The 10 Best Portable Grills
This wiki has been updated 35 times since it was first published in August of 2015. Whether you enjoy camping, tailgating, or parties in the park, a well-made portable grill provides the means to prepare delicious food wherever you go. All the models we've chosen are easy to transport and represent a broad range of capacities and all fuel options -- charcoal, wood, gas and electric. Just be mindful of safety precautions whenever you are working with high heat and open flames. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 05, 2021:
Depending on your fuel source and the size you need, there are lots of great portable grills. We've recently added the George Foreman GIO2000BK as our top indoor/outdoor electric model, not because it's the biggest, but because it's especially easy to transport and has a supremely useful detachable stand. The Weber Q2200, and now its smaller, electric relative the Weber Q1400, are both especially reliable, and though they're expensive, that's because they're very well made. Charcoal lovers should still take a hard look at the Weber Jumbo Joe, but the Volcano 20-300 is a good and novel choice, as long as you don't need a lid. For larger groups, though, we still recommend the Coleman RoadTrip 285, because of its sturdy build, high output, integrated work tables, and convenient wheels.
December 10, 2019:
There's nothing like the taste of fresh barbecue when camping out or hosting a family reunion. If you're looking for just about the ultimate in portability, the Fox Outfitters Quick is tough to beat, although it's only big enough for 1-3 people. The Volcano 20-300 isn't much larger, but it is considerably more technologically advanced, with 3-fuel compatibility and a convenient collapsing design that doesn't sacrifice stability. The Weber Jumbo Joe is another very simple option, as it closely mirrors the classic design traditionally used for charcoal grilling. The Cuisinart Petit Gourmet CGG-180, as its name indicates, is pretty compact and works well for small groups. It does occasionally fall victim to grease fires, but with some very minor modification (i.e., drilling a couple holes in or replacing the grease pan) that can be overcome.
If you've got a relatively large group to take care of, though, you'll need something a bit more substantial. The Weber Q1200 and its larger relative the Weber Q2200 aren't the absolute hottest, but they are especially reliable and easy to use, which is awfully important when everybody's depending on you for the big meal. The Giantex OP3243 and Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 are both reasonably priced gas-powered models and while they aren't the biggest, they're pretty straightforward to operate. The Camp Chef SPG90B is one of the largest consumer-oriented options, with three burners and a whopping 90,000-BTU output. It does include a lidded fire box for increased functionality, and you can still use the third burner while the box is in place. The Camp Chef also works great with the company's other fire boxes and even a drop-in pizza oven. And for the best balance of size, heat levels, and portability, we really like the Coleman RoadTrip 285. Its durable wheels make it a breeze to move from the car to the campsite and it offers above-average heat and real estate versus others in its price range.
All that said, there are lots of different compact grills available to choose from. Some are geared toward fans of charcoal while others are ideal for lovers of clean-burning gas. You can also find quite a few that are ideal for tailgate parties and others meant for use on top of a sturdy table, as well as some good ones designed for use over a campfire.
Meadow Creek Smokers and Grills The folks at meadow creek know how important fresh cooking is, so they offer not just a selection convenient grills, but also two-behind smokers and two-in-one models. They even provide a portable sink to ensure that nothing stops the flow of quality grub, and that your operation can fully comply with food safety laws. smokymtbarbecue.com
Lang BBQ Smokers While they do somewhat stretch the meaning of "portable," Lang's varied offering of pull-behind slow cookers almost certainly offers something for many of the most dedicated BBQ chefs in the country. If your aim is to partake in one of the USA's renowned BBQ competitions, one of these beefy appliances can help get you on your way. langbbqsmokers.com
Big John Grills No matter how many people you need to feed, Big John offers a grill that can help. They have several sizes and levels of performance available, with or without lids, and designed for use with propane or gas. If you're outfitting a professional catering company, it's worth giving Big John a call to figure out which model is right for your needs. bigjohngrills.com
How Do I Choose the Best Portable Grill For Me?
Given a grill is highly prone to smoke and charcoal damage, you may want to veer toward a black model, as opposed to a silver one.
If you're in the market for a portable grill, it's safe to assume that you want to be able to transport that grill from one place to another. If you only need to transport a grill within a confined space (e.g., a backyard or an apartment complex, etc.), then your best bet might be a model that comes with an attached stand, and rolling wheels. If, on the other hand, you plan on transporting that grill inside a car, you're better off with a small, standalone model that doesn't weigh anything more than 40 lbs.
By and large, any portable grill should be constructed out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is weather-resistant and it's easy to clean. Given a grill is highly prone to smoke and charcoal damage, you may want to veer toward a black model, as opposed to a silver one. In addition, you'll want a portable grill to feature pull-out trays along both sides, and perhaps even a warming rack above the grates for toasting buns.
One of the most important features of any portable grill is its cooking surface. Any cooking surface that measures more than 2 ft. across may be difficult to fit inside your car. Along those lines, you'll want to consider whether you'd rather have a gas grill or a manual model inside of your vehicle. Gas grills use less coal, which can make a mess out of any backseat. But manual grills can be hosed down or dumped out, and there's no chance of a manual grill ever leaking any propane.
How to Properly Clean Your Portable Grill
If there is one drawback to a portable grill it's that the mechanism tends to get filthy. All-day picnics and backyard barbecues produce set-in grease and charcoal film. The good news is that a portable grill is easy to clean. All you need is some vinegar, a bowl of soapy water, some steel wool, and a wire brush.
If your grill operates by way of gas, you'll want to use the scraping end of your grill brush to remove any film that's built up around the burners.
You can start by using the wire brush to scour any residue from the top of the grill grates. Once that's done, flip the grates over and scrub along the bottom. Next, remove the grates so you can wipe them down by way of a wash cloth and some soapy water. Hose the grates down, then leave them to dry against a wall.
At this point you'll want to eliminate any leftover charcoal by either sliding out - and dumping - the grill's tray or sweeping it clean. If possible, hose the tray down, then scrub its surface with some vinegar and soapy water. If you come across any stains, use steel wool to file them down.
If your grill operates by way of gas, you'll want to use the scraping end of your grill brush to remove any film that's built up around the burners. It should go without saying that the grill and its propane tank need to be off. Next, inspect the burners to ensure there aren't any clogs or other blockages. In the event that there are, you can use the wire bristles to scratch them off. Take a minute to wipe down the outside panel of the grill, making an effort to scrub free any scorch marks that are dotting either the cover or the finish.
If your grill includes a grease trap, it's up to you to decide whether to replace that trap or simply wash it out. Most grease traps are disposable (and inexpensive), but an exact replacement may not be that easy to find.
How Barbecuing Became an American Pastime
The word barbecue comes from a Spanish term, barbacoa, which refers to the act of cooking meat over a wooden pit. Barbacoa originated in the Caribbean, where 16th Century natives used wooden pits to celebrate after a successful hunt (or catch). The tradition, and its taste, eventually carried north to Florida during the 1800s. The custom of "barbecuing," as it came to be known, extended across the southern U.S. to Louisiana, where creole cuisine seemed custom-made for cooking over the smoked wood of a mesquite.
This grill, which has since become iconic, made it simple for almost any American to cook meat over a bed of coals.
During the early 1900s, a relative of Henry Ford's named E.G. Kingsford was designated to run a Ford auto parts factory in northern Michigan. Almost immediately, Kingsford noticed that the factory was producing an exorbitant amount of wood chips that were, in turn, being thrown out in the trash. Kingsford proposed that the wood chips be re-purposed into charcoal briquettes. These briquettes could then be sold at Ford dealerships for a profit.
Within 10 years of the briquette, an Illinois welder named George Stephen designed the first "half-orb" barbecue grill. This grill, which has since become iconic, made it simple for almost any American to cook meat over a bed of coals. Shortly after, during the 1950s, the first portable gas grills were introduced, enabling the summer barbecue to reach unprecedented heights.
Today, barbecuing remains a requisite part of any warm-weather climate. Grills have become a multi-million-dollar industry, with model choices ranging from disposable to infrared. Most people associate a barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers, but a lot of grills are used for cooking sausages, roast vegetables, finer cuts of meat, and certain wraps, as well.