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Take the BBQ anywhere with the 5 best portable outdoor grills

Take the BBQ anywhere with the 5 best portable outdoor grills

There's a unique taste to your favorite foods that only an outdoor grill can deliver -- whether that grill relies on charcoal, propane, wood pellets or electricity. But not everyone has the space for a full-size outdoor grill. And some grilling aficionados want to show off their skills during tailgating parties or camping trips. So, whether you're short on space or want something portable, there are some really impressive portable outdoor grill options out there.

Pro Tip: Consider the type of fuel that'll be the most convenient to use, based on where you plan to use the grill. Of course, you also want to pay attention to the grill's overall cooking area to determine how much food you can prepare at once.

What is the best portable outdoor grill?

Our in-house team of grilling experts has been researching and testing all sorts of grill options. We've covered the latest smart grills, charcoal grills, wood-pellet grills, propane grills and smokeless indoor grills, but if you want to do your grilling and barbecuing from a smaller outdoor space, or while camping, tailgating or enjoying an afternoon at the park or beach (assuming you're allowed to use a grill at these locations), here are some of the very best portable outdoor grill options.

Best portable outdoor grill overall: Kamado Joe Joe Jr. 13.5" ceramic charcoal grill

Kamado Joe Joe Jr 13.5-inch Portable Ceramic Charcoal Grill with Grill Stand

Fuel type: Charcoal | Cooking area: 150 sq. inches | Ignition type: Matches/lighter | Housing material: Ceramic with stainless steel grate | Temperature range: 225 to 750-degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 22.19 x 16.06 x 20.5 inches | Weight: 68 pounds | Tabletop stand included: Yes | Warranty: 2 years

When it comes to achieving that classic charcoal grill taste, there's no better known, premium grill brand than Kamado Joe. And this Joe Jr. model offers all of the key features of the company's larger models, but in a grill that's transportable. It comes with its own tabletop stand, so you can set it up on a deck, at a tailgating party or anywhere you can bring along this 68-pound grill and some charcoal. The stand has built in side handles that make it easy for two people to carry.

Despite being the smaller sibling of Kamado Joe's full-size grills, this one provides 150 square inches of cooking space within the rounded (13.5-inch diameter) grill housing. With this grill, you get just the basics needed for grilling. The stainless steel grate is not adjustable and there's no removable ash tray or side shelf for food preparation.

Yes, you'll pay a bit more for this grill, but it's made from high-quality materials, including high fire heat-resistant ceramics, cast iron and stainless steel. The shell is extra thick to help lock in smoke and moisture at any cooking temperature. To maintain a consistent cooking temperature, the top of the grill integrates a cast-iron air vent. The grill comes in the company's iconic blaze red color. A grill gripper and ash scrapper are included. 

Optional accessories include the Joe Jr. Cart with shelves, the company's steel wok, steel griddle, steel half-moon pan set, steel paella pan and a grill cover that are all sized perfectly for this grill.

Best budget portable outdoor grill: Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14" charcoal grill

Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

Fuel type: Charcoal | Cooking area: 147 sq. inches | Ignition type: Matches/lighter | Housing material: Aluminum | Dimensions: 14.2 x 14.5 x 17 inches | Weight: 9.5 pounds | Tabletop stand included: Yes | Warranty: 10 years (bowl and lid)

If you're looking for a no-frills, portable, durable and lightweight charcoal grill that can be set up just about anywhere, the Weber Smokey Joe Premium checks all the boxes.

The grill's 147 square inches of cooking space is enough to prepare up to five burgers at once. Despite the grill's low cost, the lid and bowl are porcelain-enameled, so they won't rust or peel. And the built in dampers allow you to control the cooking temperature. 

Inside the grill is a removable, double plated steel cooking grate that retains heat while you're cooking, but is easy to clean when you're done.

Best portable outdoor grill for camping: Weber Q1200 liquid propane grill

Weber Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill

Fuel type: Liquid propane | Cooking area: 189 sq. inches | No. of burners: 1 heating element | Ignition type: Electric (battery powered) | Housing material: Cast aluminum | Burner output: 8,500 BTUs | Dimensions: 24.6 x 20.5 x 40.9 inches | Weight: 26 pounds | Tabletop stand included: Yes | Warranty: 5 years

In addition to using liquid propane for fuel, we like that this portable grill offers folding side tables, electric ignition, a thermometer built into the lid, a removable catch pan and cast-iron cooking grates that are porcelain-enameled. You also get a generous 189 square inches of cooking space.

Once set up on a tabletop, the Weber Q1200 is able to generate up to 8,500 BTUs per hour of cooking power within its cast-iron aluminum body. For fuel, you can pick up 16.4-ounce cylinders of liquid propane on Amazon or anywhere that sells grilling or camping supplies. This grill comes in your choice of six lid colors, all with a black frame, tabletop stand and integrated shelves.

Based on more than 7,600 reviews on Amazon, the Weber Q1200 has earned 4.8 out of 5 stars, so you know it's a popular model that people love. The optional and very convenient Weber Q foldable grill cart table ($99) and a Weber grill cover ($22) are sold separately. 

Best portable outdoor grill for tailgating: Cuisinart CGG-608 tabletop grill

Cuisinart CGG-608 Portable Grill

Fuel type: Propane | Cooking area: 184 sq. inches | No. of burners: 1 heating element | Ignition type: Twin start | Housing material: Stainless steel | Burner output: 10,000 BTUs | Dimensions: 14.5 x 17.75 x 15 inches | Weight: 16.9 pounds | Tabletop stand included: Yes | Warranty: 3 years

This portable outdoor grill from Cuisinart works with up to a one-pound liquid propane tank for fuel (sold separately) and provides a generous 184 sq. inches of cooking space -- enough to prepare food for up to five people at once. The lid has a built in thermometer. There's also a built in, quick start ignition, so you won't need matches or a lighter.

The CGG-608 is a single burner grill made from stainless steel. It's able to generate up to 10,000 BTUs of cooking power and requires no assembly. Simply connect the propane tank, light the grill, add some food and you're ready to start cooking.

A notable feature is the locking hood with a built in carry handle, so the 16.9 pound grill is very easy to transport. It's the perfect grill for small balconies, tailgaters, campers and RVers.

Best premium portable outdoor grill: Kenyon G2 electric grill

Kenyon G2 Portable Tabletop Electric Grill

Fuel type: Electric (1,440 watts) | Cooking area: 213 sq. inches | No. of burners: 1 | Ignition type: Electric | Housing material: Stainless steel | Burner output: Up to 550-degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 21.6 x 19.25 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 37 pounds | Tabletop stand included: Yes | Warranty: 3 years

We love this Kenyon G2 electric grill because it can be used indoors or outdoors. Setup takes less than two minutes and it takes less than five minutes to reach a cooking temperature of 550 degrees Fahrenheit. It's also capable of perfect searing at up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit in under 10 minutes. 

In the past, an electric grill could take up to 30 minutes just to reach the right cooking temperature, but with the Kenton G2, that's no longer the case. Plus, when you're done cooking, the grill's lid and grate are removable for easy cleaning. They're even dishwasher safe. We're huge fans of this grill's minimalistic, yet highly functional design.

Yes, this is an electric grill, but you can infuse your food with extra flavor by adding a variety of liquids to the drip tray. The single control knob allows you to set and then maintain a precise cooking temperature across the grill's 213 square inches of cooking space. 

The Kenyon G2 is designed to be a tabletop grill, but a stainless steel, 40 by 21 by 35 inch grill cart is sold separately. Other optional accessories include a grill cover, warming rack and griddle. This grill is exceptionally well made and designed to last for years. It's easy to operate and you don't have to worry about flare-ups, so you'll wind up with perfectly grilled food every time you use it. 

The grill comes with a six-foot, 120V power cable, along with a drip tray. The built-in carry handles make it easy to transport. Think of this as the Rolls Royce of premium, portable, indoor/outdoor cooking grills that's well worth the investment.

How to choose a portable outdoor grill

With so many portable outdoor grill options to choose from, here are six things to consider: 

  • Size and weight: If you're shopping for a portable outdoor grill, the key word here is portable. Choose one that's lightweight, folds up to fit easily in your vehicle and that isn't too heavy to carry, especially if you'll also need to bring a small propane tank or a bag of charcoal with you, too. Of course, the size of the grill also impacts cooking space and how much food you can cook at the same time.
  • Fuel type: Just as with full-size grills, portable outdoor grills can support any of several popular fuel types, like charcoal or propane gas. Some run on electricity and must be plugged into a standard power outlet. Select an option based on accessible of the fuel type and convenience, based on where you anticipate using the grill most often. 
  • Cooking space: Measured in square inches, this impacts how much food you can prepare at once. For reference, 100 square inches of cooking space should be enough room to accommodate up to five burgers at once. 
  • Grill grates: Most grill grates are made from stainless steel, porcelain-enameled cast-iron, or porcelain-enameled steel. All of these of these options are durable and easy to clean. These grate materials create impressive sear marks. They also do a nice job retaining heat, which means your cook will cook faster.
  • Materials and durability: For the main housing of a grill, you want a durable material that retains heat well. Stainless steel, cast-iron, enamel, ceramic, or sheet metal are the most common options. 
  • Ease of cleanup: Get a grill with a layout and materials that are easy to clean, but be sure to follow the instructions in the owner's manual to prevent damage to the grill or the possibility of mixing harmful chemicals into your food.

At CBS Essentials, we're continuously covering just about everything you need for your outdoor living space and inside your home. And if you're looking to save money on your purchases, our deals section will help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on household essentials and just about anything else you want or need to purchase -- from laptop computers to luggage, outdoor furniture, TVs and more.

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