Why tether yourself to a stationary grill that can only be used in one corner of the yard when you can invest in a tabletop grill that can go with you to the park, campsite, or tailgate party? Electric tabletop grills can even be used indoors, so you don’t need to put the grilling season on hold while waiting for the snow to melt.
The best tabletop grill depends heavily on your personal preference, as there are a wide variety of grill types to consider, including Kamado, charcoal, propane, natural gas, and electric. You should also keep in mind that the point of a tabletop grill is effective portability, so the size and grilling surface are important to consider. The list below features several of the best tabletop grills and is a great place to start the search for your new grill.
- BEST OVERALL: Philips Kitchen Appliances HD6371/94 Philips
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GoWISE USA GW88000 2-in-1 Smokeless Indoor Grill
- UPGRADE PICK: Weber 51010001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
- BEST PROPANE: Cuisinart CGG-306 Chef’s Style Propane Tabletop Grill
- BEST CHARCOAL: Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black
- BEST KAMADO: Kamado Joe Jr. KJ13RH Charcoal Grill 13.5 inch
- MOST VERSATILE: Ninja Foodi AG301 5-in-1 Indoor Electric Grill
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Tabletop Grill
When shopping for a tabletop grill for use indoors or outdoors, there are several important factors to keep in mind, including the grill type, the grilling surface, and the number of burners. It’s also a good idea to focus on the portability of the product. Read below for important shopping tips and product details before choosing the best tabletop grill for your next barbecue.
Based on the method used to produce heat and the style of the grill, tabletop grills generally fall into four broad categories: Kamado grills, charcoal grills, gas grills, and electric grills.
- Kamado grills, also known as ceramic grills or egg-shaped cookers, are a type of charcoal grill made with ceramic instead of stainless or powder-coated steel. This means that they take longer to heat up initially but hold and radiate heat for a longer period of time. The narrow shape also helps to reduce general airflow so food stays moist while grilling.
- Charcoal grills rely on charcoal to produce heat and smoke. These tabletop grills are the most common outdoor type because they don’t require a portable gas tank or natural gas connection to function. Just grab a bag of charcoal, pack up the grill, and head to the tailgate party.
- Gas grills use either liquid propane or natural gas to heat the food on the grill grates. This style of grill is the easiest outdoor type to use because the temperature can be set and controlled to within 25 degrees, with most products using simple gas-flow knobs that are typically located on the front of the grill.
- Electric grills create heat using radiant heating elements (like those common in stovetops) or infrared heating elements. These electric tabletop grills are the only products that should be used indoors, since the electrical energy doesn’t produce potentially harmful fumes, like charcoal or gas grills.
The grilling surface is easily one of the most important parts to consider when looking for a tabletop grill, and the size of the cooking surface is the first thing to determine. If you plan on using the tabletop grill for small meals to be shared between two people, then look for a grill with a cooking surface smaller than 150 square inches.
For larger families, it’s better to have a cooking surface capable of grilling everyone’s food at the same time so the family doesn’t have to take turns grabbing their food. Choosing an appropriately sized grill reduces the heat required for grilling, allowing food to cook at a more even pace across a smaller surface area. It also makes for easier cleanup.
Another important feature is the material used to make the grill grates and the exterior of the grill, including stainless steel, powder-coated steel, and ceramic.
- Stainless steel is a high-durability material and is usually the best option for the exterior of a grill. It is resistant to water, UV radiation, and impact damage, despite being lightweight and easy to maneuver.
- Powder-coated steel is nearly as durable as stainless steel and is even more resistant to water damage, corrosion, and rusting. This makes it a good choice for unsheltered outdoor spaces. Note, this style of grill is prone to chipping. Once chipped, the powder coating can actually trap water against the exposed steel and speed up corrosion, so it’s important to inspect these grills regularly.
- Ceramics are the best option for high humidity, rain-prone locations because these grills cannot rust. This type of grill heats up slowly and cools down slowly, making it ideal for long, slow cooks. However, ceramic is fragile and can also chip easily, so these grills must be handled with care.
Number of Burners
The number of burners on a tabletop grill is a concern generally reserved for gas grills, though electric grills may have multiple heating elements that can fall into the “burner” categorization. When considering the size of the grilling surface, don’t forget the surface is only useful for grilling when the heat is being applied from below. As expected, more burners mean you can heat up more food on the grill within the same time frame, so everyone gets fed at the same time instead of having to take turns.
Tabletop grills that have large grilling surfaces but only one burner or element may be able to fit more food onto the grill grates, but the food will cook at a slow rate. Also, the user will likely find the grill is very hot directly over the burner or element but is significantly cooler everywhere else on the grill, which can lead to uneven cooking. For larger grills, it’s best to look for models with more than one burner or element.
The temperature settings on a tabletop grill vary between the different grill types.
- Charcoal and Kamado tabletop grills control the grilling temperature by adjusting the oxygen flow into the grill using a vent, which is typically located at the base of the grill. The temperature can also be changed by opening or closing a second air vent in the top of the grill to release built-up smoke and heat. However, controlling a charcoal grill can be difficult for a beginner, so it’s a good idea to have an experienced individual to help teach you how to manage temperature control.
- Gas tabletop grills have simple control dials used to increase or decrease the flow of gas into the grill. To reduce the temperature, just turn down the amount of gas being burned. Make it hotter by increasing the flow of gas. These grills can generally be controlled without a problem, making them a good option for beginners.
- Electric tabletop grills are the easiest style of tabletop grills to control. Simply plug the grill in and turn the temperature knob to the ideal setting, just like you would on a stovetop. This type of grill normally produces lower temperatures than gas, charcoal, or Kamado, so they aren’t the best option for searing meat. However, when it comes to grilling more sensitive foods—like fish—that are easy to burn, the precise temperature control can make all the difference.
The portability of a tabletop grill is an integral feature. If compact portability wasn’t a concern, most users would find full-size grills to be more effective and easier to use, with no setup or takedown involved. Portability can be affected by the size, weight, and any additional features, like folding legs or carrying handles.
Ideally, a tabletop grill should be large enough to cook food for the whole family but should weigh less than 50 pounds, with a possible exception being made for heavier ceramic grills. The low weight paired with a set of carrying handles allows the grill to be picked up and carried into the house, packed into the car or truck, or just put away outdoors without having to struggle to lift or maneuver it. Similarly, if the legs of the grill fold up after use then the compact size will be easier to move and store.
Tabletop grills can come with a range of additional features, including grill covers, grill tools, and grill stands.
- Grill covers protect the equipment from rain, snow, and ice. Covers are designed with a soft heat-resistant side that won’t scratch the grill and a waterproof exterior to shelter the grill from bad weather.
- Grill tools can refer to a range of utensils designed for manipulating food or cleaning the grill, such as grill brushes, spatulas, or tongs.
- Grill stands are common with Kamado tabletop grills. These accessories are necessary to hold the grill up off the table, but standard tabletop grills may replace grill stands with foldable legs or fixed legs. The grill stands are easier to use and clean. They can also be replaced without having to invest in an entirely new grill.
Our Top Picks
This list of tabletop grills is a selection of top-quality products, chosen for portability, price, and overall efficacy as well as significant consideration to the shopping tips and information provided above. Keep these tips in mind when looking through the products to find the best tabletop grill for indoor and outdoor use.
This electric tabletop grill from Philips features dual-infrared heaters on either side of the grill that keep the temperature of the grill consistent at 446 degrees Fahrenheit. The grill does take about 5 minutes to heat up, but after this short preheating period, the temperature doesn’t fluctuate. It also has a smokeless design featuring a drip tray at the bottom of the grill to catch oil and grease just below the angled heating elements, so the grease can cool instead of burning and smoking.
This electric tabletop grill has a 266-square-inch grilling surface and uses an open hibachi-style, instead of a traditional lid. This makes it simple to grill right at the table, so everyone can participate in cooking their own food or just enjoy the easy access to meat right off the grill.
The affordable GoWISE electric tabletop grill weighs just 10 pounds and has carrying handles on either end of the grill. It comes with a grill plate and a griddle plate, so the user can choose whether to grill on a ridged surface (like a traditional grill) or on a smooth surface (like a skillet or pan). Both of the cooking plates have a grilling surface that measures 142 square inches, which is ideal for couples and smaller families.
The tabletop grill has five heat settings so the user can control the heat output for the desired results, with a maximum temperature of 482 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a smokeless design, made possible by a built-in fan and a water-filled drip tray that prevents oil and grease from burning when it falls to the bottom of the grill. This grill also comes with a recipe book with 20 different recipes designed specifically for the grill, so users can get started on something new right away.
This propane gas tabletop grill weighs just 29 pounds and has a sleek design made for portability. It’s secured to a broad, shallow grill stand made of heat- and water-resistant glass-reinforced nylon. The grill features two side tables that can fold down to reveal built-in carrying handles. This compact design makes it a great option for the park, a campsite, or to take to a tailgate party, instead of trying to pack up the full-size grill.
The tabletop grill has a single stainless steel burner; however, the burner has an elongated shape so the heat produced is evenly distributed across the entire 189-square-inch grilling surface. The grill comes in six different color options, including black, orange, blue, red, green, and titanium, so users can choose the ideal grill color to suit their tastes.
The Cuisinart tabletop grill uses a built-in hose to connect to standard-size 20-pound liquid propane tanks for grilling fuel. It weighs just 22 pounds and has foldable legs to make it more compact and easier to load into a vehicle. The top of the grill can be secured to the base with four separate latches, allowing the lid handle to be used as a carrying handle, which is much easier than the user trying to wrap their arms around it as they walk.
The propane tabletop grill is made of water-resistant stainless steel and features a two-burner system controlled by simple dials on the front that work in much the same way as those common on full-size gas grills. It has a large 275-square-inch grilling surface suitable for preparing a meal for the entire family.
A dome-style charcoal tabletop grill is a classic shape for standard charcoal grills, as the shape allows for even distribution of heat throughout the entire grill. The temperature of the grill is controlled through a bottom vent that draws in oxygen and a top vent in the lid that releases heat and smoke.
This charcoal grill also has a stainless steel wire attached to the base that can be flipped up to secure the lid in place when it needs to be carried somewhere or packed up. The wire can also be used to hold the lid while the food is checked, eliminating the need to find a place to put the hot lid. The grill has a 255-square-inch round cooking surface. For easy access to the charcoal below, it features a stainless steel grate with two side handles that make it simple to lift out.
The Kamado Joe Jr. tabletop grill is a high-end product made by the company specializing in the Kamado-style of the charcoal grill. This grill is made of heavy ceramic, with a total weight of 76 pounds, meaning it may need more than one person to carry and set up. However, it does come with a stainless steel grill stand with carrying handles, making it a little easier to hoist the bulky weight. It boasts a circular stainless steel grill grate with a 143-square-inch grilling surface.
Because the ceramic isn’t susceptible to rusting or water damage, the Kamado tabletop grill is a good choice for humid climates, hanging out by the pool, or going to the beach. The grill is controlled with a bottom vent for oxygen flow and a top vent to release smoke and heat. It also includes a built-in temperature gauge in the lid for effective, accurate heat management.
With an impressive range of functions, the Ninja Foodi electric tabletop grill is designed for grilling, air crisping, baking, roasting, and dehydrating. This versatility is due to the combination of a 6-quart air fryer with a 100-square-inch ceramic-coated grill grate, giving users the option to prepare food in a variety of ways without having to use more than one device.
The electric tabletop grill comes with the previously mentioned removable grill grate but also includes a hinged grill hood that locks in heat and flavor as well as a splatter shield that can be removed and washed in the dishwasher. This tabletop grill heats up to a maximum temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a 4-quart crisper basket designed for making fries and a simple cleaning brush to help remove stuck-on food. The Ninja Foodi weighs only 20 pounds, so it’s portable too.
FAQs About Tabletop Grills
Tabletop grills are a great addition to any household, but you may still have some concerns about how they are used as well as questions about the differences between the various grill types and how to care for them. Read on to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the best tabletop grill for your next backyard cookout.
Q. Can I use my tabletop grill on a plastic table?
This depends on the type of grill, the amount of heat it releases from the sides and bottom, and the quality of the plastic table. Indoor electric grills will likely be fine on a plastic table. However, for safety’s sake, when using a charcoal, propane, or Kamado grill, it’s better to use a wood, metal, or glass table.
Q. What type of grill is easiest to clean?
Electric tabletop grills are typically the easiest to clean because they are lightweight and portable with grill plates that can often be removed and placed in the dishwasher, instead of having to be washed by hand. In most cases, they are also washed more frequently, which reduces the amount of time and effort involved. However, always check the product information and the manufacturer’s recommendations before using a dishwasher for cleaning any grilling components.
Q. How often should I clean the inside of my grill?
The inside of a tabletop grill should be cleaned regularly. For indoor grills, it’s a good idea to clean them after every use. Outdoor grills should also be cleaned after every use but only require a thorough deep clean (with a grill cleaner) approximately once every 2 months, depending on the frequency with which the grill is used.