Having a portable bbq grill gives you somewhere to make delicious food easily and in a safe and controlled way. Getting the best portable bbq grill can change a good camping trip into a memorable one and they are also brilliant for the likes of picnics and tailgating, too.

Choosing the best portable charcoal grill though means taking all of the key features into account such as what type of grill it is, how easy it is to use, and what type of fuel requires. Once you know all that then you still have to factor in its heating elements, materials, vent, and firebox among others.

Thankfully we are here to help and have created a buying guide to answer all of your questions. We have also looked through the reviews to show you the best portable grills and portable charcoal grills on the market. Once you’ve read through this guide then you’ll know exactly what you should be looking for.

How To Choose A Portable Grill – Buying Guide

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Type

When it comes to portable grills there two types of grills and that is propane and charcoal. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages which we will go through here so you can decide which is going to be the best portable charcoal grill for you.

Propane: Propane is probably the more convenient of the two as you are able to get it going much quicker. Most of them have electronic ignition systems which will start at just the push of a button where a portable charcoal grill takes a lot longer to get going. You are also able to control the temperature a lot easier as you can alter the amount of gas getting to the grill.

This means that you prevent common problems such as flare-ups, your food not being cooked properly, or excessive charring as well. The gas will also burn a lot more cleanly and won’t produce smoke meaning these types of grills can also be used indoors. The ease of use is also helped by the fact that the grill cools down a lot more quickly and you don’t have to worry about getting rid of any embers or ashes.

Propane doesn’t burn as hot as charcoal meaning that you can’t cook food in quite the same way and also these propane grills won’t allow you to impart a smoky flavor that some people love about charcoal grills so your food might not be quite as tasty.

There is also the matter of cost as well as the initial set up costs of a propane grill. You always have to worry about replenishing your propane tanks and this is generally a lot more expensive than charcoal. Also, those tanks are disposable so you have to take them with you wherever you go until you find somewhere to recycle them.

Charcoal: Probably the biggest advantage when it comes to a charcoal grill is the taste. That is partly due to the fact that you can sear food a lot better with this type of grill as it’s something that can’t be done with propane.

Charcoal is a lot more readily available than propane and is a lot cheaper too. In transport, you have to make sure that your propane tanks are stored in the correct position and are well ventilated. With charcoal, you don’t have any of these worries as you can just throw them into your car and you also don’t have to worry about recycling once done.

While the smokiness of a charcoal grill can be an advantage in many respects in terms of flavor, it can also be a downside too as this smoke can fill your area and obviously means that the grill can’t be used indoors. In smaller spaces, this makes getting a propane grill a more sensible solution to your grilling needs.

If you have ever touched a briquette of charcoal then you will know how easy it can stain your hands and how quickly it can stain your clothes as well. Once you have finished then you can just shut off a propane tank whereas with charcoal you need to snuff those hot coals as well as clearing and ashes out of your grill.

User-friendliness

A gas grill is going to be a lot easier to use than any charcoal model as they are a lot quicker to get started and a lot easier to control the temperature. Having a push-button ignition is something to look out for as this will get you started straight away but it’s wise to pack some matches or a lighter in case this fails.

Once you have attached the propane canister to your grill then you’re not going to have much trouble in using it and there should be a temperature for easy control. Temperature control on a charcoal grill takes a lot more practice and experience which doesn’t make them as user-friendly.

Heating Elements

With any type of grill, you want to make sure that the heating elements are designed in such a way that you will be able to reduce the risk of any type of flare-ups which occur when a naked flame is exposed to anything that might drip down from your pan. This is the grease which adds fuel to the flames which are not only dangerous but it can affect the taste as well.

This is especially important on these types of grills as the distance between the grates that you’re cooking on and the flames below are very close so there isn’t really any time to react. Some features that can help to avoid this are a grilling plate which will divert and grease away from the fire and also an insert that will sit over the flame ports.

Quality of Materials

The firebox cast aluminum is a great material as it will give you that durability while also being resistant to any rust. It also has the properties of evenly absorbing and reflecting heat as well which will aid the cooking process. A lot of the grates that you see here are porcelain-coated which will allow you to sear foods in the most effective manner.

Stainless steel grates are fine but don’t brown the food to most people’s satisfaction. When it comes to a material helping the cooking process though then there’s not much better than cast iron which will help season your food to a great taste. The huge downside to this is the weight but there are devices herewith are portable enough.

Fuel

With a propane tank, there is the question about exactly how much you should take on your trip so that you’re not carrying excess weight and also not running out of gas. Taking a few one-pound tanks would be a good idea if you are looking for a higher degree of portability.

If you are camping from a nearby car then it might be a good idea to have a few spare tanks close to you or there is also the option of having a refillable larger propane tank as well. A lot of campsites will give you the option of buying further propane tanks which is something to look out for.

With charcoal, this is simply the case of taking a few bags with you wherever you go. This will give you more than enough fuel for your fire and you don’t have to sweat as much about exactly how much you’ll be using as you do with propane tanks.

Vents and Airflow

When it comes to charcoal grills you need to make sure that they have great vent placement as this is how you are going to be able to control the temperature. Obviously, charcoal grills don’t have a knob which can turn the temperature down so instead you have to be able to control the oxygen getting to the fire.

In order to provide a fire with the best circulation, it’s usually for the best to have some sort of ventilation at the top of the grill as well as having another in the heart of the firebox. These vents though need to remain easy to access so you’re able to control those flames effectively.

Firebox

The firebox is an important part of any grill and generally the more space that you have, the easier it’s going to be to cook the food. This is due to the fact that you’ll have a greater distance between the hot coals below and the food so there is less chance of charring it.

The extra space in your firebox can enable you to put more coals in the fire which can evenly distribute the heat and ensure that you have a more gentle flame for longer cooking times. Having more space will also allow you to have a cold spot as well where you can move food to cool down to protect it while you reduce the temperature of the flames.

Lid

A lid can play an important role in controlling the heat of your food as if it has an air vent to help with the air circulation so you are better enabled to control the temperature. When the cooking is done, you want a lid that will be able to lock down into place for high portability with a handle that is easy to transport. It helps if the handle of a portable barbecue is made out of nylon as it will always remain cool to touch.

FAQs

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Q: Is an infrared grill worth it?

A: 

Infrared grills enable superfast searing of food and guarantee evenly browned meat. They provide the luxury of hitting temperatures that one could only dream of reaching with a non-infrared grill. However, if a person doesn’t grill much frequently and is more of a ‘part-timer’, then a traditional high-quality grill would work just fine.

Q: Is a 2 burner grill enough?

A: 

It’s a tad bit difficult to attain even heat distribution with a 2-burner grill. But a new trend is being formed with the initiation of 1-burner grills. These grills have a smaller cooking area and can easily fit in a small balcony. These 2 burner grills are appropriate for small occasions but cannot entertain a mass gathering.

Q: Can you grill under a covered porch?

A: 

Although it is possible to grill under a covered porch, one shouldn’t opt to do so. Cooking under a covered porch can lead to staining on the ceiling, and it would take over a long period to get rid of the stain. Furthermore, sparks, fires tend to rise during grilling, so it's better to prevent any mishaps from happening by grilling in the open air.

Q: Can you have a grill on a balcony?

A: 

It is permissible to grill on the balcony, but one should keep in mind a specific crucial set of rules. Firstly, the individual should look up the guidelines for the apartment in which he/she is staying, then make a note of what’s allowed and what isn’t. This would help in determining whether there is a particular type of grill that is permissible, or what size of the grill isn’t allowed. Secondly, the person should ensure that there would be enough room for him/her on the balcony after the grill moves out. Thirdly, an individual should keep a fire-extinguisher at arm’s length if anything goes south. After taking such precautions, a person can definitely grill on a balcony.  

Q: Are Portable Grills Safe?

A: 

Staying safe is important when you’re out there camping. In the context of anything that cooks food then you wouldn’t call them dangerous. As with anything that cooks food though, you need to take appropriate measures to ensure that you are staying safe. With propane grills you need to ensure that the propane tanks are stored and ventilated in the right way and when it comes to cooking, the flames of a propane grill are easily controlled so you are able to keep them at a safe level.

With charcoal grills, they are probably more dangerous as you have less control over the flame. Even then though you are going to be outside so it’s not as though it’s going to be a huge fire risk. As long as you’re controlling heat in the right way. Once the cooking is completed then it’s best to let it just cool down before clearing it out.

In terms of these types of grills then they are defiantly not dangerous if used in the right way and used with common sense. As with anything that cooks food, precautions need to be made to stop you from burning yourself but this equally applies to the kitchen as it does to the outdoor grill.

Q: Are Portable Gills Stable?

A: 

One of the common-sense approaches to staying safe as we referenced in the previous question is having the ability to make sure that the grill is stable to the ground wherever you’re cooking. There are two main types and they are a tabletop model or free standing.

A freestanding model is going to be more stable as it supports itself but even then you need to make sure that you’re cooking on flat ground so the frill doesn’t rock at all when you are trying to cook. With tabletop grills, they are designed to be placed on a solid surface such as a table. It’s important not to try and balance it on anything and if you don’t have anything solid then it’s probably for the best to just fit it on the ground.

Portable grills are only as stable as you want them to be. If you are wise about it then they are going to be perfectly stable and there won’t be any worries at all. You just need to make sure they are in a secure position before you turn them on.

Q: Should I Get Charcoal, Propane, or Electric Grill?

A: 

A lot of this depends on personal preference as all of them will be able to cook your food to a high degree of quality. Propane grills are probably the most convenient options as they are easy to use but charcoals grills tend to be cheaper and will give a better flavor. Electric grills are great but this does depend on having a power source available.

Globo Surf Overview

Whatever type of grill that you get, getting the best travel grill can make any occasion better whether that is when you are out camping, tailgating, or simply just out in your garden. In order to get the best portable gas grill, there is a lot to consider with the primary one being the type of grill. Electric outdoor grills are clean but rare and if you want to go camping then you’re probably looking at getting either a propane or charcoal grill. 

If you’re looking for a smaller option of a travel grill then there are many of these that are available which fold down into very easy to carry boxes that you are able to take anywhere with you, a portable charcoal grill will tend to be bigger but often can be folded down and wheeled to wherever you need it to be. If you are looking to travel between camps then getting a portable propane grill is probably going to be your best choice as this can be much smaller and can often be used as a tabletop gas grill where you can easily pack it away after use.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!