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Article updated on June 14, 2024 at 8:00 AM PDT

Best Portable Grills of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

After testing over 12 models from leading brands, including Weber, Char-Broil and Cuisinart, here are the best small propane grill models and portable charcoal grills to get.

Our Experts

Written by 
David Watsky
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or tinkering with a toaster. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
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What to consider

Fuel type

Should you choose gas, charcoal or something else?

Size

Your portable grills need enough cooking capacity while remaining easy to move around.

Cost and value

Should you spend $400 on a portable grill? We'll break it down.

Our Picks

$259 at Ace Hardware
A man cooks meat on a grill in the woods
Best portable grill overall
Weber Q-1200 Portable Gas Grill
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$499 at Hitchfire
hitchfire forge grill attached to back of truck
Best grill to hitch to your car
Hitchfire Forge 15
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$115 at Walmart
cuisinart-portable-gas-grill-amazon
Best budget portable gas grill
Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Tabletop Grill
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$57 at Weber
screen-shot-2021-04-27-at-1-05-14-pm.png
Best budget portable charcoal grill
Weber Smokey Joe Premium
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$199 at Amazon
gobq
Best charcoal camping grill
GoBQ Charcoal Grill
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$117 at Amazon
gosun
Best portable solar grill
GoSun Go Portable Solar Cooker
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$15 at Amazon
casus-grill
Best one-time use portable grill
Casus Biodegradable Bamboo Grill
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What's the best portable grill for 2024?

weber portable grill
Weber

Portable grills are better than ever today. These small cookers can fuel a full campsite or get through a beach barbecue with beef, chicken, fish and veggie burgers. I've seen their prowess up close as I tested portable grills with options from the top brands (and a few new players) over several summers. Weber's powerful and portable grill remains the best pick for most people, having earned and kept the top spot several years in a row, and that's because no other grill of the more than 12 I've tested gets close to the sturdy Q series in terms of quality, cooking performance and overall value.

There are other small grills to consider if you prefer cooking with charcoal or need a super-portable grill to carry during a hike up a mountain. You can get grills in all sizes, shapes and weights, with some as small as a handbag and others that attach to the back of your car for a different kind of mobility.

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A few of the small grills we fired up to find the best in class.

David Watsky/CNET

Whether it's a small and portable charcoal grill or gas model to take to a beach bash, tailgate, camping trip or music festival, we've tested over a dozen small grills and portable cookers to find the best small grills. Below you'll find the nine best portable grills for outdoor adventures in 2024.

Best portable grills for 2024

$259 at Ace Hardware

Best portable grill overall

Weber Q-1200 Portable Gas Grill

This sleek portable gas grill from Weber is superior in almost every category and was a fairly clear winner as the best portable grill overall. It's easy to assemble, with just a few parts, and once completed feels solid and sturdy, even when given a few vigorous shakes. The igniter works well and, once lit, the grill got hot, reaching its advertised 500 degrees Fahrenheit after just 15 minutes with the lid closed. The flame is easy to control and keeps a consistent temperature throughout cooking, even when grilling with the flame turned low. 

With 189 square inches of cooking surface, this grill was not the biggest on the list, but it's plenty big enough to cook burgers, chicken, fish, and veggies for a group of six hungry people. It's also nice-looking with flare-out trays to hold your plates and grilling tools, plus an ergonomic design. It comes in a bunch of fun colors, or jet black if you prefer. Despite its sturdy build, the Q-1200 is still light and limber enough for a camping grill to take on a camping trip or for one person to carry with relative ease. This grill, like all on the list, can use any small propane tank sold at most camping or hardware stores.

$499 at Hitchfire

Best grill to hitch to your car

Hitchfire Forge 15

This grill is for serious tailgaters and is specifically designed to ride on the back of a car attached to a hitch. The monster Forge 15 has 355 square inches of cooking space so you can feed the whole gang and two powerful 7,500-BTU burners (15,000 total) will make sure your steaks, dogs and sausages get a proper seer. 

The best part about this Hitchfire grill is that it won't take up any precious space in your trunk or hatch since it rides outside the car. That means more room for chairs and coolers. There's even a built-in bottle opener because Hitchfire clearly knows its audience. 

You will need a proper hitch to attach it, and I'd suggest taking a short test drive to ensure it's properly installed. Worth noting you'll also want two small propane tanks to get the whole grill lit. There's also an adapter sold separately to rig it up to a full-sized tank if you prefer.

$115 at Walmart

Best budget portable gas grill

Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Tabletop Grill

This portable gas grill from trusty kitchen brand Cuisinart has foldable legs and a twist start ignition. It has a decently sized 145 square inches of grilling surface with an easy-to-clean porcelain grilling grate (which is a lot handier than having to buy new grates). It uses natural gas tanks and ignites quickly with a steady and consistent flame. It was ultimately less powerful than the Weber (just 5,500 BTUs), topping out at around 400 F. It didn't maintain its heat quite as well but wasn't terrible in that regard either.

The Cuisinart gas grill is definitely lighter and a bit more portable than the Weber. It also feels slightly less sturdy while grilling, but is not flimsy by any means. It was equally easy to assemble. At less than $150, it is the best portable grill on a budget -- especially if you don't plan to use it more than a handful of times per summer. The Cuisinart portable grill also runs on any small propane tank you can find at camping or hardware stores.

$57 at Weber

Best budget portable charcoal grill

Weber Smokey Joe Premium

Surely you've seen -- and possibly owned -- one of these little guys in the past. The Weber Smokey Joe is a staple at park cookouts and on camping trips and that's for good reason. It's simple yet very soundly designed. It doesn't take much skill to operate and it works great. 

The Smokey Joe doesn't have fancy features but it has what you need including ventilation dampers that allow you to control the temperature with ease and a body made from enameled porcelain which keeps it from rusting. This Premium model has a built-in lid rack so you don't have to put the grill cover on the ground while you're flipping burgers and chicken.

Charcoal, with its inherent messiness, may not be ideal depending on your portable grill needs but this is a workhorse that will get the job done and last you a good while. Plus, it clocks in at a budget-friendly $46 (for the black model), making it my pick for the best cheap portable charcoal grill.

$199 at Amazon

Best charcoal camping grill

GoBQ Charcoal Grill

While the Weber Original Kettle may have taken the top spot in CNET's list of best charcoal grills, this newcomer is my pick for the best portable charcoal grill. A smart and solid build allows you to take this small grill anywhere, including on a long hike. 

Carrying a dusty, dirty charcoal grill around isn't usually an attractive proposition, but the creators of the GoBQ have mostly solved the issue through intelligent design. The entire unit folds out and up in about 20 seconds and then wraps up again after you're done, securing all the nasty cooked charcoal. 

It's only nine pounds -- the lightest of any on this list -- and with the fitted carrying case can be slung right over your shoulder and taken out for grilling on the go. This take-anywhere charcoal grill is probably the most portable of all the grills I tested and is perfect for campers or hikers who need a small, portable grill while on the move. 

The GoBQ also performed well, cultivating a steady and hot fire, and has a robust 185 square inches of grilling space. There are no bells and whistles on this grill, so you'll have to adjust and maintain the fire as you would most charcoal fires or campfires: with a careful flow of oxygen and good charcoal management. It's a little more expensive than some on the market, but it's built to last. If you want portable charcoal grilling in a truly portable package, this is the best small grill to buy. 

$117 at Amazon

Best portable solar grill

GoSun Go Portable Solar Cooker

Perhaps you didn't even know this was a category. Well, it is and these GoSun solar-powered grills actually work pretty well. When I tested it, it got scorching hot and cooked chicken thighs, sausage, fish and veggies all in under 25 minutes or less. 

This solar oven requires no charcoal, propane or any fuel source (hooray for the environment!) and is super light and transportable. It's a perfect camping cooker except you do need sunlight for this to function so I wouldn't rely solely on this for eating if you're heading into the woods for an extended period. 

The big drawback of this nifty portable oven is its cooking capacity. Since food has to be loaded into a tube, you can't really cook many of the traditional barbecue meats such as ribs. Some foods such as burgers need to be formed into a more cylindrical or elongated shape to fit inside. The slender device is perfect for cooking hot dogs, most veggies, fish and chicken pieces which slide in with ease.

It's also worth noting that you'll be getting more of a broiled result versus a traditional grill since there is no actual flame so don't expect char marks on your oblong burgers. There are a few sizes, including the larger GoSun Survival if you're planning on cooking for a group.

$15 at Amazon

Best one-time use portable grill

Casus Biodegradable Bamboo Grill

Single-use grills exist, and while they may not be the most practical option for everyday use, if you have one long hike planned and want to do some grilling, this is a good option. The Casus grill can only be used once, of course, but it actually gets fairly hot in about five minutes and stays lit for over an hour. It also has enough space to cook three or four burgers, sausages, dogs, veggies or chicken. 

If you're worried about the garbage pile factor, this grill is 100% biodegradable and made with bamboo charcoal cakes on a bamboo grate. You could technically bury it after use without harming the earth or the creatures around. Note, that you should remove as much grease as possible before burying the grill.

How we test portable grills

In testing these models, I considered the weight and general portability of each along with the total square inches of grilling capacity they afforded. I also tested how hot each grill gets and how well it maintains that heat using a thermocouple. Convenience and quality are both paramount, so I evaluated the ease of assembly and overall sturdiness of each grill along with the quality of the frame and grill grates. Finally, the ultimate test: I cooked a variety of meatfishmeat substitutes and vegetables to see how the portable grills performed in their most critical of duties.

Cooking

To evaluate these grills I assembled each one from scratch and then cooked an array of foods at various temperatures to see how they performed. Foods cooked included steak and burgers, which do best with a hot sear. I also cooked chicken breasts, which appreciate a hot grill to get those outer marks and retain juices but ultimately require a lower and more consistent heat to cook the chicken through without burning the outside. I also tested more delicate foods like fish, mushrooms and Beyond Meat (plant-based) to see how the grills performed at lower temps, but also to see how the different grill plates would handle more delicate foods.

Temperature and control

Temperature control is crucial with any grill. It's a little-known secret that the built-in thermometers on most grills don't work well, so I used a thermocouple thermometer to see how hot the surface above the grill became and how well they could hold that heat. Most grills performed about as well as advertised, with some topping out at as much as 100 F hotter than others. The better grills also generally ended up reading out a more consistent temperature throughout cooking. (Temperature consistency is important, especially if you don't plan to be chained to your grill for the entire cooking process.) I not only measured the temperature of the grill but also its consistency at its holding temperature, both high and low temps, and flagged when there were issues. 

Assembly and sturdiness

I also took into account the ease of assembly and how sturdy a grill felt once it was assembled (for those that required assembly). Although the limits of a pesky time-space continuum would not allow me to measure the quality or durability of each grill over time, there were sight and touch tests employed to help determine how hefty and hearty a grill was. I also dug through verified purchase reviews to determine if any had any consistent or glaring wear-and-tear issues to be concerned about. 

grills

Three portable grill subjects assembled and ready for testing.

David Watsky/CNET
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Other portable grills we tested

PKGO Charcoal Grill This was a very solid charcoal grill and the only reason it dropped off of the main list is because of how heavy it is. Although it's a manageable size, at 35 pounds it's a little heavier than a grill I'd personally want to be lugging around. The PKGO is solidly built and has a very cool dual function where the lid pops off and flips over into a hibachi so you can actually double your cooking surface and get that close-to-the-coals hibachi seer if you're looking for it. If you don't mind a little extra weight on your grill

Everdure Cube Portable Charcoal Grill: I really love this small and stylish charcoal grill with its built-in cutting board and prep container. The only thing keeping it off this list was the steep $200 price, which is a whole lot for a small charcoal grill. It's well-built and easy to maneuver (under 20 pounds) and if you've got the extra coin lying around, I say go for it. 

Magma Firebox Single-Burner: This is another grill I liked, but it's not portable or affordable. The burner alone weighs 26 pounds and originally cost $450 (though it's currently on a steep clearance), but you'll need to add the grill top accessory, which weighs another 26 pounds to do any actual grilling (and also lists for $450, though it's also now on clearance). This model was engineered with boaters in mind, so if you're setting sail, you might give the pricey Magma a closer look.

Giantex tabletop propane grill: I had no major issues with this grill. It worked fine, got hot and cooked evenly. When compared to the Weber Q and NomadiQ I simply like the design of those small gas grills better. The Weber Q is more solid and has those handy built-in shelves while the NomadiQ is simply the most portable gas grill I've ever seen. This is a fine grill and worthy of the $150 list price.

Char-Broil Portable Gas Grill: This grill is cheap and the product matches the price tag. It was rickety once assembled and didn't feel like it would last more than a season. For $50, what more could you hope for? If you need something to get you through a camping weekend or two, this should do the trick.

Char-Broil: Char-Broil Deluxe Tabletop Grill: While the above Char-Broil might work as a no-nonsense budget grill, this model is way too poorly designed and crafted to waste $87. One of the worst for value in the small grill category, and a definite stay-away.

BioLite Grill and Fire Pit: This is a solid option if you covet a fire pit that transforms into a grill for beach hangs and backyard barbecues. This $300 model worked well but we found the build a little chintzy for such a pricey grill.

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Factors to consider when buying a portable grill

Fuel type

The biggest decision you'll make is what fuel your grill uses. Gas grills are largely thought to be the easiest, especially since they don't require a large and heavy propane tank. Coleman and other outdoor brands make small, portable propane tanks that weigh only a few pounds. Charcoal is a good option and is cheaper but it's almost always messier, especially after the cooking is done. You might want to avoid charcoal if you're planning to regularly bring your grill in a car or truck.

There are other grill types including electric and solar. Electric grills require, well, electricity which isn't always easy to find when you're on the move. Solar grills are cheeky and work well, but they have limited power and cooking capacity.

Size

Figure out how much cooking you'll need to do and for how many hungry people. The smallest grills have grill tops that fit only a few burgers while the larger grills on this list have grilling areas as large as some full-sized grill.

Cost and value

A portable grill likely isn't going to do as much or last as long as a full-sized grill so it should cost less, too. Grills on this roundup range from the super affordable around $100 to pricier models that cost a few hundred. The Weber Q-1200 clocks in a reasonable $250 and is built to last, which is why we put it at the top of the list.

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Portable grill FAQ

What's better a portable gas or charcoal grill?

In general, gas or propane grills make for the best portable grills since they're clean, easy and fast to get fired up. Charcoal is a fine alternative but it's heavier and messier than a small propane tank. Charcoal generally also takes longer to light. Small electric grills are also an option and while they sound great, remember you might not always have access to power, especially if you're camping or spending a day in the park. Plus, you won't get any of that flame-grilled goodness since there's no, well, flame. 

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What's the best reason to buy a portable grill?

While a full-sized grill is ultimately the best option if you're not planning to move it from your backyard or deck, small grills have gotten better and more dynamic over the years and can shoulder a lot of the same cooking load as their bigger cousins. There are more types of small grills now using every fuel source imaginable, including the sun. Portable grills are perfect for campers, city folks living in apartments and anyone without a big backyard or who finds themselves often on the move. 

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How much does a portable grill cost?

Portable grills cost anywhere from $50 for a simple Weber charcoal grill all the way up to $500 or more for fancier gas and propane grills with bells and whistles galore. My favorite portable grill, the Weber Q-1200, sits at about $259 but you can find it for less on sale. Most sturdy small grills should last you several years to a decade if the unit is cleaned, covered and cared for properly.

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