Ever since the early periods of human civilization, grilling and BBQ’ing has been an integral part of our culture. Bringing our grill along with us camping or on a picnic happens to be a nice luxury. Often, regulations on apartments and condo’s limit some of the types and styles of grills that are allowed. Perhaps, you prefer the hassle-free advantage of a mobile grill as opposed to the larger more cumbersome versions, but still crave the smells and flavor of BBQ. To help you make the right choice, we have put together a review of our favorite compact grills on the market.
Our Top Picks:
|Weber Q 2200||CHECK PRICE|
|Weber Jumbo Joe||CHECK PRICE|
|Country Smokers Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker||CHECK PRICE|
|Cuisinart Chef's Style Tabletop Grill||CHECK PRICE|
|Cuisinart Petit Gourmet||CHECK PRICE|
|Coleman Roadtrip 225||CHECK PRICE|
How to choose a portable grill
The current market offers a wide range of grills. Hence, while choosing the right one, there are a few points that we need to take note of. To start with, the number of BTUs or British Thermal Units that measure the amount of heat that a grill generates is an important factor. However, the surface area of the grill also plays a significant role in uniform heat distribution. In fact, most modern grills optimize the ratio between the two for the best performance. Also, do keep in mind the amount of food that you will be cooking and choose the cooking surface area accordingly.
Note that the highest temperature that a grill can deliver should ideally be around 600° F. Apart from that, you will also need to consider the number of burners that you will need. Some portable propane grills offer extra burner attachments for cooking multiple dishes at a time. Another aspect that you need to pay attention to is the design of the heating elements. As these elements are exposed to the greases and oils, their durability ensures a safer operation.
Next, the material of the grill needs to be considered. Is it durable? The grill can be made from cast iron, cast aluminum, or stainless steel. In terms of durability, commercial-grade 304 stainless steel is the best choice as it can resist a high amount of heat.
Last but not least, the ease of cleaning a grill is another important factor. Make sure that you can clean all the parts of a grill easily, to keep it free from greases and ashes.
What are the main types of grills?
Before choosing a compact grill you need to know the types of grills that are available in the market. Here are some of the most common varieties to choose from.
A classical charcoal grill is an inexpensive and easy-to-use choice that adds a unique flavor to the food. While I find the natural flavor a true delight, this grill will take some time to reach the highest temperature levels. Moreover, the time taken to set up and clean this type of grill is also more intense.
Gas grills are a popular choice as they are inexpensive and allow you to control the flame temperature effectively. They provide a clean flame that heats up fast. However, they do not deliver as much heat as the charcoal grills. The gas grills can use propane or natural gas as the fuel.
Pellet grills use wood pellets as a fuel and are equipped with a digital thermostat for effective temperature control. The control system feeds the right amount of pellets in the burner to reach the required temperature and the smoke is circulated by a fan to provide a distinct flavor to the food. These grills are simple to use, but they require an electrical connection as well as hardwood pellets.
These grills come with an electric heating element that is operated by plugging the device into a socket. They heat the food evenly and are very easy to control, even though they do not reach very high temperatures. Due to their enhanced safety features, they are ideal for indoor use.
What are the necessary precautions while using a grill?
No matter where you use a grill, safety is always a prime concern. Let me share some important safety tips with you.
- Note that the charcoal and gas grills are designed for outdoor use. While setting them up, make sure that there are no structures or even tree branches around the area. Keeping sufficient free space around the grill is a necessity.
- Make sure that the grill is set on a level surface that offers the right amount of balance. Some grills, like the Coleman, come with fold-able legs that keep it steady.
- Keep in mind that a well-maintained grill will always offer more safety. Cleaning the grill after every use and keeping it free from grease or fats is a necessary step that needs to be followed.
- A grill should never be kept unattended, especially when there are kids or pets around. Do keep in mind that a grill remains hot for quite sometime after use. So care should be taken while moving it.
- Loading the grill with too much food is not a safe choice. In such cases, the excess grease or fats can drip into the flame and cause a flare-up. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding loading a grill or grill the food in smaller quantities.
- Wear the right kind of clothing while grilling and ensure that loose ends of the dress or shirt do not come in contact with the flame. In addition, use long-handled tools that are specially designed for grilling food items.
Weber Jumbo Joe – Our Favorite Portable Charcoal Grill
What we Like…
- A lightweight and portable design
- Easy temperature controls via dampers
- Can be assembled quickly
- A 10-year warranty
What Makes Us Angry…
- Not very spacious
- Not the best choice for home use
This 18-inch charcoal grill is an iconic model from Weber due to its great features and excellent portability. The lightweight design and the convenient carry handle allows you to carry it to a beach or a campsite with ease. It offers 363 square inches of grilling space with an inside diameter of 15 inches. That makes it spacious enough for cooking up hotdogs, hamburgers, and sausages.
One of the best features of this grill is that it is easy to assemble, even for first-time users. I also appreciated the detailed instructions along with illustrations provided in the user’s manual. Once assembled, you will appreciate the excellent construction of this portable charcoal grill. The charcoal grate is made from heavy-duty steel and the bowl and the lid are porcelain-enameled. This enhances the overall durability by preventing rust formation.
The grill is equipped with aluminum dampers which allow you to control the air-flow and thus regulate the temperature effectively. There is an aluminum ash catcher at the bottom to make the process of cleaning easy. The lid handle is heat resistant and stays cool even at the highest temperature settings. On top of that, you also get a 10-year warranty on the lid and bowl.
However, the clearance under the lid is limited and this grill is not suitable for grilling larger items like a whole chicken. On the other hand, you get a portable and efficient grill at an affordable price. To sum it up, this model from Weber is one of the top portable charcoal grills in the current market in terms of features and durability.
Weber Q 2200 – Our Favorite All-Around Portable Gas Grill
What We Like…
- A portable design
- A push-button ignition for a quick start
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Very easy to clean and maintain
- Built-in lid thermometer
What Makes Us Angry…
- Not great for low, slow cooking
- The weight is on the heavy side so carrying it around is not easy
This is another feature-rich grill from the popular “Q” series of Weber that is a highly versatile option. It will serve reliably for years. This is a grill that is all about top-class convenience and ease of transportation. The best part is, it comes totally assembled. With just a push of the electric ignition button, it can deliver 12,000 BTU-per-hour. The burner valve is designed to allow precise temperature controls through a knob.
The sleek design combines ergonomic side handles with two folding work tables. The grilling surface is made from cast iron while the lid and body are made from cast aluminum. Moreover, the grates are porcelain coated so grease or fats will not stick to the surface. The grill also offers 280 square inches of cooking area. Large enough to cook for 4 people. Additionally, you can choose between griddle cooking or grate cooking. Thanks to the uniform heat delivery, this device heats up very quickly and the aluminium body also cools down fast.
Note that the use of cast iron makes the grill weigh slightly above 40 pounds, so it is not lightweight. But it is compact enough to fit in the back of most cars and suv’s. To make the cleaning process easy, there is a removable drip tray at the bottom. I suggest keeping a backup gas lighter during outdoor trips as the ignition may not work well in windy conditions. Lastly, I have to say that the unit is very well balanced and is very stable once you place it on a flat surface.
Another excellent grill from Weber that will please both the veteran cooks and the novices with its top-notch performance.
3. Country Smokers Wood Pellet Grill And Smoker – Our Favorite Portable Pellet Grill
What We Like…
- A compact pellet grill
- It can hold 3.5 pounds of pellets
- 256 square inches of cooking space
- The grill heats up very quickly
What Makes Us angry…
- The cooking height is limited
- It does not have legs. So a tabletop or a flat surface is needed
If you like the wood smoked flavors in your grilled items, then this pellet grill is a great choice for using on your next camping trip. The grill offers a polished black surface that looks classy and has a solid feel to it. The initial assembly will take some time, but the instructions are extremely well outlined. The cooking temperatures range from 180°F to 500°F. There is also a temperature display, along with digital controls.
The hopper capacity is limited to 3.5 pounds, which is good enough for a small grill like this. With temperatures set at the higher end, the device will consume close to a pound of pellets in an hour. The 26 square inches of space is divided into upper and lower grates. The space is large enough to cook for a small family. One downside is that the space above the grill is limited to five inches. So you need to choose the food items carefully.
The digital controls make the grill very easy to use. Using the “smoke” mode, the grill delivers a heavy amount of smoke. At above 40 pounds, this is not a grill that you will carry around a campsite, but it is perfect for tailgating on game day. Keep in mind that you will need a power source to operate this grill in the wilderness. A power inverter and a sealed lead acid battery will be necessary for such scenarios. There is also a drip tray to collect all the grease and clean the unit easily.
Considering the smoky flavor that the pellet grill delivers at a very affordable price point, I have to say that it offers great value for money from all aspects.
4. Cuisinart Chef’s Style Table Top Grill – Our Favorite Portable Table Top Grill
What We Like…
- Very easy to assemble
- Superior grade materials ensure durability
- A twist start automatic ignition
What Makes Us Angry…
- The grilling space is not adequate for large families
- The dome is shallow
This portable propane grill from Cuisinart combines a range of excellent features with portability and delivers it at an affordable price point. This grill is extremely portable; the legs fold up easily and the lid latches to the side so you can basically carry this grill like a suitcase. This makes for easy storing as well.
The high-quality stainless steel burners deliver 20000 BTUs over a cooking area of 275 square inches. With all parts made of stainless steel; this grill heats up fast and ensures no cold spots. The grill also cools quickly; allowing for quick clean up shortly after use. It is a true table top grill, meaning the surface below the grill stays surprising consistent with the outdoor temperature.
There is a built-in temperature gauge that helps you to adjust the flame intensity and is extremely accurate. In addition, the twist start automatic ignition makes starting up the grill a breeze. One drawback that I noted is that this grill is set to be hooked up to a regular sized propane tank, not the camping size propane tanks.
On the whole, this is a very good choice for those who are looking for a dependable and powerful grill for camping or tailgating. On top of it, the user-friendly design makes it a popular choice among grilling aficionados.
5. Cuisinart Petit Gourmet : Our Favorite Grill with a Stand
What We Like…
- Top class portability in a briefcase-like design
- A fuel-efficient grill
- Available in three different colors
- A very affordable price
What Makes Us Angry…
- The internal space is on the smaller side
- Difficult to use in windy conditions
- No built-in thermometer is present
If you are looking for a portable propane grill to use in a small space, this device from Cusinart is a great choice. The grill can easily be packed along for a family trip, thanks to its innovative design and lightweight. Weighing just 13.5 pounds, it is one of the lightest grills that I used. The best part is, it is versatile enough to be used on a tabletop or as a freestanding grill.
The grill delivers 5,500 BTU of heat through the stainless steel burners. That may sound less but I found it heating up nicely. The less heat output also reduces fuel consumption. But the lack of a temperature gauge is one point that makes it hard to determine the heat consistency. So while using this grill, it is best to keep a close watch on the food items.
The 145 square inches of cooking surface is sufficient for cooking a meal for 2 to 3 people. If you need to grill for more people, then it is best to choose a larger model. I connected the grill with a 16.4 oz liquid propane bottle and it lasted for a little less than 3 hours on the high mode. Keep in mind that due to the lack of windscreens, using this grill in windy conditions can be difficult.
Anyone looking for a grill that offers a convenient and inexpensive option to enjoy a barbecue in the backyard will find this product offering great value for the money. In reality, it is not flawless, but the top-class portability along with the telescopic stands are advantages you cannot ignore.
6. Coleman Roadtrip 225 – Our Favorite Roll-Away
What We Like…
- Two independent temperature zones
- Twin wheels and foldable legs for easy transportation
- Ample cooking space with two adjustable burners
- Push-button ignition for an easy start
What Makes Us Angry…
- A lid latch would have made it more user-friendly
- No built-in thermometer is present
Looking for the right balance of heating power and portability in a grill? You will find this Coleman grill a powerful and versatile unit. The maximum heat output is 11,000 BTUs and it is spread over a generous cooking area of 225 square inches. I have to say that this is a grill that is both easy to assemble and set up. The integrated stand comes with two wheels, so moving it around is not a problem.
The good news is, Coleman has provided two adjustable burners with this grill and you also get the option of using only one burner if needed. Another advantage is the variable controls that allow you to cook two different types of food side by side. Unlike many other grills, the temperature control is precise. The Instastart ignition button is a nice addition and it performed flawlessly during my tests. Coleman has made the cast iron grill grates interchangeable, adding to the versatility of this grill.
I also noted that the side table is sturdy enough to hold a few items easily. Sadly, this grill does not come with a thermometer, which is a drawback. Some users may also find the sideways burner somewhat oddly placed and will take some time to get used to. Coleman also provides a regulator and short hose with the grill to connect it with a small propane cylinder.
To sum it up, I would recommend this easy-to-use grill for picnics, camping trips, and outdoor parties. However, if you are looking for a better price to quality ratio, you should look elsewhere.
So after a thorough test of all the top grills in this category, here is the most important part. In our opinion, the Weber Q 2200 is the best portable gas grill from all aspects. The fact of the matter is that this grill checks all the right boxes in terms of performance and quality. If you are looking for a compact grill that is ready to use right out of the box, this is a perfect choice. What’s more, in terms of the price to performance ratio it stays ahead of the other competitors in this category.
The overall design and ergonomics of this grill are top-notch. Next, you get adequate cooking space along with even heat distribution. It is made from top-quality materials so durability will not be an issue at all. Beyond that, there is push-button ignition and precise temperature control. Also, it can be cleaned up very quickly and the porcelain-coated grates are easy to clean. In essence, this is a well-designed grill that is not only efficient but is also fun to use.
This is all about the best choice in this category. Now that we have mentioned our favorite pick, it is down to you to choose yours. Looking for something bigger? Check out our Pellet Grill Reviews, or Charcoal Grill Reviews.
Maybe portability isn’t a concern but you want a small gas grill instead. We have recently reviewed our favorite small grills.