No one wants the hassle of trying to drag a regular grill to a campsite or park for a cookout.
Thankfully, tabletop grills are a portable alternative. They can be propped up on an elevated surface and used to cook the same foods as a regular standing grill.
If you have a very small space available for grilling and only need to cook for a small family, then a tabletop grill might be exactly what you need.
We’ve selected the best tabletop grills for a variety of different situations.
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The Best Charcoal & Gas Tabletop Grills Reviewed
1. Best Tabletop Charcoal Grill – Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
There’s something about cooking with charcoal at the park or beach that just feels right.
It’s all about relaxing and taking the time to do it right.
When it comes to charcoal grills,
They also sell the popular Smokey Joe which shares the same iconic round Kettle design as a lot of their other grills, but for our money we’re going with the Go-Anywhere.
The rectangular shape works better when placed on a table, and this grill is a little more portable with foldable legs.
This tabletop grill has 160 in.² of cooking space which is enough to grill two medium size steaks or 6-8 pieces of chicken at once.
What we like:
- Porcelain-Enamel and Steel Materials – This tabletop grill is built to last. The grates are made of durable steel, and they retain heat very well while being easy to clean. The lid is porcelain-enameled to also retain heat and also resist resting or peeling even after a lot of use.
- Three Handles – The
WeberGo-Anywhere is equipped with handles that make for easy transporting from place to place.
- Locking Lid – The locking latch is great for securing the grill for moving around, even if you haven’t finished cleaning it yet. There’s also a hanger installed on the side of the grill; you can use this to create a wind barrier during blustery days.
- Temperature Dampers – Integrated temperature dampers let you manage the cooking time of your food. This negates one of the largest difficulties of cooking with charcoal.
What we don’t like:
- Handles Can Get Super Hot – The handles are made of plastic, so they are can heat up and give you a nasty burn if you are cooking with a lot of charcoal. Use bbq gloves or rag when picking up.
- Low Grate Height – This is mostly a good thing as you can grill burgers and hotdogs fast, just be careful when filling the grill with charcoal as the cooking grates don’t have any height adjustments and your food will naturally be very close to your charcoal source.
It’s hard to go wrong with either the Go-Anywhere or the Smokey Joe. They have virtually identical ratings.
The Smokey Joe is great if you need a bit of extra space, but we love the simple design and square shape of the Go-Anywhere.
The grill seals up nicely and keeps any ash or drippings contained during transportation.
2. Best Gas Tabletop Grill – Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill
If you don’t want the hassle of cooking with charcoal, or want to make sure you can use this grill anywhere (some places don’t allow cooking with charcoal) then the Q2200 from
You can buy a cart and use it as your regular home grill if you have a small family, and then pop it in your trunk for a picnic or tailgate.
This grill has 280 in.² of cooking space and a wide frame. It’s one of the most stable tabletop grills you’ll find thanks to its curved legs and low center of gravity.
What we like:
- Extendable Tables – The Q2200 is equipped with dual folding tables that extend on either side. While these are made of durable plastic, they’re heavy-duty enough to carry a decent amount of weight. They’ll also give you plenty of space to prepare food or move completed burgers off to the side for new patties.
- Porcelain-Enameled and Cast Iron Grates – These grill grates perform better than many full sized grills.
- Stainless Steel Burner – This burner can put out 12,000 BTUs of heat per hour. But the big draw is the stainless steel material, which will stop it from obtaining rust damage even if moisture gets down onto its surface.
- Easy to Start – The grill has an electronic ignition and a built-in thermometer. Firing up the grill and getting right to work is quick and efficient. Keeping tabs on the temperature of your food inside is made convenient thanks to the thermometer.
What we don’t like:
- No Adaptor for Full-Sized Propane Bottle – This is a bummer since you’ll have to stick with smaller propane tanks unless you want to spend a little extra for the adapter.
3. Best Budget Tabletop Grill – Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill
If the Q2200 is outside your budget, the Cusinart CGG-200 is a nice affordable alternative.
This grill features twin panels that connect securely to the grill surface but are removable for quick cleaning and storage. Total cooking space equals 240 in.².
If you check the product out on Amaozn you’ll notice there are a whole load of different colors, accessories and configurations you can choose from.
What we like:
- Painted and Stainless Steel Surfaces – The burner on the Cuisinart is made of stainless steel so it should resist rust damage and look fantastic even after several camping trips or sessions in cold weather.
- Folding Side Shelves – This grill also has two folding side shelves that extend out from the main chassis. These are fairly sturdy and can take a decent amount of weight without collapsing or bending.
- Removable Drip Tray – The Cuisinart CGG-200 catches its own grease with a removable drip tray. This minimizes the mess on your table and makes cleanup a little easier.
- Porcelain-Enameled Cast Iron Grates – As with other grills, the cooking grates here are well-made and built to last even after a lot of use.
- Easy to Use – The grill uses an electric start igniter and has a built-in thermometer and temperature dial. Adjusting the size of your cooking flames is as simple as twisting your wrist.
What We Don’t Like:
- Overheats Easily – Even with the temperature gauge, watch the dial carefully as this grill tends to run hot. It’s easy to get the temperature so high that the lid may even start to work after a few uses.
- Grease Tray is Shallow – While the inclusion of the grease tray is nice, it’s also very shallow. You’ll have to empty it relatively often so it doesn’t overflow and make the mess it’s supposed to prevent.
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4. Best Infrared Grill – Solaire Anywhere Portable Infrared Propane Gas Grill
The Solaire gives your infrared grilling in a super portable, well-designed grill.
You get 155 in.² of cooking space, running off 1 pound propane cylinders for fuel an optional adapter for connecting larger tanks.
The grill heats up super fast. Usually reading to go in 3 munites.
What we like:
- Stainless Steel Construction – Stainless steel is one of the best materials for durability. It has rust-resistance properties, too. Most of this grill is either made of it or coated with it. Even the grilling grids are made of stainless steel.
- Fuel-Efficient – This grill uses propane to heat up its infrared cooking surface. This uses a small amount of fuel each time. Your lifetime costs will be relatively low as you won’t be refilling the propane tank quite as often as you might expect.
- Fast Cooking – Another advantage of the infrared cooking style is that it tends to cook very quickly and run at very high heat. It’s excellent for searing burgers and hot dogs in rapid succession.
- Carrying Bag Included – It’s a small touch, but the inclusion of a carrying bag increases this grill’s value for money. It gives you a nice option to transport it alongside your grilling tools and accessories.
What we don’t like:
- Can Easily Become Too Hot – The efficient heating can be a downside rather than an advantage if you don’t pay attention to the temperature and end up burning the table or cloth beneath.
- Grate Shape is Odd – The grates used by this grill are in a “V” shape that is supposed to improve the flavor of your foods. Unfortunately, it makes the grates harder to clean than ones traditionally shaped.
Do you need infrared on a portable grill? Probably not.
However, if you have a smoker or pellet grill that struggles to sear at really high heat, it’s quite handy to have an infrared grill on hand for cooking steak.
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5. Best Tabletop Griddle – Blackstone Tabletop Grill
The griddle style can actually be a bit more versatile for camping than traditional grills grates.
The flat grill surface opens up a lot of food possibilities that you wouldn’t work on a regular grill.
This griddle offers 330 in.² of cooking space and cooks without an open flame or grates like other grills. The griddle surface removes the chance of flare-ups and helps your food retain its flavorful juices.
If you want to learn more about this type of grill we have a guide to gas griddles.
What We Like:
- Grease Management System – This grill has a rear grease channel that draws grease away from your food. It lets you easily clean up your station after you’re finished cooking.
- Uses Two Burners – Each burner is responsible for heating up half of the cooking surface. So it’s perfectly possible to cook foods at different temperatures. Or you can leave one side at a lower temperature to keep food warm while the other does the heavy lifting.
- Lots of Space – The Blackstone Grill has 330 in.² of cooking area. That’s plenty of space to cook a full meal for several people or churn out burgers and hotdogs for a larger group relatively quickly.
What we don’t like:
- Wind Negates heat – This griddle suffers if you cook in windy conditions. The heated surface relies on a static environment to reach its maximum cooking temperature. So try to use this indoors or in a sheltered spot if the weather outside is rough.
- No Handles – Transporting this griddle would be a lot easier with the inclusion of some handles. As it stands, you can only move it once it’s been cooled down since your fingers are likely to brush up against the cooking surface one way or another.
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What to look for in a tabletop grill
In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the important factors when choosing which grill to buy.
You might also want to consider a Hibachi style grill which we cover in a separate guide.
Obviously, one of the most important considerations when buying a tabletop grill is the portability offered.
Even if you plan on using the grill predominantly at home, a portable grill will be used more frequently if it’s easy to take out of storage and setup.
Luckily tabletop grills are almost all designed to be lightweight so you can prop them up on tables without too much trouble.
But some grills offer additional useful features like handles and foldable legs for extra portability.
In particular, you should try to find handles that are made of some durable material which won’t melt as the grill becomes hot during cooking.
Cheap plastic handles are best avoided.
You should also try to find portable grills with foldable legs. Legs that can extend and contract make storing and propping up your tabletop grill easier than otherwise.
This can be especially important if you don’t have a lot of space to store your tabletop grill and need to squeeze it into a shelf. Being able to fold the legs up onto its underside is a great feature.
Some tabletop grills also come with foldable side tables, again to improve storing options, or locking lids. Being able to lock your lid is a great safety feature.
You can prevent charcoal or the grates of your grill (if they are removable) from falling out if you need to move the grill to another location quickly.
If you enjoy grilling food while on a camping trip, we have a whole post dedicated to the best camping grills, which can also boast great portability features.
Weight and size
Before settling on a grill, check out its weight and think about whether or not you’ll be able to easily carry it from your truck to the cooking site.
Some tabletop grills are perfect for crowded picnics and can share a lot of space with other tools or cooking spreads. Others require a lot of space to be used to their maximum effect, featuring extendable side tables or just wide cooking surfaces.
There’s no one perfect weight or size for a tabletop grill. It all depends on your preference and what type of cooking you’ll be doing. Larger sizes are better for serving more people or making more food at the same time, of course.
Don’t forget to think about the fuel type of a given tabletop grill. There are two main types you’ll find: charcoal and propane. Both types will require you to carry some fuel with you to your cooking site.
Charcoal tabletop grills impart a particular flavor on their foods that some chefs really enjoy.
Most tabletop propane grills come with a tank sized perfectly for their chassis already, but a few require you to buy adaptors for larger tanks if you want to cook for long uninterrupted stretches.
Propane grills make temperature control easy. But there are plenty of charcoal grills with temperature control features, as well.
The choice is ultimately your own, as neither charcoal nor propane is 100% better than the other.
This is a timeless debate so if you want to learn more check out our full gas vs charcoal guide.
How to use a tabletop grill safely
This video shows the
Tabletop grills can be excellent for cookouts at campsites. Or they can be great for bringing your excellent grill skills to your friend’s backyard on game day.
But there’s a trick to using tabletop grills safely that regular grill users don’t need to consider.
Tabletop grills have to be used on certain surfaces in order to be used safely. Most tabletop grills become extremely hot, and this ambient heat can cause issues depending on the surface you are using to cook.
Metal is a perfectly safe cooking surface. It would take heat far in excess of what a tabletop grill can produce in order to damage the metal in any significant way.
This makes tailgates or picnic tables that are made of metal perfectly fine for use with tabletop grills.
However, be aware that some metal is painted with a cheap colored film. This paint may flake off or melt to some degree if exposed to the high heat of a typical grilling session.
Wood surfaces are also usually fine for tabletop grill usage. Picnic tables and surfaces of similar thickness are usually made of wood.
This wood won’t easily catch fire even under the high heat of the tabletop grill. It’s still a smart idea to put a small grease catcher beneath the grill to stop the wood from staining, though.
The most worrisome surface to use with a tabletop grill is plastic. Plastic tables, like those frequently used for backyard cookouts or for camping trips, are at a high risk of melting. They can’t be exposed for long to the high heat of a tabletop grill.
Melted plastic can make the cooking surface unstable and cause the grill to tip over, potentially causing a bigger mess or a big accident.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, melted plastic releases chemicals into the air that are toxic when inhaled.
You also should never put a tablecloth beneath any tabletop grill cooking surface.
Most fabrics are easy to burn under enough heating power. Even thick clothes should be avoided. Only bare surfaces should be beneath a tabletop grill. Designated grease catchers are alright, too.
You can always look into specially made tabletop grill tables. These are usually lightweight and portable to be used in conjunction with most tabletop grills.
You’ll likely find yourself frequently taking your tabletop grill from place to place.
So it might be worthwhile to purchase a cooking surface that is guaranteed to be safe to use. This is more consistent than relying on tables at your location or the equipment of your host.
Wrapping it up
There are many excellent tabletop grills. But the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is a great example of an all-around choice product. It has excellent portability features, like a locking lid and three handles. These are combined with high-quality construction materials for great results.
Overall, your ideal tabletop grill will depend on your preferences and budget. Whatever you choose, good luck and happy cooking!
Last update on 2021-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API