The hinged lid is a highlight of this tabletop grill, sealing well and opening easily. Locking handle doubles as a carrying handle. Good bottom ventilation and even heat across grill surface.
Space between grill surface and lid is a bit tight. No temperature gauge. Charcoal grate tends to warp and rust over time.
Folds for carrying. Durable, even on camping trips. Grill fits up to 8 burgers. Responsive customer service and good warranty.
Drip pan can slide around while carrying, as it doesn’t latch. Controlling temperature is tricky, as grill heats fast w/lid closed. Piezo igniter tends to fail early and often.
Grill bolts to a bigger smoker as a side fire box for cool smoking. Easy to clean w/a side slide-out for the charcoal grate and ash pan. Simple assembly. Heavy and sturdy, but small enough for an RV.
Paint tends to bubble/peel in high heat unless the grill is seasoned first. Grill door and grates can rust in damp weather if not seasoned or treated w/heat-resistant paint. Reports of door not sealing properly, allowing smoke out.
Simple to put together w/few parts to bolt on. Heats evenly and reliably thanks to cast iron construction. Easy to clean.
Grill surface has no raised edges, so hot dogs can roll off. Care must be taken in cleaning. and grill must be covered if stored outside. At 32 lbs., carrying is a bear. Base gets very hot.
Porcelain-coated grates heat evenly and are easy to clean. Arrives mostly assembled. Grill surface is wide enough for 4-5 steaks. Even heating across single oval burner w/no hot spots. Responsive customer service.
Lightweight housing doesn’t retain heat as well as steel or cast iron. No lock on lid. Shape is unwieldy, even w/side tables stowed inside the grill. Burners can be difficult to clean. Some feel it doesn’t get hot enough to properly sear meat.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Not enough space for a traditional BBQ? Whether you’re looking to impart some smokey flavor to your steaks and ribs, or you just want a grill that provides a quick and efficient way to cook food outdoors, there’s a portable grill for you. Easy to transport and store away, portable grills are the perfect choice for apartment dwellers, or anyone who doesn’t have the space to sacrifice for a more substantial outdoor cooking appliance.
Already overwhelmed by the choices available? Finding it challenging to decide between charcoal, gas or, electric? We’ve done the work for you at BestReviews. With the help of experts and intensive research, we have put together a buying guide to help you in your search for a new portable grill. All our products are purchased by BestReviews. We do not test free samples, nor receive any kind of benefits from manufacturers. Rest assured, our guides and reviews are unbiased and composed with care.
After you read through our guide and feel confident enough to make your final purchase, at the top of this page you’ll find standout products that we’ve selected as our top five portable grills.
The most obvious advantage of a portable grill is that it’s compact — it can easily be transported or stored away. There are quite a few scenarios where these features may come in handy.
Camping: If you want to cook up bacon and sausages for breakfast, a portable grill is an efficient alternative to cooking over a fire.
Tailgating: Heading out with friends to catch the game? You’re not going to lug around a full-sized BBQ. A portable grill is a much better option.
Picnicking: As long as you keep safety and city regulations in mind, bringing a portable grill to an outdoor family picnic at the park is a great way to get everyone fed.
Small Spaces: Have a dwelling with a small balcony, or live in a home with a tiny back porch? If you lack space for a full-sized grill, opt for a portable one.
Occasional Barbecuing: Only find yourself grilling once in a while? It's probably not worth the investment for a full-sized BBQ. A portable grill is less expensive, and it doesn’t have to take up precious outdoor real-estate when not in use.
There are three main types of portable grills. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
A portable gas grill features a fast-to-ignite fuel source. This type of grill can be used with propane or butane. Campers may want to opt for butane, since the canisters are smaller and more portable. The drawback of a gas grill? You need to transport your fuel source as well, which can be cumbersome if you choose propane. The advantage of a gas grill, however, is that once extinguished, the grill cools quickly, so you can pack it up a lot faster than a charcoal grill. Hold on, though. It should be noted that gas doesn’t produce the same heat intensity as charcoal, so if you’re looking to achieve very high temps to get that perfect sear, go with charcoal instead. Fuel for a gas grill is also a cost to factor into your purchasing decision.
Watch out! You can’t just throw away gas cylinders. You must dispose of them properly.
A charcoal grill not only gets hotter than a gas grill, but it also produces even heat, and it imparts a nice smoky flavor to whatever you’re cooking. But because this kind of grill gets so hot, it’s not compatible with all types of cooking vessels. You’ll also need to transport the fuel — in this case, charcoal. Although charcoal is cheaper than gas, it’s messier to use, slow to heat, and slow to cool down.
Models that fold down or collapse may seem convenient, but they’re often made of flimsier materials. For frequent grilling, they’re not the best option.
Electric grills heat quickly, and they require almost no learning curve. There’s also no need to lug around charcoal or gas canisters with this kind of portable grill. Electric units also produce high heat, but you’ll need an outlet close by to use one of these grills.
Worried about burning your fingers while handling your portable grill? Go with a model that has a cool-touch lid handle.
When looking for a portable grill, amateur cooks and experienced meat eaters should pay equal attention to the following.
We mentioned the pros and cons of each type of portable grill above. When deciding on which will best meet your grilling needs, think about what you want to grill. Are you looking to sear meat at high temperatures, and infuse a delicious smoky flavor into your food? Charcoal is the way to go. Want simplicity and ease of use? A gas or electric grill may be the better option. Factor in the cost of fuel and whether you’ll have an outlet nearby, and it should be easy to pinpoint which fuel type fits your needs best.
Charcoal grills tend to be cheaper because they’re made of thinner materials, but they also have fewer moving parts, and they hold up to frequent use. For the most durable option, look for a rustproof design and solid grates made of strong materials. Some grills come equipped with heavy-duty cast-iron components. This material is extremely durable, but it’s pretty heavy, so it’s not a good choice for anyone seeking something highly transportable.
Cleaning your grill correctly will help to ensure your grates keep food from sticking during the cooking process.
How many people do you plan to cook for? If you think a portable grill is not a good option for a family affair, think again. Many portable grills have a grilling area that’s big enough to cook for multiple people at once. If you’re only preparing food for yourself or one other person, however, a smaller cooking surface is just fine and will cost you less money.
Want to cook a whole chicken on the grill? Make sure you have enough top clearance to close the grill’s lid.
Fuel type, construction, and the size of a portable grill all factor into how portable it truly is. Depending on how you plan to use your new grill, portability might rank high or low on your list of coveted features. Planning on using it on your apartment’s small balcony? It probably doesn’t need to be super lightweight. If you want to bring it along for camping trips and picnics, though, make sure it’s light enough to transport. Some models even fold down for easy storage.
Not all pots and pans are appropriate for use on a hot grill. Opt for cooking vessels that heat evenly, and those that are safe for use at high temperatures.
Very few people actually enjoy sitting down and reading through appliance instruction manuals. If you’re going to have to learn to use a new cooking appliance, it’s a bonus if there’s only a small learning curve. A charcoal grill may take a little bit more time to get used to — unless you’re already a seasoned grilling pro — since it’s slower to heat, and dealing with coals may not feel intuitive for the first-timer. Electric and gas grills are a little easier to navigate since they are quicker to light. Also, consider the cleaning process for your potential portable grill. Is disposing of ash (for a charcoal grill) simple? Can parts of the grill be put in the dishwasher, or is only hand washing recommended?
The smoky taste that comes with a charcoal grill also comes with smoke, so consider this when making your purchasing decision.
When using any kind of appliance that generates heat, make sure to read the manufacturer’s safety guidelines for using the device. Keep the following in mind, as well.
Cook away from any action to avoid knocking the grill over by accident. Cook on the sidelines, away from games of family tag or football.
Make sure the grill is sitting on an even surface and isn’t wobbling.
Use appropriate grilling utensils that are long enough to provide clearance from flames to avoid burning yourself.
It goes without saying, but don’t let kids use a portable grill, unless they are carefully supervised.
For charcoal: don’t leave the charcoal unattended overnight or for long periods of time without dousing them first
A portable grill is a much cheaper alternative to a traditional BBQ. Basic, quality options start at around $50. More expensive units feature larger cooking surfaces and enhanced durability. When comparing grill types, charcoal is the most economical option, both in terms of fuel cost and appliance cost.
Q. How often should I clean my portable grill?
A. You should clean your grill’s grates each time you use your portable grill. Some portable grills feature grates that can be put in the dishwasher, but check the user manual for your appliance before doing so. A thorough cleaning of your portable grill should be done once a year.
Q. How should I store my portable grill?
A. Make sure it has cooled down thoroughly before putting it away or packing it up for transport. Gas cylinders should not be stored indoors, and charcoal should be kept in a sealed metal canister to keep it dry.
Q. What are BTUs?
A. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. The BTUs of a fuel canister refer to its heat capacity. It can also be used to designate the heat output of an appliance like a portable grill.
Q. Which option is best for searing meats, charcoal or gas?
A. The short answer is charcoal. Charcoal grills can produce the higher temperatures that are required for searing meat effectively. But unless you’re only using your portable grill to sear steak, that shouldn’t be your primary reason for choosing one type of model over another.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.