The 9 Best Grills for Tailgating


If you’re hunting for the best grills for tailgating and you have no idea what you’re looking for, you’re in luck today.

All of the grills on our shortlist are compact enough to pop in the trunk of your car, and they are all light enough to lift in and out of the trunk without straining yourself. This means you can start your search knowing that all the grills you’re looking at are portable enough for travel use.

We appreciate that everyone has different preferences when it comes to grill type, so we take account of this by highlighting grills of all types today. This is the first of a handful of things to consider when you’re comparing the best grills for tailgating:

  • Method of grilling: For some purists, nothing can rival a charcoal grill. The smokiness imparted to your food is unbeatable, even if these grills are tricky to use initially, and also messy to clean up. A gas grill, on the other hand, couldn’t be easier to use and keep clean, even if you struggle to achieve that authentic BBQ taste. Electric grills don’t make a good fit for tailgating as you’ll need access to a power outlet. A propane grill is the most versatile choice overall. Seamless ignition, easily adjustable temperature, and ease of use in general make these grills perfect for tailgating. The choice is yours, though
  • Capacity: Tailgating, like any social occasion, tends to attract large crowds. Even if you’re only heading out with a few friends or family, you’ll need to ensure that any grill on your shortlist is not just portable enough, but also packs enough total cooking area for your needs. The total area of grills is expressed in terms of square inches, and we break this down for you in the features tab of each grill so you can readily compare them like-for-like
  • Footprint: Linked to capacity, you’ll also need to consider portability. We have done the hard work for you by ensuring that all the grills on our shortlist are small enough for purpose. Beyond this, you’ll need to set the cooking capacity you desire against overall dimensions to get the best fit for your tailgating needs
  • Temperature control: To get the best results when you’re grilling, you’ll need to be using a grill you can confidently control the temperature of. A charcoal grill comes with vents or dampers. You use these to adjust the airflow and resultantly the temperature. Sometimes, these dampers are indexed, making it easier for you to dial in the temperature. The more vents you have, the more control you’ll have. Controlling the temperature on a liquid propane grill is much easier and these grills are very beginner-friendly overall.
  • Build quality and materials: Think about how often you’ll be using your grill for tailgating. If you only plan to press it into action a few times a year, you don’t need to prioritize build quality as much as regular tailgaters. Cast iron and porcelain enamel are the most efefctive materials used for travel grills. These grills will offer you superb heat retention, and they also ensure that heat is evenly distributed. Aluminum grills are lightweight and well worth considering
  • Cooking grates: Ideally, cooking grates should be made of cast iron. This material works wonderfully for grilling, and it’s also non-stick and easy to clean, especially when treated with porcelain enamel. Look for removable cooking grates to make your life easier when it comes to cleaning up

OK, those simple pointers should be enough to ensure you can navigate our tailgating grill reviews and confidently pick the best model for your needs. If you dislike the idea of cooking with charcoal, don’t be put off using a liquid propane grill. The only thing that counts is finding what works for you, allowing you to focus on socializing instead of laboring over a grill.

Dive in!

The 9 Best Grills for Tailgating

1. Our #1 Pick: Coleman Road Trip Propane Grill



  • Grill type: Liquid propane
  • Grilling area: 285 square inches
  • Dimensions: 30.25 x 19.19 x 16.13 inches

Coleman has a deep bench of highly effective grills, and this propane gas model continues that winning tradition.

The compact grill sits on a classic cart arrangement, allowing you to easily wheel the Coleman around on the campsite or when you’re tailgating.

Despite the compact form, you get a sprawling cooking surface area totaling 285 square inches, making this one of the most spacious travel grills in terms of cooking real estate.

Use the three adjustable burners to easily manipulate the temperature, and start cooking with precision, but without the learning curve or the mess of cooking with charcoal.

You get a thermometer baked in that allows you to monitor the readiness of your grilled treats at a glance.

Kiss goodbye to searching for matches or a lighter and say hello to electronic ignition. This grill will start first time, every time.

There is a classic grill grate included. You can also swap this out for the optional griddle or stove grates, but you’ll need to buy these separately.

Almost all user testimony of this classic tailgating grill are positive, with the exception of a few gripes about the lack of replacement parts for this model.

Things We Like

  • 3 adjustable burners
  • Total heat output of 20,000 BTU
  • Seamless electronic ignition

Things We Dislike

  • No replacement parts available

2. Weber Liquid Propane Grill



  • Grill type: Liquid propane
  • Grilling area: 189 square inches
  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 27 x 16.5 inches

Weber is a name that needs no introduction in the grill space. How does this liquid propane travel grill stand and fall, then?

The key selling point here is the infinite control burners that allow you to take charge of grilling temperature and dial it in with precision.

On the downside, you get just one stainless steel burner, so this is a more limited grill than some on our shortlist. With more burners, you’ll have more scope to use both direct and indirect heat.

As with all the best LP grills, you get a seamless electronic ignition system, eliminating the need for matches or a lighter.

The cooking grate is made from cast iron, so you’ll get years of service from this thing, and it will deliver first-glass results when you’re grilling out.

The lid and body of the grill are made from lightweight cast aluminum. This will lock all the heat inside without weighing you down when you’re tailgating.

The grill comes fully assembled right out the box, so hook up your liquid propane canister and start preparing your food right away.

Things We Like

  • Infinite control burners
  • Push-button ignition
  • Cast iron cooking grate

Things We Dislike

  • Not the largest capacity

3. Cuisinart Portable Propane Grill



  • Grill type: Liquid propane
  • Grilling area: 145 square inches
  • Dimensions: 18 x 17.5 x 12 inches

Cuisinart is a kitchenware specialist that also make some great grills like this portable propane gem.

This tabletop grill is made from alloy steel and finished in a muted matte black. While we appreciate you’re not buying a travel grill primarily for its good looks, it doesn’t hurt when grills look like this.

The size and weight of this dinky unit means it will slip easily into the trunk of your car, and you won’t strain yourself lifting it out either.

At just 145 square inches, you’ll take a hit when it comes to the total cooking area at your fingertips. That said, you can still load on a handful of burgers and hot dogs without overcrowding the grate. The grate is made from porcelain enamel for efficient heat retention and distribution, while also minimizing food splatter.

This grill couldn’t be easier to set up and break down, yet another reason for this being among the best grills for tailgating.

Although we found a few complaints from consumers about this grill being quite awkward to clean, almost all user testimony is positive when it comes to the Cuisinart.

Things We Like

  • Extremely compact form factor
  • Easy to set up and disassemble
  • 3-year limited warranty

Things We Dislike

  • Quite tricky to clean

4. Weber Liquid Propane Grill



  • Grill type: Liquid propane
  • Grilling area: 280 square inches
  • Dimensions: 25.1 x 51.4 x 26 inches

Next up comes another entry from the inimitable Weber with another traditional liquid propane grill that’s a smooth fit for tailgating duties.

The small and squat grill nevertheless features an impressive 280 square inches of cooking surface area. This offers you enough space for all the family and a couple of guests, despite such a space-saving footprint.

Load your food onto the cast iron cooking grates for maximum efficiency when you’re grilling. The treated surface shouldn’t get smeared with food, and the grate is super-simple to wash, too.

There is a thermometer baked in, but as with all grills, you may find this is slightly imprecise. It’s always worth having a third-party thermometer in your grill supplies for good measure.

On either side of the grill, you get a spacious folding table, perfect for prepping or serving your food.

This grill is great for tailgating, but if you need to carry it far then you might find it rather too heavy for comfort.

Things We Like

  • Generous grilling area
  • Integrated thermometer
  • Cast iron grates coated with porcelain enamel

Things We Dislike

  • Reasonably heavy

5. Traeger Grills Wood Pellet Grill



  • Grill type: Wood pellets
  • Grilling area: 184 square inches
  • Dimensions: 20 x 21 x 13 inches

Traeger is the pioneer of wood pellet grills, and they continue to make a wide range, including this compact Ranger model ideal for tailgating or camping.

Load your chosen wood pellets into the 8-pound hopper to impart a smokiness to your food you might have thought was only possible with a charcoal grill.

The set-and-forget nature of the fuel makes this a great candidate for a tailgating grill. All you’ll need to do is pile your food onto the cast iron griddle and you’ll be free to cook a great variety of food, including perfectly seared steaks.

The total cooking surface area of just under 200 square inches gives you enough room for grilled snacks for the whole family.

A timer built in alerts you when your food is ready so you can relax and enjoy the game instead of constantly fussing over the grill.

If you’re a complete newcomer to grilling, you may find the Traeger slightly difficult to use at first. If you need a more beginner-friendly grill, explore some of the many others we review today. For more experienced grillers, you can’t beat this Traeger Ranger.

Things We Like

  • Unbeatable brand image
  • Cast iron griddle
  • Smoke food slow and low

Things We Dislike

  • Not beginner-friendly

6. Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill



  • Grill type: Charcoal
  • Grilling area: 160 square inches
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 19.5 x 15 inches

Another entry from grill specialist Weber up next in the form of the Go-Anywhere charcoal grill. For many people, there’s no substitute for cooking with charcoal, even when camping or tailgating. Weber ensures you don’t need to compromise, even when you need a grill portable enough for travel use.

The porcelain-coated cast iron grill sits on plated steel legs for a stable cooking environment and the perfect travel grilling companion. Remove the grill from the legs for ease of transportation.

Although you get one of the most compact grills for tailgating, you’ll need to take a hit when it comes to the cooking surface area. At just 160 square inches, space is limited, but you’ll still have room for a handful of burgers and hot dogs.

Tweaking the temperature couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is adjust the dampers to dial in the airflow and heat to your requirements.

The lid is lockable to prevent any spillage and mess in transit and completing a winning package from a legitimate grill legend.

Things We Like

  • Cook 6 burgers at a time
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Lockable lid

Things We Dislike

  • Quality control issues reported

7. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Liquid Propane Grill



  • Grill type: Liquid propane
  • Grilling area: 200 square inches
  • Dimensions: 23.7 x 15 x 13.6 inches

Char-Broil is another household name in the grilling segment, and this TRU-infrared grill powered by liquid propane shows why their products fly off shelves the world over.

The core benefit of cooking with infrared is that you’ll experience far fewer flare-ups than with other cooking methods. Beyond this, your food is also heated consistently and evenly.

The aluminum build gives you a corrosion-free and lightweight grill ideal for use on the go. The frame is designed to withstand plenty of rough and tumble, and the grill sits on legs for a stable foundation. A carrying handle completes the ultimate travel package. The lid latches into place to streamline transportation, too.

The cooking grate is stainless steel, and a handful of users complain about food sticking to this. You get 200 square inches of space for all your favorite grilled foods.

All you’ll need is a small canister of liquid propane and you can cook out to your heart’s content, whether you’re tailgating, camping, or out in the RV. Overall, this is one of the best grills for tailgating out there, and it comes from a brand you can trust.

Things We Like

  • Fewer flareups with infrared
  • Stainless steel cooking grates
  • Rugged and built to last

Things We Dislike

  • Food sticks to grates

8. Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill



  • Grill type: Charcoal
  • Grilling area: 240 square inches
  • Dimensions: 19.75 x 20.5 x 19.75 inches

As you can clearly see by now, Weber is a dominant force when it comes to affordable, effective grills. This compact 18-inch Jumbo Joe is yet another great travel grill from this stable.

Both the lid and the bowl of the kettle-style grill are made from porcelain enamel, a material renowned for its heat retention and heat distribution qualities.

Made from plated steel, the cooking grate may not be made from the most common material for grill grates, but the result is surprisingly good. The grate is also removable and straightforward to clean.

The spacious 240-square inch cooking area offers you enough space for up to 8 burgers in one go, ideal if you have lots of hungry friends and family clustered around your car.

You can tuck the lid into the lid lock area to avoid contaminating it by placing it on the ground. The aluminum ash catcher slides out for ease of ash disposal.

Considering portability, cooking surface area, and overall performance, the Weber Jumbo Joe is a strong contender for the best grill for tailgating.

Things We Like

  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl
  • Cooking grate is plated steel
  • Aluminum ash catcher

Things We Dislike

  • Reported customer service issues

9. Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill



  • Grill type: Liquid propane
  • Grilling area: 160 square inches
  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 21 x 14.5 inches

To round out our showcase of the best grills for tailgating, we have one more Weber model, this time a liquid propane model that punches above its negligible weight.

Made from robust stainless steel, this dinky grill is cut out for sustained use in outdoor conditions without rusting out or letting you down prematurely.

As with all the best propane grills, you benefit from a push-button ignition system allowing for a flame-free startup every time.

The cooking surface area is pretty limited, so this grill doesn’t make the smoothest fit for larger families or anyone planning more ambitious cookouts.

The grates are made from porcelain enamel for the optimum marriage of non-stick properties, heat retention, heat distribution, and ease of cleaning.

Things We Like

  • Rugged stainless steel build
  • Super-simple ignition system
  • Porcelain-enameled cooking grates

Things We Dislike

  • Not the largest cooking area


1) What is tailgating?

Tailgating is a mainly American phenomenon involving grilling food before or after football games and concerts. You bring your own food and drink to a tailgate, and you share this with others. It is widely accepted that tailgates are non-business occasions, so refrain from pitching others with your latest venture. Instead, focus on getting the most out of your new grill!

2) How can I ensure tailgating goes as smoothly as possible?

Preparation is key. Plan and organize your menu in advance. Do any basic prep work the day before tailgating. Keep the menu simple. Less is definitely more when you’re tailgating. List everything you need and check the items as you load up the car. Don’t forget paper plates and cutlery. Ensure you include all the vital extras like first aid kit, trash bags, and sun lotion. Arrive at the venue 4 hours before the event and stay for an hour or two after. Make sure you locate a prime parking spot. Look for a green area near the end of the parking area.

3) Are gas grills the same as propane grills?

Yes, these terms are used interchangeably. That said, a gas grill can be fueled by natural gas as well as liquid propane.

4) Is it safe to use a propane grill?

Yes, when used in line with recommendations, liquid propane grills are considered safe. If a gas buildup occurs, though, there is a high chance of an explosion.

5) Are gas grills better than charcoal grills?

It depends on your preferences and how you’re making your decision. Gas grills are easier to use and clean, and they’re also typically cheaper. If you’re looking for that authentic smokiness, though, there’s absolutely no substitute for a charcoal grill, as long as you don’t mind the mess and the slight learning curve.


If you pitched up here at Hempen Hill today without any idea of how to choose the best grills for tailgating, our brief guide should have changed that.

All the models on our shortlist today qualify as portable enough to sling in the trunk of a car for tailgating. The only factors you’ll really need to focus on, then, are your preferred cooking method and the total surface area of the grill. We review grills in all different types from charcoal to liquid propane, and we also include travel grills in different sizes to suit.

Before you head off, take a moment to bookmark our blog and be sure to pop back soon. We have an avalanche of great content coming your way, and we update our blog daily See you soon!

4.8/5 - (6 votes)

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