Best Portable Grills for 2018 ( Overall ) – Buyer’s Guide

You’re planning to spend time outside, like camping for example? That’s great, you need to have a grill that you could easily prepare tasty food with, but wait a second…  there’s a little problem with that, you can’t just bring along a heavy, full-sized grill.

You need a special lightweight and small-sized portable grill that is always ready to work and built in a way that allows to easily bring it along wherever you like.

Today I will help you choose the best portable grill that will live up to your expectations and give you the satisfaction of cooking delicious food outside.

Now all that is left to do is decide what type of a portable grill will suit you the best.

Charcoal, Gas, Electric or maybe Pellets?

You value the smoky charcoal meat flavor, but don’t feel like carrying along a huge bag of charcoal and wasting time lighting it up. In that case a better choice will be a portable grill fueled with gas from small lightweight tanks, all you have to do is turn on the electronic ignition and after just 5 minutes you can start cooking.

Make your own decision on what is the best for you.

Below you will find a table with the list of the best portable grills divided by category.

Best Portable Grills of 2018 - Comparison

MODEL

Cooking Space

Weight

 Pounds

PRICE

Propane

weber q 1200

Best Overall

Weber Q 1200

189 sq. in.

28.8

Coleman RoadTrip 285

Runner-Up

Coleman Road Trip LXE

285 sq. in.

44

Charcoal

Weber Smokey Joe 14 inch

Best Overall

Weber Smokey Joe

147 sq. in.

9.5

Weber Go-Anywhere

Best Portable

Weber Go-Anywhere

160 sq. in.

14.5

Pellets

Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

Best Overall

GMG Davy Crokett

219 sq. in.

57.3

Electric

weber Q 2400 electric grill

Best Overall

Weber Q 2400 Electric

280 sq. in.

42

For more of my favorite recommendations, have a look through these related Exchange Bar and Grill links:

How did I choose?

As someone who loves to travel, especially the camping style, I have a lot of experience cooking outside. By trial and error, I discovered which portable grill is the best for cooking outside depending on the conditions and what we want to cook.

I also don’t like to overpay, which is why before purchasing my first portable grill I had read plenty of portable grills reviews in order to learn more on the topic.

Then I spent plenty of hours cooking everything I could on different grills and in different places. The next step was the tests, where I would see how easy it is to bring each grill along in your car. Here’s where I could see in practice and evaluate solutions and features the end goal of which was to make the grill easier to transport. I’m talking here about foldable legs, lid lock for transporting, the weight and many other elements.

The whole experience was not only very interesting to me, but it also taught me a lot. Based on all those tests, I wrote all the reviews and created a special ranking divided by category so that you can easily match your choice to your lifestyle.

How did I pick the best ones?

That’s simple, I spent few days bringing all the grills along to different places where I would cook everything I could. That way I could evaluate how each of the grills handles cooking the same food at the same temperatures.

On top of that, I also looked into a grill’s assembly, elements, quality of workmanship, functionality and many other aspects.

Finally, I compared all the models and thus I wrote reviews of the best portable grills.

What should you pay attention to?

Most of all, before purchasing a new portable grill you should carefully think about what you need it for. Do you go on trips where you spend most of the time camping, or maybe you go hiking to places like a park or a beach. Or do you simply live in a city and don’t have much space so you’re looking for a small grill with efficiency similar to that of a regular full-sized grill.

It is important, since when it comes to hiking, you have to look for grills that are lightweight and convenient for one person to carry. When it comes to road trips, on the other hand, the weight doesn’t matter quite as much, it is more important for the grill to have a lid lock and be convenient to transport.

What if you have a small backyard, balcony or terrace? A portable grill is also perfect for those who simply don’t have enough space for a full-sized grill. After you’re done cooking, you can always fold it up and keep it in some other place.

1. Best Overall Weber Q 1200 Gas

The best portable propane grill. It is the number one to me in terms of quality and efficiency. If you’re looking for a reliable portable grill, it is definitely a good choice for you.

The truly high-quality, very well thought-out structure is brilliant. The cooking area is 189 square inches, is it not enough? In that case take a look at its bigger model.

A very efficient burner that warm up the grill to the right temperature very fast.

In order to start the grill, you need a small propane tank, these are very lightweight which makes them great when camping etc.

The body and the lid were made of cast aluminum, which guarantees great durability and lack of problems with rusting ( aluminum is corrosion-resistant ). Just read the reviews in different stores and watch videos on YouTube, and you’ll see I’m telling the truth.

Of course, the price is much higher than with other grills, but it is absolutely justified when we take the quality of workmanship and durability into account.

I really like the versatility of Weber Q 1200, why? It’s not a regular grill that you bring along when camping. It also works great in urban spaces and anywhere with a little space available ( balconies, terraces, small backyards or patios ).

It is a portable grill that can replace a full-sized grill for many people. All you have to do is also buy a special stand to put your grill on, and when you’re done cooking, just fold everything up and hide it so that it doesn’t take space.

What’s it like when it comes to mobility? When it comes to hiking, it is a little too heavy for one person, for example Weber Q 1200 weights 28.8 pounds, while the charcoal Weber Smokey Joe only 9.5 pounds which means you could use another person for help and you’d be okay.

When it comes to camping or any road trips, on the other hand, this is undoubtedly the number one. In such case the weight doesn’t matter that much, it’s all about efficiency.

PROS

  • Efficient and durable ( aluminum casting )
  • Temperature control
  • Versatility & Easy to clean

CONS

  • A little too heavy ( most suitable for cars )

In conclusion, it’s the number one among portable grills fueled with propane from small lightweight tanks. It is one of the few portable grills where efficiency is at a similar level to full-sized grills.

A small downside for many people is the price, but considering the quality of workmanship and efficiency, I guarantee that it will be money very well spent.

2. Runner-Up Coleman RoadTrip 285 Gas

In my ranking, this model took the second place in the ( gas ) category, why?

There’s plenty of upsides as well as few downsides that this grill has. First I’ll list the upsides, but you have to know that this grill is great for road trips. Due to its weight and size, it is not the best choice for hiking.

A very large cooking area for a portable grill, 285 square inches plus interchangeable cooking plates. You can replace the grill grates with stove grates and griddle, unfortunately they are sold separately which raises the overall price significantly.

Your own integrated work area that you can fold up any moment. When folded-up, it has two wheels on the bottom and a handle on the top, which makes it possible to conveniently transport this grill. After folding up, it fits most car trunks. Of course, the listed above Weber Q 1200 also has a work area, but you have to buy it separately, which significantly raises the price of the entire grill with accessories.

The cooking area was divided into two sectors, each of them has a separate burner underneath with makes it possible to cook in two different sectors of different temperatures.

The overall quality of this grill is satisfying, one poorer element is the plastic wheels which are not high-quality.

I gave this portable grill the second place as it is definitely less mobile than Weber Q1200. Another difference is the quality of workmanship, which is slightly better in case of Q1200.

One downside is that it weights twice as much as Weber Q1200, which doesn’t make it a versatile portable grill that you can easily bring along anywhere you want.

PROS

  • The price
  • The grilling area
  • 3 burners, warms up fast
  • check-circle
    An integrated stand

CONS

  • The quality of elements is not very high
  • The grease tray access is difficult
  • times-circle
    Low-quality wheels

Coleman RoadTrip 285 is a great choice for camping, picnics and all kinds of road trips. Large area allows to prepare food for a really big number of people. The grill has three burners that allow to create two sectors of different temperatures. Another upside is a pretty decent price and ability to replace the grill grates with griddle.

If you can’t afford Weber Q1200 and want a slightly cheaper but equally efficient portable grill that is great for camping or road trips, then pick Coleman RoadTrip 285, you won’t regret spending the money.

3. Best Overall Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal

You love the flavor of charcoal grill food? This grill will be the best choice if you want a well-built grill, durable, easy to assemble, lightweight and most important, inexpensive.

I think that when it comes to price, it will fit everyone’s budget. The structure resembles popular Kettle models that are great at maintaining temperature, which is also the case with this grill.

The cooking area is 147 square inches, which is enough for a portable grill.

It reaches high temperatures, which makes it good for cooking hamburgers and steaks.

You’re worried about ash? Smokey Joe is equipped with an ash catcher, which allows to get rid of ash quickly and easily.

What is it like when transporting? The Tuck-N-Carry feature makes sure that the lid stays in its place, you don’t have to worry that the grill’s lid will slide off when traveling. Thanks to Tuck-N-Carry, you can transport the grill in your car safely and securely.

It is worth noting that it is one of the cheapest portable grills as well as one of the most lightweight ones. If there’s anything to complain about, I think it’s the lack of side handles that would make it possible to easily move the grill around when cooking. As you know, when you’re outside you often have to change places, what to do when the grill is all hot? I think it’s a little downside, which obviously doesn’t impact the grill’s functionality.

PROS

  • The price
  • The weight and size

CONS

  • The lower air vent gets clogged with ash

In conclusion, a great choice for those who need an efficient and lightweight portable grill that can easily be carried with one hand. A great choice for camping or a trip to the park, it has a lid lock which allows you to easily transport it in a car without worrying that the grill’s lid will slide off.

4. Best Portable Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal

Weber Go-Anywhere is in my opinion the best made portable grill.

The entire structure was designed in a way that makes it as convenient as possible for those who need to bring a good grill along.

The cooking area is 160 square inches, and the entire thing only weights 14,5 pounds.

The foldable legs are really well thought-out, why? When folding them down, they tightly wrap around the grill, thus blocking the lid and making a shape of a box that is easy to carry around.

I really like the handles, there are as many as three of them. Such solution enables us to choose how we want to carry the grill. The handle on the top allows us to grab the grill with one hand and securely carry it with us to our destination.

The side handles, on the other hand are very useful for cooking, when the grill is all heated up and you suddenly have to change your spot, like on a beach. Then you and someone else can firmly grab the side handles without worrying about burning your hands.

Of course, like any grill, this one has few downsides, too.

The first downside for many people is not enough space between the grill grates and charcoal. One moment of distraction and very hot charcoal may burn your food.

Another downside is slightly more difficult temperature control than, for example, in Kettle grills, the cause of it being of course the grill’s structure.

PROS

  • Incredibly easy to carry along
  • Easy to use and assemble
  • The weight

CONS

  • Small distance of the hot charcoal from the grates

In conclusion, I love this portable grill for its convenience and efficiency. It is very convenient to transport, thanks to its construction it is really very convenient to carry around in one hand which is great when you have to walk quite a distance on foot to your destination. When it comes to mobility, it has no match, it is the best in this regard.

5. Best Portable Smoker Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellets

Plenty of people have probably thought of a grill that is fueled with charcoal or gas, but how about pellets? I know that a smoker might make you think of a large cooking area and significant weight, but I have good news for you. There is a portable pellet smoker that is really durable, efficient and solid.

After folding the legs you can easily pack it into most car trunks and bring it along when going camping, for example. Sadly, due to its weight I wouldn’t recommend it for hiking to the park or to the beach.

A sufficient cooking area – 219 square inches.

The digital controller makes it possible to precisely set the temperature from 150 to 500 degrees F within +/- 5 degrees.

You dream of a rich meat flavor from pellets when camping? GMG Davy Crockett makes it possible today.

It weights 57.3 pounds, has foldable legs and a 17lbs pellets compartment which makes it possible to cook meat for a long time.

It is equipped with innovative features such as Wi-Fi or a meat probe. You can download an app for your phone, and then connect to your grill so that you have access to several interesting features. Among others, you’ll be able to check the temperature inside the grill as well as check the temperature inside the meat on your phone’s display while away from the grill.

Sadly, its price is high, so this grill is mostly bought by people who love full-sized pellet grills. To those who have never encountered this type of grill, I suggest doing research on the subject. The most significant feature of pellet grills is the ability to precisely maintain low temperatures for many hours.

PROS

  • Portability
  • Meat Probe
  • PID controller - High control of temperature

CONS

  • App’s problems with WI-FI
  • Small cooking surface

Remember that a portable pellet grill is much more expensive than any other type of grill, which is a downside to many.

For those with a lot of experience with pellets, it will be a great choice. In my view, it is the best portable pellet grill, it will work great when camping. It is pretty heavy which is why I believe that it is good for road trips where weight doesn’t matter that much.

The price is pretty high if we compare it with other types of grills, but the interesting features and quality of workmanship make it possible to consider GMG Davy Crockett to be the best among portable grills in the pellets category.

6. Best Portable Weber Q 2400 Electric

Of course, for everyone who doesn’t feel like bothering with bags of charcoal, sacks of pellets or propane tanks, the electric Weber Q 2400 was made. Is it a good idea to spend so much money on a grill like this one? It all depends on you, your needs and on what you want to cook and how.

As of now, I can easily say that you get what you pay for. Electric Weber Q2400 is undoubtedly a high-quality portable grill that was designed to be functional, portable and most of all to take as little space as possible.

Being electric is both an upside and a downside to it, depending on the situation. If you take it camping you have to make sure there will be a power source on the site to plug this grill into. The Weber Q 2400 electric grill was definitely made with the urban environment in mind and for people with limited space or without a backyard or even a balcony ( which means those living in cities ), who are unable for one reason or another to cook on a regular full-sized grill.

Large cooking area – 280 square inches.

The entire structure was made of cast aluminum which means it’s very durable. The overall quality of workmanship is very high-level, which allows this grill to last for many, many years.

The price is high, but when we take the quality of workmanship into account, we can forget about it.

I think that it’s a great choice for urban spaces with a small patio or balcony. You can buy a stand separately to put your grill on.

PROS

  • Cooking Space
  • Simple Assembly
  • Durable

CONS

  • Price
  • No smoke flavor

The price that has to be paid for this grill is high, but it’s fully adequate to the quality. You don’t have to bother with propane, charcoal or pellets, in a long run using this grill is much cheaper than cooking on any other type of grill. One downside is obviously a different flavor of food, there is no smoke here that is present when burning something like charcoal or pellets. A huge upside is simplicity of use and easy cleaning.

Buyer's Guide - Who is it for?

Contrary to a popular belief, a portable grill is not intended just for picnics, camping, tailgating etc. If you live in a city or any other place with limited space, then a portable grill will be a great choice for you. Obviously, a full-sized grill is better in terms of efficiency, but what good is it if you don’t have a place to put it? You need to know that there are portable grills that are not much less efficient than the full-sized ones.

What should a portable grill be like?

First and foremost, it should be lightweight and not too big if you’re planning walking to the park or the beach. It would be nice to be able to carry it in one hand, or alternatively with someone else’s help.

It should be mobile, the grill’s structure should have a lid lock, foldable legs and side shelves etc. All should be designed in a way that makes the grill easy and convenient to transport.

Of course, it should be well made out of good-quality materials. Going on trips and spending time outside make it necessary for our grill to function in different conditions.

What type of a portable grill to choose?

There are different types of portable grills. The most popular are gas and charcoal ones ( see Gas vs Charcoal grill comparison ), but there are also electric ones and pellets ones. Each of them comes with its upsides and downsides which have a key impact on your decision.

Gas

  • Upsides - convenience, starts and warms up fast, easy temperature control, small, lightweight propane tanks as the fuel source
  • Downsides - Expensive, quite heavy, propane burns clean with no smoke ( no classic smoke flavor in food ), necessity to send empty propane tanks back to be recycled, elements such as the burner are more expensive in the event of a malfunction.

Charcoal

  • Upsides – Is among the cheapest grills, reaches very high temperatures, produces a lot of smoke which enriches the flavor of food, consists of a small number of elements which means it almost never malfunctions
  • Downsides - It takes some experience to properly control the temperature, it takes a lot of time to get the charcoal burning, it requires ash removal, plenty of smoke might be a problem to those who wish to cook in the city on the balcony or in a small backyard close to the neighbors. Charcoal is very messy

Pellets

  • Upsides - Easy and precise temperature control and ability to maintain a fixed low temperature for many hours ( great for meat searing ), produces a lot of wood smoke, starts after pressing a button, warms up fast and has plenty of interesting technologies like wifi or a built-in meat probe.
  • Downsides - It is among the heaviest portable grills and the most expensive ones, it reaches low maximum temperatures ( only up to 400-450 degrees F ), it has plenty of elements that are prone to malfunction and expensive to replace.

Electric

  • Upsides - It often burns without smoke which makes it good for a city or a balcony or a small terrace without bothering the neighbors next door with smelly smoke. It starts after pressing a button and warms up fast.
  • Downsides - It is relatively expensive, requires to be plugged in all the time ( in the event of a power outage the grill has no power source ), you can’t bring it along to a park or many different places with no electricity, it doesn’t produce smoke with means no smoke flavor in food. You don’t have to worry about bags of charcoal, pellets or propane tanks.

Related Post

2 thoughts on “Best Portable Grills for 2018 ( Overall ) – Buyer’s Guide

Leave a Comment