Whenever you are traveling or on the go, grilling is an excellent and delicious way to cook your food no matter where you may be. Whether it is for a camping trip, a tailgate party, or a simple afternoon with family and friends at the park, the right portable grill can make all the difference in terms of the quality and taste of your food.
Other notable factors to consider when selecting a portable grill include portability (obviously), ease of use, ease of cleanup, fuel type, compactness, cooking power, and durability. All of the grills in this article meet our high standards for each of these points. Since natural gas is not a portable fuel option, all the gas grills in this list are fueled by propane, since needing to hook up your grill permanently to your building’s natural gas line would rather defeat the purpose of buying a grill for the purposes of portability.
We have also included the best portable kamado charcoal grill and even a highly portable wood pellet smoker grill, so that you can smoke your meat slow and low and achieve that smoky flavor even when you are away from home.
A Glance At Our Best Portable Grills of 2020
Here are our editors’ picks for the best portable grills to accompany you on your travels (or just to grill wherever you want). A comparison table is included below for ease of reference:
Lets Drill Down
Coleman is renowned for making durable, travel ready camping gear, and this Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill follows in that stalwart tradition. You might be a bit skeptical since Coleman is not known for grills in general, but when it comes to portable gear, it definitely knows what it is doing, and they produce a portable grill worthy of inclusion on any of your camping trips or tailgate parties.
The grilling surface area offered by the cooktop comes to a total of 285 square inches, which provides enough cooking space for a decently sized group. The cooktop consists of cast iron grilling grates which have been coated in porcelain for easy cleaning, for durability, for better heat retention, and for a more even transfer of heat. For more versatile cooking options, you can purchase a Swaptop griddle or stove cooktop grate and exchange it with the grill grate. The grease management system is easy to clean and easy to handle.
The three adjustable burners with their improved burner technology deliver up to 20,000 total BTUs of grilling power and offer more precise controls for temperature due to the three zones which may be independently adjusted. The temperatures offered by this grill range from 350 degrees F to 700 degrees F, providing more than enough portable grilling power to achieve the perfect sear on your meats.
The push button InstaStart ignition technology allows for easy, hassle free matchless fuel ignition and fast, convenient heating of the cooking surface to achieve the optimal temperature for your food. Also, the integrated thermometer design allows you to monitor the temperature of the grill more accurately and to make adjustments easily whenever you find it necessary to do so. The grill comes with sliding side tables, which make prepping, marinating, seasoning, and serving food a cinch and allow you to keep all your grilling implements handy at your fingertips.
Now that we have thoroughly covered the grilling power and other features of the Coleman RoadTrip, let’s talk about an essential aspect for this portable grill category: its portability. This Coleman is designed with portability in mind. It is engineered to fold up compactly to the size of a small suitcase and comes with a frame with two sturdy wheels and a handle so that you can wheel it around with ease.
When unfolded, the frame doubles as the stand for the grill with the handlebar as one set of legs—yet another ingenious portable design feature by Coleman. You can store the Coleman RoadTrip upright in small, enclosed spaces (such as your car or your garage) so that it can go anywhere with you or be safely tucked away until your next grilling session.
The Coleman RoadTrip is fueled by a one pound (16.4 oz) propane cylinder which will need to be purchased separately and which is as compact as the rest of the grill setup. With the Coleman RoadTrip portable grill, this venerated camping company delivers the quality, portability, cooking power, durability, and performance we have come to expect of Coleman gear.
The next entry on the list should not surprise anyone in the least. Weber is, as we all know by now, the brand to beat when it comes to grills in general, so it stands to reason that a Weber grill should make the list of best portable grills. In this case, the winning entry from Weber is the Weber 51010001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill.
This small, highly portable Weber grill packs a powerful grilling punch in a small and compact package. Its stainless steel burner tube is constructed from a single piece of steel without the use of any welding whatsoever, making it more durable and more resistant to burn through and to rust. The burner tube can be easily cleaned by gentle brushing using a Weber stainless steel grill brush. The burner delivers 8500 BTUs per hour in order to provide enough heat to the 189 square inch total cooking surface area.
The cookbox holds the parts of the grilling system: the cooking grates, the grease management system, as well as the burner tube. The cooking area consists of cast iron cooking grates which have been enameled with porcelain for maximum durability, heat retention, even heat transfer and heat distribution, and ease of cleaning. Also, the entire setup can be easily ignited using the easy start electronic ignition and the infinite control burner valve settings, allowing for effortless, matchless, and hassle free ignition of fuel.
The cookbox itself is constructed from cast aluminum, making it durable, low maintenance, and efficient while requiring as minimal an amount of care as possible. Due to the construction, the cookbox is well able to withstand the high temperatures needed for grilling. The shape of the cookbox (together with its shroud) enables heat to circulate properly around your food to provide you with an even cooking experience whether you are using indirect or direct heat. Even the opening of the shroud exudes Weber quality through the smooth, premium feel of its opening and hinges.
The grease management system is composed of a catch pan as well as an angled grease tray. The grease tray is positioned a safe distance from the burner tube underneath the cookbox to keep the grease from catching on fire. The grease tray channels grease down into the catch pan, and both the catch pan and the grease tray can be easily cleaned. The lid includes an integrated temperature gauge, so that you can easily monitor the temperature of your cooking surface and make fine precision adjustments accordingly. The side tables, which can be folded down, offer extra workspace for all your grilling needs.
It’s no surprise that the grilling achieved by this Weber grill is of an exceptionally high standard (that which we have come to expect of all Weber grills), so the real question then lies in its portability. And it is indeed highly portable. With the lid of the grill closed and the tables folded out, the entire grill measures a mere 15.5 inches H x 40.9 inches W x 16.5 inches D. No assembly is required, and it can be used straight out of the box. The grill is fueled by a disposable liquid propane cylinder which is either 14.1 oz or 16.4 oz and which must be purchased separately.
The grill is supported and slightly elevated from the ground by a glass reinforced nylon frame. With the tables folded in, the entire grill is no larger than a backpack, making it the perfect accessory for everything from tailgate parties to camping trips to backyard grilling sessions. The grill can be placed on a tabletop, a truck bed, or a countertop to elevate it for easier access, or you can purchase an additional portable cart to elevate the grill further.
Weber proves itself again with another premium, high quality entry in the world of grills, this time making the list of best portable grills. You won’t go wrong with a Weber.
This Ranger Grill from Traeger Grills is rather unique, in that it uses wood pellets as fuel (instead of charcoal or propane gas). But the fact that it is fueled by wood pellets allows it to double as a meat smoker, which makes it the most compact, most portable smoker we have ever encountered. The Ranger Grill and smoker allows you to take wood-fired, smoky flavor with you wherever you may choose to go.
The Ranger Grill features the Digital Arc controller technology by Traeger, which provides you with precise and finely tuned temperature controls as well as an additional Keep Warm mode to ensure that your food stays ready to eat. The Digital Arc controller also enables you to adjust the temperature in increments of 5 degrees. The grill features advanced grilling logic to offer you precise temperature performance, and the meat probe enables you to check the temperature of your food without needing to lift the lid and potentially slow down the grilling process.
Also, to further aid you in the cooking process, the grill features a cook timer which will let you know when it is time to check on your food or to add sauce. The cooking surface is 184 square inches in total and consists of porcelain enameled grilling grates which are easy to clean and durable.
The cooking surface area can handle 1 rack of ribs, 6 burgers at a time, or 10 hot dogs at a time. A cast iron griddle is included so you can easily cook an egg for breakfast or achieve the ideal sear on that steak. The 8 pound hopper for the wood pellets is able to handle plenty of cooking time. The grill itself achieves a maximum temperature of 450 degrees F, which is just enough to achieve a perfect sear on most meats.
The lid is baffled and features latches so that you can easily, safely, and securely transport your grill wherever you want it to go. However, please note that the weight of the grill is 60 pounds, so you may need another person to help you lift it and transport it to the place where you are going to set it up and start cooking. And let’s not forget about the smoking feature! This allows you to smoke your meat at low and slow temperatures with the wood flavoring of your choice, so you can enjoy smoked wood-fired meat no matter where you are.
All things considered, the Ranger Pellet Grill from Traeger provides an exceedingly durable option for grilling and smoking your meat on the go. However, although the grill is compact in size, it is rather heavy, so it may not be the best option for you if you frequently travel and intend to grill alone and are worried about straining your back muscles. But if you are well able to lift 60 pounds and you savor the idea of a portable meat smoker, this may be the grill for you.
This tabletop propane gas grill from Cuisinart is just about as petite as a portable grill can get. It is so small, portable, and lightweight that the word “Petit” is a part of its name.
The entire grill measures a mere 18.5 inches x 16 inches x 11.5 inches even when standing on its legs with the lid closed, and even the lid’s being open extends the height only to a grand total of 25 inches. And when folded up for maximum portability, the whole thing measures a total of 18.5 inches x 12.2 inches x 12 inches, making it about as large as some laptop bags or briefcases. The grill weighs in at a whopping total of 17 pounds.
The stand with its durable folding legs is able to be set up or packed away in a matter of seconds, and the lid lock is integrated into the grill for secure transport. The grill also features a prominent briefcase style handle so that you can, indeed, carry it just like a briefcase (it’s no larger than a briefcase, after all).
The Cuisinart Petit grill is by far the smallest, most compact, most lightweight, and most portable grill on our list of portable grills. But now the question is: how does it perform in terms of cooking and grilling power? Let’s take a closer look at the specs.
Amazingly, this tiny grill packs a huge wallop when it comes to grilling performance. It features a cooking area of 145 square inches, which is enough space to cook most meals for your family (8 hamburgers, 8 steaks, 4 pounds of fish, or 6 to 10 chicken breasts). This surprisingly spacious cooking surface is provided by a porcelain enameled cooking grate which lends it durability and superior heat retention, as well as excellent and even heat transfer.
The cooking power comes from a burner that delivers 5,500 BTUs and which ignites through a simple twist to start ignition system. A precision temperature gauge offers you the ultimate control over the cooking temperature. The fact that the cooking surface is so close to the heat due to the small size of the grill actually adds to its cooking efficiency. The cooking grate is removable and easy to clean, and the drip tray for grease management is spill resistant and easy to clean as well.
Basically, this is a perfect little grill that packs an astonishing amount of cooking power and can be easily transported to just about anywhere, whether it be the beach, a camping trip, a tailgate party, or your friend’s balcony. Its incredibly compact size and light weight make it perfect for small spaces.
Our list would simply not be complete without a charcoal kamado grill. The word “kamado” is the Japanese word for “cooking range” or for “stove,” and a movable kamado, or a “mushikamado,” is the portable barbecue style grill which has come to be known in the United States as a kamado grill. Kamado grills are oftentimes made out of ceramic or other highly insulating materials and thus offer superior heat retention and insulation, making them much more fuel efficient than other types of grills. Kamado grills are famous for generally having the appearance of an egg.
You can take one of these kamado eggs with you basically everywhere for superior grilling performance and premium taste. The only downside of a kamado grill is that on average, it tends to be pricier than a traditional charcoal or gas grill with a similar feature set. Luckily, this is not always the case, and this Akorn Jr charcoal kamado grill from Char-Griller offers kamado cooking performance at a budget price. It may not possess all of the same features of pricier grill options, but it does the trick in terms of grilling quality and performance.
The Char-Griller Akorn Jr (named thus because it has the shape and appearance of an acorn) allows you to achieve perfect sear on all of your foods by easily maintaining any temperature between 200 and 700 degrees F. The temperature can be so maintained because of the superior heat retention and insulation provided by the triple wall 22 gauge steel design for easy heat control and circulation. The inside of the Akorn Jr. is steel coated with porcelain, and the exterior finish of the kamado grill consists of powder coated steel. The lid of the grill features an integrated temperature gauge so you can easily keep track of and adjust your cooking temperature.
Most importantly, the Akorn Jr. features a decently sized circular cooking surface area of 153 square inches, with a diameter of 14 inches. The ash pan collects the ash and debris for easy cleanup and dumping. The lid features an adjustable top damper to maintain air flow as well as heat control, and the bottom damper allows for further precision control of air flow and temperature control. The wide range of maintainable temperatures for the Akorn Jr allows you to do everything from a slow, low temperature smoke to a high heat sear.
The Akorn Jr. is reasonably portable, weighing in at 37 pounds and measuring 21 inches in width and 25 inches in height. With its two durable metal handles, you can take this Akorn Jr. pretty much anywhere for superior, versatile cooking options. And it’s extremely affordable to boot! All in all, the Akorn Jr. constitutes a solid choice for a portable grill, offering portability, durability, and fuel efficiency without sacrificing on performance and cooking quality and versatility in the least.
Any of these portable grills would make a fine addition to your portable grilling arsenal, but a particular grill may suit you more than the others. The Coleman is designed for camping and is engineered accordingly. The Weber offers time-tested grilling performance and quality in a small, convenient package. The Traeger wood pellet grill is a bit less portable due to its weight but offers the intriguing option of being able to smoke your meat low and slow on the go.
The Cuisinart offers maximum portability while still delivering on grilling performance. And the Char-Griller kamado offers perhaps the best grilling quality, fuel efficiency, and performance out of all of these in a relatively portable and affordable package. No matter what you choose, you are sure to enjoy the delights of the great outdoors much more with your portable grill in tow. Infrared grills are also a good alternative! So choose one and get out there!