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Ever wish you could get your grill on beyond your backyard? Maybe you want to enjoy grilled meats or vegetables on your next camping trip or picnic, or you're looking for that smoky flavor on your burgers at the next tailgate party. Or perhaps you live in the city and all you've got is a balcony or a small kitchen.
It would be difficult to get a full-size grill to work comfortably in these scenarios, but luckily, there are plenty of portable electric, charcoal, and gas grills available on the market depending on your needs or living environment. You'll want to decide on a fuel type and think about where exactly you will be toting the grill before making your purchase.
From lightweight grills that are ideal for camping to larger models perfect for a tailgate, we list our picks for the best portable grills to help you decide.
Best Overall: Weber Q 2200 Gas Grill
Extremely easy to set up and operate
Spacious cooking area
Heavy-duty porcelain-enameled cast iron grates
Large folding side tables
Somewhat heavy for a portable grill
Problems with catch pan
Gas grills are extremely convenient, as they’re easy to start, heat up quickly, and hold a steady temperature. If you’re willing to spend a little more on a portable grill, you won’t be disappointed in the Weber Q2200 Propane Gas Grill, which is easy to use and features a large cooking grate and unbeatable heat output.
This propane grill has a 280-square-inch porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grate and delivers 12,000 BTUs of heat per hour when connected to a 14.1-ounce or 16.4-ounce liquid propane cylinder. It comes with a push-button starter and removable catch pan, and it’s even compatible with the 1000-series Weber griddle (sold separately). Two spacious tables provide extra space for prepping and serving, while the ergonomic side handles ensure easy transport. Because the grill has cast iron grates, our tester did think it was a bit heavy, weighing over 43 pounds, but it's a small sacrifice if you want a grill that's extremely reliable and simple to operate.
If you're looking for a similar gas grill that's more compact, the Weber Q 1000 offers 189 square inches of cooking space and 8,500 BTU output. Plus, it's quite a bit lighter than the 2200, weighing just 27.5 pounds.
Dimensions: 15.5 x 51.4 x 19.5 inches | Weight: 43.5 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: 280 square inches
"I was really impressed at the heat put out by the grill’s 12,000 BTU burner." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Gas Grill With VersaStand
Decent size surface area
Transitions from tabletop to ground use
Nice grill lines
A little wobbly
No temperature gauge
Lid kept latching
There’s so much to love about this lightweight, versatile portable gas grill. The Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill stands out from the crowd thanks to its unique design, which converts from a freestanding model into a tabletop model in seconds. The compact design is easy to bring to a sporting event or out camping, yet the porcelain-enameled cooking grate can still fit up to eight burgers at a time.
This Cuisinart grill features a 5,500-BTU burner, a twist-start electric ignition, and a temperature gauge. The grate gives you 145 square inches of cooking space, accommodating four to six people at once. What makes this grill special is that the telescoping VersaStand holds the grill at ideal cooking height, yet shrinks down for easy transport and storage. Our tester did find the grill was a bit wobbly at its full height, but it put great sear marks on a variety of food with minimal sticking.
Dimensions: 16.5 x 31.5 x 16 inches | Weight: 17 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: 145 square inches
"The burgers and chicken thighs had beautiful grill lines, and the veggies were perfectly charred on the outside. Thanks to the porcelain-coated grill grates, the food came right off without any sticking (and minimal to no oiling)." — Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester
Best for Tailgating: Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
Three burners deliver 20,000 BTU per hour
Folding design with wheels
Durable cast iron grates
Lid lock is flimsy
Poorly designed water tray
Get excited for the big game with the Coleman RoadTrip Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill. This model has a number of features that make it ideal for tailgating, such as its quick-fold legs, rugged wheels, and swappable cooktops. It has a large grilling area of 285 square inches, and it delivers up to 20,000 BTUs when connected to a 16.4-ounce propane cylinder (not included).
This grill will become a staple at sporting events thanks to its sliding side tables, three precise temperature zones, and improved burner technology. Its legs fold up quickly for fast storage, and you can wheel it behind you for easy transport. The grill has a push-button ignition, and if desired, you can purchase separate griddles and stove grates to swap in, letting you cook all sorts of essential tailgating recipes with ease.
Dimensions: 30.2 x 19.2 x 16.1 inches | Weight: 46.6 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: 285 square inches
"Don't overcrowd when cooking on a portable grill! That can be tricky, but you'll ultimately be cooking for longer as your food fights for space. You're better off searing or grilling in batches to get the best flavor results, and dont be afraid to use enough charcoal to get a great sear." –Jess Pryles, grilling expert and author of "Hardcore Carnivore"
Best Charcoal: Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Charcoal Grill
Can be assembled in less than 15 minutes
No side handles
Not much airflow with cover on
Charcoal grills give food a distinct smoky flavor that so many people love, which is why the Weber Smokey Joe Portable Grill is such a popular product. This compact grill is basically a miniature version of Weber’s cult-favorite charcoal grill, and it’s the perfect cooking device to take on the road with you.
The Smokey Joe Portable Charcoal Grill is 14 inches wide and has 147 square inches of grilling surface on its steel grate. There are four vents to regulate airflow, as well as an aluminum ash catcher down below. This portable grill comes with a 10-year warranty, and it's the clear choice for anyone who loves Weber's full-size kettle grill.
Want more cooking space? Upgrade to the Weber Jumbo Joe, which offers a similar design with 240 square inches of cooking area that can fit around nine burgers at a time.
Dimensions: 17 x 14.2 x 14.5 inches | Weight: 9.5 pounds | Fuel Type: Charcoal | Cooking Area: 147 square inches
Best Electric: Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill
Large cooking area
Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates
6-foot power cord
No lid thermometer
If you have access to an electrical outlet, you can also opt for an electric grill, like the Weber Q 2400 Portable Grill. This grill offers 280 square inches of cooking space and a 6-foot grounded cord, letting you cook for a crowd wherever you go.
This electric grill features porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates, as well as a cast aluminum lid and body. You can adjust the temperature via the infinite heat control settings, and the unit is easy to move around thanks to its ergonomic side handles.
Dimensions: 14.5 x 31.5 x 19.5 inches | Weight: 41 pounds | Fuel Type: Electric | Cooking Area: 280 square inches
Best Pellet Grill: Country Smokers 18" Wood Pellet Grill
Large cooking area with removable upper rack
Easy to control via digital dial
Delicious flavor from wood pellets
Heavy for a portable grill
Small sear area
For those who love the taste of wood pellet grilled and smoked food, the Frontier Series Traveler Country Smokers Wood Pellet Grill is a must-have. The portable model works as both a grill and smoker, and it can hold up to 5 pounds of wood pellets in its built-in hopper. The grill features 256 square inches of cooking surface, and it can be used to bake, seat, roast, braise, grill, and smoke all sorts of foods on the go.
The wood pellet grill can get up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and in addition to its main grilling area, it also has a removable upper rack. You can control the grill via its digital dial, and while the model is compact, keep in mind it weighs a substantial 42 pounds.
Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.5 x 13.6 inches | Weight: 42 pounds | Fuel Type: Wood pellets | Cooking Area: 256 square inches
Best for Camping: Coleman Gas Camping Stove
Affordable and basic
Two burners deliver up to 20,000 BTU
Built-in wind panels
Control knobs can be sticky
Recessed handle is hard to carry
What’s better than whipping up dinner in the great outdoors? You can easily grill up your favorite foods while camping using the Coleman Gas Camping Stove, which has a number of useful features. This grill runs on 16.4-ounce propane cylinders (not included), and it has two adjustable burners that let you cook two dishes at once.
This grill delivers cooking power up to 20,000 BTU, and it has a pressure-regulator for consistent performance, even in extreme conditions. It also has built-in wind panels to keep your flame going on blustery days.
Dimensions: 22.5 x 14.5 x 5 inches | Weight: 11.9 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: Not listed
What to Look for in a Portable Grill
Yes, these grills are all portable, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all fit your transportation needs. If you’ll be tossing the grill in the back of a pickup truck, any of these models will work. But if you’ve got a conventional car, make sure the grill will fit your trunk’s unique size and shape.
Each fuel type has its advantages and disadvantages. You can probably find charcoal en route to your destination, while propane might take slightly longer to locate. Electric grills don’t require you to make space for a heavy bag of charcoal, but you’re not likely to find an electric outlet at the beach.
If you’re going to be carrying your grill with you in the trunk of your car, how easy is it to pack it up when you’re done? Will you need to clean it thoroughly, or can you close it up and contain the mess until you get home?
How do you attach a propane tank to a portable grill?
Most portable grills are designed to be used with small 14- or 16-ounce propane tanks, which simply screw onto the side or bottom of the grill. However, if you're planning to cook frequently with your grill, it might be beneficial to purchase an adapter hose, which will allow you to use a larger 20-pound propane tank with your portable grill.
Can you boil water on a portable grill?
You can boil water on any type of grill as long as you have a pot or kettle with no wooden or plastic parts. Simply place the water over the grill's burner and turn it on high—if you're able to shut the grill's lid over it, you'll be able to speed up the process. If you can't shut the lid, it will take significantly longer, but the water will eventually reach its boiling point.
What grills are best for the beach?
If you're planning a beach BBQ, there are a few factors you'll want to consider when choosing a grill. First, it will be difficult to wheel or drag a grill through sand, so opt for a compact model that's light enough to carry. A grill with telescoping legs is ideal in this situation, but if you have a tabletop grill, consider whether there will be a picnic table or other suitable surface to place it on. Finally, the beach is often windy, so you may want to look for a grill that has a wind guard—otherwise, the grill may struggle to maintain its temperature.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats who's an expert on all things grilling. She's personally tested several grills and smokers, including our top pick for a portable grill, the Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill. While researching portable grills for this article, she spoke with Jess Pryles, grilling expert and author of "Hardcore Carnivore" for tips on grilling on the go.