Hiking/CampingLand Sports

The 7 Best Camping Grills – [Reviews & Guide – 2019]

Whether it’s spring, summer, or fall there’s rarely a bad time to get out camping and take the grill along. Camping and grilling go together as if they’ve been that way since the dawn of time – and maybe they have!

Unfortunately, when it’s time to go camping the big Weber grill usually has to stay at home. You need room for the kids’ bikes, tents, and camping chairs.

We’re going to learn how to pick out the best camping grill for your needs and look at some top rated camping grills so you can spend less time shopping and more time grilling!

Best Camping Grills

 Coleman RoadTrip LXE Gas Grill Cuisinart Petit Tabletop Gas GrillWeber Smokey Joe Portable Grill
editors choice
Type:Rolling standaloneTabletopTabletop
Fuel:PropanePropaneCharcoal
Grilling Surface:285 sq inches45 sq inches54 sq inches
Weight:44 Pounds2.2 Pounds9.5 Pounds

For more of my top gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Camping Lanterns, Camping Cots, Camping Chairs.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Camping Grills For 2019

  1. Coleman RoadTrip LXE Portable Gas Grill
  2. Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill
  3. Blackstone Tabletop Grill / Griddle
  4. Camp Chef Big Gas 3 Burner Grill
  5. Weber Smokey Joe Portable Grill
  6. Smoke Hollow TableTop Propane Gas Grill
  7. Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Here is a feature comparison of my top camp grills with a comparison table and our buyers guide below will help you choose a good grill for you.


Camping Grill Reviews

Coleman always makes a solid appearance on any portable grilling list. Why? Because they’ve been making an innovating camping grills for decades and they’re getting it right.

If you’re a fan of the rolling wheeled cooler, you’ll fall in love with the design of this grill. It packs down into what looks like a luggage case with a set of wheels and a handle for pulling it along.

That makes it ideal for taking to the beach, campground, or other more remote locations.

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When packed it also comes down to a surprisingly small size, too!

Once set up the grill has two side tables for plates, trays, and spices. On the front are three hooks that can hold your spatula, fork, and tongs.

On the technical side, this propane grill has a one-touch piezo ignition that’s easy to use. There are two burner controls for fine temperature adjustments. On top of that, you can swap out the grill for a griddle surface (optional).

At 37” high the grill is a bit taller than a low workbench so it’s probably about right for all but the tallest of us.

Our Editor’s Choice for the best camping grill that’s an easy to use and enough room for compact grilling on-the-go!

 

Coleman Propane Grill | RoadTrip LXE Portable Gas Grill at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Rolling standalone
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Grilling Surface: 285 sq inches
  • Weight: 44 Pounds

Some of us just don’t have much room to pack stuff around the tent, kid’s gear, and inside the trunk of a compact car for a short weekend vacation. If that sounds like you, consider keeping it simple with this small tabletop grill.

This grill is pretty darn small so be prepared to work on a cramped surface. That said, at just 13 pounds it’s lightweight, easy to pack, and quick to use.

These benefits are hard to ignore when you’re busy packing up with other gear and getting ready for the trip.

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You can get this grill in 4 different models. Two of the models are the red portable grill but one of them has the VersaStand which makes it a standalone grill while the other is a tabletop-only model.  It also comes in stainless steel and black colors as well.

I personally like this grill but some users complain that the stamped-steel burner is a little too flimsy and will breakdown over a few years of use. For the price, however, it may be a moot point.

Our pick for the best tabletop camping grill that is compact and lightweight for traveling.

 

Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Tabletop
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Grilling Surface: 145 sq inches
  • Weight: 2.2 Pounds

I personally love this simple grill with its spacious no-nonsense griddle top. It’s available in either 17 or 22-inch sizes so you can pick out the size that’s right for you.

At more than double the grilling area of the last model we looked at, the 22 inch Blackstone seems like a megalith.

Those numbers are deceiving though because this grill relies on a simple square top that maximizes cooking area by keeping things streamlined.

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On the downside, however, this is more like an industrial kitchen griddle than a grill. There is no direct flame access and no grate to cook over – it’s just a simple griddle style cooking surface.

That said, you can cook literally anything on a flat griddle and cleaning up is super easy!

There are two burner adjustments for heat zones so you can keep one side of the griddle hotter than the other. On top of that, grease can be easily scraped out of the back of the griddle.

If you are looking for the best camping griddle that can prepare practically any food, the Blackstone is for you!

 

Blackstone Tabletop Grill / Griddle at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Tabletop
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Grilling Surface: 330 sq inches
  • Weight: 32 Pounds

When we said Big Gas 3, we meant big. There’s nothing compact about this setup but it will make you the undisputed grill master of the camping loop!

Let’s be clear – you’ll need plenty of room to pack and haul this serious grill with you. If that’s your thing, though, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best options for portable grilling.

You’ll need a 20-pound propane cylinder to power the three burners on this grill. Hoses and regulators are provided and you’ll be out of the box and ready to cook in just a few minutes – no tinkering around.

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The grill itself is a somewhat modular system. The Grill Box is added to the top of the grilling surface for an interchangeable setup and it takes up two burner spaces.

You can leave it off if you want but even with it in place you still have space for a pot or pan on the third burner.

Each burner has an individual control so you don’t have to waste gas if you don’t need one running. Oh, I should also mention that you can remove the free-standing legs and place the grill on the tabletop if you need to adapt to the situation at hand!

Our pick for the best propane camping grill that can handle serious cooking needs for large groups or luxury meals.

 

Camp Chef Big Gas 3 Burner Grill at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Full-size standalone
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Grilling Surface: 608 sq inches
  • Weight: 33 Pounds

If you’re on your toes you might already have guessed that we’re about to take a look at our first charcoal grill on the list! This grill and the brand are possibly simply synonymous with grilling so you can’t go wrong.

At a fraction of the price of many propane grills, you’ll be hard pressed to find a cheaper option for campout cooking.

That said, just remember that charcoal comes with its own set of pros and cons – see our “buyer’s guide” section for more details.

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This little grill is circular so that 154-inch surface area is a bit deceiving since it’s hard to use a circular space efficiently. That said, the round Weber charcoal grill has been around a long time and its well-loved!

When I used this grill, the only problem I had was that I struggled to fit my food into the smaller space. Plus the grill, due to its small size, was a bit prone to tipping off balance but that’s compared to a full-size grill.

Overall it has everything you need and nothing extra for some simple smoky flavored grilling the next time you’re out camping or picnicking.

If you’re looking for the best charcoal camping grill that’s inexpensive, light and easily transported package, the Weber Smokey Joe is for you!

 

Weber Smokey Joe Portable Grill at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Tabletop
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Grilling Surface: 154 sq inches
  • Weight: 9.5 Pounds

While it might not be a charcoal grill, this little stainless steel propane setup is prime for camping. It’s an awesome briefcase style grill with a locking lid and a nice handle.

Aside from the obviously nice look of stainless steel, it’s a great material for a grill. If you get things messy you can spray it down, let it soak, and easily scrub it down without worrying about scratching any non-stick surfaces.

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I really like the thermometer on the top of this grill. To the left side is electronic ignition and the regulator on the right does all the work of adjusting the flames.

Inside a single loop of steel burner distributes heat evenly around the two-tier cooking grates.

If I had to pick the best small camping grill for my next trip that is small, easy to use, and easy to clean I would probably make this the top of my personal list.

Of course, I like smaller and easy to use grills so I can keep things simple. Best for camping with small cars or trunks where space is an issue.

 

Smoke Hollow 205 TableTop Propane Gas Grill at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Tabletop
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Grilling Surface: 105 sq inches
  • Weight: 20 Pounds

Similar to some of the grills on our list, this small tabletop propane grill has a few upgrades and accessories that make it one of the most versatile choices you can pick from for cooking a wide variety of foods.

Instead of stainless steel, we’ve got porcelain enamel as the protective surface here. While it’s durable and rugged, you do still need to be careful about chipping it. Try to avoid metal-metal hard contact with things like the spatula.

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It’s a single burner camp stove with a dial control and a push-button ignition that will get things going for you. You’ll have to run this grill on the tabletop however, because it lacks any freestanding legs.

With all that said, you have tons of accessory options. You can hook this up to a 20 pound cylinder with the optional hose.

There are also additional grates and griddles available as replacements or to swap out for other types of cooking.

It is a little pricey compared to some, but you get the brand name, good replaceable parts for future service, and availability of accessories for customization.

Best for tabletop grilling from a top-name brand that stands behind their products over the long haul.

 

Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill at a Glance:

  • Grill Type: Tabletop
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Grilling Surface: 189 sq inches
  • Weight: 26 Pounds

Camping Grill Comparison Table

  Grill TypeFuelGrilling SurfaceWeightRating
Coleman RoadTrip LXERolling standalonePropane285 sq in44 lbs4.2 / 5.0
Cuisinart Petit GourmetTabletopPropane45 sq in2.2 lbs4.0 / 5.0
Blackstone Tabletop GrillTabletopPropane330 sq in32 lbs4.7 / 5.0
Camp Chef Big Gas 3Full-size standalonePropane608 sq in33 lbs4.3 / 5.0
Weber Smokey JoeTabletopCharcoal54 sq in9.5 lbs4.6 / 5.0
Smoke Hollow 205TabletopPropane105 sq in20.4 lbs3.8 / 5.0
Weber Propane GrillTabletopPropane189 sq in26.6 lbs4.7 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Camping Grill for You – Buyers Guide

best portable camping grill
Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill

There are so many goodies that need to get packed up so your grill needs to be simple and easy to transport – nothing to worry about, right? Well not so fast, there is more to it than you might think. Let’s go over what you need to know!

Fuel Types

Much like grilling at home you’ve got a choice in fuel types. There are basically two ways to grill when you’re camping:

  • Charcoal
  • Gas

There is a lot of argument around fuel type but it really depends on your preferences. Maybe you’re the kind of person who really has to have that smoky charcoal flavor that comes from specific charcoal types. Or maybe you’d rather have something quick, clean, and easy to use like propane.

Personally, I think it’s important to consider a wide number of factors:

  • What kind of flavor is important to you
  • How much gear do you want to carry
  • Do you want something easy to use
  • How fast do you want to be able to get started cooking
  • Is cleanliness a factor

There are many other factors that probably should play into your choice but these are enough factors to get you started thinking.

charcoal vs propane camping grill
Charcoal Webeber vs Cuisinart propane camping grill

Charcoal

With charcoal, you have a large bag of briquettes. These bags are heavy but not any more so than a propane tank. However, they’re definitely dirtier than propane.

After you break out the bag of charcoal you have to light it which takes several minutes – usually 15 – 30 minutes to get the charcoal going. For some, this ritual is a fun part of cooking but for others, it’s an added dirty hassle that requires timing and patience.

Once you’re done grilling you’ll have to wait for the charcoal to cool off. After that, you’ll need to properly dispose of the ashes.

Pro Tip: Use a metal bucket to dump the ashes and give them time to cool so they can’t catch anything on fire – particularly garbage!

Charcoal does have an appealing process of grilling and the flavor is top notch in my opinion. There’s something alluring about the smell of charcoal as the sunsets around the campground.

That said, while I love cooking charcoal at home, I might opt for something like propane while camping just to cut down on the hassle.

Propane

Propane is delivered in small canisters from a couple of ounces to a few dozen pounds. It’s definitely cleaner and easier to transport than bags of charcoal, however, it has a handful of drawbacks.

Propane doesn’t have the woody smoky smell of charcoal which may be one of the biggest drawbacks. However, you don’t need to spend time beforehand getting as much stuff ready. Hook up, light the grill, and you’re ready to go in minutes.

When you’re done, just turn off the grill and let it cool.

Propane doesn’t have the same artistic culinary appeal but the practical appeal is inarguably more advanced.

Size of Grill

When it’s time to pack up and head for the campground you’ll need room for a bunch of gear. Taking a full-size camping grill usually just isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you’ll probably want some kind of smaller packable grill.

If grilling is important to you and you’ve got a lot of storage such as a truck or a large RV with plenty of room, you might be able to prioritize a larger or full-size grill.

However, if you’re packing the minivan or you need enough space for other gear I’d downsize. There are plenty of good camping grills out there that pack up small, clean, and easily.

best charcoal camping grill
Cuisinart Tabletop Camping Grill vs Camp Chef Freestanding Grill

Grill Burners

With gas grills make sure the grills are removeable and easy to clean. They will quickly get dirty and need to be cleaned after every use. You want grill grated that are made from either stainless steel or cast iron. Both will hold up well over time and are easy to clean surfaces.

Ignition

Most of the propane grills on list have a built in ignition system that when pressed will spark and ingite the gas. They are typically a piezo ignition but some also have a battery source for the igniter.  The other option is to use a long match to ignite the gas.

Propane Tank Size

Most all of the grills on our list with the exception of the Camp Chef use a 16oz or one pound propane cylinder. These are cheap and easy to obtain. If you plan on using your grill a lot, you may want to consider a adapter to use the larger 20 pound propane tanks so you don’t have to change them out all the time and is cheaper than buying cylinders all the time.

Setup and Assembly

Almost all grills will require some assembly. Be sure you have the necessary tools to put it together. You should assemble it before your first use to make sure you have all the parts and can do it. Grills will usually come with an assembly instructions to guide you.

Transporting Your Grill

If you are short on space in your vehicle, be sure the grill folds up like the Coleman Roadtrip. If you need to transport any distance, look for wheels so you can pull it behind you instead of having to carry it. Most of the grills on our list however are fairly small table top type grills and don’t take up too much space.

Temperature Control

One of the more important features on your grill. If you can’t adjust the temperature you may end up burning your food or taking forever with the heat too low. Look for dual burners so you can adjust the temperature individually and cook foods that need different temperatures at the same time.

What Kind of Food Do You Grill?

Of course, it goes without saying that you can grill practically any food under the sun. Certain grills, though, are better suited to various meals.

Look for some of the following special features to make grilling certain meals easier:

  • Grease drip trays for meat
  • Flat non-stick griddle surfaces for sandwiches, etc.
  • Open grate grilling surfaces for charring meats and veggies
  • Grilling baskets for vegetables

Some grills these days come with interchangeable grates and surfaces. For instance, one side might be a flat griddle surface while the other features raised grates and a drip tray, serving double duty.

Many of the best grills out there have gotten very creative with their almost multi-tool approach to cooking!

Don’t Forget Accessories

It’s a constant dance of balance when you go camping. We all want to take home luxuries, but taking too much stuff makes the trip more of a hassle than a rejuvenating experience, right?

Be sure to account for grilling accessories when you start thinking about packing. You might even want to downsize your grill choice just to have room for stuff!

I mean, I know when I grill I’ve got tongs, spatulas, basters, a dozen spices, BBQ, mustard, charcoal chimney, a tray, plates, baskets of veggies, and meat trays! That’s probably nothing compared to many people.

When you start thinking about all that stuff you’re probably wondering where you’ll pack it all! It’s got to go in the trunk, in the truck bed, or under the RV somewhere so before you get too carried away consider dialing it back a bit.

Keep things simple by leaving some of the spices at home. Take the bare necessities for utensils and maybe downsize from that XXL burger flipper you use at home that’s the size of Gandalf’s staff.

Regardless of what approach you take, just make sure you’ve got the room on the picnic table (or bring a folding table) for all your grilling goodies that are bound to explode all over the place when you start grilling!

best camping griddle
Blackstone Tabletop Grill

FAQs About Camping Grills

Q: Are there any important advantages of propane vs charcoal?

A: Not really.

Some may cite chemical contamination as an issue from lighter fluid when it comes to charcoal. That’s easy to avoid, however, if you use plain old briquettes and newspaper to light your charcoal or just let the lighter fluid thoroughly burn off before cooking.

Mostly it’s preference. As I said before propane is definitely easier, cleaner, and simpler. However many prefer charcoal because it imparts a richer body of flavors to the meal despite the greater difficulty of use.

Q: Can I use a large propane cylinder or do I need to use those small green bottles?

A: For almost every propane grill you can use either type of propane bottle. Of course I want you to check your user’s manual before you do something dumb, but more or less, it should be easy to switch between the two.

Most propane grills have a regulator built in. That means you can attach either type of propane source and the grill will do the regulating of the pressure to make sure nothing goes boom.

Look for an adapter hose to switch from the small bottle to the larger tanks and you’ll save yourself a decent bit of cash on those small green bottles by switching to 20 pound cylinders.

Q: Are grills legal at all campgrounds?

A: I am not aware of any legal issues, however there may be some concern when burn bans are in effect.

Generally freestanding grills won’t be a problem, but tabletop grills that are being used on the ground may violate burn ban regulations in some situations. Just ask the campground manager or host about any special concerns.

If an issue does arise, many campgrounds have built in steel charcoal grills for public use – the kind you’d find at a park. Use those and save yourself the hassle of even having to bring along your own grill in the first place!

Q: How do I clean and maintain my grill?

A: After use, make sure to give the grill plenty of time to cool before you do any hands on cleaning!

To clean the grill grates, heat up the grill before cooking nice and hot. Let the flames char any food on the grates and then turn down the burners. Open the grill and scrape the grates clean if necessary.

To clean the burner, wait until the grill is cool. Remove the grates and check the gas jets (the holes) in the burner itself. If they’re clogged with grease or drippings, use a paperclip or similar to poke them open and remove debris.

If your grill gets really nasty, use a grill cleaner spray. Wait for the grill to be completely cool. Spray that grill liberally with cleaner. Give it 15-20 minutes to penetrate and then scrub with a junk brush (it will make a huge mess). Spray the whole thing down with the hose to wash away the gunk!

Q: Is there a danger of explosion with my grill?

A: Explosions are very unlikely. However it is possible for accidents to happen.

The most likely situation you could possibly encounter would be a propane leak. Check your hose and fittings with soap and water before operating your stove if you’ve modified anything or before using for the first time to check for leaks.

Bubbles will appear where leaks occur when soapy water is applied to gas fittings so you can easily see any leaks around threads, adapters, and fittings.

Even if there is a tiny leak, propane must meat a very specific mixture with oxygen to combust. I’m not saying it can’t happen I’m just saying it’s very very unlikely that you’d encounter a catastrophic failure assuming that you’ve followed the owner’s manual and taken sensible precautions.

Final Thoughts

I think you now have a good idea of what type of grill to buy. Will it be charcoal or propane? Each have their advantages. Your other main consideration of course is table top or freestanding.

Of course the table top style is smaller, lighter but less cooking area and may not work with a large propane tank. On the other hand a large free standing grill is large, heavy and bulky! So carefully consider where you will be camping and how many people you will be cooking for. Most important of all, have a great time with the best camping grill!

Versatility
Ease of Use
Value

The Coleman RoadTrip LXE is our Editor's Choice for the best camping grill with its combination of versatility, portability and ease of use.

User Rating: 2.8 ( 1 votes)
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Casey Fiedler

I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I’m a huge fan of punk rock. I have launched several start-ups. (or business ventures) When exploring the backcountry, I usually carry less than 10 pounds of gear. Years of experience have taught me to pack light. I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing.

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