Last updated: September 11, 2020

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Having guests over can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re not a skilled cook or simply don’t have time to prepare delicious dishes. Fortunately, you can count on some help in the kitchen to make your life easier. A portable grill, for instance, will allow you to save hours in the kitchen. You will only have to start cooking when your guests arrive.

What’s more, your friends can become your kitchen helpers. You can also take your grill to the countryside, on holiday, or when you are the guest yourself. In the following shopping guide, you will find all the information you need to purchase the right portable grill.

Key Facts

  • A portable grill allows you to cook in any outdoor area of your home. You can also take it with you when you go on holiday or if you spend a day in the countryside.
  • Before you do anything, think about how you plan on using your portable grill. This will determine the model that best fits your needs. As you can imagine, you won’t need the same grill for home use or to take on camping trips.
  • Do you know what an anti-drip function is? Or the difference between direct and indirect cooking? We will discuss these critical factors in the last section of our guide.

Our Selection: The Best Portable Grills on the U.S. Market

The first thing that often surprises us when we start investigating a product is often the variety of options available. Knowing what satisfied buyers value in a model is a great way to start filtering. This is why we have selected some of the best portable grills currently available on the market. Learn more about them in the section below:

Best Portable Grill: Amazon’s Choice

Weber’s Go-Anywhere portable grill is Amazon’s Choice in the category and has received hundreds of quality reviews and high ratings from the online community. Compact and lightweight, it features a lid and handles for easy transportation. What’s more, the heavy-duty steel legs pivot to lock the lid in place when you’re on the move. This charcoal grill offers plenty of space to enjoy a barbecue with all your friends.

Best Portable Grill for Indoor Use

Who said grills were only for hot summer days? If you want a barbecue during winter or simply don’t have space outside your home, then Hamilton Beach’s searing grill is exactly what you need. Bought and enjoyed by thousands of satisfied users, it integrates a large drip tray to keep your kitchen clean and a hood window to keep an eye on your food. Take it with you everywhere you have access to electricity.

Most Elegant Portable Grill

Quality is essential, and every product in our selection offers just that. But Cuisinart’s Petit Gourmet portable grill goes a step further when it comes to aesthetics. Its sleek-yet-durable design provides ample cooking space and folds up to look like a small briefcase for your travels. Operating with gas, it features aluminum legs and an elegant red lid to cook in style.

Best Charcoal Portable Grill

This Amazon Best Seller is a little wonder of a portable grill, and certainly a favorite among BBQ enthusiasts. You can get this lightweight model for less than $35 – a real bargain! In addition, the Smokey Joe is a charcoal grill that will give that extra special flavor to all your foods. This portable round grill comes with a lid to retain heat and three legs, so you can set it anywhere you want.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Portable Grills

We’re ready to bet you’re already seeing yourself enjoying a barbecue with your friends. Now, don’t rush into a purchase. You should take the time to analyze the rest of the information we provide in this guide. If you have questions regarding portable grills and their different characteristics, you will find your answers in the section below.

Barbacoa portátil

You can find very compact grills on the market.
(Source: Alexande rRaths: 40879130/ 123rf.com)

What is a portable grill exactly?

Just like any other barbecue, this appliance allows you to grill food. It generally features a grate or rack on which you place the ingredients. The fuel is placed under the grate and at a safe distance to prevent the foo from burning. But what really makes portable grills stand out is your ability to carry them around with ease.

Mostly made from metal, they are designed for small spaces – both inside and outside your property. These grills can have legs or be placed on a support. Some models have wheels, others fold up, or have a handle. All these different options share a single purpose: facilitating their transport.

Are portable grills better than regular models?

If you have enough space at home, you may ask yourself which type of grill is better. Standard barbecue grills are a great option since they are sturdy and can cook a larger amount of food at the same time. When it comes to design, you also have a much wider choice. In fact, you can even get it made to measure.

If you want a smaller and more affordable model to take everywhere with you, then a portable grill is naturally the better option. You can easily store it during winter or when you’re not using much. In the following table, we have listed some key factors to help you make your decision:

Feature Standard Portable
Reduced space
Amount of food
Easy setup
Fastest cooking
Occasional use
Affordability
Outdoor use

In short, standard grills are set in a specific place and are much harder to move.

Are portable and mobile grills the same?

Many people ask themselves this question, and they’re right to do so. Some manufacturers even use these terms interchangeably, but it isn’t actually accurate. While both models are mobile, only portable grills are easy to transport with you.

Mobile barbecue grills are larger and generally come with a trolley on wheels to move them around. Portable models are smaller and easy to carry, some even folding up. You can compare the three types of grills in the table below:

Feature Standard Mobile Portable
Movable
Fixed
Easily transported
Greater capacity
Flavor intensity
Reduced size
Foldable
Affordability
Wheels

What materials are used to make portable grills?

This is a crucial factor of these appliances, as it will ultimately determine key aspects such as resistance, durability, or aesthetics. This is why you should know the characteristics of the most frequently used materials that we have listed for you below:

  • Iron. This material is often used for wood fire models. It is exceptionally resistant and can withstand very high temperatures while remaining affordable. However, these grills often have problems with corrosion and rust over time.
  • Stainless steel. Most portable models are made with this material, which tends to be more expensive. Indeed, it is more resistant to the passage of time, high temperatures, and corrosion.
  • Chrome steel. This material is similar to stainless steel and has very similar characteristics. In addition to improving its appearance, the chrome layer prevents corrosion and adds resistance. That being said, its quality is slightly inferior to stainless steel, and it is a bit more affordable.
  • Aluminum. This economical material is perfect for portable grills: it is very light and won’t corrode or rust. However, it doesn’t last as long as steel, and you have to look for a quality cooking surface. These models are less stable.
Barbacoa portátil

Clean your grill with a special brush – either wire or bristle – to best care for it.
(Source: Jakub Gojda: 42391223/ 123rf.com)

What fuels do portable grills use?

Think about the type of fuel your barbecue grill works with before buying it. This aspect will determine various characteristics of the model you choose. In the following list, you can learn a bit more about the three most common types of fuel for portable grills. The table will also help you compare them:

  • Charcoal. This type of fuel can reach very high temperatures while retaining the heat throughout the cooking process. It offers a distinctive smoky taste but takes longer to achieve the desired temperature.
  • Firewood. Similar to charcoal models, these use chips or small logs. They can reach relatively high temperatures, and the taste they create is a favorite among barbecue lovers.
  • Gas. They heat quickly and evenly, and often feature controls to regulate the heat of the different cooking areas. Although they can reach high temperatures, they won’t provide the characteristic taste of charcoal or wood grills. They operate with smaller gas cylinders than those for domestic use.
Characteristics Charcoal Gas  Firewood
Flavor and aroma Quite good Good Ideal
Temperature control Complex Simple Complex
Maximum temperature High Quite high High
Ease to start Slow Fast More complex

How should I clean my portable grill?

Cleanliness is essential in the kitchen, and it’s no different when you’re preparing a barbecue. This is why you should consider a number of issues that will make your job all that much easier. The tips we have listed below will help you make a purchasing decision when the time is right. Don’t forget to clean your grill after you’ve enjoyed it:

  • Always wait for the barbecue grill to be cold.
  • Start by cleaning the grate with a special brush, wire or bristle models being the best options.
  • Use a product suitable for the type of grill you have.
  • Dry every part of the barbecue thoroughly to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Some models allow you to put the grates in the dishwasher, which is an exciting option.
  • Never leave your barbecue unclean or do a superficial cleaning. It will end up getting damaged, and your food will soak in the flavors and smells that are left on the grill.
Barbacoa portátil

You can find a wide variety of portable barbecue grills on the American market.
(Source: Foodandmore: 27054316/ 123rf.com)

Tabletop or legged portable grills?

On the market, the two main types of supports for portable grills are tabletops and legs. As their name suggests, the former are designed to be used on a table or similar surface. More comfortable to store and transport, they often come in a circular or rectangular shape.

Legged models are usually foldable, with many including wheels for easy transport. These grills often look like shopping trolleys or briefcases once folded. That being said, note that some have short legs and need to be placed on another surface. Ultimately, the right type of grill is that which will best fit your needs and personal preferences.

Anthony BourdainAmerican Chef

“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.”

What are the advantages of portable grills?

You should already know many interesting features of portable grills by now, and you could certainly make a great purchase with this information. However, there are other criteria to take into account. But before we get into them, let’s have a quick look at the main benefits and drawbacks of portable grills:

Advantages
  • You can get the same results as with a larger barbecue grill
  • Some models are extremely compact
  • You can enjoy barbecues virtually anywhere
Disadvantages
  • They are not the fastest option when you have many guests
  • Some models tend to cook slowly

Shopping Criteria

Can you taste your first barbecue yet? We’re sure you are, but you still have to analyze a series of key criteria in order to make the right purchase. They will help you determine which model you need, and you’ll soon be ready to buy your portable grill. All that you will have to do is invite your friends and share a delicious barbecue.

Anti-Drip System

The smoke is one of the most annoying aspects of any barbecue, but you can limit this issue by opting for a model with a drip-free function. It prevents the fat from falling on the fire and burning. Not only does this create smoke, but it can also cause the food to have a distinctive and unpleasant burned taste.

Barbacoa portátil

Iron is one of the most widely used manufacturing materials for portable grills.
(Source: Maude Frederique: haAhKtXcdgM/ 123rf.com)

Controlled Airflow

Another disadvantage of these appliances is that they can take some time to heat up. Models with controlled airflow help you reduce this by making the air reach the inside of the grill, heating it in less time. This feature also allows you to control the temperature during cooking.

Direct or Indirect Cooking

Every grill offers direct cooking but not necessarily indirect cooking, for which they need to have a lid. Direct cooking is best to get results similar to frying in a pan, while indirect cooking is more like roasting in the oven:

Aspect Direct Indirect
Fire Only direct contact with the fire Cooking with a lid
Result Classic barbecue Oven
Temperature High Uniform
Cooking time Short Medium
Food Small pieces, sausages, bacon, and vegetables Foods that are usually cooked in the oven – pizzas, paella or chicken
Cooking More outside than inside Uniform
Flavor Woody Woody

Accessories

Using a barbecue grill requires a series of accessories, so you might want to check whether the model you buy includes any or not. Otherwise, you will have to buy them separately. You will need a cover, a wire brush, a spatula, a brush, and tongs, as well as food trays, a thermometer, and skewers.

Remember that a more affordable model may end up being more expensive if you have to buy every accessory separately. If you already own some of them, on the other hand, you won’t need to invest as much. With any purchase, the most important is that you consider your needs and budget and choose accordingly. That way, you can buy the best model for you.

Location

Some neighborhood communities do not allow the use of certain fuels – such as charcoal – for various reasons. In addition, there may be restrictions in campsites or the countryside, or during certain times of the year. Never overlook this, as it is your responsibility to use your grill adequately. This may influence your choice, too.

Summary

A portable grill is a great way to enjoy a fast, fun, and delicious meal, although some models allow you to slow cook like an oven. You can use it in your garden but also take it with you on holiday or during a day trip to the countryside. However, you need to buy the right model to get the most out of it.

Throughout our article, we have given you the information you need to find the best portable grill on the market. You have learned more about the most commonly used materials, the different fuels, and some cleaning tips to take care of it. When the time comes to make your purchase, keep all these factors in mind; we guarantee you will get it right.

Did you find our shopping guide on portable grills interesting and helpful? If so, share it on your social media, and leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Foodandmore: 18995314/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Thibault Perinet Freelance Writer & World Traveler
As a literature and translation licensee and avid traveler, language has always been at the heart of my daily life. A freelance writer since 2014, I love to delve into a variety of topics that contribute to my professional and personal development. My favorite things in life? Maté in the morning, soccer with friends, and old school hip hop.