The 9 Best Portable Grills of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

$123 at Walmart

Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Tabletop Grill

Best budget portable gas grill

$57 at Weber


Weber Smokey Joe Premium

Best budget portable charcoal grill

$15 at Amazon


Casus Biodegradable Bamboo Grill

Best one-time use portable grill

$15 at Amazon

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What’s the best portable grill?

weber portable grill


After testing well over a dozen models, Weber still makes the best portable grill for your money: the sturdy and compact Q1200. But there are other models that may be a better fit depending on your grilling wants and needs. 

If you’re planning a big ol’ backyard barbecue, a full-size grill will keep the masses fed and you in good standing. But if your home or apartment features a small outdoor space, there are small grills made for city dwellers and those who have small balconies. Need one more reason to add a proficient small grill to the arsenal? A portable grill is essential for a tailgate before the next game or concert. 


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 tailgate, on hikes, to music festivals and park hangs, we’ve tested over a dozen small grills and portable cookers to find the best available. Below you’ll find the 9 best portable grills for camping, tailgating and other outdoor adventures in 2023.

Read more: Best Barbecue Grill Tools and Accessories for 2023

Best portable grills

A man cooks meat on a grill in the woods

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.

hitchfire forge grill attached to back of truck

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.

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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. However, it was ultimately less powerful than the Weber (just 5,500 BTUs), topping out around 400 F. It didn’t maintain its heat quite as well but wasn’t terrible in that regard either.

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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.


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.

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coleman grill

This is about as simple and straightforward as portable grills go. The Coleman boasts a smaller grilling surface than some of the others on this list — 105-square-inch, to be exact — but it’s still plenty large enough to handle a few steaks or four burgers at once.

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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 small kamado from Char-Griller is small enough to take for portable charcoal grilling on the go but just clunky and heavy enough (37 pounds) that you might not want to. It’s also top-heavy, which makes for more precarious car-packing.

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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.

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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 on each to see how the portable grills performed in their most critical of duties.


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 ease of assembly and how sturdy a grill felt once it was assembled (for those that required assembly). Though 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. 


Three portable grill subjects assembled and ready for testing.

David Watsky/CNET

Other small 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. Though 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 it’s 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. That said, 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 costs $450 but you’ll need to add the grill top accessory, which costs another $450 and weighs another 26 pounds to do any actual grilling. This model was engineered with boaters in mind so if you’re setting sail this summer, 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. That said, this is a fine grill and worthy of the $170 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. But for $33, what more could you really 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 $90 on. One of the worst bangs for your buck 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.

Portable grill FAQs

Should you buy a gas or charcoal portable 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 the charcoal is heavier and messier than a small propane tank and charcoal generally 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. 

Why opt for a small or portable grill over a full-sized model?

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. 

How much should you pay for a portable grill?

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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