The 4 Best Tabletop Grills
Nothing beats a good sear, and since the best tabletop grills are both portable and easy to use, they make achieving those mouth-watering grill marks easier. But, since there are tons of options for portable grills, it's important to consider which type works best for you before you buy. For example, a common complaint of compact, mobile grills is they don't get quite as hot as a larger unit with more power. If you find you need something warmer, consider a wood-fired grill that can really crank up the heat. Or if you'd prefer something that doesn't require wood chips, pellets, or charcoal, there are plenty of gas and electric options that can get the job done.
Another thing to consider is the kind of crowd you're cooking for and where you plan to do your grilling. If you're only cooking for a few people at a tailgate, be sure to check out a more compact, space-saving option that's still big enough to cook up a few hot dogs. But if you know you'll be BBQing for the entire neighborhood picnic, a big option with more heating power is probably a better bet.
Gas or electric? Smoke-free or wood-fired? It can be tough to pick exactly which grill you need. Here's a list of some of the best tabletop grills on the market to get you started.
1. The Overall Best, All Things Considered
How much cooking space is there? 205 square inches of cooking space with a 105-square-inch warming rack.
What's Great About It: Not only is this stainless steel tabletop grill durable, but it's super efficient, too. Because it's fueled by a propane heating source, you control the amount of gas fueling the grill and can crank up the heat if needed. The entire grill is made from long-lasting stainless steel that won't rust or wear down, so you can take this grill out in any weather without worry. It's fueled by 1-pound propane cylinders (not included) that are completely disposable and easy to find in just about any outdoor store. On top of that, there's a convenient drip tray to prevent flare-ups while you're cooking.
Tradeoffs: While propane is a great heat source, it's not exactly eco-friendly. There are environmental concerns with disposing propane cylinders properly. You'll have to call your city's garbage and recycling departments to take them off your hands, which can be a bit more work.
What Fans Say: Reviewers rave about how quickly this grill cooks, with one reviewer writing, "[F]aster warm-up, and significantly shorter cooking times. Steaks are ready to serve in almost half the time, and chicken breasts are no longer the exercise in patience that they were previously."
2. The Most Affordable
How much cooking space is there? 165 square inches. (The circular cooking grate is 14.5 inches in diameter.)
What's Great About It: This affordable charcoal tabletop grill heats food evenly without rusting or wearing down. While the grill itself is truly budget-friendly, charcoal grills like this one also tend to be more affordable in the long run, because buying charcoal to fuel the fire is less expensive than purchasing gas. Both the lid and bowl and coated with a porcelain enamel so heat is evenly distributed and your food cooks perfectly every time. The lid also locks onto the bowl, making it super easy to transport. Just lock the lid into place, pick it up by the handle, and go. Bonus: Weber includes a book of cooking instructions and recipes with your purchase.
Tradeoffs: While charcoal is budget-friendly, easy to find, and lasts a long time, it doesn't tend to get as hot as a wood-fired or propane grill. It's also more difficult to control the overall temperature with charcoal than other heating sources.
What Fans Say: Most fans agree this newly re-designed grill from Weber is way more efficient than the previous model. One reviewer writes, "This is a [must] have for active grill masters, no mess, bottom is sealed, much better for taking to beach or parks with easy to carry all in one handle."
3. The Smallest In Size, But Also In Grill Space
How much cooking space is there? 153 square inches. (The circular cooking grate is 14 inches in diameter.)
What's Great About It: The benefits of buying a grill that runs on wood, like this wood-fired tabletop grill, are numerous, but grillers tend to prefer them because they deliver a specific taste to the meat, and run completely on natural resources. This one is smaller than many of the other ones on this list and easy to carry with a convenient handle built into the top. The unique blower system distributes the heat internally so that this grill is ready to cook in five minutes or less. It also features five fan settings so you can control the temperature by how fast the fan is blowing. The whole unit comes preassembled so you can just attach the handle and take it on the go.
Tradeoffs: While dry wood can bring a unique flavor to your grilling, it can be hard to find, store, and bring wood with you to use this grill when you're on the go. It's also just big enough for three large steaks, which may not be enough cooking space for a larger gathering.
What Fans Say: People love the way this grill cooks quickly and evenly, and contend that wood-fired BBQ is the only way to cook your burgers. This BBQ judge and avid griller writers, "This is a hot grill, not a low and slow smoker. If you enjoy fire roasted brats, dogs, burgers or steaks, this is the finest grill there is."
4. The Largest In Size & The Safest For Indoor Use
How much cooking space is there? 240 square inches (The grate is roughly 21 by 12 inches.)
What's Great About It: If you plan on using your grill at home, this electric tabletop option is completely safe to use indoors. No charcoal, no propane, no wood — just plug it into an outlet and grill until your heart's content. It features a patented non-stick coating for easy clean-up, and a slightly sloped grate so fats and grease drip right into the tray. There's also a temperature gauge and control so you can adjust the settings according to what you're cooking.
Tradeoffs: While the non-stick coating makes it easier to clean, the grill plate isn't removable. You'll have to scrub it while it's still in the grill.
What Fans Say: Reviewers love that they can grill indoors with this unit, especially if they live in colder climates. After moving across the country, one reviewer insisted on buying this grill, writing, "Even though I have the space for whatever grill I want for the past year, I continued to go to "George" for my grilling needs."
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.