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Best Portable Grill: 6 Options That Won't Rob You of Your Hard-Earned Money

by Outdoor Cooking Pros August 08, 2021

Best Portable Grill: 6 Options That Won't Rob You of Your Hard-Earned Money

So you already know portable grills are great and you've got some money saved up.

You want to buy the BEST PORTABLE GRILL but the ads and flyers only confuse you. 

Don't worry, our list is here to help. We tested the best grills out there and compared them based on fuel source,material,size,functionality,assembly,durability,price, andwarranty.

All to help you find the perfect grill for you. Let's get to them!

6 Best Portable Grills of 2021

1. Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill - Best Overall

What Makes It Stand Out

COLORS

With 6 colors to choose from, you can see right off the bat how badly this portable gas grill wants to please everyone.

CONVENIENCE

Q 1200 recognizes the importance of convenience. Even with the little things.

For one, the two side tables give you a place to put your tools and seasonings. Unlike other side tables, these are actually sturdy and can even hold plates.

Two, the removable catch pan is an efficient grease trap and makes cleanup way easier.

PERFORMANCE

Convenience is good and all that but what about cooking itself? Let's see how Q 1200 performs so well:

  • Cooking temperature ranges from 300-550oF means you don't need to worry about undercooking your meat. The Q 1200 delivers on the promised 500oF. But remember to keep the lid closed!
  • Because of the porcelain-enameled, cast-iron grates, you're sure to get even heat distribution across the entire grilling surface. No charred sear marks here!
  • This propane grill even has a built-in thermometer for added accuracy.
  • And, it has a sizable cooking surface. If you're having trouble imagining 189 sq. in. of cooking space, think of it as fitting 6 burgers all at once. Maybe even more.
WARRANTY

That's not all. We haven't even talked about the warranty yet.

Weber Q 1200 Gas Grills come with a 5-YEAR WARRANTY for the cookbox, lid assembly, stainless steel burner tubes, porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates, and plastic components. Now that's comprehensive!

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and easy to use
  • Solid, sturdy build
  • Compact, can fit in a small patio or city balcony
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • From a reliable and established brand

Cons

  • May be difficult to control/adjust temperature, especially when windy
  • Thermometer reading may not match actual grate temperature
  • Hot even on the lowest setting
  • Requires narrow 14-ounce liquefied petroleum (LP) cylinders
  • No safety latch

Specifications

  • Dimensions - Lid Closed and Tables Out: 15.5"H x 40.9"W x 16.5"D
  • Total cooking area: 189 square inches
  • Fuel type: Liquid propane
  • Burner: 1 stainless steel
  • BTU-per-hour: 8,500
  • Cooking Grate Material: Porcelain-enameled cast iron
  • Lid Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 31 lbs


2. Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14" - Best Budget Pick

Don't mistake affordability for inadequateness. Let us break down for you why this grill deserves a second look.

Why It's Worth It

DURABILITY

The steel bowl of this portable grill is coated with porcelain enamel. Sounds familiar? It's the same material that coats Q 1200's grill plate.

What does it mean for Smokey Joe? It means:

  • Its bowl will never peel or flake.
  • You boost heat retention despite using less expensive material. That way, you're still guaranteed consistent temperature and your meat is cooked evenly.
  • Your portable charcoal grill is protected against rusting and cracking.
  • The reflective surface also provides convection cooking, so the heat radiates around the food much like an indoor oven providing even cooking.
WARRANTY

Now, what about that famous Weber warranty?

All Weber charcoal grills have a 10-year warranty on the bowl and lid, and a 5-year warranty on the One-Touch cleaning system and plastic components.

An Unfortunate Downside

Most of the drawbacks against the Smokey Joe portable grill surprisingly falls on portability. Customers expect the Tuck-N-Carry lid lock which is only found on the Smokey Joe Premium.

The price for that feature? At least 10 bucks, depending on where you buy the charcoal grill.

So why didn't we just put Smokey Joe Premium on this list? Well, $10 may not be much for you but it is for some. Besides, Jumbo Joe, which you'll encounter later on in this list, is an even better portable grill.

Pros

  • Great for searing (when using lump charcoal)
  • Compact
  • Ideal size for cooking smaller/fewer items
  • Sturdy, durable
  • Affordable
  • Integrated stopper on bowl damper

Cons

  • No lid lock
  • Can't be picked up by its handle
  • Short bottom vent handle
  • Aluminum damper runs hot
  • Charcoal may fall through the coal bed and plug damper holes
  • Bowl damper holes are small and clog easily when using briquettes

Specifications

  • Dimensions - Lid Closed: 17"H x 14.2"W x 14.5"D
  • Total Cooking Area: 147 square inches
  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Cooking Grate Material: heavy-duty plated steel
  • Charcoal Grate Material: heavy-duty steel
  • Lid Material: porcelain-enamel coated steel
  • Weight: 9.5 lbs


 3. Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 Tru‑Infrared Portable Gas Grill - Best Value

What Makes It Stand Out

ROAD-WORTHY

You can probably already tell based on the X200's design alone that this portable grill is built for an outdoor space. How can we say that?

Just look at its dual stainless steel latches, high-impact frame with legs, and carry handles.

PERFORMANCE

It also packs a punch when it comes to cooking performance. In what ways?

  • Themechanical push-button ignition gets the grill going quickly and effectively. No batteries needed.
  • The combination of stainless steel and 9,500 BTU are amazing for searing steaks. The generous grilling space allows you to fit as many hot dogs as your heart (or stomach) desires!
  • Its wide temperature range also gives you greater cooking versatility. High heat or medium heat, Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 steadily delivers. What does that mean for you? Only that you can keep your chickens crisp on the outside but tender and juicy within. Just like you do at home.
  • It even comes with a lid-mounted temperature gauge for precise monitoring of your delicious meals in the making.
TECHNOLOGY

You're probably wondering, what's the deal with this "Tru-Infrared cooking system"?

Don't be intimated by the physics talk. It practically just means flareups are all in the past. The excess oil and fat that inevitably drips down from the grill plates can't hurt you no more.

VALUE FOR YOUR MONEY

All this for not even 200 bucks.

Now, do you see why we crowned it best in value?

WARRANTY

Char-Broil gives you the standard 5-YEAR WARRANTY of portable gas grills.

Covered parts include the burner, lid, and firebox. Unfortunately, as with all portable gas grills, surface rust doesn't count. You'd just have to make sure your compact grill isn't wet for too long.

Pros

  • Grill gets really hot
  • Built for carrying around
  • Stands up to weather great
  • Can use 1 lb. bottle or a hose to a larger tank

Cons

  • May be difficult to adjust temperature, not good for low and slow cooking
  • Small wind barrier
  • Sometimes needs an aftermarket regulator
  • Drip pan prone to rusting out early

Specifications

  • Assembled Dimensions: 13.6"H x 23.7"W x 15.7"D  
  • Total cooking area: 200 square inches
  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Burner: 1 stainless steel
  • Total BTUs: 9500
  • Cooking Grate Material: Stainless steel
  • Lid Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 24 lbs


4. Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Portable Kamado Charcoal Grill 

What Makes It Stand Out

UNPARALLELED VERSATILITY

AKORN Jr. has thewidest temperature range on this list of best portable grills. Just how wide? 225 to 700oF! You can smoke, bake, grill, and sear using this portable charcoal broiler.

QUALITY MATERIAL

This portable charcoal unit boasts a triple wall steel that reliably keeps heat in without being as heavy as the full-sized versions.

The superior insulation this provides delivers an equally superior grilling experience.

CLASSIC DESIGN

There's a reason the love for Kamado grills persists.

The efficacy of the design is difficult to surpass. You get maximum heat output that's consistent and controlled thanks to the hinged locking lid and dual dampers.

What else? Consistent heat in this domed lid means you'll be using less charcoal!

WARRANTY

We made sure all portable grills on our list had at least 5 years of warranty.

That includes this heavyweight. You'll get a 5-year burn and rust-through warranty for the grill hood and main burner tubes.

Pros

  • Versatile cooking performance
  • Easy lift handles and locking lid for total containment in transit
  • Consistently holds temperature and holds heat like a ceramic

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Learning curve to use
  • Need to "season" grill grates to prevent rusting, must be cleaned before and after use
  • Plastic handle on the metal damper gets hot

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 25"H x 20"W x 20"L
  • Total Cooking Area: 153 square inches
  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Cooking Grate Material: Cast iron
  • Charcoal Grate Material: Steel
  • Lid Material: Steel
  • Weight: 40 lbs


 5. Napoleon TRAVELQ™ 285 Portable Gas Grill

 This is the most expensive model on our list but let us quickly tell you why it's a decent contender as the best portable grill.

Why It's Worth It

SIZE

The manufacturer claims this unit could fit 17 burgers.

Now, we're not sure about that one but what we are sure about is it has thelargest cooking surface on this list. A walloping 285 square inches!

Together with the high top, roasting an entire chicken should be a breeze. That said, this grill folds up small enough to fit under a chair!

(Looking for space-saving grills? We also have our list of the top small gas grills.)

CRAFTSMANSHIP

Napoleon spared no expense in creating this beast of a grill from the thick high-top cast aluminum lid down to the sturdy folding legs.

The wave grids on the cooking grate are another intentional design. An iconic design that not only looks good but also works well.

WARRANTY

It's even got the best warranty for a gas grill. Hands down.

There's 10 years for the aluminum castings, stainless steel base, stainless steel lid, and porcelain enamel lid!

The rest of the parts get 5 years but you'll still receive 50% off until the 10th year after purchase.

Pros

  • Largest cooking surface
  • Dual stainless steel burners make for very easy and responsive heat control
  • Robust design

 Cons

  • Heavy lid
  • Pricey
  • Short propane connector line

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 13.6"H x 23.7"W x 15.7"D  
  • Total cooking area: 285 square inches
  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Burner: 2 Stainless steel
  • Total BTUs: 9500
  • Cooking Grate Material: Porcelain coated cast iron
  • Lid Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 36 lbs


6. Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18" 

No, you're not seeing double. The one before was Smokey Joe, our best budget pick. This is Jumbo Joe. And, boy, does it live up to its name.

What Makes It Stand Out

LARGE COOKING SURFACE

With a staggering 240-square-inch cooking surface area, Weber Jumbo Joe packs the largest grilling space on this list when it comes to charcoal types, holding up to 8 burgers. (Probably more!)

It only comes second to the TRAVELQ 285!

VALUE FOR YOUR MONEY

This candidate for the best portable charcoal grill won't even set you back by $100.

Another cool feature? The tight seal on the vents. The snug fit makes it is easy to snuff out a hot coal bed to save for the next cook.

WARRANTY

Finally, the Jumbo Joe has the same coverage as the other Weber charcoal grill on this list.

Both have a 10-year warranty on the bowl and lid, and a 5-year warranty on the One-Touch cleaning system and plastic components. Notice it's double the usual for portable gas grills?

Pros

  • Large cooking surface, perfect for grilling for multiple people
  • Tuck-N-Carry lid lock and convenient carry handle
  • Easy to put together and position
  • Affordable
  • Adequate vents

Cons

  • Screw with a nut damper makes snugging difficult
  • Zinc coating on the nut is prone to rust
  • Short bottom air control lever gets hot
  • Loose handle clip

Specifications

  • Dimensions - Lid Closed: 19.7"H x 19.7"W x 20.5"D
  • Total Cooking Area: 240 square inches
  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Cooking Grate Material: Plated steel
  • Charcoal Grate Material: Heavy-gauge steel
  • Lid Material: Porcelain-enameled steel
  • Weight: 18 lbs


Consider These Before You Buy

1. Fuel Source

What’s Good About Charcoal?

Two things: it's more budget-friendly and it gives you thetraditional smoky sear that makes even the most meticulous flavor buffs drool.

Some charcoal grills cost as little as 20 bucks! Of course, there are also more high-end charcoal models worth over 2 G's.

A charcoal grill also affords you more hands-on control over how much fuel you're using. Likewise, you have more direct control over the heat and don't need to rely on possibly faulty regulators. You can also see how easy it is to start charcoal grills here.

What’s Good About Gas?

Also, two things: they'reeasier to start and you get greater control over the temperature.

Gas grills also produce more steam than charcoal grills, giving the meat more moisture. If that's what gets you going, the satisfaction would probably be worth your hard-earned dollar.

Propane grills are also famous for their add-on features. Looking for rotisserie setups, smoker boxes, or side burners? A gas grill is probably the way to go.

What About Electric?

Similar to a gas grill, an electric grill is easy to use. But even better?You'd find an electric grill to be the quickest to heat up among the three.

Electric grills are widely considered to be thesafest to use so much so that buildings allow them.

Understandably, electric grills are perfect if you’re living in an apartment or condominium. Unfortunately, this list features no electric models.

What About Wood Pellets?

Although this list also features no portable wood pellet grills, it's good to be familiar with this option, especially if your place has a small yard or balcony.

These grills are usually allowed, alongside electric grills, simply because theyproduce no open flames.

2. Grill Type

Dedicated grillers preferCAST IRON because it retains heat best.

It's able to stay hot for longer and is the superior choice for low and slow cooking. More importantly, these are the ones that create the iconic grill marks on your meat and vegetables.

Stainless steel, however, is perfect for those who want to eat as soon as possible. Why?

Because itheats up quickly! Stainless steel grills are also moreaffordable,lightweight, and easier to set up and clean.

3. Fuel Consumption

First, factor in GRILL SIZE. For example, our portable grill budget pick, Smokey Joe 14", needs 30 charcoal briquettes to cook hamburgers and steaks with direct heat.

Compare this with the Jumbo Joe 18" which needs 40 briquettes.

The larger the portable charcoal grill, the more briquettes it needs.

The same applies to the WEATHER. Say you live in an area where temperatures run on the cooler side. That means you should be prepared to use up more fuel.Make sure to stock up on charcoal on windy or rainy days.

4. Material

Material relates to durability and heat retention.

Powder-coated steel portable grills are affordable but not as durable as you may want. They'd likely need to be replaced after a couple of years - if you're lucky.

In contrast,stainless steel portable grills are more rust-resistant and relatively more durable.

Aluminum fireboxes cost the most but reflect heat evenly and willnever rust.

5. Weight

Sure, you can lift the grill now but remember, things feel heavier the longer you carry them. Don't forget to consider, say, how far away you can park your car from the beach or campsite.

Some portable grills can be carried by one person, some need two.

In our list alone, weights range from 9.5 to 40 pounds. And just because a grill is big, doesn't necessarily mean it's heavy. That's why we took the time to include the weight in our list of best portable grills.

6. Size

While portable grills are deliberately designed for mobility, it wouldn't hurt to make sure your portable grill fits in its designated space in your car or RV.

Why not get your measuring tape and see for yourself?

Size also refers to the grilling surface. If you're unsure of how big a cooking surface you should get, here's a good rule of thumb.100 sq. in. = 1 person.

Or in terms of food, any additional 100 sq. in. gets you around two more regular-sized patties.

Bonus Questions

Is BTU Really That Important?

Think of British thermal units, or BTUs, as the "efficiency rating" of grills.

Just so we're clear,a higher BTU does not automatically equal a hotter grill.

Fuel consumption also factors in so that if you use way too much BTUs than what you need, the faster you'll burn through your fuel source. Worse, you'll be serving char.Eugh!

A good rule of thumb? 80-100 BTU per square inch satisfies most.

When’s the Best Time to Buy Grills?

Grills start to go on sale right after the Fourth of July. Retailers know the peak of the grilling season is over.

But wait a few more weeks or months, aroundAugust to October, and you'll geteven better deals. Stores aggressively mark down grills at this point to make room for upcoming season items.

Top Picks

Just to drive home our point, here's a summary of our top choices.

Winner/Best Overall: Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill

Finally, the champion of our list of best portable grills, the Q 1200 takes the lead across the board.

It's efficient, durable, convenient, and easy to use, and will not rob you blind. Plus, the various color options are a cute little bonus to round out the beautiful design of this list's best portable grill. Not to mention the five-year warranty on major parts.


Runner-up/Best Budget Pick: Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14"

The Smokey Joe charcoal grill is our choice for those who love the art of grilling and want to savor the entire cooking process. For not even $50, you get a heavy-duty steel grilling grate all in a durable, portable package.

You can even turn it into a fire pit after eating your fill. Just make sure to cut the logs in half and make the enclosure beforehand.


Runner-up/Best Value: Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 Tru‑Infrared Portable Gas Grill

The X200 portable grill is best for those who want to sear steaks as quickly as possible without spending a fortune.

It doesn't have all the features of our winner but does it give it a run for its money if only for its ruggedness and high-tech performance.


And that's it for our search for the best portable grills.

Hope you're now all set. Keep safe and happy grilling!

Outdoor Cooking Pros
Outdoor Cooking Pros


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