Bigger isn't always better when it comes to your grill. Whether you only have a tiny amount of outdoor space or just don't grill that often, there are plenty of reasons you might prefer a grill that's on the smaller side. Most small grills are 400 square inches or less, with, at most, three burners, and the good news is that you can find one that performs just as well as its full-size counterparts.
As you shop for a small grill, you'll want to think about whether you prefer a tabletop or freestanding unit, the type of grill you prefer, and if you want it to be portable. You may also want to look at how much cooking space the grill offers, as this can impact your ability to cook for a crowd.
With those factors in mind, here are the best small grills that deliver big flavor.
Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
Classic, compact design
Assembly and cleanup is a breeze
A learning curve with charcoal
Wheels are small
The classic Weber charcoal kettle grill is still one of the best, and easiest to use, grills around. While the look is similar, Weber's made some great improvements, so this isn't exactly like the grill you had growing up. Most importantly, the cooking space of 363 square inches means that you'll have more than enough space for a dozen burgers or a package of hot dogs.
After an effortless assembly, loading the charcoal and getting it lit is incredibly easy due to the hinged plated-steel cooking grate. Then comes to the two biggest challenges to charcoal grilling: fire management and keeping a stable temperature. Weber's added great design features to deal with both. There's now a built-in thermometer so you can gauge the internal heat. To manage that heat, you can easily adjust the rust-resistant top damper without lifting the lid.
Our home expert thoroughly enjoyed grilling on the Weber 22-Inch, from getting it nice and hot using a charcoal chimney to the final clean up. There, too, is another much-needed improvement. The bowl-like bottom ash catcher actually collects the debris, and makes it super simple to placed the cooled ash in the garbage without making a mess.
Price at time of publish: $229
Dimensions: 27 x 22.5 x 39.5 inches | Cooking Area: 363 square inches | Type: Charcoal | Warranty: 10 years (bowl and lid); 5 years (cleaning system and plastic components); 2 years (everything else)
"Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial, and the Weber does this better than any other in its price range." — Nicholas McClelland, Product Tester
George Foreman GGR50B Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
Large enough to cook for a crowd
Cooking surface can reach up to 500 degrees
Nonstick grill plate is easy to clean
Heat control can get spattered with grease
Base could be more stable
Best known for its line of countertop contact grills, George Foreman also manufactures other grills, such as this innovative electric pedestal model that can be used to grill indoors and outdoors. This provides you with 240 square inches of cooking space on its nonstick grates, and the temperature control gives you a choice of five settings.
Our home tester found that this did a nice job with basics, such as burgers and sausages, producing excellent grill marks. It also did surprisingly well cooking a frozen pizza, turning out a crisp bottom crust and properly melted cheesy surface. In our Lab, we found that the highest setting yielded a 500-degree cooking surface, enough to give a great sear on flank steak, chicken breasts, and zucchini strips. We did observe a lot of smoke, so be sure to open a window if using this inside.
With juicy foods, the fat and drippings drained through the strategically placed holes in the grill surface and landed in the drip tray. A downside from our home expert was that some grease spattered out the sides during high-heat cooking, which made the control dial a little greasy and required a little extra countertop cleaning. IN the Lab, we wished the base was a bit more stable—we don't recommend leaving this outside during a windy day.
Price at time of publish: $139
Dimensions: 22 x 18 x 35 inches | Cooking Area: 240 square inches | Fuel Type: Electric | Power: 1600 watts | Warranty: 3 years
"This grill does a fine job with basics like burgers and sausages, producing nice grill marks. It also did a surprisingly good job cooking a frozen pizza." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Weber Q 1400 Electric Grill
Durable and easy to transport
Cast iron cooking grates help retain heat
Doesn't display temperature
Long preheat time
While cooking over a fire can certainly be appealing, using an electric grill has many benefits. For one thing, there’s no need for charcoal or gas tanks that need to be replaced, and you don't have to worry about live fire. Plus, if you purchase a small electric grill like this one, you can take it on the road and use it on vacation—or really anywhere you have electricity. You just really shouldn't use it inside, as it produces quite a bit of smoke.
The Weber Q 1400 has a total of 189 square inches of cooking space and a 1560-watt electric heating element that heats efficiently.While it doesn't have a built-in temperature gauge, our thermometers read over 600 degrees when on high. With porcelain-enameled cast iron, this translates to great grill marks. After cooking veggie shish kebabs, hanger steak, and marinated chicken breast for a backyard barbecue, our home tester confirmed that the grill marks are remarkable and said the food tasted wonderful. Meanwhile, we found it was very hot, very cute, and extremely portable during our Lab tests.
The lid and body of this grill are aluminum and the frame is glass-reinforced nylon, reducing the weight to make it easier to move (also making it rust-proof). A removable catch pan makes cleaning easy when cooking is done.
Price at time of publish: $329
Dimensions: 27 x 16.5 x 14.5 inches | Cooking Area: 189 square inches | Fuel Type: Electric | Power: 1560 watts | Warranty: 2 years
"We were super pleased with these grates, as they gave us drool-worthy sear marks during different grill sessions." — Michelle Piccolo, Product Tester
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
Can get very hot
Adjustable charcoal grate
Easy to clean
No side tables
Bit of a learning curve
Since the grill plates on an infrared grill create more heat, but use less fuel, they are ideal for those who don't want to pick up a new bag of charcoal every time. On this version, Char-Broil has updated the standard charcoal grill design with infrared cooking grates that heat extremely evenly. There's also 360 square inches of cooking space, porcelain-enameled steel grates, which conveniently resist rust, and a large vent on the lid to help regulate the temperature during cooking. For even more control, the charcoal grate is adjustable, so you can cook food closer or further from the heat source.
We found that this did, in fact, create intense heat with minimal flare-ups, creating a great sear on pork chops and chicken legs. But there is a bit of a learning curve. Once we started moving the coals around and experimenting with the top vent—the bottom ones must always stay open—the charcoal burned a bit too hot, though it didn't burn our food. It's wise to do a few test runs before lighting this grill for your big summer party.
The grill does have two wheels that make it easy to move into the perfect spot for grilling, and there’s no need to look for a place to set the lid down since it’s attached to the grill with a hinge. The lid latches closed for storage or when moving the grill, and a handy temperature gauge makes it simple to monitor the internal temperature at a glance. Even cleanup is easier with this grill, since the ash bowl slides in and out easily.
Price at time of publish: $239
Dimensions: 26 x 26 x 39 inches | Cooking Area: 360 square inches | Fuel Type: Charcoal | Warranty: 10 years (lid and firebox); 2 years (everything else)
Best Propane Grill
Char-Broil 463673519 Performance Series 2-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill
Large cooking surface with warming rack
Folding side shelves
Issues with ignition
Doesn't get as hot as larger grills
This compact two-burner grill provides more cooking space that you’d guess, with 300 square inches on the main cooking grate and an extra 100 square inches on the swing-away rack—ideal for keeping food warm, heating buns, or gently slow-cooking foods. The two metal side shelves give you plenty of space for dishes, sauces, and condiments, and they fold down when not needed so the grill takes less space in storage or on a small patio. Plus, the closed cabinet provides even more space for storing tools and supplies out of sight.
This grill has four casters that make it easy to move around; two of the casters lock so the grill won’t roll away if it’s accidentally bumped. The lid is stainless steel for an upscale look, and it features a temperature gauge to make it simple to check the internal temperature.
Price at time of publish: $310
Dimensions: 24.5 x 43 x 44 inches | Cooking Area: 400 square inches | Fuel Type: Liquid propane | Power: 24,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 5 years (burners); 2 years (firebox, lid, and cover); 1 year (everything else)
Best Pellet Grill
Z Grills 450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Food is extremely flavorful
Maintains consistent heat within +/- 15 degrees
Takes longer than expected to preheat
Prep tables are too small
Doesn't get hot enough to sear
While this Z Grills might be a bit large for a small grill, it's a great small pellet grill that can still fit on a backyard patio. The temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit makes it great for all-day smoking, the LED screen lets you know the internal temperature at a glance, and the digital controls make it easy to operate.
If you're nervous about running out of fuel while making something like North Carolina-style pulled pork, don't be. The hopper can hold up to 15 pounds of pellets, about 15 hours worth of smoking, while an automatic feed will keep the pellets burning at the right time and temperature. And porcelain-coated cast iron grates make it a snap to brush down afterward.
Those are just some of the reason why our home tester declared this "an unbeatable value." She was able to grill up pizza, pulled pork, burgers, and steak during her testing, with this grill imparting an amazing flavor. She was also thoroughly impress with it's ability to maintain consistent hear over the course of hours. She did note that it did take a while to heat up at first, and you'll have to break out the cast iron on your stove if you want a good sear.
Z Grills does have an upgraded version of this grill, the Pioneer 450B. It features better digital controls and a new clean-out system, but we haven't put it to the test yet.
Price at time of publish: $439
Dimensions: 45 x 28 x 49 inches | Cooking Area: 452 square inches | Fuel Type: Wood pellets | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Warranty: 3 years
"It delivered unbelievably flavorful hamburgers and steaks (even though it sometimes took a painfully long time to preheat). We could definitely tell the difference between meat cooked on the pellet grill versus meat cooked on our gas grill." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Charcoal Grill
Excellent heat retention
Can be used for smoking
Small cooking area
Thermometer isn't always accurate
Kamado might not be the first thing you’d think of when it comes to small grills, but this kamado is small enough to be portable, whether you're bringing it to a tailgate party or to the neighbor’s yard. The Akorn Jr. has a 14-inch grate that offers a 155-square-inch cooking area and many of the same features as full-size kamado grills.
Made from 22-gauge steel, with a porcelain-coated interior and a powder-coated exterior, this Char-Griller model is sturdy enough for regular use, but it weighs just 33 pounds so it’s truly portable. The grill has top and bottom air dampers to help control the temperature and an ash pan that’s easy to empty when cooking is done. There are side handles that make it easier to move from place to place and legs that keep it stable on the ground or on a table, and it's about 26 inches tall and 20 inches wide, so it stores compactly when not in use.
Price at time of publish: $168
Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 26 inches | Cooking Area: 155 square inches | Fuel Type: Charcoal | Warranty: 1 year
Best for Camping
Coleman 225 Portable Tabletop Propane Grill
Two heating zones
Large cooking space
Very easy to transport and set-up
No wind block
The great outdoors almost demands a small grill to keep you going during the adventure. You could get a small grate to put across an open flame, but that requires some finesse and your food can char quickly. This 25-pound grill though hooks up to a 1-pound gas canister to get your breakfast or dinner going a few minutes.
Underneath the 225 square inches of cooking space, you'll find two oval burners that are able to turn out 11,000 BTUs and keep the cast-iron grates evenly heated. Even better is that there are two heat zones, something you don't usually find in camping grills, plus a water pan to catch all the grease. There's also a griddle available for fried eggs or silver dollar pancakes. You will have to be careful when it's lit though, as there's no wind block.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 21.1 x 18.31 x 16.8 inches | Cooking Area: 225 square inches | Fuel Type: Liquid propane | Power: 11,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 3 years
The Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-Inch Charcoal Grill is a fan-favorite, and it's easy to see why: It's easy to use, easy to move, and delivers great grilled meals. If you're looking for something a tiny bit bigger than 400 square inches, we like the very versatile Z Grills 450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker.
How We Tested
We've tested various grills in our Lab in addition to sending many models to the homes of our expert reviewers. At the Lab, testers grill, sear, bake, and smoke meats to get an accurate assessment of a grill's features and performance. Our home reviewers spend weeks putting the grills through their paces to see how they handle everyday cooking and cleaning. Home testers also use the grill during typical weather conditions. In the end, the grills are rated on heat retention, size, features, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
When We're Testing Next
To get you ready for peak grilling season, we're doing a new round of testing on both gas and charcoal portable grills in early 2023. We'll be testing both tried-and-true models as well as a few of the newer grills on the market.
Other Options We Tested
- Traeger Ranger Portable Pellet Grill: When we tested this compact grill, we found it was very easy to set up, and had fantastic heat control and retention. The included cast iron griddle just sweetened the deal. Unfortunately, we also observed a lot of hot spots, and the 8-pound hopper seemed too big relative to the grill's size. Plus, it's not that portable at 60 pounds.
- Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill: We've recommended the DAvy Crockett for a while, but it didn't stand up to our Lab tests. Sure, it's lightweight, burns fuel efficiently, and has Wi-Fi capabilities. That doesn't outweigh that it struggled to accurately cook our food, including not being able to sear steak and it was the cause of a grease spill during testing.
What to Look for in a Small Grill
This is a consideration for just about every grill, but it’s possibly more critical with small grills. With usually less than 400 square inches of space, you'll be able to make about five servings at most, assuming about 72 square inches of space for each serving. If you're cooking for a crowd, you'll probably have to do a few rounds before you have enough food. If you're cooking for four or less, a small grill shouldn't pose an issue.
While all of these small grills are somewhat portable, some are designed to be brought out of storage when you need them, while others are designed to have a permanent space in your outdoor area. If you are considering taking them on the road, definitely assess not only how you'll get it there, but also if you need to handle any cleanup tasks, like waiting for ash to cool, before you head back. You'll also need to add any necessary fuel during the trip.
Some people say that charcoal gives the best flavor, while others prefer the convenience of propane. With a small grill, both will need additional storage space, which is especially important if you aren't using the grill often. Charcoal almost necessitates being stored inside to avoid getting wet, whereas propane should be stored outside to avoid leaking gas. Meanwhile, there are folks who can’t have a live-fire grill on their balcony or deck, so electric grills are the best option. You might have a learning curve to grill properly on electric—it can easily turn burgers into hockey pucks—but you won't need extra storage space or have to worry about any safety concerns.
How much charcoal is needed for a small grill?
There are two ways to decide how much charcoal you need for a small grill. If your grill has a chimney, you’ll want to fill it about one quarter full for lighter foods that cook quickly, such as fish, and 50 to 75 percent full for heavier and thicker foods, like steaks. If it doesn’t have a chimney, a good rule of thumb is about thirty briquettes. This is about half of the quantity you’d use for a larger, standard size grill.
What can you cook on a small grill?
Small grills are, of course, best for smaller foods, but you can grill plenty of things on them. Burgers, kebabs, pieces of chicken, sliced vegetables, sausages, pieces of fruit, miniature pizzas, and small cedar planks of seafood should all work well. Avoid trying to grill food for more than four people or attempting to grill large batches of meat. Indirect grilling is possible, but may prove challenging.
How do you maximize your space on a small grill?
First, be sure that you’re using the appropriate tools to handle your food, such as quality grill tongs that have sufficient length, so that you can maneuver items around easily. Additionally, once precooked foods like sausages and hot dogs are seared, they can be placed on top of one another to continue heating through. Lastly, you can purchase an additional grate for your grill so that you can cook a second batch of food quickly after the first.
How do you keep a small grill lit?
You keep a small grill lit with similar steps as a larger one. Always use dry charcoal, stack them as high as is viable for the grill space, and continue to add more coals well before the current ones go out. A grill full of old ash from previous charcoal will inhibit the ability for charcoal to stay lit, so clean your grill after each use. Also, utilize the dampers at the bottom and the top of the grill, and keep them open enough. Additional oxygen can help keep the fire going.
How do you season a small grill?
You season a small grill similarly to a larger one. First, while the grill is off, use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior of the grill, removing any residue leftover from manufacturing. Next, use oil, cooking spray, or shortening to coat all the interior surfaces of the grill. Then, pour in charcoal and light it, closing the lid, but keeping the vents open. Let the grill stay on for at least an hour, feeding it new charcoal as needed, and then allow the charcoal to burn out. Once cooled, the interior should appear darker, which is the seasoning coating.
Is a small grill better for frequent meals?
If you’re going to be using a grill frequently to cook your meals, you may find that there are advantages to using a smaller grill. For one thing, you will use less charcoal for a charcoal grill and less propane for a gas grill because you’re heating a smaller surface. Also, you will have less surface area to clean, and since grills should be cleaned after every use, a smaller grill will save you cleaning time in the long run. If you’re cooking for one or two people, a small grill for frequent meals is a better choice. However, if you have a large family or regularly grill with friends, a small grill won’t be the right choice no matter how often you use it.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie met her first grill as a child, when the neighbor introduced her to the wonders of grilled burgers and hot dogs. Since then, she graduated to owning her own grills, from simple charcoal grills to fancy gas models, dedicated pellet grills for pizza, and indoor electric grills. Even with all of that, she’s still investigating new grills and grilling technology, just in case she needs to fill another bit of space in the backyard.
Ariane Resnick, who updated this article, is a special diet chef, certified nutritionist, and bestselling author. She has more than 20 years experience in the food and writing spaces and believes in a joy-filled approach to health and wellness.
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.