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Before you pack up for your next trip into the great outdoors, you definitely want to make sure you’ve got a portable grill that can handle the elements and help you churn out a delicious, camping-friendly meal. Whether you’re car or RV camping, tailgating, or backpacking, you want a lightweight, space-efficient, and easily transportable grill to bring along for easy cooking.
The fuel type, size, and portability features of the grill will help determine which model is right for you and your lifestyle. Remember, camping grills are not the same as camping stoves. Camping stoves are propane burners, whereas camping grills are still a means to cook over an open fire.
Here, the best grills for camping.
Best Overall: Coleman 225 Portable Tabletop Propane Grill
Comes with grates, griddle, and stove grates
Easy to transport
This portable tabletop grill comes ready to use right out of the box with no assembly necessary. The easy knob ignition allows for a quick flame and a temperature that’s easy to control (there are two heat zones). The grill is also equipped with cast iron grates, a griddle, and stove grates if you want to swap out your surfaces depending on what you’re cooking. With 225 square inches of cooking space, you’ve got plenty of room to whip up a hearty meal for four or more people.
The grease management system also makes it super safe and easy to clean up. Reviewers love how easy it is to maintain and clean as well as the durable cast iron grates.
Dimensions: 21.1 x 18.31 x 16.8 inches | Weight: 30 pounds | Fuel type: Propane
Best Propane: Weber Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
No assembly required
Porcelain-enameled cast iron grates are durable
Folding side tables
With a wide range of color options, this grill not only looks good, but it can churn out some seriously delicious food on the go. The cooking grates are made of porcelain-enameled cast iron and the lid and body are made of cast aluminum for highly durable construction. No need to worry about assembling the grill because it comes assembled right out of the box.
It also boasts a handful of convenient design features such as a built-in lid thermometer, folding side tables, a glass-reinforced nylon frame, and a removable drip pan for easy, effortless cleanup. There are 189 square inches of available cooking space, which makes this a great middle-of-the-road size for camping trips. Designed for tabletop use, you’ll love this grill for camping trips, picnics, and tailgating. Keep in mind, though, that it's not the lightest portable grill you'll find at around 30 pounds—you won't want to trek too far with it.
Dimensions: 24.6 x 20.5 x 40.9 inches | Weight: 31 pounds | Fuel type: Propane
Best Value: Cuisinart CCG190 14-Inch Portable Charcoal Grill
Food is smoky and flavorful
Lightweight and small
Takes a while to heat up
Not a ton of cooking surface
This ultra-lightweight charcoal grill is a great option for someone who’s not looking to break the bank on their camping grill. At just 2 pounds, this grill is super lightweight making it a great option for transporting. With 150 square inches of cooking space, you still have plenty of room to create a delicious meal for two to four people. The short legs make it easy to pack and fit into tiny spaces. The dual vents on the lid allow you to cook low and slow or crank out high heat for searing burgers, steaks, and veggies.
Charcoal requires more time to light than a propane ignition, but the food will be much more flavorful and smokier than what you cook over a propane grill. Reviewers note that this grill is not as durable and tough as other models, so if you’re looking for a camping grill to last you for years and years of outdoor cooking, you may want to invest in something of higher quality.
Dimensions: 14.5 x 14.5 x 15 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Fuel type: Charcoal
Best Charcoal: Weber 18-Inch Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
Compact and lightweight
Takes a long time to heat up
Outside is prone to chipping and rusting
Weber is the most trusted name in grilling and this ultra-lightweight and portable charcoal grill is a perfect example. Less than 20 pounds, this grill offers enough cooking space for eight burgers at once. The convenient carrying handle makes this the perfect toy for your next camping trip, beach day, picnic, or tailgate. The aluminum ash catcher also makes for a great design feature to make cleanup simple and easy. Reviewers love the size of this grill—it’s compact enough to take outside and on trips, but also large enough that you can cook for plenty of people without the need to work in several batches.
Dimensions: 19.75 x 20.5 x 19.75 inches | Weight: 18 pounds | Fuel type: Charcoal
Best Splurge: Napoleon TQ285XBL1 Propane Gas Grill
Easy to cart on wheels
No assembly required
Easy and quick to ignite
With 285 square inches of cooking space, this transportable, stand-up grill is great for a crowd, and the grill is high-powered enough to churn out tons of heavily seared foods. At just 40 pounds, this grill still has a huge output of power. Because of its larger size and heavier weight, this camping grill is ideal for RVs, tailgating, or backyard cooking. Dual burners allow for two zone cooking and starting up the grill is super easy with a 10-second, flame-throwing ignition. Reviewers love how well the paint on the outside has stayed intact through the elements and heavy use, as well as the fact the grill requires no assembly.
Dimensions: 20.25 x 44.25 x 38.75 inches | Weight: 43 pounds | Fuel type: Propane
Best Grill with Smoker: Traeger Ranger Wood Pellet Grill
Can double as a smoker
Includes meat probe and keep warm setting
Precise temperature increment settings
This portable grill and smoker is no joke. If you want to bring delicious, tender, juicy smoked meats to your next BBQ, picnic, or tailgate, this 84-square inch grill is going to be your best bet. The wood-fired flavor on-the-go is not your everyday camping meal, so this grill really is in a league of its own. You are able to control the internal temperature of the grill easily, as accurate as 5-degree temperature increments, anywhere from 165 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind that you will need access to an outlet because a plug-in is required—so this is best suited for RV camping. The grill holds about 8 pounds of pellets and 1 pound will get you through 1 hour of cooking. Reviewers love having the option to cook low and slow with classic, wood-fired flavor. Despite its dual usages, this grill is on the heavier and bulkier side, and it’s rather expensive. If you are prioritizing the option to smoke foods and highly specific temperatures, this grill might be worth the investment for you.
Dimensions: 21 x 20 x 13 inches | Weight: 60 pounds | Fuel type: Pellets/Electric
Best Barrel: Char-Griller 22424 Side Fire Box
Cast iron grates are durable
Can also smoke food
Once turned a smoker, it can’t go back to grilling
Heavy and bulky
This sturdy, heavy steel barrel grill is just as functional as it is stylish. The cast iron grates distribute heat evenly and the large volume of the barrel is great for lighting a ton of charcoal for smoky, flavorful food. With 250 square inches of cooking area, this grill has plenty of space for burgers and veggies for a larger party of people.
Because of its large size and heavy weight, this isn’t the best option for some camping adventures, but it’s a great grill for stationary cooking or tailgating. The convenient ash pan also makes for simple, easy cleanup when you’re done grilling or smoking.
It can also be attached as a side firebox to Char-Griller Barrel Charcoal Grills, which makes for a fun addition to add smoked meats to your menu. Just note that once you attach it this way, you can not turn it back into a tabletop grill.
Dimensions: 18.5 x 16 x 17 inches | Weight: 40 pounds | Fuel type: Charcoal
The Coleman 225 Portable Tabletop Propane Grill (view at Amazon) is an all-around good choice for a tabletop grill that's perfect for camping, tailgating, and more. Looking for the great smoky flavor that comes from charcoal grilling? You can't go wrong with the Weber Joe Jumbo Charcoal Grill (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Camping Grill
It is most common to use a propane-fueled grill for camping, though there are plenty of charcoal grills out there, as well. Always make sure that if you’re going to be using a propane grill to pack a propane canister or tank (you’ll need an adaptor hose for the tank). If you opt for charcoal, this may require a bit more hands-on work to get the flame going because it’s not as intuitive as pressing a button and igniting propane. That said, foods that are cooked over charcoal are generally tastier, smokier, and much more flavorful. If you are cooking with charcoal or pellets always make sure to pack those along with your grill.
The size of your grill is a huge factor to take into consideration. The larger the grill, the more surface area you’ll have for cooking, which is ideal if you’re typically cooking for four or more people. That said, as the grill gets larger, the heavier it becomes and the bulkier it is. You still want a lightweight, compact grill that’s highly portable and easy to transport.
Understanding what the grates are made out of is something to note when you’re looking for a new camping grill. If the grates have a nonstick coating, this is going to make cleanup much easier, which is definitely an added bonus because no one wants to spend all of their time in the great outdoors scrubbing a grill grate. Stainless steel is another option that is sturdy and simple to clean, plus it's rust-resistant. Top-of-the-line portable grills sometimes feature porcelain-enameled or cast iron grates, which are as durable as they come, and they’re known for retaining heat and distributing heat evenly.
If this is a grill that you’re going to be packing up in your car or RV time and time again, then you want to make sure that it fits your storage needs and is easy to pack up and carry. Folding legs, built-in handles, or wheels can make the process of transporting a camping grill way easier. The heavier the grill, the more difficult it will be to transport, so always opt for something lightweight if you can.
There are a handful of added features and design components that can set camping grills apart from one another. Grills with drip trays to catch the cooking fat and food debris are always ideal because it makes them much easier to clean. Folding shelves on the sides of the grill can add extra prep space without taking up too much room when the shelves are folded down. Some grills, tabletop or not, have adjustable legs that allow you to control how high the grill is positioned, making for convenient and comfortable cooking. Thermometers and built-in ignition are always ideal design features that allow you to have full control over temperature settings and maintaining your heat.
Can you grill on a camping stove?
Using a camp stove is different that open fire, charcoal grilling. Most camp stoves have circular gas burners, which means they are fueled by propane. You can certainly cook over this open flame, but it’s not the same as having a grill grate set over an open flame. There are some camping stoves that come with a grill/griddle options, so if grilling in your camping stove is a priority, then make sure that the model you buy has this capability.
Is camping gas the same thing as propane?
Different areas and retailers have different ways to label certain gases, which can make differentiating these products somewhat confusing. Camping gas and propane are both parts of the “LPG” family of gases. LPG, which stands for liquefied petroleum gases, includes propane, butane, isobutane, or any combinations of the three. When you buy “propane," you’re buying solely propane, but camping gas can be a mix of the three.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef in addition to a grilling and outdoor cooking enthusiast. With many weekends of outdoor cooking experience, she is no stranger to charcoal, propane, and wood-pellet-fired grills. After researching gas grills, charcoal grills, budget grills, and portable grills, she can help you find the best outdoor cooking setup for your home or next adventure. As an avid camper and lover of the outdoors, she knows exactly what makes a grill suited for your next big trip.