Best Overall Portable Grill
Napoleon TravelQ 285
: 12000 | Weight
: 26 lbs
Outstanding grilling performance
Evenly dispersed and controlled temperatures
Really easy set up
Packs up small and relatively light
Can blow out in high winds
The TravelQ 285 from Napoleon is a gourmet, high-end propane grill downsized into a portable format. The result is readily transported, regardless of your usage, with a size and design that will feed up to 4-6 people sophisticated, grilled meals. Max heat is high enough to sear high-quality beef, while the surface can be configured to cook at extremely low heat levels indirectly. One can even cook in different zones of the grill for different temperature levels. The auto-igniter of the Napoleon is more reliable than most others we have tested.
All this performance comes with a high price tag. Also, we wish that one could purchase this grill in a configuration that allowed both tabletop use and rolling cart use. It comes in either configuration, but it is essentially fixed in your purchased mode. Some of our testers use a portable grill at their apartment or small house to optimize storage space. We then like to be able to take that same grill on the road for adventures further afield. A modular cart system for the Napoleon 285 would certainly make it the ultimate product for our purposes. We purchased and committed to the tabletop version. The rolling version uses exactly the same grill head on a folding stand/cart. Everything we have to say about the cooking performance of the Napoleon can be extrapolated to the stand-up version. In the tested configuration, this is our favorite model of all tested.
Read review: Napoleon TravelQ 285
Best Bang for Your Buck
Char-Broil Grill2Go X200
: 9,500 | Weight
: 22 lbs
Infrared style grilling
Poor low heat performance
The Char-Broil Grill2Go x200 is excellent, especially for the price. Its aluminum case is tight and solid, reminiscent of that on the Editors' Choice Award winner. Its burner is very hot, roaring to life with a click of the piezo igniter. Its carry size and weight are average, considering the grill surface area. For searing red meats, cooking burgers and dogs, and blackening most vegetables, the Grill2Go excels. In these types of cooking, the Char-Broil is difficult to distinguish from the very top performers.
It is in "low and slow" cooking that the Char-Broil Grill2Go suffers. You just can't turn it down low enough to slow cook ribs or really gently cook a thick, boneless/skinless chicken breast. If you know you will avoid these foods, the Char-Broil is an incredible value. For those with more well-rounded grilling preferences, upgrading to the Napoleon is the way to go.
Read review: Char-Broil Grill2Go x200
Best Value on a Tight Budget
: 8,000 | Weight
: 13 lbs
High heat output
Poor control of temperature range
Relatively small cook surface
For its size and price, it may be tough to find a compact grill more powerful than the Cuisinart Grillster. Not only is it incredibly gas-efficient, but this portable powerhouse reaches peak temperature within a matter of minutes of clicking the piezo lighter. A lightweight, steel lid and three insulating walls give it the ability to both block wind and retain heat, allowing one to grill out in less-than-ideal weather. This model cools down almost as quickly as it heats up for a quick get-away, has a locking lid with enough space to store one-pound gas canisters, and sports an easy-to-carry handle.
The Grillster is great at searing steaks and other high-temperature cooking, but it is tough to control the overall range of this rip-roaring grill. Unless we were aiming for blackened chicken or blistered peppers, we rarely found ourselves using anything more than the lowest gas setting. While it is compact and portable, there is the tradeoff of a relatively small grill space. Petite and sure-footed, the Grillster is the perfect companion on a picnic-for-two, no matter the location.
Read review: Cuisinart Grillster
Best Portable Charcoal Grill
Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal
: N/A | Weight
: 12 lbs
Sizeable coal bed
Well-insulated, cast iron construction
Charcoal grilling advantages over gas
Vents are hard to adjust without gloves
Charcoal grilling not for everyone
For the fans of pit-cooking out there, we offer up the Weber Go-Anywhere as our Top Pick for a portable charcoal grill. This well-built barbeque is an innovative take on the manufacturer's classic design, incorporating their enameled, cast-iron construction into a convenient, compact package. The rectangular basin can hold a coal bed that is both deep and evenly spread. A plated-steel top grate settles securely back into place thanks to deep-seated insets cast into the grill frame, so you can easily adjust heat zones while cooking without fear of dropping your whole meal into the coals.
We cannot guarantee that the Go-Anywhere will boast the same heat output as its gas-powered competitors — that's up to you, and your coal-stoking abilities. There is certainly a learning curve to mastering heat zones, but cooking over charcoal potentially offers an accuracy that cannot be matched when cooking with gas. The tightly fitting vents are tough to adjust without gloves, and it takes time to skillfully manage the correct settings for perfect airflow. But we can assure you that with practice, this portable grill will help you master the art of cooking over an open-flame, producing delicious food in the process, even on-the-go.
Read review: Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
: 8,500 | Weight
: 10 lbs
Adequate cooking performance
Grease gets messy during transport
Limited grill-top space
The Primus Kuchoma is super compact and very easy to carry, earning our Top Pick for all-around portability. It only weighs 10 pounds, and the stowed format is a simple three-dimensional rectangle about the size of an old fashioned briefcase. The propane regulator is located on a flexible hose that can be stowed inside the grill — other small grills often have a regulator that sticks out. Grilling performance of the Kuchoma is at least as good as the other compact products we have used.
Larger grills have more space, more power, and more control, inherently. Due to its smaller cooking surface, you likely won't be able to indirectly grill ribs on the Kuchoma. Similarly, with only one burner, slow-cooking a chicken breast next to a searing steak isn't a reasonable option on this grill either. Finally, the Kuchoma is messy in transport. To save weight, bulk, and rattle-factor, it has no removable grease trap — drippings are captured inside the bottom of the grill casing and then drip out the side or back during transport. We suggest dedicating a bag to this grill for all of your transportation, or risk oily stains in the trunk of your car.
Read review: Primus Kuchoma
Best for Searing Red Meat
: 14,00 | Weight
: 15 lbs
No cooking lid
No "low and slow" cooking
The Solaire Everywhere infrared grill is the most unique product in our roster. It performs very well in a few categories. First, it is very small and compact. It rivals our Top Pick for portability. Its construction is tight and carries quietly. Most importantly, the high-powered ceramic "flameless" burner — that sits below a carefully designed grate of v-shaped bars — cooks steaks better than anything else in our review. Heat is delivered rapidly and very high. For those excellent cuts of red meat that require nothing more than a touch of flame, this is the best portable grill on the market.
You don't get that uncompromising cooking performance without some drawbacks. The Solaire Everywhere is quite specialized. First, the grill top is small. You'll get just one or two steaks on there at a time. Next, it is very expensive. Finally — and this is the most significant issue — the low-heat performance is virtually nonexistent. The heat options are adjustable, but are best described as "High" to "Extremely High." Further, the lid is only for portability; you cannot close it while cooking. Steaks are prepared very, very nicely, but other foods are nearly impossible to cook well.
Read review: Solaire Everywhere
We got a wide variety of testers to help assess each model at campgrounds across the West.
Why You Should Trust Us
We've tasked long-time OGL review editor Jed Porter with heading up the examination of portable grills. When you ask Jed's friends what his favorite food is, they'll likely answer either "chips and salsa" or "meat." Jed regularly cooks 1-2 meals outside over flame, rain or shine, near or far. At various times throughout his career as a mountain guide, he has catered for groups of up to 20 hungry, adventurous guests. Adding to expertise in this category is Aaron Rice. Aaron has worked in-and-around kitchens for the better portion of a decade — he now runs an on-site culinary garden for a high-end restaurant. As a wilderness instructor, he has also taught many a hungry teenager the art of creating delicious meals with small stoves. Both reviewers tap into a network of friends and family who also happen to be culinary experts: from culinary arts professors, to professional chefs, to BBQ-business owners.
Our testing process is thorough and begins with scouring the internet for the latest and greatest products across the portable grill market. Next, we narrow our selection to create a manageable, yet comprehensive list of the best products available. Buying all of these products at retail cost allows us to conduct an extended, objectively-honest, and comparative review. These review editors continuously assess these grills, often distributing them to friends to offer a fresh perspective. Throughout the intensive testing phase — which can last months — we grill piles of food, measure temperatures, configure fans to simulate wind, and burn through gallons of propane and piles of coal, all in the pursuit of an authoritative review of the best portable grills on the market.
Related: How We Tested Portable Grills
Analysis and Test Results
A portable grill is exactly that… a grill that can be taken anywhere. It may be just portable enough to get in and out of your truck bed with a friend, or it might be compact enough to fit in a large backpacking pack. The wide definition of "portable grill" challenges our testers, but that's why we take time to analyze selections to pick out some of the best grills on the market today. We then put ourselves in the shoes of you — the consumer — and put each grill through an array of creative cooking scenarios. This helps us think in terms of everyday use: from overall performance and function to consideration of the finer details, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each product. We test these grills side-by-side, and carefully tailor our conclusions to help you pick out the best possible portable grill for your use.
Related: Buying Advice for Portable Grills
More than in other categories of consumer goods, the value of your portable grill depends on how much and for how long you intend to use it. A cheap grill may get you through a backyard-bash, but more expensive products tend to last longer, even under more rigorous or extensive use. Simple grilling, like burgers and dogs, can happen on any portable grill. But if you would like the option to sear a steak and slow-cook chicken on the same grate, you'll likely only find such features on higher quality grills. Similarly, the least expensive grills don't offer the BTUs nor the control to cook more complicated foods.
While the all-natural allure of charcoal may be considered a more sustainable option than propane, these grills tend to burn through coals pretty quickly. This is an important factor to consider when choosing a grill, particularly considering the cost of replacement charcoal. While classic charcoal briquettes are often the norm, we recommend all-natural lump charcoal — it may be harder to start, but it burns hotter and offers a higher-quality flavor, sans-additives or chemicals.
Size isn't necessarily tied to value — in fact, the smallest grills in our review were among some of the most expensive. Considering carrying dimensions, grilling surface, and performance, the more average-sized grills tend to fall into a more reasonable price bracket. Since there is a broad range of prices in this category, we offer up two Best Buy award winners. The Cuisinart Grillster has the power you want to sear steaks, but due to its lower-end price point, it lacks the overall control of better grills. The Char-Broil Grill2Go is slightly more expensive, but cooks with the quality of an infrared burner, and includes additional features like a thermometer in the lid.
Lining up grills side-by-side to test the backyard ultra-classics, hamburgers and portabella-burgers.
For this metric, we had to consider how different methods of heat production compared among different grills across the board. For gas, we looked at the number of BTUs (British thermal units) each product generated. For charcoal and electric options that cannot be measured the same way, we drew upon anecdotal evidence through testing and the accuracy of an infrared thermometer to measure internal grill temperatures. We also factored in the number of burners of each product, how well the grill body insulated heat, and the volume of the coal bed.
For gas-powered grills, the Napoleon TravelQ puts out a moderate 12,000 BTU — not the most in our review, but with two burners and an insulating lid, this grill cooked the best overall. The least powerful model is the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet that manages 5,500 BTU, but keep in mind that it only weighs 15 lbs and has half the cooking area of the bigger guns. The Petit Gourmet with its lower output didn't have a problem grilling anything we wanted; it didn't take any longer to cook than the other contenders, and it uses the least amount of fuel. This points to an issue in assessing just the raw BTU score: X-amount of heat over a small surface area is hotter than the same amount of heat over a larger surface area. The Top Pick Primus Kuchoma is quite small, but puts out 8000 BTUs, similar to Cuisinart Grillster, which in our experience only cooks hot.
After noting the manufacturers' BTU output ratings we did head-to-head, subjective testing of the max heat output of each grill. Here, the Top Pick Primus Kuchoma up against the Solaire Everywhere.
On the charcoal side, insulation played a much more important role in output power. The Cuisinart Portable and Weber Go-Anywhere were very similar when it came to coal bed volume, yet the Go-Anywhere scored much higher thanks to its cast iron construction.
While we couldn't rely on BTU-ratings for charcoal grills, our reviewers utilized an infrared thermometer to accurately test the temperature of these grill surfaces.
Higher BTUs equals more heat, but it is challenging to determine the heat output from the BTU rating alone. Size, construction materials, and design all contribute to how much heat will be produced on the actual grilling surface.
Our ranking of heat output additionally considers the manufacturers' BTU reporting, grill surface area, and lid sealing and construction. For the most part, our scoring of the heat output follows manufacturer claims, but we make some exceptions and variances. For instance, both the Primus Kuchoma and Weber Q1200 claim 8500 BTUs. In practice, the Weber is a little hotter and maintains that heat over a larger cooking surface, and therefore, it scores better on our list. The Solaire Everywhere makes 14000 BTUs, but sears a steak faster than anything else, even those that feature more BTUs.
We enlisted professional BBQ caterers Liz Bazzano and Ryan Weidenbach (google Dubbs BBQ...) to help in assessing these compact wonders. Their input was illuminating and helpful.
Control is the criteria that most distinctly separates the high performers from the poorer grills. For gas and electric, this metric was scored based on how many burners each product has and whether they can be adjusted to high, medium, and low temperatures; for charcoal, we assessed how easy it was to maneuver the coal bed to create heat zones. We also took into account if the grilling surface presents a consistent temperature throughout, whether it has a thermometer and push-button ignition, and how well both perform. There are advantages and disadvantages to a grill surface that naturally presents different temperature zones.
The George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor 15+ may offer a huge grilling surface, but can only be operated on a single heat-setting. Notice that while the onions were just beginning to nicely char, our burgers were over-browning to a crisp.
If you are cooking all one type of food, covering the entire grill surface, you want even heat throughout. If you are cooking a variety of foods all at once, you might prefer different temperature regimes. To test the distribution of heat across a grill we mainly grilled foods of different types in different corners of the grill. To illustrate this, for a select set of our tested grills, we cooked plain white bread on the grill top and photographed the result to help visualize the distribution of heat on these grill tops.
One round of the toast test, illustrating the heat distribution on the Top Pick Primus Kuchoma.
We also took into consideration whether the lid was big enough for closed grilling, how easy the grease trap was to use, remove, and clean, and if the regulator provided a snug or loose fit.
The Editors' Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285 scored highest in this category due to its two burners with distinct high, medium, and low settings and flawless ignition system. We appreciate that the grilling surface of the Napoleon is non-stick and can be a consistent temperature throughout the entire grill surface. The Napoleon's lid has plenty of clearance for closed grilling, the grease trap is easy to remove and clean, and the regulator didn't give us any trouble. You can also use the two-burner system to make multiple heat zones on the Napoleon.
Single-burner options, like the Cuisinart Grillster, often don't afford the same amount of control over temperature zones as other multi-burner grills.
Of the one-burner grills, the mid-sized options offer a wide range of control options. On all that we currently include in the review, the knob and regulators allow clear and wide-ranging burner output. Control, then, is mostly a function of burner shape, grill shape, and the relative interaction of these two things. Large burners, relative to the grill size, distribute heat more evenly to the grill top. The u-shaped burner of the Camp Chef Portable Grill is the best single burner in our review. The large surface of the Cuisinart All Foods Roll-Away gives the cook multiple heat zones to work with while grilling. The infrared burner of the Solaire Everywhere heats the entire grill surface to about the same temperature. This is good for cooking lots of one kind of food, but not so good if you seek different temperature zones.
Building an intensely hot coal bed, that can later be spread out to create individual heat zones, is a critical skill in mastering the art of charcoal grilling.
It is important to mention here that cooking with charcoal is very different from cooking over a gas burner. Charcoal is an active heat source, meaning that it can be adjusted — stoked to increase heat, or smothered to decrease it — but requires constant care to regulate temperature. The up-side is that the potential for control is very high: charcoal affords one the ability to accurately manage various heat zones across the grilling surface. The down-side is that this control is not guaranteed: there is a significant learning curve to master this technique, and is definitely more difficult than adjusting the dial of a gas grill.
Notice the three different heat zones possible with the Weber Go-Anywhere charcoal grill. From the left: medium heat to evenly brown the steak; high heat to blister peppers; low heat on to caramelize the onion.
On the charcoal side, the Weber Go-Anywhere scored top marks for control. Thanks to a relatively deep basin, we were able to build and stoke a substantial volume of coals up to the exact heat we wanted. Since the area of the basin exactly matches the surface area of the grill, we were then able to spread out those coals to create targeted heat zones.
The Eureka Gonzo Grill on the right, with close competitor Cuisinart Petite Gourmet in red. Clearly, the Eureka is smaller. For packing, this is an advantage. For cooking, the difference doesn't seem as profound as it looks.
Let's closely compare the smallest grills in our test, regarding control. The Cuisinart Petite Gourmet and Eureka Gonzo Grill are very similar in size and weight. The Primus Kuchoma, our Top Pick for portability, is roughly similar in grate size but weighs much less than the other two. The Petite Gourmet and Kuchoma both have an elongated burner beneath a rectangular grate. The Eureka Gonzo Grill has a round burner beneath a round grate. For a given temperature setting on each, the Eureka grill top presents a more uniform temperature than that of the Cuisinart or Primus. You have more options to move your food around to different temperature zones on the rectangular grates, but you have greater uniformity of cooking conditions across the top of the Eureka.
The Camp Chef Portable BBQ grill in action.
To determine scores in this metric, we considered weight and other criteria. We loaded up each product into vehicles, took them to picnics and campsites, and grilled gratifying culinary concoctions. When on these excursions, we took into account size, wheels, stands, construction materials, and lid latches. We also evaluated how secure or not secure they were, noise during transport, and messiness/cleanliness on the ride home.
The Petit Gourmet has telescoping legs that fold up neatly, and it's easy to carry in one hand. The Gonzo Grill, contained by its included nylon bag, requires two hands to carry but is a little less fiddly otherwise. The Kuchoma and Solaire both carry cleanly and easily like a small suitcase. The Kuchoma is our favorite to carry around, as it packs up so small and sleek and only weighs 10 pounds. It's easy to carry this model into the park to find your ideal picnic spot. With any grill, cleaning them before transporting them will lead to less mess.
A common portability pitfall is the grill parts coming dislodged in transit. The Camp Chef, pictured here, isn't alone in having its heat disperser come free.
The Editors' Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285, at 26 pounds and smaller than an airline carry-on "roller board," is remarkably portable, given its surface area and cooking performance. Special mention must be made of the portability of this grill; it can be purchased as a tabletop model (like we did) for maximum compactness or with integrated wheels and folding stand for patio and stadium parking lot portability.
During a long-distance drive that included mountain passes and washboard dirt roads, most grills stayed in place, but the Cuisinart Portable ended up upside-down.
The most notable portability attribute of the Best Buy Char-Broil Grill2Go is that one can fit 3 propane canisters inside its closed lid, for transport. No other tested award-winning grills have space beneath their lids for even one canister. This is nice when space is tight. And who would be using a portable grill when space isn't limited?
The Best Buy Char Broil Grill2Go is unique in that, for transport, you can carry fuel cans inside the lid. We like this. Surprisingly few others allow this.
Scores in this metric were determined by the size of the cooking surface and what the grill surface was made of or coated with. We also analyzed if the surface was non-stick, if it had side tables or any other added features, and what multi-functions it provided. Additional functions included a grill grate that could be turned over and made into a skillet or bonus features like a warming rack or smoker tray. We also took into account with this metric how simple or challenging each contender was to clean.
A stand out in this category was the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor 15+, which has one of the largest cooking areas included in this review, and can uniquely transition from cooking on the back porch to the kitchen table. The Gonzo Grill is another stand out for its unique cooking area. It boasts a dual cooking surface consisting of a grill on one side and a griddle on the other. The Gonzo Grill can also be converted into a stove-top by removing the griddle.
We loved the novelty of George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor grill for its ability to cook an entire meal outside, and then move onto the table for a fajita night.
The Top Pick Primus Kuchoma is the lightest and smallest grill we tested but has more cooking surface area than three other products. Good design choices were made here.
A couple large chicken breasts basically fill the hot portion of the Cuisinart Petite Gourmet.
Does the burner blow out in the wind? Does the lid get easily slammed shut? Does the grease trap fly away? Is the whole system sturdy? These are all things that were taken into consideration when scoring all of the contenders for this metric.
The high score in this category goes to the Camp Chef Portable. The Camp Chef has a stable cooking surface so no wind can get through the grilling grate. This metric was another particularly strong aspect of the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor whose electrically heated cooking surface is, as far as we can tell, completely unfazed by convective heat loss.
The performance of the George Foreman's electric grill plate is basically impervious to wind, and all of the food is protected beneath a gigantic lid.
Wind resistance is the one chink in the armor of our Editors' Choice winner. On one particularly windy picnic in Grand Teton National Park, both burners of the Napoleon TravelQ 285 blew out repeatedly. Interestingly, this did not occur on other occasions nor could we replicate it with our more controlled fan test. When it stayed lit, the tight lid and high overall output of the TravelQ made it work just fine in the wind.
In cold and windy weather, (note our bundled tester this unseasonably cool early summer testing day) convective cooling can really strip the heat from your food. A tight lid, minimal and strategic vent holes, and a robust burner guard against that wind.
The Cuisinart All Foods Roll-Away scored the lowest in wind resistance. We were frustrated at the number of times we had to re-light this model in high winds. The Weber Q 1200 comes with an aluminum disposable drip tray insert that goes into the more permanent drip tray. This is nice for ease of cleanup, but it's not very wind resistant and usually ended up on the ground after flying away in windy conditions. This can be easily remedied by doing without the disposable part or just by putting a rock into it.
Our fan test largely verifies our findings from "real world use".
All that now stands between you and mobile grilling is your final choice and a big pile of grillables. Crack that first tailgate can, process our comparative assessments, and pull the trigger on an excellent portable delicious-making machine. None of our choices are poor ones, and all enable the most memorable of dining experiences. We are proud of the work we've done in hashing out all your options, and are honored to be this small part of your transient culinary journey.
What better occasion to "force" a spring picnic than grill testing. A family event, comparing grills and eating good food in March in Drictor, Wydaho.