Doyle Saucedo

Doyle is a chef and baking consultant. He loves cooking good food and spending time outdoors.

The joy of cooking in the great outdoors is undeniably a part of summer that evokes picnics, backyard cookouts, and barbeques. There is nothing like firing up your grill as family and friends gather in anticipation of a tasty and delicious meal cooked over an open flame. But what if you are looking for a way to take your grill on the road? Tailgate parties, a cookout at the beach, or preparing a meal on a camping trip each offer opportunities to cook outdoors, and a tabletop grill is just the thing you need to make that happen.

Just like any backyard grill, there are so many different tabletop grills available. Depending on what type of fuel you want to use, the size, and transportability, there are many to choose from. From grilling enthusiasts who enjoy the flavor of food cooked over charcoal to propane fans who are in favor of something a bit quicker and easier, there are so many options that will suit your needs.

In terms of the cooking area, a super-compact grill may be perfect when cooking for two. However, if you are planning to feed a family of four or more, you will need a larger cooking surface to meet their needs. There are tabletop grills that will meet all of those criteria.

Finally, you should consider how far you will be transporting this grill if you intend to take it places. With lightweight options, you can feel comfortable carrying it quite a distance to your desired location, while heavier models are better suited to less carrying or transport.

The tough part is finding one that has the features you are looking for without spending a lot of time sorting through products and reviews so you can grab your grill, gather your friends, and get started. This article will highlight the best tabletop grills for 2021 in a number of categories ranging from high-end models to budget choices. In the end, the goal is to get your hands on the best tabletop grill that will make your outdoor cooking a joy, no matter where you plan to take it.

What Should I Look For When Buying Tabletop Grills?

Criteria #1: Type of Fuel

Charcoal grill fans will not have to sacrifice the flavor they love while propane grill enthusiasts can enjoy the quick igniting and heating that liquid propane grills bring to the table. I have a number of options in each category.

Criteria #2: Easy to Move?

Whether you are planning to pack up and take this grill on a trek or just pull it out of your car or RV for an outdoor meal, there are some tabletop grills that are easier to move than others. I have options in many sizes and weights to fit your needs.

Criteria #3: Budget

In this short list of tabletop grills the price range is quite vast, starting at below $50 and going up to $300. Once you have figured out exactly how much you are willing to spend on your tabletop grill, this list will help you choose the best option for you.

Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Tabletop Grill

As you can imagine, there are a wide range of tabletop grill options depending on your budget, space, size and fuel of choice. While it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through so many models and styles it is important to have the facts.

To save you some time, I have gathered a lot of information on tabletop grills and have narrowed down the best tabletop grills in a number of categories and at a number of price points. Here, I have focused largely on consumer reviews and reliability to provide a conclusive list of the best tabletop grills of 2021.

#1: Cuisinart CGG-306 Chef’s Style Propane Tabletop Grill (Best Value All-Purpose)

My choice for the best value in an all-purpose tabletop grill is the Cuisinart CGG-306 Chef’s Style Propane Tabletop Grill. Straight out of the box, it requires very little in terms of setup. Within minutes, you can have this fired up and ready to go.

This tabletop grill runs on propane gas, making it quick to ignite with its twist-start automatic ignition. Unlike many tabletop grills, this model uses a standard 20-pound propane tank. You can get an adapter if you wish to use the smaller 1-pound propane canisters, however, which is a nice option if you plan to take this on the road and don’t have space for a large tank.

Weighing in at just 22 pounds, this grill offers 276 square inches of cooking surface which is enough space to cook for four people quite easily.

The thing that really sets this grill apart from the others is the two-burner system that allows you to set up two separate temperature zones if you choose. I think this is especially convenient if you are looking to grill two different things at one time at different temperatures, or those times when you need to cook over indirect heat. At the same time, cranking both zones up to high will give you a really nice sear on your steaks. With 20,000 BTU between the two burners, this is a powerful model that heats up fast and hot.

A built-in thermometer makes it easy to know exactly when your grill is hot. Users indicated that this grill heats up quickly, especially when both zones are on high. With that said, it is worth noting that you should not leave this – or any grill – unattended.

Made of stainless steel with stainless steel grill grates, this portable gas grill is easy to clean and will not rust. Many users attest to its longevity over long periods of time. You may notice that it will darken with age, but this won’t affect how it performs. Keeping it clean between uses will help maintain its appearance.

When it comes time to pack this gas grill up, the legs fold down nicely while the lid locks to keep it relatively compact. A comfortable carrying handle makes it easy to lift and take it just about anywhere. While this portable gas grill tends to be on the bulkier side it is relatively light and most users found it quite manageable to move.

#2: Weber 54060001 Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill (Best Tabletop Grill)

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My choice for the best tabletop grill is the Weber Q 2200 Liquid Propane Grill. Made by what may be the most well-known name in grills, Weber is recognized for its highly-respected reputation for quality grills for over 100 years.

Priced at about a third more than my choice for the best value in an all-purpose tabletop grill, I have highlighted a number of reasons why you may choose this product over the other. In the end, you will have to decide whether this jump in price is worth it to you based on your needs and budget.

Reason #1: Design

The Weber Q2200 has a unique design that lends itself to great function. At first glance this appears to be a rather compact tabletop grill, measuring 15 x 32 x 18 inches. Once the lid is lifted and the two folded work tables are unpacked, it extends to a generous 26 x 51 x 25 inches when opened for use.

This design creates a tabletop grill that is most like many other standard grills with the space to set ingredients as you cook and plate your food. The people at Weber have done a nice job with this tabletop model, giving you added prep space that is very easily packed away when not in use.

Reason #2: Quality Materials

This 12,000 BTU grill is considerably heavier than the Cuisinart CGG-306, weighing in at over 42 pounds. While this may seem like a drawback to some, I can tell you that this added weight is directly attributed to the heavy-duty, quality materials that have gone into the construction.

With a cast aluminum exterior that is built to withstand heat and weather, you get the added benefit of excellent heat retention. This feels like a really solid grill, one that is built to last. Again, heavier, but more durable than many of the other tabletop models.

Equipped with porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates, this grill is designed for great heat conductivity. Cast iron retains heat really well, and that porcelain enamel provides a non-stick surface. The result is a great sear on your food. Heavier than stainless, but a feature that will suit the likes of many users.

Reason #3: Stability

The third thing I really like about this grill is the stability that it offers. Because of its oval shape and wide base supported by built-in legs, you can feel confident that this grill will stay put as you cook.

I see this as a great choice for apartment dwellers or those who do not have the luxury of large backyard space for a grill. The Weber Q2200 will make you feel like you are cooking on a real grill. Those with a small patio or balcony will, no doubt, enjoy this option.

#3: Oklahoma Joe’s 19402088 Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill (Best Charcoal Grill)

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My choice for the best charcoal grill is the Oklahoma Joe’s 19402088 Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill. It is a truly authentic charcoal grill made with the same quality as the other grills made by this reputable brand but in a smaller, tabletop size.

The Rambler is equipped with heavy-duty cast iron grates which hold heat well and provide a great sear at high temperatures. With 218 square inches of cooking surface, it is considered a small grill, but it can absolutely accommodate a couple of large steaks or even a small brisket.

In addition to cooking over charcoal, you can use this tabletop grill as a smoker by replacing charcoal with wood. It has an adjustable charcoal tray that allows you to move your food closer to the heat for grilling or further for low and slow smoking. This is a nice feature for the barbeque enthusiast who takes smoking quite seriously.

Other nice features include an easy-to-remove ash pan which should be emptied after each use. There is an easy-to-read temperature gauge on the lid which helps, especially when smoking, to make sure you are cooking at the right temperature. This eliminates the need for constant checking and opening which will create an undesirable loss of heat and smoke.

This is a nice tabletop charcoal grill that has all of the makings of a serious grill on a smaller scale. The people at Oklahoma Joe’s have taken all of the parts of a heavy-duty grill and given them a home with this small tabletop model that is designed for maximum portability. For those who don’t have a lot of space to dedicate to a large charcoal grill and smoker at home, this model is durable enough to become your home grill with the versatility and portability to take it on the road. It travels quite nicely with two sturdy handles.

#4: Masterbuilt SH19030819 Propane Tabletop Grill (Best Low Cost)

My choice for the best low-cost tabletop grill is the Masterbuilt SH19030819 Propane Tabletop Grill. Priced at less than half the price of my choice for the best tabletop grill, this is a solid contender that won’t break the bank.

Made of stainless steel with stainless steel cooking grates, this grill offers 205 square inches of primary cooking space and an additional 100 square inches of space on its secondary warming rack. With one “U” shaped burner you have just one heating zone and about 10,000 BTU. Not the hottest grill and also not the largest, but a decent amount of heat and space for the price, for sure.

When it comes time to pack this grill up for transport, it has a locking lid to prevent opening and folding legs that make it a bit more compact. The total weight is just around 18 pounds which means you won’t have to work too hard to move it around. Those foldable legs, by the way, open up to a rather wide stance, giving this model stability when in use.

Other features include a built-in thermometer, an easy-to-remove stainless steel drip tray, and a push-button igniter which makes it quick and easy to fire up.

Perhaps not the sleekest in design and also not the one with the most bells and whistles, but for the price, this is a very respectable tabletop grill for those not looking to spend a bundle.

#5: NOMADIQ Portable Propane Gas Grill (Best Transportable Gas Grill)

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My choice for the best transportable gas grill is the NOMADIQ Portable Propane Gas Grill. Weighing in at just 12 pounds this is a grill that you can feel comfortable taking along to the beach at a moment’s notice. With easy carrying handles and an optional shoulder strap, this grill is ready to go when you are.

Set up is an absolute breeze. In under a minute, you can have this tabletop grill unlocked and open with the drip tray in place and the propane tank attached. It opens up to yield 226 square inches of cooking surface which is enough to cook for two, quite easily, and perhaps even 4. This is a surprising amount of cooking area given the size and weight of this model.

The actual cooking grates are coated with a nonstick surface. I like this for the ease of cleaning up, but you can also take this to the next step by washing your grates in the dishwasher. This is a pretty nice feature and one that will keep this portable grill clean and ready for next time.

I have to say that this little grill has a lot to offer. With just under 10,000 BTU, it is not reasonable to expect to get a great sear on a steak with this amount of heat. With that said, it does make up for it with convenience and design. It is simple and sleek and really what a modern-day truly portable grill should be. You will pay for this design, however, as it comes in at around the same price as my choice for the best tabletop grill, but if you are looking for something that is truly portable and your budget allows, this is a pretty sweet little grill.

Budget Options

Just as with any type of grill, you can find models that range widely in price. Within the class of tabletop grills, there are some great options that won’t break the bank. These three are all under $100, and it just so happens that they are all made by Weber, a brand that is known for making high quality and reliable grills.

#1 Best Budget: Weber 1141001 Go-Anywhere Gas Grill

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My first choice in the budget category is the Weber 1141001 Go-Anywhere Gas Grill. This is a rather pared-down propane tabletop grill that will get the job done while offering your the flexibility to pack it up and take it on the road.

Made of enameled steel, this model weighs just over 13 pounds. With that, you have just one stainless-steel burner offering 6,500 BTU of heat. Compared to the previous tabletop grills in this article, that may seem rather low. Given the price, you can still get the job done, perhaps keeping expectations low in terms of getting an amazing sear on a steak.

The one downside that several reviewers commented on was the cooking grate. What used to be a stainless steel grate in previous models has been replaced with a porcelain-enameled, steel cooking grate. Several previous Go-Anywhere Gas Grill owners preferred the original, though it wasn’t a deal-breaker for most.

When it comes time to pack up this grill and go, the legs swing neatly over the lid keeping everything in place. A single handle situated on the lid enables you to lift it quite easily with one hand.

#2 Best Budget: Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

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I would be remiss if I didn’t include the counterpoint to the Go-Anywhere Gas Grill on my list, so here you have it – the Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill. Priced even lower than the gas-fueled model, this is a reasonable option for the charcoal grill enthusiast who likes to have their grill on the go at a reasonable price.

Unlike the gas model, this portable grill has a plated steel cooking grate. This was more desirable to users as it was a bit more durable. I suspect it handles better under higher temperatures which makes it a good fit for the charcoal model as cooking with charcoal can get much hotter.

Heat regulation on this model is achieved with the opening and closing of the dampers which are located on the lid. Opening the dampers allows more airflow while closing them completely will extinguish the coals.

Both the gas and the charcoal models of the Go-Anywhere Grills have 160 square inches of total cooking area which is enough room to cook for two to four people. This lightweight grill, also weighing about 13 pounds will be easy to take with you to your favorite cookout site. This and a bag of charcoal will have you grilling at a really reasonable price.

#3 Best Budget: Weber 10020 Smokey Joe

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My final budget selection is the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe. This grill has a bit of a cult-like following, fanatics having loved this tabletop grill for decades. It has really favorable reviews across the board with a lot of people noting that what small changes have been made to this grill, although minor, have improved it over time.

The first thing I want to point out is that, while this is a tabletop grill, it isn’t necessarily designed to be as portable as some of the others. It doesn’t collapse at all, nor does it have any features that lock the lid in place. I do think it would be great if you were in an RV. This grill does do well in small spaces, where there is not enough space for a larger free-standing model.

With that said, the Smokey Joe is a great charcoal grill for its price. At less than half the price of my choice for best low cost tabletop grill, it has a lot to offer. It is a simple kettle grill design which includes a domed round lid, a steel cooking grate, and vents that control air flow that are built into the lid. This shape works well for this grill as it does for many others that are made by Weber as well as other grill makers. It is tried and true. The main difference here is the size of the cooking surface, as well as the height.

With a round cooking grate and a grilling surface of 147 square inches, you are somewhat limited as to what you can cook on the Smokey Joe. It excels at direct cooking and can accommodate about 3 burgers, a large steak, or possibly a small whole chicken. If you are cooking for 2 this is perfect, though it would be a stretch to try to fit more than that on the 14-inch diameter of this grill.

The stainless steel grate is something that long time fans are happy about. This is relatively easy to clean and, while it isn’t a heavy-duty grilling surface, it is rather durable and allows for even heat transfer.

With care, you can expect to get a lot of use out of this grill. I would recommend keeping the base clear of used charcoal and ash as that tends to cause the bottom to rust over time. At this price point it is a nice entry-level charcoal grill for those who don’t have a lot of space to dedicate to a standalone model. You will likely find yourself using it frequently to get that authentic charcoal flavor that you desire.

Why Do I Need a Tabletop Grill?

If you are someone who enjoys grilling and would like to take that cooking method with you as you head out to enjoy the great outdoors, then a tabletop grill is probably something you would love. At the same time, if you have attempted to use a grill set up at a campsite or park, you can probably agree that those are often in pretty rough shape. Bringing your own grill with you will ensure that you are properly equipped with the right tools for the task. After all, if you have gone so far as to plan your meal on your outdoor adventure, you would no doubt benefit from having the right means of cooking it well.

Is It Safe to Use a Tabletop Grill Inside?

A tabletop grill should never be used inside. Using either a charcoal or a propane grill indoors increases the risk of carbon dioxide build up which is extremely dangerous. For that reason alone, it is really important to use outdoor grills in a well ventilated space. Even cooking in a garage isn’t safe.

What Kind of Grill Can I Use Inside?

There are options for those times when you want to grill but can’t get outside to do so. You can get your hands on a grill pan that sets directly over a gas burner for stovetop grilling. Cast iron, in particular, is a great option. It retains heat well and can give you some great grill marks. Beyond that, an electric grill is a great choice, and there are so many to choose from.

What Is the Best Way to Extinguish a Charcoal Grill?

Once you have finished grilling with charcoal, it is important to extinguish your coals, and the best way to do that is by suffocating them. It is as simple as cutting off the oxygen supply to the charcoal by closing all of the vents. Once they are extinguished, I recommend pouring water over the coals to cool them completely. Never leave hot coals unattended.

What Are the Best Accessories for a Tabletop Grill?

Once you have gotten your hands on a nice tabletop grill you are going to need some tools. Here is my list of essentials to make your outdoor grilling experience safe and fun.

  • Stainless steel tongs: Long handles are best in order to keep your hands safe.
  • Stainless steel spatula: Something long and sturdy to flip burgers
  • Silicone basting brush: Silicone is easier to clean and heatproof up to 300 degrees.
  • Heat proof oven mitt: Best for handling hot lids, handles, and grates
  • Spray bottle of water: Perfect for eliminating flare ups
  • Chimney starter (for charcoal grills): The most efficient way to start your charcoal
  • Meat thermometer: The best way to prevent over or under cooking of meat

Verdict: Your Best Tabletop Grills 

Tabletop grills are a great option if you are looking to bring some authentic grilling to your outdoor adventure. Whether you are planning to use it in your own backyard, or take it on the road, there is an option that will suit your needs. Here is a breakdown of my recommendations.

If you want the best value for your money, choose the Cuisinart CGG-306 Chef’s Style Propane Tabletop Grill.

If you need the most portable gas grill, check out the NOMADIQ Portable Propane Gas Grill

If you want to keep the spend under $120, pick the Masterbuilt SH19030819 Propane Tabletop Grill.

The best grill for you is the one that makes your outdoor cooking experience the most enjoyable. With warm weather in the forecast, I can’t think of a better opportunity to pick up one of these grills. It’s time to grab some fuel, some friends, and a good steak and head outdoors for a new adventure in tabletop grilling.

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