I’ll be honest with you—I can’t think of many events that can’t benefit from a grill nearby.
Whether you’re tailgating with buddies or picnicking with the kids, you can’t go wrong with a deliciously charred burger or a tasty skewer of kebabs.
Unfortunately, the greatest BBQs tend to be cumbersome beasts. I list the best portable grills so that you can cook up a storm anywhere, anytime.
If you’re eager to skip straight to the products, here are the best portable grills:
What’s a Portable Grill? Why Buy One?
If you’re lucky enough to have the ideal grill set up in your backyard, you might be wondering what the point of a portable grill is.
The clue is in the name. They’re smaller than standard models, meaning you won’t need Herculean strength or a pickup truck to move them around.
That doesn’t mean that you should expect less; or limited options. These appliances come in as many varieties as your average full-sized grill.
What Can You Use Portable Grills For?
If you live in an apartment or a condo, a full-size unit might not fit on your balcony—and it might not be legal either, depending on your state’s laws.
You can also use your portable grill as a backup. For instance, if you host a mega BBQ and can’t keep up with all the hungry guests.
Consider all the gatherings that happen far from home, like beachside get-togethers or a long day out at a remote campsite. Or, tailgating after a football game—the only limit is your imagination.
Pros and Cons of Portable Grills
Before the thought of grilling up mouth-watering ribs or a juicy steak anywhere gets you rushing to the checkout, let me outline the pros and cons:
- Similar range of options as standard units.
- Same concept as a regular grill in a smaller package.
- Not as much space to work with.
- Can be pricey.
How to Choose the Best Portable Grill
There’s more to selecting a transportable grill than opting for the first petite model you come across.
You need to approach your new pint-sized pal as a long-term investment, not a casual purchase. Here’s what you should factor in:
- Fuel source.
You have three options: electricity, charcoal, or gas. Electricity and gas have the modern, clean-burning advantage—but there’s nothing like charcoal for searing and slow cooking.
I won’t disclose which side of the fuel debate I stand on—what you cook with is a matter of personal preference.
If you plan to venture far from home, remember that electricity isn’t usually readily available. There aren’t outlets at most campsites, beaches, and parking lots.
Bear in mind if you want a portable gas grill, it requires the same diligence and safety precautions as any gas-fueled model.
Size and Shape
Now, you need to be reasonable with your expectations—you can’t use these units for massive hunks of meat.
Still, take a moment to think about what your favorite grilled meals are. Do you need a longer, rectangular grill for skewers? Or would a rounded model for ribs suit you better?
When you’re checking weight, bear in mind who will be responsible for the heavy lifting. I know I always end up as the pack mule when we go on grilling expeditions.
Having said that, be realistic about how much you can carry without throwing your back out. If your cherished picnic spot is uphill and you have to park far away, picture the climb—visualize it—and decide if you can manage.
Portable grills are bound to experience a little more wear and tear than the average stay-at-home model. You don’t want to find yours covered in dents and dings after a few too many bumpy rides.
Handle and Legs
Your grill needs a handle that’s easy to grab onto, and ideally, won’t take forever to cool down once you’re ready to pack up and leave.
It should also have a sturdy base that’s safe on most surfaces—don’t be that person to leave a burnt-up picnic table behind.
Does the manufacturer offer any interesting freebies to enhance your grilling experience? Accessories shouldn’t be your sole priority, but they’re a nice touch.
As I warned you, portability doesn’t translate into cheapness. Figure out your budget before you fall in love with one.
The Best Portable Grills: My Top 3 Picks
If you were dreading scouring reviews to pick the best portable grill, don’t worry. Big Mick has you covered—after intensive research, here are the top 3 units on the market to consider:
This charcoal portable grill is both lightweight and capacious. Although it weighs less than 20 pounds, the Jumbo Joe has a total cooking area 240 square inches. Translated into terms we can all understand, that’s eight burgers at once. Dampers let you manage the temperature inside the grill.
The lid handle is glass-reinforced nylon for scald-free lifting. Both the bowl and lid are porcelain-enameled to avoid rusting over time. The ash catcher and grate are similarly sturdy—aluminum and heavy-gauge steel, respectively.
A star feature of this Weber model is the Tuck N’ Carry lid lock feature. Rather than awkwardly holding the lid or foisting it off on your grilling assistant, you can hook it safely onto the side of the bowl. The legs are a stable tripod design to keep the Jumbo Joe upright on rough surfaces.
Some buyers did report that the airflow wasn’t as good as they liked.
- Sturdy build.
- Some users report poor airflow.
This model should appeal to fellow Grumpy Grill Guys (or gals) who would rather stay behind the grill than be at the center of the party. There are two temperature zones so that you can cook and monitor different foodstuffs at once. You’ll have 225 square inches of space to work with.
Cast-iron grill grates come with the Roadtrip 225, although they can be switched out with stove or griddle grates.
It can produce a total cooking power of 11,000 BTUs. Unfortunately, both the extra cooking surfaces and the propane cylinder are sold separately.
At a little over 30 pounds, this grill is a little heavier than others on my list, but it doesn’t have a handle to carry it. That can make it cumbersome to transport for some of you.
- Hassle-free ignition.
- Two temperature zones.
- 11,000 BTUs of power.
- Lid handle.
- No handle to carry it.
- Heavier than other units.
Char-Broil presents this portable infrared gas grill with a no-flare system. This road-worthy unit has a high-impact aluminum frame and stainless steel lid latches. If you plan to travel far and wide with your grill, the Grill2Go might be a good choice.
You’ll get 200 square inches of grilling room, which should suffice for eight decently-sized burgers at a time. The main burner provides up to 9,000 BTUs of power.
The temperature gauge on the lid enables you—or an inexperienced bystander—to manage and monitor the heat inside.
At 24 pounds with carrying handles on either side, the Grill2Go is convenient to transport from place to place.
One aspect I appreciate is that the ignition is tucked behind the front leg on the right.
However, watch out for the regulator: it might wear out faster than you expect.
- Temperature gauge.
- Safe ignition switch.
- Some buyers report the regulator wears out fast.
I might be the Grumpy Grill Guy, but there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to put a smile on my face—a spontaneous BBQ. Make your best portable grill your constant companion this summer.
Don’t be intimidated—drop me a comment below! Tell me what you think of my three selections or share your portable grill tips. Any grill enthusiast is a friend of mine.