Tailgating is an essential part of the sports experience, or at least it was before the 2019 pandemic changed everything. In any case, you can be prepared to cook some incredible food with the right grill once things go back to normal.
Skip to a section that interests you. We’ve broken down the wide variety of tailgating-friendly grills into a few different sections to help you find what’s right for you.
- Portable Gas
- Portable Pellet Grills for Tailgating
- Portable Charcoal Grills for Tailgating
- Portable Standup Grills for Tailgating
- Small Grills for Tailgating
- Grill-Griddle Combos for Tailgating
- Flat Top Grills for Tailgating
- Hitch Mount Grills for Tailgating
- RV Bumper Grills for Tailgating
We’ve studied a variety of types of grills that work well in tailgating situations, and selected the right one for you depends on a few factors that we’ve took into consideration.
Our Favorite Grill for Tailgating
The Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Stand-up Propane Grill is a complete package for tailgating that offers space and performance in a convenient package.
Read more about it and similar grills in the Portable Stand-Up Grills section below.
Here are a few things to think about if you’re interested in something besides a typical gas or charcoal grill. Now, we are going to review electric, gas, charcoal, and pellet grills (and combo setups) but you may not be familiar with some of these unique options that we want to mention below.
- Pellet grills give you more control over the heat and evenly distributes the heat for reliable and consistent cooking results. Also, all-natural hardwood pellets add a nice wood-fired flavor to your food that some people really enjoy.
- Griddles and Flat Tops are great options for cooking foods that aren’t easily cooked on a typical grill grate, or would require extra equipment, such as a pan, to cook properly. They are great for preparing shrimp, fish, eggs, caramelized onions, bacon, french toast, potato cakes, and much more. You can even get portable grill/griddle combos that let you use both at once!
- Hitch-mounted grills are convenient and keep the heat and grease away from your vehicle. You also don’t need to worry about carrying an extra table for the grill. These are especially nice for Jeeps or other vehicles without tailgates.
- RV Bumper Arms function just like the hitch mounts, but attach to the bumper on the rear of your RV. Now, not all RV’s have the right bumper for these grills to attach to, but this is a great option for campers whether you’re tailgating or not. Here’s an example.
Next up, we’re going to look in more detail at the various types of grills and mount options that we’ve found are popular for tailgating and review the different brands and models available.
Best Tailgating Grills on a Budget
Grills are simple tools and you don’t need to spend a ton of money to cook a great burger or hot dog. That’s why we’re going to primarily look at options below $100 in this section.
In general, charcoal grills are cheaper than other types, mainly because they’re not complicated at all and you don’t have to purchase a gas tank for fuel. There’s a little more hardware involved in running the gas lines for the burners and that’s where most of the extra cost comes from. The downside to charcoal when tailgating is disposing of the charcoal itself. You’ll want to be sure to let the grill cool down before packing it back up and you’ll likely need to put out the charcoal with water.
Our first two recommendations in this category are the Megamaster Gas Grill and Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill. The Megamaster has more space and a traditional round wire grate, whereas the newer version of the Weber Go-Anywhere has a more solid, plate-like grate with drain holes for liquid runoff. For some people, the new Weber grate is a big disappointment, but we think it has its place and is really about personal preference.
More details below!
Megamaster Propane Gas Grill (820-0065C)
It’s not a well-known brand name, but the Megamaster is a spacious budget gas grill that has a total of 360 sq. in. of grilling space, whereas the Weber Go-Anywhere has 160 sq. in.
The Megamaster has a typical wire grate, latched lid, handle for easy carrying, and a secondary warming rack that pushes the overall grilling surface area ahead of most portable grills in the budget category.
- 360 sq. in. of total cooking space
- 11,000 BTU, Single Burner
- Porcelain-enameled Steel Grate
- Weighs 14.42 lbs
- Liquid Propane Only
- 20 in. wide firebox with handles
- Secure Lock Lid
- Piezo Ignition System
- Drip pan and Thermometer
What We Like
- Plenty of space and the secondary rack gives you room to move food around or keep food warm
- Latched lid and handle make for easy carrying
- Some quality control issues with the igniter, but not a dealbreaker
Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill (1141001)
Let’s talk about the new grate Weber includes with the Go-Anywhere.
The Weber Go-Anywhere lost some stars from newer customers due to changes to the grill grate and removal of the flavorizer bar. Now, with that said, you can still retrofit the Go-Anywhere with the old-style grate and flavorizer bar, but that bumps the price up quite a bit and doesn’t make much sense unless you’ve already purchased it and want a change.
What’s wrong with the new grate? It’s hard to clean. The round wire grate design is simple and easy to clean with a wire brush, but the newer version simply has more surface area for food bits to get stuck to and that means more scrubbing.
Now, there are positives to the new grate style. It essentially eliminates the problem of food falling through the space between the grate wires and into the burner area. Also, cooking smaller or narrower food like shrimp or asparagus is much much easier and you don’t have to use additional equipment to prevent it from falling through the grate, such as a grill basket.
- 6,500 BTU
- 14.5″ H x 21″ W x 12.2″ D
- 160 sq. in. cooking area
- 1 Stainless Steel Burner
- Liquid Propane Only
- 3 Glass-reinforced nylon handles
- Porcelain-enameled, steel cooking grate
- Plated steel legs pivot to lock lid in place for carrying
What We Like
- Weber grills are known for their high quality
- Replacement parts are readily available from Weber, so you expect a long life from this grill
- No thermometer
- Cooking grate style is loved by some and disliked by others
Next up, we’re looking at the Char-Broil 240 Gas Grill. It’s wider than both the Weber and Megamaster and has very sturdy legs. Still, it’s a great budget gas grill that gives you 240 sq. in. of direct grilling space, as there is no secondary rack above the grate.
Char-Broil Portable 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill
While the Char-Broil 240 is still considered a portable grill, it’s the largest of the budget models we’ve discussed so far. For tailgating, some amount of portability is necessary, so we’re recommending this gas grill if you’re looking to squeeze a few more burgers onto the grill while still being able to easily store the grill.
The legs don’t fold up and there’s no latch to hold the lid shut, so the extra size and sturdiness does come at a small cost.
- 9,500 BTU
- 240 sq. in. of cooking space
- 24.8″ W x 16.2″ D x 13.3″ H
- Weighs 28.2 lbs
- Piezo Ignition System
- Lid-mounted Thermometer
What We Like
- Full 240 sq. in. grilling space in direct heat
- Sturdy legs
- Temp Gauge
- Lid is easily removed, but you can’t lock it shut
Lastly, we have to mention the Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill. It’s got just as much space as the Char-Broil gas grill above, but it’s more portable and is, of course, a charcoal grill. For a budget, high-quality grill for tailgating, the Weber Jumbo Joe is hard to beat.
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
The Jumbo Joe is the largest of Weber’s portable grill series and is a great budget grill for tailgating. As far as size goes, the Weber Jumbo Joe and the Char-Broil 240 are two of the largest grills you can get for less than $100 that are friendly for tailgating.
- 18″ diameter
- 240 sq. in. cooking area
- Overall dimensions: 19.7″ H x 19.7″ W x 20.5″ D
- Fuel Type: Charcoal
- Plated Steel Cooking Grate
- Porcelain-enameled Bowl and Lid
- Lid handle with heat shield
- Aluminum ash catcher
- Tuck-n-carry lid lock
What We Like
- Weber quality and longevity with readily available replacement parts and accessories
- Large grilling area and still portable for tailgating
- Heat shield on handle is a nice touch
- None! What’s not to like?
For the budget section, we tried to stick with lower cost and compact options that can be stored away in a trunk or truck bed without too much hassle. If you have space in your truck bed for a full-size grill, then you can check out the stand-up grill section in which we look at typical grills with full-length legs and grilling areas.
Best Portable Gas Grills for Tailgating
Portable gas grills are perhaps the easiest type of grill to work with when cooking for a tailgate party. The fuel is easy to work with and heats up instantly, and there’s no disposing of ash. Also, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you lit enough charcoal to finish cooking all your food or if someone asks you to throw some food they brought on the grill.
We included many of the popular budget-priced gas grills in the budget grill section, so here we’re more focused on grilling space, heat output, and convenience.
The grills we’re going to look at in this section are a comfortable size to sit on a tabletop or tailgate. If you’re interested in grills for tailgating that have built-in legs, then check out the Best Stand-Up Grills for Tailgating section below.
Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill
This is one of the most popular portable gas grills from Weber that is a step above the budget models in terms of performance, material quality, and space. The porcelain-enameled, cast iron cooking grates are heavy-duty and built to last. The folding work tables on each side give you room for plates and tools and is perfect for tailgating. The Q2200 gets hot quickly and can reliably sear steaks or get a crust on burgers if you preheat it.
Smaller grills heat up quickly and the Q2200 has an even heat distribution that makes the whole cooking grate effective. You may even find you want to use the Q2200 for meals at home instead of heating up a big grill.
With the high-quality construction and reliability Weber is known for, this is undoubtedly one of our top picks for a portable gas grill for tailgating. You can even pick up accessories such as the portable cart to make this grill stand on its own.
- Cast aluminum lid and body
- Lid thermometer
- Glass-reinforced nylon frame
- Folding side tables
- Removable catch pan
- Infinite control burner valve
- Weight: 42 lbs
- 12,000 BTU
- Overall dimensions (tables out): 15.5″ H x 51.4″ W x 19.5″ D
What We Like
- Cast iron grate with solid areas that allow you to cook fish or shrimp without it falling between the grate
- Folding tables are a great addition
- Large cooking area
- Preheated grill can sear steaks while still getting medium-rare doneness
- Nothing bad at all, but this grill is on the heavier side for a portable
Giantex Propane Tabletop Gas Grill
If you’re looking for a great bang for your buck, then the Giantex is hard to pass up. Giantex is a large producer of household goods and often has reasonably priced products that get the job done. The Giantex tabletop gas grill has two burners and 266.5 sq. in. of cooking space.
Most grills this size only have one burner, so it’s nice to see some flexibility with the heat. Each burner is capable of 10,000 BTU output. The legs fold up into the bottom of the grill for storing it away. The solid stainless steel frame means you don’t have to worry about corrosion and can expect a long life from this grill.
With the heat output from this grill, it’s easy to sear steak or chicken and get grill marks just like a larger grill at home.
- 20,000 total BTU output
- Fold-able legs and lockable lid for storage and transport
- Overall dimensions: 22″ L x 18″ W x 15″ H
- Cooking Area: 20.5″ x 13″
- 40″ Propane Hose Included
- Weighs 26.5 lbs
- Constructed of 430 Stainless Steel
What We Like
- Uncompromising heat output and cooking performance
- Locking lid and handle is convenient
- Large cooking area for a portable grill
- Grease fires may occur frequently with very fatty foods
- Accessibility of spare parts is non-existent compared to a Weber
Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 Portable Grill
Road-worthy and sturdy best describe this TRU-Infrared propane grill from Char-Broil. Their TRU-Infrared design helps reduce (or eliminate) flare ups from grease or oil. Flare ups can really derail a great tailgate cooking experience when half the burgers come out black as charcoal, so it’s nice to see Char-Broil trying to solve that problem. We’ve seen complaints on other grill models about flare ups, such as the Giantex we just covered above.
The handle and lid latches make this grill easy to carry and store away. The 200 sq. in. cooking area isn’t the biggest we’ve seen, but is still a comfortable middle ground and you should be able to get 6 burgers on the grill depending on how large or small you’ve made them.
Another great feature of the TRU-Infrared design is how the burners underneath the grilling grate are spaced for even heat across the whole surface.
The grilling grate for this grill are stainless steel and does need to be seasoned. It’s easy and simply requires you to coat the grate and emitters with cooking oil, such as canola or peanut oil and then heat up the grill. Read more about seasoning stainless steel grilling grates here.
- Ignition inside right front leg
- Hood-mounted temperature gauge
- 200 sq. in. total cooking surface
- Stainless steel grilling grate and removable drip pan
- 9,500 BTU
- Dimensions: 23.7″ W x 15.7″ D x 13.6″ H
- Weighs 20 lbs
- Die-Cast Aluminum Body
What We Like
- Form factor is ideal for travel and tailgating
- Large cooking area while still being compact
- TRU-Infrared design is effective at eliminating flare ups
- The grilling grate needs to be seasoned before first use and coated regularly after each use
Grilling grates often come as either porcelain-enameled steel, stainless steel, or cast iron. They each have their own positives and negatives, but the best thing to do in any case is to keep them clean and periodically oil them up and turn on the grill for about 20 minutes. We’ve personally used a Char-Broil commercial grill for several years and experienced some rusting on the grilling grate when we didn’t keep it seasoned. Spray oil is best for getting the whole surface covered and not missing spots.
Once you’ve seasoned the grill before its first use, a good routine that we’ve found to work is to leave the grill on after cooking a meal to burn off any food bits left behind, use a brush to thoroughly clean the grill, then turn it off like normal. Then before your next use apply a coat of oil and let the grill heat up for 15 or so minutes before putting food on the grill. This is a super cautious way of maintaining the seasoning on your stainless steel grate.
Cuisinart CGG-059 Grillster Portable Gas Grill
The Cuisinart portable gas grills have been a mixed bag of questionable design and uncontrollable heat, but the Grillster seems to be one they mostly got right. It fits into the budget category and is very portable as it has a lid latch, handle, and foldable legs.
The single burner puts out 8,000 BTUs of heat and has a temp range up to around 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Searing steak or chicken on this grill is no problem.
- 146 sq. in. Enameled Steel Cooking Grate
- 8,000 BTU single burner
- Dimensions: 19″ x 11.5″ x 10″
- Weighs 10 lbs
- Locking Lid
- Compact design with folding legs and handle
What We Like
- Compact design is great for tailgating
- Capable of reaching high temp for searing
- Some customers reported issues with the ignitor
Best Portable Pellet Grills for Tailgating
In terms of ease of use and reliability, pellet grills surpass charcoal and gas. The biggest reason for this is the technology in most pellet grills allows you to select the desired temperature of the grill and the pellet augur system adds pellets as needed to maintain the temperature. Not only that, but you can even control and monitor the grill temperature sensors from your smartphone.
Wifi-connected grills have been around for a while now, but mainly for monitoring purposes. Nowadays you can control the heat in many modern grills and smokers for precise timing and temperatures for reliable results every time.
We believe the Davy Crocket Pellet Grill and the Camp Chef you’ll see below are the top contenders for the pellet grill tailgating experience. If you don’t want to compromise on size, then the Camp Chef is the best option.
Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Tailgating Package
The Davey Crockett Tailgating Package is the essential toolkit if you’re wanting a pellet grill for tailgating. The grill itself is everything you want in a pellet grill including the thermal sensor, WIFI connectivity for your smartphone, grill lights, meat probe, tray and utensil hook, and 12V or 120VAC capable. You can easily plug this grill into a inverter in your vehicle or use it at home.
Don’t worry the grill uses very low amps and will not quickly drain your battery.
If you’re worried about having to connect the grill to your phone to use it properly, don’t panic. You can easily control this grill manually on the front of the pellet hopper.
- SenseMate thermal sensor for monitoring temperature
- Pellethead Black Grill Cover
- Davy Crockett Collapsible Rack
- Pellethead Magnetic Grill Lights
- 9 lb pellet hopper
- 219 sq. in. cooking area
- Folding Legs
- 150-550 degrees Fahrenheit temp range
- 23 ft. 12-volt plug for vehicle lighter plug
- Battery clamp connector included
- AC Adapter for 120V wall outlet plug (also could be used with an inverter for a vehicle)
- Digital controller with food thermometer probe
What We Like
- Portability and Automatic controls from your smartphone. What’s not to like?
- Temperature range is great for many applications
- Grill lights and other accessories are a great bonus
- Foldable legs for easy storage
- Slower start than gas grills
- Some complains of rust forming on legs
We have seen customers mention small rust spots appearing on the legs of the Davy Crockett pellet grill. Thankfully, since the legs aren’t in contact with food or serious heat, you can easily apply a metal-friendly enamel to the legs for an easy fix. It’s cheap and eliminates the problem.
Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill
If you’re looking for a size upgrade, the Camp Chef Pursuit Pellet Grill is what you need. Tailgating, off-grid use, RV camping, or even just at home you can use this grill for cooking large meals for a crowd. Since there’s two racks, you can smoke and grill at the same time.
Without a doubt, the Camp Chef Pursuit is a beast of a portable pellet grill. It’s on the heavier side at 100 lbs, but should be manageable.
- Model PPG20
- Dimensions: 20″ L x 40″ H x 22″ W
- PID controller for consistent temperatures (+/- 5 degrees F)
- Includes 2 meat probes
- 10 adjustable smoke settings
- 160 to 500 degrees F
- Full-sized upper shelf
- Ash cleanout system
- Folding legs
- Weighs 100 lbs
- 501 sq. in. rack surface area
- Electric Auto-Ignitor, automatic auger, and dual LED temp readout
What We Like
- Two food probes included
- Large cooking surface area
- Folding legs give you portability for tailgating
- Larger/heavier option for tailgating
Next, we’re taking a look at a more ultra-portable option for a pellet grill for tailgating. It’s the Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill and Smoker. It’s a simple box design with short legs and closes up just like a suitcase. It doesn’t get more portable than this when it comes to pellet grills.
Traeger Grills Ranger TBT18KLD Pellet Grill and Smoker
The Traeger Ranger is a pellet grill and smoker in a suitcase-style package. With that said, when you pack a lot of things in a small box you tend to see higher prices, so this more compact version of a pellet grill is relatively expensive for a portable pellet grill. One thing is for sure though: it’s great for tailgating.
Digital controls and a meat probe allow the grill to intelligently add pellets as needed to maintain grilling temperature as well as internal temperatures in food.
- Digital controller with advanced grilling logic
- Keep Warm Mode
- Meat Probe
- Lid latches
- 184 sq. in. grilling area
- 8 lb. hopper
- Weighs 70 lbs
- 10″ W x 13″ L grilling area
What We Like
- Super portable
- Power of a “Smart” pellet grill in a small package
- Electronics reliability is questionable
- Temp ceiling not good for searing
- Roughly 5 inches of clearance between grill grate and lid, so careful with larger hunks of meat
There have been some concerning customer reviews regarding the Arc Controller for the Traeger pellet grills. These complaints include center button not scrolling the menu, icons on screen not showing, probe temps not showing, and other issues. It seems that the best way to get ahead of this problem is to find out if your controller is faulty before firing up the grill. Once the grill has been used it becomes much more difficult to return and deal with the problem.
We haven’t seen these kind of complaints from users of the Green Mountain or Camp Chef models we’ve covered above, but it’s worth doing some digging to make sure there aren’t recent complaints about changes to newer models.
Best Portable Charcoal Grills for Tailgating
Charcoal grills aren’t the newest, WIFI-capable, technology-packed grills that you get when you buy a new pellet grill, but some people might view that as a good thing. No electronics failures or cables needing to be plugged in. Plus, they are usually less expensive than gas or pellet grills.
So if you’re looking for a relatively simple tailgating experience that gets the job done, then charcoal is the way to go.
Since we’re looking at a traditional style grill, we have to mention the Weber Jumbo Joe 18-inch Portable Grill. It’s our first pick for a portable charcoal grill for tailgating.
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
You can’t go wrong with the Weber Jumbo Joe. It’s the classic portable charcoal grill with the Weber quality to back it up. The Tuck-N-Carry lid lets you easily carry the 18 lb grill and start cooking on your tailgate or table. The legs aren’t foldable, but it’s still a relatively compact setup and the legs keep the heat a comfortable distance away from whatever surface you set the grill on.
Weber estimates you can fit about eight 4.5″ diameter burgers on the Jumbo Joe, which is the size their burger press makes.
Another reason to go with a Weber is the ease of getting replacement parts or accessories. If an accident happens or the grilling grate needs replacing, then it’s nice to know you can buy a part from Weber and not have to buy an entirely new grill.
- Heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate
- Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
- Lid handle with heat shield
- Plated steel cooking grate
- Tuck-N-Carry lid lock
- Aluminum ash catcher
- 18″ diameter cooking grate
- Overall dimensions: 19.75″ x 20.5″ x 19.75″
- 254 sq. in. cooking area
What We Like
- Weber quality and smart design with Tuck-N-Carry lid lock
- Heat shield is a nice touch
- Easy to get extra parts if needed
- What’s not to like?
At the end of the day, your tailgating setup really depends on what you’re driving. These ultra-portable charcoal grills, like the Smokey Joe or Jumbo Joe, are great tucked away in a car trunk, small truck bed, Jeep, or RV.
Weber Smokey Joe Portable Charcoal Grill
The Smokey Joe is the 14-inch version of the portable charcoal grills available from Weber. That means you get about 150 sq. in. of cooking area compared to the 254 sq. in. from the Weber Jumbo Joe. In terms of product quality and brand support, Weber is mostly unmatched at this price point. We considered several ultra-portable charcoal grills and always came back to the Smokey Joe as you often run into poor quality materials and design on low-price products.
That’s not true for the Smokey Joe. Plus, with Weber you can be sure there will be replacement parts available, or accessories, if you ever need to get a new cooking grate or other part. Weber does a good job of supporting their products.
So how many burgers can you fit on this grill? Weber says that you can fit 5 burgers made with their burger press on the Smokey Joe. That’s five 4-5/8″ diameter, half or quarter-pound burgers.
- Aluminum Body
- Dimensions: 14.2″ x 14.5″ x 17″
- Weighs 9.5 lbs
- Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl
- Plated steel cooking grate
What We Like
- Weber quality and design
- Excellent price
- Corrosion-resistant materials
- The lid does not lock onto the base of the grill
Best Portable Stand-Up Grills for Tailgating
In this section, we’re going to look at grill of all types that aren’t just portable because they’re smaller, but rather by thoughtful design. Most importantly, this section is about grills that can stand up on their own and don’t need you to set them on a table or even on your tailgate. Grilling on the ground isn’t ideal either, so we’re looking at grills that are portable and stand up just like a typical full-size grill.
If we had to recommend just one grill for tailgating, then that would be the Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill. Here’s why…
Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
It’s basically the Murphy bed of grills, but powered by propane gas. The heat output is an impressive 20,000 BTUs and you get a spacious 285 sq. in. of cooking area. There are 3 adjustable burners, which is more than we’ve seen with any of the grills we’ve reviewed above. Steaks, burgers, hotdogs, and vegetables can all have their own area for cooking with the temperature just right for the results you’re looking for.
Plus, the built-in side tables are there when you need them for resting tools, sauces, plates, or utensils. This really is the all-in-one grill package. It’s even on the lighter side weighing about 50 lbs.
Green isn’t the only color option, by the way, there’s black, blue, and red available as well.
- 3 burners with 20,000 BTUs combined grilling power
- 285 sq. in. of cooking area
- Dimensions: 45.6″ D x 19.5″ W x 35″ H
- Weighs 52.58 lbs.
- 2 side tables
- Integrated thermometer
- InstaStart ignition
- Water pan catches grease for easy disposal
- Quick-fold legs and rugged wheels allow this grill to fold up like a rolling suitcase
- Swappable cooktops – easily change to a griddle or stove grate (sold separately)
What We Like
- Complete grilling package in a portable, tailgater-friendly form factor
- 3 adjustable burners
- Swappable cooktops is a game changer if you are also interested in a griddle without having to sacrifice more storage space
- Water pan makes this a little messy to clean up
The versatility and performance of the Coleman RoadTrip 285 can’t be understated. It’s a well designed portable gas grill that doesn’t leave much to be desired. It does seem that they have removed the utensil hangers in the latest iteration of the Roadtrip, but the side tables are still there and serve most purposes.
Weber 6557 Q Portable Cart for use with Q1000 and Q2000 Series Grills
The Weber Portable Cart is intended to be used with Weber Q1000 and Q2000-series propane grills only. It allows you to turn your Weber grill into a portable stand-up grill just like the Coleman Roadtrip style grills.
Keep in mind, you have to purchase the cart and grills separately, and the overall cost of this setup depends on which Weber Q-Series grill you decide to buy. If you happen to already own a Weber Q-Series grill then all you need is this cart for the extra convenience and portability when tailgating!
As for which grill to choose, the Weber Q2200 is the largest option with 280 sq. in. of grilling space, two side tables, and 12,000 BTU-per-hour burner. The combined cost of the grill and portable cart may be higher than the cost of the Coleman RoadTrip 285, or at least it was when this article was published.
If you’re looking for something a little more budget friendly, then consider the Weber Q1000 Propane Grill. It has a respectable 189 sq. in. cooking area and a single 8,500 BTU-per-hour burner.
Is it worth picking the Weber Grill and Cart versus the Coleman RoadTrip? It’s really up to you, but most Weber fans really enjoy being able to buy replacement parts or upgrades to their grills further into the life of the grill. That’s something you don’t see many manufacturers doing. The one thing that the RoadTrip seems to do better than the Weber Cart combination is stability. Most customers agree that the RoadTrip is very stable, whereas there has been some complaints about the overall stability of the Weber Cart.
Specifications of the Portable Cart
- Front-loading design allows you to slide the grill on and lock it into place
- Build-in transport handle
- Hook and loop keeps the grill in place even in transport mode
- 2 tool hooks and durable all-weather wheels
- Works with 2014 Weber Q1000 and Q2000-series grills only
- Cart dimensions: 28″ W x 21″ D x 25″ H
What We Like
- Freedom to detach the grill from the cart if you’d like, which isn’t possible with the Coleman RoadTrip
- Weber quality and replacement parts are easily purchased if needed
- Stability isn’t great, but mainly only an issue when cleaning the grill
Also, keep in mind there are electric grills in the Weber Q-Series that are compatible with the portable cart. Electric grills aren’t usually great options for tailgating unless you know you’re going to have a power source capable of handing the amperage, usually an RV. Consider the Weber Q2400 Electric Grill if you’d like to go that route with this cart.
Best Small Grills for Tailgating
In this section, we’re emphasized small size and simplicity. We’re going to go through some of the most barebones options available as well as some small propane gas options that get the job done in the most compact form factor possible.
First, we’re going to look at a couple charcoal grills that are essentially a metal frame with legs and a grilling grate. There’s no lids most of these style grills can be folded up into a carrying bag. The simplest grill is setting a steel grate over an open flame, and that’s pretty much what these are except the charcoal is nicely contained in a metal box. It doesn’t get smaller or simpler than that.
For tailgating applications, you’ll want to place the grill on the ground or at least on top of something that won’t easily burn if some hot charcoal falls on it.
Shark BBQ Portable Charcoal Grill
This compact and portable grill is made from stainless steel and can fold up for carrying around in a bag. The removable ash tray makes for easy cleaning. There are holes around the bottom of the charcoal bowl to allow for air flow for the charcoal. The downside to this design is you can’t adjust the air flow, but with simplicity in mind this solution works just fine.
- 190 sq. in. cooking surface
- Durable travel bag included
- Foldable hibachi-style grill with stainless steel grate
- Dimensions: 14″ x 14″ x 1.9″
- Weighs only 8 lbs
- 11″ tall when assembled
What We Like
- Ultra-portable design folds up to be less than 2″ thick. Can fit behind a truck seat!
- Stainless steel
- Easy to clean
- Hot ash can fall through air holes, so you want to set it on a surface that won’t burn
There are tons of simple grill options like the Shark BBQ grill above that you can find at most outdoor retailers or hundreds of options at places like Amazon. Many of them are rebranded products made in China that sometimes have questionable quality. There are some real gems out there, but it’s important to carefully read reviews, but even that can be unreliable these days.
Coleman Party Propane Grill
It doesn’t get smaller than this when it comes to a propane grill. It’s a simple single-burner grill with a with a modest 122 sq. in. cooking area. The burner is adjustable and since there’s not a ton of space the heat is evenly distributed. This is a great small grill for camping, picnics, or tailgating parties.
- Dimensions: 13.2″ x 13.4″ x 7″
- Weighs 5 lbs
- 8,000 BTUs
- 122 sq. in. cooking area
- Lasts about 2.5 hours on high on one 16.4-oz. propane cylinder
- Detachable legs
What We Like
- If you’re looking for a small propane grill, then this is it
- Excellent heat output
- Rounded grill top can be a little awkward
- No lid
Next, we’re looking at a somewhat unique grilling system that aims to streamline the charcoal grilling process and emphasizes compactness and convenience. It’s not exactly the most frugal option, but it is simple to use and gives you uniform heating that’s reliable and easy to clean up.
Fire & Flavor Hero Grilling System
The Hero Grilling System by Fire & Flavor is a portable grilling grate with a “charcoal pod” that is a laptop sized box filled with evenly-spaced charcoal pucks that offer a quick light, single use grilling session of about 60 minutes at 400 degrees.
The low VOC charcoal does not contain petroleum additives or impurities and the pod box is insulated with lava stone in a cardboard tray made from recycled materials.
This grill is a streamlined solution for charcoal grilling that has some positive points and some negatives. One negative point is access to new charcoal pods. If you plan on grilling multiple times you need to make sure you have enough charcoal pods as each charcoal pod is completely used up after each use. You also want to plan your grilling session so that you know you’ll get everything cooked within an hour, which should be reasonable if your expectations for a grill this size are correct.
The grilling grate is just like other grilling grates you often see made for simply being placed over an open flame. In a pinch, you could just light a small fire and place the grate over it. Though this is likely best done in a camping situation rather than tailgating. If tailgating with this grill, you want to make sure you are using it on the ground and not a plastic table or other surface that you don’t want to get burned as it can get really hot on the bottom.
- Weighs < 10 lbs and collapses to the size of a standard laptop
- Charcoal pod gives 60 minutes of grilling at 400 degrees F
- Non-stick ceramic coated grilling surface
- Includes grill surface, 1 all-natural charcoal pod, food thermometer, bamboo spatula that fits between grates, carry case, cutting board
What We Like
- Simple solution for grilling any circumstances
- Self-contained charcoal pods make for effective heating and disposal
- Charcoal pods are more expensive per use than normal bags of charcoal
- The charcoal pod does get extremely hot on the bottom, so don’t put it over surfaces that might burn
Best Grill-Griddle Combos for Tailgating
This category doesn’t have a ton of options that fit the portability needs for tailgating. You can always just strap in a full-size grill and griddle in your truck if you’ve got room, but for most people’s tailgating needs that isn’t very realistic, or even worth the trouble.
With that said, there is a great portable solution from Blackstone that combines a gas grill and griddle into a single portable unit. That’s the first thing we’re going to look at below, and after we’ll show you some options from Weber that allow you to add a griddle top to your Weber grill, which is an even better space-saving solution since you use the same grill.
Blackstone Tailgater Portable Gas Grill and Griddle Combo
The Blackstone Tailgater is the perfect solution if you want a dedicated grill and griddle in a single unit. The legs fold up and the grill top can be removed allowing you to store it away easier. The legs are independently adjustable so that you can achieve stability on uneven ground.
The big advantage of this grill and griddle combo is that you have tons of cooking space as well as dedicated grilling and griddle stations allowing you to cook different types of food at the same time. This is a clear advantage over using a griddle cover on a normal grill that reduces your overall grilling space. However, the grill and griddle combo is bulkier and not a realistic solution for everyone.
- Two burners – 15,000 BTUs from the grill burner and 20,000 BTUs from the griddle burner
- Grill and griddle cooking spaces are both 16″ x 16″ which gives a total of 512 sq. in. of cooking space!
- Grill box can reach 500+ degrees F
- Grill and griddle are removable so that you can use a cast iron pan or pot directly on the burners
- Dimensions: 52″ x 24″ x 38.5″
- Weighs 75 lbs
What We Like
- Solid construction and no cheap plastic
- Independently adjustable legs for rugged terrain
- No need for a separate stove or griddle you can do just about anything on this combo grill/griddle
- Enough space to cook for a large family or friends
- Ideal portability for a unit this size that works great for tailgating
- It’s fairly heavy, but to be expected
The Blackstone Tailgater is the ideal solution for a grill and griddle combo for tailgating or camping. However, you may find that it’s just too big for your needs, and in that case we have an easy solution from Weber that allows you to simply set a griddle plate on top of your Weber grill and start cooking.
If you already own a Weber grill that’s compatible with their griddle plates, then congratulations all you need to do is buy the plate. If you like Weber’s portable grill lineup, which are more compact than the Blackstone Tailgater, then keep in mind you can simply purchase a griddle plate instead of buying a separate griddle or something as bulky as the Blackstone Tailgater.
|Griddle Model||Compatible Grill||Dimensions|
|Weber 6559 Original Griddle|
Weber Q2000 Series
|15.3" x 10.8" x 0.5"||Check Amazon|
|Weber 6558 Griddle|| |
Weber Q1000 Series
|12.6" x 8.6" x 0.5"||Check Amazon|
|Weber 7566 Porcelain-Enameled Cast Iron Grill Griddle||Genesis 300 Series||19.4" x 13.3" x 0.7"||Check Amazon|
|Weber 7421 Gourmet BBQ System Griddle||Fits 22-1/2" Weber Charcoal Grills||12" x 15.2" x 2"||Check Amazon|
|Weber 7599 Weber Genesis II Griddle||Genesis II or II LX 3, 4, & 6 burner grills||20" x 13.5" x 1"||Check Amazon|
|Weber 7658 Grill Griddle||Spirit II gas grills (also fits Spirit 200/300 series gas grills)||17.5" x 11.9" x 2"||Check Amazon|
Best Flat-Top Grills for Tailgating
In this section, we’re looking at pure flat-top griddles that can easily be used for tailgating parties. They are great for cooking foods that would otherwise fall through the cracks of a grill grate. Shrimp, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes, scrambles, and caramelized onions are just some of the possibilities with a griddle. Plus, of course you can cook all the food that you cook on a normal grill as well.
Another great feature of flat-top grills is that grease is much easier to deal with. On a typical grill, it tends to drip underneath the grill grate and for some grills this can mean grease fires as grease drips directly on the burners. Flat tops allow for easier capture of grease and are simple to wipe clean.
Blackstone Tabletop Gas Griddle
Another great product from Blackstone, this tabletop griddle is one of the most popular and positively-reviewed gas griddles on the market. Two burners give you the range of heat you need to cook a variety of foods at once and it is very spacious at 330 sq. in.
With any grill or griddle, grease management is always something that is important to the grill’s design, and this griddle handle grease by drawing it away from your food and out the rear drain. This is ideal and helps make clean up easy.
If you’re searching for a great griddle for tailgating, then look no further as this is the workhorse you need. Salmon, sautéed vegetables, Philly cheesesteaks, egg scrambles, and more are possible at your tailgate party with this portable gas griddle.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this griddle doesn’t seem to get too hot on the bottom, so setting it on a table or your tailgate shouldn’t cause any issues from the heat. However, it’s a good idea to test this yourself.
Be sure to follow instructions for seasoning your griddle top before trying to cook food on it!
- 330 sq. in. of cooking space
- Two adjustable burners
- Rear grease drain
- 24,000 BTUs total
- 22.5″ x 19″ x 9″
- Weighs 32 lbs
What We Like
- The size of the cooking area and two burners are ideal for cooking a variety of foods
- Easy grease disposal
- Some reports of slow/no response from customer service
Best Hitch Mount Grills for Tailgating
There are a few products that are all-in-one packages for hitch mounting a grill to your vehicle, but another thing to think about is a more custom solution where you install a hitch mount table and simply set your grill there when it’s in use.
One of the great things about a hitch mount grill, if you’re not driving a truck, is that you don’t have to put the grill back into the interior of your vehicle. It can stay strapped down on the hitch rack and you don’t have to worry about grease dripping or any messy cleanup until you get back home.
Stowaway Hitch Mount Grill
This is a complete setup with a swivel grilling station, gas grill, and cutting board in one package. It’s the perfect hitch-mount solution for tailgating, camping, or anywhere really. You still have access to the back of the vehicle if you’re driving an SUV or truck and the frame swings out 90 degrees and locks.
Optionally, you can remove the grill and cutting board and simply use the rack for other things. It’s extremely sturdy, much more sturdy than the grill actually needs to be safe.
- Includes SwingAway Frame, Cuisinart Gas Grill, Cargo Rack, Cutting Board, and hitch tightener
- 12,000 BTUs
- 240 sq. in. of grilling space
- Cutting board dimensions: 25.5″ x 18.5″
- Frame locks at 90 degrees but can swivel out to 180 degrees for complete rear access to the vehicle
- Frame and rack support over 200 lbs
What We Like
- Perfect all-in-one solution for tailgate party grilling
- Greasy grill can ride on the rack home for cleaning
- You can still access your vehicles rear storage while using the rack
- Some complaints about straps being weak, probably best to reinforce with your own
Now, the Stowaway Hitch Mount Grill setup is a great solution, but maybe you prefer a different grill or different hitch setup. All-in-one solutions like the Stowaway might not work for everyone, so you have to improvise a bit.
One of the easiest ways to make a more “do-it-yourself” hitch mount grilling setup is to simply attach a cargo carrier to the back of your vehicle and use any type of grill you want. Tabletop gas grills or griddles can fit into cargo carriers as long as you check the dimensions. The great thing about this setup is you can use it for other things when you don’t need the grill and you’re not tied to a particular grill that has to mount a certain way on a customized rack. The cargo carrier is a steel basket that can hold a variety of things for camping or tailgating.
TUFFIOM Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier
There are tons of hitch mounted cargo carriers out there and this is just one of many types to choose from. You can find a variety of widths and lengths out there to get the perfect setup for your grill of choice. You may even want to choose the grill you want first and then find the right cargo carrier for it if grilling is your first priority. (We’re talking about tailgating so of course it is!)
- Dimensions: 60″ L x 20″ W x 6″ H
- Folding design allows the carrier to fold up when not in use
- 6-inch high walls around the cargo basket
- Adaptable to any 2″ trailer hitch receiver
What We Like
- Sturdy design
- Folds up when not in use
- Aluminum frame upgrade optional
- Difficult to access rear of vehicle when in use
- Included straps are weak
The length of the cargo carrier isn’t likely going to be the limiting factor for your grill, but rather the width that you need to look out for. If you’re looking for something slightly larger, then consider this 60″ x 24″ hitch cargo carrier from CURT.
Best RV Bumper Grills for Tailgating
Bumper grills for RVs are a bit different than hitch mount grills in that they mount to the bumper frame found on most RVs, travel trailers, or fifth wheel campers. There are a ton of options for this type of installation so it’s a good idea to see what type of options you have on your RV or camper.
Fleming Sales 52321 Bumper Grill Arm Assembly
This bumper grill arm mounts on any 4″ box beam bumper with U-shaped brackets and has arm pivots allowing the grill to extend up to 40″ away from the bumper. It’s intended for use with Sidekick grills, bumper grill tables, or Stainless Steel RVAD 650 LP Gas Grill.
Flame King RV Or Trailer Mounted BBQ
The Flame King is a RV grill designed to mount right on the side of your RV or trailer. The hanging rack can be used to mount the grill on your RV or it can be used as a freestanding grill with the folding legs.
- 12,000 BTU adjustable burner
- 214 sq. in. of grilling space
- Dimensions: 22″ x 11″ x 17″
- Weighs 21.3 lbs
What We Like
- Connects directly to your RV’s propane quick connect port, or can be used with portable tank
- Great value for a RV mount grill
- Some issues with the ignitor wire fraying