities of meat. Transfer to a saucepan for either indoor/stove-top braising, or turn the grill burners waaaay down, for slow roasting.

          2 Replies
          1. re: KarenDW

            I have what must be an old 1970's Weber gas grill that supplements a BGE. Don't know about the new Weber's, but the older stuff was made to last.

            1. re: KarenDW

              Thanks, KarenDW. Don't have a grill here unfortunately.

            2. Hi, ninrin:

              #1 is a joke.

              ##2 and 3 are serious. Note the in-line pressure regulator necessary to adjust the btu output. I would suggest a 2-burner version of either of these.

              I don't understand the small-bottle compatibility issue--with a higher output burner, you're gonna go through a lot of those little single-use bottles. A 20-lb bottle is what ##2 & # are set up for. If you hunt, you can prolly find an adapter to neck it up, but I think that's bass-ackwards.


              2 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

                Thanks Kaleo, I didn't mean the bottles have to be the small kind, just that I didn't want one that uses cartridges. I think #2 and #3 might be too serious for me. I could do fine with 10K or 12K BTUs.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  #1 is hardly a "joke"...it's just meant for camping. A 1# propane bottle is plenty for a weekend, with more than enough to run a lantern once the sun sets. For home use, it would be just fine as an extra side burner.

                2. If there's a large Asian grocery (99Ranch and HMart in my area) near you, take a look at their butane hotplates. Fuel is in a aerosol size canister. They are inexpensive, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use (but not cold weather outdoor). Those stores also sell Korean/Mongolian bbq grills to work with these stoves.

                  They aren't the hottest stoves around, but they are stable and about as safe as you can get in a portable gas stove design. I regularly use mine on the patio for cooking that would be too smelly or spatter too much for indoor use.

                  For propane, I'd suggest a 2 burner camp stove, such as ones by Primus or Coleman. Stansport tends to be cheaper than these (both in price and build).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: paulj

                    Thanks, paulj. I've seen those stoves in the Asian stores when i lived in NYC, but they don't have them in the Asian store here. Have to stick with what I can find fuel for in the hardware store.

                  2. Thanks everyone for your helpful responses. I think I'll go with this one: http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-2000005... . What do you think?

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: ninrn

                      One of my propane stoves is that exact one. Again, very sensitive knobs. It takes some training to get that flame down. And its even more difficult in the daytime. Gotta use ears and eyes.

                      But it works. Just be careful of that knob getting bumped and the flame going at high. I use it for quick boiling and making coffee if I'm luxury camping. Best bang for buck right there for propane.

                      Coleman duel fuel stove for the rest. They're the bomb compared to propane. They're like a portable natural-gas range.

                      Remember, you can get adapter hoses for the larger propane tanks also.

                      P.S. They are sold at Wal Mart too. Would make an easy return compared to Amazon if you decide you don't like it. My advice would be to buy both propane and dual fuel stoves (and propane and white gas) from Wal Mart and return the one you don't want.

                      1. re: Muddirtt

                        OK, Muddirtt. I'll give that a try. Do you think this griddle would fit on the Coleman double-burner: http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-LDP3-Doub...?

                        1. re: ninrn

                          Yes, that would definitely fit. I just measured my stove and it is 19.5 inches wide (where the side windscreens pivot on the back). And the aluminum top (not the grates) is 12 inches deep (front to back). So, you may want to check this out too: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00008G...

                          My Walmart has the pro version in the camping section and the smaller Double Play in the cookware section. If you have a Walmart near, I'd suggest seeing if the pro griddle will fit nicely. And refund it if it doesn't fit or you find a better price at Amazon (but watch out for shipping prices on heavy cast iron). That's what I'll be doing for when I get one for in the kitchen. That pro griddle doesn't fit well on all gas ranges so I'll use Walmart's easy return policy for size and fit lol.

                          I don't like the design of the pro griddle but it is bigger. What i dislike is the handles taking up cooking space. I wish they made a bigger version of the Double Play. I'm actually getting a Lodge large griddle soon... I just have to make up my mind of which of these two.

                          There's also these:

                          I have one of these and I love it:
                          ... And two of them would easily fit on that stove. The cooking surface is the same size as a 12" Lodge skillet, although its a 10.25" griddle.

                          FYI, that stove will fit a Lodge 12 inch and 10 inch skillet together at max.

                          And I would stay away from cooking on the grill side because when you do, the burners are going to strip your hard earned seasoning on the smooth side. I'd save grilling for the actual grill.

                          And I would, at the least, take some 60 grit sandpaper to it to just knock down the high spots and smooth it out a bit, then clean with Ivory and steel wool with warm water, final rinse with cold water (prevents flash rust), paper towel dry, heat dry on stove for a few minutes, wipe entire griddle with very thin layer of Crisco shortening (thick at first but wipe off), put in 300F oven for 15 min, wipe off excess again, then bake it at 425F for 2 hours, let cool with oven. Do this seasoning 2 more times and you're ready to rock with a near perfect cooking surface, and way better than a factory Lodge finish and seasoning. I'm a Lodge fan and I do this to every new Lodge I get. Nylon brush and hot water and maybe a tad of scraping is all that's needed for clean up, and a quick wipe down with shortening, and heat on stove until it begins to smoke, before storage.

                          However, I realize about your smoke alarm situation, so maybe doing this initial oven seasoning should be done at somebody else's home.

                          Sorry for the long posts... Camp stove and cast iron 101 lol.

                          1. re: Muddirtt

                            Muddirtt, thank you so much for all this information and for taking the time to measure your stove. You've been so helpful. I love long posts. Best, ninrn

                            1. re: ninrn

                              No problem. I like forums for all my hobbies because we all teach each other and learn something new all the time.

                              I put that seasoning info above because your original post concerns searing meat, and cast iron is the best vessel for such cooking. You can put a room temperature steak on a hot cast iron device and that cast iron won't budge for cooling one bit. And also the even heating that cast iron permits (to an extent)... I don't think a 15 or 17 inch pan on a single normal burner would heat evenly, lol.

                              Oh, and I store a small pliers or small vice grips in my camp stove, just to give that brass adapter a little more tightening. But be gentle... Its brass. And don't forget the long Bic lighter also :)

                              1. re: Muddirtt

                                Hey, ninrn:

                                I've cooked on Coleman stoves like this all my adult life. They're good units--for CAMPING.

                                I'd suggest that you look at something like this for a home outdoor setup. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Double-Burner...

                                I have one, which I've pimped out with an aftermarket adjustable pressure regulator that takes it from Cub Scout to as scary high as you want to go. You can buy them new from Harbor Freight for ridiculously small green. Note the triple ring burners for even heat.


                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  That looks awesome. Many of the high pressure 50K BTU burners are reported to have poor BTU adjustments, especially down low.

                                  What you listed is advertised at 15K btu so I am guessing its standard pressure. How are the factory adjustments and with your aftermarket regulator how high do you think its going beyond the 15K?

                                  Adjusting the BTU:

                                  1. When staying within the factory 15K BTU range, do you have your aftermarket regulator set to low and use the factory burner adjustment knobs?


                                  2. Do you leave the factory adjustment knobs at a fixed setting and adjust BTU output via pressure from your aftermarket regulator?


                                  3. Combination of both depending on the application?

                                  Looks like you found the best of both worlds. Planning an outdoor kitchen but not liking the idea of the 12K btu built in side burners. Very much interested in how this set up is working for you. Looks like it would settle right into a cavity of firebricks. Thanks, Tom.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    Hi, Tom:

                                    "How are the factory adjustments and with your aftermarket regulator how high do you think its going beyond the 15K?"

                                    The factory valving is pretty linear, but it's a short turn between low and high. The regulator is rated to 135,000 btu.

                                    I have a pressure gauge on the regulator, which for safety reasons I leave set at 7 psi. If I'm (as opposed to guests) boiling crab or wokking outside, I go as high as 20 psi.

                                    So to answer your question, it's 3. #2 allows for much finer adjustment, but the regulator is on the tank, so it's not very convenient.


                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Hi Kaleo,

                                      That's very much like one of the stoves I linked to in my original post. My main concern was that the metal frame itself would get too hot. Do you find that to be the case?

                                      And how is the adjustability of the flame?

                                      Thanks so much for all your help in this threads and others on the Cookware board. It's really invaluable.

                                      1. re: ninrn

                                        Hi ninrn:

                                        The cast iron grate (top) gets plenty hot, but I can grab the stove by its legs and move it around.

                                        The adjustability of my unit could be better--it's not much of a turn between low and wide open, but it IS infinite if you pay attention. You learn to judge by the flame, not numbers on a dial.

                                        You're very welcome. I've learned a lot from you, too.


                        2. re: Muddirtt

                          That exact little stove came in handy when an early autumn snowstorm hit the northeast back in the 80's. No power for a full week, and I cooked everything on it and a gas grill. Fun times.

                          Good luck with your camp stove!

                          1. re: breadchick

                            I know, those little single-burners are real work horses. I loved my old one, but I lent it to my sister when they had a power outage and it disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of her garage. Same with a Waring ice cream maker I still pine after.

                      2. Would a shower cap over the smoke alarm for the time you are searing not work?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sarahendipity

                          Sarahendipity, You are clearly a genius.

                          1. re: ninrn

                            Agreed! I just may try that because our house has sensitive hard wired detectors, although they don't alarm the fire department.

                        2. Have you considered a portable induction cooktop. I use one outdoors next to my grill. Never tried searing a steak, but it's a nice outdoor solution.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ferret

                            I preheat my cast iron in the oven to 500-550F in the oven before searing. This could be another idea for the original post, but I have a feeling there'll still be some smoke issues with cast iron getting that hot inside, due to the grease maintenance that un-enameled cast iron consists of.

                          2. I have been using this on my boat for cooking for 17 years. Propane. The single should be adequate for your needs. I use the 2 station cast iron.

                            You have an outer ring with port and starboard controls, and an inner ring. This gives you precise control of the flame. Total of 35,000 BTUs. You can get a hose and regulator from any hardware store or off a discarded grill alongside the road.

                            I use this on top of a formica table top with no issues other than grease spatters on the cabin wall. Current price is $39.95.

                            A used commercial gas wok burner will give you in excess of 80,000 BTUs, but at a price in the vicinity of $500. More if it is for propane and has all of the controls. What I use when cooking for the masses. And only outside or in the event of snow. Unlikely in this part of Florida.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                              Hi, INDIANRIVER:

                              How friendly are the control knobs, i.e., how much turn is there between OFF and MAX?