An Expert Guide to Portable Gas GrillsPublished on 07/07/2022 · 6 min readLooking for a gas grill that's easy to bring to your summer BBQs this year? Grill Expert Jonathan Graham breaks down what to look for in a portable gas grill!
Photo by Vincent Keiman
Summer is quickly approaching, and as a grilling enthusiast that loves all outdoor activities, I get the itch to take my culinary skills to the remote locations I love. My favorite places to show off my chef skills cooking burgers, chicken, steaks, and even big game meat are at a campsite or a beach that I’ve boated to. In the past, I would have been cooking over a campfire, but if anyone has ever done this, you know the issues that campfire cooking comes with (i.e. immediately burning your food over a hot flame!). Now, with my new, portable gas grill, I am able to cook much more easily with instant cooking heat. This advantage makes cooking outdoors more enjoyable, and my family gets to eat hot food in a timely manner.
Like me, a lot of people started grilling burgers on an egg-shaped charcoal grill. They are generally less expensive, and if you know someone that cooks with charcoal, then you have probably heard them speak about the flavor that charcoal gives to meat. However, if the meat is flavored properly, I personally haven’t found that charcoal smoke has enough time to penetrate big game meat, burgers, or hot dogs to make a noticeable difference from gas grills. Instead, I saved up enough money to purchase a small, portable two-burner tabletop grill I felt was perfect for our small apartment.
Now, our grill had instant heat so my roommates and I were able to grill with simple push-button ignition and no longer had to wait for the coals to die down. With a larger cooking area and an added adapter to connect the grill to a large propane tank, we were able to cook more in less time when we had friends over for a BBQ. Its compact size also fit our limited outdoor living area well.
Over the past few years, portable gas grills have even further improved, with stainless steel burners and stainless steel, iron, cast-iron, or even porcelain grill grates. However, with so many options out there, it can be tricky to find which one will work best for you. I hope to help you learn what to look for in a portable gas grill, and if you have more questions, reach out to a Grills Expert here on Curated and we’d be happy to help!
There are a couple of brands that you may have heard about in the grilling industry that make a quality product. My top picks for the brands with the best portable grills are Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Weber. They all have the latest and greatest in technology, including built-in thermometers, BlueTooth technology, and touchless ignitors, and most importantly, the grills are very durable and will last far past one grilling season.
There are some brands that you may have heard of that are sold at the larger department stores. If you check them out, they look decent enough, but if you were to invest in one, you’ll see that the materials and construction are of a lower quality and may not last more than one grilling season. Now that we have established that quality is very important with these portable grills, let’s think about what you want out of your grill.
Caption: For a top-quality portable propane grill, I really like the Weber Q 2200 Portable Propane Gas Grill which has good cooking space coming in at 280 square inches.
One measurement on every grill that you should know is BTU (British Thermal Units). This is the amount of heat that a burner can push out to heat up the space in the grill.
Another crucial measurement to know is the cooking surface of the grill in square inches. Yes, figuring out the square inches is important for any grill, and portables are no longer these tiny 50-square-inch tabletop grills that only cook two burgers at a time. They may not be a full-size grill with a 1000-square-inch cooking surface, but they do get big enough to cook a great deal of food.
The biggest thing I have learned is that size does matter when it comes to grills—bigger is not always better! With the bigger grills, temperature control is not easy because it has such a large area to heat up. If you’re not planning on grilling a whole rack of ribs, there’s no need for a giant grill. Something that can cook the right amount of food for you might be a better route so that the burners are not on full blast to hold the temperature stable.
Heat loss is so important to consider, especially when it comes to cooking outside. Wind will blow all of the heat out of a grill, leaving your perfect filet raw. To prevent this, many manufacturers have added a locking lid on their grills for a better seal and to make them less likely to open when in travel or storage.
When fighting wind, the placement and direction of the grill vents become important. You’ll want to direct the vents so that airflow doesn’t rip right through them.
You’ll also want to consider your approach to propane when buying a portable gas grill. The newer grills connect to large tanks now, so a lot of cooking can be done with a single tank. This may be tough to store in an apartment or when moving around, so you can still use smaller tanks, but I would generally recommend going with the larger option to save money, time, and production materials.
Consider a Flat Top
Furthermore, you can save space at your house or on your patio with a flat-top grill. These have changed the way that I cook my food! With the limited space I have on my patio, adding another full-size grill is not practicable, so when I wanted to add a flat top, looking at a portable was the best route to go. Flat tops allow the chef to cook so many more dishes outside that would normally require several different cooking pans and cooking spaces inside. From burgers to fresh hot pancakes on a camping trip, flat tops make it easy. Even if camping is not your favorite, just cooking bacon at home becomes a breeze on a flat top and makes the clean-up easier. They also allow you to cook everything at the same time so all your food is hot and ready for you at once.
Folding Leg Attachments
The last feature that I enjoy a lot on a portable grill is the addition of folding legs. They let the grill stand alone so you’re not placing it on a plastic serving table and melting it! Folding legs don’t always come with portable grills so check to see if they’re included before you buy one, or purchase them separately.
Portable gas grills bring ease to your outdoor cooking, whether you’re in a remote location or sitting on your patio sipping your favorite drink. In my experience, investing in a portable grill is one of the best additions to anyone’s backyard barbeque or campsite. If you have any further questions or want to get paired with the portable grill of your dreams, reach out to a Grills Expert here on Curated.