It's game day, and you're staring at over three dozen hungry tailgaters looking to you and your best portable grill for their delicious seared cuisine. But is your grill up to the challenge? Are you using gas? Charcoal? Is it covered or open? Can you slow cook delicate fish on one side and rapidly cook hotdogs on another?
Today there are no shortages of portable grills on the market, all claiming to be the best. But which are the real deal and which are just blowing smoke? In humanity's search for the best portable grill, we've found many that may change the course of human history -- or at least make delicious hamburgers.
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Great Grilling Tips from the Pros
Here are a few grilling tips from professional grillers. First, when deciding between direct vs. indirect heat, if your food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, go with direct. However, if it takes more, then use indirect heat. Next, you can make a homemade grill brush by crumpling a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil to the size of an orange, then using a pair of chef tongs as a handle to pick it up. Holding the ball of foil, merely brush away the gunk on your grill.
Our great final tip involves making picture perfect hamburgers. Burgers tend to puff in the middle while cooking, making the tops look rounded and awkward. To remedy this, press a small indentation into the top of each raw patty with the back of your spoon. That way when the center pushes up, the top of each burger should level nicely.
Now that you have some useful tips let's find you a grill to use them on!
How We Judged the Best Portable Grill
In finding the best portable grill, we scrutinized customer reviews of some of the hottest products (see what we did there?) on the market to see what both experienced and inexperienced grillers had to say.
More often, customers can offer some of the best insights into how well a product will work for you. We found the ten best portable grills and listened to the thoughts of paying customers to determine which grill reigned supreme.
Meat the Grills
These 10 portable grills (listed in no particular order) represent some of the very best on the market today. You should note that all of these grills are gas-type grills and require additional equipment such as a propane tank to function.
You should always exercise extreme caution when dealing with propane. So be sure to follow all of the safety instructions provided with your grill to ensure a safe and fun grilling experience. In fact, here are just a few safety tips you should practice.
Our first challenger in the best portable grill contest is the Weber® Q 2200 Gas Grill. It features porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates and has an aluminum body and lid. This grill produces 12,000 BTU-per-hour, heating a 280 square-inch cooking surface. Other features include its easy-start electronic ignition and infinite control burner valve settings. This grill requires one AAA battery.
Customers loved the grilling performance of its heavy cast-iron cooking grates and said preheating was very fast. Additionally, they said it was easy to clean and had a fantastic grease-catching pan.
Nevertheless, other customers reported a few issues. One customer said the grill's lowest temperature was too hot for cooking, stating that he couldn't get it below 425 degrees. Meanwhile, another customer claimed the manufacturer did not honor their warranty.
Our second challenger in the best portable grill contest is the Coleman Roadtrip® LXE Propane Grill. This grill delivers 20,000 BTUs of heat throughout 285-square-inches of grilling area. It has swap top interchangeable cooktops that allow you to switch grill grates between griddle and stove grates (each sold separately).
Also, it has an instastart button that ignites the grill without the need for a match or lighter. Plus, two independently adjustable burners allow you precise control of two temperature zones. It also features a collapsible design and fits into most car trunks, making it easy to transport. Finally, the cast iron and porcelain-coated surfaces with removable grease tray make clean up a breeze.
Customers were delighted with the grill's compact design and portability. In the same fashion, they also said assembly was straightforward and grilled food wonderfully.
Conversely, a few customers were not as impressed. One customer said that it grilled a bit unevenly. Other customers complained about a flimsy lifting handle. Moreover, there were a few complaints about the difficulty of registering for the warranty.
Our third contestant in the best portable grill competition is the Solaire Anywhere Portable Infrared Grill. This portable infrared grill features an electronic push-button ignition and features welded stainless steel construction. In addition, the bottom rail is compatible with a wide variety of Solaire accessory mounts.
This grill offers 155-square-inches of grilling space and heats at 14,000 BTU/hour with a 61.1 Infrared Intensity Index. Included are V-shaped stainless steel grilling grids that increase flavor while reducing flare-ups.
According to customers, setup was straightforward—under 10 minutes in some cases—and the design was simple as well. One restaurant manager compared the grill quality to the ones his restaurants use to prepare their food.
Unfortunately, not everyone was pleased with this grill. Some customers complained that the grill did a poor job at cooking thicker meats like turkey legs. Equally important, other customers complained that it didn't work well on windy days or in cold weather. Other customers said it's hard to clean.
Our fourth contender in the best portable grill battle royale is the Coleman Roadtrip 225 Portable Propane Grill. This grill features two adjustable burners offering precise temperature control. Plus, it provides push-button ignition for matchless lighting. It has up to 11,000 BTUs of grilling power over a 225-square-inch grilling surface and includes a water pan for easy cleaning.
They loved the grill's portability, and it heats up very fast. As for performance, customers said the grill cooked food evenly in a short amount of time.
The only complaint was that the grill did not leave the traditional grill marks that are popular with most grillers. As far as complaints go, that's right up there with not liking the shade of red of the lid, so that's pretty good!
Our fifth prospect in the best portable grill horse race is the Blackstone 17” Tabletop Griddle with stainless steel front plate. This portable grill has an electric igniter and a built-in grease catcher. Its design makes it easy to store, as you can turn the griddle upside down after use to save space.
Not to mention, you can clean this grill with a paper towel (after it cools down, of course), making cleanup quick and simple. Additionally, it features a spacious 260-square-inch heavy-duty cooking surface that provides fast and even cooking with a 12,000 BTU heat output.
Customers raved over the grill's portability and easy cleanup. Furthermore, they also liked the spacious grilling surface and said it was perfect for grilling all types of meals.
Be that as it may, some customers said they experienced poor customer service when they reported their issues. Plus, a few mentioned the grill was hard to light and not as easy to clean as advertised.
Our sixth challenger in this best portable grill prize fight is the Smoke Hollow Model 205 Stainless Steel Tabletop Grill. The grill features 205-square-inches of stainless steel cooking surface and a 105-square-inch chrome-plated warming rack. It burns at 10,000 BTU via its stainless steel "U" burner. Plus, it has foldable stainless steel legs and a drip tray.
Customers praised the grill's heat output and durability. Additionally, they liked that it has a hot and cool (relatively speaking) end for grilling different things at different temperatures.
On the downside, customers said the drip pan was a joke, that it didn't catch grease well, and that this grill doesn't travel well. Besides that, many customers complained that the entire grill was cumbersome to carry.
Our seventh challenger in this best portable grill championship contest is the Blackstone Dash Portable Grill/Griddle for Outdoor Cooking. This grill features easy setup with its telescoping two-pronged back leg and its two sturdy quick-folding front legs.
Plus, this grill's portability allows you to easily carry it using the handle, or you can pull it along using the traveling wheels. Also, due to its design, you can reduce fat and clean grease easily using only a paper towel. It has a 240-square-inch dual cooking surface with a flat griddle that flips over into a ridged grill powered by a 7,000 BTU burner.
They mentioned that it heats up fast, is very portable, easy to clean, and cooks sublime meals.
On the other hand, there were some drawbacks. A customer noted that the grill lost heat reasonably quickly around the edges and took a long time to recover heat. Moreover, other customers said they experienced ignition issues, which can be a huge pain if you're standing there with a tray of meat ready to cook.
Our eighth challenger in this best portable grill showdown is the Cuisinart CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with VersaStand. This grill features a 160-square-inch grilling surface with a telescoping stand and pronounced briefcase-style carrying handle.
Its powerful 5,500 BTU stainless-steel burner and porcelain-enameled grate ensure even heating. Plus, the stand sets up and breaks down in seconds, and the integrated lid lock keeps it secure.
Most said they were pleased with the grill's compact size, portability, and overall cooking performance.
Some customers, on the other hand, complained that the grill's security lock broke easily and would stop getting hot after some use. Other customers complained about ignition issues and faulty parts.
Our ninth challenger in this best portable grill dance-off is the Napoleon TQ285-BL Portable Propane Grill. This grill features two burners that heat up to 12.000 BTUs over a 285-square-inch cooking surface.
And, it has dual stainless steel burners for both direct and indirect grilling. Plus, it features porcelainized cast iron wave cooking grids that deliver even and consistent heat. Its compact design offers quick and easy setup with a locking lid and handy fold away legs.
They praised the grill's storability, portability, and easy-to-clean design. By the same token, customers noted that the grill delivered surprisingly even grilling.
That said, other customers were not as happy with this grill. Some complained that the lid did not close or latch properly, and the paint on the top became discolored after use.
Our tenth and final contender in this best portable grill showdown is the Char-Broil Portable Grill2Go® X200 Gas Grill. This grill features durable die-cast aluminum construction, lid-mounted temperature gauge, push-button ignition, and the TRU-Infrared cooking system that guarantees no flare-ups while burning at 9,500 BTUs. Additionally, this grill has built-in legs and carry handles for maximum portability.
Customers loved the grill's fast preheating, convenient temperature regulation, efficient propane usage, and lightweight design. One customer mentioned that the grill handles woodchips very well and has no flare-ups.
Even so, some customers had problems with the grill burning their food because the lowest temperature was too high. Other customers complained that it was a nightmare to clean.
The Best Portable Grill: Who Burns Brightest?
The search for the best portable grill was indeed a heated contest between some very popular grilling machines. With this in mind, we carefully judged factors such as portability, design, cooking performance, and cleaning convenience, and found our champion: The Weber® Q 2200 Gas Grill.
This grill hit high marks in every category, and grillers overwhelmingly loved it. We hope this information will help you make a better-informed purchasing decision. With that, good luck and happy grilling!