Sometimes the best grill isn’t the massive one in your backyard or the offset smoker that you’ve been watching for hours. No, sometimes the best grill is the one you can take with you whenever and 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 what to buy, including size, material, and cleanup, as well as how and where you'll use your portable grill for a delicious moveable feast.
Best Overall, Charcoal
Everdure Cube Portable Charcoal Grill
What We Love: Incredibly lightweight, stylish, easy to move around
What We Don't Love: On the smaller side, limited storage
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 and heat-protection exterior handles that remain cool to the touch even while cooking.
This grill weighs only 15 pounds, which makes it incredibly easy to move around compared to other cumbersome portable charcoal options. At 16.25 x 13.5 x 9 inches, it’s on the smaller side, but it's ideal for a short camping trip or to set up on the beach. Inside the Cube, you'll find stainless-steel grates and a removable cooking tray.
The one caveat? While there is a bamboo prep tray and compartment for stowing a bit of food or cutlery, the storage, in general, is pretty limited. You'll likely need to carry supplies like grilling utensils and cutting boards separately.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions (DxWxH): 13.67 x 16.73 x 9.05 inches | Cooking Area: 115 square inches | BTUs: N/A | Weight: 15 pounds
Best Overall, Gas
Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
What We Love: Reliable, gets really hot, easy to take apart and clean
What We Don't Love: No accessory hangers
I’ve had some version of the 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 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 stove grate that are interchangeable with the cast-iron grates, but there's no easy place to hang your tools, such as grill tongs.
Price at time of publish: $320
Dimensions (DxWxH): 30.25 x 19.19 x 16.13 inches | Cooking Area: 285 square inches | BTUs: 20,000 | Weight: 41 pounds
Weber 18-Inch Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
What We Love: Affordable, reliable, and sturdy
What We Don't Love: Rust-resistant (not proof) parts, no dome temperature probe
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 has 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. Make sure to keep your instant-read thermometer handy because there's no built-in temperature mechanism. Just make sure you keep it away from moisture because it's not rust-proof, just rust-resistant.
Price at time of publish: $89
Dimensions (DxWxH): 19.75 x 20.5 x 19.75 inches | Cooking Area: 240 square inches | BTUs: N/A | Weight: 18 pounds
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Best for Camping
Coleman Fold N Go Propane Grill
What We Love: Incredibly lightweight, easy to clean, good for simmering
What We Don't Love: No ignitor button, can take a little longer to heat up to temperature
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 your trunk is stuffed pretty full or you're actually hiking to a spot to set up camp, this could 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.
You can certainly grill on its surface, but it's also great when used as a simmering surface for skillet dishes or hearty stews. Some reviewers have noted it can take a little longer than expected to heat to the correct temperature. One note on this grill: it has no ignitor button, so be sure to bring your own lighter.
Price at time of publish: $110
Dimensions (DxWxH): 14 x 4.5 x 16 inches | Cooking Area: 105 square inches | BTUs: 6,000 | Weight: 10 pounds
Related: The Best Charcoal Grills
Best for the Professional
NOMAD Grill & Smoker
What We Love: Versatile, high-quality, ample cooking surfaces
What We Don't Love: High price point, works best with Nomad charcoal
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. When fully expanded (plus the add-on grate), it has more than 400 square inches of cooking space, plenty for grilling for all your friends and family. You will definitely be the talk of the park if you roll in with one of these beauties.
You might not like the higher price for something that's so portable, but perhaps you'll love this so much, you won't need a second grill. Another thing to note: Nomad recommends using its own branded charcoal, which it claims will burn hotter and longer than the average hardware store charcoal briquettes.
Price at time of publish: $649
Dimensions (DxWxH): 13.5 x 20.5 x 9.5 inches | Cooking Area: 424 square inches | BTUs: 6,000 | Weight: 30 pounds
Related: The Best Weber Grills
Weber Q 1400 Electric Grill
What We Love: Quick assembly, heats evenly, drip pan easy to remove and clean
What We Didn’t Love: Display can be had to read in daylight, outdoor use only
If you don’t want the mess of charcoal and can’t be bothered with propane, this portable electric grill is easy to set up, easy to use, and achieves and retains an even heat across its 189 square inches of cooking space. The construction is porcelain enamel cast iron cooking grates. You can cook about a half dozen burgers on this grill or a few steaks, and fairly quickly—on high, this grill can reach upwards of 600 degrees in a few minutes.
The ergonomic handles help facilitate easy movement of the grill, and the removable drip pans make for easy cleanup. It comes with a five-year warranty, which is longer than most. You won’t get the smoky taste of a charcoal grill or a smoker, but reviewers note that it cooks food well and leaves strong, telltale grill marks on the food, whether steak, chicken, or veggies.
This grill is suited for outdoor use only and the only other drawback is that some users reported the display can be hard to read in daylight.
Price at time of publish: $359
Dimensions (DxWxH): 23.5 x 27 x 14.5 inches | Cooking Area: 189 square inches | BTUs: N/A | Weight: 30 pounds
Related: The Best Propane Grills
Best Pellet Grill
Country Smokers 18-Inch Wood Pellet Grill
What We Love: Great taste, works equally well as grill and smoker, compact size
What We Don’t Love: On the heavy side
Take wood-fired flavor with you on the go, wherever you go, with this small but mighty pellet grill. It’s made of painted steel, and the interior boasts quite a bit of cooking space–256 square inches–in its two main cooking areas. There’s a main rack and a removable upper rack, and they’re made of porcelain-coated cast iron. This Country Smokers grill is incredibly versatile, as you can roast, braise meat or veggies, grill, or smoke with it, and reviewers note that everything you cook on it gets infused with that wood-fired flavor.
This smoker-grill hybrid features an electric ignition, and it’s controlled with a digital dial. The hopper holds up to 5 pounds of wood pellets, and the grill reaches about 500 degrees as a max temperature. It’s a good introduction for someone new to pellet-style grills who is only looking to feed two to four people. The only caveat? We love how compact it is, which makes it portable, but keep in mind it weighs upwards of 40 pounds.
Price at time of publish: $225
Dimensions (DxWxH): 23.5 x 27 x 14.5 inches | Cooking Area: 256 square inches | BTUs: N/A | Weight: 42 pounds
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Its 20,000 BTUs and ease when transporting make the Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill our favorite pick for a portable grill. Being able to fit everything you need in one package makes the Everdure Cube Grill another great choice.
What to Look for in a Portable Grill
Portable means different things to different manufacturers, so consider that when you're shopping. 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 things to look at when choosing a portable grill are the size and weight. Almost all portable grills have smaller cooking areas, and that's to be expected. However, if you need to feed more than a couple of people, you should look for something over 150 square inches of cooking space.
Ease of Cleaning
If a grill is just set 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 so it doesn't make everything else a mess. Be sure to check for grates that can be removed and easily cleaned. It's also helpful if the grill has a lid that locks down so it doesn’t open up on you during transport.
Check the materials the grill grates are made out of. Cheaper models cut corners and use thinner steel, which can result in uneven cooking and faster wear and tear. 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 there's nothing more frustrating than needing to pack up quickly (like if it starts to rain), 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.
Are portable grills worth it?
If you spend a lot of time outdoors traveling, camping, or generally being on the go, and you like cooking in the open air, then portable grills are definitely worth it. But you don't have to be a camper to benefit from the use of a portable grill. They're handy if you have a small patio or deck and don't have a ton of space to dedicate to a larger grill.
Can you leave a portable grill outside?
It's definitely okay to store a grill of any kind outdoors—just make sure you have a durable weather-resistant cover for it when it's not in use. Keep it in a spot that's clean and flat if you want to keep it outside during the grilling season. It's also fine to leave the propane tank attached if you plan to use it all year round.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Nick Evans has been developing recipes for the home cook for over a decade 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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