Most grillmasters dream of having a nice outdoor kitchen. But what’s the solution for scratching the grilling itch if you live in an apartment or house with limited space?
When choosing a grill for your apartment, there’s a lot for you to consider. Free space is at a premium, so you need a grill that doesn’t take up every square inch of your balcony or patio.
Here’s our list of the best apartment grills with various options to get you grilling, no matter what building rules and local regulations you have to contend with.
If you are at all worried about regulations, the Ninja Woodfire is the best option. It’s an electric grill that also burns wood pellets for a more authentic flavor.
The best small grills for apartment dwellers
Before we get stuck into the grill reviews it’s important you get familiar with any rules that are specific to your region, or building.
These rules will dictate the type of grill you can buy.
We’ve looked at electric grills that should be allowed in most situations, as well as gas and charcoal grills for those who are allowed. Due to the common theme of a lack of space, we’ve emphasized small grills perfectly suited to apartment living.
1. Best overall – Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill
Read our full Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill review.
Ninja is famous for making kitchen appliances, but with their latest release, we believe they’ve made a perfect small grill for apartment dwellers.
The Ninja Woodfire is an outdoor grill that runs on electricity, so you don’t have to worry about those pesky regulations.
Unlike other electric grills we’ve tried, the Woodfire allows you to get some real smoke flavor with the ability to burn wood pellets.
You can also use it as an air fryer and dehydrate for good measure.
What we liked:
- Actual smoke flavor – We were skeptical of the concept, but the wings we cooked on the Woodfire were packed with a smoky flavor you can’t get on other electric grills
- Versatile – As well as being a grill and smoker you can also air fry, bake, roast or dehydrate
- Easy to clean – Remove the grill grates and clean inside, then simply empty out the smoke box (if you used it) and drip pan.
- Mobile – At 30 pounds and with a width of 23 inches, this grill is easy to pack away and then take out when you need it if space is limited or you want to bring it for a tailgate
What we didn’t like:
- Could be slightly larger – Some people will appreciate the compact size, but I wish they made the grill slightly wider so I could fit a full rack of ribs
2. Best gas option – Weber Spirit II E-210 Gas Grill
You’re probably afraid that a small grill designed for an apartment won’t be big enough to cook for your whole family.
That’s not a concern with the Weber Spirit II E-210. The small footprint doesn’t sacrifice cooking space. It packs 450 sq. in. of total cooking space in a grill only 48 inches wide.
The best part of that 48” width is that it includes the two side shelves. This grill has room for you to set everything down that you need for grilling. It also has six tool hooks so you can hang your tongs and grill spatula within arm’s reach.
I’ve had the larger 3 burner model setup on my small deck, so this version will easily fit into even tight apartment style balconies.
It also doesn’t skimp on the heat, with two burners putting out 26,500 BTUs per hour. You won’t have a problem grilling burgers for the family or searing steaks for two. The grill has three Flavorizer bars to catch some of the drippings and vaporize them to add more flavor to whatever you’re grilling.
What we like:
- Cooking space – You aren’t sacrificing cooking space despite the overall size of this grill. You can still cook up to 12 quarter-pound burger patties.
- Fantastic warranty – 10-year warranty on all parts excluding normal wear and tear problems. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better warranty out there.
- Size – This grill can fit safely on most patios and balconies without completely monopolizing the space.
What we don’t like:
- Possible regulator problems – A number of users have reported regulator issues out of the box. Keep an eye out for any issues with gas flow.
3. Best budget gas – Char-Broil Performance Series 2-Burner Cabinet
Char-Broil put an emphasis on usable space with this grill. It has two side shelves to give you plenty of workspace that fold down when not in use. It sits on a cabinet cart that holds the propane tank but still has room for storing grill tools out of the elements.
The emphasis on usable space extends to making sure you can use your outdoor space too. The cart is on four swivel casters, two of which are locking, so you can move the grill out of the way.
The grill grates are porcelain-coated cast iron, perfect for heat retention and easy to clean.
What we like:
- Folding shelves – give you extra workspace while folding out of the way to make storing the grill easier.
- Storage – The cabinet cart is perfect for storing tools when you aren’t using the grill.
- Value – Despite the lower price, you aren’t sacrificing much in the way of cooking space compared to the E-210.
What we don’t like:
- Front hot spots – The burners are consistently hotter at the very front of the grill. A few customers have had that cause serious issues, but it’s not common. Just be aware that food cooked at the front of the grill will definitely get more heat than in the middle or the rear.
- Occasional temperature problems – Some customers have reported grills that won’t heat past 350°F or 450°F. This could be a regulator problem. The vast majority of customer reviews do not report this issue.
4. Best electric
Weber – Weber Q2400 Electric Grill
While we would all love cooking on charcoal or gas, sometimes apartments won’t allow that. So what do you do if you’re stuck in that situation? You turn to electric options. While you won’t get the flavor of a charcoal grill or even a gas grill, you can still turn out great-tasting food while spending time on the balcony.
Our favorite electric grill is the
This grill is easy to move around, weighing about 44 pounds. It’s 31.5” wide, 14.5” tall, and 19.5” deep. You can find an easy place to store this grill when not using it. Despite the size, it still has 280 sq. in. of cooking space. While it may not be ideal for a big family, you can cook enough for a couple or a small family.
This electric grill can only be used outdoors because of the exposed heating element. You’ll get smoke and even flare-ups throughout the cooking process.
What we like:
- Porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates – Just because you don’t have an open flame doesn’t mean you can’t get grill marks. The cooking grates on this grill will help you get that grilled look.
- Easy to clean – The grill grates are porcelain-enameled, so they can be cleaned just like any other grill grates. The bottom liner of the grill can be removed from under the heating element. That can help you prevent grease build-up from causing problems. It also has a catch pan for disposing of drippings.
- Portable – At 44 pounds and with handles, you can move this grill wherever you need it.
What we don’t like:
- No lid thermostat – You can’t take a quick look and see what temperature the cooking chamber is reading. This can make temperature adjustments a bit of a guessing game.
- Heating element problems – A somewhat common thread of problems is the grill not reaching higher temperatures.
Weberdoes recommend letting the grill preheat for at least 20 minutes if not a full half-hour.
5. If you’re allowed charcoal – Kamado Joe Joe Jr.
If you’re in an apartment situation that allows the use of a charcoal grill, you don’t have to resign yourself to using a dollar store cheap grill to save on space. The
This is technically a portable ceramic charcoal grill. The ceramic construction is perfect for heat retention but grills made from ceramic weigh a lot. That’s why the Joe Jr. weighs 77 pounds.
This is the most versatile grill on the list because the Joe Jr. can both grill and smoke. The cooking grate is hinged to make loading more charcoal a breeze if you’re choosing to smoke on it.
You won’t have much in the way of cooking space, though. This grill has a cooking surface of 150 sq. in., so you need to have a plan for having more people over. For two people, you’ll be able to make the main entree on it.
What we like:
- Versatility – Ceramic grills are great at smoking and grilling, and the Joe Jr. is no different.
- Great temperature control – Between the ceramic construction and adjustable vents, you can learn to dial this grill in for exactly the right temperature level you need.
- The stand – The Joe Jr. comes with a sturdy cast-iron stand to hold the grill in place. It also has handles so you can carry the grill safely.
What we don’t like:
- Small cooking area – You won’t be able to fit enough food for a full family meal on this grill. At only 150 sq. in., you’ll be able to cook a single chicken or some hot dogs, but space is at a premium on the cooking grates.
- Breaking problems – Ceramic is great for heat retention in a grill. However, ceramic can break if mishandled. There are few things more distressing than seeing a ceramic grill in pieces.
6. Best for both indoor and outdoor use – George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
All of the grills on the list so far have been exclusively outdoor grills. However, the George Foreman grill now comes in a version that can withstand cooking on your balcony or patio while still being a part of your indoor kitchen. The George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill can also be a tabletop (or countertop) model while coming with a stand for outdoor use.
If you’ve ever cooked on a George Foreman grill before, there’s a number of features you’ll be used to. Grease from burgers or bacon drains away and runs into the bottom tray for easy disposal. The cooking surface is non-stick so cleanup is a breeze.
What makes this edition of the George Foreman grill different is two-fold. This grill has a removable dome lid reminiscent of kettle-style charcoal grills rather than a panini press-style lid. This helps heat circulate around the cooking chamber for a cooking experience akin to grilling.
Then you have the stand for outdoor use. This positions the grill at a comfortable height for cooking. There are some concerns as to how sturdy the stand is, but you can place it on a table if needed.
The cooking surface is also a respectable 240 sq. in. which gives you room for enough food for a small family.
What we like:
- Easy clean-up – The non-stick cooking surface, removable grill plates, and the drip tray make cleaning up a breeze.
- One grill can be used inside and out – The ability to take the same grill indoors and out gives you the ability to cook wherever you want to without having to use a different appliance.
- Quick pre-heat – The grill takes only about 10 minutes to fully preheat.
What we don’t like:
- Top-heavy stand design – The stand is a great idea, but the grill can make the whole design top-heavy. You need to be careful of anyone running into the grill and potentially spilling dinner all over the balcony.
- Temperature issues – Some customers experienced issues getting the temperature control to work right. Others experienced issues with consistent heating. However, the majority of users see consistent, responsive temperature controls.
Are you allowed a grill in your apartment or small balcony?
While we all wish there were an easy, comprehensive answer to this question, there isn’t one catch-all answer. Different states, cities, and municipalities have different rules. Even different apartment complexes have their own rules on top of local laws.
For instance, New York City does not allow for people in an apartment building “to store a standard backyard propane barbecue on a balcony, roof deck, roof, rear yard, or courtyard.” Charcoal grills are okay in the backyard, but not on a balcony or roof, and they must be a minimum of 10 feet between the grill and the building. There are no restrictions on electric grills.
If you live in Charlotte, North Carolina, you cannot use any charcoal or propane grill or propane-fueled cooking device on a balcony or within 10 feet of an apartment building or condominium. Electric grills are not a problem.
Now where things get interesting are some codes have exceptions for one-pound propane tanks. For instance, San Francisco does allow for gas grills using a one-pound tank to be used on a balcony.
This opens you up using portable gas grills like the Weber Traveler.
Also, remember that apartment complexes can have stricter rules than the municipality you live in. It’ll be in your lease agreement. Make sure you take the time to read through it thoroughly before you get a grill that your city or town allows. You don’t want to get caught ignoring your landlord’s rules.
Safe apartment grilling tips
The majority of safe apartment grilling tips are the regular grilling tips everyone should follow. All grillers should be careful with combustible materials regardless if they live in an apartment or a house.
The apartment-specifc tips have to deal with storage and being aware of the specific rules governing your apartment and municipality. While you might think about the rules in regards to what grill you can use on what surface, there are also rules about storing fuel.
Some places may not allow you to store fuel tanks in the building. You also might not be allowed to store charcoal for your grill inside the building. That means having to find a way to keep your charcoal dry.
What to look for when buying a small grill for your apartment
The most important information to have when looking to buy a small grill for your apartment is what’s allowed and what’s banned. Quite often it’s based on the fuel source.
- Propane – Banning the use of a propane grill with a standard 20lb tank at apartment complexes is common. You might live in a place that allows a grill as long as you are using a 1lb bottle, but that can be a hassle in its own right. Even if you can use a propane grill, there might be special rules for storing the tanks.
- Charcoal – Charcoal grills are almost exclusively banned from being used on balconies at apartment buildings. It’s not uncommon to be able to use them at least 10ft away from the building, but you need to check your lease as well.
- Electric – The good news about electric grills like the Ninja Woodfire is that they are almost universally allowed for use wherever you want. They have no open flame, so they are the least likely type of grill to cause a fire. You should still be careful, but you shouldn’t have a problem with the apartment allowing it. The drawback to electric grills is that they don’t deliver the same flavor as a charcoal or even a gas grill.
Our best recommendation is that you buy the largest grill possible that will safely fit on your balcony or patio. When determining what that size is, make sure you account for every inch of the grill, including any side tables. Also, make sure you’re accounting for regulations and restrictions on how far the grill has to be from the structure/walls.
Before you buy a grill, make sure you know how it’s going to sit on your balcony or patio. Some grills, including the Spirit, sit on an included cart. Others are going to need to sit on a tabletop. Make sure that if you get a tabletop model, you have a table that isn’t prone to shaking or tipping. No one wants a fire, especially one that is started by a falling grill.
When you’re living in an apartment, every square inch is crucial inside and out. While you’re concerned about all the regulations on fuel and distance, make sure you’re thinking about storage options for your tools.
There are models of gas grills that have cabinet storage, like the Char-Broil 2-burner grill. Others may have at least a shelf. Tabletop grills won’t have any included storage. If you need a spot for your grill tools like tongs and a spatula, a grill with a cabinet cart will help.
Find more tips on how to BBQ without a backyard in our Apartment Grilling Guide.
Wrapping it up
There’s a lot that goes into picking the best small grill for an apartment. There are rules, regulations, and just size considerations.
That’s why the Ninja Woodfire grill ticks so many boxes for us. It runs on electricity so it won’t upset any local building codes, and thanks to the pellet smoking capabilities you can get very close to that real wood flavor.
However, if you’re allowed to have a propane grill at your apartment, the Weber Spirit II E-210 is our pick. Space is at a premium in an apartment, and somehow
The E-210 offers the best combination of cooking space, storage, and size out of any of the small grills we looked at. It doesn’t take up much space, but you can cook plenty of food on it while also offering good storage for your tools. If your municipality and apartment complex allows it, this is the best grill you can get for your apartment.