You crave grilled food while camping on the riverfront with a spectacular countryside background, a sky full of sparkling stars, and a bonfire to keep you warm. There are chilled beer and canned food, but you still desire to eat something special like grilled cheese sandwiches or a French toast. Fortunately, you can look for portable grills that are not too expensive. They heat rapidly, easy to use, and are a great choice for outdoor barbecue parties.
These outdoor cooking appliances are fueled by natural or propane gas. Every model has a lidded cook box, which is mounted in a wheeled cart. The burners are made of metal that emits small flames and radiates the heat upwards when lighted. For moving needs, you can choose a propane model, as it draws fuel from transportable tanks. The burner is connected to the tank with a regulator and hose. Natural gas models get connected to your gas supply line.
Portable grills are in demand, which has inspired manufacturers to add innovative models. Buyers are overwhelmed with the range of options to choose from. There are variety of shapes, types, and sizes of grills available, so the purchase decision will depend on the purpose and budget. The different gas grill types include tabletop grills, cart grills, griddle [flat-top], and even fixed grills [for in-built kitchen patio]. Keep reading for our in depth guide and our Top recommendations. In a rush no problem check out our top picks in the below table
What features to consider while buying a portable gas grill?
Cheap models with substandard quality do exist. So, if you consider the cheap model, it is essential to get familiar with the basic features necessary in a grill.
Even if you are shopping for portable grills, size matters. It has to accommodate the food amount you plan to cook. Ask yourself the following questions –
- Is it for family or personal use?
- Are you going to carry it for camping or backpacking?
- How much food is needed to cook at the same time?
Cooking for one person or bachelor means a single-burner grill is sufficient. If you plan to cook for a large group, then a minimum 2-burner grill is necessary. For fast cooking, a big grill is the best option. For carrying it in a backpack or camping, a small grill is fine.
- Small gas grill – The cooking surface is 26” in width, features 1 to 3 burners.
- Medium gas grill – Cooking space is between 27” – 33” in width, features 2 to 4 burners.
- Large gas grill – The cooking surface is between 34” – 42” in width, features 3 to 6 burners.
- Extra-large – The cooking surface is 43” in width, features 4 to 8 burners.
Number of burners
Gas grills with more than 3 burners are big, and moving it is not easy, so if you want one for camping, then choose1 or 2 burner model. Even your outdoor space size needs to be considered besides the people you plan to feed. A small grill with 1 or 2 burners is a great option for a small family, whereas 3 burners can sufficiently cook for a small group of friends on weekends. For large parties, you can look for an extra-large grill with more than 5 burners.
The material used to design the gas grill matters because it must be capable to handle the extreme temperature consistently coming out from the burner/s. The materials you will come across are –
- Cast iron – Its downside is that it is heavy and needs a regular paint job to avoid rusting.
- Cast aluminum – It does not rust but is vulnerable to discoloration.
- Stainless steel – Stainless steel is a great option as it is rust-free and durable.
- Steel grate is commonly used as it is affordable, but it starts to chip on use, which leads to food getting stuck on the grill.
- Cast iron grates are the heavy, and best choice as food cooks fast because a lot of heat gets retained.
- Porcelain grates are coated, so it chips when used and gets exposed to moisture, which develops rust over time.
You can find gas grill models ranging from cheap to affordable to expensive. For those who need basic features without any bells and whistles, they can buy them at affordable rates. Grills with the latest features are expensive.
- Portable gas grills – $100 to $200.
- Small units with wheels – $200 to $500
- Full size with 4 to 6 burners – more than $1000
Extra features like side tables, smart & in-built digital thermometer, infra-red searing elements, etc. come with a huge price tag.
Your grilling style will determine the kind of model you choose. For example, if you are looking for steak-house level searing marks, then choose the all-infrared grill.
If you prefer slow smoking, then opt for charcoal/gas combo grills. For an outdoor entertainer, an internal stadium lighting or control knobs with an LED lighting grill can dazzle the guests. Multiple accessorizing options can help to magnify your cooking horizons.
You need to invest in a basic toolset like a wire brush to clean the grate, tongs, spatula, kitchen scissors, grill fork, and food brush to spread the sauces. Other accessories you can look for is a smoker box and wood chips that help to add tasty smokiness to the food.
Rotisserie hands-off grilling accessory roasts slowly, as you rotate the food over infrared heat. Grills racks and roasters offer extra space for grilling large meat pieces. Ceramic pizza stones pull moisture from your dough, and you get a golden and crispy crust. BBQ aprons and high-heat gloves are essential for safety and style.
Don’t prioritize on BTU
Many people feel that BTU is directly associated with heat output. It is a part of the equation. 1 BTU [British thermal unit] measures the energy needed to heat one pound of water by 1°F. It helps to find out the time taken by a propane burner to heat 60-pound of water.
It does not tell much about grill performance. Therefore, concentrating on BTU, look for temperature range in the grill. The grill that reaches a max temperature at a low BTU count is fuel-efficient.
Our pick for the 5 best budget friendly portable gas grills
Some budget-friendly gas grill models are listed below. Each one has its pros and cons. You can look through their features and make an educated buying decision.
Megamaster 820-0033M Stainless Steel Propane Gas Grill
Highlights of Megamaster 820
- The grill is designed from stainless steel, so it is extremely durable and rust-free.
- With little maintenance, you can extend its lifespan.
- Inside the gas grill, you get 199 sq. inch of cooking surface.
- You can control the two burners with a couple of push & turn ignition knobs.
- Each burner offers 8,000 BTU.
- It has a 16” stainless steel firebox along with 2 flame tamers for even heat distribution on the cooking space essential for even cooking.
- A durable lid with a locking system helps to keep away the dust, when not in use.
- Foldable and robust legs help to elevate the gas grill while cooking.
- Easy to use
- Retains heat well
- Strong structure
- The push & turn ignition knobs are a little loose.
Char-Broil Classic 360 the 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill
Highlights of Char-Broil Classic
- The classic offers a cooking surface of 360 sq. inch.
- The 3-burners distribute 30,000 BTUs of heat on the surface, so no concern about uncooked meat sides.
- Porcelain grates of 170 sq. Inch offers sufficient space to cook more than 10 burgers.
- The inline burner is made from stainless steel material.
- The firebox and steel lid is porcelain coated so it can handle the tough outdoor climate.
- Side shelves help in meal preparation.
- Piezo ignition system helps to start instantly with a push.
- Quick start-up.
- Spacious grill space.
- Sturdy construction.
- Easy clean-up.
- The 6” cart-style wheels allow for easy mobility
- Side tables are stationary, so it will need space to store.
- Assembling takes time
Royal Gourmet PD 1300 23.6” Tabletop Grill
Highlights of Royal Gourmet PD1300
- Durable and rust-free because of stainless steel construction.
- The grilling surface is 325.9 sq. inch including, three burners allowing you to control each one independently using the panel.
- It produces 27,000 BTU of heated flames sufficient for even food cooking.
- Ignition is quick
- The grease cup collects the residual oil, which makes the cleanup task easy.
- Not-slip feet that offer more stability while in use.
- Cooks a lot of food at once, so saves your time.
- The griddle is sturdy, non-sticky, and porcelain-coated.
- No issues about food sticking
- Decent grease drain hole
- Lightweight and easy to carry on the terrace, balcony, or garden
- Available only in a griddle form
Weber 50060001 Q1000 Propane Grill
Highlights of Weber Q1000
- It is a small, single-burner gas grill with 8,500 BTU.
- It has a 189 sq. inch surface, sufficient to cook for a bachelor or a couple.
- Porcelain-coated cooking grills.
- Aluminum body and lid.
- It is strong, and with proper care, can last for years.
- A split grate allows grilling and griddling.
- Small and portable.
- No need to assemble because it is a single unit.
- It offers flexibility to griddle cook or grill.
- Heats quickly
- Small cooking space.
- Single burner, so you can cook one food at a time.
Cuisinart CGG-180-T Propane Grill
Highlights of Cuisinart CCG-180T
- The grilling area is 145 sq. Inch and can cook 8 steaks, burgers, or chicken breasts.
- The stainless-steel burner distributes 5,500 BTU heat across the porcelain-enameled grate evenly.
- Unfold able aluminum legs can be set up quickly.
- The integrated lid lock allows keeping it secure from prying kids.
- Briefcase style allows for easy storing and transportation.
- Drip tray for catching oily or greasy or watery run-offs.
- Control knob with in-built ignition feature.
- Use it as a tabletop or free-standing grill.
- Easy to keep clean
- Carry bag
- Even with cast iron cooking space and stand, the appliance weighs 17 pounds only.
- Grilling greasy food causes smoke or flare-ups.
- A flimsy lid latch can cause an issue after a few uses.
All the above grills have their pros and cons. The one that is best depends on your preference and purpose? Each one is budget-friendly offering basic features needed from a gas grill. You can customize your grills to stretch your cooking horizon. Portable grills offer convenience to move, store, and clean.
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