A topdown view of a portable grill.

Portable grills are the ideal choice for tailgating. Granted, it may be a while before any of us are grilling in groups again.

But these small, portable models are also perfect for camping, or cooking on a small deck or patio that lacks the real estate required for a larger, stationary gas grill.

And 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.

The portable grills in our ratings range in price from about $120 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 grill for you, start with our grills buying guide. CR members can access our comprehensive grill ratings of all the portable and full-sized grills that have come through our labs.

More on grills

“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, 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

Our tests of portable grills are similar to our evaluations of larger models. But we place a much bigger 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 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. 

Here, some of the best portable gas grills from CR’s tests. 

5 Top Portable Gas Grills

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

Top Picks

1

Evenness performance
Temperature range
Convenience

2

Evenness performance
Temperature range
Convenience
Unlock Grill Ratings
Become a Member or Sign in