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We would be here all day if I just listed off all the great reasons to pick up a portable grill.
From the benefits of smaller grills for storing on the apartment porch to tailgating with charcoal grilled dinners, the benefits are nearly endless when it comes to portable grills.
Like most grills, the best tailgate grills come in two main flavors – charcoal or gas. Which one you choose is up to you.
Either way, however, you’ll be able to show up to the party, campsite or tailgate ready to grill. Let’s get to it!
Best Tailgating Grills
|Weber Q1000 Portable Grill||Char-Griller Akorn Jr.||Coleman Road Trip|
|Cooking Area:||189 Sq Inches||153 Sq Inches||285 Sq Inches|
|Heat:||8,500 BTUs||200 - 700 degrees F||20,000 BTUs|
|Weight:||26 lbs||37 lbs||47 lbs|
Quick Answer: The 10 Best Grills For Tailgating – 2021
- Weber Liquid Propane Portable Grill
- Giantex Propane Gas Table Top Grill
- Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill
- Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill
- Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow PT300B Propane Grill
- Coleman Fold N Go Portable Gas Grill
- Coleman Sportster Propane Grill
- Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Charcoal Grill
- Raptor Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker
- Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Best Portable Gas Tailgate Grills
- Porcelain-enameled grates
- 189 square-inch cooking area
- Aluminum lid and body
- Push ignition
Weber has been making some of the most-loved grills in the world for years. Their name for quality and the design of this sleek portable gas grill makes it our Editors Choice for the best portable grill for any season and any reason.
One of the most convenient parts of a gas grill is the push button ignition. There’s really no need for lighters or matches. Just open the gas and push the ignition button to have the grill ready to go in no time flat.
Like most gas grills, you can adapt this propane grill to run off 20 pound tanks or the small disposable canisters you find at gas stations.
Depending on the situation, both are perfectly acceptable options that will work well with this grill.
Don’t worry about flame control – the propane flame control is infinitely adjustable. If you’re wondering, the cooking grate is about 19” x 15”.
Best For: A clean, portable gas grill from a reliable maker.
- Locking lid
- Two burners
- 260 square inches cooking area
- Stainless steel construction
Ready for the best portable gas grill that will make all your tailgating neighbors jealous? There’s honestly a lot to love about this dedicated portable gas grill that’s ready to hit the road with you.
This Weber portable gas grill works just as good as it looks. It’s obvious that it was built from the ground up to pack a ton of features into a small form factor.
There are four folding feet made from the same stainless steel as the grill itself.
This pairs with the locking stainless steel lid so you can toss it in the trunk without fear of things falling out and making a mess.
I love that there are two independently controlled burners that allow you to take full advantage of the 20” 13” grilling surface inside.
There’s also a built in thermometer at the top so you know when things are ready!
Best For: A full-featured portable gas bbq grill made from quality materials with a design that travels well!
- Stable table top legs
- Porcelain-enameled grate
- 145 square inches of grill
- 5 pound weight overall
Among competitors, the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet offers more color options in their small portable bbq grill than others. It is the best small gas grill on our list, let’s find out why!
I have to admit, the disconnect legs are a good idea because you can put this grill on a full size (optional) stand if you want.
However, it looks pretty ugly and flimsy though other users rate it well enough. In tabletop configuration it looks and performs well enough!
Like the Giantex grill, I love the locking lid feature. This keeps the grill from coming open if you stash it in the car to take for a camping weekend or tailgate.
The porcelain-enameled grate is a good addition to help keep things clean. Compared to non-coated grates they don’t stick as much and help prevent charcoal buildup after cooking.
Best For: Tabletop tailgate grill or camping.
- Fold up rolling wheel design
- 285 square inches cooking area
- Interchangeable grates
- Two tabletop work surfaces
Of all the grills we’ve reviewed so far, this one takes the cake for the most inventive.
Coleman has a long history of making great outdoor equipment and they’re living up to that name with another knockout success!
This grill is quite a bit bigger than the others we’ve reviewed so far. With 285 square inches of grilling surface, you’ll have tons of room to grill out.
One of the coolest features is that the grill top grates are swappable. You can have a grill on one side and a griddle on the other side (optional).
There’s a removable grease tray which makes cleanup much easier. You’ll still want some high powered soap and cleaner, though.
Thankfully they used coated grill grates which do an excellent job of cutting down on cleanup.
The most notable feature of this grill is the full height stand which folds down to a carrying case. All you need to do is fold up the grill and you can wheel it along like a suitcase from the car to the party!
Best For: Tailgaters and campers who want full size convenience and the best portable bbq in a compact package.
- Locking lid
- 205 square inches cooking area
- Full stainless steel
- Push button ignition
Similar to the Giantex grill above, this dedicate tailgater’s special is made to move and ready to go! Let’s take a look at all the great features that make it the best table top grill that somehow come in a low-cost package.
Yeah, it’s a top competitor for the Giantex stainless steel grill but this one won’t break the bank. In fact, it’s surprisingly affordable considering the features.
There’s a push button ignition, two tier cooking rack, and built in thermometer. These features make it easy for anybody to become a grill master at the flip of a switch!
Unfortunately, there’s only a single burner so you’ll lose some flame control. That said, you can’t expect every luxury in an affordable, tabletop propane grill. I think this grill offers everything a portable grill should and it looks great doing it!
Perfect for a conservative budget with all the top portable features.
- One of the smallest grills available
- 100 square inches cooking area
- Locking lid
- Uses disposable propane canisters
If you want a no-nonsense tiny portable grill that can fit anywhere without weighing you down, then look no further. Of course, that means you’ll be limited in what you can cook but not every occasion calls for a full featured grill.
While it is a tiny grill, don’t worry too much! You’ll still have plenty of room to handle 4-6 Brats or a couple mid sized steaks without pushing stuff off the sides.
That’s just what you need for a weekend camping trip with the family as long as you’re crafty and efficient.
Users love the tiny size and surprisingly powerful heat output. Of course there isn’t a thermometer or multiple racks, but you’ll have what you need.
I would carry this in the RV for a backup in case everything goes wrong. Or it could be a perfect road trip companion when you’re out of room for luxury items.
Best For: Small, occasional grilling needs in a lightweight and affordable package.
- Push button ignition
- 225 square inches of cook top
- Collapsible full-height stand
- Wheeled for easy transport
I gotta hand it to Coleman, they’ve got a penchant for the making the best portable barbecue grills. This time we’ve got a propane gas grill that folds down to a carrying handle with wheels so you can easily get it where you’re going without lugging it around.
There’s something nice about having a full height stand for your grill. Anyone who has tried to work with portable grills on the ground or balanced on odd surfaces knows it can be a fight.
Honestly I would pay a lot of cash to have a good stable stand for my grill like this one!
That said, there’s more to love than the collapsible stand. The locking lid makes this grill easy to stash without things crashing open and spilling charred food bits everywhere.
There’s also a removable grease tray that keeps things from getting too sticky at the bottom and eases cleaning after each meal.
Best For: A portable full height grill with minimal features that’s light on the wallet.
Best Charcoal Tailgate Grills
- Kamado style grill insulates and heats evenly
- 153 square inches of cooking area
- Top and bottom air control
- Easy dump ash pan
Charcoal grilling is an artform that lives on the sidelines of the grilling world. That is, unless you’ve got the best charcoal grill like the Akorn Jr. which will quickly make you fall in love with the art of charcoal.
Any charcoal user knows that cleanup can be a pain. That’s why investing in a grill that has an easy to use ash cleanup system is worth your time.
On that note, you won’t be disappointed by the ash bucket on this grill which opens up to clean out easily.
Overall the construction on this grill is notably robust and durable with solid metal parts. Plus, the sturdy internal grate features segments with unique shapes and spacing for different foods.
While it’s not a ceramic grill, this one borrows the shape and style from others. The 22 gauge steel is double walled to help insulate and heat the food.
Best For: A ceramic style portable charcoal bbq grill that’s durable and functional for a fair price.
- 250 square inches of cook surface
- Mess-free handles
- 12 pounds
- Chrome-plated cooking grates
The Raptor Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker is another amazing option at quite an affordable price point. Designed for efficiency, it can actually save you up to $112/ year in charcoal if you use it once a week.
With clean handles on the grate and charcoal basket, you’ll get to cook your meals mess free – no need to touch ash ever again, even when relighting your grill!
Though it weighs only 12 pounds, it has 230 sq. inches of outdoor cooking surface – making it a versatile yet extremely portable option.
A class exclusive sealed lid and tight tolerance air valves allow you to find the perfect grilling temperature, and provide an industry leading cool-down.
The Raptor is the best table top portable grill and small smoker for tailgating, travel and road trips.
Best For: Campers & Tailgaters who want the best small charcoal grill that’s easily portable.
- 160 square inches of cook space
- Porcelain-enameled coating
- Legs fold to act as lid locks
Weber is the name in charcoal grill. But this portable grill is a bit different from their old-school style kettle grill.
Can it hold up to scrutiny? All things considered, this is one of the best portable charcoal grills that you can find.
Not surprising, considering Weber’s immaculate reputation for charcoal grills.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you’ll have to dump the ashes out. There’s no ash dump on the grill itself so you’ll literally have to flip it over and dump it once cool.
At the bottom is a series of air holes that are non-adjustable. There are, however, two adjustable vents at the top that can help you control airflow on your grill when cooking for temperature control.
Best For: An inexpensive, compact charcoal grill in a small size from a company you know you can trust.
Tailgate Grill Comparison Table
|Portable Grill||Type||Heating||Cooking Area||Rating|
|Weber Portable Grill||Propane||8,500 BTUs||189 Sq Inches||4.7 / 5.0|
|Giantex Table Top||Propane||20,000 BTUs||260 Sq Inches||4.4 / 5.0|
|Cuisinart Petit Gourmet||Propane||5,500 BTUs||145 Sq Inches||4.0 / 5.0|
|Coleman Road Trip Grill||Propane||20,000 BTUs||285 Sq Inches||4.3 / 5.0|
|Smoke Hollow TableTop||Propane||10,000 BTUs||205 Sq Inches||4.7 / 5.0|
|Coleman Fold N Go||Propane||5,000 BTUs||100 Sq Inches||4.0 / 5.0|
|Coleman Sportster||Propane||11,000 BTUs||225 Sq Inches||4.0 / 5.0|
|Char-Griller Akorn Jr||Charcoal||200 - 700 degrees F||153 Sq Inches||4.5 / 5.0|
|Raptor Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker||Charcoal||200 - 600 degrees F||230 Sq Inches||4.1 / 5.0|
|Weber Go-Anywhere||Charcoal||200 - 600 degrees F||160 Sq Inches||4.6 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Portable Tailgate Grill for You
- Grill Type
- Size For Portability
- What Will You Grill?
- Order a Size Up!
- FAQ’s For Portable Grills
Surprisingly, there’s quite a bit to consider before you settle on a final choice. Fortunately, we’ll cover the need-to-know info quickly and get you on your way to choosing the best portable grill for your needs in just minutes!
Grill Type: Gas or Charcoal?
This is an age-old question the plagues thousands of grillers each spring as the weather thaws. When it’s time to break out the grill and get busy the decision isn’t easy. However, we’ll go over a few of the pros and cons of each and I think you’ll be able to choose for yourself.
Can be rewarding but requires more practice and patience than gas grilling. Charcoal also imparts a unique and delicious flavor on to your food.
- Takes time to heat up
- Produces smoke
- Ashes must be cleaned and disposed
- Flavors food with a unique and desirable style
- Heat can be uniquely controlled with skill
Is much quicker, cleaner, and easier to use than charcoal. If you want quick and intuitive grilling, propane gas may be for you.
- Easy to ignite
- Quick to heat up
- Clean burning
- Lacks the charcoal smokey flavor
Choosing between gas and charcoal can be tricky. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t use both!
When it comes to portable grills, however, I think the gas grills really have a leg up on the competition. Portable charcoal grills can be tricky to ignite and cook on due to their small size. It’s hard to space and control the temperature of charcoal grills in such small models.
Another factor to consider is packing up and carrying charcoal grills to events such as tailgating. If you have a truck it’s no big deal, but for those with cars – do you really want dirty charcoal grills and ashes in your trunk? Maybe not…
Clean burning and compact gas grills may make a better choice for many where transportation is a concern. Another factor may be that some apartment complexes don’t even allow charcoal stoves. Due to the charcoal smoke and close proximity of neighbors, you may make some enemies.
Size For Portability
This one’s tricky and there’s no right answer! What size is the best for portability while still maintaining enough room to cook on the grill? Here’s a few factors to keep in mind before you settle on your new grill.
How big is your ride?
Chances are you’ll be transporting your grill in your car or truck. And that’s just the thing – we all have different vehicles. If you have a truck and a couple of friends to help you, it’s easy work to transport a full size charcoal grill.
If you’ve got an SUV or a car you’ll need something small enough to fit yet large enough to grill on. Most small portable gas grills will meet these needs with the added benefit of being much cleaner to transport inside a closed vehicle.
What Will You Grill?
Ideally we would pick the biggest grill for the vehicle we have to transport. That’s just not always necessary, though. Having a balance of size and portability is key to enjoying the process and not struggling with a bulky grill to lug around all day.
For portable grills you’ll have to understand that your capacity is limited. If you’re grilling for yourself and a partner then perhaps you don’t need much room. You can fit two burgers on even the tiniest grill.
Trying to grill a rack of ribs may be more of a challenge than is worth the struggle on a small grill. Yet a few fish fillets and a basket of grilled veggies is no problem as long as you’ve got a small grilling basket.
For a few hot dogs and burgers, any grill should serve you well. When you start looking at trying to grill specialties on a portable grill, however, you’ll need to consider a few things.
Order a Size Up!
No matter what you’re grilling, I always encourage people to order a size larger than they need. I’ve grilled many times on portable charcoal grills that just barely fit my selection of grilling foods. Trust me, it’s not worth it!
Because in order to properly grill the meats and veggies need enough room to allow the hot air to properly circulate. Plus, when it’s time to flip you don’t want to be struggling and knocking things off the grill as you try to get a spatula or tongs in there.
I know that space is limited when it comes to portable grills, but you’ve got two choices. Either order a bigger size (within reason) or put less on the grill at a time. Of course, a compromise between the two is probably best!
FAQ’s About Portable Grills
Q: Do I need help assembling my grill?
A: Many grills come assembled. However, those that come in parts can be easily put together with household tools. If you’re in doubt just ask a friend of family member who is handy to come help you. Paying for expert assembly (available from Amazon now) is expensive!
Q: Do I need grilling accessories?
A: Yes, you do! For gas grills you might be able to get away with household tongs, knife and spatulas when getting started. However, you’ll still need a grill brush to clean the grates after use.
For charcoal grills you’ll probably need a chimney, starting fluid, matches, and an ash bucket at least.
Q: Should I worry about weight on my portable grill?
A: Yes. Some of the portable grill on our list are very lightweight. These are ideal for a few hot dogs or burgers. However, not all the grills on our list can handle a heavy shoulder of meat for slow cooking, or other large applications. Keep it small and light!
I can’t tell you which portable grill is best for you. However, I suggest you start by deciding between gas and charcoal. While gas is cleaner, charcoal makes for a better smelling and tasting food according to many.
Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new. There’s a grill on our list that makes a perfect companion for everyone.
Whether you’re camping or tailgating, look through the reviews here to find your way a good tailgating grill that can do it all for you. Then you can sit back and relax around the fire enjoy a nice meal!
How We Researched
To come up with the top tailgate grills we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas and Backcountry along with our own personal experience.
We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.
With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options for the price. The author, Casey Fiedler has been leading backpacking trips for over a decade in his native state of Michigan.
To help narrow down the selection he used his personal experience along with recommendations from fellow guides and outfitters.
After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.