An In-Depth Guide to Helping You Find the Best Portable Grill

With summer underway, it’s that time of the year when our days are spent chilling at the beach, partying with friends and relatives at our home’s backyard, enjoying around the campfire and relaxing in the swimming pool. Unarguably, no party is complete without food. Every time somebody talks about summer holidays, I can instantly smell the mouth-watering fragrance of barbeque. The memories of barbequing at the porch of my house usher me down the memory lane, reminding me of the happiest days of my life. Having a portable, easy-to-use BBQ grill can make outdoor cooking a great experience in a sunny weather. Just in case you’re planning to buy one soon, here are a few tips to get you through the arduous task:

Best Portable Grill - Reviews & Top Picks for 2016



Capacity (BTU)


Editor's Rating

Weber Q2200



Cuisinart Petite Gourmet



Weber Q1000



Coleman NXT50



Cook Air Wood Fired Grill



Coleman Road Trip Propane



Weber Q2200

Editor Rating:

Weber Q2200 Portable Grill belongs to the company’s iconic Q line of portable barbeques. This 42 pounds compact equipment can be conveniently set up at the backyard, porch or at the beach shedding much sweat. The ever-increasing demand of Weber grill can be attributed to the thoughtful design and untamed performance. 

It offers a whopping 12000 BTUs on a stainless burner. The frame is constructed from a robust cast aluminum and lid, the grates are made from porcelain enameled cast iron and for electronic ignition, a push button has been also included. The USA made, fully assembled model comes with a 280 cooking zone which can be utilized to the fullest for preparing a tempting feast for your folks. The solid cast aluminum body stands untarnished through constant battering and the porcelain enameled grate is super easy to clean up.

Cuisinart Petite Gourmet

Editor Rating:

This ultra-light grill, featuring a porcelain enameled cast iron grill grate comes with a sturdy travel bag. Among all the products I have put under evaluation, Petite Gourmet shines as the most portable grill, defeating heavy-weight champions like Weber and Coleman. The model has a grease drip tray attached to it at the bottom. The ignition system, however, did not live up to my high expectations.

I could kindle the spark only after a couple attempts. But once you get past this stage, the rest of the journey feels like a breeze. There’s a dial which allows fantastic control over the temperature. Delicate edibles don’t get stuck to the premium-grade non-stick grade. With a peak heat output of 336o, it can be used for grilling steaks, bacons, burgers, pineapples for grand feasts, campfire and picnics. Bon appétit.

Weber Q 1000

Editor Rating:

I just can’t simply stop blabbering about how much awestruck I was by the Q series portable during the quality test. Sculpted with a cast-iron frame coupled with a porcelain enameled non-stick grate, Weber Q 1000 delivers a solid performance, no matter how much you put it through. The ignition system is the biggest highlight of the product. 

Even a dummy can start the fire in the very first attempt on this grill. Another impressive thing I noticed was the presence of black rubber squares at the bottom, adding extra stability to the stand. The 189 cooking surface provides enough room for moderate amount of food. The temperature control and heating were simply flawless as well.

Coleman NXT50

Editor Rating:

If you are looking for a grill that can be lift up and rolled single-handedly, Coleman is the brand for you. The NXT50 series models are available with propane canisters. The characteristic long tube might bother you a bit while relocating it from one corner of the yard to another. 

The temperature control knob does its job sincerely, it nullifies the chances of accidentally turning off the fuel as you have to twist the knob completely in order to switch it off. Take proper caution while attempting to lift up the equipment from its folding position and lock it into a standing upright position. NXT50 is an advanced version of portable grills with two fuel efficient burners. When you’ve a small portion to cook, you can easily turn off one burner.

Cook Air Wood Fired Grill

Editor Rating:

Cook-Air Wood Fired Grill is probably the best portable grill as far heat output is concerned. It can generate up to 1000 F which is hot enough to cook a delectable spread for a large gang of friends within an hour or two. To achieve stupendous combustion, Cook-Air Grill engineers an internal fan that literally fans the flame created over the burning wood. 

Aside that, foods cooked over burning wood is loaded with a distinct smoky flavour, exploding tiny taste-bombs in your taste-buds. The grill can be powered both by batteries and a standard outlet.

Key Tips to Follow When Shopping for the Best Portable Grill

Heat Output

A very common false notion about portable grills is that they don’t generate enough heat for proper barbequing. While I refuse to discard the idea completely, there is certainly no dearth of quality products that meet all the basic criteria of a dynamic BBQ grill. British Thermal Units (BTU) is an internationally recognized unit for indicating the amount of heat a grill can generate in the main grilling area. In simple terms, the bigger the number of BTUs, the higher temperature your grill can flare-up.

It is particularly important to remember that BTU rating of a portable gas grill is not based on the maximum heating available in the other parts i.e. the side burners, trays etc. One BTU is equal to almost 1055 joules. Consider a higher BTU model for grilling steak and similar meat dishes for large gatherings, camping and picnics. Products offering anywhere around 1000 BTU or above will effectively accomplish bulk cooking projects within a short grilling time, that too at the cost of minimal fuel intake.


The quality of the burner of a barbeque can either make or break the deal. As far as gas grills are concerned, it is best to put higher preference over stainless steel made burners than any other material. Stainless steel with an 18-8 rating along with a corrosion resistant coating is the best you can get for the moolahs. A metal deflector is fitted in between the burner and the grater to prevent grease leakage. The performance of a burner can be best described by its ability to distribute the heat uniformly on the main grilling area. Since portability is an absolute necessity in this regard, burners weighing around 13-20 lbs. will be easy to carry along.

Cooking Surface

Portability has taken a moderate toll on the size of the cooking surface of these equipments. Most portable grills do not offer a spacious cooking zone as traditional BBQs do. It’s totally reliant on how much food you’re intending to grill on the grate. For house parties and social gatherings, you’d naturally need a bigger cooking area. Large grills do demand a hefty sum. If you’re a novice to the art of grilling, act wisely by opting for a much easier-to-handle small grill which can efficiently grill steaks, burgers and kebabs at camp sites and during road trips.


Generally, limited-sized grills come with a single temperature control. A high quality grill is characterized by how smoothly it can switch between high to low temperatures. The best portable grills in the present market can be heated up to 600 degrees for preparing steaks in a short grilling time. Similarly, it should be capable of cooking delicate items like corn, bacon to perfection at a moderate temperature. Commercial grade dual burners allow two different temperature controls to procreate two separate heating zones at the same time.

Quality of the Grate

The functionality of the grate eventually determines the performance of the grill. Its basic function is to retain the heat and transform it evenly through the cooking surface. For lightweight grills that can be moved anywhere you go, a nickel or chrome plated grate will be absolutely perfect. However, these materials tend to catch the rust quickly. For great rust-resistance and great durability, choose a cast iron or stainless steel grate. The latter, especially, is easy to clean up and brilliant at conducting heat to the cooking.


Portable gas grills usually incorporate spark ignition system in the burners. In order to kindle the flame, one either has to a dial or a push button. A few brands have gone steps ahead by including an alternative ignition hole in the grill which can be flared up in a traditional matter, with the help of matches or lighter. Having a flame tamer right over the burner is extremely vital for protecting the dishes from burning or drying out. The setting of the flame tamer should favor maximum vaporization for consistent and even heating.

Construction Type

At the end of the day, how well the equipment would highly depend on how much thought the makers have put behind the design and choice of materials.BBQ grills deal with inflammable substances, so, safety is a matter of tremendous concern here. In order to hold and distribute the heat properly, materials like cast aluminum, cast iron, stainless and enameled steel are ideal. They effectively stand the test of time and don’t chip or break easily. Fragile porcelain coated might be easy to clean up but do not guarantee any stability.

Nonethless, regardless of what material used, a grill will eventually catch char marks and turn discolored due to the constant exposure to high heat and weather elements. To ensure long-term service from your purchase, there are more things to examine than what merely meets the eye. The painting, cotter pins welding, gauge, nuts and bolts are a few important structural aspects to take into account. Fully welded grill frames with finely polished seams are the highest ranking products in terms of performance and stability. Meanwhile, don’t forget to test the handles, ensure that it offers firm grip for superior control.

Location also plays a pivotal role here. If you live in a coastal region, almost anything except copper will be a victim of weather elements in a brief period. In humid areas, cast iron, stainless steel or cast aluminum are likely to last for years. The lifespan of your grill is also determined by the effort you put on the maintenance. All the salt and seasonings used for the cooking takes a heavy toll on the burner. Therefore, wipe the surface thoroughly with proper tools at brief intervals.

Fuel Tanks

Portable barbeques can be broadly divided into two types based on the kind of fuel they use. Propane cylinders are more extensively used in transportable grills than charcoals, because of their size and low expense. A conversion propane tank is easily available in case you need a backup fuel stock.

Assembling the Parts

Fully assembled models are great time-savers. Even if it is comes partially pre-assembled, a top scale brand will provide you with an assembly guide and maintenance manuals written in English as well as a few other languages. Unless you love hassles, go with a fully-assembled grill. Who wants to waste time by drill holes and fit nuts and bolts at a beach party?

Safe Transportation

Imagine how cool it is to be able o take your kitchen along with you wherever you go. Lightweight, portable grills seemed like a utopian scheme even a couple of decades ago. It looks like technology will never cease to surprise us. The market is inundated with units that can effortlessly fit into RVs, trucks, trunks and cars. Models geared with wheels and lid latches are the easiest to carry and transport. Some models may require disassembling of the parts might a bit of a chore as you have to follow the set-up guide. Be careful while lifting the model up from the folding position and locking the stand into an upright position.

Summing up the Portable Grill Saga

As long as you are specific about your requisites and closely follow the key principals of buying a portable grill, there hardly stands a chance of going wrong. The products I mentioned above are solely my personal choices and you’re free to disagree. You just need to make sure that the product you’re purchasing belongs to a reliable manufacturer. Once you know which qualities to look for in a BBQ, you’re just a few steps away from finding the best portable grill to make your holiday season happening and memorable.

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  • Updated October 3, 2016