Best Grills For Tailgating – Portable Grills Tried and Tested

Tailgate Grill

Owning a tailgating grill allows you the flexibility to prepare any meal you want. You can grill things from meat to any vegetarian option, that can be paired with other ingredients you bring to make one overall bomb ass meal. Without a grill you are limited to cold meals, or whatever is around the event to pick up on your way into the arena, or stadium.


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What Is A Tailgate?

A tailgate is a group gathering where beverages and meals are enjoyed behind or around your car. Trunks or beds of trucks, are typically an essential gathering area for a tailgate. Tailgates can be an all adult event, but are also build around family gatherings and even dates for two.

Where Do Tailgates Usually Occur?

Outside of sporting events or concerts. Think of it as day camping, or a pre-gamming before an event. If you live in Wisconsin, you are going to tailgate for pretty much everything, including first communions and weddings.

What Is A Tailgate Grill?

A tailgate grill is a smaller, portable grill that can be easily moved, easy to set up and take down, and are typically lightweight.

Tailgate grills are specifically designed for tailgating purposes, so they are safe and easy to use.

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Things To Consider When Buying A Tailgate Grill

The size of your vehicle : The size of your vehicle plays an important role in deciding which tailgating grill to get. You want to make sure the grill you buy can fit in your vehicle, or it defeats the purpose of even getting one. Common sense here folks. No matter what people try to tell you, size matters.

Another thing to think about is how much extra space you want in your vehicle once the grill is in. Is it a grill you want to keep in just your trunk? Or are you fine with the seats folding down and having the grill take up space in both your trunk and back seat? Do you want space for both a grill and a cooler in your trunk? How about space for a grill, cooler and a pop up tent? Maybe you need space for a portable grill and your lucky fold up table for beer pong.

Type of grill you want: (Charcoal or Gas)? 

A charcoal grill uses charcoal, lighter or starter fluid , and matches or a lighter.

  • Aluminum foil is helpful to lay at the base of the grill to help with easy clean up after you are done grilling and it will make disposing of the charcoal ash way more efficient.  You will want to dispose of the charcoal ash or it will get all over your car. You never want to grill over old charcoal ash either, you always start with burning fresh charcoal. Most stadiums and arenas that allow tailgating have an ash disposing area.
  • Wood chips are often used with charcoal grills to give the food your grilling an extra kick of flavor. However, this is totally personal preference and not at all required.
  • Charcoal grills typically burn hotter than gas grills.
  • Charcoal grills require a cooking grid, that needs to be cleaned before and after using.
  • Charcoal grills don’t have a button to control the temperature. You can adjust the temperature by removing or putting the grill lid back on, and by adjusting the vents.
  • Charcoal grills give food that traditional lined cooked look aka grill marks, or in the cooking world that “char-broiled” look, hence where the name charcoal grill comes from. Light bulb just go off for any of you? Mind blown. You’re welcome.
  • Plan to wait about 30 minutes before you can grill, to accommodate for all grill preparations from the start of preparing the grill, to heating the coals before they are ready to be grilled over.
  • Typically you don’t want to just throw water on the charcoal ashes to cool them down, you want to wait for them to cool off and burn down completely on their own.


A gas grill uses liquid propane gas to run.

  • Propane tanks are sold at numerous stores and gas stations.
  • Gas grills can often use adapter hoses which can be hooked up to a larger propane tank. The larger the propane tank the larger you can cook without having to reattach another tank. For example: A 20 pound propane tank will typically last you around 18-20 hours of burn time on a mid-sized grill. A 16 oz can of propane will lat about 2 1/2 hours if you are using your grill on high the whole time.
  • Gas grills have an even heating surface.
  • Gas grills are typically started with the push of a button or a turn of a knob, after the propane tank is connected.
  • You can control the temperature emitted by giving the grill more or less gas, usually controlled by a knob.
  • Easy to clean up, clean the rack before and after use.
  • Gas grills will cook your food but can lack on the over all flavor brought to your meat. Have no fear, spices are typically used while cooking to bring life into anything your cooking anyways, so just pack a couple extra spices if your worried about the flavor train.
  • Gas grills typically tend to be a little bit more expensive.
  • Gas grills can be ready to use in as little as 10 minuets.


Either method you choose, it is suggested you purchase a meat thermometer to make sure all your meat is cooked properly. Nothing makes a hangover worse the next day then when you add a little bit of food poisoning to it. 


How often you plan on tailgating : How often you plan on tailgating will likely determine the amount of money you want to put into a tailgating grill. If you plan on tailgating often, you might want to consider putting more money into a nicer grill that you can use over and over, year after year. Don’t be like toby from HR and get the cheap grill you expect to host the office tailgating party on for every opening day for multiple years in a row, that cheap grill just isn’t going to last. Like most things in life, the more money you spend on something the better and more reliable it will be.

If you do tailgate often, but go with a smaller group, then you may opt to go with a smaller grill for the convince aspect of it. If you tailgate often with a big group, you may want to drop that cash and get a bigger grill because you know you will get the full use out of it.

The size and weight of a tailgating grill : The size and weight of the grill is important to keep in mind for a few reasons:

  • Much like the consideration with the size of your car, the size of the grill will determine how much extra space you will or won’t have to play around with to fit in other tailgating supplies. Example: Let’s say you have a small car or SUV, you might want the grill to just take up space in your trunk so you can have room for friends and family to ride in your car, therefore you will want a smaller size grill.
  • If you are a petite female like myself, the size and weight of the grill is important to keep in mind for transporting the grill in and out of your car. You want something you can move on your own and not rely on assistance of other people.
  • If you typically use a grill for most of your meals at home, you may want a bigger grill with more surface space as to accommodate everything you want to eat. You don’t want to be forced into cooking in to many rounds of taking food on and off the grill, or the food you first cooked will be cold by the time your last round of food is done cooking.
  • Weight can also be an important factor depending on what your vehicle can or can’t lug around.
  • Size and weight should also be taken into consideration for the simple fact of convenience.  If you want something casual and easy, go with a smaller more lightweight grill. If you are more focused on the outcome of the food and really take pride in your meals, you might opt to go for a heavier more sturdy grill with larger surface area to cook more food on.

How much money you want to spend: Tailgating grills can range in price. Like I said before, you usually get what you pay for. The more money you spend will typically correlate with the nicer quality of the grill and the more features the grill will have for you. A cheaper grill will come with less bells and whistles, but will still cook all your food. If you’re on a budget you can get a cheaper grill at first and then upgrade when you have more treat yo self money.


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Weber 1020 Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill


You don’t want to look into buying a more basic charcoal grill than this weber 1020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill. This is the most basic and simple charcoal grill we will be taking a look at. Smokey Joe portable grill will get the job done, but won’t fall apart your first time grilling. Anything below this Weber portable grill is going to be child’s play.

Smokey Joe 14 inch Portable Grill comes with a 10 year limited warranty. The lid included with the Smokey Joe 14 inch edition comes with a handle for easy removal, and four vent holes.


Weber portable grill comes with a grate, however the grate does not come with handles. Handles on a grate can be helpful in the process of inserting and removing the grate from the grill itself. Since you wait to put the grate on after the charcoals are warm this can be a problem for some. A solution can be using tongs to lower the grate onto the grill once the charcoal is warm and ready to go. I don’t suggest just simply trying to use your fingers to lower the grate down yourself. It may seem like a good idea after a few cold ones, but using your fingers will always result in a tailgate party foul.




Key Amenities : 

  •  Porcelain enameled coating around the entire grill prevents rust and color fading.
  • Mini stand that sits below the grill acts as a charcoal ash catcher
  • Glass reinforced nylon handle

Size and Weight 

  • Product dimensions : 15.6 x 15.6 x 9 inches
  • Grill weight : 9.5 pounds




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Char-Broil Deluxe Portable Liquid Propane Gas Grill 


As far as propane grills go, you don’t want to look at anything below the Char-Broil Deluxe Propane Grill. This is the most basic and simple propane grill we will be looking at. Simple and easy to use, this portable propane gas grill is sure to fill all the basic bitches hearts out there.

Char-Broil Portable Deluxe Portable Gas Grill requires a little bit of assembly. Before you automatically scroll down, the assembly is as simple as sitting down in front of one episode of Seinfeld, twisting your Philips screwdriver a few times and boom, you’re done!

Char-Broil Portable Deluxe  portable Gas Grill comes with a lid, and head resistant handles. This portable propane gas grill also comes with legs you can kick out underneath while you are using the grill to cook. Once you are finished grilling the legs kick up over the grill and onto the lid, which is useful to keep the whole grill in tact.

Char-Broil propane portable gas grills can be moved easily before the grill is completely cooled down, thanks to its heat resistant handles and the legs that can be folded up over the lid. I bring this up because this is actually a super convenient feature. If people want to get into the game, or the stadium parking police are pushing people into the stadium, you can easily move the grill close to your car without being that guy holding everyone up because you have to wait down for your grill to cool down. For the newbies who are new to tailgating and still don’t see the glory in this feature, it saves your grill from getting stolen. If you don’t move your grill close to your car or partially under it, parking lot lizards will steal your grill as soon as you leave.

Key Amenities :

  • 190 square inch cooking surface
  • 11,000 BTU burner
  • Direct hookup to a 16.4 oz or 14.1 oz propane cylinder
  • Rust resistant steel firebox and lid with high-temperature porcelain finish for prolonged grill life

Size and Weight :

  • Product Dimensions : 12.3 x 24.1 x 15 inches
  • Grill weight : 10.1 pounds

Writers note: Use this portable grill at home to help you food prep!

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Coleman NXT Lite Table Top Propane Grill

Coleman table top propane grill is one of the better table top grill options out there. Table top grills are a convenient option for people who enjoy what I like to call, chair tailgating. Games are often played at tailgates, but sometimes people just want to chill in chairs in a circle and shoot the shit. People who enjoy this type of tailgating are not going to love the idea of having a grill in the middle of them.

This Coleman lite table top propane grill is great for tailgates in any weather thanks to its perfect flow system that produces a steady fuel stream. Go ahead and tailgate in cold weather, high altitude and even when your gas is low. Coleman lite table top propane gas grill is recommended for those of you tailgating in those beautiful states above sea level, such as Colorado. Coleman table top portable grill also has a porcelain-coated stamped steel grill surface for high-temperature cooking.

A great bonus feature with this Coleman grill is its versatility to be used with a griddle, grill or stove grates for different meal options. It’s heat core technology directs heat for stovetop use. For those of you who don’t cook or aren’t sure know what a griddle is, let me enlighten you. Having the capability to use a griddle allows you to make great foods at your tailgates such as hash brown patties, crab cakes, quesadilla, falafel patties, grilled cheese sandwich, paninis and so much more.

Key Amenities : 

  • Insta start push button ignition for a matchless start
  • 8,500 BTUs of cooking intensity
  • Removable grease management try
  • Even temp burners for consistent cooking
  • Secure latch system fastens legs for easy transport

Size and Weight : 

  • Product dimensions : 16 x 18.25 x 11.25 in
  • Grill weight : 20 pounds
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Miady Stainless Steel Foldable Charcoal Barbecue Grill


One of the stand out features with the Miady stainless steel foldable charcoal grill is the 20 piece grilling set that is included with it. The set includes a removable sink, grill meshes, tongs, skewers, grill pan, spice bottles, mesh handle, cleaning brush, and storage basket. Having utensils that you keep solely with a specific grill allows you to never have to worry about forgetting anything at home. It happens to the best of us, you get to the tailgate and boom your using a plastic fork to flip your meats over. It never really works and it becomes a huge sloppy ordeal.  Using the grilling utensils that come with the grill only with that grill, will allow you to use them and not worry about ruining them. Your kitchen thanks you dearly.

Miady stainless steel foldable charcoal barbecue grill is made of 410 stainless steel to ensure rust resistance. I know what your thinking, What is 410 stainless steel? 410 stainless steel corrosion is made to be resistant to some chemicals, food, mild acids, water, and air. 410 stainless steel is a material that can be hardened to great strength. A tornado can be coming for your tailgate and you can go take shelter knowing it will still be there when you, hopefully, go back.

Miday foldable grill is built with a lightweight design that makes it ideal for transporting. The legs are designed to be folded into itself so it can fight great in any car.

Key Amenities :

  • Comes with a storage bag, which is helpful to transport your grill and store it safely
  • Easy clean up because it’s made out of stainless steel
  • Air vents on both ends aid in temperature control and even heat distribution
  • 20 piece grilling set included

Size and Weight :

  • Unfolded dimensions: 29 x 13.2 x 27.5 in
  • Folded dimensions: 29 x 13.2 x 6.3 in
  • Grill size: approx. 377 square inch
  • Grill weight: 8.5 lb
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Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill


Before we jump into the char-griller can we take a moment and appreciate how cool this grill looks. Everyone around the tailgate lot will be coming over to ask question about your portable grill. Have a group of single dudes, bring this bad boy out and it can be a great conversation starter for when the chicks come over to talk about it. They will, trust me. The prospect of free food will bring them over and the grill style will make them stay and chat. Grills are like puppies to girls when they’re drinking at a tailgate, we can’t help but be draw to the smell of food cooking.

Char-griller pro deluxe charcoal grill is made of heavy-duty steel, powder coated for durability, and featuring a sturdy cast iron grill grate. The cart is constructed of tubular steel and the body is constructed of heavy duty steel. Because these grills are made of so much steel, it is recommended you coat it with heat pant to be proactive and prevent the rust from ever starting.

Char-griller 2828 pro deluxe charcoal grill comes with a cast iron grate that is divided into four sections, that are all lifetable so you can have access to the coals while you grill. You can add more coals without having to remove the whole rack.  A heating rack is located inside the grill.

Char- griller tailgating grill comes with adjustable dampers and an adjustable fire grate gives you the ability to control the heat of your grill. Opening and closing the dampers will increase or restrict airflow. You have the option with this portable charcoal griller to raise or lower the fire grate bringing your food closer or further away from the coals. A heat gauge is located on top of the hood for maximum heat control. Char-grilling portable grill gives you all the tools you need to cook your meat to the correct temperature. If you somehow manage to screw that up, you shouldn’t ever be grilling. Stick to brining the side dishes or dessert.

Side note: Before using the grill to cook you should oil the grill and light a fire in it so you can get all the casting oil out of grill and all the other extra stuff sitting on the grates. Lighting a fire before use of any grill is recommended before your first time cooking on it. It’s sort of the same reason you wash fruit before you eat it or why you wash dishes before you use them for the first time.

Key Amenities : 

  • Comes with a wood side shelf and a front spice and sauce rack
  • Shelf located below the grill- great for storing extra things such as charcoal
  • Easy dump ash pan
  • Large 8 inch wheels, great for transportation
  • Hooks to hang utensils
  • Heat resistant handle to open and close hood

Size and Weight : 

  • Cooking Area : 580 sq/in
  • Warming rack : 270 sq/in
  • L x W x H inches : 42″ x 29″ x 50″
  • Grill weight : 81 pounds
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Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE

Coleman road trip propane portable grill is perfect to fit in any trunk or back seat thanks to its collapsible design. It has wheels and collapses into a suitcase looking design. It has two tables, one on each side, that can slide in and out so you can use both or just one at a time. Coleman propane tailgate grill is as easy as 123 to set up with its lift and lock system.

Coleman portable grill is one of the few out there that is available in eight different colors (black, blue, red, green, maroon, orange, purple, red , silver ). Forget giving birthstone jewelry, give a birthstone colored grill to the one you love! This portable tailgating grill is easy-to-clean, cast-iron and has a  porcelain-coated surfaces with a removable grease tray.

Coleman portable tailgating grill has a sawptop that allows you to remove the grates and put in griddle and stove grates. A perfect flow Pressure Control System provides steady heat from your grill, even in the cold. Instastart button ignites grill without the need for a match or lighter. Portable tailgate grill comes with 2 independently adjustable burners that give you precise control for 2 temperature zones and the grill also comes with 2 porcelain coated grill grates. Having the power to control 2 temperature zones allows you to cook multiple things at once, such as meat and veggies. Wam-bam- thank you mam, your whole meal is done at one time.

Can be used with the Char-Broil 4 ft adapter to hook up to a larger size propane tank.

Key Amenities : 

  • Delivers 20,000 BTUs of heat across 285 square inches of grilling surface
  • Pairs well with 16.4 oz propane tank
  • Hooks in front for utensils
  • Collapsible design
  • 2 temperature knobs to control 2 separate burners

Size and Weight :  

  • Product Dimensions : 33.8 x 13.5 x 19.1 inches
  • 285 square inches of grilling surface
  • Grill weight : 47 pounds


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Weber 54060001 Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill

Weber propane tailgating grill has porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates and cast aluminum lid and body. The lid has a thermometer so you can constantly monitor the temperature inside the lid. Just a reminder with lid thermometers, they measure the heat towards the top of the grill. The actual temperature by the grate could be a few degrees warmer, so take that into consideration when planning out how you like your meat cooked.

Weber q2200 liquid propane grill has two folding side tables, one on each side. Inside you will find a split grate, this allows you the ability to grill with a grate/griddle combination. A helpful cooking tip to eliminate fire flare ups is to oil the grates and not over oil the food you are cooking. When you oil or butter the food to much the drippings is what causes fire to flare up, so by oiling the grates you are eliminating oil drops.

Below the weber propane tailgate grill you will find a removable catch pan. Cleaning the removable catch pan is just as important as cleaning the grill and grates. Check the removable catch pan for grease build-up each time you use your grill. Remove excess grease with a plastic scraper. Wash the removable catch pan with warm, soapy water and rinse with water.  You can also purchase disposable drip pans to have a fresh one before each time you cook!

Weber propane tailgating grill is designed to sit on top of any table. Many people choose to buy the Weber 6557 Q Portable Cart for Grilling.  You can slide the grill easily into place and it you will hear it lock into place. The portable cart has a built in wire transport handle, hook and loop strap to help keep the grill in place if you want to keep the grill on the cart during transporting. Weber cart for tailgating also has 2 all weather tires and 2 tool hooks! 

Weber Q2200 can be used with an adapter hose to hook up to a 20 pound propane tank.






Key amenities :

  • Easy-start electronic ignition and infinite control burner valve settings
  • Uses disposable 14.1 or 16.4 oz. LP cylinder
  • One stainless steel burner produces 12,000 BTU-per-hour to heat 280 square-inch total cooking area
  • Glass reinforced nylon frame (helps prevent rust)
  • Large grip handles and control knobs
  • Ergonomic side handles
  • Sturdy front and rear cradles

Size and Weight : 

  • Product dimensions : Fully assembled out of box. Dimensions – Lid Open and Tables Out (inches) – 26 H x 51.4 W x 25.1 D. Dimensions – Lid Closed and Tables Out (inches) – 15.5 H x 51.4 W x 19.5 D
  • Grill Weight : 42.5 pounds


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Blackstone Grills Tailgater – Portable Gas Grill and Griddle Combo

Blackstone tailgate grill is one of the most versatile grill we will be going over. Blackstone Grills Tailgate grill comes with several different setup combinations. One if its key features is giving you the possibility to have one open burner. Having an open burner gives you the option to use a pot to boil water, or throw a pan on it to sauté some onions up real quick to throw on your sausage.  Utilize the grill box and griddle at the same time or easily remove both and use the two open burners for pots/pans. Keep the grill or griddle on and have one open burner. If you’re really into cooking or want as many cooking options as you can for a tailgate, I highly recommend you purchase this blackstone grills tailgater portable gas grill and griddle combo. You won’t really find another grill on the market out there like this one. It truly is an original one of a kind, it is meats every meats dream.

Blackstone tailgate grill is one of the more portable grills we will be going over, because the blackstone tailgate grill allows you the option to take the actual grill box off of the unit itself. Blackstone portable tailgate grill folds into itself aiding in its easy transportation.  The legs are adjustable allowing your grill to be even on any type of surface.

Unlike the other grills we have gone over, blackstone portable grill gives you accessories most grill packages will make you purchase separately. When you purchase the blackstone portable grill you will receive heavy-duty grill box with vent, handle and durable cast iron grill grates plus a cold rolled steel griddle plate and the whole unit has a strong powder coat finish. This portable tailgate grill comes with two burners, each with its own control knob.

To independently controlled burners (1 stainless steel H tube burner and one cast iron burner) are the heat sources for this tailgating grill. The H tube burner can put out 15,000 BTUs and the cast iron burner can produce 20,000 BTUs.

Often purchased with the blackstone portable grill is the combo cover caring bag set. It offers both coverage for transportation and storage. People also pair the bag set with the blackstone 5 piece professional grade tool kit.  The tool kit for tailgating includes 2 oversized restaurant grade spatulas, 1 stainless steel chopper/scrapper, and 2 fine tip bottles for liquids or condiments such as ketchup, water or oil.







Key Amenities : 

  • Comes with an open burner option
  • Adjustable Legs
  • Satisfaction guarantee: If you are not happy or have a problem contact the company
  • Cook at 500+ degrees
  • Made from stainless steel

Size and Weight :

  • Product dimension : 24 x 52 x 38.5 in
  • Grill weight : 75 pounds

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GoBQ Portable Charcoal Grill

This portable charcoal grill is the only grill we will be gong over that isn’t made out of metal. GoBQ portable charcoal grill is made out of a heat and fire resistant fabric. Essentially every part of this grill is foldable and can be folded down to 17% of its volume fitting into something as compact as a backpack!

The lid also happens to be the case, and is made out of a fast cooling, heat/fire resistant material. Three air vents in the lid balance air flow for consistent heat control, and you will also find vent holes on the bottom base of the grill as well. GoBQ portable charcoal grill has the coolest grilling grate. The grate is made from plates steel that rolls up to fit in the folded lid. In each corner of the GoBQ portable tailgate grill  you will find grill rests which holds the grill grate into place.

Charcoals are placed in GoBQ’s unique charcoal basket design, which holds the coals suspended between the grate and grilling base for optimum air flow. I like to call it the hammock for charcoal. Below the charcoal basket design is a ember guard that provides a extra layer of heat resistant fabric that catches grease, hot embers and ash. The ember guard is made to be snaped in and out of the grill.

The base of the grill is coated with non stick silicone for easy cleanup. Just let all that ash and crap slide right out of the bottom into a garbage bag. Custom molded feet are found around the bottom of the grill to keep it in place.

GoBQ has solid aluminum legs with anodized satin finish that allow the legs to remain cool during cooking time. The legs also have a unique scissor design that allows it to be so compacted once folded up.


Key Amenities :

  • Custom handles are heat resistant and have holes in them to hang utensils
  • Flame/Heat resistant fabric is durable and flexible
  • Fabric cools down faster than any other grill
  • Plated steel charcoal basket
  • Folds down to 17% of its volume and can fit in a backpack
  • 20 second set up

Size and Weight :

  • Product dimensions :  16 x 9 x 7 inches
  • Weight : 9 pounds

Writers Extra Tip:

Have leftovers from your tailgate? Go ahed and use those throughout the week! Tailgate extras are perfect for meal prepping! New to meal prepping, you may find this article helpful! 


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