11 Best Tailgating Grills in 2021 – Tailgate Grills Buying Guide with Reviews

best tailgating grill

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​​Football season is here, and now is the time to get your gear ready for the next tailgate party. Whether you are a football fan or not, whether we are in football season or not, this review brings you the best tailgating grills.

In this article, we will reveal what features make a good tailgate grill, specifications, and how to choose one that fits your cooking style. We will also talk about the different fuel types and which tailgating grill will work best at any tailgating party.

In this Article for the Best Tailgate Grill

  1. Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Prop
  2. Weber 18-inch Jumbo Joe Charcoal
  3. HitchFire Forge 15 Hitch Grill 
  4. Weber Q 2200 Portable Gas Grill
  5. Char-Broil Portable 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill
  6. Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Kamado Grill
  7. Masterbuilt SH19030819 Propane Tabletop Grill
  8. Cuisinart CGG-059 Propane, Grillster 8,000 BTU Portable Gas Grill
  9. Pit Boss Portable Grill Two-Burner
  10. Char-Broil Grill2Go Infrared
  11. The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

The 11 Best Tailgating Grills Reviewed

These tailgate grills picks are compact, easy to carry, and offer adequate cooking power for tailgate grilling.

1. The Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Prop

Key Feature:Easy Carry | 20,000 BTUs
Weight:47 pounds
Heat Output:20,000 ( 3 burners )
Dimensions:L 30.25”  W19.19” H 16.13”
Capacity:285 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

The Coleman RoadTrip is a three-burner propane grill with a total heat output of 20000 BTUs. A push-button ignition system ignites the burners, and three separate temperature control dials control each burner giving you good temperature control and building different cooking zones across the cooking surface.

This grill offers 285 square inches of cooking space and weighs 47 pounds. The cooking chamber is completed with cast-iron cooking grates, which are interchangeable with Colemas griddles and flat stove stops for grilling various foods.

This grill is designed to use a small 1 pound propane tank, very common in outdoors equipment, camping stoves and gas lamps. Still, you can purchase an adapter and attach a 20 pound propane tank like the ones used by regular-sized propane grills. The Coleman is a portable grill but offers great cooking power. Portable grills are not known for their power but this little guy offers plenty.

The most significant advantage of this grill is that it folds much like a beach chair and has wheels. Meaning you can fold flat the grill and pull it easily with one had to the tailgating destination. The lid has a locking mechanism that locks it shut while pulling the grill around.

Our research found that common complaints with the Colman Road trip include fragile lid hinges, and the lid locking mechanism can fail. 

What we like:

  • Three adjustable burners offer high heat output and even heat distribution.
  • Easy to transport using one hand. The frame fold and collapses like a beach chair.
  • Three independent control burners offer great control over temperature zones.

What we don’t like:

  • The grilling surface area is a bit shallow making hard to cook certain types of meats.
  • The grill lid will get hot.

2. Best Charcoal: Weber 18-inch Jumbo Joe Charcoal

Key Feature:Easy Carry | Light Weight
Weight:18 pounds
Heat Output:Charcoal
Dimensions:L 19.75”  W 20.5” H 19.75”
Capacity:240 square inches
Fuel Type:Charcoal

We enjoy charcoal grills. When it comes to smoky flavor, nothing comes close to grilling with charcoal. Pellet grills are easy to use, but charcoal is readily accessible and a great fuel when cooking on the go. This grill is a great choice for those who love their portable smokers and want to “traditional” BBQ flavor when grilling foods.

The Weber Jumbo Joe’s most noticeable characteristic is its resemblance to the classic Webber Kettle grill, a favorite in the BBQ world. The Weber Jumbo Joe charcoal grill offers the same simplistic approach to charcoal grilling. 

This grill offers enough space to feed one burger to 8 of your friends, still it is easy to carry as it only weighs less than 18 pounds. During transport, the lid is secured with a metal ring that clamps the lid and clips on the lid handle. Weber calls this system the Tuck-and-Carry lid lock system.

The Tuck and Carry lid lock is a well-thought-out feature; it doubles as a stand and holder for the lid. Having a hook or lid holder helps when using this grill at the beach as the lid holder eliminates having to place the grill’s lid on the sand or a parking lot floor if at a stadium. 

The Weber Jumbo Joe offers great features like a heat shield on the lid handle to keep you from burning your hands with a hot lid. The grill exterior is porcelain enameled, which will help protect the grill against corrosion, and an ash pan should keep ashes at bay.

Standard features like a chrome-plated cooking grate and a steel charcoal grate.

  • Heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate
  • Porcelain-enameled bowl and Porcelain enameled lid
  • Lid handle with heat shield
  • Plated steel cooking grate
  • Tuck-N-Carry lid lock
  • Aluminum Ash Catcher

What we like:

  • Simple as simple gets. This is “just a small but great charcoal grill”.
  • You get “charcoal flavor”

What we don’t like:

  • Charcoal can be messy. The ashpan is a shallow open plate so if is wnidny the ashes will be blown all over the place.

3. The HitchFire Forge 15 Hitch Grill 

Key Feature:Can Attach To Tow Hitch 
Weight:70 pounds
Heat Output:15,000 BTUs ( two burners )
Dimensions:L 42”  W 23” H 17”
Capacity:355 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

The HitchFire Hitch grill is the true definition of a tailgate grill. This is the only grill on this list that can be attached to a truck tow hitch giving true meaning to the term, tailgate grill. 

The grill is connected to a swing arm that can attach to any 2-inch hitch receiver. Once you arrive at your destination, extend the swing arm away from the vehicle and start cooking. However, if you want to use the grill tabletop, detach the pivoting swing arm.

This grill offers 355 square inches of cooking space which is more than what the Coleman RoadTrip offers. There are two burners, each producing 7500 BTUs for a total heat output of 15,000 BTUs. The cooking area dimensions are 18 inches x 22 inches, and the grill weighs 70 pounds.

The Hitch Fire is designed for the outdoors, and its rugged constructions and components reflect that. The grill features enameled coated grates and heavy gauge steel construction body and frame.

What we like:

  • This grill can attach to your truck’s hitch receiver with a swing arm.
  • Two independently controlled burners help temperature control.
  • Versatile – a tabletop base stand is available.

What we don’t like:

  • A little on the heavy side.
  • It uses one 1 pound propane tank per burner.
  • If you like the idea of the hooking up your grill to your vehicle’s tow hitch this is for you, however this grill is less powerful than the Coleman.

4. Best Propane: Weber Q 2200 Portable Gas Grill

Key Feature:Compact Portable Gas Grill | Folding Tables
Weight:42.5 pounds
Heat Output:12,000 BTUs ( one burner )
Dimensions:L 15”  W 51” H 19”
Capacity:280 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

The Weber Q2200 Propane grill is compact but offers a respectable cooking area of 280 square inches and enameled coated cast-iron grates plus two folding side tables. 

The Q2200 offers excellent features for a small grill. Features include:

  • A built-in lid thermometer.
  • A removable drip pan.
  • Side-folding tables.
  • A battery-powered electric igniter to start the 12,000 BTU burner.

This grill’s lightweight cast aluminum body and ergonomic side hand handles allow easy moving from the car to the party area.

This is a simple grill to use, and if portability is your priority, this is a very compact package.

What we like:

  • Compact designed – well packaged
  • Easy to carry even with the folding tables.

What we don’t like:

  • Not as powerful as other grills on this list.

5. The Char-Broil Portable 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill

Key Feature:Compact | Easy to Carry
Weight:28 pounds
Heat Output:9,500 BTUs ( one burner)
Dimensions:L 24.8”  W 16.2” H 19”
Capacity:240 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

The Char-Broil 240 is an affordable grill, tabletop-ready, simple to use propane grill. This grill is inexpensive, but it offers features like a 240 square inches cooking area heated by a single 9,500 BTU burner. 

The burner lights with a push Piezo igniter tucked in on the side of the grill. This model also includes a lid-mounted temperature gauge. 

This grill only weighs 28 pounds and is compatible with 1 pound propane tanks.

It measures 24.8-inches wide x 16.2-inches deep x 13.3-inches high and weighs 28.2 lbs. 

Capacity 6 to 8 burgers

What we like:

  • This grill is easy to carry.

What we don’t like:

  • Not too powerful but good enough for burgers and hot dogs.

6. The Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Kamado Grill

Key Feature:Kamados Can Bake, Grill and Smoke
Weight:126 pounds ( Grill Body – Stainless Steel )
Heat Output:Charcoal
Dimensions:L 41”  W 27.5” H 47”
Capacity:280 square inches primary rack | 200 on secondary rack
Fuel Type:Charcoal

The Broil King Keg 5000 is a charcoal kamado grill with a 480 square inch cooking area. Kamado grills are notoriously known for being very efficient, requiring less fuel ( charcoal ) to cook. 

The main benefit of kamado grills is that they can do it all and do it well. These grills can bake, grill, and smoke meats, making them the perfect tailgate grill. However, the most significant disadvantage of these grills is they tend to be heavy. 

This specific kamado is designed for portability. It has removable side tables, and the grill’s base has wheels.

It is essential to mention that this kamado weighs 126 pounds which means you might need help moving it around. Broil King offers a hitch adapter to connect a grill base to your truck hitch. 

What we like:

  • Kamados are very versatile grills, you can cook various meals in these grills.
  • Very efficient – can cook longer and hotter with less charcoal.

What we don’t like:

  • This grill is heavy.

7. The Masterbuilt SH19030819 Propane Tabletop Grill

Key Feature:Stainless Steel body | Easy to Carry | Folding Legs 
Weight:17.8 pounds ( Stainless Steel )
Heat Output:10,000 BTUs ( One Stainless Steel Burner )
Dimensions:L 17.24”  W 27.36” H 12.08”
Capacity:288 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

The Masterbuilt SH190308819 is a stainless steel tabletop propane grill. This Masterbuilt is priced well and still offers 288 square inches cooking surface area, a 10,000 BTU burner, folding legs, a built-in temperature thermometer, and a push igniter all packed in this 18-pound compact grill.

There is a chrome-plated warming rack in addition to the cooking grates, which helps fully utilize the entire cooking area. 

What we like:

  • Good amount of square inches for a light small grill.
  • Warming rack.
  • Stainless Steel body.

What we don’t like:

  • Like most small grills, it gets a bit hot to the touch.
  • The exterior of the grill will require applying some stainless steel care products to keep in good shape.

8. The Cuisinart CGG-059 Propane, Grillster Portable Gas Grill

Key Feature:ONLY 10 Pounds!
Weight:10 pounds
Heat Output:8,000 BTUs ( 1 Stainless Steel Burner )
Dimensions:L 19”  W 11.5” H 10”
Capacity:146 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

This Cuisinart is a small and light 10 pounds grill. Yes, that’s right, 10 pounds. It includes an enameled coated grate, and its grilling power source is an 8,000 BTU burner. This grill offers 146 square inches of cooking surface.

The Cuisinart CGG can be carried like a small suite case. Shut the lid and pick it up using the lid handle. This Cuisinart comes fully assembled, so if you want something that can be delivered to your doorsteps and be ready to go in minutes. This is it.

What we like:

  • ONLY 10 pounds!

What we don’t like:

  • Only 8k BTUs.
  • Small cooking surface.
  • This grill is light but it comes at a cost. Quality and feature lack in this grill.

9. The Pit Boss Portable Grill Two-Burner

Key Feature:Easy to Carry
Weight:23 pounds
Heat Output:10,000 BTUs ( Two Stainless Steel Burners )
Dimensions:L 23”  W 19.5” H 16”
Capacity:276 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

This Pit Boss is equipped with two 5,000 BTU burners and offers a 276 square inch cooking area. The grill runs on a 20lb propane tank, superb for long grilling days plus it has stainless steel grates. Despite a decent cook capacity, this grill only weighs 27 pounds. 

This grill features a push and turn ignition system often found in high-end grills. There is also a built-in thermometer to monitor the temperature in the cooking area.

You can fold the grill legs and lock the lid latches for easy transportation when you’re done cooking and are ready to go. This is an excellent grill for those wanting to cook for long periods and want good heat output but something easy to carry.

What we like:

  • Good amount of space.
  • Two burners means you can have one on low the other on high creating two grilling zones.

What we don’t like:

  • The stainless exterior will need care to keep in good shape.

10. The Char-Broil Grill2Go Infrared

Key Feature:Easy to Carry | Carrying Case Available
Weight:20 pounds
Heat Output:9,500 BTUs ( One Burner )
Dimensions:L 23.7”  W 15.7” H 13.6”
Capacity:200 square inches
Fuel Type:Propane

The Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 delivers 9,500 BTUs of heat to a 200-square-inch cooking area. The TRU-infrared cooking grill grates reduce flare-ups and yield juicer meats but can be harder to keep clean. 

The cast aluminum construction makes this grill durable and resistant to the elements. 

Features include:

  • A push ignition system.
  • A temperature gauge.
  • A ceramic-coated steel cooking grate.
  • A stainless steel burner. 

Although this grill does not feature foldable legs, the legs are short, and the grill only weighs 20 pounds. One side note, the design of this grill’s grate can be difficult to clean.

What we like:

  • Small package, easy to carry.

What we don’t like:

  • The temperature regulator doesn offer great control. Cooks hot.

11. The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Key Feature:Great Value
Weight:13 pounds
Heat Output:Charcoal
Dimensions:L 11.5”  W 19.5” H 15”
Capacity:160 square inches
Fuel Type:Charcoal

The Weber Go-Anywhere is a small charcoal grill that is light and compact. Its design makes it great for road trips and, of course, tailgating. 

A charcoal grill is great for tailgating because charcoal is a readily available inexpensive fuel and yields good flavor.

This charcoal grill offers cooking capacity for up to 6 burgers in its 160 square inch cooking chamber. A Tailgating grill needs to be portable and easy to carry, and this Weber Go Anywhere checks all the boxes. 

The legs on this grill are foldable and tuck away, securing the grill lid. This grill only weighs 13 pounds, making it the second lightest tailgate grill on this list.

What we like:

  • Light at only 13 pounds is the second lightest portable grill on this list.
  • Easy use, add charcoal, light it and cook. 
  • Easy to carry, like a tool box.
  • Great value.

What we don’t like:

  • Is a simple grill,  some features like a built in thermometer are not included.
  • Get’s got to the touch.

What to Look for in the Best Tailgate Grill for Your Next Tailgate Gathering.

Weight

The weight of tailgating grills is an important factor because you will often carry tailgating grills from the car to a parking lot or tailgating party spot. Moving a grill once a year to clean the back patio is not the same as a carrying a grill every Sunday to your favorite tailgating spot.

The goal is to find a light grill that offers good features, good heat output, and a good size cooking area.

Remember that you will likely have to carry food, chairs, and a cooler to the tailgate gathering in addition to the grill. A heavy grill will be challenging to move around.

Type of Fuel

This article’s focus is on bringing you the best tailgate grill to enjoy at tailgate parties. Keeping convenience in mind, let’s look at the different types of fuel.

An electric grill might be difficult to power in a parking lot, but a liquid propane grill will work well anywhere. Most tailgating gas grills use one-pound propane tanks found in various hardware stores and gas stations. 

A charcoal grill is another great option for tailgating for many reasons, but mainly because charcoal works in most environments. Charcoal is also available in many stores.

Many people prefer propane grills because they are easy to set up and start. Propane also burns cleaner than charcoal and is easier to clean propane grills after the fun is over.

For example, you will have to dispose of ashes and leftover charcoal somewhere when using a charcoal grill. You also have to consider where to dump the hot coals.  With a propane grill, you simply have to wait for it to cool down and pack it up.

However, if flavor is your thing, charcoal will yield more flavor, but you can also add a wood chip box to your propane grill to add woos smoke flavor. 

If you are mainly grilling hot dogs and burgers, a portable gas grill will work well. A Charcoal grill will do if you are an avid fan of smoky flavor and want to add that classic delicious smoky flavor to your food. Portable grills are all about convenience.

Hopper capacity (for pellet models only)

Pellet grills are becoming more popular, and some manufacturers offer small compact pellet grills for camping and tailgating. If you decide that a pellet grill is for you, pay close attention to the hopper capacity. 

A small portable pellet cooker with a small pellet hopper can be a pain to manage and keep full at a tailgate feast. You can find yourself refilling the hopper with pellets often, missing out on the fun.

Size, Dimensions, and Packing Design

As we mentioned before, the grill’s weight is important, along with its size and how easy it is to pack for transport.

We like grills with suitable dimensions for portability but are shaped, so they are easy to get in and out of the car. A tall grill might be hard to fit in a car’s trunk, but a flat and wide grill will slide right in.

Also, pay close attention to how the grill “packs” for transport. Some grills offer foldable legs, side tables, and even wheels. Other grills can fold flat and be pulled like a suitcase. There are tailgate grills that pack like a toolbox, making them super easy to carry.

Cooking capacity and Primary cooking area

Finding a decent cooking capacity in tailgate grills can be a challenge. These grills are designed to be compact and lightweight but oftentimes a drawback of small and light is a small cooking capacity. This is why in this article, we listed the square inches and dimensions of each grill.

However, is even a small tailgate grill can offer enough space to grill a few burgers at a time for your family and friends. 

Keep in mind that a small grill might offer enough cooking space for you, but if you decide to invite friends, you might need more space. I suggest you keep in mind how friendly you are. 🙂

A grill with enough space to cook up to eight burgers at a time can handle a small group of friends or a small family. 

We recommend grills that can fit at least up to six burgers. Anything smaller is pretty much good for a solo party.

Temperature control

These are small grills, and temperature control can be a hurdle. For instance, some small grills lack the cooking power to cook large cuts of meat. Others are inefficient and almost impossible to cook at a constant temperature.

Cooking food thoroughly and to the correct internal temperatures is crucial. Pay attention to the grill’s heat output measured in British Thermal Units ( BTUs ). The higher the BTUs rating, the more heat and cooking power you will have at your disposal.

Some grills will have one burner, and others will have multiple. More burners will not necessarily mean more cooking heat, so it is always best to pay attention to the grill’s BTU rating.

A liquid propane grill will have a burner control device or temperature control dials to help you adjust and control the temperature of your grill. 

Charcoal grills are a little bit different. Instead of temperature dials, charcoal barbecues have air vents to control airflow going into the grill. The more oxygen passing through the grill, the stronger and hotter the fire, close the air vents to reduce the air and oxygen going into the grill to slow down the fire. 

Features

Features are nice to have with any grill but remember that features also add to the price tag. However, features like foldable side tables are nice to have; after all, where are you going to put your beer?

Quality of construction and design

When going to a tailgate gathering, we all pack our cars with all kinds of party accessories, drinks, food, and everything in between. You will drop, hit, scratch, and pour beer all over this grill. 

So look for grills made of stainless steel, cast aluminum, or heavy gauge still to withstand the use and abuse that comes with tailgating. Thin metal grills will get damaged easily and will not handle the abuse from tailgating and an entire football partying season.

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