Ever wish you could get your grill on outside of 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 maybe you need something handy for an emergency grilling situation.
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. The options run the gamut from lightweight grills that are ideal for camping dinners to larger models perfect for a tailgate. Of course, you'll want to decide on a fuel type and think about where exactly you will be toting the grill before making your purchase. In addition to our research, we tested a few top models in our own backyards to help you find the best portable grill.
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, and the Weber Q2200 Propane Gas Grill is our top choice for a portable option. We found this model easy to use, conveniently designed for cooking at a tailgate or camping, and worthy of everyday home grilling as well. During testing, we made great burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and veggies, all with no flare-ups,
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. Our tester was seriously impressed with the heat output. It comes with a push-button starter and removable catch pan, and it’s even compatible with the 1000-series Weber griddle. Two spacious tables provide extra space for prepping and serving, while the ergonomic side handles ensure easy transport. Since the grill has cast-iron grates, it is 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.
Price at time of publish: $329
Dimensions: 15.5 x 51.4 x 19.5 inches | Weight: 43.5 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: 280 square inches | Power: 12,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 2 years
Cuisinart CGG-180 Petite 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
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. If you don't want to shell out for our best overall option, this is a more affordable choice that also stood up to rigorous testing.
There’s so much to love about this lightweight, versatile portable gas grill. 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, from tofu to Brazilian-style steak skewers, with minimal sticking.
Price at time of publish: $145
Dimensions: 16.5 x 31.5 x 16 inches | Weight: 17 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: 145 square inches | Power: 5,500 BTU/hour | Warranty: 3 years
Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill and Smoker with Cart
Great for beginners
Precise temperature control
Time-consuming to put together
It’s less common for portable grills to use charcoal as fuel, but this one can deliver that distinctive flavor in an easy-to-transport format. The Masterbuilt’s cart folds flat and has an extendable handle so you can roll it around like a wheeled suitcase, and then when it’s set up in cooking position, it can lift and roll but also sits firmly. In testing, we found this unit especially stable and tough to knock over with light jostles and bumps.
The Masterbuilt is also set up to control temperature precisely thanks to a charcoal hopper that sits off to the side, next to a (battery- or outlet-powered) fan to blows hot air into the main cooking area. We were skeptical, but tests found it stayed within 10 degrees of the set temperature all the way from 250 to 500 degrees, where we were able to get nice char on both burgers and ears of corn.
The initial assembly for this grill is pretty time-consuming, though not all that difficult, and despite its mobile cart design, it is still quite heavy at over 50 pounds. It’s also on the pricier side for a portable grill, though in this case we say the quality and features are worth it.
Price at time of publish: $330
Dimensions: 36 x 45 x 19 inches | Weight: 52 pounds | Cooking Area: 200 square inches | Fuel: Charcoal | Warranty: 1 year
Hitchfire Forge 15 Grill
Incredibly sturdy and well-secured
Doubles as a tabletop grill
Two burners provide high cooking temperatures
Doesn't block trunk/tailgate access
Interferes with back-up sensors
Expensive compared to similarly sized grills
Whether you're an avid tailgater or off-roading enthusiast, the HitchFire Forge 15 is a worthwhile splurge for those who are always grilling on the go. This heavy-duty propane grill can be used on a table, but what makes it special is its included mount, which attaches to a 2-inch vehicle hitch. Once installed, you can drive, off-road, and cook with the grill mounted to the rear of your car. We were truly impressed at how secure the HitchFire felt when mounted to a truck, and it never budged on a 350-mile drive.
In terms of its cooking performance, the HitchFire runs on two small propane canisters, and it has two burners that can be controlled individually. There's 335 square inches of cooking space, as well as two spacious fold-out prep tables, and the grill arm can be locked at either 90 or 180 degrees, allowing you to access your trunk or tailgate as you're cooking. Plus, we found the grill easily reached high temperatures with both burners running, delivering plenty of heat for cooking all types of food, such as steaks, fish, and grilled fruit.
Price at time of publish: $549
Dimensions: 25 x 39 x 21 inches | Weight: 70 pounds | Fuel Type: Propane | Cooking Area: 335 square inches | Power: 15,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 2 years
Weber Q 1400 Electric Grill
Cast-iron cooking grates give great sear marks
Easy to remove drip pan for cleaning
Aluminum cookbox helps retain heat
Assembles in minutes
Outdoor use only
Difficult to see temperature controller in daylight
After testing this in our Lab and on an apartment patio, the Weber Q 1400 Electric Grill is one of the best tabletop electric grills around. The 189 square inches of cooking area is enough space for half-dozen burgers, with the cast aluminum lid and body retaining heat throughout your barbecue. When it's time to move the grill around, a large grip handle and ergonomic side handles make it easy. Inside, the 1560-watt heating element is design to cover the entire cooking space, so you'll experience even heat, and its temperature is adjusted via the infinite heat control settings.
During our tests, we discovered the Q 1400 performed better on zucchini strips and flank steak, leaving both with intense sear marks. This is because it's able to achieve reach over 600 degrees when left on high for a few minutes. We do recommend this more for those in smaller spaces. When it was time to clean up, the drip pan was incredibly easy to remove and wipe down. One downside was it was difficult to read the temperature controller in bright daytime light.
If you're looking for a larger electric grill, Weber also has the Q 2400, which boasts 280 square inches of cooking space for a slightly higher price.
Price at time of publish: $359
Dimensions: 14.5 x 27 x 16.5 inches | Weight: 28.5 pounds | Fuel Type: Electric | Cooking Area: 189 square inches | Power: 1560 watts | Warranty: 5 years (cookbox, lid assembly, burner tubes, cooking grates, plastic components), 2 year (all other parts)
Best for Tailgating
Weber Traveler Portable Gas Grill
Large cooking surface
Effective nonstick coating
Uneven heating, especially with lid open
Difficult to clean
With its built-in wheeled cart that easily folds flat to fit in your trunk or truck bed, the Weber Traveler is, well, made for travel. We were impressed with not only how easy it is to move around but also how simple this grill is to assemble and operate. The porcelain-coated cast-iron grill grate is quite non-stick, with even delicate fish filets releasing pretty easily.
Despite its portability, the Traveler has plenty of cooking space, with 320 square inches (enough for about 15 burgers at a time), plus a small prep table attached to the side. That whole grate has just a single burner to heat it up, but it was able to reach 660 degrees in testing, hot enough to get a good sear on larger pieces of meat. The built-in thermometer also surprised us with its accuracy. The unit is designed to use camping-style 1-pound propane tanks, but it does include an adapter hose to accommodate the standard 20-pound cylinders, too.
If you are planning to cook a larger item or for a longer period of time, just make sure to keep the lid closed as much as possible: The Traveler loses heat fairly quickly with the lid open, leading to uneven hot and cold spots. Cleaning is also kind of a pain, as you’re supposed to scrub the grate while it’s in place inside the grill as opposed to removing it. All in all, the high price of this grill might be worth it—if you’ll be taking it with you to sporting events or other celebrations frequently.
Price at time of publish: $419
Dimensions: 42.7 x 43.6 x 37.2 inches | Weight: 49 pounds | Cooking Area: 320 square inches | Fuel: Propane | Power: 13,000 BTU/hour
"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 don't be afraid to use enough charcoal to get a great sear." — Jess Pryles, grilling expert and author of "Hardcore Carnivore"
Best for Camping
Cuisinart Venture Portable Gas Grill
Effective nonstick grate
Small capacity and low power
Can only use 1-pound propane tanks
With its rectangular shape and easy-carry handle, the Cuisinart Venture looks a bit like an insulated cooler, but it does the exact opposite. Its base conceals storage for a propane tank, the wooden top becomes a cutting board/serving tray, and the middle section is the grill itself, with a 9,000-BTU burner and a 154-square-inch nonstick grate. It’s a small grill and doesn’t have a heck of a lot of power, but it’s also extremely compact and easy to carry down to the beach or toss into your backpack.
We got some impressive heat out of this grill in testing, with parts of the grate getting up to well over 600 degrees. There were no flare-ups while grilling fish or steak, which can be a serious problem with tiny grills like this one, and we had no trouble at all with either food sticking to the grate. A major problem, however, is that the grill doesn’t have a lid to hold in heat, which makes the grate quite uneven in temperature from one side to the other: When it hit 640 degrees on the right side, it was only at 490 degrees on the left. There’s also no adapter to use a propane tank larger than the 1-pound size, though if you’re taking it camping you probably won’t want to lug a full-size tank along with you anyway.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 13 x 16.3 x 10.8 inches | Weight: 20.6 pounds | Cooking Area: 154 square inches | Fuel: Propane | Power: 9,000 BTU/hour
Our top pick is the Weber Q 2200 Liquid Propane Grill because of its quick and even heating and easy assembly. Plus, its ergonomic design makes transporting it a breeze. If you like cooking with charcoal, the Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill and Smoker with Cart has everything you need and is easy to move.
How We Tested
We sent various portable grills to the homes of our expert reviewers in addition to testing in our Lab. Our Lab testers grilled, seared, baked, and smoked to thoroughly analyze the features and performance. Our home reviewers spent weeks assessing how these grills stood up to everyday cooking and cleaning. They were also able to offer additional insights to using these during typical weather conditions. The grills are all rated on heat control and retention, size, features, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
Other Options We Tested
- Traeger Ranger Portable Pellet Grill: We tested this compact pellet grill in our Lab, and it has some great aspects to it. It was very easy to assemble and it performed fantastically when it came to heat control and retention being one of the few to stay within 5 degrees of the preferred temperature. We even liked the included cast iron griddle. But, because the heat doesn't really have anywhere to go, the grill has a lot of hot spots to look out for. We also felt that the 8-pound hopper may be too big relative to the grill's size. Plus, it already weighs 60 pounds, meaning you'll always need a buddy (or two) to help you move it.
- NOMAD Grill & Smoker: This beefy briefcase opens up into a double-sided grill with a huge 425 square inches of cooking space. We love the look, and the magnetically secured cooking grates are an excellent feature. But in testing, it performed just okay, able to cook everything fully but not able to reach a very high temperature for searing. And with its astronomical price, it’s just not worth it.
What to Look for in a Portable Grill
When it comes to portable grilling, you need enough room to make enough food before your fuel runs out. For each person, make sure to allot about 72 inches of cooking space for each serving. On smaller grills where you might have to do two or three rounds of cooking, make sure you have enough fuel before you head out. A 1-pound propane canister will average about one to one-and-a-half hours of cooking.
Additionally, 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, but you'll have to factor in lighting the fire and any tools needed, plus waiting to deal with the cooled ashes after. Propane might take a special trip to the home improvement or camping store to get enough canisters, but it means lighting the grill at the touch of a button and not having to dispose of ashes post-barbecue. Electric grills don’t require you to make space for a heavy bag of charcoal or to have enough fuel on hand, but, depending on your final destination, it might be hard to find a working outlet when it's time to eat.
All portable grills will need some maintenance. You'll need to safely dispose of grease and wipe down the grill grates to avoid any mishaps (yes, dirty grills and grease traps can attract bears). Make sure to have the proper grill brush for your grates, since warm grates are easier to clean. If you’re going to be carrying your grill with you, take into account how easy it is to pack up. With special attention to whether you need to thoroughly clean it on the spot, 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, and the splurge-worthy HitchFire Forge 15. 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.
The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn updated this roundup. He’s been grilling since being put in charge of the hot dogs at a family party when he was probably 7 years old, and he’s been writing professionally about food and drinks for nearly two decades. He lives in Los Angeles, where it’s feasible to grill just about every day of the year.
The Spruce Eats Editor Siobhan Wallace compiled testing data from our official Lab as well as insights from our home testers' full product reviews to update this roundup.