Devon Ferguson
Published by Devon Ferguson
Last Updated On: January 24, 2023

For me, tailgating is a sport on its own. I’ve been on a carnivore diet for a decade, and I’ve used a tailgate grill everywhere, from parking lots, fields next to football stadiums, concert venus, and more.

I’ve tried countless tailgating grills over the years and evaluated them on weight, cooking area, BTUs, and overall cooking performance.

Here’s my selection of the eight best tailgate grills for your tailgate adventures.

8 Best Tailgate Grills

1

1 - Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere is a portable charcoal grill that comes at an affordable price. It has one burner and around 160 square inches of cooking space, which is enough for six burgers or four steaks.

The stainless steel burner is 6,500 BTUs and has porcelain-enameled grates, which means no rusting. The aluminum feet give this tailgating grill height and stability, so you can use it on any surface without worrying about starting a fire.

I found it very compact. It’s easy to transport by folding up the legs. Moreover, the legs and lid lock in place, so I could transport it without worrying about accidents.

Overall, it’s extremely easy to use this charcoal grill. The ignition is push-button, so there’s minimal work required on your part.

The handles are glass-reinforced nylon, which makes them durable. Finally, four vents (two on the lid and two on the sides of the grill) make temperature control easy.

Pros
  • Easy to transport
  • Budget-friendly
  • Several vents for good temperature control
  • Good heat retention
Cons
  • Only one burner
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 15 x 19.5 x 11.5 in
  • Weight : 13.5 lbs
  • Fuel type : charcoal
  • Cooking area : 160 square inches
  • Power : 6,500 BTUs/hour
2

2 - Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18"

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18

Jumbo Joe is another charcoal grill from Weber. One of the features I liked best was the Tuck-N-Carry lid lock.

You can hang the lid on the lock while cooking or serving the food. Thanks to this feature, you don’t have to struggle to find a place to set the hot lid down.

Jumbo Joe charcoal grill is an 18-inch grill, so it can fit eight hamburgers at a time. The plated steel grates and an aluminum ash catcher make the cleanup easy.

Weber is known for the quality of its grills, and it shows. Jumbo Joe has a porcelain-enameled lid, a heat shield on the lid handle, and dampers that let you control the temperature during cooking.

The only thing I thought it lacked was a lid thermometer to check the temperature.

Pros
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Dampers provide good temperature control
  • Ash catcher makes the cleaning easy
Cons
  • A shallow lid can’t fit a whole chicken
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 19.7 x 19.7 x 20.5 in
  • Weight : 18 lbs
  • Fuel type : charcoal
  • Cooking area : 240 square inches
  • Power : 71,000 BTU
3

3 - Traeger Tailgater

Traeger Tailgater

Traeger Tailgater’s performance is comparable to larger pellet grills, which makes sense considering it’s significantly bigger than most other tailgating grills on this list.

The Tailgater weighs 64 lbs, so you’ll need help moving it to and from your truck, but considering this is a pellet grill, the weight is still surprisingly light.

I loved the 36-inch grilling space. This was enough to fit 12 burgers or five pounds of wings. The hopper fits 8 pounds of pellets and lasts for about six hours, which is enough for a tailgate party.

Tailgater comes with a digital controller and intuitive system control that keeps the temperature stable, so you don’t have to hover over the grill during your party. You can choose between five temperature settings, so you can grill different foods.

Pros
  • Consistent temperature
  • Compact and durable chassis
  • Large cooking area
Cons
  • Expensive
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 37 x 18 x 36 in
  • Weight : 62 lbs
  • Fuel type : pellet
  • Cooking area : 300 square inches
  • Power : 19,500
4

4 - Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

Coleman RoadTrip 285 is a fan favorite for many, and I could see why. This gas grill has 285 square inches of cooking space, so you can cook several types of food at once.

Moreover, the three burners can all be operated independently, which gives you 20,000 BTU of power for an impressive grilling experience.

The grill grates are porcelain-coated cast-iron grates, which are easy to maintain and rust-free. I liked the two sliding side tables for easy food prep and serving.

Once you’re done cooking, you can fold the legs flat, tilt the gas grill onto the two rugged wheels and roll it behind you. In terms of transport, it doesn’t get easier than this.

Finally, the cooking space can be transformed with interchangeable cooktops, so this portable gas grill doubles as a griddle or a stovetop.

Pros
  • Easy transport
  • Several cooktop options
  • Adjustable burner temperature
Cons
  • Not as durable as other portable grills
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 45.6 x 19.5 x 35 in
  • Weight : 52.5 lbs
  • Fuel type : gas grill
  • Cooking area : 285 square inches
  • Power : 20,000 BTU
5

5 - Blackstone Tailgater Stainless Steel Portable Gas Grill

Blackstone Tailgater Stainless Steel Portable Gas Grill

Blackstone portable gas grill is more than a grill. It’s also a griddle, which means you can serve everything from grilled meat to pancakes, hot dogs, eggs, and bacon.

I liked how versatile it is. I could use the charcoal grill box, the propane griddle, or both at the same time.

This grill has the largest cooking capacity on this list — an impressive 512 sq in. It has two burners on the gas grill side, one which is H-tube stainless steel and the other cast iron.

You can change the temperature independently on them. Plus, there are two standard burners, which means you cook on this portable grill as on your stove at home.

The gas grill has four adjustable legs, so you can choose the height you like. The feet keep the portable grill motionless on all surfaces.

Pros
  • Adjustable height
  • Versatile cooking surfaces
  • Easy setup
Cons
  • Lift handle gets extremely hot
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 52 x 24 x 38.5 in
  • Weight : 75 lbs
  • Fuel type : gas grill
  • Cooking area : 512 square inches
  • Power : up to 20,000 BTU
6

6 - Napoleon TQ285XBL1 Propane Gas Grill

Napoleon TQ285XBL1 Propane Gas Grill

This Napoleon tailgate grill is a great choice if you regularly have a large number of people to feed at your tailgate party. The propane gas grill fits up to 19 hamburgers at once, which is impressive for a tailgate grill.

Two burners heat the grill space evenly. This also means you can have two different heat zones: a searing and a warming zone or a direct and indirect zone for roasting smaller food items.

I liked that the cast aluminum lid is high enough to fit two whole chickens, which is a rarity with tailgate grills.

The cast iron grids ensure the food doesn’t slip through. Plus, you’ll have nice sear makers on your food. The lid and bowl are cast aluminum, making the build high-quality and durable and ensuring good heat retention and distribution.

Pros
  • Large enough to fit while chickens
  • Cat fit a smoker tube
  • Durable build
Cons
  • Heavy for a portable grill
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 20.2 x 44.2 x 38.7 in
  • Weight : 43.2 lbs
  • Fuel type : propane gas grill
  • Cooking area : 285 square inches
  • Power : 12,000 BTU
7

7 - Cuisinart CGG-180TB Portable Grill

Cuisinart CGG-180TB Portable Grill

If you’re looking for portable gas grills, you’ll love Cuisinart CGG 180TB. This is a tabletop grill, which means it’s compact and easy. You won’t have any issues transporting it from your home to the car and reverse.

I could latch the lid down to hold in the heat and ensure the food comes out perfectly cooked. The cleanup is also easy because the gas grill comes with drip pans.

You can remove them as needed to empty them. There’s also a regulator that notifies you it’s time to change the propane.

Overall, this is one of the most versatile portable gas grills you can get. But keep in mind it’s a tabletop grill, so the cooking area is on the smaller side.

Pros
  • Lightweight, portable gas grill
  • Fits on all vehicles
  • Has extendable, sturdy aluminum legs
Cons
  • Ignition switch often doesn’t work
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 16 x 18 x 11.5 in
  • Weight : 14.6 lbs
  • Fuel type : propane gas grill
  • Cooking area : 145 square inches
  • Power : 55,000 BTU
8

8 - PKGO Portable Charcoal BBQ Grill

PKGO Portable Charcoal BBQ Grill

With the PKGO Charcoal grill, you can double your grilling space: remove the lid, turn upside down, place it on the Flipkit stand, and put a second charcoal grate to the bottom, a second cast iron cooking surface, and you get a second grill.

This comes in handy when you need a lot of burgers.

I was satisfied with the heat retention and distribution. The cooking grate is cast iron and has 200 sq in of cooking space (which can be doubled).

There are four vents: two at the top and two at the bottom so you can have excellent control over the cooking temperature and airflow. You can opt for direct and fast cooking by closing the vents or indirect and slow cooking by opening them.

Pros
  • Cooking area can be doubled
  • Durable grill with double-cast aluminum construction
  • Four vents give versatility
Cons
  • Can’t fit whole chickens
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Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions : 20.9 x 15.3 x 13.03 in
  • Weight : 45.1 lbs
  • Fuel type : charcoal grill
  • Cooking area : 200 square inches (can be doubled)
  • Power : 15,000 BTU

Best Tailgate Grill: Buyer’s Guide

A woman browsing for best tail gate grill using a phone

Here’s everything you should keep in mind when choosing the best portable tailgate grill for you.

1. Portability of the Tailgating Grill

Tailgating usually happens in the parking lot before a sports game, so grill portability is a key factor to consider.

You need a grill that’s lightweight to be brought to a game, compact enough to fit into your vehicle, and easy to set up on different surfaces.

Here’s what to consider in terms of portability when choosing portable grills:

  • Lightweight — The grill needs to fit into the boot of your car, which means it should be light to lift into and out of it easily.
  • Wheels — If you move the grill around a lot, you need chunky and sturdy wheels. Choose wheels that can go over uneven surfaces.
  • Sturdy handle — A strong handle makes it easy to move the grill. Best grills have stay-cool handles, so you can move the grill safely when you’re done grilling.

Also Read: Traeger Tailgater Review

2. Type of Portable Grill

The type of portable grill refers to the fuel the grill uses. You can choose between:

  • Propane grill — Easy to buy, transport, and use. Propane grills burn cleanly and give food-heat regulation. However, propane tanks are heavy and unwieldy, and a propane grill doesn't give the smoky flavor as pellet and charcoal grills do.
  • Charcoal grill — Makes the best-tasting food (provides a smoky flavor), but it’s difficult to control the temperature. It also takes a long time to reach cooking temperature, so choose a portable gas grill such as a Webber that’s easy to fire up.
  • Pellet grill — Pellets are easy to find, light, heat quickly, and can maintain a constant temperature.
  • Electric grill — Easy to move around, but not the best tailgating grills because you need a car engine or a generator to run them.

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3. BTU

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. This determines the temperature at which you cook food. The more BTUs a grill has, the higher temperature it can reach more quickly, which means a shorter cooking time for you.

For example, Jumbo Joe can reach an impressive 71,000 BTUs, which means it gets very hot quickly.

4. Cooking Area

An image of a person cooking on a grill outdoors

Consider how many people you usually cook for at a tailgating event. You need a large coking surface if you have a big family or a large group of friends.

Some models are made to cook for only a few people (Cuisinart CGG-180T is a good choice if you cook for a couple of people). But, some models can double the cooking space so that you can cook for many people at once (such as the PKGO).

Ideally, you want enough cooking space for several burgers so you can feed everyone at once. This way, no one is left waiting for their food.

You can also consider if your portable charcoal grill or a pellet grill has a warming rack. A warming rack frees up the primary cooking area, which means you can grill more food. Plus, it keeps the food warm for people who can’t eat straight away.

5. Build Material

The materials the grill is made of can make all the difference. You want your tailgate grill to last longer than a season, so the build needs to be durable.

Stainless steel, enameled porcelain, and cast iron are all durable materials that can withstand transportation, wear, and tear of tailgating. These ensure you won’t dent your grill after a few trips.

Cast iron is especially heavy but durable, an excellent heat conductor, and heats up quickly. 

Stainless steel is easy to clean after a long day of grilling. It helps the food maintain its natural flavor and doesn’t corrode even in harsh weather conditions.

Enameled porcelain is resistant to scratching and can withstand high temperatures. Plus, it’s easy to clean.

On the other hand, thinly made grills can’t regulate heat well, which affects the cooking results.

The warranty also gives you an idea of how durable a grill is. For example, poor construction quality can cause damage the grill if you knock it over during transport.

It can crack or get dented. These damages aren’t covered under most warranties, so check the warranty of the grill you’re interested in.

6. Cleaning and Maintenance

An image of a grill and brush on top for cleaning

The last thing you want to do when you’ve finished your tailgating party is to do an extensive cleaning routine. That’s why you should choose a grill with easy cleanup.

Best gas, charcoal, and propane grill have ash catchers, grease traps, ceramic grill grates, and pellet hoppers that are easy to empty.

Also, tailgates usually happen in places with limited utilities, which means no hose, sink, or other water sources. You need a grill that can be cleaned with a brush or wiped clean with a cloth.

Finally, if you opt for pellet grills or charcoal grills, you need to have a solution for disposing of ash and pellets. Or, you can get a grill with a locking mechanism to ensure everything stays in place until you get home and are ready to clean.

FAQs

Can You Bring a Grill to a Tailgate?

Yes, you can bring a grill to a tailgate. Ideally, you want a small grill, such as Weber Go-Anywhere.

How Do You Heat Food at a Tailgate?

You heat food at a tailgate by using a compact grill. Or, you can wrap dishes in foil and transport them in insulated containers.

What’s the Best Tailgate Grill for You?

If you’re planning your next tailgate party, I’d advise you to look for a grill that’s affordable, durable, compact, and easy to use.

Of all the grills I tested, Weber Go-Anywhere fits this description the most. It comes at an affordable price, and the price to value is unmatched compared to other girls.

Go-Anywhere makes cleaning and maintenance easy, thanks to porcelain-enameled grates. They are durable, so the grill will last a long time.

It has aluminum feet that provide height and stability, which is very important for a tailgate grill. You can use it anywhere from fields to parking lots without worrying it’ll topple over.

Finally, both the legs and the lid lock in place so you can move it from your truck bed to home safely and easily. Check it out, and get a quality grill for your tailgate adventures.

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Easy to transport
  • Budget-friendly
  • Several vents for good temperature control
  • Good heat retention
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of January
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