A grill is an indispensable tool for a barbecue and a useful one for summer-time recipes. You can find multiple types including gas grills, charcoal grills, electric grills, and more. Owing to ease of use and transportation, portable grills have gained popularity over the past few decades. They have gotten more and more useful so having one at your disposal is a huge boon.
Grills are for those who want to indulge in grilling food while they are on the go; or, they can be for those who do not have enough space for a big grill. They open up a realm of recipes that can't be made with a standard kitchen. In this article, we will talk about our favorite grills, such as the Coleman RoadTrip LXE Portable Gas Grill. This grill has a collapsible design that's easy to transport. We also discuss the points you should keep in mind while buying a portable grill so that the one you choose meets all of your needs.
This portable grill buying guide is to help you understand the different aspects you should be looking for when shopping for a portable grill. There are many variables that play into what is best for you.
Portable grills are of various types including gas grills, charcoal grills, and electric ones. The type you should get depends on your situation and your desired grilling experience.
Gas grills are great for cooking vegetables or sandwiches, as they don't produce an intense smoky flavor like charcoal grills. They use either natural gas or bottled propane to heat and are easy to set up and clean after grilling.
Each gas grill has a different British Thermal Unit (BTU) energy rating, which is a measurement of their power and heat output. More BTUs indicates that the grill produces more heat by burning more fuel.
Typically, a gas grill that has between 75 to 100 BTUs per square inch of the cooking surface will provide you with consistent heat. Most gas grills are designed with temperature control knobs that you can use to change to the desired temperature.
If you're looking for a quick and safe way to cook foods, consider infrared grills, an innovative version of the traditional gas grills that have become increasingly popular among grilling enthusiasts.
Infrared grills use direct radiant heat to grill foods, so they get hot easily and can cook foods more quickly than traditional gas grills. They distribute heat evenly and reduce the chances of flare-ups. But infrared grills tend to be more expensive.
You need charcoal briquettes to fuel a charcoal grill. They burn at higher temperatures than gas and are ideal to sear meat to your desired texture and flavor. However, charcoal grills take time to set up and pre-heat, unlike gas grills that facilitate fast grilling.
They can also turn messy and require a lot of cleaning up and disposing of ashes. Although charcoal can be inexpensive, you will have to buy heavy sacks of charcoal frequently for your grilling needs. But in the end, charcoal grills are the best at giving you an authentic smoked flavor.
Pellet grills cook with wood pellets that are burned by an electric heating element, and can deliver a wood-smoked flavor to your foods. Most pellet grills use indirect heat, and can maintain a constant temperature for a long time, so they're great for slow-cook recipes like pulled pork or BBQ ribs.
Some offer a direct-heat grilling option, too. But there's no way to use them without electricity, even though you'll get all the smoky benefits of wood grilling.
There are also portable electric grills. They are good for those who cannot accommodate a charcoal grill or gas grill on their patio or balcony; they're also great if you live in an area where you experience a lot of wind or stormy weather.
Remember to check the length of the power cord to make sure that it works for your needs. And despite the downside that electric grills need an electrical outlet to connect and operate, they still appeal to those who are uncomfortable with using charcoal briquettes or propane. They can also cut down on natural gas emissions!
The materials used to make the grates and the grill body affect the grill's ability to heat up fast and retain the temperature inside it. Some common materials include stainless steel and cast iron.
Stainless steel grates are easy to clean. They take less time to heat up and facilitate fast cooking. They also distribute heat evenly. They are resistant to heat, salt, and rust, and are highly durable. Although stainless steel grates may show signs of discoloration, it will not affect the grilling performance.
Cast-iron grill grates might take a long time to heat up, are quite heavy, and rust easily, but they are durable and retain heat better than stainless steel grates. Thanks to the exceptional heat retaining properties, they render better sear marks to grilled meat and veggies.
There are two types of cast iron: enamel-coated and uncoated. Enamel-coated ones have better non-stick properties. They are easy to clean and require no seasoning. However, the enamel on the cast iron grates can crack or chip over time, resulting in degradation and rusting of the grates.
Uncoated cast-iron grates have a black color with a rough texture. Uncoated cast iron is porous and absorbs the oils and fats from your foods to form a non-stick sheen. They require regular maintenance to remain in a good condition. Make sure to wash the grates right after using them and dry them thoroughly to prevent rust.
The first thing to keep in mind is the surface area of the grill. A grill with a big surface means you can grill a large variety of food at once, but it will be large and cumbersome to carry around.
If you have a grill with a smaller capacity, you will need to grill in shifts to serve for all, which makes it difficult to have food hot and ready at the same time. But a small grill makes it much more portable.
The rule of thumb is around 72 square inches per person. Portable grills can have up to 350 square inches of grilling surface. If the grill has a surface area of 150 square inches, it can accommodate the needs of one or two people. Bigger groups of between four to six need a grill with a surface area of 250 to 350 square inches.
Weight is another important factor to consider when it comes to portability. The more lightweight, the better. Take into account the body material of the grill, as it contributes to its weight.
Some common body materials include cast aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic. Cast aluminum and stainless steel are good choices, as they are durable yet very lightweight. They are also resistant to corrosion.
On the other hand, cast iron and ceramic are really heavy. Although they can help retain the heat well and keep the temperature stable when checking on the food or adding in ingredients, the heavy weight makes them a bad choice for portability.
Besides the material used to make the grilling plates, burners, and the grill lid, there are other features that can make for a wonderful grilling experience each time. Features like temperature control, multiple burners, high power, and wind resistance are notable properties to consider.
Gas grills with multiple burners are great as they are easier to control. This is ideal when you are grilling something small and you only need to heat just one side of the surface. They're also ideal when you are grilling different types of food items that need varying levels of temperature for grilling.
Go for gas grills that have covers or heat shield plates placed over the burner tubes. This ensures grease from the meat does not drip onto the flames and cause flare-ups or affect temperature control. Only by using a grill can you analyze its burning control, so it's also important to read multiple reviews on the grill before buying it.
Grills of any fuel type can come with an integrated thermometer that displays the inside temperature of the grill at every stage. This helps to ensure your food is getting grilled at the right temperature and know when it's preheated. This is especially useful for slow-cooked methods like smoking.
Wind affects the grilling process when you're cooking outdoors. But, it can be a bit tricky to find a grill that does not allow wind directly into the flames. Reading reviews might help. Some reviews suggest that wind resistance is better with grills with higher power.
A better way to resist wind is to have narrow grills or to have burners that are not so exposed. Having heat shields or burner covers can help resist the wind to a greater extent. Burner covers are lightweight and can be folded to any shape and size to protect your grill from strong wind.
There are many extra features that make using a grill a bit easier. Some products have wheels and carry handles for ease of transportation. But make sure the wheels can be locked in place to ensure safety while cooking. Some portable grills are designed with foldable legs or a stand and can fit easily into a narrow space like a car's trunk.
It's a good idea to purchase a grill with a lid as well. It helps capture heat and lock in smoke to make your foods even more flavorful. But make sure the lid handles are insulated and do not get hot during the grilling process.
If you're looking for a versatile product that not only allows you to grill but also lets you make sauces or things like eggs and pancakes, consider one that comes with a swappable cooktop. Some grills have side tables for you to place your utensils and sauces as well.
Take a look at the list below and find the portable grill that fits your needs best! We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Jim Quast. For more on our selection process, check out our content policy.
RoadTrip 285 Portable Propane Grill
Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill
Grill2Go X200 Portable TRU-Infrared Gas Grill
Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
Fold N Go + Propane Grill
Volcano 3 Collapsible Grill/Stove
Electric Indoor Searing Grill
Ranger Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Best Versatile Grill With 3 Burners
Best Grill With Foldable Legs
Best Outdoor-Indoor Electric Grill With a Stand
Best Tabletop Propane Grill
Best Infrared Grill With Durable Cast Aluminum Construction
Best Easy-Clean Charcoal Grill With an Ash Catcher
Best Lightweight and Portable Gas Grill for 1 or 2 People
Best Collapsible Option With 3 Fuel Source Choices
Best RV-Friendly Grill for Rainy Days
Best for Imparting a Wood-Smoked Flavor
|Power source||Propane||Charcoal||Electric||Propane||Propane||Charcoal||Propane||Propane, charcoal, or wood||Electric||Wood pellets (requires electricity)|
|Grate material||Porcelain-coated steel||Porcelain-enameled lid, nickel-coated steel grates||Non-stick coated grill plate||Stainless steel burner and porcelain-enameled grate||Stainless steel||Steel grates and porcelain-enameled lid and bowl||Enameled coating||Nickel-plated grill grate||Stainless steel, non-stick coating||Porcelain-coated grates|
|Dimensions||Not specified||19.5 x 11.5 x 15 in.||Not specified||18 x 13 x 12 in.||24 x 16 x 14 in.||20 x 20 x 20.5 in.||17 x 7 x 15 in.||20 x 20 x 11 in.||17 x 12 x 7 in.||21 x 20 x 13 in.|
|Weight||Not specified||Not specified||Not specified||17 lbs.||20 lbs.||Not specified||Not specified||25 lbs.||8 lbs.||60 lbs.|
|Grilling surface||285 sq. in.||160 sq. in.||240 sq. in.||145 sq. in.||200 sq. in.||240 sq. in.||105 sq. in.||144 sq. in.||118 sq. in.||184 sq. in.|
|Controls||3 adjustable knobs||2 adjustable vents for temperature control||1 adjustable knob with 5 heat settings||1 adjustable knob||1 adjustable knob||Via adjusting the dampers||Adjustable knob||Adjustable vent||1 temperature dial||Digital arc controller|
|Extra features||Collapsible design with wheels, swappable cooktop, sliding side tables, integrated thermometer gauge||Lid, plated steel legs||Domed grill lid, removable grill plate, grill stand, drip tray||Lid, carrying handle||Temperature gauge, lid, carry handles||Lid, aluminum ash catcher, glass-reinforced nylon handle||Removable grease tray, handle||Storage bag||Removable drip tray, power and preheat lights, glass viewing window, indoor grill hood||Cast-iron griddle, baffled lid, digital arc controller, meat probe|
|Grate material||Porcelain-coated steel|
|Grilling surface||285 sq. in.|
|Controls||3 adjustable knobs|
|Extra features||Collapsible design with wheels, swappable cooktop, sliding side tables, integrated thermometer gauge|
|Grate material||Porcelain-enameled lid, nickel-coated steel grates|
|Dimensions||19.5 x 11.5 x 15 in.|
|Grilling surface||160 sq. in.|
|Controls||2 adjustable vents for temperature control|
|Extra features||Lid, plated steel legs|
|Grate material||Non-stick coated grill plate|
|Grilling surface||240 sq. in.|
|Controls||1 adjustable knob with 5 heat settings|
|Extra features||Domed grill lid, removable grill plate, grill stand, drip tray|
|Grate material||Stainless steel burner and porcelain-enameled grate|
|Dimensions||18 x 13 x 12 in.|
|Grilling surface||145 sq. in.|
|Controls||1 adjustable knob|
|Extra features||Lid, carrying handle|
|Grate material||Stainless steel|
|Dimensions||24 x 16 x 14 in.|
|Grilling surface||200 sq. in.|
|Controls||1 adjustable knob|
|Extra features||Temperature gauge, lid, carry handles|
|Grate material||Steel grates and porcelain-enameled lid and bowl|
|Dimensions||20 x 20 x 20.5 in.|
|Grilling surface||240 sq. in.|
|Controls||Via adjusting the dampers|
|Extra features||Lid, aluminum ash catcher, glass-reinforced nylon handle|
|Grate material||Enameled coating|
|Dimensions||17 x 7 x 15 in.|
|Grilling surface||105 sq. in.|
|Extra features||Removable grease tray, handle|
|Power source||Propane, charcoal, or wood|
|Grate material||Nickel-plated grill grate|
|Dimensions||20 x 20 x 11 in.|
|Grilling surface||144 sq. in.|
|Extra features||Storage bag|
|Grate material||Stainless steel, non-stick coating|
|Dimensions||17 x 12 x 7 in.|
|Grilling surface||118 sq. in.|
|Controls||1 temperature dial|
|Extra features||Removable drip tray, power and preheat lights, glass viewing window, indoor grill hood|
|Power source||Wood pellets (requires electricity)|
|Grate material||Porcelain-coated grates|
|Dimensions||21 x 20 x 13 in.|
|Grilling surface||184 sq. in.|
|Controls||Digital arc controller|
|Extra features||Cast-iron griddle, baffled lid, digital arc controller, meat probe|
You'll need a few other items before you fire up the grill and start your tailgate party or beach picnic. See if you need any of these useful tools.
Looking for some other options? Check out Amazon's best-selling items!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
Author: Biji Bella Ravindran
Updated by: Thuy Nguyen, 3/14/2022
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