A tailgate grill is invaluable when it comes to preparing grilled food at your tailgating party. However, not just any tailgate grill will do; you need to ensure that it efficiently serves its purpose, for you to make perfectly grilled meals.
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The market is flooded with different models of tailgate grills, which may make it hard for you to decide on a suitable pick. But, not to worry, we are here to help. After many weeks of research, we’ve found grills that yield impressive results at tailgating parties.
In this review, where we shall go over each one of them, discussing their strengths, weaknesses, and how they meet various tailgating needs. We are positive that it will help you find a suitable tailgate grill.
Review of the Best Tailgate Grills
While this review is valuable for newbies, it’s also useful for those people who want to replace their old tailgate grills with exciting and new appliances. Here we’ve reviewed several tailgate grills. Highlighted are their features and other essential specifications that are explained in detail.
Now, no more talk.
Let’s dive in and see the best tailgate grills that are making airwaves in the grill market currently.
Our Top Pick
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
This is the first appliance on our list, thanks to its numerous features. It comes in a porcelain-enameled body and features an 18-inch diameter cooking area. The upper part is removable with a 4-home smoke opening. Also, there are vents at the bottom.
This appliance uses charcoal as fuel, making it a cost-effective option. It is, therefore, ideal for charcoal lovers who intend to tailgate in huge groups. The grill’s 18-inch cooking area lets you grill for more than four individuals at once. Though you can’t fold it away, it has a compact shape to fit in a vehicle perfectly.
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill’s setup process is straightforward. It comes with a user manual that is helpful for newbie grillers and a wrench to assist you in assembling the appliance. The only extra tool you need to get is a standard screwdriver, and you are good to go.
There is a 4 feet stand that sits on a broad base at a moderate distance from the grill. This offers the convenience you need and a secure grilling experience. That means you can place your Jumbo Joe grill on a table without the worry of burning your furniture.
Does your preferred tailgating site have picnic tables? If yes, then this grill is a perfect fit. Furthermore, you have a guarantee that your cooker will not sway or wobble.
The grill retains heat and distributes it evenly. It comes with adjustable and sizable bottom and top vents that allow you to control the grill’s temperatures and cooking. Also, it is fitted with a lid holder that holds the lid safely while you are accessing or serving your food. Furthermore, it can serve as a windshield if you are not grilling with the lid on. Placing the lid and removing it will not compromise the grill’s stability, as its legs are wide to keep the center of gravity in its stable base.
On maintenance, there is an ash collector underneath the grill that makes the cleaning process easy. You can remove it once the grill cools down so that you can dump the ash and wipe it down.
- Even the distribution of heat
- Sleek, convectional design
- Compact built
- Perfect ventilation
- It comes with needed assemble equipment
- Comprehensive user manual
- Dampers for temperature regulation
- Not ideal for grilling large foods like whole chicken since the lid is extremely shallow
- The ash catcher is unsheltered, and the ash might blow all over after you empty the ash
- You must purchase a carrying bag
If you are looking for a discreet charcoal grill for feeding a large group, then Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill is an ideal option.
Weber Q1200 LP Grill
Weber is well-known for making various types of grills. That means you don’t have to go out looking for a smaller tailgate grill since Weber has it all. The Weber Q1200 LP Grill measures 40.9 by 20.5 by 24.6 inches with a weight of 26 pounds. It offers 188 square inches of cooking space. Just keep reading, and we promise you will love it.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a fuel-consuming cooker when you are tailgating. You will need to carry extra fuel or forego the fun. The grill uses liquid propane that is easily available. It runs on either a 14.1- or 16.4-ounces tank. One tank is enough to give you up to 5 hours of grilling duration, depending on the temp. The moment you light the grill up with automatic ignition, it will heat up fast, hence you can start grilling immediately.
Another desirable feature of this grill is the in-built thermometer. Together with the temperature dial, you will have a chance to control the heat. If you like to have maximum control when cooking, then you will enjoy this feature.
Though the Weber Q1200 LP doesn’t come with a stand, it is still ideal for tailgating. The grill is an energy-efficient tailgate grill that comes in a portable body. You can put it on your truck bed or the fold-out table without having to worry about burns.
This small tailgate grill is ideal for any tailgater who does not fancy cleaning up. Almost every aspect of the design plays a role in making the cleaning process easy. It comes with a special grease management system and a one-use grease pan. The grease from the fatty foods is moved to the greased pan. Once you finish grilling, you can toss the pan and replace it.
It comes with a cast-iron cooking grate which is porcelain-enameled. It is easy to clean and has a rust-resistant coating.
The burner tubes are also easy to scrub down since they are made of stainless steel. Because the tubes are enclosed in a single piece of steel, they are not vulnerable to rust.
- Has a big handle for safe carrying
- Can sit on plastic or wood without causing any damage
- Does not exhaust its fuel quickly
- Has a Thermometer
- Easy clean-up process
- Evenly spread-out burners for stable heat distribution
- The cooking capacity is small
- You must purchase the stand and other helpful accessories separately
- Attaching tiny propane cylinders can be challenging
Best for Smoking
Do you want to take your tailgating experience to the next level? How about smoking low and slow on the roadside? Then the Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill is what you are looking for. It comes with an attachment to hook it up to the hitch of a truck.
The grill measures 47 by 25.7 by 41 inches and features a cooking space of 480 square inches. If you plan to have a large and lengthy tailgate session, this item is up for the task.
One of the greatest merits of the Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill is its lower charcoal consumption. Because of its amazing insulative specs, it requires less fuel than you could imagine, even if your grill is in use for many hours
You can use its two cooking areas. The first one is the cast-iron grate, and the lower one is the chrome surface. The thermometer on this lid will indicate what’s happening with the internal temperature.
The solid construction of this product makes it ideal for holding heat. When you seal the vents and lid, it creates a tight seal and hence can be utilized for slow and low smoking, for either a few or several hours. In spite of its ability to hold and retain a steady heat, the body will not heat up a lot or pose a security risk. The outside always stays warm.
You don’t need to hitch the grill to the trunk since the base has two wheels for easy mobility. Since the stand can be leveled, the grill is stable and steady. This is vital for a tailgate grill of its size and weight.
It features two expandable side tables that open on either side for plates or drinks. Each table comes with a row of 3 hooks for your cooking tools. This reduces the risk of knowing your utensils or tools to the ground.
- It has two wheels for easy movement
- Retains heat well
- Can cook whole turkeys and chicken
- Detachable ashtray for easier dumping
- Removable side tables have hooks
- Hitch-adaptable tailgating
- Extremely heavy
- Slow to adjust the temperature
Solaire Portable Infrared Warming Rack Gas Grill
Are you tired of impatient relatives or friends demanding meals? Then Solaire Portable Infrared Warming Rack Gas Grill offers the solution you need. The grill is efficient in the quick preparation of meals and also enables extremely high heat.
It runs on one-pound propane cylinders and comes with a carrying case to allow you to pack up to three cylinders for your tailgating sessions.
The grill weighs 20 pounds and has a height of 12 inches and a width of 21 inches. It can, therefore, fit into your car with ease, irrespective of the space available.
It comes in a rectangular shape and is fully assembled. You just need to screw the handle to the lid. The lid latches firmly to the body so that it can be carried securely.
Don’t be fooled by its small size. While you might get less cooking capacity compared to other grills on our list, it won’t be a problem. Due to the amazing heat generated by the Solaire Portable Infrared Warming Rack Gas Grill, you can prepare more food for several people in moderately less time.
Once you turn it on, it will heat to higher temperatures within a few minutes. You will be grilling before your colleagues start complaining about hunger. You will not have to use the lighter since it has spark ignition.
The fast-heating feature works perfectly, irrespective of the outdoor climate. Whether you want to tailgate in autumn or you prefer summer, you can count on this grill. Its infrared burners are tailored to offer intense heat with a consistent distribution. Despite where you place the meal on the grates, it will receive even heat. You don’t need to worry about the exact placement to prevent burning or cold spots.
While you might be a fan of grilling, this does not mean you will enjoy every aspect of it. The assembling of the grill is one of the most annoying parts of the process. Most people want to light up the cooker and begin the grilling process instantly, which is not the scenario with many grills.
Fortunately, with the Solaire Portable Infrared Warming Rack Gas Grill, you’ll only need to screw the bolts onto the handles, and you are set to go. This makes it the best choice for barbecuing on the go. Additionally, the product comes with a well-detailed manual to help you know how to use the product.
- It comes with a push-button ignition
- Compact and light
- Intense and even heat distribution
- Has warranty
- Heats up fast
- It comes with a comprehensive user manual
- Small cooking surface
- It gets smoky when cooking fatty meals
Best Adjustable Height
When planning for a tailgating party, you need a cooker that will offer you a reliable and at-home experience. You want a grill that will make you shine as you prepare the meals, just as you would on your patio. That’s what the makers of Coleman RoadTrip 285 Stand-Up Propane Grill had in mind when designing this model.
The grill is a contemporary-looking product that is packed with numerous features to make your grilling experience a breeze. It is compatible with tiny propane cylinders, hence, you will get more than one hour of cooking duration out of a 16.4-ounce cylinder.
Coleman RoadTrip 285 Stand-Up Propane Grill measures 19.1 by 13.5 by 33.8 inches and delivers up to 20,000 BTUs of heat.
It stands out as versatile and convenient, ideal traits for tailgaters with restricted space in their cars. Getting the grill out of the truck or car and preparing your meals is seamless.
Once you unfold the base, you can wheel it to any place you want and hook it up to the propane tank. The wheels feature treads that make it run smoothly over any surface, in case you want to move it from the truck to a different surface for grilling.
Furthermore, you do not need extra parts or pieces after assembling the grill. You just need to lift the base and lock it. This means you also don’t need to worry about a lighter or matches. Once you press a button, the burner’s sparks ignite. The two burners have cast-iron gates and can be regulated independently. Therefore, you can have two heat zones or cook indirectly. This cuts out the waiting duration, in case you want to grill foods that require different temperatures. For meat enthusiasts, you can cook medium-rare burgers or steaks at the same time.
With Coleman RoadTrip 285 Stand-Up Propane Grill, you will get two tables extending from either side. This allows you to keep the utensils and drinks close to you as you grill. The grease tray is detachable, and for this reason, scrubbing the dirt and cleaning is very easy.
A grill can be portable and not wobble, and the Coleman RoadTrip 285 Stand-Up Propane Grill is a good example . It is robust and portable, so, you don’t have to worry about creating a mess when grilling.
- Large treaded wheels that roll over most surfaces
- It comes with foldable side and base tables
- Automatic ignition
- Burners can operate on separate settings
- Detachable grease tray
- Burners are not covered, therefore, grease can drip on them
- Heating tends to be uneven at high temperatures
When looking for an excellent performing full-size grill in a compact and solid footprint, you should go for the Cuisinart CGG-306 Chef’s Style Propane Grill. The grill comes in a great design and can cook a box of burgers within 10 minutes. That’s because it
features a 275 square-inch cooking area, that is porcelain coated, and is fueled by 20,000 BTUs of heat.
The strong power of this grill is regulated by two independent burners that let you cook in various heating zones. Its onboard thermometer makes it easy to monitor the grill’s temperatures. This offers you much-needed control over your cooking experience.
The grill is made exclusively from stainless steel and weighs 30 lbs. It is, therefore, tailored for outdoor grilling as it is portable and easy to carry. The appliance can be tucked away in any car, making it an ideal companion for picnics, tailgating, camping, beach trips, or any other activity. However, this doesn’t limit its usage in the backyard and patio.
Setting up the grill entails a straightforward process irrespective of where you go. It’s very easy to use from the time it’s delivered, where you can assemble the stands, attach the gas, and use an igniter to fire up your grill. No special skills or tools are needed for the process.
If you have large chunks of meat, you have a gadget that can efficiently cook them. From ribs to burgers and anything in between, Cuisinart CGG-306 Chef’s Style Propane Grill is the king of tailgating. All you need to do is assemble it, set the right temp area , and you are set for some solid grilling escapades. Moreover, it is easy to clean once you are done cooking.
- Easy and fast to assemble
- Portable and lightweight
- Two separate burners
- Perfect for cooking for several people
- It has a drip tray for grease
- Well-controlled temp and superior heat distribution
- Complaints about the warping of the thin lid
- Attaching cooking cylinders can be challenging
A good tailgating grill must be portable, deliberately lightweight, have convenient carrying handles, or have a wheeled carry case. In some cases, the grill can be fitted with a caster, but you will need to wait for it to cool down before you tuck it back into the van.
This can be frustrating at your tailgating party if you are in a hurry. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for your cooker to cool down.
Fortunately, the Char-Broil 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill is supported by fordable wire frame stands. They are open and thin, letting the cooker cool down quickly. Also, the legs can pleat over the top of the cooker to lock it shut. This allows you to carry and move the cooker even when it’s hot. The folding stands help keep the heat inside – away from any surrounding objects and the interior parts of your car.
The cooker comes with three insulated handles. Two are on either side, and one is at the top. They are well-positioned such that they will allow you to move the Char-Broil 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill even while it’s still hot.
There is also a piezo push button to allow you to ignite the grill without the need for a lighter, and its cooking grate is coated in dishwasher-safe chrome. The cooker has the capacity to cook eight burgers at once. It is also fitted with 16.4oz or 14.1oz cylinders and offers 11,000 BTU. This is ideal for a cooker of this size.
Char-Broil 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill is a simple tailgating cooker with a masculine exterior and higher heat output.
- It comes with fold metal stands that act as a locking system
- It is portable and lightweight as it weighs 10.2lbs
- Ample cooking space of 187 square inches
- The ignition button might stick, so come with a lighter
Again, Weber has made it to our list with their Weber 121020 Portable Charcoal Grill. If you are looking for a tiny charcoal grill that is easy to use and carry, then this is the best option. The grill is fit for tailgating at any place, from open fields to parking lots.
Setting it up is easy, as you only need to fix the handle to the lid. The rounded and slim aluminum legs provide more height and support than you could think.
This grill can stand on the grass, and it will be high and stable, hence, no need to worry about messes that can start a fire. The same goes for car beds or folding tables.
The makers of Weber 121020 Portable Charcoal Grill had portability in mind as it weighs 15 pounds and measures 14.5 inches, 12 inches by 12.2 inches. This means it can be carried easily. Since the lid latches securely to the body, the grill will not bounce around in the truck.
Never assume that compactness will make the grill have a low cooking capacity. In this grill, you can cook up to 6 burgers at once as it offers a large cooking surface of 160 square inches. If you prefer steak over burgers, you can perfectly fit four medium-sized steaks at once.
The moment you close the lid, the grill will have high heat retention. Whether you are planning to grill some steaks fast or slow-cook ribs, the Weber 121020 Portable Charcoal Grill is up to the task.
It comes with four vents. Two vents are fitted in the lid and the other two down on either side of the body. Because temperature regulation can be finicky with charcoal grills, the many vents are helpful.
Whenever you want to remove the lid, you can hook it on the in-built lid holder. This lid can then act as a windshield and protect your food from contaminants.
This grill comes in a porcelain-enameled body which makes it easy to clean and scrub. The moment the coal goes out, the grill cools faster. You can then detach the grates and clean them, ready for the next use.
- Portable and easy to carry
- It comes with a convenient lid holder that allows the lid to serve as a windshield
- Many vents for temp regulation
- Lower consumption of charcoal
- Highest retention
- Easy to clean
- Cools faster
- You must scoop ash from the grill bottom
- Low height when the lid is on
- The lid handle might become very hot to hold
How to Choose the Best Tailgate Grill?
In this guide, we have shared some of the best portable tailgating grills in the market. Note that you can use any of the grills in your tailgating event. They will all deliver impressive results.
Nevertheless, one may serve you better than the other depending on your needs and preferences. The tailgating environment, frequency of movement, and the number of guests you intend to entertain will determine which one will be a perfect fit.
Also, there are some critical requirements such as quality and portability that any tailgate should have.
Highlighted below is an in-depth discussion of some of the things to consider when searching for the perfect model for your tailgating event.
1. Choice of Fuel
The power source of the grill should be the first factor to consider. It is a matter of personal preference, where you have to decide whether you prefer the one that runs on charcoal, gas, or electricity.
So, what type of cooker is ideal for you? Your answer will depend on the cooking style and the kind of convenience you want from the grill. There are pros and cons of each model. Therefore, understanding their distinguishing features will help you ensure you have the best tailgating experience. You will also get value for your money.
To help you make an informed choice, we shall discuss in detail the various types of fuel.
Gas-powered tailgate grills are the most common models available. They are Designed in a cart style. These grills run on either a liquid propane tank or natural gas through a conversion kit that connects the cooker to the natural gas supply line. The discussion over which is the best between liquid propane and natural gas is a tricky one.
Natural gas is known for burning cleaner, and it’s cheap to use since you don’t need to refill the propane tank. Nevertheless, you will not move your cooker around because it’s connected to a house’s gas line. Therefore, if you intend to move your grill around, liquid propane is preferable since it is portable. But it requires refilling, which can be costly. Luckily, most gas-powered grills can run on
both, thus you only need to make a switch depending on where you are.
With gas-powered grills, you will have extra control over heat distribution across the cooking area. Tailgate grills like Char-Broil 240 Liquid Propane Gas Grill allow you to adjust between lower heat for steady heat and high heat for searing cooking.
If you want to cook something like ribs or whole chicken, you will get a better experience and results with charcoal or pellet grills. Charcoal tailgating grills provide the conventional smokiness that many individuals think of when they envisage grilled flavor. They are available in numerous sizes and shapes, including the original Weber Kettle that pioneered the charcoal grill structure, which is widely documented today.
However, charcoal grills come with their flukes. Therefore, you will have to conduct some research before you choose this route. To begin with, they run on charcoal briquettes or lumps of charcoal which causes a smoky flavor. You will have to spend some time lighting the charcoal briquettes and waiting for the grill to preheat. You’ll also need to remove the ash and clean the grill once you complete your tailgating event.
Charcoal grills may not be customizable or precise like gas-powered grills when it comes to grilling but, they provide the most distinct flavor and are cost-effective.
Regardless, most people prefer gas-powered grills over charcoal. Gas lights immediately and heats up fast. This means less waiting time before you begin grilling.
2. Compactness and Ease of Packing
When it comes to choosing a tailgate grill, portability should be your number one priority. Your preferred grill should be light and easy to use and move. This will allow you to tailgate whenever you want. You don’t need to struggle when moving it in or out-of-the-truck as this isn’t fun. You also do not want to injure yourself by carrying a large and heavy cooker out of the truck or car. Therefore, the best tailgate grills must be transport-friendly, easy to assemble, and easy to pack after grilling.
Irrespective of the available space in a truck, a solid grill is the best option. You will have enough space for the grill, your friends , and tailgating items like food and drinks.
3. Cooking Capacity
Tailgate events are just like any other fun social occasion, where many people make it merrier and more fun. If you have a large group of friends or a big family, your grill should have a big cooking capacity.
While this might seem like it opposes the things we explained about compactness, there is more to it. A smaller design doesn’t mean that the grill will have less cooking capacity. Some grills are designed to cook for a couple of individuals, while others are built to maximize the cooking area such that you can prepare meals for many individuals at once.
It is advisable to go for a grill with a medium to large cooking capacity even when you want to tailgate with one or two friends. You may make new friends while out there having fun or invite more people next time. A sizeable grill comes in handy, just in case.
4. Temperature Control
Tailgate grilling is a delicate experience, especially when dealing with meat. If your chicken or meat is not cooked to the required temp, you and your friends might end up with food poisoning. Overcooked, and burnt food is never a good scenario.
The perfect tailgate grill must have reliable temperature control. If you choose a gas-powered grill, make sure you check the dial. A good model will have many options for temperature settings. It should be conveniently located and easy to turn. While charcoal-fueled models don’t have dials, they come with vents. which play a vital role in regulating airflow. This influences the burning rate and heat distribution.
You should, therefore, choose charcoal cookers with many vents and adaptable height grates. This will ensure you have the best tailgate grilling experience.
5. Design and Features
Any good tailgate grill will come with an all-inclusive quality design. The grill has to be designed with performance, user-friendliness, and portability in mind. A perfectly built cooker must also have a strong foundation, and its stands should keep the heat away from the ground or tabletop where the grill sits on. A poorly built base will cause scorching and even fires.
The grill must be stable on any surface; whether grass, soil or concrete. This is to prevent it from wobbling whenever you flip the burners.
Grills that are designed with wheels make movement and transport hassle-free. However, make sure the wheels have a locking system to prevent motion when you begin the grilling process.
Some types of grill are designed with lids. This allows you to roast as you grill. For this type, the lid must close cozily for the best cooking. Other grills come with extendable side tables to place your utensils and food.
If you choose the gas-powered grill, check the number of BTUs it has. Also known as the British Thermal Unit, BTU is the measurement of the amount of heat a grill can generate. The higher the BTU, the better.
Extra safety features are also vital. For instance, a body that remains cool to the touch. That way, you won’t get scalded if you mistakenly touch it when it’s still hot.
The grill’s material will make a great difference. For example, stainless steel makes it simple to clean-up and tends to be long-lasting.
Some tailgate grills will have a contemporary look, while others will feature a traditional and classic look. So, it’s up to you to choose the one that appeals to your taste. Remember that function should come first. Don’t rush into purchasing a grill just because of its looks.
6. Quality of Construction and Design
A good tailgate cooker should last longer than just one season. Apart from cleaning-related issues, construction materials play a vital role in longevity. It should be moveable without being weak. Enameled porcelain, stainless steel, and iron grills all are created to withstand wear and tear. You don’t want your grill to get dented or rust after a couple of trips. This kind of damage will affect how the grill folds away or works.
Irrespective of how skilled you might be, you cannot compensate for a shoddy structure. Tailgate cookers that are thinly constructed rather than compact will not regulate heat optimally. This affects the results and consistency of the cooks.
7. Accessories and Bonuses
Irrespective of what you are purchasing, extra accessories are needed. Does your preferred type of grill come with cleaning accessories like a brush? Does the grill come with a protective cover to keep it secure when transporting? Or does it have a carrying bag that keeps your cooker and equipment in one place?
This should not be your primary focus, but, if you are stuck between choosing two grills that have almost similar features, this can be
a determining factor.
As you can attest, the best tailgate cooker will depend on your needs and preferences. We believe that some of the items highlighted in this guide will appeal to you. Besides, they are the best you will find in the market.
The tailgate grills in this list each come with a pack of unique benefits. However, we have chosen Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill as our top pick as its efficiency stands out. This tiny charcoal cooker will have you cook delicious meals quickly. The grill features extra vents that allow you to enjoy a high level of cooking control. Additionally, setting up this appliance entails a painless process, and cleaning after use is also easy.