The best portable grills help you enjoy flavorful meals on a picnic, camping trip, or road trip. While it’s hard to beat the power and capacity of full-sized grills, these smaller counterparts can elevate your BBQ experience away from home. Plus, they’re not all gas-powered, too. Today’s top-rated portable grills include charcoal and pellet models as well.
If you’re having a hard time choosing the right unit, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve narrowed down some of the most recommended portable grills based on top categories. Looking for something for your backyard? We’ve also rounded up some of the best gas grills and best propane grills for you.
Best Portable Grill Comparison Chart
|Cuisinart Venture Grill|
|Coleman RoadTrip 225 Portable Propane Grill|
|Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14”|
|NOMAD Grill and Smoker|
Cuisinart Venture Grill
The best portable gas grill
From afar, the Cuisinart Venture looks like a cooler or lunch box, thanks to its size and handle. Open the unit, and you’ll find a capable gas grill. The Venture stacks its parts to achieve this compact form. At the center is the grill body, with a 154 sq. in. porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grate. The body also houses most of the grill’s components, from the gas valve to the venturi tube.
Meanwhile, the grill’s base comes off and features a rack to keep your propane tank upright. There’s also room for storing the tank when the Venture’s not in use. Once the base is removed, you’ll find the grill’s short but stable body legs. Underneath the grill body, there’s a drip tray, too, although it’s a bit small and prone to spilling. At the top, the wooden lid doubles as a chopping board if there’s no table around.
While it’s small, the Venture sears well and cooks evenly. Starting the grill is simple with the Twist-Start ignition. You can also control the heat with a dial and get up to 9,000 BTU. Given the Venture’s size, however, you’re best cooking meals at max temperature.
Dimensions: 18.06 x 14.5 x 13.25 in. | Weight: 22 lbs. | Fuel: 1 lb. propane tank
Coleman RoadTrip 225 Portable Propane Grill
The best portable grill for camping
If you need a larger portable grill, consider the Coleman RoadTrip 225. Named after its 225 sq. in. cooking space, Coleman’s RoadTrip is perfect for camping trips with groups of five to six people. Of course, that also means you’re getting a heavier, 28-pound grill here, which is one of the downsides of the unit.
But the cons are outweighed by the features of the RoadTrip 225. First, the grill already comes pre-assembled. You can take it right out of the box and start grilling. Next, its lid comes with a lock for secure transport. Moreover, the RoadTrip 225’s cast iron grill grates are interchangeable with stove grates, although the latter is sold separately. This allows you not just to grill but to also use a pan for varied meal options.
Like the Cuisinart Venture, the Coleman RoadTrip 225 has an easy-to-start ignition system. The RoadTrip 225’s advantage, however, is the presence of two adjustable burners. This gives better control of your grilling power — anywhere between 2,500 BTU to 11,000 BTU.
Dimensions: 14 x 18.5 in. | Weight: 28 lbs. | Fuel: 16.4 oz. propane cylinder
The best portable pellet grill
For those who value flavor, pellet grills are a safer and more versatile alternative to gas and charcoal. They don’t just come in full-sized options, too. The Traeger Ranger, for instance, is about 21 inches wide and 13 inches tall. While it weighs a hefty 60 pounds, that’s a fraction of what you’re getting with a backyard unit.
Like most pellet grills, the Ranger is automated. A digital controller on the front adjusts settings for temperature and timer. There’s also a Keep Warm function that maintains the grill at 165ºF. Above the control panel, you’ll find the pellet hopper that can hold up to 8 pounds of pellets. Beside the hopper is the main cooking area that offers 184 sq. in. of cooking space.
Aside from the unit, you get several accessories with the Ranger. For instance, you can choose from two cooking surfaces — a grill grate or a cast-iron griddle. Below them, users can install a modest-sized grease tray and transfer drippings to an included grease bucket. Traeger even throws in a meat probe that plugs into a jack below the digital controller.
Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 20 in. | Weight: 60 lbs. | Fuel: Wood pellets
Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14”
The best portable grill for tailgating
Weber is top of mind when it comes to grills. And as expected, the brand carries a solid lineup of portable models. Its 14-inch Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill is one of our favorites and our pick for outdoor social gatherings. Taking its cue from the original Weber Kettle, the Smokey Joe brandishes a classic design that impresses as it delivers.
Unlike the Kettle, however, Weber’s portable charcoal grill offers a more modest 147 sq. in. of cooking space. That’s enough to fit six burgers. Because it’s smaller and lower, the grill is easy to load at the back of a car. The Smokey Joe also boasts a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl for heat retention. Inside, you get heavy-duty fuel grates designed to withstand high temperatures.
Weber’s Smokey Joey also features an adjustable damper on the lid. It’s a simple yet effective way of controlling the temperature without lifting the lid. Underneath the grill body, you’ll also find an ash catcher, which should make cleanup a breeze.
Dimensions: 17 x 14.2 x 14.5 in. | Weight: 9.5 lbs. | Fuel: Charcoal
NOMAD Grill and Smoker
The best portable charcoal grill
Most portable grills look like regular grills, only smaller. The NOMAD Grill and Smoker, on the other hand, is a piece of engineering. Sporting a cook box design, this premium grill is constructed from aluminum. Thanks to an anodized finish, the NOMAD is not only durable but corrosion-resistant, too. It also features an ergonomic handle with a soft grip for convenient carrying.
Using the NOMAD, you get two cooking options. For grill mode, you simply open the suitcase for 425 sq. in. of cooking area. That’s enough room for up to 30 burger patties. The NOMAD uses lightweight, domed stainless steel grates for additional coal clearance.
When closed, the unit works as a smoker with over 212 sq. in. of cooking space. This is possible thanks to innovative magnetic vents that slide for damper control. These dampers help distribute heat evenly so you can also cook faster. Speaking of heat, the NOMAD comes with an integrated Tel-Tru bimetal thermometer, making it even more of an all-in-one unit.
Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.5 x 9.5 in. (closed) | Weight: 28 lbs. | Fuel: Charcoal
Among the portable grills reviewed, Coleman’s Roadtrip 225 and NOMAD’s Grill and Smoker are the two standouts.
A versatile gas grill for outdoor trips
Portable and premium grilling and smoking
While the grills above should be great for any trip, two are clear standouts. The Coleman RoadTrip 225 is our pick for camping — and road trips, too. While the Cuisinart Venture is more compact, Coleman’s portable gas grill is more versatile and powerful. Its best feature is the interchangeable cooktops that help you prepare varied meal options.
If you want to splurge, however, go for the NOMAD Grill and Smoker. The robust suitcase-style unit boasts impressive construction and carefully considered features. From magnetic vents to ergonomic handles, the NOMAD grill leaves no component as an afterthought. The best part is that it works as a smoker, too.
Yes, the Traeger Ranger does require a power outlet.
Pellet grills use indirect heat for cooking. As such, there will be no open flame or risks of flying sparks. There is also no direct contact between grease drippings and fire.
Users get one grill gate out of the box with the NOMAD Grill and Smoker. However, the grill itself can accommodate two, although the extra grate is sold separately.
No, it doesn’t. You’ll have to purchase the Smokey Joe’s carrying bag as an add-on.