The sun is shining, the sky is clear. Summer is here. And it’s a perfect time for some outdoor grilling. At the same time, a whole lot of us are itching to travel, tired of being cooped up in the house after a long winter. That means a bit of camping or going to the beach. It could even mean loading up the RV for a long road trip to see the sights all over the country. Fortunately, we get to enjoy those two activities together. In the early 20th century, camp grills were mostly all we had, and they epitomized the phrase “roughing it.” Today, we have portable grills that we have many of the features of permanent grills, ensuring that you get to enjoy true outdoor cooking in your travels. Cooking on the go has never been made easier. Now, there are various types of portable grills available in the market; some are fashioned for tailgate parties while others are more suited for the great outdoors. There are even portable grills for RVs. But before you go buying the first portable grill you see on sale, you’ll need to be sure that the one you buy will match your needs AND your budget. Below are short reviews of various portable grills in each category (based on fuel source). Be sure to check them each out to find out which one would be perfect for your summer trips.
Table of Contents
- Top Portable Grills of 2018
- Portable Grills Reviewed
- 1. Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE
- 2. Napoleon TravelQ 285
- 3. Artland Lotus Grill Portable Grill with Transport Bag
- 4. Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
- 5. Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill
- 6. Weber 52020001 Q1400 Electric Grill
- 7. Char-Broil TRU Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 180 Grill
- 8. Livart LV-982 Electric Barbecue Grill
- 9. Weber 51010001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
Top Portable Grills of 2018
Portable Grills Reviewed
1. Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE
There’s a lot of things that this portable gas grill has going for it. The cooking surface is large enough to feed a family of five or more. There’s little assembly required (though it’s a bit more than what the other two require). The independently controlled burners add greater versatility to your cooking. You can do 2-zone cooking or just cook different types of food at different temperatures at the same time. To increase the grill’s flexibility, grates are removable and can be replaced with other types of cooking plates such as a pan grate or griddle (sold separately, of course).
At 41 pounds, the weight of the grill can be off-putting for some because just thinking about carrying something that heavy can break my back. Fortunately, the heaviness of the grill is mitigated by the stand and its wheels. Whether it’s standing upright or in a folding position, moving the grill from point A to B is incredibly easy. And the weight just adds to the grill’s stability. No need to worry about the grill falling over because of strong winds, etc. Also, the LXE is solidly constructed; nothing will break apart while you are rolling it around the place.
Other advantages of this particular grill are the even heat distribution and excellent heat retention. You don’t have hot spots that cause you to move your food around. And you also get to cook your food pretty fast. Cleanup is also relatively easy. The removable grease tray and grates make possible to wash them in the sink with some hot, soapy water.
But, just like any grill in this review, there are some stuff that makes you wonder if this grill is for you. Again, we mention the weight because it is quite significant. While you won’t have to worry about carrying it a great distance, you do have to worry about possibly lifting it out of the trunk of your car. Another drawback is that the burners are powerful. Yes, this is a disadvantage because there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the temperature right. The grill can get very hot and since there isn’t a built-in temperature gauge and the control knob only has a low and a high setting with a large empty space in between, you really will need to guesstimate the correct temperature during your first few tries. One last thing we don’t like about this grill is the lid clearance which isn’t very high. Unlike the Weber Q1200, you can’t cook small roasts like whole chickens here. Then again, if you’re at a tailgate party, you might not want to wait that long for your food.
Coleman definitely delivers when it comes to this top quality portable gas grill. For under $150, you get a versatile grill that is able to cook your food just the way you like it. Yes, it will take a bit of practice to learn how to get the right temperature for cooking your food. But then, so do a lot of other grills on the market today. And despite its heaviness, the cart makes everything so much easier. Road tripping will never be the same with the LXE.
2. Napoleon TravelQ 285
- You have greater versatility in cooking compared to other portable grills in this category. You can do 2-zone cooking (direct and indirect cooking). You can also cook two different types of food and have them finish cooking at the same time (i.e. medium and well-done burgers). You can also opt to bake or smoke food at low temperatures with this grill.
- the grill has a locking mechanism that snaps shut and stays shut, holding the lid in place while you transport it from one place to another.
- even heat distribution
- large capacity grill (up to 16 burgers at a time)
- plenty of workspace for a portable grill
- easy to use and clean
- the windscreen helps maintain heat on windy days
- grease pan is easy to remove and clean
- cleanup of the entire grill is pretty easy
- the foldable legs are lightweight but very sturdy
- no warming rack or gas gauge
- can’t control airflow so temperature control is limited
- cast iron grate requires seasoning from time to time
- the body of the grill heats up quickly and provides limited heat retention.
- handles and knobs are made of plastic
- a bit more expensive than others in this category (even if it comes with two burners)
The Napoleon TravelQ 285 is really one of the best portable grills in this category. It has solid construction that, with a bit of TLC, ensures it will last for several years. It has two burners that can be individually lit which greatly increases the grill’s versatility. You have loads of cooking space. And the lid provides you with a handy barrier for windy days in the park or at the beach. If you’re looking for a grill to accompany you in your travels, you might want to check out the TravelQ 285.
3. Artland Lotus Grill Portable Grill with Transport Bag
So, what do we love about this grill? It’s light (around 9 pounds) and colorful. It’s tabletop safe. It lights up surprisingly fast, around 5 minutes tops. And it reaches extremely high temperatures – 600 degrees Fahrenheit. And though it is a smokeless grill, there still is a smokey flavor on your food after cooking. Cleanup is relatively easy because the removable parts are dishwasher-safe. It’s worth to note that the part where the solid metal circle meets the grate is a bit harder to clean because scourers sometimes get caught in it.
What don’t we like? The heat isn’t distributed evenly because the charcoal bin is located exactly under the middle of the grate. This means that you’ll have to move your food around a bit to get even cooking. The grill runs on 4 AA batteries, and these can run the grill for an estimated 40 hours of cooking. However, you could also run out when you least expect it. Plus, it’s only good for feeding 2-3 people, possibly four max. If you have a larger group, you’ll need a portable grill that’s bigger. Lastly, it doesn’t have a lid so if you need to do the more oven-like cooking; you’re out of luck there.
Overall, this is a great grill for a small group. It has a lot of features we like in a portable grill – lightweight lights up fast, and can reach extremely high temps. While the uneven heat distribution could be a bit annoying, it isn’t that big of a deal breaker. For its price, it’s definitely a front-runner as one of the best portable ones you’ll ever find.
4. Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
What do we love about this grill?
- There’s no assembly required. You can use it as soon as you get it. Just swing the legs around to a standing position, lift the lid, load up on the charcoal, and light it.
- It’s lightweight (14 pounds) and can be carried around with one hand. While a bit heavier than the Lotus Grill, it’s still easily transportable from one location to another.
- Like all Weber grills, this one is incredibly durable and will last a lifetime.
- Can feed around 6-8 people at a time
- The grill has built-in lid hangers on the side where the lid can rest on if you require a barrier against the wind
- The porcelain-enameled steel body of the grill is resistant to rust (weather-proof according to Weber)
- even heat distribution
- Cleanup is very easy
- When the vents are closed, the grill is airtight which means you can effectively suffocate the fire and save on charcoal.
- The dual dampers above and below enable you to control temperature
- Cool down is pretty fast – around 15 minutes for the grill to be touchable
- The price is pretty low; you really get great value for your money.
- You get a handle on the lid plus side handles so you have the option of carrying it with one hand or with two. A good work-around for people who don’t really have the muscles for carrying 14 pounds with just one hand.
What don’t we like?
- It takes a bit longer to reach cooking temperature compared to the other two portable charcoal grills we’re reviewing.
- The height of the cooking grate isn’t adjustable.
- The nylon handles heat up and require an oven mitt or grill glove for handling
- There’s no access door to the charcoal; you’ll need to lift the grate with all the food on top if you want to add or move around the charcoal.
- Since heat is controlled with the adjustable air vents, it requires a bit of learning on the part of the cook/chef.
5. Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill
The Lodge Manufacturing Company is well-known for producing heirloom cookware. They’ve been around for more than a hundred years, and their products have been known to last almost as long. Now, their products are quite numerous, featuring cookware for indoors and outdoors. But the company only manufactures one grill – the L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill. And this little gem is actually considered a top-of-the-line hibachi (a portable, small grill made up of a cooking grate placed over a brazier), very popular for camping, tailgate parties, and the like.
- the entire grill is 19 by 10 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches
- the seasoned cooking grate is 114 square inches
- made of durable cast iron
- the cooking grate has 2 adjustable heights
- a sliding damper or draft door at the bottom
- a flip-down door for accessing the coals
- a wire bail handle
What we love:
- cooks enough for a small group (around 7 burgers)
- cooking time is pretty fast
- even heat distribution
- this hibachi grill can fit in your fireplace so you can still grill to your heart’s content should you experience cold/wet weather
- the slits are fairly narrow so no danger of your burger falling through the grate and feeding the coals instead of you
- the flat grill surface allows you to cook in a skillet or something similar on top of the grill without worrying about the pan wobbling
- durable construction
- when properly seasoned, you never have to worry about food sticking to it
- doubles as a small fire pit when camping in the woods or at the beach
What we don’t like:
- it’s extremely heavy and tends to tip forward when you pick it up using the handle which makes it awkward to transport from point A to B. Not very portable compared to other grills in this category
- the entire grill (including the handles) can get really hot, so it’s not tabletop safe. You’ll need to use bricks or something similar (nothing flammable) to rest the grill legs on. As an added drawback, the grill stays hot for a long time after cooking.
- there are no side shields to prevent round hot dogs from rolling off
- cleanup is a bit tedious, especially when dealing with the ash
- requires a lot of maintenance to prevent rust
- the latch of the front door doesn’t catch well so it can easily fall open especially when you’re moving the grill around
While there are certainly drawbacks to owning the Lodge Sportsman’s Charcoal grill, the praise from customers are never-ending. It’s a pleasure to use, and the food turns out amazingly delicious. Now, it can be a bit messy and to start it up can be a hassle if you’re in a hurry just like a lot of other charcoal grills out there. But the amount of effort you put in pales in comparison to the food that you get in the end. If you’re looking for a hibachi to grace your backyard or your next camping trip, this one from Lodge should be your number one pick.
6. Weber 52020001 Q1400 Electric Grill
What we love:
- no assembly required because it comes fully assembled right out of the box
- extra long cord so you can set it up easily in various locations
- can reach very high temperatures (over 600 degrees Fahrenheit) despite being a 120-volt electric grill
- heats up fast and recovers the heat even more so whenever you open and close the lid
- adjusting the heat is easy with the temperature control knob
- removable drip pan makes cleanup fairly easy
What we dislike:
- because it’s an electric grill, you always need a socket somewhere to power your grill which limits the places where you can bring the grill. Definitely no camping in the wild.
- small cooking area (around four hamburger patties or two steaks)
- very expensive
- weighs 34 pounds so it’s not really that light, more like one of the heaviest on our list of best portable grills.
Overall, it’s a Weber grill, so you know it’ll be quality. And the fact that they were able to solve the problem of low heat output from an electric grill is, simply put, amazing. With the Q1400, you get a very powerful portable grill that can produce delicious BBQ anytime, anywhere… as long as you can find a socket. Now, for the price, it is pretty expensive. And you don’t get a lot of cooking space at that. But, if you’re limited to buying an electric grill, this is easily the hottest one you’ll find in this category.
7. Char-Broil TRU Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 180 Grill
What other features does this grill have? The lid and body of the grill are made of porcelain. It has a total of 245 square inches of cooking space; 180 square inches of primary cooking space and a 65-square inch warming rack. The grate is made of porcelain coated steel while the warming rack is made of porcelain coated steel wire. This Char-Broil grill has a removable dial-control that can be plugged into any 120V power outlet. Like the Weber Q1400, this grill also provides 1500 watts of grilling power. The lid features a built-in temperature gauge that reaches up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. The grill weighs at 22.5 pounds, one of the lightest in this category.
- Assembly is pretty easy and can be done in 15 minutes or so
- The grill heats up fast and recovers heat quickly (around 4-5 minutes) after the lid is closed
- the grill is considerably lighter than its counterparts which can weigh around 10 pounds heavier
- the warming rack is removable
- even heat distribution
- the meats really stay juicy and tender like advertised
- large cooking space
- removable drip pan
- no flare-ups
- cleanup isn’t as easy as other portable grills because of the grate design
- the temperature plunges very quickly whenever the lid is opened
The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Electric 180 grill is definitely a lot less expensive than Weber’s portable electric grill. It certainly is a lot less light. When it comes to portability, this one would definitely win hands down. But what about cooking performance? The Weber is easily the hottest grill. Although it does heat fast as well as recovers heat quickly, it can’t reach the high temperatures of the Q1400. However, the TRU-Infrared cooking system does seem to work because the meat stays juicy and tender. The Weber doesn’t perform as well. The only downside of this grill is the quick fluctuation in temperature whenever you check on the food and the clean-up. There are definitely a lot of things to love and few things to dislike about the Charcoal TRU-Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 180 grill. While it may not necessarily be our top choice, it’s most definitely one of our finalists.
8. Livart LV-982 Electric Barbecue Grill
What are the features? The grill has a stainless steel grate that has 78 square inches of cooking space (around three burgers). The heating element provides 1200W of grilling power. The grill’s body is also made of steel. There’s a grease tray at the bottom that slides out for easy cleaning.
What we love:
- Perfect for Yakitori-style foods
- the grill is very versatile, enabling you to bake and broil food if desired
- cools off quickly once turned off
What we don’t like:
- cooking time is too long in comparison to other portable electric grills
- cleanup isn’t easy at times due to baked on food residue
- designed for indoor grilling rather than outdoor
- small cooking capacity (family of 2-3)
The Livart LV-982 is definitely a basic electric grill. It doesn’t have most of the features of the other two we’ve already discussed which is one of the biggest reasons why it also doesn’t cost as much. The LV-982 is a uniquely designed grill that has almost the same versatility as the other grills in this category because you’re able to utilize alternative cooking methods such as broil and bake. If you’re on a limited budget and don’t need a lot of features on your portable electric grill, you might want to consider this one.
9. Weber 51010001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
Weber is the gold standard of all grills, and it’s easy to see why. They consistently produce top quality grills that produce delicious results and last for a long time. One of their best-selling grills is the Weber Q1200 Portable Gas Grill. The grill has a cast aluminum dome-shaped lid and body. The split cooking grates have a total of 189 square inches of cooking space and are made of porcelain-enameled cast iron. It has one stainless steel burner (8500 BTU), an easy-start electronic ignition, an infinite burner control valve, and a built-in thermometer. The grill also comes with a removable, angled grease tray and a disposable catch pan. The Q 1200 also comes with fold-out side tables for more workspace. While the grill runs on disposable LPG cylinders, you can opt to purchase an adaptor that allows you to power the grill with larger gas cylinders. The entire grill weighs around 31 pounds.
What we love:
- the grill comes fully assembled out of the box
- solid and durable construction
- it cooks like a full-sized grill despite its small size
- the D-shaped burner ensures there’s even heat distribution
- the cast aluminum lid and body ensures there’s good heat retention
- cast iron grates are perfect for searing
- the side tables are a feature that you rarely see on portable grills
- the option of running the grill with a 20lb. LPG tank
- stainless steel cooking grates are also available
- a cast iron griddle can be bought to replace one of the grates and add versatility to your cooking
- electronic ignition lights up the grill fast
- the large dome of the lid allows you to cook small roasts such as whole chickens
- the grease tray is located far enough from the flames to prevent flare-ups
- can be placed on top of a table or mounted on top of a Weber cart
- comes in a variety of colors ranging from standard black or white to really colorful ones like fuschia and green
- clean up is fairly easy
What we don’t like:
- it’s very heavy for a portable grill
- can’t cook large roasts such as turkeys (not a feature you normally look for in a portable grill)
- indirect grilling isn’t possible
There isn’t much to dislike about the Weber Q1200. It cooks great and looks cool. It’s almost everything you want in a portable grill. The weight of the grill is its biggest drawback, decreasing its portability especially if you plan on carrying it for quite a distance. While the heaviness can be disconcerting for some who want to grill on the go, most people are quite happy with the performance and design of this portable gas grill. At almost $200, it’s definitely worth the money. An investment that will benefit you for decades to come.
Best portable charcoal grill
Winner!! Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Best portable gas grill
Winner!!: Coleman Road Trip Grill LXE
Best portable electric grill
Winner!! Weber 52020001 Q1400 Electric Grill
Portable grills are probably one of the best things to have ever been invented. You get to enjoy delicious BBQ anytime, anywhere. You’ll definitely be experiencing outdoor grilling at its finest. Whether you’re off to experience some one-on-one time with nature, have some fun at the beach, or travel from coast to coast by your RV, you’ll never have to go without food that’s cooked to perfection.