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Sometimes the best grill isn’t the massive one in your backyard or the offset smoker that you’ve been watching for hours. Sometimes the best grill is the one you can take with you to wherever you need some delicious grilled food! Whether you are headed to a park for a casual afternoon BBQ with friends or packing up the car for a weekend camping trip, a solid portable grill is a great addition to your cooking arsenal.
There are a few things to consider before deciding, but most importantly, how and where you'll be using your portable grill will determine what you buy. We've researched to help you decide whether to buy a classic propane grill that can cook for a crowd or a small briefcase-sized cooktop to throw in your backpack.
Here are the best portable grills for a moveable feast.
Best Overall, Gas: Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
I’ve had some version of Coleman RoadTrip 285 grill in my garage for years and years, upgrading occasionally to a newer model. It has all the things you would want in a portable grill.
At 32 x 18.5 x 15.5 inches and weighing 41 pounds, it’s incredibly easy to transport. It's also easy to disassemble and clean when you need to. The 285 square inches of cooking space is spread over three independent burners, but all are covered with porcelain-coated cast-iron grates. It can get surprisingly hot, pumping out 20,000 BTUs so you will have to watch the heat if you’re trying to cook something gently.
There are folding tables on the sides for built-in prep areas and the foldable legs double as a dolly. Coleman does make a separate griddle and a stove grate that are interchangeable with the cast-iron grates.
Best Overall, Charcoal: Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal BBQ
Available in four colors, Everdure designed this Cube Grill in collaboration with British chef Heston Blumenthal. It's a stunning portable grill that consists of a porcelain-enameled firebox, a built-in bamboo prep tray, and a small storage compartment for carrying charcoal or cutlery.
The 16.25 x 13.5 x 9-inch grill weighs only 15 pounds which makes it incredibly easy to move around compared to other cumbersome portable charcoal options. It’s an ideal size for a small camping trip or to set up on the beach. Inside the Cube, you'll find stainless-steel grates and a removable cooking tray. The grill also features heat protection exterior handles that remain cool to the touch even while cooking!
Best Budget: Weber 18-Inch Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
Made of quality materials from a brand that knows how to make a grill, it's pretty hard to beat this affordable Weber model. While it's small, you can cook up to eight burgers on this mighty grill.
This 18-pound portable grill has a heavy-gauge steel grate (some portable cookers have thinner grates that bend). It also features a nice enameled bowl and lid for good heat retention. That lid does have a heat-shield handle to avoid burns and locks onto the grill when not in use. There is no gas option, but charcoal is great for a casual cookout on the go anyway.
Related: The Best Grills
Best Splurge: Blaze Outdoor Products Professional 34-Inch 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill
If you want an upgraded portable gas grilling experience, take a look at the beautiful Blaze Professional LUX Portable model. This portable gas grill comes with commercial-grade components and cast stainless steel burners and cooking rods.
Measuring 14.5 x 27.1 x 15.1 inches, this powerful grill cooks with 12,000 BTUs over its 201 square inches of cooking space. The heavy-duty hexagon cooking rods ensure great sears on your meat, while the push-and-turn flame-thrower ignition ensures that this grill will always light, as long as it has gas. It is equipped to handle 1-pound canisters or 20-pound gas tanks.
While this grill is portable, it does weigh 51 pounds. It might be best for use on a backyard tabletop one weekend and transferred to the back of your truck for the next. Its short but sturdy legs can handle any flat surface.
Related: The Best Grills for Tailgating
Best for Camping: Coleman Fold N Go Propane Grill
Many of the grills on this list are good for a camping trip but this one has a really small footprint and a nice carrying case. If you have a stuffed trunk or are actually hiking to a spot, something like this might be your best option for a small portable grill!
At 14 x 4.5 x 16 inches and weighing 10 pounds, this won't be too much extra gear. It does have a 105-square inch cooktop that's removable for easy cleanup and dishwasher safe for when you get home. Once you connect your gas canister, it delivers 6,000 BTUs to the adjustable burner, though a 16.4-ounce canister will only last 3.5 hours at the highest heat. One note on this grill, it has no ignitor button so be sure to bring your own lighter!
Related: The Best Charcoal Grills
Best for the Professional: NOMAD Grill & Smoker
This portable grill is an engineering marvel. The design is classy and very different from other portable grills. It also gives you all the functionality of grilling at high heat, indirect heat, or even low and slow smoking.
The founders of Nomad designed this with a sturdy carrying handle so it’s easy to transport this beauty of a grill. Folded in half, the 30-pound case works as a smoker, locking in heat. Fully expanded (plus the add-on grate), it has more than 400 square inches of cooking space, plenty for grilling out for all your friends and family!
You will definitely be the talk of the park if you roll in with one of these beauties.
Related: The Best Weber Grills
Its 20,000 BTUs and ease when transporting make the Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill (view at Amazon) my favorite pick for a portable grill. Being able to fit everything you need in one package makes the Everdure Cube Grill (view at Amazon) another great choice.
What to Look for in a Portable Grill
Portable means different things to different manufacturers. Some assume you have a truck or car you can toss the grill in, but maybe you just want something you can roll down to the beach for dinner. The first thing I look at when I’m choosing a portable grill is the size and weight of a grill. Almost all portable grills have smaller cooking areas, but if you need to feed more than a couple of people, you should look for something with more than 150 square inches of space.
Ease of Cleaning
If a grill is just posted up in your backyard, cleaning it might be a once-a-season ordeal, but if you are carrying a grill or putting it in your car, you want it to be reasonably clean. Be sure to check for easily removable grates that clean easily and a lid that locks down so it doesn’t open on you during transport.
Check what the grates of the grill are made out of. Cheaper models cut corners and use thinner steel and it results in uneven cooking. Cast iron or heavy-gauge steel grates are best. You should also make sure the exterior stays relatively cool to the touch or cools down quickly. It matters for safety, but also there's nothing like needing to pack up quickly, but you can't because the grill is too hot to move.
How should you safely set up a portable grill?
You should first ensure that the surface you’re placing it on is appropriate. "Portable grills should be set up on a flat, non-flammable surface," says Chef Tim Hastings. "Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher on standby."
How do you dispose of gas canisters and used charcoal from a portable grill?
The canisters are recyclable. As for the charcoal, Hastings suggests that "used charcoal can be disposed of once it has cooled down completely/ been doused in water." Place it in an outdoor trash bin.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Nick Evans has been developing recipes for the home cook for over a decade both on Simply Recipes and his personal blog, Macheesmo. He’s used and tested a huge range of both indoor and outdoor cooking equipment over the years. For the last few years, he’s tested a variety of grills and outdoor cookers.
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