I love the great outdoors, but I love it even more when there’s a hot and delicious meal instead of a granola bar or cold sandwich. Do you know how that’s possible? Portable propane grills!
These valuable appliances can make any outdoor adventure, from camping to tailgating, easier and more delicious! They’re perfect for entertaining and ideal for cooking or grilling on the go. What makes them so convenient is their petite size and portable fuel. No more hauling wood or bags of charcoal to the beach.
You can choose from various shapes, sizes, and specialties to suit your cooking needs. After a few rounds of brats at the beach or grilled chicken at the campsite, you’ll wonder how you ever got on without your portable propane grill. We’ve rounded up our favorites below to help you wade through all the wonderful options.
The Pros of a Portable Propane Grill | A Buyer’s Guide
If you’re looking for clean cooking that’s super convenient, you certainly want to consider a portable propane grill. These compact cookers are fantastic at heating up quickly, cooking a variety of foods perfectly, and cleaning up with little to no mess.
All you need is a small, transportable propane tank, and you’re ready to get grilling. Turn the valve, and you have nearly instant heat. Other types of grills require cumbersome logs or messy charcoal. You’re left with residue or ashes to clean up and carry out when you’re done. I don’t think I need to discuss how they’re a better choice than electric grills. If you’ve ever gone into the great outdoors, you know that outlets aren’t a natural feature.
A chef’s only as good as his tools; here’s what to consider to ensure you’ve selected the best of the best.
- Price. Whether you’re an occasional camper or practically a full-timer at the campground, there’s a portable grill for you. However, how much you plan on using the grill can influence how much you want to spend. Affordable options cost around $75, and upscale options fall closer to $300. Think about your budget and how much you’re willing to invest versus how often you require a portable grill.
- Size. If you’re going tailgating, you likely have a little bit of room to spread out and a vehicle to carry all your gear. Alternatively, backpackers frequently find themselves in a small grassy area and having to carry all their gear on their back. Your interactions with nature can sway what size grill you buy. Do you need a small grill that can tag along wherever you go? Or is a large tabletop grill with a bonus griddle perfect for your cookouts? Consider the height and width of the grill and the size of the cooking surface.0
- Heating Power. Heating power is often measured in BTUs (or British Thermal Units). In general terms, a BTU is how much thermal energy is needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Usually, between 75 and 100 BTUs per square inch of grilling surface is sufficient. A larger cooking area may need more BTU, while a smaller grilling area with many BTUs means it will put out a lot of heat and cook things quite quickly. In the end, don’t get hung up on BTUs. Some propane tanks only go up to 5,500 BTUs, others reach 26,000 BTUs, and several go as high as 32,000 BTUs. Divide the total BTUs by the grilling area square footage in inches; if the resulting number is 80 or above, you’re usually good to grill.
- Style. Have you ever heard the phrase, “you eat with your eyes”? It’s not bad to have a grill that looks as good as it cooks. Consider color, material, how it sits on a tabletop or freestanding, folding and portability, compactness, and versatility are primary considerations too. Your grill should match your cooking preferences, camping style, and general personal style.
What Makes A Portable Grill Great for Camping?
Portable grills typically prove to be most convenient when camping. There was a time when camping often equated to ready-to-eat meals or those that could be cooked over an open flame. However, that requires fuel in the form of logs and the ability to build a fire. Then, you must let it burn down to just the right temperature to cook your food without scorching it. Unfortunately, there’s a mess left to take care of when you’re finished.
A portable propane grill helps solve these problems. It’s compact, small, and lightweight, making it easy to transport. Even its fuel source is petite and perfectly sized for travel. You still get a flame that’s perfect for searing, without any ash to clean up at the end. Many of today’s versatile grills have a decently sized grilling surface and unique features like a griddle capability. This makes them a simple solution for cooking while camping.
Compact Size. Portable propane grills are known for their small size. This makes them effortless to carry along with you and use in the great outdoors. Don’t be fooled by their slim profile, though; they still have plenty of grilling space for main courses and side dishes.
Transportable. Not only is the grill itself portable, but the fuel source too. You don’t need to carry heavy logs or bags of charcoal, nor do you need an outlet. Instead, many grills fold down into an easy-to-carry form and only require a small propane tank.
Lightweight. We all love our backyard barbeques, but I can’t imagine hauling mine to a campsite. Instead of lugging your full-size grill, consider taking a light and small portable propane grill that provides you with all the comforts of home just at a lighter weight and smaller size.
Grilling Surface. These travel grills often provide an excellent grilling surface. Unlike portable electric grills, you can still achieve that flame-licked sear on the outside. Additionally, propane usually has excellent BTUs per square inch of grilling surface, cooking your food quickly and effectively.
Different Types of Portable Grills
As you may have guessed, propane isn’t the only type of portable grill.
- Portable Propane (Gas) Grills. Portable propane grills are travel friendly, from their size to their fuel requirements. Unfortunately, propane can be one of the pricier fuel options.
- Portable Charcoal Grills. Alternatively, charcoal grills still offer portability with a cheaper fuel source. However, charcoal can be a bear to carry and even more tricky to clean up when you’re finished.
- Portable Table Top Grills. A portable tabletop grill is for you if you want easy lighting and ultimate heat control. Remember, though, these grills can be a bit bulkier than other options and may require an electrical outlet that isn’t easy to source in nature.
7 Best Portable Propane Grills
1. Weber 9010001 Traveler Portable Gas Grill, Black
This is the ultimate grill for tailgaters.
Its large size (a 15 burger capacity) allows you to entertain a group of hungry guests. However, its convenient stand is equipped with wheels, so you can effortlessly roll it behind you wherever you go. It only requires one hand to set up and collapse, so you won’t even have to set down your beer.
2. Weber 51080001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
We love how portable this little grill is.
It’s the perfect solution to tabletop cooking at the campground or grilling at the beach. Despite its small frame, it boasts 8500 BTUs to its 189-inch cooking surface, heating your food quickly and thoroughly. Its cast aluminum lid and body are durable and lightweight, as are the porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates.
3. Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
Tabletop grills are great, but what about this convenient standing option?
Three burners with adjustable temperature control allow for precise cooking of meats, sides, and more. It has a massive cooking area, powered by 20,000 BTUs running off a small, 16.4 oz propane cylinder. The push-button ignition, one-handed folding stand, and built-in thermometer make this the most convenient portable grill on the market.
4. Coleman Fold N Go + Propane Grill
How simple and easy is this fold-and-go grill?!
It doesn’t get any more portable than this. A compact but powerful grilling surface is contained in a folding shell that includes a carry handle. Even though it’s tiny, it has large grill features, like adjustable temperature and a push-button start. Its grease tray and cooking grates are both removable and dishwasher safe for effortless cleaning.
5. Char-Broil Portable 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill
If you need a grill that’s as rugged as you are, this is it.
It looks like the designers took a full-size traditional grill and equipped it with an ultra-sturdy base. Solid and durable legs combined with carrying handles give you a safe yet transportable grill. The built-in temperature gauge helps you quickly determine the temperature without lifting the lid and letting out heat. Petite but mighty, this is an excellent grill for traveling with a group.
6. Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Propane Gas Grill, Red
This grill can cook how much?!
Looking at it, you would never guess that it can hold 8 burgers, 8 steaks, 6 to 10 chicken breasts, or 4 pounds of fish. The fold-away legs are great for tabletop use but can be stored away for transport. Even the locking lid was made with travel in mind. If you need a small grill that’s robust enough to cook a family meal, look no further!
7. Megamaster 820-0065C Tabletop Propane Gas Grill
This grill really lives up to its name!
It has two steel wire cooking grids at two different levels above the flame. The outer shell is crafted from super strong steel and a heat-resistant finish. Carry it by the soft handles, pop out the foldable legs, and light it in a flash to get even and consistent cooking, whether it be burgers, brats, or skewers.
How to Clean Your Propane Grill
Chances are you’ll be using your grill repeatedly during a camping trip, in which case, you don’t need to worry about cleaning it every single time. However, you should occasionally clean it, around 2-3 times each grilling season. Before cleaning, you must ensure all the dials are set to “off” and that your propane tank is disconnected. You’ll want to cover any gas openings with masking tape for safety.
- The cooking grates are an exception when it comes to cleaning. You’ll want to clean them after every use by turning the grill on high and waiting until smoke clears, essentially burning off any residue. Next, use a grill grate brush or other stiff wire brush to scrub them clean.
- Before cooking, you can clean the grates with a bit of vegetable oil. Pour it onto a paper towel, then use your tongs to rub the paper towel, oil side down, over the grates.
- Some portable grills have drip pans or grease trays; empty these as needed.
- Don’t forget about the exterior of your grill. Wash the lid, control knobs, and warming racks with warm, soapy water.
- You can further clean the shell using a sponge and warm, soapy water. Make sure not to leave any soap residue by giving your grill a rinse. Then, allow it to dry completely before storage.
- Keep it stored away or covered with a waterproof cover between grilling sessions if you’re outdoors. Before covering, storing, or carrying your grill, let it cool down.
Grill Cleaning Supplies
- Work gloves
- Bucket of warm, soapy water
- Grill brush
- Damp paper towels
- Stainless steel wipes (for stainless steel grills) or a soapy cotton cloth
- Dry cotton or microfiber cloth (for porcelain-coated, cast iron, or ceramic grills)
Some portable grills are ready to go out of the box; others require assembly. Usually, assembly is straightforward. It will be outlined in your grill’s instructions.
If you’re new to propane grilling, read the instructions thoroughly. You can also watch helpful videos online. To start, you need to ensure your propane tank is hooked up correctly before using the ignition starter. Refer to your grill’s manual.
How you grill determines the lifespan of your propane tank. A 1lb propane tank will last around 2 hours on full flame.
Your grills should have a flame regulator and/or temperature dials that can help you control the heat. If you want it to cook hotter, there are various tricks you can use, but be sure to check the safety of these methods against your manual.
When your grill is off, you’ll want to close the tank valve. Next, you can remove it from the hookup, whether a valve or a pressure regulator.
Most can hold 6 to 8 burger patties; some can only have two. Be sure to review the cooking surface area before buying your grill.
In most cases, yes. Only because they tend to be more durable and last longer, making the cost of ownership less. Usually, these benefits exceed the upfront investment when purchasing a Weber.
All grills have some element of danger. Even though tabletop grills are small, they still use a flammable pressurized tank, an open flame, and can get incredibly hot. Use them with caution, as you would a standard grill, and follow all manufacturer’s instructions.
Propane tends to last longer and burn cleaner. A propane fuel tank can also be easier to carry around and clean up after than charcoal. However, you won’t have that signature smoky charcoal taste that some grilling enthusiasts love.
Get Outdoors and Get Grilling!
If you’re considering a portable propane grill for your home, backyard, or summer adventure, we hope this list has provided you with a great start. These propane grills are powerful but petite and perfect for any event, whether an intimate beach getaway or a giant tailgating party. With a fantastic portable propane grill, turn up the fun and flavor on your next adventure!
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