There’s nothing more fun than camping with your family and friends! And the delicious barbeque and steak add more flavor to the fun. But to grill the meat, you need a portable grill that's easy to use and can be set up anywhere and anytime.
Grills are available in a plethora of options, including multiple fuel types and ignition system, so it is essential to choose the right one that's affordable and simple to use.
To help you make an informed decision, we are here with this definitive portable grill buyer's guide. The guide contains various features that you should consider before buying a grill.
So, let's look at what type of portable grills are available in the market, and which one is perfect for your requirements.
The foremost reason to trust this guide is the extensive research that we have done to save you from the hassle. Below you will find each and every detail about a portable grill that will impact its performance and your experience with it.
We have explained different types of grills along with some other functionalities that you must check before clicking the buy now button.
All the factors listed below in the guide will help you shortlist the best portable outdoor grill. A grill has various components such as the grates, the shelves, and much more, so having an expert opinion on the features is necessary.
Let’s get started:
Portable grills are available in a plethora of options ranging from charcoal to electric and propane. You should select the grill that’s in your budget and is affordable to operate in the long run.
Each portable grill has its respective pros and cons, so it is essential to choose that type that works for you. Below we have listed the common types of portable grills along with their pros and cons.
Electric grills are highly popular as they are lightweight and easy to use. Unlike a propane grill, they don't need a gas tank, so the grill is highly portable and easy to set up. To use the grill, you need to put the plug in the wall outlet, and it will start the heating element.
Electric grills come with variable temperature settings, and therefore you can cook food with ease without overcooking it. The grills are good to use indoors and outdoors, provided that you have a wall outlet available near your camping site.
There is no need to carry a bag of coal, and the grill produces less smoke than charcoal grills.
Portable propane grills are extremely popular among campers and travel enthusiasts, as it is easy to set up the grill and start grilling your food. The grills use a small propane tank that you need to connect to the grill to use it.
These grills are easy to use just like electric grills, and you get variable temperature control features with most of them. Also, the grill remains clean, and there is less or no grease accumulation when compared to charcoal grills.
You should go for a propane grill if you are traveling to a remote area with no electricity. The grill requires a propane tank, which means you need a backup tank as well to refill the connected tank if it gets empty.
Propane grills are versatile, and you can even use them with a natural gas tank. The best part about these grills is that you can set them at high temperatures to cook meats and other eatables that require high temperatures.
For the real smoky flavor, you need portable charcoal grills. The grills are highly portable, as there is no need to carry a tank with it. All you have to do is put the charcoal below the grates, ignite them, and you are good to go.
Charcoal grills are really simple, as they are a huge hollow metal bowl that accommodates the burning charcoal and supplies the heat to the food via the grates. You won't find the variable temperature in charcoal grills as the temperature depends on how much charcoal you are burning at the moment.
Furthermore, using a charcoal grill can be pretty expensive, and you cannot use them in the city due to the black smoke. If you need an authentic flavor of the real BBQ, go for charcoal grills.
Pellet grills require wood place as a fuel, and they add a rich woody flavor to the food. The reason why pellet grills aren’t that popular is the cost of operating them. Most of the pellet grills aren’t portable, and it is difficult to find wooden pellets.
You need to stock the pallets so that you can go camping whenever you like. Most of these grills have a built-in computer that regulates the temperature, so they need electricity as well to pump in air to increase the temperature.
After choosing the type, it is time to choose the size. Buying a massive grill will limit its portability, so there is no benefit of buying it. The grill size depends on multiple factors, such as the type and quantity of food you want to grill over it.
If you are traveling with a group of people, you need a bigger grill so that you can cook more food simultaneously. Similarly, solo travelers or folks traveling with small families should go for compact grills that are lightweight and highly portable.
Check the overall dimensions of the grill to ensure that it is portable and is perfect for your requirements.
A portable grill should be easy to use so that you don’t have to spend time reading manuals and watching YouTube videos. The ease of using a grill depends on its type and your skill level. If you are a beginner, then you will find electric grills easy to use, as all you have to do is connect the plug to the wall outlet, and the grill is ready to use.
On the other hand, propane and charcoal grills are a bit complex as you need to connect the propane tank and then fire up the grill. Charcoal grills require even more expertise as the placement of the coal matters when cooking the meat.
Furthermore, some grills have an ignition button that lets you ignite the fire easily, whereas some require manual ignition with a lighter. Before you buy a portable grill, read some customer reviews to determine how easy it is to use the particular grill.
Always keep the instruction manual handy so that you can go through it to learn more about the features.
The size of the cooking area is measured in square inches. More square inches mean that the cooking area will be bigger, and the grill will be heavy. The choice should depend on how much food you want to prepare.
For more than five people, you should go for a bigger grill so that no one has to wait with an empty plate. A portable grill with a 100-200 sq. Inch cooking area will allow you to grill 7-8 pieces of hamburger at a time.
On the other hand, if you want to cook more, go for grills with 250 or more cooking area. As the size of the cooking area increases, the weight of the grill increases simultaneously.
Cooking meat and grilling hamburgers require different temperatures, and that is why portable grills with variable temperature control are excellent. The feature is generally available in electric and propane grills, and you won't find it in a charcoal grill.
When you go for a propane or wood pellet grill, you will find multiple knobs available to control the temperature. You can reduce or increase the temperature depending on the requirements of the recipes. Grills that have temperature control features are ideal for cooking multiple foods.
Whereas, if you go with charcoal grills, then you have to compromise with the temperature control feature. The only way to adjust the temperature is by putting more coal or taking it out from the grill's bowl. If you aren't an expert, then it can be daunting to control the temperature using a charcoal grill.
The built-in shelves will let you place your spatula, tongs, and sauces that you are carrying with you. Also, you can keep other such items on the shelves, so it is essential for a portable grill to have shelves. Usually, most portable grills come with two foldable shelves, and you can fold the shelves while traveling.
However, you will find some grills with more than two shelves, and they are usually bigger. The choice of the shelves depends on your preference. Some portable grills such as charcoal and wood pellet grills don't have any shelves, and you need a table to use with them.
If you are traveling in a remote area, then it is essential to buy a grill that has built-in shelves. Using a grill in the backyard or your friend’s place doesn’t require shelves.
Imagine you are cooking your favorite meat dish, and the wind currents are continuously blowing the fire. It will not be less than a nightmare when you have to re-ignite the grill multiple times. Some portable grills offer ultimate wind resistance, and the fire won't get blown due to the winds.
You should buy grills with wind resistance if going camping. The grills come with huge windshields that protect the flame, and you can cook food without any issues.
Some grills have hollow lids that you can place over the grate to protect the flame from the thwacks of winds.
If you are buying a charcoal grill, then consider checking if it comes with an access door so that you can add more coal quickly. Coal takes more time to heat up the grill, so it is essential to check the availability of the dedicated door.
After you burn the fire in the grill, there will be no option to add more coal from the grates, and that is why the accessible door is important.
Grills, especially charcoal and propane grills, need good airflow so that the fuel burns efficiently. You will find multiple air vents available on the grills to maintain good airflow, so that the fuel burns efficiently, and you can grill food without any issues.
The material plays an important role as it has a significant impact on the durability and weight of the grill. You should buy a grill that is lightweight and durable so that you can take it wherever you go. Below are the common materials used to manufacture portable grills.
Grills made using aluminum are lightweight, and the material is resistant to water. Furthermore, it gives an aesthetic appeal to the grill, and you will love to take it for camping. However, grills made using aluminum are expensive, and the material loses its color with time.
The grills that are made with stainless steel are durable, and the finish of the material can attract anyone. The material is heavier than aluminum, but it is lighter as compared to cast iron. Another reason to choose stainless steel is that the material is resistant to corrosion and is easy to clean.
Cast iron grills can be heavy, but they are extremely durable. If you have a tight budget go for grills made using cast iron. There are risks of corrosion, so you have to invest time keeping the grill clean.
Go for portable grills that are easy to clean so that you don’t have to spend the entire day cleaning it. The cleaning depends on multiple factors, such as the material of the grill and the type of food you are preparing for it.
If you need an easy to clean the grill, go for electric or propane grills. It will be easy to remove the grates and clean them on the go. On the other hand, if you are planning to buy charcoal grills, then get ready to keep it clean.
The charcoal and the smoke make the grill dirty and the juices from the meat dripping over the coal result in grease.
Overall, charcoal grills require more cleaning than the other types.
The burner is an essential component of the grill as it has to do the cooking. Smaller grills have small burners, whereas bigger grills have bigger burners. When deciding which portable grill to buy, check how many burners it has and the BTU rating.
The BTU rating helps you determine the amount of heat the burners can generate. Every portable grill, irrespective of its type, has a different BTU rating.
Make sure that you buy the grill that has more than 10,000 BTU rating so that you can cook different types of meats and other foods on it.
Get a grill that is easy to set up so that you don’t have to spend hours assembling it. You should go for grills that are easy to set up so you can quickly get into the action with your spatula. The grills that are easiest to set up are charcoal grills because there is no gas tank or wired system.
Check the ignition system if you want a portable grill that’s highly convenient. There are two common ignition systems i.e., auto and traditional.
The auto-ignition system lets you fire up the grill with the knob. There is no need to carry a lighter as you can do it with the knob. On the other hand, grills with a traditional ignition system require you to carry a lighter so that you can ignite the flame.
Portable grills are available at a myriad of prices, starting from 100 bucks and going up to 500-600 depending on the model you choose. To avoid overspending, make your budget and then start searching for the best portable grills.
After choosing a portable grill, you need to buy some accessories to keep the grill clean and to get an awesome experience with it.
Buy a cleaning kit that includes multiple tools such as a cleaning brush, and other tools required to make the grill spotlessly clean.
A spatula will help you flip the meat slices without burning your hands. Go for a stainless-steel spatula as it lasts longer and is easy to clean.
If you are going for a portable charcoal grill, then buy a pair of tongs. With the tongs, you can manage the burning coal by changing its placement to adjust the heat.
To avoid burning the meat or overcooking it, go for a thermometer. You should buy a meat thermometer to get the best taste out of it while cooking it evenly.
You can even cook a pizza with a grill using a pizza stone. Get a good-sized pizza stone that's portable and easy to use with the grill.
A: Cleaning a charcoal grill is easy, but it takes time and effort. First off, start with taking off the lid, and then remove other components such as the grate.
A: The weight of the grill depends on multiple factors, such as the material and its size. Go for aluminum grills if you don’t want to travel with a heavy grill.
A: Grills can be dangerous if you are not using them carefully. When attaching the propane tank, inspect it multiple times to ensure that there are no leaks, and it is working fine. Furthermore, spend time cleaning and maintaining the grill so that it works fine.
With this portable grill buyer’s guide, you can quickly buy the best grill that is perfect for you and is under your budget. Look for multiple options and then shortlist the one by comparing different grills on these factors.
Also, check customer reviews to find out their experience with the grill and to know about any issues that you might face with them.
Lastly, check the accessories and FAQ section to know more about portable grills and the items you should buy with them.
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