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Over the past seven years, our experts have bought more than 25 of the best portable grills to test side-by-side. This updated review highlights 15 of the top options to help you cook up delicious meals, even while on the road. We design objective tests to evaluate important features like output power and then back up those assessments with real-world cooking experience. We've tested these grills at tailgate parties, backyard BBQs, picnics, and on camping trips, cooking hundreds of meals to date. The result? An experience-based, comprehensive review of the best portable grills on the market.
Weber has a reputation for building grills that gracefully blend cooking performance and reliability, and that tradition is rolled into a portable package with the impressive Weber Q 1200. Although it is not the most powerful when measured in output power alone, the design of this grill allows it to efficiently and effectively reach ideal searing temperatures within just minutes of preheating. The highlight of this top-quality construction is the porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates, which comfortably retain the heat evenly distributed by the U-shaped stainless steel burner underneath. Simply put, this model let us grill with more precision, predictability, and control than most of the other models we bought and tested.
Although this portable powerhouse reaches top temperatures with ease, it is more difficult to learn how to harness the heat of the grill surface for foods that require more low-and-slow cooking. Though this model excels in the tabletop or tailgate setting, its relatively heavy weight and bulky packed size — combined with the lack of a latching lid — make it less than ideal for cooking far away from the car or campsite. But if you hope to regularly grill up delicious meals while on the road, the Weber Q 1200 is an accessible portable grill that is sure to appeal to both novice cooks and professional chefs alike.
The Coleman Roadtrip 285 offers the cooking performance of your typical backyard grill in a portable package. There are three individual burners – a main burner that reaches across the entire grill from side to side, and two additional burners on each side. This configuration is specifically designed so that the heat zones overlap. The result is top-notch control coupled with incredibly even heat distribution. The Roadtrip 285's instructions are clearly written and all tools required for assembly are included, making this model a breeze to put together. It's easy to convert between travel and cooking mode, and the large wheels and long handle make it our favorite wheeled model to move around.
If you're looking for a compact model to fit in the trunk of a smaller car or one that'll take up minimal space while it's not in use, the Coleman Roadtrip 285 is not the grill for you. This grill is bulky compared to many other portable grills we've tested, and relies heavily on its wheels for transport. At 47 pounds, it's not very fun to lift much further than in and out of a truck bed. The weight and bulk definitely detract from its overall portability. But this grill makes up for deficiencies in portability with top-tier grilling performance and easily earns our recommendation for a large-sized portable grill.
For the size and price, it may be tough to find a compact grill more powerful than the Cuisinart Grillster. Not only is it incredibly fuel-efficient, but this portable powerhouse reaches peak temperature within a matter of minutes after clicking the piezo lighter. A lightweight steel lid and three insulating walls give it the ability to both block wind and retain heat, allowing you to cook in less-than-ideal weather. This model cools down almost as quickly as it heats up for a quick get-away, with a locking lid and enough space to store one-pound gas canisters. It also 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 on 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. Although it is compact and portable, there is a tradeoff with its smaller grilling space. Petite and sure-footed, the Grillster is the perfect companion for a picnic for two, no matter the location.
In recent years, pellet grills have exploded in popularity. There is no mystery as to why – pellet grills offer the control of a household kitchen oven but produce the flavor and texture of charcoal grills and wood smokers. Traditionally, they are not the type of grill that you'd want to tote along with you on an RV trip or to tailgate the big game, but the Camp Chef Portable Pellet changes that. With a bit of clever design, this model collapses to a size that can be wheeled around and transported into spaces that are a fraction of the size of where most pellet grills can fit. The controls for this grill are digital, allowing you to select the exact temperature you need for the cut you're cooking. If the controls weren't precise enough, there are two digital thermometer probes so that you know exactly when your meat's internal temperature has reached the perfect point. There's no need for piezo buttons, a lighter, or starter fluid with this grill because the ignitor is electric.
Some of the things we love the most about the Camp Chef Portable Pellet tie directly to its weaknesses. Not only is the ignitor electric, but so is the auger that feels pellets from the hopper into the grill, which means that this grill needs to be plugged into an AC outlet. If you're at home, in an RV, or have a decent power bank, this isn't much of an issue. But for folks that like to go completely off-grid, this model isn't going to work for you. Much like charcoal grills, pellet grills take some time before they're ready for cooking and the Camp Chef Portable Pellet takes a while to warm up. Lastly, this model is really heavy compared to most of the portable grills in our review. The wheels are helpful, but it's not very fun to drag this grill very far from your vehicle. Despite that, we loved cooking with this portable pellet grill – it is the perfect addition to an RV setup.
For the fans of pit-cooking out there, we offer up the Weber Go-Anywhere 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 into place thanks to deep-seated insets cast into the grill frame, so you can easily adjust heat zones 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 different 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 these adjustments for perfect airflow. But we can assure you that with practice, this portable grill can allow you to master the art of cooking over an open flame and produce delicious food in the process, even on the go.
The Solaire Everywhere infrared grill is a unique product on our roster and performs very well in a few categories. First, it is very small and compact, and 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 can be very high and is delivered rapidly. 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 this uncompromising high-heat cooking performance without some drawbacks. The Solaire Everywhere is quite specialized. First, the grill top is small, with space for only one or two steaks on it 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 they would best be 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.
Our thorough testing process began with scouring the internet for the latest and greatest products across the portable grill market. Next, we narrowed our selection to create a manageable yet comprehensive list of the best products available. We bought all these products at retail cost to allow us to conduct an extended, objectively honest, and comparative review. These review editors rigorously assessed these grills and distributed them to friends to gather a fresh perspective. Throughout the intensive testing phase — which lasted months — we grilled piles of food, measured temperatures, grilled out in heavy winds, and burned through gallons of propane and piles of coal, all in the pursuit of an authoritative review of the best portable grills on the market.
We break down the overall score into five key metrics:
Output Power (25% of overall score weighting)
Control (25% weighting)
Portability (20% weighting)
Cooking Area (20% weighting)
Wind Resistance (10% weighting)
We tasked long-time OGL review editor Jed Porter with heading up our analysis 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 a day outside over an open flame, near and far, rain or shine. At various times throughout his career as a mountain guide, he has catered for groups of up to 20 hungry, adventurous clients. Adding more expertise in this category are Aaron Rice and Ross Patton. Aaron has worked in-and-around kitchens for the better portion of a decade. As a wilderness instructor, he has also taught many a hungry teenager the art of creating delicious meals with small stoves. A long time ago, Ross's dad was the head chef at the Steak Pit, arguably the best place to get a perfectly seared filet mignon in all of Utah. After learning how to grill from his dad and following his footsteps, Ross worked in the kitchens of several restaurants in the Lake Tahoe area. All three reviewers tapped 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.
Analysis and Test Results
A portable grill could be just mobile enough to load it in and out of your truck bed with a friend, or it might be compact enough to fit inside a large backpack. Such a wide range of sizes and shapes of "portable grills" presents a real challenge to our testers, but that's why we take time to analyze the entire marketplace and select the best options available today. We then put ourselves in your shoes and put each model through an array of creative real-life cooking scenarios. This helped us evaluate each product's overall performance and function, as well as the finer details and relative strengths and weaknesses, to help you pick out the best possible portable grill to meet your needs.
The value of your portable grill depends on your cooking needs and your intended usage. A basic, more affordable grill might get you through a backyard bash, but a more expensive product will tend to last longer, even under more rigorous or extensive use. Simple grilling, like burgers and dogs, can be done 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 models. Similarly, the least expensive grills don't offer the maximum heat output nor the control to cook more complicated foods.
The Economics of Coal vs. Propane vs. Pellets
While the all-natural allure of charcoal might be viewed as 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 fuel. Classic charcoal briquettes are the most common, but we recommend all-natural lump charcoal, which may be harder to start but burns hotter and offers a higher-quality flavor without any additives or chemicals. Pellets are generally sold in 20-pound bags and cost a bit more than a similar-sized bag of charcoal, but they are dense and efficient. In our testing, we found that we can cook at least five times as long with a standard bag of pellets, including an all-day smoke or two. The cost of all three options can depend on your geographic location, fuel prices, and supply chain issues.
Grill size isn't necessarily tied to value — in fact, some of the smallest grills in our review are among some of the most expensive. When considering carrying dimensions, grilling surface, and overall performance, the more average-sized grills tend to fall into a more reasonable price bracket. There is a broad range of prices in this category, but two of the lower-priced models stand out. The Cuisinart Grillster has the power you need 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 built into the lid. If you're looking for a larger propane grill, the Coleman Roadtrip 285 is more of an investment but performs on par with many non-portable patio grills. If you're ready to jump into the pellet world, it's going to cost you – these types of cookers are not cheap. That said, the Camp Chef Portable Pellet's price is fairly reasonable considering its top-notch performance.
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 generates. For charcoal, electric, and pellet options that cannot be measured the same way, we drew upon evidence from testing and 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.
In the realm of larger portable propane grills, the Coleman Roadtrip 285 is a cut above the rest when it comes to output power. At 20,000 BTU, this model puts most of the others to shame. U-shaped burners are fairly common with this grill type, but the way the Roadtrip 285's burners are configurated distributes the heat around the oval-shaped grill surface more evenly than other models we've tested.
For smaller gas-powered grills, the Weber Q 1200 puts out a rather modest 8,500 BTU — not the most in our review, but with an efficient U-shaped burner and an insulating lid, this grill offers top cooking performance. The least powerful model is the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet that manages only 5,500 BTUs, but keep in mind that it only weighs 15 lbs and has half the cooking area of the bigger units. Even with its lower output, the Petit Gourmet didn't have a problem grilling anything we wanted, it didn't take any longer to cook than the other contenders, and it used the least amount of fuel. This points to an issue in assessing just the raw BTU score: a certain amount of heat over a smaller surface area will be hotter than the same amount of heat spread across a larger surface area.
On the charcoal side, insulation plays a much more important role in output power and efficiency. The Cuisinart Portable Charcoal and Weber Go-Anywhere are very similar in terms of coal bed volume, but the Go-Anywhere scores much higher thanks to its cast iron construction.
Our lone soldier pellet grill, the Camp Chef Portable Pellet, took a bit longer than expected to heat up. However, once it reached the desired temperature, we were very impressed by how even and steady the temperature remained. The flame from the pellet fire heats a large plate that simultaneously distributes heat and directs grease to the grease bucket. As a result, this model retains heat very well. There's no need to worry about having to add coals or switch out propane canisters with the Camp Chef Portable Pellet – you can simply top the pellet hopper off while the grill is in operation.
Higher BTUs produce more heat, but it is challenging to determine the heat output from the BTU rating alone. Grill size, construction materials, and design all contribute to how much heat will be produced on the actual grilling surface.
Our ranking of heat output also considered each manufacturer's BTU reporting, grill surface area, and lid sealing and construction. For the most part, the scoring of the heat output follows manufacturer claims, but we made some exceptions based on our observations. For instance, while the Weber Q 1200 only claims 8,500 BTUs, in practice, it operates at hotter temperatures and maintains that heat over a larger cook surface compared to other similar models. The infrared-cooking capability of the Solaire Everywhere puts out 14,000 BTUs and confidently sears a steak faster than anything else.
Control is the criteria that most distinctly separates the highest performers from the rest of the contenders. 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. For pellet grills, we studied the user interface and considered the details of the startup and shutdown process. We also considered if the grilling surface presents a consistent temperature throughout, whether it includes a thermometer or push-button ignition, and how well both perform. There are advantages and disadvantages to a grill surface that naturally presents different temperature zones.
If you're cooking only one type of food that covers the entire grilling surface, then you will want to have consistent heat throughout. If you are cooking a variety of foods all at once, you might prefer different temperature zones. To test the distribution of heat across a grill, we grilled different food types in different corners of the grill.
To illustrate this, we cooked plain white bread and photographed the result to help visualize the distribution of heat across these grill tops. 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 clear champion of this section of our assessment is the Camp Chef Portable Pellet. The digital controller goes far beyond the accuracy of any mechanical knob. If you can operate the controls of a modern kitchen oven, then this model is a no-brainer. This grill can be set from "low smoke" to "high smoke", and for temperatures ranging up to 550 degrees. When you've chosen your desired cook temperature, all you have to do is confirm a start sequence and a timer pops up on the digital display, letting you know exactly how many seconds you have until the grill is ready to be loaded with food.
Once the grill is going, the Camp Chef Portable Pellet's internal thermometer and the computer then take over to regulate the flow of pellets into the burner. This process keeps the grill temperature remarkably close to the chosen setting. If all this tech hasn't impressed you yet, this model also has two digital meat thermometers so that you can watch temperatures in real time. With this grill, barring some sort of unexpected mishap, you will likely never overcook a tri-tip again.
The Coleman Roadtrip 285 tops the list of our favorite propane models when it comes to grill control and temperature regulation. There are three dials that control the different zones, but all of those heat zones overlap. The middle dial controls a burner that spans the length of the whole grill, while the other two dials control an additional burner on each side. With all of them on, it evenly heats the entire cooking area. The Roadtrip 285 produced better results from our white bread heat mapping test than any other grill we've tested.
The Weber Q 1200 is another solid model in this category due to the adjustability of its control knob and a sound electronic ignition system. We appreciate the naturally non-stick porcelain-enameled grilling surface and that the cast iron grates distribute a consistent temperature across the entire cook surface. The domed lid of the Q 1200 has plenty of clearance for closed grilling, the grease trap is easy to remove and clean, and the integrated thermometer helps regulate internal air temperatures with impressive accuracy.
Of the one-burner grills, the mid-sized models offer a wide range of control options. On all that we currently include in the review, the knob and regulators allow a clearer and wider range of burner output. Control, then, is mostly a function of burner shape, grill shape, and the relative interaction of these two features. Large burners, relative to the grill size, distribute heat more evenly to the grill top. We found the u-shaped burner of the Camp Chef Portable BBQ to be one of the best single burners 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 type of food, but not so good if you're hoping to cook different foods at different rates.
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 upside is that the potential for control is very high because charcoal gives you virtually unlimited ability to manage various heat zones across the grilling surface. The downside is that this control is not guaranteed: there is a significant learning curve to master this technique, and it's more difficult than adjusting the dial of a gas grill.
Among the charcoal models, the Weber Go-Anywhere scores top marks for control. Thanks to a relatively deep basin, we were able to build and stoke a substantial volume of coals to achieve the exact heat we desired. 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 Cuisinart Petite Gourmet is one of the smallest grills in our tests, and the size does affect control. This model has an elongated burner beneath a rectangular grate. It has a fairly uniform temperature, but the shape of the grate and burner gives you the option to move your food around to different temperature zones in case you are needing some range for different foods.
To determine scores in this metric, we loaded each product into vehicles, took them to picnics and campsites, and grilled gratifying culinary concoctions. When on these excursions, we took into account things like the overall size, weight, construction materials, and availability of wheels, stands, or lid latches. We also evaluated how secure or not secure they were, noisiness during transport, and 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 Solaire carries cleanly and easily like a small suitcase. Models like this are easy to carry into the park to find your ideal picnic spot. With any grill, cleaning them before transporting them will lead to less mess.
The 31-pound Weber Q 1200 is still surprisingly portable due to its useful handles. Special mention should be given to the fact that it can be purchased as a tabletop model (like we did) or can easily be integrated into a separate wheelable, folding stand for enhanced parking lot convenience.
The most notable portability attribute of the Char-Broil Grill2Go is that one can fit three propane canisters inside its closed lid during transport. None of the other top-rated grills have space beneath their lids for even one canister. This is nice when space is tight, and it's just convenient. And who would be using a portable grill if space weren't limited?
If you're looking for a larger model, the best way to get the weight off your back is by going with a wheeled model. The Coleman Roadtrip 285 has large wheels that handle fairly rough terrain and a long handle, so you don't have to hunch over while hauling it.
Rounding out the bottom of the list for this metric is the Camp Chef Portable Pellet. This model is really heavy compared to the others, and it has a short handle. You also have to lay it on its back to convert it from travel to cooking mode, which is not ideal. But if you want a pellet grill for tailgating or base camping, this is still your best option.
Scores in this metric were determined by the size of the cooking surface, the surface material, and any coatings, whether the grill has any side tables or any other added features. Additional features and functions include a grill grate that can be turned over and made into a skillet or bonus features like a warming rack or smoker tray. We also took into account how simple or challenging each contender was to clean.
If you're looking to cook a whole lot of food at once, you can't top the Camp Chef Portable Pellet. Between the main grill and the upper shelf, this model offers 500 square inches of cooking space. If you like the idea of grilling large hunks of meat on one shelf while roasting veggies on the other, this is the grill for you.
The single-rack model with the largest grilling area is the Coleman Roadtrip 285. As the name describes, it has an impressive 285 square inches of cooking space. Our team found that this is plenty enough room to cook for a good-sized backyard BBQ or backcountry base camp.
Another standout in this category is 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.
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 the contenders for this metric.
The design of the Camp Chef Portable Pellet is practically unaffected by wind. The burner is deep within the tub of the grill body so it's protected by the walls of the grill, the heat distributor, and the lid. We smoked a rack of ribs on a pretty nasty fall day at an elevation of 7,000 feet in central Utah and had absolutely no issues with wind.
If you're in the market for a propane grill and you don't want to worry about your flame getting blown out, our top recommendation is the Coleman Roadtrip 285. We found that between the multi-hole design of the burners and the way that they are recessed into the tub of the grill body that this model's flames are very hard to extinguish. We were also impressed by the Camp Chef Portable. This Camp Chef model has a stable cooking surface that prevents any wind from getting through to the grilling grate. Wind resistance was another particularly strong aspect of the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor, whose electrically heated cooking surface seemed completely unfazed by convective heat loss, as far as we can tell.
The Cuisinart All Foods Roll-Away scored the lowest in wind resistance. We grew frustrated at the number of times we had to re-light this model in high winds. The Weber Q 1200 comes with a disposable aluminum drip tray insert that you can place in the more permanent drip tray. This is nice for aiding with cleanup, but it's not very wind-resistant, so it usually ended up on the ground after flying away in windy conditions. This can be remedied by doing away with this disposable part or just by putting a rock in it.
All that now stands between you and mobile grilling is your final choice and a big pile of grillable grub. Crack that first tailgate can, ponder our comparative assessments, and pull the trigger on an excellent portable delicious-making machine. None of our choices are poor options, and all can facilitate memorable dining experiences. We are proud of the work we've done to hash out all the options and are honored to be a small part of your transient culinary journey.
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