Portable grills are the ideal choice for camping and tailgating. And they fit the bill for anyone with a small deck or patio that lacks the real estate required for a larger, stationary gas grill.

But just because these grills are modest in size doesn't mean you have to skimp on performance—or that you should assume they'll handle basic tasks, like browning burgers and brats, effectively.

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"We see sizable performance differences between portable models," says Cindy Fisher, CR's test engineer in charge of grill testing. "The worst portable grills are only suitable for burgers and hot dogs," she says. "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 at a tailgate or a grumpy family back at the campsite after a day spent hiking.

How CR Tests Portable Grills

We test portable grills similarly to the way we test larger models. But we place a much bigger emphasis on key convenience factors, like 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 of every grill 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.

Just because 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.

The portable grills in our ratings range in price from about $120 to more than $400, and we test models from Weber, Nexgrill, Broil King, Cuisinart, Napoleon, Char-Broil, Coleman, and Landmann, among others. If you're not sure whether a portable grill is the best grill for you, start with our buying guide.

CR members can access our comprehensive ratings of all the portable and full-sized grills that have come through our labs.

5 Top Portable Gas Grills From CR's Tests

Listed in order of CR rank, these top performers earn a rating of Excellent in our convenience test.

Top Picks

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Evenness performance
Temperature range
Convenience

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