The Best Portable Grills of 2022

Use these shopping tips and recommendations to pick the best portable grill for your next on-the-go barbecue.

By Andréana Lefton and Tom Scalisi and Tony Carrick | Updated May 31, 2022 10:10 AM

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The Best Portable Grills Options

Photo: Tony Carrick

Those who host frequent backyard cookouts tend to have firm opinions about what kind of grill keeps mouths watering. Picking the right portable grill to satisfy taste buds on the go—like for a camping trip or in a parking lot before the big game—means considering the same variables and then some. To find the grill that best suits these demands, we tested a variety of different portable grills, including gas, charcoal and electric-powered models.

Portable grills pack the basic functionalities of their standard counterparts into a more compact design, but reduced size and price tag don’t necessarily indicate reduced quality. Whether you’re craving juicy burgers, hot dogs, seasoned vegetables, or some other barbecue favorite, there’s a portable grill to meet your needs.

Read on to determine what to expect from the best portable grill models, and check out specifics that just may suit your preferred fuel source, travel style, and budget.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Weber Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Pit Boss Grills Stainless Steel Portable Grill
  4. BEST CHARCOAL GRILL: Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch
  5. BEST ELECTRIC GRILL: George Foreman 15-Serving Electric Grill
  6. BEST PELLET GRILL: Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
  7. BEST INFRARED GRILL: Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 Portable Tru-Infrared Grill
  8. BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill
  9. BEST FOR CAMPING: Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
The Best Portable Grill Options

Photo: Tony Carrick

Portable Grill Power Sources

There are quite a few different ways to power a portable grill. This section will outline some of the most common fuel sources and grill types, highlighting the pros and cons of each type as well as important considerations of each fuel source.

Charcoal

Barbecue purists prefer the smoky taste that can only be achieved with charcoal briquettes. Charcoal burns hotter than propane, producing a more severe sear on food, but using it creates a few hassles: it can be messy, heavy to move, and slow to reach the desired heat level for cooking.

Propane

Propane offers a quick, easy way to fire things up—and cleanup is minimal once things have cooled down. Some propane grills even feature infrared heat, which heats very evenly and can be safer for tabletop models. Of course, the main drawback is the lack of charcoal flavor. The efficiency of propane is also pricier since grills that use this type of fuel are typically more expensive than their charcoal-burning counterparts.

Natural Gas

Portable gas grills that work with natural gas operate similarly to propane units, but the gas nozzles that control the fuel are different. They’re efficient, easy to light, and controlling the temperature is almost intuitive. Portable natural gas grills can’t provide the flavor of charcoal grills, are not as common as other types of portable grills, and tend to cost more than propane models.

Pellet

Grilling with wood pellets has become quite popular, and smaller portable pellet grills are now available. Some might argue that pellet grills offer the best flavor, and they also have easy temperature adjustments. However, pellet grills are often much more expensive than charcoal, propane, or electric grills. Plus, some models are modular, meaning setup could be time-consuming and complicated.

Electric

The simplest and most transportable portable grills are electric. They don’t provide the flame-kissed flavor of a charcoal grill, but temperature adjustments are pinpoint. Portable electric grills are usually very small. It’s even possible to use some electric grills indoors, but of course they need to be plugged into an outlet, generator, or vehicle’s 12V outlet.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable Grill

Armed with knowledge about the different types of portable grills, shoppers must balance the pursuit of flavor with the desire for convenience. Below is info about factors and features to keep in mind when choosing the best portable grill. Becoming familiar with these aspects will help shoppers make a smart decision.

Size

Portable grills come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including barrel-shaped and flat and rectangular. Some even resemble a large cook pot with a domed lid. Almost all are small enough to fit in the trunk or seat of most cars in order to be deemed portable, but it’s smart to measure the available space and opt for something that fits within those parameters.

Size matters in terms of grill top area, too: Portable grills range from between 100 and 250 square inches of cooking surface. While a smaller cooktop can typically handle about four hamburgers at a time, the extra 150 square inches means accommodating two more patties or other food items on the grill.

Weight

It’s essential to consider how heavy a grill you’re willing to carry from the house to the car, the car to the grilling location, and back again. Portable grills tend to weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to a whopping 50 pounds, and that weight can affect portability.

Size and weight don’t necessarily correspond, either, so it may be possible to end up with a small, heavy grill or a large, lightweight one. Do your research and know your limits if you want to keep things comfortable for the long haul.

Material

Lots of different materials go into making the best portable grill. The most popular materials include:

  • Powder-coated steel: Portable grills made with powder-coated steel are usually the most affordable, as they’re as basic as it gets. They may rust sooner than models made from other materials, but they’re so affordable that some shoppers prefer to replace them every few years rather than buy a pricier grill.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel portable grills are more rust-resistant and durable than powder-coated grills. They also tend to do a better job of retaining heat, which makes temperature regulation a bit easier.
  • Aluminum: Some of the best portable grills feature aluminum fireboxes, which reflect heat evenly and won’t rust. Expect to pay more for these grills and consider them a worthy investment that won’t wind up in the trash in a few years.

The construction of the grates inside the grill also matters. Cast-iron grates are durable but require frequent cleaning and oiling. Stainless steel is also durable and requires very little maintenance but doesn’t distribute heat as evenly as cast iron. Porcelain-coated cast iron provides the best of both worlds. The downside is that cast iron is quite heavy so is less suitable for some portable grills.

Style

The best portable grills are all about utility, and they come in a variety of different styles to suit user preferences.

  • Some models are designed to sit on top of a picnic table or bench.
  • Portable grills with frames that unfold or stands that extend make transport easy while still allowing the user to grill from a comfortable height.
  • Kamado-style grills are oval shaped and feature thick insulated walls for maximum heat retention.
  • Flattop grills operate like traditional portable gas grills without lids, but their stainless steel tops act like griddles.
  • Certain electric grills don’t use a flame or create carbon monoxide and are so compact that they can cook on a kitchen counter.

Heat Output and Control

Choosing a portable grill can often come down to ease of use and the amount of heat produced. Many of the best portable gas grills make adjusting the temperature incredibly easy with dials that clearly indicate low, medium, and high temperatures. For pellet-fueled grills, temperature adjustment is related to the speed at which pellets are fed into the grill. For charcoal-style grills, control amounts to how much charcoal is burning.

Heat output depends on the size of the grill. Smaller grills can manage with 8,000 BTUs (British thermal units), while larger models might need 20,000 BTUs per burner. As a guideline, consider that heat output should be between 80 and 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface.

Additional Features

Some portable grills may come with additional features to make them easier to operate, more convenient, and more useful. An example of a built-in feature might be hooks for hanging grilling tools, keeping tongs and a spatula within easy reach.

Many gas-powered grills feature an electronic push-button ignition to fire up the fuel source quickly. This convenient feature can send a near-constant spark until the grill lights, unlike striker-style ignitions that take repeated pressing.

Some of the best portable grills also come in carrying cases or bags, making it simpler to transport them from a vehicle and store them neatly.

The Best Portable Grills Options

Photo: Tony Carrick

Our Top Picks

With all of the above considerations in mind, we chose and tested the following grills. Find out how each of them performed in our tests and why they’re considered some of the best portable grills on the market.

Best Overall

The Best Portable Grill Option: Weber Q1200 Gas Grill
Photo: amazon.com

Weber is highly regarded for the quality and performance of its products, and its grills come at a premium price, so we had high expectations for the Q1200. It didn’t disappoint.
The Q1200 arrives mostly assembled—we were able to get it ready for testing in less than 10 minutes. Lighting it was easy thanks to its battery-powered electric ignition that’s a welcome upgrade over the less reliable piezo ignitions found on many portable gas grills.

After a 15-minute warm-up period, we were pleased to find the cooking surface reached sear-worthy levels of 550 degrees Fahrenheit, which allowed us to achieve dark grill marks and a healthy dark brown crust on our burger patty. The Q1200 fared just as well at roasting as it did searing. With its dome clamshell lid closed, it produced an even internal temperature, resulting in juicy chunks of chicken and evenly cooked veggies from our kabobs. There are also small openings on the sides of the lid that allowed extra clearance for the ends of our skewers.

We liked the consistent heating and thoughtful features on the Q1200. A test with our thermometer revealed even heating across its cooking surface, though it’s important to note that there’s only one burner, so there’s no way to create more than one cooking zone on the Q1200. At 189 square inches, the Q1200’s cooking surface isn’t the largest, but it is certainly above average. We easily could have fit six healthy-size burger patties on it. A built-in thermometer is useful for monitoring temperature while roasting, and the Q1200 comes equipped with small fold-out side tables, creating valuable prep space that we didn’t find on any other portable grill we tested.

Post grilling cleanup was relatively easy. The two nonstick grill grates and the grease tray can be removed for cleaning in the kitchen sink, and the interior was fairly easy to wipe out.

A portable grill should be manageable to move, and the Q1200 is. We could easily get our arms around it, and at 31 pounds, it was easy enough to carry a short distance to our small SUV, where it fit easily inside the trunk.

Product Specs

  • Type: Propane
  • Weight: 31 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 189 square inches

Pros

  • Easy to set up and transport
  • Reaches high temperature for searing
  • Easy-to-clean removable plates
  • Fold-out side tables for food prep

Cons

  • More expensive than other portable gas grills
  • Only 1 cooking zone

Get the Weber Q1200 portable grill at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Ace Hardware.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Portable Grill Option: Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill
Photo: homedepot.com

A smaller version of Weber’s classic kettle grill design, the 14-inch Weber Smokey Joe continues to be one of the best and most affordable portable charcoal grills on the market.

After assembling the grill, which took about 20 minutes, we loaded it up. The nice thing about the Smokey Joe is that it doesn’t require a huge amount of charcoal—it only took about 20 briquettes to fill it up. Per Weber’s recommendation, we used a chimney starter to light the coals, which gave us an even burn across all the briquettes.

With our burgers just inches away from the burning coals, we were able to achieve the Maillard reaction that produces that sought-after tasty brown crust much more easily than on any gas grill. As a result, our burger had a nice crispy crust while remaining juicy on the inside.

We added the lid for our chicken and veggie kabobs. The Smokey Joe comes with a loose lid that doesn’t attach to the base, which is a little inconvenient if you’re looking for a place to put it when it’s blazing hot. The three-hole vents located on the top and bottom of the grill provide ample airflow through the kettle, giving us a surprising amount of control over the Smokey Joe’s internal temperature. However, since the vents are metal, we had to wear grill mitts while adjusting them, which was awkward. Our chicken kabobs came out juicy with a great smoky flavor that can only result from charcoal.

At less than 10 pounds and under 15 inches in diameter, the Smokey Joe was easy to carry and took up little space in the trunk of our car. However, it lacks any sort of mechanism to lock the lid to the base, which forced us to carry it in our arms, which gets messy. There’s also the potential for it to come apart in transit, dumping leftover charcoal bits and ash into the trunk. Weber does make a premium version of the Smokey Joe that has a lid-locking mechanism, but you’ll pay more for it.

Product Specs

  • Type: Charcoal
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 147 square inches

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Doesn’t require a lot of charcoal
  • Vents allow for temperature control
  • Solidly built

Cons

  • No way to secure lid to base
  • Metal vents can be tricky to operate when hot

Get the Weber Smokey Joe portable grill at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Portable Grill Option: Pit Boss Grills Stainless Steel Portable Grill
Photo: amazon.com

With its all-stainless steel body and cooking grates, the Pit Boss Grills Stainless Steel Portable Grill is certainly one of the most handsome portable grills on the market. While it doesn’t heat as well as other gas grills, it differentiates itself with a vast cooking surface and the ability to create multiple cooking zones.

The grill comes fully assembled out of the box. To set it up, all we needed to do was unfold the legs and attach a standard 20-gallon propane tank or 16-ounce canister to its gas line. This makes the Pit Boss Grills more versatile than other portable grills, which are typically limited to a canister.

The grill functions like a smaller version of a full-size gas grill. We loved that we could light it by simply turning each burner’s knob to the ignition setting—there was no need to fiddle with an ignition button. With 276 square inches of cooking surface and two burners, it has more capacity than most portable grills. We could easily fit a dozen burger patties on its surface.

While these features were impressive, the Pit Boss Grills had a harder time heating up that large cooking surface. Whereas other portable gas grills we tested reached temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, this grill could only maintain cooking surface temperatures in the mid 400s. That made it impossible to achieve a dark brown crust on our burger patty, though our burger was still juicy and tasty. The grill did perform better when roasting. Its large clamshell lid circulated heat well, resulting in evenly cooked chicken and veggie kabobs.

The Pit Boss Grills Portable Grill is clearly designed to go on the road. At 27 pounds and measuring 23 inches wide, it was manageable to lift and carry for short distances, and it fit easily into the trunk of our SUV.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas
  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 276 square inches

Pros

  • Comes fully assembled
  • Attractive all-stainless steel construction
  • Large cooking surface
  • Easy to operate clamshell lid

Cons

  • Doesn’t reach high top heat

Get the Pit Boss Grills portable grill on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best Charcoal Grill

The Best Portable Grill Option: Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch
Photo: amazon.com

Essentially an oversize version of Weber’s classic 14-inch Smokey Joe grill, the Jumbo Joe expands the cooking surface to the size of a standard charcoal grill while remaining quite portable. Despite being bigger, the Jumbo Joe has a lot in common with its smaller sibling.

It puts out a tremendous amount of heat, doesn’t require a huge amount of charcoal to load (given its 18-inch cooking surface), and remains lightweight. At just 18 pounds, the Jumbo Joe is easy to carry from garage to car to campsite. It also has an edge over the standard Jumbo Joe when it comes to portability with a bar that fits over the lid, locking it in place for transport while allowing us to move it from point A to point B by the handle. The bar clip creates a handy holder for the lid when it’s not in use.

Like its little brother, the Jumbo Joe heats evenly and can reach temperatures well above what’s needed for searing. In fact, in our tests the grill surface got so hot that we needed to keep close tabs on our burger and kabobs to avoid overcooking the outside. This intense heat allowed us to achieve a thick char on the surface of our burger, which turned out juicy and flavor packed.

The Jumbo Joe boasts some 240 square inches of cooking space, and it feels that large. We could easily have loaded a dozen patties onto its cooking surface and still had enough buffer between them to allow for flipping.

With the lid in place, Jumbo Joe’s bulbous kettle shape created an ideal roasting environment for our kabobs. As with the smaller Joe, the vents on the lid and base do an excellent job of controlling oxygen flow into the cooking chamber, which allowed us to control temperature. Though, like the regular Joe, wear a grill mitt to adjust the metal vents to avoid burns. The Jumbo Joe’s wide base gives it a stable, sturdy feel even when cooking on an uneven lawn.

Cleaning the Jumbo Joe, as with cleaning the smaller version, is pretty straightforward; simply remove the grates and flip the entire grill over to dump the ash and charcoal bits into a trash can. While this is decidedly low tech, it’s easy enough, though we ended up creating a cloud of charcoal dust every time.

Product Specs

  • Type: Charcoal
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 240 square inches

Pros

  • Large cooking surface
  • Vents allow for temperature control
  • Reaches high heats for searing
  • Locking lid and handle ideal for transport

Cons

  • More expensive than other portable charcoal grills

Get the Weber Jumbo Joe portable grill at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Electric Grill

The Best Portable Grill Option: George Foreman 15-Serving Electric Grill
Photo: amazon.com

George Foreman’s extensive line of indoor electric grills have a great reputation for the ability to grill food while extracting unhealthy grease. This model extends that tradition while providing the option to grill outdoors.

The George Foreman arrived mostly assembled, taking only about 10 minutes to put together. It can be placed on a tabletop or onto the stand that’s included. We went with the stand, which we found to be easy to assemble and quite stable.

The George Foreman plugs into a standard outlet, which uses an electric heating element for its nonstick grill surface. After giving it about 15 minutes to heat up, we recorded a surface temperature of 525 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough for getting a good sear on our burger patty, which turned out evenly cooked and juicy. That said, there was some disparity in the heating. The grill half nearest the electric controls registered the highest heat output while the far half was notably lower with a max temperature under 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The George Foreman comes with a dome-shaped lid, which we used when we roasted our kabobs. While the lid does have an adjustable vent, the vent on our lid stuck, making it impossible to adjust it without holding onto the lid with another hand (which isn’t possible without a barbecue glove when the grill is hot). The vent problem was minor given that we could fine-tune the temperature with a turn of the control knob, which allowed us to produce juicy chicken and evenly cooked veggies.

Overall, there was much to like about the George Foreman. Its 240-square-inch round cooking surface offers ample space for grilling, and we liked how we could access the grill from any side. The two grilling plates are removable and nonstick, making them easy to clean in the kitchen sink.

At 21 pounds, the George Foreman is fairly light and fit easily into the trunk of our SUV, though toting along the stand, which breaks down into three pieces, was a bit more cumbersome. We’d certainly prefer using it on a tabletop if we’re traveling with it. While we liked the fact that the George Foreman grill can be used safely indoors, its portability is limited by the fact that it requires a 120V electrical outlet for power, which is unavailable on a tent-only campsite.

Product Specs

  • Type: Electric
  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 240 square inches

Pros

  • Large cooking surface
  • High heat output
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Vent sticks
  • Uneven heating on cooking surface

Get the George Foreman portable grill on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best Pellet Grill

The Best Portable Grill Option: Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill
Photo: amazon.com

The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill differentiates itself from standard portable grills with its ability to smoke as well as barbecue, making it the most versatile grill we tested.

Setting up the Davy Crockett took more time than a standard portable grill but still wasn’t difficult. We had it together and loaded with hickory hardwood pellets in about 30 minutes. As a standard grill, the Davy Crockett easily reaches the temperatures required for searing a crust on our hamburger patty. That high heat coupled with the flavor the hickory pellets infused into the food resulted in a juicy and very flavorful hamburger patty.

That said, grilling on the Davy Crockett is a bit of work. Unlike a standard grill that’s open on at least three sides, the Davy Crockett has a single panel that grants access to the cooking surface, which is hard to access with a spatula or tongs. It was especially awkward to flip a burger patty or adjust our kabobs while crouching down. Green Mountain Grills does suggest removing the legs and using the Davy Crockett as a tabletop grill. While we didn’t have a chance to test it as a tabletop, raising it to table height would certainly make using it for grilling much easier.

While the Davy Crockett is a very capable grill, it really shines as a smoker. We tested it with a small pork shoulder. Maintaining a consistent low temperature is the key for low and slow cooking, and the Davy Crockett excelled at this thanks to an electric auger that automatically feeds pellets into the firebox based on the temperature setting on the digital thermostat. Over eight hours, it never deviated from the set temp more than a few degrees, even when smoking at temperatures as low as 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Davy Crockett is a smart smoker, connecting to an app that allowed us to monitor the meat’s temperature, access pre-programmed cooking profiles, and control the grill temperature from afar. While the app was certainly useful for monitoring cooking, we had to reconnect it to the grill every time the smartphone went to sleep, which made it useless for receiving alerts. At one point, it simply refused to connect at all, forcing us to abandon the app controls.

Despite these issues, the end result of our smoking effort was nothing short of divine. The Davy Crockett produced juicy pulled pork with a healthy smoke ring and plenty of hickory flavor.

The Davy Crockett is portable, but at 63 pounds, it requires two people for transportation and setup, something that the manufacturer emphasizes in its instructions. While a weight of just under 60 pounds may seem heavy, considering that most smokers weigh well over 100 pounds, it’s actually fairly light as smokers go. In terms of size, it was compact enough to fit into the trunk of our SUV with plenty of room to spare. The Davy Crockett requires electricity to operate the hopper, and it comes with a plug for a standard wall outlet, a plug for a car accessory outlet, and clips for a 12V battery.

Product Specs

  • Type: Pellet
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 219 square inches

Pros

  • Smart features with app
  • Can smoke and grill
  • Maintains consistent temperatures
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Heavy total weight
  • A little awkward for standard grilling
  • App is not user-friendly

Get the Green Mountain Grills portable grill on Amazon.

Best Infrared Grill

The Best Portable Grill Option: Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 Portable Tru-Infrared Grill
Photo: amazon.com

The Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 is an infrared grill, which means instead of heating the air, which in turn cooks the food, it heats a stainless steel V-shaped grate that cooks food directly. An infrared grill is in theory supposed to reach temperatures well above what conventional grills can achieve. While the Grill2Go cooks well, we found that its heat output was similar to that of conventional gas grills.

Since the Grill2Go comes almost completely assembled, setup was easy. Its box shape, large handles, and manageable weight make it easy to move into position on a tabletop, and it fit easily into the trunk of our vehicle. We also liked the clips that hold the lid securely closed for transport.

The grill uses a standard 16-ounce propane canister, which attaches to the side of the grill and lights with a piezo ignition. After giving the Grill2Go about 20 minutes to heat up, we recorded a surface temperature of 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Though not the extreme heat that’s advertised with infrared technology, 550 degrees Fahrenheit was more than enough to create a sear on our burger patty. The Grill2Go’s clamshell lid was easy to operate and created even heating when closed. Our kabobs turned out evenly cooked while still being juicy. Though the Grill2Go reached a good heat level and cooked well, we found that the food was not as flavorful as that which came off the other gas grills we tested.

Infrared grills can be a pain to clean, and the Grill2Go is no different. Food and char tended to get caught between the V’s on the grill grate and clog up holes. While the Grill2Go comes with a special scraper, it was still a chore to get the grate clean.

Product Specs

  • Type: Propane
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 200 square inches

Pros

  • Reaches high temperature for searings
  • Durable heavy-gauge aluminum construction
  • Easy to move and set up
  • Ample cooking surface

Cons

  • Produced less-flavorful food
  • Hard-to-clean grill grate

Get the Char-Broil portable grill on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Best Lightweight

The Best Portable Grill Option: Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill
Photo: amazon.com

As one of the lightest portable grills on the market, the Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill is one of the easiest grills to take to a park or tailgating event. It weighs just 2 pounds and features latches that hold the lid to the base, allowing it to be carried by the lid handle.

The Cuisinart uses a kettle style that’s notably shallower than other kettle-style grills. This design has its positives and negatives. On the plus side, the shallow kettle required just 12 briquettes to heat the entire 14-inch cooking surface.

Like other charcoal portable grills, the Cuisinart reached well above the required heat needed to sear meat. Our burger turned out juicy with plenty of charcoal-infused flavor. That alone makes the Cuisinart a great ultra-light, budget-priced grill, despite its shortcomings, of which there are a few.

The Cuisinart’s legs don’t spread as widely as the legs on other kettle grills, giving it an unstable feel. Because of the grill’s small leg footprint and light weight, users should be cautious while flipping burgers and encountering subsequent resistance; we feared the grill might overturn.

The compact size also created issues when we attempted to roast our kabobs. Closing the lid seemed to stymie airflow to the charcoal, which struggled to stay lit even with both vents wide open. This issue required us to remove and replace the lid periodically, allowing oxygen into the cooking chamber to keep the grill going while cooking our kabobs.

Despite these issues, the Cuisinart produced flavorful food and is a great budget-priced option for those looking for a super-light grill to tote to a park or stadium parking lot.

Product Specs

  • Type: Charcoal
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 150 square inches

Pros

  • Weighs just 2 pounds
  • Lid attaches to the base
  • Requires small amount of charcoal

Cons

  • Light weight and legs make it feel a bit unstable

Get the Cuisinart portable grill on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best for Camping

The Best Portable Grill Option: Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
Photo: amazon.com

So many portable grills require users to either squat over them or procure a tabletop on which they can be placed. The Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill sets itself apart by including its own stand. Although the stand—a hefty 50 pounds—does add to the RoadTrip’s weight, it’s easier to move than many lighter grills. That’s because the RoadTrip folds flat and has wheels on one end, allowing it to roll behind the user like a piece of airline luggage. However, we should note that lifting it into the car trunk and converting it from cart form to grill form can be awkward without two people.

Similar to other gas grills, the Coleman uses 16-ounce propane tanks. And boy, does it get a lot out of that canister. After preheating the grill, the Coleman registered temps approaching 600 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface despite having one of the largest cooking surfaces of any portable grill we tested. Coleman uses three burners, including a central circular burner that’s accompanied by two C-shaped burners on either side. This design allowed us to create three possible heat zones, which is impossible to do on most other portable grills. This capability allowed us to grill a burger at sear temperatures on one side while cooking our chicken and vegetable kabobs at a lower temperature on the other side. The Coleman roasted well with the lid closed, although we found the lid’s latch a bit hard to operate.

Cleaning the Coleman is relatively easy. We scrubbed the two nonstick plates in a kitchen sink and removed the large oval shape to wipe out the grease trap.

Product Specs

  • Type: Propane
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 285 square inches

Pros

  • Folds down and rolls for easy transport
  • Reaches high temperatures for searing
  • Large cooking surface
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Requires 2 people to lift and set up

Get the Coleman portable grill on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Our Verdict

A portable grill should be durably built, light enough to fit in a trunk, and compact enough to carry. It should also perform well enough to capably cook everything from hamburgers to grilled chicken. The Weber Q1200 portable grill checks all the boxes on this list, making it the best all-around portable grill we tested. Those looking for a charcoal option should consider a classic: the Weber Jumbo Joe portable grill.

How We Tested the Best Portable Grills

We tested each grill extensively before adding them to our list of the top portable grills. Our assessment began when the grill arrived: We evaluated how easy it was to assemble and set up out of the box.

We then examined how easy it was to light the grill. After giving each grill a chance to heat up, we used a grill thermometer to test the temperature of the grilling surface, keeping in mind that a grill needs to reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit to capably sear meat. For each grill, we cooked a hamburger patty; chicken kabobs with chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast; and vegetables that included squash, zucchini, onions, and bell peppers. We analyzed how well each grill produced grill marks and was able to create the Maillard reaction that produces the tasty dark-brown crust on meat. For our kabobs, we looked at how evenly the grill roasted when the lid was closed, checking for even cooking in the meat.

After evaluating each grill’s cooking ability, we determined how easy it was to clean the grill. We also looked at what additional features the grill offered, such as smart controls, integrated thermometers, and side tables. Finally, we assessed the grill’s portability by physically carrying each grill to our vehicle and attempting to place it in the trunk.

FAQs

Even with ample background on the best portable grills, you might still have some additional questions. Read on for answers to some of the most common queries about portable grills.

Q. What should I look for in a portable grill?

A portable grill should be light and compact while also offering enough cooking surface to handle meals for your family.

Q. What is the best portable propane grill?

There are a few choices when it comes to the best portable propane grill. Our top pick, the Weber Q1200 portable grill, is great for anyone looking for an all-around capable grill with plenty of built-in features.

Q. What is the best grill to take camping?

One of the best portable grills for camping is the Coleman portable grill. It features a built-in stand, extendable wings, and three burners for temperature control.