10 Best Portable Grills (2022): Charcoal, Propane, Electric & More

It’s big enough to roast a chicken, sear a few large steaks at a time, or fit about six 12-inch skewers. But if you’re making meats and veggies for a family of four, you’re going to be cooking in batches. In practice this is not so easy. Most meats need to rest when they’re done cooking so you have time to do your veggies. In my tests, the Mini Big Green Egg has excellent heat management and, like the larger version, is extremely fuel efficient.

You can find a local store that sells the MiniMax here.

Best grill to charge your devices

The FirePit+ is a sleek, portable mesh box with removable legs, a hibachi-style grill and an ashtray. It uses a Bluetooth-enabled app to precisely control the airflow, which in turn regulates your cooking temperature. Be sure to read my colleague Adrienne So’s full review of the original model for more details, but I went specifically looking to see how it grills, and the answer is: very good.

The biggest drawback to using the FirePit as a grill is its size. It’s big enough to cook for four people, but it’s long and narrow, which makes some things awkward (I don’t recommend trying a whole chicken). It is best suited for grilling kabobs and the like. Think of ‘food on a stick’.

Perhaps the best thing about the FirePit is that after dinner you can lower the fuel rack and turn it into, well, a fire pit. And sure, it can charge your devices, but there’s something vaguely sacrilegious about sitting around the fire and charging your phone.

Test methods

The terms grilling and barbecuing are often used interchangeably, which is fine, but if you’re serious about fire cooking, you’ll want to learn the distinction. Grilling usually means cooking directly on high heat, while barbecue usually refers to cooking on indirect heat for a longer period of time: you grill steak. You barbecue ribs.

I’ve used both methods to test and grill everything from steak and salmon to corn and even kale. (This grilled kale recipe is my go-to for testing how hard it is to clean a grill. It’s delicious but incredibly messy.)

For the charcoal options I also smoked ribs, pork and brisket. If you plan to smoke, I highly recommend investing in some sort of thermometer system. At home, I like SmartFire’s BBQ controller ($375 AUD). It has adapters based on your grill and provides one temperature probe and three food probes. There’s support for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so you can monitor your cook wherever you are. It even has a handy storage case for everything.

That said, when I’m out and about, I usually grab Weber’s Connect Smart Hub ($100). It’s not as advanced as the SmartFire, but it’s more portable and two probes is generally all I need on small grills. I also never cook without my trusty Thermopen One ($105).

Stop using propane bottles

The ubiquitous disposable, green propane bottle is handy, but it’s a huge source of pollution. It’s illegal in many jurisdictions to throw them in the trash, although that doesn’t stop many people, it seems, given the number that end up in landfills each year. Don’t be that person.

Instead, I use this 11-pound (Amazon, $89) refillable propane tank. Outdoor cooking over both stove and grill, three meals a day, an 11 pound tank will last about two weeks. It’s small and light enough to be no more difficult to transport than the four to six 1-pound bottles it replaces.

You can also purchase an adapter ($15) to refill your smaller canisters, although this may not be legal or advisable depending on where you live and your common sense, as you can easily overfill or break the valve. If you live in California, you may also be able to take 1 pound canisters for free refills or exchange empty cans for full ones.

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