If you’re like most grill fanatics, you wish you could bring your trusted, carefully chosen “home” grill with you every time you’re cooking up some burgers, dogs, or steaks during a picnic, tailgating party, or camping trip.
The next best thing is to find a portable grill that you love almost as much.
It’s possible to go anywhere with a grill that wows once you check out the best tabletop grills; popular grill brands have been whipping up lately.
Why You Probably Need a Tabletop Grill
In truth, you don’t have to be a grill fanatic to need a portable grill. In fact, a portable grill may be your only grill if you’re just looking for something that you can whip out quickly and easily when hosting guests for a small cookout at your place.
A portable grill allows you to cook outside easily without any strings attached. It’s as easy to use a tabletop grill on your own patio as it is to fire it up when you’re out in a field prepping for the day’s big game.
When shopping for a tabletop grill, you want to pay close attention to details like size and weight. These factors will determine just how easily you can actually store and carry your new grill.
You should also keep an eye on cooking surface “size” because this directly translates to how much you’ll actually be able to cook up at once.
If you calculate wrong, that could mean some very hungry and disappointed friends staring at you while you flip your burgers. Don’t pick out your new grill without taking a look at our top 10 tabletop grills!
Our Top 10 Picks for Best Tabletop Grills
Offering 145 square inches of grilling surface, the CGG 180t Petit Gourmet portable is a propane gas grill that will give you a very stable cooking experience.
The aluminum foldable legs on this grill deserve some attention because they feature really nice stabilizing feet. These legs are also set up in seconds to help you create a grilling command center instantly.
When you’re done, it all folds up into a briefcase-style box with a handle.
Performance is what makes the Cuisinart CGG 180t Petit one of the best tabletop gas grills. As you cook, you’ll have confidence about your meats being protected with help from an integrated lock lid.
You’ll find that the generous surface area on this grill is more than enough to handle eight standard-sized burgers or steaks. You can probably get up to 10 chicken breasts cooked in one session with the provided cooking area.
Let’s cover what we’re looking at with specs on this tabletop gas grill red. First, this is a propane-fueled model that activates with a twist-start ignition system. It’s a real dream to light.
The entire unit weighs 13.5 pounds. The full dimensions are 12.2 x 18 x 12 (inches).
Now, you may be turned off by the small size of this grill because you’re worried that a small size somehow translates to less power. Don’t let that convince you that it’s not the best tabletop propane grill.
The beauty of this design is that it’s actually designed to keep heat near the cooking surface. You’ll find that it’s capable of cooking more than you’d think simply because it’s more efficient than larger grills that disperse heat more widely.
You’re getting a 5,500 BTU stainless-steel single burner that’s fitted with a special porcelain-enameled grate for even heating.
- Perfect for boats and RVs.
- Legs pop out easily.
- Easy locking lid.
- Very portable and lightweight (13.5 pounds).
- Very efficient.
- Will be too small for some people.
- Caution needs to be used to make sure you don’t strain the carrying handle.
Grilling your dinner is a snap with help from a push-button when you use this little number by Weber. An easy contender for being the best tabletop gas grill, this unit impresses with its broad cooking area and sturdy porcelain cooking grates.
With this grill, you’re using liquid petroleum gas cartridges to get your perfect flavor. This cooking method takes just a little bit of patience because you’re going to need to wait up to 15 minutes while your burner preheats on the high setting before you can start throwing your dogs and burgers on the heat.
This is just a really handsome grill. It features a cast aluminum lid and body on the exterior. On the interior, you’re cooking over porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates.
In terms of cooking surface, you’re getting 89 square inches of total cooking surface area. You’re also getting 8,500 BTU per hour when grilling. The dimensions on this grill are 20.5 x 27 x 23.5 (inches). Weighing in at 26.65 pounds, this isn’t the lightest portable grill out there.
However, you’ll find that it’s more than easy enough to cart this grill around.
- Very attractive.
- Sustainable design.
- Even cooking with many square inches of cooking space.
- Great price for cooking area and performance.
- Easy to clean.
- A little heavy for the size.
- A little slow to heat up.
This is a top pick if you’re looking for a simple, ultra-clean grilling method on the go.
First, you can’t ignore this griddle if you’re looking for sheer surface volume without going into the higher price ranges of “grill-style” grills of the same size. This griddle-style grill offers an impressive 330 square inches of flat cooking surface.
A lot of people prefer this griddle style over a traditional grill style because it’s a lot neater.
This model in particular is designed with a rear grease-management system that uses a built-in grease channel to prevent grease from pooling next to your food. This creates a much healthier and cleaner cooking method across the board. However, that grease channel does not mean you’re letting juices leak away.
This design does a great job of helping meats to stay tender. The best part is that you can grill meats without that feeling that you need to monitor every second of the cooking process out of fear of flare-ups.
A big selling point of this grill is that you can truly “cook a whole meal.” The Dual adjustable heat zones on this stainless steel dual burner model make it feel like you’re getting two ovens in one. That means putting your bacon next to your pancakes without worrying about one getting charred.
You can also simply leave finished foods on one burner to wait for the other half of your meal to be finished.
For specs, we’re looking at a total size of 22.5 x 19 x 9 (inches). This unit weighs 32 pounds in total. Special touches like a heat-resistant grip on the unit’s handle add to a worry-free cooking experience.
The final impression of this griddle grill is that it delivers very even results without a ton of monitoring needed.
- Excellent for camping.
- Capable of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Two separate heating zones.
- Lots of room to cook (330 square inches of cooking space).
- Great price for the size.
- Less of a “grilled” flavor.
- A little on the heavy side (32 pounds).
- Slightly bulky to carry.
If this goal is an ultra-compact charcoal grill with a price that’s impossible to argue with, this Weber model may be the one for you. First, be warned that you’re only going to be able to get about six burgers going at once on this grill.
This grill does a nice job of integrating some high-end features in an ultra-compact, affordable model to prove that you can get what feels like fine craftsmanship without splurging. That includes a gorgeous porcelain-enameled lid that does a great job of retaining heat without any worries about rusting and peeling under pressure.
This grill also feels very sturdy to the touch. An example of this is the way the tight-locking lid makes you feel like you could do cartwheels with this grill in tow. As far as control during the cooking process, the plated-steel cooking grate is amazing for heat retention.
Let’s cover specs! This tabletop grill weighs in at just a little over 14.5 pounds. Its dimensions are 12.2 x 21 x 14.5 (inches).
While nicely built, this grill can seem a bit unsupported when it’s up on its legs. That why the built-in lid hangers are very appreciated for creating a natural wind barrier using the grill’s own lid during cooking.
- Great craftsmanship.
- Good price.
- Highly portable and lightweight (14.5 pounds).
- The legs don’t feel fully tip-proof.
- You won’t be laying out grand feasts on this grill’s compact cooking surface.
The disclaimer with this grill is that some people are simply snobbish about electric grills. Keep on moving along if you only want something you can “fire up” with the flavor of charcoal or gas grills.
If you’re looking for convenience with a sophisticated cooking surface, step on up to check out this nice Hamilton Beach electric grill.
Anyone who hates to get stuck with the cooking duty will snatch this grill up based on its easy-to-clean non-stick plate alone! This grill also happens to be extremely affordable compared to grills of the same size.
This Hamilton electric model offers 118 square inches of cooking space. You’ll find that it accommodates roughly six burgers easily. If you’re into healthy eating, you’ll like the way the juices drip down into a large drip tray.
When you’re done grilling, you can pop your plate and tray right in the dishwasher for hassle-free cleanup.
Let’s talk dimensions. This grill measures in at 12.4 x 16.7 x 6.8 (inches). You get some nice searing action courtesy of the 1,200 watts powering this beauty. Weighing in at just 8.15 pounds, this is one of the lightest grills for the size out there.
However, it should be said that this grill owes its light feel to the fact that plastic is used in the design instead of sturdier materials.
Overall, this is a great option if you feel intimidated about grilling. The simple “power” and “preheat” lights on the front let you know when it’s time to get cooking.
- A non-stick cooking tray is a breeze to clean.
- Dishwasher-safe parts.
- Excellent price.
- Great for moist, non-greasy burgers.
- Power and preheat lights make it easy to know when to start grilling.
- Extremely light (8.15 pounds).
- The size of the cooking surface limits you a bit.
- You don’t get that full “charbroil” taste.
- Mostly plastic design.
Made from cast iron and aluminum, this is a substantial grill in a compact package. You’re getting a body and lid made from cast aluminum. Inside, the cooking grates are made from cast iron.
Like many other models, this grill has push-button ignition and intuitive control burner valve settings.
What makes this grill different from some comparable models out there is that Weber uses a glass-reinforced nylon frame to build out of the best grills in terms of performance and durability.
You’re getting 189 square inches of cooking space with this model. That’s a decent amount of cooking space for a unit with dimensions of 15.5 x 40.9 x 16.5 (inches).
The output is 8,500 BTUs per hour. While 30 pounds may seem on the heavy side, it’s fairly light when you consider how sturdy the materials used on this unit are.
Overall, the shape of this grill’s cook box does a phenomenal job of circulating heat to create very even cooking. The grease-management system also delivers above-average performance.
- Beautiful design for even cooking.
- Durable, heavy-duty design.
- Decent cooking space.
- Not a “budget” grill.
- On the heavier side (30 pounds).
The best tabletop gas grills aren’t necessarily grilling at all! This portable gas grill griddle is intriguing if you’re looking for a very safe, easily controlled cooking method that offers more surface area than a typical portable grill.
This happens to be a propane-fueled gas griddle with an ultra-convenient igniter. Offering 260 square inches of cooking space, it’s not the biggest griddle in town for the price.
However, it does justify the higher price tag for those looking for a grill made from cast iron and stainless steel.
Blackstone’s big claim to fame with this model is that you can simply wipe it clean with a paper towel. In reality, your cleanup session will come down to what you cooked. That said, you’re generally going to enjoy easing cleaning with this tabletop gas grill stainless model.
Where this grill really does shine is its ability to heat up very fast. Blackstone uses a single “H” burner with this design that’s pretty wonderful for producing even, consistent heat that’s helped along by a 12,000 BTU heat output.
Unlike some compact grills, this griddle doesn’t offer any sort of convenient handle. However, it’s slimmer design does make it easy to store.
At 21 pounds, this grill is very light for all that you’re getting. The dimensions on this grill are 17.5 x 18 x 8.5 (inches). Overall, it’s one of the easiest grill options out there if you want one-step cooking for multiple foods.
- Easy to clean.
- Light for size and capacity (21 pounds).
- A little bulky to carry.
- “H” burner creates fast, even cooking.
- Not the biggest griddle grill out there for the size.
- A little bulky to carry.
It’s actually hard to put this two-tier Techwood grill in the same category as other grills because what it does is just so different. This is really a Korean BBQ Grill table that’s designed for fun family meals and parties.
Once you get going, it feels like there’s nothing you can’t cook with this grill. You may either love or hate that depending on how much of a grilling purist you are. For many, it’s the best tabletop electric grill out there!
First, the electric grill portion is ideal for supercharged cooking of meats, seafood, and vegetables when you use the “wavy” grilling surface. You can also swap in a flat surface with two huge crepe holes to make sweet-and-savory treats like crepes, pies, pancakes, and eggs.
The bottom portion of the grill features eight individual mini cheese pans with non-stick interiors.
This is a busy grill with a lot going on. For some, it’s pure magic! People who are purists may not want the added bulk of all of the cheese compartments when bringing this grill along on camping trips or tailgating rides.
Overall, it’s more likely to be used as part of a “home” grilling experience.
Let’s cover what the specs look like on this unique grilling system. The main grilling pan measures in at 19 x 9 (inches). The overall dimensions are 19.1 x 5.2 x 9.2 (inches). The wattage is 1,500.
Surprisingly, Techwood manages to pull all of this together at just 7.4 pounds. If you’re paying attention, you probably know that they’re able to keep this as a lightweight grill by skipping heavy-duty materials.
However, that may be fine if you’re looking for a novelty grill for your home instead of an ultra-rugged portable camping stove. The price on this grill is pretty justifiable if you plan to use it for novelty dinners at home instead of going out to dinner.
- Do multiple types of cooking using one grilling platform.
- A fun, novelty grill.
- The price is decent.
- Not exactly heavy duty.
- A lot of parts to manage and store.
It’s hard not to award this classic charcoal grill points based on optics alone. Weber brings to life the classic “bulb” grill look in an ultra-portable, highly polished package with this model. However, the value goes deeper than optics.
Weber stays true to form by delivering a Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl designed to retain heat beautifully. This is a heavy-duty exterior that doesn’t rust or peel. It stands proudly on three aluminum legs for that vintage tripod look.
Things are equally impressive once you’re inside the grill. First, Weber has added dampers to allow for easy, predictable heat control. You’ll also see a durable plated-steel grate.
The beauty of this grate choice is that it retains heat like almost nothing else. It’s also easy to clean. The grill’s aluminum ash catcher is also worth its weight in gold.
You’ll easily fit about five burgers on this grill. While that may not seem like a feast for the whole neighborhood, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re getting a high-performance grill for a weight of just 9.5 pounds. Full dimensions on this aluminum grill are 14.2 x 14.5 x 17 (inches).
- Beautiful, classic design.
- Quality materials.
- Resistant to rusting and peeling.
- Lightweight (9.5 pounds).
- Very affordable.
- The tripod design isn’t always the sturdiest on all terrains.
- Limited cooking capacity.
This is a good charcoal grill to look at in conjunction with the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill. A lot of the features overlap.
For instance, you’re getting a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl, those great dampers, and a lightweight design. The 14-inch grilling surface is also the same.
The Weber 40020’s exclusive Tuck-N-Carry lid lock is a great feature that can be used as a lid holder to prevent you from having to set your lid down on the ground. This grill stretches out to 15.4 x 15.6 x 9.2 (inches). It weighs 9.8 pounds.
Overall, you’re getting a very well-crafted, durable charcoal grill that allows you to enjoy what feels like a serious grilling experience even if you’re only throwing on a few burgers. You’ll find that it does a beautiful job of retaining heat while serving you for years and years without any rusting or peeling.
- Beautiful, high-quality design.
- Resists rusting and peeling.
- Lightweight (9.8 pounds).
- Decent price.
- Limited grilling capacity.
- Bulkier than the Weber 10020 without any real difference in performance.
A Quick and Easy Buying Guide for Tabletop Grills
Already envisioning how your burgers are going to look heating up on your new grill? You may need to back up just a bit to figure out the features to focus on before you make your pick. Let’s get down to the bottom line of what it takes to get those perfect grill lines on your food!
Fuel Type: Propane or Charcoal?
As you can see, both propane and charcoal grills are pretty well represented out there on the market. That means your decision comes down to personal choice. Let’s cover what both offer.
Things to Know About Tabletop Charcoal Grilling:
- Produces a smokier flavor.
- Takes longer to preheat.
- Difficult to use on a windy or rainy day.
- Ash can be difficult to clean up.
- Less expensive.
Things to Know About Cooking With a Propane Tank:
- Produces more steam to tenderize meat.
- Heats up quickly.
- Easier temperature control.
- Easier to clean up.
- More expensive.
The Portability Angle
Unfortunately, one of the age-old problems with picking out a portable grill is that it can seem like you’re always trying to balance portability with quality. The simple truth is that “better” materials are often heavier materials. They also tend to be “pricier” materials.
You’re going to be able to get a much lighter grill if you go with something made of stainless steel and plastic. Typically, that means electric grills. It’s very easy to get a grill that weighs under 10 pounds when you’re looking at electric tabletop grills.
If you’re going for quality, you’ll bump into grills made from iron and other heavy-duty metals. This often means going for a portable grill that weighs around 30 pounds. While that’s fine for tailgating, it may not work if you’ll be lugging a grill up a mountain!
How Many Inches of Cooking Surface Do You Need?
There’s a big range when it comes to the cooking surface. You can generally get anywhere between five and 15 burgers going at once using mainstream portable grills.
Try to aim for at least 110 inches of cooking space spread over a single burner or two burners when cooking for more than just yourself. The larger side is above 300 square inches. That said, many people are happy to settle somewhere around 160 square inches.
Again, this is an area where you’re doing a weight-to-need analysis to see if the extra size is worth the extra lugging you’ll need to do for a larger surface area.
Heat Zones: How Many Do You Need?
In most cases, a grill with a single hot zone designed for good heat retention is more than enough. Griddles tend to offer dual hot zones because they’re designed to let you cook things like bacon and eggs.
What Is the BTU on Gas Grills?
BTU does not measure how hot your grill gets! It simply measures the output available per hour on your burner. That means that a higher BTU makes your grill more efficient. Something in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 is pretty normal. A 10 000 BTU grill is considered high.
Don’t confuse the dimensions of your grill with actual cooking space. As we covered above, grills have cooking areas that allow you to measure roughly how many burgers, hot dogs, or steaks you can throw on at once. The “length” dimension of your grill is only telling you the amount of space that the unit takes up!
Our review covers the best tabletop grills in the “small” category. If you’re looking for a full-size grill with a larger propane tank, something like a Giantex propane tabletop gas grill might be appropriate. A pellet grill is another nice options
The Little Features: How Much Do They Matter?
It’s easy to get caught up on features when looking for a gourmet portable tabletop gas unit. If you’re taking your grill on the go, you have to size things up to determine if you can actually get your soon-to-be-purchased grill in your car before falling in love.
If you have a tight squeeze, look for models that have foldable legs to get the benefit of a bigger “grill” without superfluous bulk. Carrying handles are also important if you’ll be lugging a grill to a location alone. They become less important if you’re only going to be moving your grill a few feet from your garage to your patio.
Higher-end grills will come with locking lids. These are great for preserving grill integrity. A new gas grill stainless steel design should be modern enough to come with a push-button ignition that makes it easy to use when your hands are holding a tray of burgers.
Don’t Get Stuck With a Grill You Can’t Clean
Pay attention to cleaning instructions closely before you buy a grill. It’s a real mixed bag out there! If you want the easiest cleaning possible, a griddle or electric grill should be looked at closely.
Most griddles can be wiped clean in seconds. Today’s electric grills are generally made of parts that are dishwasher safe. When going with classic gas grills or charcoal grills, be sure to inspect the grates within the grills to see if you’ll need special brushes or scrubbers to get them clean.
What Can You Cook on a Tabletop Grill?
Generally, anything that you’d cook on a standard outdoor grill can be cooked on a tabletop grill. That means burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, vegetables, and skewers. Griddle-style grills give you the added benefit of being able to cook things like pancakes, eggs, and crepes.
Safety Tips for Grillers: Using Your Tabletop Grill Wisely
The universal rule when using a tabletop or portable grill is to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions down to the letter!
Today’s portable grills are extremely safe. If you opt for charcoal, this requires an added level of vigilance due to the fact that hot, burning charcoal pieces have been known to fly up from inside the grill.
Always keep the lid on your grill closed during the cooking process when you’re not checking in on your food.
Final Verdict on the Best Portable and Tabletop Grills Today
As we’ve seen, you can enjoy everything from a classic tabletop charcoal grill to a fancy, fusion-focused Korean BBQ grill without taking up much space at all.
However, only one can win the title for the best tabletop grill. It’s time to do the drum roll for picking a favorite in the bunch.
If there’s one grill that makes purists happy, it has to be the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill.
This grill is the default pick simply because it won’t steer you wrong if you’re just looking for a grill that’s going to give you delicious, smoky-flavored burgers every time.
It’s the easiest and best tailgate grill for the person who doesn’t need to mess around with a fancy stainless steel two-burner design to get a burger done right. This grill is also great for easy cleaning in a pinch because of its quality construction.
You Asked, We Answered: FAQs About Tabletop Grills
Which tabletop grills can be used indoors?
A tabletop grill doesn’t mean that you can use a grill on your kitchen table! Gas grills and charcoal grills are not intended for indoor use. Only electric grills that plug into an outlet are intended for indoor use.
Which grill type is the most economical to use in the long run?
A charcoal grill is considered the best tabletop style for a budget. Even the best tabletop charcoal grill will be cheaper than a standard gas or electric grill. An electric grill is the cheapest for usage.
What does it mean when they say to season my grill before the first use?
The manufacturer is actually telling you to season your grates. The process involves applying a very thin layer of cooking oil to your cooking grate before igniting the burner to heat until all of the oil burns off. You’ll see your grates begin to smoke once the process is done.
Can I use my tabletop grill on a plastic garden table?
No, you should not use tabletop grills on plastic or flammable surfaces!
Can I modify my old liquid propane grill into a charcoal grill?
Technically, you can do this if you’re confident that the grill’s interior can keep a constant heat. You won’t have luck with converting a propane grill to charcoal if you see rust or holes.
We recommend not taking any chances with safety or quality. Purchase one of the new grills we’ve reviewed instead!
Can I use a cast-iron grill grate instead of the provided stainless steel one?
We don’t recommend using add-on features with a grill. Doing so could void your warranty if the grill is damaged during the process. Keep in mind that your grill may not have the weight to support a heavier grill grate.
What can I do to protect my tabletop from the heat of the grill?
First, you should be fine if you’re using a grill with legs on a nonflammable surface. If you’re using charcoal, it’s best to set your grill down on the ground when grilling.
You can also find some fire-resistant grill mats to put down. Just make sure your grill is stable on any surface you place it on!
Can I get a tabletop grill that runs on natural gas?
The closest option is a propane tabletop grill. However, you can occasionally find cart-style natural-gas grills that cost thousands of dollars.
How can I add smokiness to my grilling session?
When looking to create that char broil flavor using a portable gas grill, you can add some soaked and drained food-grade wood chips to a pouch or box that you place in the grill during preheating. Charcoal grilling generally creates a natural smoky flavor that needs no embellishment.
If you’re cooking on a stainless steel burner on a griddle, an easy way is to season your food with a liquid or powered “smoke” flavor before placing it on your cooking area.
What do you put a tabletop grill on?
Typically, a stainless steel table or grill stand is the safest option for a tabletop grill. It may also be acceptable to use your tabletop grill on the ground as long as you are monitoring your grill.
A tabletop electric grill stainless model is better suited for a table surface than something like a portable tabletop gas grill or charcoal grill.
Is a charcoal grill safe on my patio?
Yes, a charcoal grill is generally safe on a stone patio as long as you’re about 10 feet from your house. Try to grill as far from your house as possible without placing the grill near any tall grass, trees or other potentially flammable items. Open-aired areas are best for charcoal grilling.