How to Select the Best Portable Propane Grill for the Perfect Barbeque

Portable gas grillImage by Reinhard Thrainer from Pixabay

How to select the best small, outdoor, and portable propane grills for an amazing barbeque grilling experience when camping, tailgating, RV-ing, and partying in the backyard. Check out the buying tips, popular models, and recommended features. Compare propane vs. charcoal grills, advantages, and disadvantages.

Portable gas grills can be purchased only as portable propane grills because of their mobility. Natural gas models are stationary - attached to the gas line, so they cannot be moved around or transported to the camping site.

A propane tank is what makes propane grills very convenient and easy to use. The most used tank capacity is 20 lbs. Your BBQ is ready in a matter of minutes, a quick solution in your busy life. No need to deal with the charcoal or to light the grill; everything is done fast, with one turn of the knob or pressing the button.

In this article

Grill types by fuel source

There are many types and styles of barbeque grills, and what kind of fuel you are going to use will determine the quality of food, how long it takes to prepare a meal, and overall satisfaction. Consumers have a selection of several grill types to buy:

Gas grills. Two types of gas grills are available to the customers; natural gas and propane, where natural gas is the most cost-effective solution - it provides a continuous supply of fuel and lots of power (BTU). There are no tank refills and interruptions. Propane grills use a small propane tank (20lb), and since both the grill and tank can be moved around, these are considered portable. Gas grills are the most popular type, and they offer power, convenience, and many features.

Charcoal grills. Charcoal grills are designed to use charcoal briquettes. What makes them great is the perfectly grilled steak, with the characteristic smoky smell and taste. Briquettes come in a bag and can be purchased in almost any hardware and grocery store. These are the most popular type, ideal for camping and outdoor activities.

Electric grills. This type is the simplest and cheapest of all – it is very easy to use, just plug it in the electric outlet and set the temperature. It doesn't require any maintenance, tank replacement, or cleaning the ash.

Wood-burning grills. The most popular and versatile type of wood-burning grills is the wood pellet BBQ, which gives you the freedom to use various cooking options. You can grill, bake, smoke, and roast different cuts of meat and at different temperatures. According to the experts, recommended wood for grilling includes Oak, Hickory, Cherry, Pecan, while Pine, Cedar, and Spruce are those to avoid.

There are also other types of grills which are different in size and shape:

  • Open
  • Closed
  • Rotisserie
  • Kamado-style
  • Smokers

What are the portable propane grills and types

Portable propane grills come in a variety of styles, sizes, and options. Most portable gas grills consist of the grill box with one or more burners, metal cooking grates, igniter to light the grill, gas regulator, and options like the hood, cart, side tables, and other accessories.

Popular portable propane grill styles are kettle-style grills and a small and compact table top-type, also called tailgating and outdoor gas grills. The best example of these small and portable tabletop kitchen grills are models from the Weber Q series.

Features to look for – Buying tips

The advantages of having and using portable propane grills are their size, portability, convenience, and how easy it is to handle and store it. The small size makes portable gas grills perfect when traveling and for outdoor grilling; when camping, family picnic, tailgating, and even BBQ on your backyard patio, including the tabletop models in the kitchen.

Either you are using it as the camping grill or as the portable kitchen grill, selecting the right portable grill is important if you want to use it for a different kind of food, location, and extended period.

When propane grills are used outdoors, the quality of construction makes a big difference.

Quality

When searching for a portable gas grill that can last, buy a model that has a sturdy construction, and it doesn't clatter or screech when you use it.

Joints should be firmly attached, with the welds and sharp edges polished smooth for safety and look. Some models have nuts and bolts or screws keeping the assembly together, but according to some experts, this is not a preferable choice.

If looking for more than budget-priced grills, look for the cast iron or stainless steel portable gas grills.

Check the quality of material used to build portable propane gas grills.

Thick and sturdy components are the preference, not weak and flimsy parts. Select only those portable propane grills with a thicker hood, preferably enameled, as it protects the metal from weather conditions and temperature change.

How to check?

Test your new portable gas grill right at the store, and see how it moves. Large wheels are recommended as it can turn easily on uneven ground or small obstacles. Handles should be made of wood or any other heat resistant material (hard plastic or silicone), so it won't heat up during cooking and burn your fingers.

Cooking grates

Cooking grates should be made durable and robust with a protective coating against rust but allows easy cleaning. Cast iron and stainless steel are recommended materials for the grates. The grilling area should have enough space for at least two steaks or half dozen burgers, and the best shape is rectangular or oval.

Gas burners

If the gas grill is equipped with more burners, users can create several grilling zones and set different temperatures for each. This is how you can cook different types of food, or sear a thick cut of meat in one area and slow cook veggies in the other.

Side burners are also nice to have if you need something to keep warm.

If you want to know the maximum amount of heat generated on the burner, check out the number of BTUs that grill has. The temperature on the grill is higher if the burner has more power (BTU).

Ignition

Portable propane grills with the electric ignition and push-button for lighting are a much better choice than gas grills that require matches.

Is the lid important?

The propane-powered outdoor portable grill should have a lid so you can close the grill to allow searing steaks. It should also be tall enough for cooking the whole chicken and protect the fire when it is windy outside, so performance is kept as designed.

Versatility

Versatile gas grills are the best, like models from the Weber Q series. Such models are designed as the outdoor models; they include strong wheels for easy transfer, foldable legs for easy storage, side tables, and can use different portable tank sizes. Weber portable gas grill can also be used as the tabletop kitchen grill with a larger tank size and without the above accessories. Two-burner grills are useful for indirect grilling.

Other features

The best portable gas grills are equipped with some handy features such as a warming rack to keep the food warm, a built-in thermometer to have better control over grilling the food, gas knobs to change the settings (from low to high heat), can use different cooking surfaces (stovetop or griddle) and dripping pan to collect grill residues.

Top sellers

Royal Gourmet GD401 Portable Propane Gas Grill

"Great heat distribution, very sturdy, the split grill top is a great feature,"
(Todd S.)

"Awesome product for the money."
(Stephan Riley) 

  • Weight - 104 lbs 
  • 4 burners (stainless steel)
  • Cooking area – 584 sq. inches
  • Automatic ignition system
  • Collapsible design with fold-down legs
  • Power - 48,000 BTU
  • Customer ratings: 4.3 out of 5

Char-Broil Grill2Go X200

"The best portable grill you can buy"
(Eric V. Jorgensen)

"Fantastic Grill for the RV"
(Oregon Trout Bum) 

  • Lightweight design and easy carrying - 20 lbs 
  • Cast aluminum firebox 
  • High-impact frame with legs and carry handles
  • No flare-up TRU-Infrared cooking system
  • 200 square inch stainless steel grilling grate
  • Power - 9,500 BTU
  • Cooking area - 200 sq. inch
  • Uses 1-lb propane tank
  • Customer ratings: 4.2 out of 5

Weber Q1200

"I am madly in love with this grill"
(Dee Jay)

"Fantastic, quality, small grill!"
(Christopher Bloome) 

  • Lightweight design and easy carrying - 29 lbs 
  • Power - 8,500 BTU
  • Cooking area - 189 sq. inch
  • Easy-start electronic ignition
  • Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates
  • Customer ratings: 4.8 out of 5

Advantages (Gas vs. charcoal grills)

  • Portable gas grills are much easier and faster to light than the charcoal grills.
  • Portable propane gas grills can be used indoor as kitchen tabletop grills and outdoor.
  • The desired cooking temperature is available in a matter of seconds.
  • Desired temperature or heat is easy to control with the temperature or gas control knob.
  • Gas BBs can be cleaned up easily; there is no ash to deal with, like charcoal grills.
  • Gas grills last longer.
  • In order to smoke the food, portable propane grills have to use flavored wood chips.
  • Propane gas is cheaper. One propane tank can be used several times, and it is effortless to replace and carry.

Disadvantages (Gas vs. charcoal grill)

  • Charcoal fume rising from the charcoal gives the meat a unique taste, which is not the case with gas grills.
  • Gas grills are more expensive than charcoal.
  • Lack of real fire experience.
  • Propane grills can be expensive when used frequently.
  • Gas grills are less safe due to gas leaks.

Conclusion

Whether you organize a private home cookout for your family or plan a barbeque party for your friends, a large and powerful grill will do the job. But, if you are single, or preparing a small meal for you and your loved one, or need a grill for camping, tailgating, fishing, or hunting, a portable gas grill is much more convenient. It allows you to cook your favorite home recipe - outdoors.

Propane grills are small enough for easy storage and transport inside the trunk but powerful enough to grill several burgers, a steak, and sausages at the same time.

This is why we vote for the best portable grill.

Related Articles

› Portable Propane Grills