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Portable grills are perfect for camping, cooking out at a park or beach, or, of course, grilling on a small deck or patio that lacks the real estate required for a larger, stationary gas grill.
But just because these grills are modestly sized doesn’t mean you have to skimp on performance. At the same time, don’t assume they can all handle basic tasks, such as browning burgers and brats, effectively.
The portable grills in our ratings range in price from about $80 to more than $400, and we test models from Broil King, Char-Broil, Coleman, Cuisinart, Landmann, Napoleon, Nexgrill, and Weber, among others. If you’re not sure whether a portable grill is the best type for you, start with our grill buying guide. CR members can access our comprehensive grill ratings of all the portable and full-sized grills that have come through our labs.
“We see sizable performance differences between portable models,” says Larry Ciufo, who oversees gas grill testing at CR. “The worst portable grills are only suitable for burgers and hot dogs, but the best can actually cook 90 percent of what you’d make on a larger grill.”
Those differences are meaningful, particularly if you’re cooking for a hungry crowd while tailgating or for a grumpy family back at a campsite after a day spent hiking.
How CR Tests Portable Grills
Our tests of portable grills are similar to our evaluations of larger models. But we place much more emphasis on key convenience factors, such as how easily a grill lights and folds up for transport, because we know that’s crucial for using a portable grill on the go.
To see how each model cooks, we wire the surface with thermocouples to record the temperature across the grates. We also perform these tests at low and moderate temperatures, and capture the range of temperatures at which every single model can cook.
The fact that a grill is small—or inexpensive, for that matter—doesn’t mean you should lower your expectations. Our predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings, derived from the results of our annual CR member survey, indicate how likely a grill is to stand the test of time and how happy folks are with their portable grills.
Here are some of the best portable gas grills from CR’s tests.
Best Portable Gas Grills From CR's Tests
CR’s take: The Broil King Porta-Chef 320 952654 is a refined grill with the performance and features you’d find on full-sized models. It has three burners, an electronic ignition, and coated cast-iron grates. It earns ratings of Very Good for heating evenness, temperature range, and preheat time in CR’s lab tests, plus an Excellent score for indirect cooking. Its 250-square-inch cooking surface is among the largest you’ll find on a portable model.
CR’s take: The Coleman RoadTrip 285 is a portable grill with three burners, push-button ignition, coated cast-iron grates, and a slide-out shelf. It shines at preheating, receiving an Excellent rating in that test, and garners a Very Good temperature range score. It also has a generous 275-square-inch cooking surface. The grill’s heating evenness, however, is middling.
CR’s take: The Napoleon TravelQ TQ285X is a portable grill with nice features and top-tier performance. It earns a rating of Very Good for evenness of heat and an Excellent score for convenience, and it has a collapsing stand with wheels. It also boasts a large 315-square-inch cooking surface, giving you plenty of room to grill multiple foods at one time.
CR’s take: The Weber Q 2200 54060001 is one of the largest portable models we’ve tested, with a 315-square-inch cooking surface. It cooks well, earning a rating of Very Good for heating evenness in CR’s tests, and it has an electronic igniter and two side shelves. However, its temperature range score is only Fair.
CR’s take: For the money, it’s tough to beat the Nexgrill 820-0033. It has two burners and a rotary igniter, as well as two fold-down legs. Performance is strong—it earns ratings of Excellent for both preheating and heating evenness. The lone drawback is its indirect cooking performance. In that test, it receives a rating of only Fair, making it better suited for burgers and hot dogs than, say, ribs.
CR’s take: The Cuisinart CGG-306 is a portable grill with stainless trim and rotary igniters. It’s a strong performer across the board, earning Very Good ratings for heating evenness, convenience, and temperature range. Plus, it gets hot quickly, earning top marks in our preheat test.
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