The Best Portable Grills Reviewed & Tested
If you enjoy camping, tailgating or outdoor grilling than a portable grill is the best way to enjoy some homemade BBQ anywhere. A portable grill should be a piece of every person’s gear, as it gives you the ability to grill anywhere and anytime. Everyone enjoys the hot dogs grilled on the fire but what about making some quality burgers or steak, or grilling up some veggies on your next camping trip. These grills are portable and very compact, and most likely many campers don’t even notice them while packing but are such a great piece of gear to have on hand.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
Easy to transport
Great heat control
Easy to clean
- Coleman Road Trip Propane
- Blackstone Dash
- Blackstone Griddle
- Camp Chef Tahoe 3
- Weber Jumbo Joe
- Camp Chef Explorer 2
- Smoke Hollow 205
- Napoleon TQ285 BL
- Char Broil TRU Infrared Bistro 180
- Char Broil Charcoal
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Coleman Road Trip Propane
Easy to transport
Great heat control
Easy to clean
Paint job could be more durable
When it comes to versatility and practicality, it’s hard to beat this grill from Coleman. It is designed with the champion barbeque chef in mind, and features a number of practical characteristics that make grilling at the game or in the backyard a breeze.Read more
The cooking area on this grill is fairly large – nearly 285 square inches of viable area. There are two burners featured in this portable grill, each covering approximately ½ of the grilling surface.
This grill features easy to control propane gas, nearly 20,000 BTU of heat that is fueled by two 16.4 ounce propane cylinders.
This portable grill features easy to use dials to control the amount of flame and propane gas used, as well as a push-button ignition system for full control. In addition, the included technology makes it easy to regulate the heat and provide a constant flow even in windy or extreme conditions.
There are a number of features on this grill that make it stand out from the rest of the pack with ease. For example, it is relatively lightweight at approximately fifty-three pounds and is easily collapsible for transportation and storage. There are two trays on either side of the grilling surface when ingredients and tools can be safely stored. And finally, the grill surfaces are made from cast iron and porcelain, making them relatively easy to clean. The only complaint that was cited was that the exterior paint was prone to chip off over time.
Pound for pound this portable grill is one of the best on the market today for the price. While the cosmetic paint job does leave a bit to be desired, this workhorse can easily handle enough food for two to four people and fit easily in the trunk of a car. It’s a perfect addition to your tailgating team.
2. Blackstone Dash
Cooks fast and evenly
Easy to set up
Not as durable as well would like to see
If you’re in the market for a portable grill that is lightweight and easy to use, this one from Blackstone may be just what you’re looking for. Designed to be lightweight and functional, this is a great grill for use in a wide range of situations.Read more
The cooking surface of this grill is slightly smaller than our first choice at 240 square inches, but can easily accommodate most meals and tailgating needs. The single propane powered burner is centrally located in the cooking area and takes up about a third of the available space. However, the burner is designed to distribute heat evenly throughout the cooking area.
This grill features a propane gas burner with 7000 BTU of consistent heat.
The propane heat is easily controlled through a simple control dial that allows the user to adjust the intensity of the heat produced with a simple turn.
There is also an included grease management system. And finally, setting up the grill is relatively quick and easy with a telescoping rear leg and two sturdy front legs for added stability.
This portable grill is clearly designed to have efficient use of space and to use the available heat to cook the food evenly and quickly. The cooking surface features two sides, one flat and one griddle so that a number of different food types can be cooked easily.
Perhaps the one area of complaint that we most often encountered was the overall durability and craftsmanship wasn’t always as high as expected, and small but important construction details were overlooked, such as the quality of the joints and screws.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and practical portable grill to help you take care of meals during your next family camping trip, this option may be a good one to consider. While we would have liked to see a bit more durability, this portable grill is easy to use, offers fast consistent cooking, and great versatility.
3. Blackstone Griddle
Small and compact
Relatively easy to clean
Cooking area is quite large for the grill size
Propane fuel doesn’t last very long
Grill surface prone to warping
If you want true portability and go anywhere practicality for your portable grill, this third entry on our list from Blackstone certainly warrants consideration. Small and compact, it easily fits on any table or flat surface that you can find and offers consistent cooking.Read more
Considering the grills compact nature, the cooking area is relatively large, measuring about 260 square inches in size. This grill features an H-shaped single burner that extends throughout the entire cooking area to provide for superior and consistent heat overall. In addition, the burner itself features approximately 12,000 BTU of heat for extremely fast cooking times.
This portable grill features the ability to use a small one pound propane gas tank, which is easily found in most hardware stores.
The cooking temperatures are easily regulated using a centralized dial that controls the amount of propane gas sent to the burner.
The overall construction of this portable grill is compact, efficient, and fairly straight forward in its design. It offers consistent heat and a large grilling surface, and the stainless steel construction is fairly durable. The only two complaints that we saw was that the grilling surface sometimes warped under high heat usage and the propane tank didn’t last beyond one or two uses.
If you’re looking for a relatively small portable grill with a large overall cooking surface to use in a wide range of settings, this example from Blackstone should certainly be on your list. While we certainly would have liked to see a bit more durability in the griddle surface itself, overall this is a truly well-made piece of equipment.
4. Camp Chef Tahoe 3
Large cooking surface
Three individual burners for customized heat distribution
Heavy and bulky – not so easy to transport
If you’re looking for a bit more durability and functionality in your portable grill, it’s hard to pass up what the Camp Chef Tahoe has to offer. Built for established campgrounds or backyard adventures, this grill offers the ability to easily cook for larger groups.Read more
The available cooking area of this portable grill is one of the largest we’ve seen at approximately 608 square inches that is spread over three burners. The likelihood of you not having enough cooking space with this grill is pretty much non-existent. Unlike many of the portable grills on this list, the three included burners are full sized, and rival that of the burners found on a typical kitchen stove.
The three burners are supplied with approximately 30,000 BTU of heat through the use of propane gas.
Overall the heat distribution and control is fairly good, although a few cool areas on the grill were surprisingly found when all three burners were in use at the same time. Thankfully, the intensity of the flame can easily be adjusted using one of the three control knobs at the front of the burner stove.
What struck us the most about this particular portable grill was how solidly built, and heavy it was. The entire grill weighs about 48 pounds, but it is still easily broken down and can be placed in an easy to use carrying case. The frame is stainless steel construction, and the burner area is made from high-quality lightweight aluminum. It also includes an easy to use regulator hose for added safety. The one complaint that we most consistently saw was that the overall weight made it somewhat difficult to transport.
If you are cooking for larger groups in your camping or tailgating future, this portable stove from Camp Chef is certainly one to consider for your future. While it is a bit on the heavy side, its sturdy nature and versatile heat control make for a great overall grill.
5. Weber Jumbo Joe
Easy to use
Charcoal grates not very sturdy
Sometimes the classic is a classic for a reason. This example of a portable grill from Weber has withstood the test of time and for good reason. It’s extremely portable, easy to use, and features a great all-around cooking experience.Read more
The grill size is fairly decent, at 240 square inches, and can easily accommodate enough food for three to four people. There is no specific burner with this particular portable grill, as the heat source is either wood or charcoal briquettes. The size of the heating area is dictated by the number of charcoal and their positioning within the grill itself.
This portable grill uses charcoal briquettes or wood as per the preference of the user.
Heat and flame control on this particular portable grill can be somewhat difficult if cooking with charcoal is something that is unfamiliar to the user. However, with the correct expertise and experience, heat and flame control can be accomplished.
In addition, the entire grill itself weighs less than 18 pounds, so it’s fairly easy to transport. The one consistent area of complaint we found was that the lower charcoal grate wasn’t the best quality overall, and was liable to warp under high heat.
This grill has a fairly simple domed designed that is put together to maximize the cooking around and the use of heat from the charcoal pieces. The grill, outer portion and grilling rack are constructed of a lightweight steel material, and the glass reinforced nylon handle makes it simple enough to regulate the temperature while cooking by using the lid.
If you’re looking for an easy to use charcoal grill that has more than enough room for plenty of food, the Weber Jumbo Joe 18 inch Portable Grill is one to consider. While we would have like to see a bit more durability in the charcoal grate, overall this portable grill is no slouch.
6. Camp Chef Explorer 2
Easy to clean
Great heat control
Decent sized cooking area
Additional accessories needed to truly make it a great grill
This sixth entry in our list is also from Camp Chef. The Explorer 2 Burner Outdoor Camping Modular Cooking Stove is a portable, rugged, and versatile grill that allows you to enjoy some great outdoor cooking at the fraction of the room.Read more
The cooking service of this grill is approximately 448 square inches.
The fuel source for this particular grill features propane gas that is divided between two burners. The burners featured in this grill are two (2) normal size burners, one at each end of the grilling area. Each one has their own dial for adjustment purposes and a three-foot regulator hose.
The propane is divided between two burners and the flow can be easily adjusted using the corresponding nozzles and regulators provided with the grill. There were notable cool areas on the cooking surface itself, but with an output of approximately 30,000 BTU each, the amount of heat produced is more than enough to cook most foods adequately.
While the other portable grills on this list come with most things you’d need to get a great meal going, this portable grill could be considered a foundational piece, with the ability to mix and match the accessories to make a truly customizable piece of equipment.
Most choose to accessorize with griddle plates, barbeque equipment, and wind protectors. While the ability to customize is certainly a perk, a few included accessories would certainly make the portable grill more useful right out of the box.
If you’re looking for a portable grill that can be truly customized to fit your needs, this modular system from Camp Chef may be the way to go. While we certainly would have preferred a few accessories included, the ability to truly customize this grill, as well as its sturdy construction makes it stand out from the rest of the pack.
7. Smoke Hollow 205
Relatively small and lightweight
Solid stainless steel construction
Heat distribution is not always even
If a great barbeque is in your future as a chef, you’ll definitely want to consider this portable grill from Smoke Hollow as your go-to piece of equipment. It’s light, has a respectable cooking surface, and can travel easily in a car, camper or truck to your destination.Read more
The grilling area on this portable grill is somewhat smaller than the others on the list at 205 square inches, but is still quite respectable, especially for smaller and more intimate groups. The burner is U-shaped in configuration and extends throughout the entire cooking area. The shape and overall size helps to distribute the flow of heat somewhat evenly throughout the cooking area, but there are certainly zones where the amount of heat dispersed is highly different. This is most likely due to the U-shaped burner design.
This heat for this grill is fueled by either a 1 pound propane tank, or through the use of an adapter hose and regulator, a larger, 20 pound propane tank is possible.
Overall the heat control is fairly good, provided that a careful eye is kept on the grill itself. There were a number of reports of the grill becoming abnormally hot very quickly once the lid was closed.
The body and cooking area of this portable grill is fashioned out of high-quality stainless steel, and features a locking lid, folding legs, and an easy to use carrying handle. In addition, the lid can lock into place, helping to prevent significant accidents or food mishaps.
While the heat control and distribution do leave a bit to be desired, this portable grill from Smoke Hollow is a respectable choice when it comes to enjoying a great barbeque in the backyard.
8. Napoleon TQ285 BL
Easy to transport
Independent heat control
Lid can trap grease of oil
The Napoleon TQ285-BL Portable Propane grill is a compact and light way to enjoy outdoor cooking for a relatively small group. This grill is not only easy to use, but is also very easy to transport.Read more
The grill is relatively small, featuring only 285 square inches of available cooking space. The two burners are relatively small in size, but feature stainless steel tube construction to allow for every efficient heat distribution over the cooking area of the grill.
The two burners are fueled by propane gas that feeds approximately 12,000 BTU of heat between two burners.
Overall the heat and flame control of the Napoleon grill is very good. Each burner is independently controlled, so complex zones of indirect and direct cooking can be maintained fairly easily. The burners also feature a temperature gauge and a steady ignition switch for great flame control when needed.
The body of the portable grill is fashioned out of lightweight aluminum, while the cooking surface is made from a porcelainized cast iron material, so it does have a bit of extra weight when in full use.
While the overall construction is well made, some users found that closing the lid often allowed for the collected grease to spill outside the grill itself when in use, leading to a significant clean up.
While this portable grill definitely gets high marks for heat control and overall size, the overall construction does leave a bit to be desired. However, if having to clean up on a regular basis is no worry for you, then this gift may just be what you need.
9. Char Broil TRU Infrared Bistro 180
Cooks food quickly and easily
Uses a limited amount of fuel
Hard to assemble
Legs could be better designed
This portable grill from Char-Broil stands out not only because of its relatively small size, but also because of the use of infrared heat, which allows for a faster, less drying outdoor cooking.Read more
The cooking area is relatively small, only about 285 square inches, but also includes an upper cooling area that is great for steaming vegetables or rice as needed. Instead of having individual burners as heat sources, this grill uses infrared heating units that can be activated to cook a wide variety of foods quickly and easily.
This grill features a propane gas source, with an electrical ignition switch to allow for a fairly quick start up and consistent heat.
The heat is generally controlled through the included regulator knob. And while the amount of flare ups that occur is much less than with traditional cooking grills, they still exist, so caution should be taken.
This portable grill is fashioned out of porcelain coated steel, so it is relatively lightweight yet strong. The grill is designed to use as little fuel as possible by making use of the infrared technology to allow for the most even distribution of heat possible. The only complaint that we saw as far as construction was that the assembly of the item was somewhat convoluted, and that the legs were found to be somewhat flimsy in their design.
If you’re looking for a small tabletop grill that can help you keep your foods moist and delicious, the Char-Broil TRU Infrared Patio Bistro is definitely worth a second look. While the assembly and leg construction might be a bit of a bother overall, the ability to cook food evenly and quickly makes this one a true winner.
10. Char Broil Charcoal
Easy to transport
Perfect for smaller groups
Metal housing not as durable as desired
And finally, if you’re looking for the classic charcoal grill that can go just about anywhere you can, the Char-Broil Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill is certainly one to have on your list. With this portable grill, you’re truly in control, so the food comes out tasting exactly how you planned.Read more
This grill has a pretty small cooking surface, about 187 square inches, which is enough for a few burgers or two skirt steaks. While it’s not suitable for larger groups, it’s more than enough for a few people enjoying an afternoon barbeque.
There aren’t any burners, per se, but the charcoal can be easily arranged to allow for both direct and indirect cooking if needed.
The fuel source is charcoal briquettes or wood, depending on the preference of the user. The charcoal bin is somewhat shallow, so using more fuel to cook at higher temperatures may be a bit problematic depending on the skill of the user.
Like many charcoal portable grills, the heat control is maintained through a series of vents located on the side of the cooking area, and the use of the lid to regulate the temperature once the charcoals have been prepared. While it does take practice, these methods of heat control can be just as exacting as those offered with the use of propane gas.
This portable grill is fashioned out of lightweight steel and features a porcelain coated steel grate for cooking use. The included legs raise it off the table top about six to eight inches, so it’s the clearance isn’t that great. Also, the metal used was somewhat thin, and some found it to be less than durable after a few uses.
This portable grill offers an affordable and convenient way to cook a few steaks or burgers for a backyard barbeque or a camping trip without the use and fuss of propane gas. While the simple and lightweight design may be less durable than desired, overall this is a solid choice for an easy day of cooking.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Perhaps one of the more important aspects of a portable grill is how much cooking area is available for use. After all, chances are you’ll be cooking for more than just yourself. While the grills presented here have a fairly wide range of sizes overall, the available cooking areas appear to be relatively consistent, ranging between 187 and 608 square inches, with the average somewhere between 250 and 285 square inches.
What this means is that the majority of these grills have the available space to cook a good size meal including vegetables, meats, some buns, and even to warm water for tea or coffee without too much trouble, and still be small enough to be easily transported from place to place.
If you decide that the best portable grill for you needs to use propane gas, other criteria to keep in mind is the overall burner size, as well as its shape and orientation. While it may not seem like much, knowing these things can help you determine how well heat and flame are distributed if there are any cool areas on the grill that can be used for staging, or “dead zones” where heat simply won’t reach. Knowing these things helps you to not only cook better but to also have the freedom to experiment with different types of food and grilling.
Generally speaking, most portable grills offer two types of fuel sources. They either make use of propane gas, or they use charcoal or wood. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and choosing one over the other is a personal decision that should be left up to the cook in question.
A propane gas grill allows for exacting heat and flame control since the source of the fuel can be easily regulated through valves and regulator hoses. However, the cost of the fuel depending on the size of the grill and the amount of cooking needed can get rather expensive. In addition, there are safety concerns that are inherent in using flammable gas under pressure. On the good side of things, though, propane gas often burns much cleaner than charcoal and doesn’t produce the smoky charcoal flavor that can be undesirable for some people.
A portable grill that uses charcoal, however, does have some decided advantages over propane gas. First, there isn’t as great a safety hazard, since the fuel source isn’t under a good deal of pressure. While it can certainly still burn things and potentially set items on fire, you’re probably not going to have to worry about explosions. Second, for some people, there is no replacing the taste that a charcoal grill can produce – that smoky woodsy flavor that is easy to recognize, but so hard to replicate.
However, there are some disadvantages when using charcoal. For one, it can be rather messy. The soot from the charcoal briquettes can get practically everywhere if you’re not careful. Second, it can be difficult for a beginner to control the heat and flame, since the fuel source isn’t changed, but rather the airflow around the flame controls the temperature. And finally, transporting a bag of charcoal can be a bit inconvenient compared to transporting a small propane tank.
Whichever fuel source you choose will depend greatly on your preferences and skill with the portable grill. Thankfully, there are a number of choices in each category, so finding the right one for you shouldn’t be that much of an issue.
Let’s face it, when it comes to grilling, controlling the flame and the heat is the name of the game if you want great tasting food. Thankfully, today’s portable grills offer quite a few options when it comes to controlling both the fuel that is the source of the heat and the overall temperature of the grill itself during cooking. These can range from easy to use dial systems on the propane-fueled grills or venting systems that control temperature rather well by increasing or decreasing the amount of airflow around the flames. Whichever method you choose, it’s nice to know that the control you need is available.
Between the heat of cooking, the potential inclement weather, and the constant use during the camping and tailgating season, your portable grill is going to take a lot of abuse. So you want it to be strong and tough. However, you probably don’t want to lug around a heavy cauldron type set up each time you go camping, so it also needs to be lightweight and portable. The balance between practicality and toughness is often found in the overall construction of the portable grill.
The first thing to look at is the materials used in making the grill. Often materials that are either heat resistant or that will conduct heat readily are used. Metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, and sometimes cast iron are used to not only provide the necessary strength but also make it easier for the heat to be distributed evenly around the camp grill.
After you know that your grill is constructed with quality materials, the next step is to take a look at the hardware of the grill. Are the hinges well made? Do the vents open and close easily? Can the regulator knobs be safely used? Are the hoses intact? Is the body of the portable grill thick enough to withstand the heat that may be generated? Is the grill relatively easy to clean? All these questions are ones that should be answered by looking at the overall construction of the portable grill. Thankfully, with most of the grills on this list, the answers to these questions are affirmative.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you’re going to be using your grill every weekend, or for prolonged periods of time, you’ll want a portable grill that is not only easy to use and transport, but also easy to have repaired when it breaks down over time. Frequent use will often cause the various smaller parts of the portable grills to wear out, and they will need replacement if the grill is to function well. So a grill that is simple to maintain and easy to clean might be a better choice if you see using it on a regular basis. However, if you see yourself using it once or twice during the season and putting it away into storage, a portable grill that has more bells and whistles or modern conveniences may be more appealing overall.
A great way to save time and space is to pre-season the meat and/or vegetables before setting out on your camping trip. You can do this with just spices or with a marinade. Not only will this bring more flavor to your food but it will also save you some room in your pack.
Other Factors to Consider
All of these grills are deemed as "portable" grills and their sizes reflect that. For each product, we listed the size of the burners and of the grills themselves, but you can not forget to take the weight of the grill into consideration as well. Perhaps the heaviest part of the grill will end up being the fuel source that is required. Some campgrounds feature stations to hook up to a fuel source, but if you are going into the backwoods, you may need to provide your own.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What type of grill is best for tailgating?
The best type of portable grill for tailgating depends on a number of factors including the location that the tailgating is taking place, the number of people who will be using the grill, and even what’s on the menu.
Generally speaking, though, you’ll want a grill that is easy to move around, allow you to keep your serving trays and utensils in easy reach, that has a relatively large cooking surface and can be easily packed away at the end of the day without any real fuss.
q: What’s the best way to clean a portable grill?
The best way to keep your portable grill clean without the use of chemicals is to use the heat that exists right after cooking to remove the grease and stuck on food with a grill brush, a little bit of soap, and maybe a spritz or two of water.
However, we know that the likelihood of cleaning a grill immediately after use is pretty slim. So instead, there is a great and easy way to clean the stuck on food and grease off your grill cooking surface. Start by removing the cooking surface, and wiping off the excess material as best you can. Now, go inside and preheat the oven to about 450 to 500 degrees, and place the cooking surface in the oven for about half an hour. Make sure you place a cookie sheet underneath to catch any errant grease. During that time, use a soft, damp cloth to remove any excess grime from the body of the portable grill, and wipe it dry completely. Trust us, without the grilling surface, it makes it much easier.
Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the grilling surface from the oven, and allow it to cool. Then simply take your wire grill brush and remove the grease, grime and food particles that have been essentially turned to ash by the heat of the oven.
q: How many people can I accommodate with a portable grill?
When you’re looking to buy a portable grill, you’ll need to take into account the number of people that you will probably be cooking for. Knowing that you’ll be able to easily determine how large a grill you’ll need to purchase.
As a general rule, the amount of food needed to feed one average adult will take up about 70 square inches on the grill. Add to that the amount of room needed for flipping of a burger, or adding on an extra hot dog or two, and a grilling surface of 285 square inches will provide you enough room to cook for four people, depending on their appetites.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying more grill than you need, but then you’ll have to deal with waste heat and the potential waste of fuel to heat the larger area. Plus the larger portable grills aren’t always as easy to move around as a smaller one.
The best course of action is to think about how many people on average you’ll be cooking for years with this portable grill. If it’s only a few people or just yourself, a tabletop grill will provide more than enough room. However, if you’re the chef at the local tailgating party, something larger may be in order.
q: Why would I need a portable grill?
Many wonder why they would even need a portable grill as they have a BBQ at home and when they go camping they cook over the fire, but what if you could have the ability to make some quality meals while anywhere. This is what the portable grill allows you to do, it allows you to bring anything your heart desires and grill. Usually, these grills are affordable and a good addition to your gear as you never want to be camping or at a tailgate and not have the ability to cook up some quality food. If your a person that will find themselves outdoors quite often than a portable grill is highly recommended.
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