Written By Tijana Sredanovic
Published Jan. 30, 2021

There is nothing in this world quite like a perfectly grilled steak with a seared outside and a moist, juicy inside. Char-grilled burgers often win top prizes, and a collection of freshly grilled sausages are sure to be the talk of the table. Whatever your specialty is, sometimes a small grill is the best tool for the job. Maybe you want to put your legendary skills on display during a late fall hunting trip, or maybe you simply lack the real estate for a full-sized grill. Whatever the case, there is absolutely no reason to skimp on flavor. Whether you prefer the flavor of charcoal, the consistency of propane, or the sheer ease of electric power, there are plenty of small grills on the market just waiting for you. So stop wishing and start grilling!

The Best Small Grills

The simple, smoker-like Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is a great option when it comes to flavor and style. This charcoal grill was designed to pack lots of cooking into a small space. With a 250 square-inch cooking surface, this grill is very space efficient, and its simple design makes this a user-friendly option. The stainless steel barrel firebox features both a double steel bottom and a durable powder-coated exterior. The cast-iron grates make the perfect grilling surface, and the dual airflow vents allow for simple temperature management. This grill’s sliding drawers allow for easy access to wood chips, coals, and ashes, making for easy flame management and cleanup. The Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill comes with plenty of extras for comfort and ease of use.

The only hiccups with this grill are the lack of a thermometer and occasional fit and finish issues. While assembly is required, it’s pretty straightforward.

Key Features
  • Charcoal grill
  • Semi-stationary design
  • 250-square-inch grilling surface
  • Powder-coated stainless steel barrel firebox with double steel bottom
  • Cast iron grates
  • Dual airflow vents
  • Easy-dump ash pan
  • Includes wooden handle, wooden shelf, two storage hooks, bottom storage rack, and two wheels
Specification
  • Brand Char-Griller
  • Model E1515
  • Weight 50.0 pounds
PROS

Simple design

Sliding doors provide easy access to wood chips, coals, and ashes

Durable, heavy-duty construction

Cool, comfortable handle

Compact size

Easy to move

Easy to clean

Easy to assemble

CONS

No temperature gauge

Occasional fit and finish issues

Assembly required

If you’re looking for a grill that is simple, portable, and affordable then take a good, hard look at the Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill. This basic little grill has virtually everything a budding grillmaster on the go would need. The chrome-plated grate provides 150 square inches of grilling space, and the dual airflow vents allow for simple temperature control. The enamel-coated firebox and included ash catcher help simplify cleaning and maintenance, so when the time comes, this lightweight little grill is easy to clean. Weighing only two pounds, this compact charcoal grill is extremely portable, and with its three locking lid latches, users will never need to worry about making a mess. The affordable Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill also boasts an easy assembly process.

The biggest knocks against this grill are its undersized, poorly-fitted grate, cheap construction materials, and somewhat common fit and finish issues.

Key Features
  • Charcoal kettle grill
  • Portable design
  • 150-square-inch grilling surface
  • Chrome-plated grilling grate
  • Enamel-coated firebox
  • Dual airflow vents
  • Includes ash catcher and three locking lid latches
Specification
  • Brand Cuisinart
  • Model CCG190
  • Weight 2.0 pounds
PROS

Very affordable

Very lightweight

Compact

Easy to assemble

Easy to clean

CONS

Undersized grate fits poorly

Cheap construction materials

Low-quality fit and finish

Most grills are designed with the casual summer griller in mind, but the Kamado Joe Classic II bit off more than most grills can chew. This stationary charcoal grill boasts 205 square inches of cooking surface and a two-tiered grate designed to allow users to simultaneously cook different dishes at different temperatures. The sealed, ceramic-lined firebox creates consistent, controllable temperatures anywhere between 225 and 700-degrees Fahrenheit, and the top airflow vent allows for simple temperature management. The Air Lift Hinges allows users to easily lift the hefty lid, and the grill’s modular design allows grillmasters to venture into the world of rotisserie meats, pizza, and more. The Kamado Joe Classic II can also double as a smoker and includes plenty of helpful accessories.

This particular grill is easily the heaviest and the most expensive on this list. Some users have noted durability issues with the ceramic inserts.

Key Features
  • Charcoal kamado grill
  • Stationary design
  • 205-square-inch grilling surface
  • Two-tier grilling grates
  • Sealed, ceramic-lined firebox
  • Top airflow vent
  • Modular design
  • Includes Air Lift Hinge two removable, folding side shelves, four lockable casters, and locking lid latch
Specification
  • Brand Kamado Joe
  • Model KJ23RHC
  • Weight 250.0 pounds
PROS

225- to 750-degree temperature range

Easy to open

Doubles as a smoker

Accepts a wide range of Kamado Joe accessories, including cast iron grates and griddles, rotisseries, pizza oven adapters, and more

CONS

Very expensive

Heavy

Occasional durability issues with ceramic inserts

When it comes to small gas grills, few can compete seriously with the Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill. This propane grill boasts a 189-square-inch grilling surface consisting of porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates that create a highly conductive, non-stick surface. The 8500-BTU single burner heats things quickly, and the control knob allows for a virtually infinite temperature setting. This grill is compatible with disposable propane cylinders, making it a portable option, and the electric ignition system lights things up in a hurry. The grill’s cast aluminum body and lid rest on a glass-reinforced nylon frame, and the entire unit requires minimal assembly upon arrival. The Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill comes in multiple colors, is easy to clean, and includes plenty of helpful extra features.

Despite its price tag, this relatively heavy grill requires a separate adapter for use with full-size propane tanks. Also, it lacks a locking lid.

Key Features
  • Propane grill (8500 BTUs)
  • Semi-portable design
  • 189-square-inch grilling surface
  • Single burner
  • Electric ignition
  • Porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates
  • Cast aluminum body and lid with glass-reinforced nylon frame
  • Includes integrated thermometer, two side shelves, grease tray, and disposable grease catch pan
Specification
  • Brand Weber
  • Model 51010001
  • Weight 28.9 pounds
PROS

Non-stick grates

Heats up quickly

Compatible with disposable propane cylinders (14.1 and 16.4 ounces)

Has infinite control settings for fine-tuned heat control

Easy to clean

Minimal assembly required

Available in multiple colors

CONS

Expensive

Relatively heavy

The lid does not lock closed

Requires separate adapter for use with large propane tanks

When it’s time to take the grilling game up a notch (and into the kitchen), don’t go it alone. Grab a Ninja Foodi Smart XL. This six-in-one, 1760-watt electric grill has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, starting with its 108-square-inch grilling surface. The Cyclonic Grilling Technology allows users to generate 500-degree air and surface temperatures to a consistent sear, and this “smart” grill can create the perfect sear and doneness with its Smart Cook System. The dual-sensor, leave-in Foodi smart thermometer, and auto-shutoff feature allow users to “set it and forget it” using one of four protein settings with nine custom doneness settings. The easy-to-use, easy-to-clean Ninja Foodi Smart XL has plenty of space and features, allowing it to broil, roast, bake, dehydrate, and air fry as well.

This six-in-one grill tends to be somewhat expensive, and the Smoke Control System has occasionally proven disappointing on a few units.

Key Features
  • 6-in-1 electric grill (1760 watts)
  • Semi-stationary design
  • 108-square-inch grilling surface
  • Six-quart capacity with four-quart crisper basket
  • Includes Cyclonic Grilling Technology, Smart Cook System, and Smoke Control System
Specification
  • Brand Ninja
  • Model FG551
  • Weight 27.5 pounds
PROS

Can cook from frozen in under 25 minutes

Four smart protein settings and nine customizable doneness settings

500-degree maximum for both cooking surface and air temperature

Features leave-in, dual-sensor Foodi smart thermometer, and auto-shutdown feature to achieve perfect doneness

Very flexible: grill, broil, roast, bake, dehydrate, and air fry

Easy to use

Easy to clean

CONS

Expensive

A few units have smoke control issues

Home cooks looking for the perfect grill to deliver a knockout steak will appreciate the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill. This electric grill features 240 square inches of grilling surface complete with a convenient non-stick surface to make both cooking and cleaning a breeze. The included, non-integrated grill stand allows users to create an outdoor grilling station while allowing users to grab the grill and go, easily transitioning inside should the weather unexpectedly become unpleasant. With five separate temperature settings, grillers can adjust the heat to match their tastes, and the temperature probe that comes with the grill allows for simple temperature monitoring. The George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill’s non-stick grilling surface can be easily removed for easy cleaning, making it perfect for any home cook.

Unfortunately, the non-stick surface does not like metal grilling utensils, and the non-attached lid can be awkward to set down while cooking.

Key Features
  • Electric grill
  • Semi-stationary design
  • 240-square-inch grilling surface
  • Includes five temperature settings
Specification
  • Brand George Foreman
  • Model GGR50B
  • Weight 21.0 pounds
PROS

Relatively lightweight

Indoor/outdoor design

Removable, non-stick grilling surface

Adjustable temperature control

Includes temperature probe and grill stand

Easy to clean

CONS

Non-stick grilling surface incompatible with metal cooking utensils

Awkward lid design

Whether for camping, RVing, or simply experiencing pioneer-style cooking, the Stromberg Carlson Stake and Grill is perfect for cooks looking for a little slice of American culinary tradition. This charcoal and wood grill consists of a 36-inch, solid steel stake with a sturdy grilling surface made of durable chrome-plated steel. This simple design is extremely portable, yet it was engineered by experienced campfire cooks. This unit boasts an impressive 330 square inches of grilling space with rolled-up edges to prevent food from flying into the fire. The locking handle keeps things secure yet can be adjusted for height to achieve the proper application of heat. This grill is easy to use and clean, and despite its minimal weight, the Stromberg Carlson Stake and Grill can successfully support cast iron cookware.

The only real knocks against this grill are the poor quality storage bag and its open fire-only cooking design (maybe).

Key Features
  • Charcoal/wood grill
  • Portable design
  • 330-square-inch grilling surface
  • Constructed with chrome-plated steel
  • Includes 36-inch ground stake
Specification
  • Brand Stromberg Carlson
  • Model GR-1522
  • Weight 10.0 pounds
PROS

Affordable

Lightweight

Simple, sturdy design can support lots of weight

Features rolled-up edges for food security

The locking handle allows for custom heat adjustments

Includes heavy-duty nylon storage bag

Easy to use and clean

CONS

Must be used over an open fire

Low-quality bag

Want a solid combination of grilling convenience and performance? Then the Char-Broil Performance 300 is worth a closer look. This 24,000-BTU propane grill does just about everything a home griller could need without hogging half the back deck. This unit features two burners with 300 square inches of grilling space and a 100-square-inch warming rack to accommodate plenty of orders during backyard cookouts. For a small, stationary grill, this particular unit is affordable and packs a decent number of desirable features, including an electric ignition system, a porcelain-lined grease pan, and porcelain-coated cooking grates. The non-stick grates and slick grease pan are ideal for reducing cleaning time. The easy-to-assemble Char-Broil Performance 300 also boasts a stainless steel lid with an integrated thermometer and a few other convenient features.

For its overall size, this grill has a relatively small cooking surface. A few people may find the quality somewhat lackluster.

Key Features
  • Propane grill (24,000 BTUs)
  • Stationary design
  • 300-square-inch grilling surface with 100-square-inch warming rack
  • Two burners
  • Electric ignition
  • Porcelain grilling surfaces and grease pan
  • Includes propane tank storage cabinet, two folding metal side shelves, and four lockable casters
Specification
  • Brand Char-Broil
  • Model 463673519
  • Weight 82.5 pounds
PROS

Affordable

Removable, non-stick grates and grease pan are easy to clean

Stainless steel lid with temperature gauge

Easy to assemble

CONS

Small cooking surface for its size

Not the highest quality

Assembly required

Grilling in the woods can be a ton of fun, but without something like the UCO Flatpack Grill and Fire Pit, bringing the heat can be a tiring, awkward endeavor. Unlike most portable grills, this charcoal-fueled unit is incredibly compact and lightweight, measuring only 13.5 by 10 by 1.5 inches when folded and weighing in at just over three pounds. UCO engineers designed this grill with the backcountry in mind with its quick setup time (30 seconds at most) and its integrated windbreaks created to keep fires going even in howling conditions. This unit features a rust-resistant, corrosion-resistant stainless steel construction and a 130-square-inch grilling surface. The easy-to-clean UCO Flatpack Grill and Fire Pit includes a stable integrated base, a storage bag, and a one-year warranty.

Under extreme heat, this grill can warp, making fire pit usage less than ideal. Fit and finish can be hit or miss.

Key Features
  • Charcoal grill
  • Portable design
  • 130-square-inch grilling surface
  • Stainless steel construction with integrated windbreaks
Specification
  • Brand UCO
  • Model GR-FPG
  • Weight 3.3 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

Foldable, compact, packable

Stable base

30-second setup

Rust and corrosion-resistant

Easy to clean

Includes canvas storage bag

One-year warranty

CONS

Not ideal as a fire pit

Fit and finish can be hit or miss

May warp when exposed to high heat

Some kitchens need something that can do anything. The Hamilton Beach Searing Grill can sear a steak or press a panini with equal ease, making it a culinary jack-of-all-trades. This electric grill features a semi-portable design, thanks to its relatively light weight of just over 8 pounds. The 118-square-inch non-stick grilling plates can hit temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit while also dropping as low as just 200, an excellent range for most cooks, and the adjustment knob makes for easy temperature adjustments. The power and heat indicator lights make this grill easy to use, and the viewing window allows cooks to monitor foods without losing heat via a lifted lid. The Hamilton Beach Searing Grill is easy to clean with its extra-large drip tray and removable, dishwasher-safe components.

Metal utensils are unkind to this grill’s non-stick cooking surface. The short cord and occasional heating issue can be annoying.

Key Features
  • Electric grill
  • Semi-portable design
  • 118-square-inch grilling surface
  • Temperature adjustment knob
  • Non-stick grilling plate
  • Viewing window
  • Cooking surface indicator lights
Specification
  • Brand Hamilton Beach
  • Model 25361
  • Weight 8.14 pounds
PROS

Reasonably priced

Lightweight

200 to 450-degree temperature range; Sears at 450 degrees

Easy to clean: extra-large drip tray and removable, dishwasher-safe components

CONS

Non-stick grilling plate incompatible with metal cooking utensils

Short cord

Occasional heating trouble

Best Small Grills Buying Guide & FAQ

Grilling is an art that takes a little practice and patience to perfect, but the results are the stuff of legend. Meat lovers, veggie lovers, and all-around food lovers can rave for hours on end about that perfect porterhouse they had three years ago, and they can tell you who grilled it and how many times they have dreamt of it since. On-the-go grillmasters and backyard chefs limited by space, budget, or other factors need not curb their enthusiasm and appreciation for high-quality meats and flavors. Find and use your small grill in the pursuit of culinary happiness.

Do You Need a Small Grill?

Anyone interested in grilling understands the value of a small grill. While not everyone needs one, there are plenty of situations in which owning a pint-sized grill would be extremely beneficial.

Learning to grill (or learning to grill with a new fuel type) on a full-size grill can get expensive fast, so purchasing a small unit can save quite a bit of cash. Of course, small grills tend to be portable, making them a great camping option. On the flip side, small, stationary grills are great for apartments or homes with limited outdoor space.

Grilling is an art that takes a little practice and patience to perfect, but the results are the stuff of legend.

Not everyone is entitled to outdoor cooking greatness, thanks to neighborhood covenants or fire-conscious apartment complex policies, but thankfully, grilling is not completely out of the question. With dedicated electric grills, getting some great grill marks is still completely attainable, and unless you or your guests are die-hard charcoal-or-bust types, the final product will taste like perfection.

  • Learn to grill at a low cost.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors while grilling up some grub.
  • Cook up some char-grilled goodness in small outdoor spaces.
  • Use an electric grill when grilling indoors is your only option.

The Most Common Types of Small Grills

Like their larger cousins, small grills fall into one of two categories, but these categories are not the same as with the big boys. All large grills are stationary by nature, but small grills can be either stationary or portable, although some blur the line and end up somewhere in the middle.

Stationary

Due to their size and weight, virtually all small grills possess some degree of portability, but some were designed with non-portable use in mind. Stationary small grills can be broken down into two subcategories: “regular” stationary and semi-stationary.

“Regular” stationary grills are designed to mimic their bigger cousins without hogging nearly as much floor space. These grills rest on a dedicated stand which can be integrated into the grill itself, and a large number of these stands include casters or wheels to make redesigning the porch layout easier.

Semi-stationary grills usually lack a grill stand, although stand-alone options may be available. Often, these grills are impractical to move due to factors such as weight or reliance on electric power; however, they can be moved with relative ease should the need arise.

Portable

Many people looking for a small grill want something portable, but as with stationary small grills, the term “portable” may prove to be a relative term. As such, this small grill category could be subdivided into “portable” and “semi-portable” grills.

True portable grills tend to be simple, lightweight, and compact in design. To decrease complexity (and weight), these grills often rely on charcoal for fuel, although gas or propane grills show up occasionally.

Semi-portable grills tend to be heavier than their brothers and mainly designed for use while camping from a car or RV. As such, they usually run off of propane or gas.

What to Look for When Buying a Small Grill

Selecting the right small grill for you takes a little bit of thought and evaluation. How much will it cost? Is it durable? Portable? What kind of flavor will it create? These questions and others are excellent starting points, but what else should you be considering?

Portable grills must be compact and lightweight, and their fuel source should be as well. Simple designs that are easy to clean are also particularly appreciated by mobile grillers, and the lack of a lockable lid latch (or three) can be a dealbreaker.

Small stationary units often include convenience features, such as lockable casters and electric ignition systems, but non-negotiable features should include ease of cleaning and a stable base or stand. The easy assembly may not be a true deal-breaker, but it is a feature worth seeking.

Char-grilled burgers often win top prizes, and a collection of freshly grilled sausages are sure to be the talk of the table.

Best Small Grills FAQ:

When it comes to small grills, there are a few things worth sorting through during the shopping process. With the wide variety of designs and features, understanding the basic grill categories can be extremely helpful for budding grillmasters. On the flip side, more experienced chefs will want to cut to the chase and know who does what well.

Q: What kinds of grills are there?

There are four main types of grills on the market: charcoal, gas or propane, electric, and wood. Many of these types have subcategories, such as kamado charcoal, and wood pellet grills.

Q: What is the best small gas grill to buy?

When it comes to small gas grills, we love the adaptable Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill.

Q: What is the best small charcoal grill?

Our favorite small charcoal grills are the Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill and the backcountry-ready UCO Flatpack Grill and Fire Pit.

Q: What is the best cheap grill?

If price is critical, consider picking up the Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill or the Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14”.

Our Top Pick

If you crave that classic flavor that only a charcoal grill can deliver, you cannot go wrong with the Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill. Its simple, easy-to-use design was built to last, and its cast-iron grates provide an expansive 250 square inches of cooking space that both retains and conducts heat with ease. It may lack a few whiz-bang features, but this charcoal grill is easy to use and maintain.

Final Thoughts

All in all, grillers cannot go wrong with the Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill. Its straightforward design is easy to use and easy to clean. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill instead.

Sources:

  1. Barbecue Grill – Wikipedia

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