Best Camping Grill for Daily Grub

If you are in a hurry and need to know what the best camping mess kit is, we recommend the Char-Broil Deluxe Portable Liquid Propane Gas Grill for its quality, accessories, and function.

The camping experience would not be complete without the food, and whether you are car camping or tailgating, food preparation can be a bit challenging without the right equipment. The proper camp kitchen should include the best camping mess kit you can find, plus the best camping grill. 

Best Camping Grills Reviewed

Camping Grill Alternatives:

person turning hotdogs and flipping hamburgers on a grill

How to Find the Best Camping Grill

When searching for five of the best camping grills to review, we considered four important factors:

  1. How easy is the grill to assemble
  2. How user-friendly is the grill, and what features improve the grill’s function and safety?
  3. How portable is the grill?
  4. How easy is the grill to maintain

Assembly

Most camping grills come with a number of pieces that need to be put together right out of the box, but the best ones will require little assembly after that. At the very least, you will have to hook up the fuel and make sure the grate is in place, but in some cases, you will also need to set up the stand, any included shelves, and perhaps even a wind barrier. However, when you return to camp after a long day-hike, or wake up to a cold morning, having a convenient grill assembly will greatly improve your camping experience. 

Useability

A grill’s useability can be broken down into its function and safety. 

Cooking Area

The cooking area of your grill should be at least 150 square inches, but the sweet spot is right around 250 square inches to allow for comfortable cooking. This size will usually be sufficient for 2-3 people. 

You will also want to consider the BTUs produced by the grill relative to its cooking area. A small grill will have a lower BTU rating than a larger one, but the amount of heat put out per square inch will reveal how efficient the grill is, and how effective.

Temperature Control 

logs burning in a black fire box at campsite

Campfires are notoriously hard to cook over, and this is where camp grills offer some enormous benefits. But, temperature control involves much more than just “high, medium, and low.” A camping grill with proper control will create even heat throughout the cooking surface, or it will enable the user to cook foods at a higher temperature in one area and at a lower temperature in others. You should be able to close the lid to contain the heat, or open it if you so choose. Finally, full cooking control will allow you to monitor the internal temperature without ever having to check the food being prepared.

Ignition

The majority of gas grills available come with some sort of ignition system. Of course, you should carry either matches or a lighter with you, just in case the ignitor fails, but we looked for reliability in the products reviewed below. One of the more common ignition systems used is the piezo ignitor, which creates a small spark that ignites the flowing gas. 

Wind Blocking

Since you will be cooking outdoors, you will occasionally have to deal with unpredictable weather, such as wind. Wind can cause a great deal of frustration in the way it disrupts the distribution of heat across the cooking surface. If a grill is wide open to the wind, or if it contains a lot of holes where the wind can enter the grill, you may find it hard to cook anything on a windy day. The best camping grills will have built-in wind protection to minimize the effect that moving air can have on your grilling experience. 

trout in frying pan in preparation for being cooked

Safety

When it comes to fires, you can never be too cautious. Grills that are elevated can pose an additional risk, as they are easier to tip over. For those grills that include extendable legs, make sure the feet will be stable on uneven ground. Choose grills that will not light easily from accidental bumps, or the investigation of a curious child, and grills that come with quality hook-ups and hoses. Additionally, choose grills that are easy to clean, as accumulated grease is one of the major reasons that grill fires start in the first place and get out of hand. With the ever-present risk of wildfires and accidental burns, it is imperative that you find a camping grill that contains multiple security features. 

Portability

As with the rest of your camping equipment, the grill will have to be transported, one way or another, to your desired campsite. Cast iron grills can be very heavy, and even if your next grill comes with wheels, you will probably have to lift it in and out of the car. Depending on your situation, this may be a determining factor on the grill you choose. Regardless of how far you will have to carry the grill, consider how easily it will pack and the way in which you will carry it. 

Remember also that the fuel tank is almost never included. You will need to bring sufficient fuel for the length of your stay, and if you are not able to back your car right into the campsite (or if you plan to go tailgating instead), whatever fuel you need will have to be hauled in. 

Maintenance

Just like your home kitchen, the camping kitchen will be dirty just as soon as you start cooking. After a protracted stay in camp, making cleanup as easy as possible will be your first priority. To accomplish this, look for grills with removable parts that can be cleaned separately (or small enough to be thrown into the empty cooler until you get home…). Having the ability to use pans will also help to keep the clean up process to a minimum.

Also, make sure the grill has a removable drip tray, and one that will not spill if you have to transport it home. Many state parks require you to stow anything that might attract a bear or raccoons, so you might have to lift the grill in and out of your car every night, or at least empty the grease pan before bed. 

skewered hotdogs and burger patties cooking on a grill

Best Camping Grills Reviewed

Char-Broil Deluxe Portable Liquid Propane Gas Grill

Price: $

If you are shopping on a budget, you will be hard-pressed to find a better deal than on the Char-Broil Deluxe camping grill. Many people who purchased this grill have been pleased with how much space there is to cook with and how easy it is to use. This grill requires some initial set-up that may take 30 minutes, so we would not recommend waiting to assemble it at the campsite. However, once fully assembled, many users report that it is super lightweight, easy to use, and portable. 

The legs on this grill fold over the lid to secure it in place while transporting, but be aware that you will have to remove the regulator first. While the standard version must be lit manually, the deluxe version comes with a piezo ignitor built into the handle. Some users have noted that the regulator does not allow for much control when cooking and that the high setting can be extremely hot, but this grill is advertised to produce 11,000 BTUs. 

With 190 square inches of cooking area, many customers have said that it provides ample space to cook for several people, and furthermore, that the grill is easy to clean. The handles are made with heat-resistant material, but some have noted that the lid handle will get quite hot during use, so it is better to exercise caution. Many people like that the grill is self-contained and that grease won’t easily spill into your car or RV. 

For the price, the majority of users say that this camping grill offers great value. It is also good for cooking at low temperatures, for things such as toast or garlic bread. And one of the only major downsides that users have mentioned is that the grill does not work well in windy conditions. For many, this grill is an affordable option that earns your money back after only one or two uses. 

Pros

  • The legs fold over the top of the grill to lock the lid in place, tight fit and secure
  • heat-resistant handles
  • 190 sq. inch chrome-plated cooking grate that’s easy to clean and dishwasher safe
  • 11,000 BTU burner designed for use with 16.4 oz or 14.1 oz. propane cylinders
  • Quality steel construction and a durable, high-temperature finish
  • Great for grilling and indirect cooking at low temperatures – just close the lid and you’ll get even heat and low flare-ups
  • self-contained drip tray (won’t spill all over your rv or car trunk)
  • extremely lightweight and portable
  • affordable

Cons

  • requires initial assembly (don’t wait for the campsite to put it together)
  • regulator does not allow for much heat control
  • legs don’t fold up without unscrewing the regulator
  • lid handle can get quite hot while grilling, use caution
  • not good in the wind

Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Price: $$$$

The Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill offers an excellent choice for those seeking a heavy duty camping grill. The cast iron grate provides 189 square inches of cooking space over a stainless steel burner. It is advertised to produce 8,500 BTUs, and the majority of people who have bought this grill say that it heats quickly and produces plenty of heat. However, some users have had trouble with the regulator either blocking or leaking, and this has significantly reduced the grill’s performance. 

The porcelain enamel covering the grates makes them super easy to clean, and many users have said that they fit easily into a sink, making the clean up process all the more easy. While the cast iron grate adds noticeable weight to the grill, the manufacturer uses cast aluminum in the lid and body to reduce the overall weight as much as possible. And, the large lid allows you to close the grill to maximize the heat and alter the internal cooking dynamics. It should be noted, though, that some people wish the burners were closer to the grate, but the infinite-control valve helps to mitigate this problem by allowing you to set the flow of fuel wherever you want it. 

One of the problems that many other camping grills have is that the tube connecting the grill to the fuel canister sticks out too much. Weber has successfully solved this problem by curving the tube backwards and shortening it. Unfortunately, this also means that the grill will not fit canisters larger than 16.4 ounces without requiring an extension hose (sold separately). This could present a problem for those campers who plan to cook for extended periods of time. While this grill does fall on the more expensive end of the spectrum, a number of customers have liked how well it heats, how roomy it is for its compact size, and how easily it lights. 

This Weber grill also comes in a larger version, called the Weber Q2200, which includes side tables and has also received many positive reviews. 

Pros

  • One stainless steel burner produces 8500 BTU-per-hour to heat 189 square-inch total cooking area
  • Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates and
  • cast aluminum lid and body
  • Fully assembled out of box. Dimensions – lid closed (inches): 14.5H x 27W x 16.5D inches
  • Push-button ignition and infinite control burner valve settings
  • Uses disposable 14.1 or 16.4 oz. LP cylinder (sold separately). Grill must be preheated with burner on high for 10 to 15 minutes
  • the propane connection tube does not stick out from the body
  • grates are easy to remove and wash

Cons

  • burners could be closer to the grate
  • fits only a small 14.1 or 16.4 oz. cannister; anything larger would require an extension hose
  • some customers have reported problems with the regulator not allowing enough flow of gas
  • cast iron is heavy

Giantex Propane Tabletop Gas Grill 

Price: $$$

The designers at Giantex have made this portable camping grill both durable and versatile. Composed of stainless steel, it is easy to clean and resistant to the rust that comes with heavy, outdoor use, and many people who use this grill love how easy it is to clean. It also comes with two independent burners, allowing the grill master to cook with precision. The burners are push-ignition, which eliminates the need for manual lighting, and at maximum temperature is rated at 20,000 BTUs. 

Unlike the other grills reviewed here, this one comes with a thermometer built into the lid. Some users have noted that this temperature gauge lets in moisture, but most people are happy with how it works. Except for the grate and flame shields, the grill comes fully assembled, and the grease drip tray is easy to remove and clean. Many users have also noted that the grate sits closer to the flames than in other grills, and this may catch you off-guard the first time you use it. 

This grill provides plenty of cooking space for large groups and big appetites, with about 260 square inches. Some users were surprised that the grill was much larger than they expected, but the dimensions listed on the product description say it is 22 inches wide and 18 inches deep. The lid locks for portability and safety, and the legs fold up underneath to make it compact. Some users have noticed that the legs do not stand evenly when the grill first arrives, but in many cases this problem fixes itself after some use. Unfortunately, one of the biggest downsides of this product is that the company seems to provide poor customer service and slow response time. 

Pros

  • Constructed of 430 stainless steel offers durability and easy-to-clean surfaces.
  • Two push-and-turn ignition burners for quick and easy start-ups. It offers 20,000 total BTUs and reaches high temperatures quickly with each burner independently adjustable.
  • Foldable legs and lockable lid for portable transport and storage. Also make it easy to transport and store.
  • CSA standard approved gas grills. Light-weight and with locking hood for transport and storage.
  • Overall dimensions: 22” x 18” x 15” (L x W x H) is suitable for home using, Easy assemble is required with all hardware packed in the package. (several users have reported that it is larger than they expected)
  • temperature gauge on lid
  • drip pan is easy to remove and clean
  • comes fully assembled, except for grate and flame shields
  • grate sits closer to the burners
  • about 260 square inches of cooking area

Cons

  • poor customer service
  • the legs are not always even when standing

Best Camping Grill Alternatives

person cooking meal on camping stove

Coleman Portable Propane Gas Stove

Price: $$

A popular choice among campers, the Coleman Portable Gas Stove comes with several features intended to optimize the cooking experience and provide superior safety. It is designed to produce 20,000 BTUs of heat and fit two pans side by side, one 12-inches and one 10-inches. It is important to note, however, that the grate contains large spaces and would not be suitable for grilling. 

Many people like the fact that the pans sit close to the flames, which makes it easier to cook and less likely that the wind will affect the flames. The two adjustable burners give you even more control over the cooking temperature, and several users reported that a small propane cylinder (about 16 oz.) will last for about an hour. 

The grill has an easy-to-clean and rust-resistant surface along with a chrome-plated grate. Many customers commented about its light weight and how easy it is to transport, but some have also noted that the metal feels flimsy and thin. This camping grill also comes with two wind panels on the sides to protect the flames and food. 

One of the initial issues that some customers have had with this grill is that the valve came with an excess of grease which blocked the passage of fuel. This problem seemed to be easily solved by removing the valve and wiping away the excess, then re-inserting it. Additionally, the metal tube which attaches to the fuel canister sticks out from the side of the grill, and some users found this to be a safety hazard. 

Pros

  • 20,000 total BTUs of cooking power
  • Fits a 12-in. and 10-in. pan at the same time
  • 2 independently adjustable burners give you precise control for 2 temperature zones
  • Durable, chrome-plated grate is removable for easy cleaning
  • Aluminized steel cooktop for durable rust-resistance
  • Lasts up to 1 hour with both burners on high on one 16.4-oz propane cylinder (sold separately)
  • Perfect for camping, hunting, tailgating and other outdoor occasions
  • flames are close to the bottoms of the pans
  • Great value for the price

Cons

  • valves tend to come with an excess of grease, but this can be cleaned out
  • the metal feels flimsy and thin
  • metal tube to tank sticks out

Blackstone Table Top Portable Gas Griddle

Price: $$

Unlike similarly-sized camping grills, this 17 inch griddle offers 260 square inches of cooking area on a smooth, stainless steel surface. While you won’t get that open-flame, charred flavor and pattern on your food, this camping griddle does give you the option of cooking eggs, bacon, and hash browns, as well as steaks and burgers, without having to use a pan. The H-shaped burner beneath the surface is advertised to produce 12,000 BTUs, but some customers have noticed that the surface does not heat evenly (which some have commented is a benefit and others a flaw). 

This camping griddle comes with a built in grease tray, which slides out easily at the front. Several users have commented that the tray slides out easily and does not lock in, which can be a problem when transporting the griddle, and the tray could also be larger. However, the grease catcher makes clean-up fairly easy, and when you are ready to go, the surface can be flipped over to save space.

Many people found the stainless steel surface to be perfect for their camping and tailgating needs, but the griddle should be seasoned before use. Blackstone recommends using flaxseed oil, and you can watch one of their videos on how to season a griddle properly below. 

Additionally, some users found that the small gap beneath the cooking surface sometimes lets in wind that can affect the griddle’s performance, and some have also reported that the griddle splatters a lot, especially when cooking greasy foods such as burgers or bacon. Many people like the electric ignitor, but some have complained that the griddle consumes fuel too quickly. 

Pros

  • electric igniter
  • built in grease catcher
  • EASY TO STORE – Simply store the griddle top upside down on top of the griddle body after use to save space; Carry by hand
  • 260 square inches (15.25in x 17in) cooking surface
  • “H” burner that heats up fast! The “H” shape offers even heat distribution and fast cooking with a 12,000 BTU heat output
  • griddle surface is easier to clean and more versatile than grill: cook steaks and burgers, or eggs, bacon, and hash browns without needing a pan

Cons

  • drip tray could be larger
  • open sides below cooking surface allows wind to get in
  • grease tray does not lock in for transportation
  • splatters while cooking
  • metal needs to be seasoned before use
  • consumes fuel quickly

Our Top Pick for the Best Portable Camping Grill

While there are many excellent choices available, our top pick for the best portable camping grill is the Char-Broil Deluxe Portable Liquid Propane Gas Grill. Sometimes, there is no better feeling than when you know you picked the right tool for a great price, and this camping grill offers an affordable grill that contains a large cooking area and is easy to clean. What’s more, it is easy to pack up and transport, and it comes in two versions with your choice of either manual or automatic ignition. 

Sources:

  1. “Piezo Ignition.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. November 4, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezo_ignition
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