Best Tailgate Grills: Our Top 5 for the 2020 Season


There is no doubt about it: grilling is the very soul of any rocking tailgating party. And, because of that, you want to make sure you have the very best tailgate grill at your disposal. The very best tailgate grills have three things in common: they are portable, reliable, versatile. That being said, it is also important to balance out those three criteria versus the overall cost of the grill. Our list, below, we believe provides a robust amount of different configurations between portability, reliability, versatility, and price.

Best Tailgating Grills

#1. Weber Smokey Joe Portable Grill

Type: Charcoal
Size: 14.2 x 14.5 x 17
Weight: 9.5 lbs.
Pros: A lightweight, portable grill that provides outstanding grill versatility and taste.
Cons: The legs are not the highest quality and have a tendency to bend over time.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill,Black
2,052 Reviews
Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill,Black
  • Holds up to five burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • Compact and lightweight for grilling on the go

The Weber Smokey Joe Grill is the leader of the pack when it comes to charcoal grilling at a tailgate party. This specific model is lightweight and incredibly portable, allowing you to easily pack it and also place it on a number of different surfaces if needed for cooking purposes. The shell has proven to be extremely durable, even in the roughest of tailgating atmospheres. So, if you are sure to clean and store the grill correctly, you will find that it will last you for years to come. As well, the handle of the Weber Smokey Joe is constructed out of glass reinforced nylon, meaning it is extra strong but also does not transmit heat as much as other grills, thus allowing you to remove the lid without needing a glove. The entire unit is coated in porcelain which prevent rusting and corroding.

However, a draw back of a lightweight and portable grill is useable cooking space. As you can imagine, this tailgate grill is best suited for those smaller gatherings at the ball field. And, as noted in the briefing above, there are reports that the legs of this grill are a bit on the weak side and have, over time, started to bend and misshape.

Despite those drawbacks, though, the Weber Smokey Joe Portable Grill remains the kind of our best tailgating grills list.

#2. Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill

Type: Charcoal
Size: 15.8 x 24 x 16
Weight: 40.5 lbs.
Pros: A heavy-duty grill that burns charcoal hotter and more evenly than other light-steel casted grills.
Cons: The wooden handles get hot and flare up have reportedly burned the paint off the front of the grill.

Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill
94 Reviews
Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill
  • Adjustable fire grate:- Control the heat level at the cooking grate by placing your charcoal pan in one of several preset...
  • Charcoal:- Powered by charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal

This is one heavy grill, weighing in at 40.5 lbs. But, that is because it has insanely high construction quality, made out of steel which allows you to burn the charcoal at higher temperatures and more steadily. Both good things when looking at the best tailgate grills. The temperature gauge on this unit is adjustable, allowing you to adjust the highs and lows according to your needs. While I typically find temperature gauges rather useless on portable grill units like this, I am happy to report that this one is surprisingly accurate and has been for a while now.

As well, I really like the look of this grill. The front-side damper gives it the look of a smoker and is certainly going to attract attention in the tailgate lot.

That being said: it is, again 40.5 lbs. There are certainly pros and cons to that. Like I said above: you do get a more even and thorough burn of the charcoal in this unit. The negative is that it isn’t exactly the easiest thing to pack nor is it going to be something you want to put on a weak-legged table.

All things considered, this is an excellent choice of a tailgate grill if you do not mind the additional weight compared to other united.

#3. Gourmia Electric Charcoal Grill

Type: Electric charcoal
Size: 13.2 x 13.2 x 7.8
Weight: 10.6 lbs.
Pros: A unique and minimalistic design that delivers big flavor.
Cons: While we love the idea of an electric charcoal, it does require you to have a generator as part of your tailgating equipment.

Gourmia GBQ330 Portable Charcoal Electric BBQ Grill - Great for Camping -...
30 Reviews
Gourmia GBQ330 Portable Charcoal Electric BBQ Grill - Great for Camping -...
  • SMOKELESS GRILLING: This mini charcoal BBQ features a double pan grill system, resulting in 90% less smoke for cleaner cooking and...
  • SAME FLAVOR: Enjoy that smoky charcoal grilled taste without having to worry about expensive equipment and high maintenance.

When it comes to the best tailgating grills, you may not see many people include the Gourmia Electric Charcoal Grill on their list. And I guess that is understandable, as it really isn’t one of the “well known” names in the industry like, say, Char-Broil.

But you shouldn’t let that deter you, because this is quite the innovative grill that packs a big punch in a little package. First, by utilizing a unique double-pan grill system, the tailgating grill is able to reduce smoke output by nearly 90%. But, do not fret – because the charcoal rests directly under the food cooking surface, your food will still maintain that great charcoal flavor.

The grill also has a small, battery-operate fan that simply slides out for the cleaning process. The ignition plate, charcoal box, drip tray, and grate all also quickly remove to simplify the cleaning process. The fan helps circulate and evacuate air to allow your food to take on maximum flavor. The unit also includes a travel case, but we have found that the travel case fabric doesn’t stand the test of time very well.

On the other hand, this is one of the smallest grills on our list in terms of cooking surface. Because of that, you will need to be strategic in your food preparations to make sure you have room and prep time for all your different offerings.

#4. Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Gas Grill

Type: Propane
Size: 18 x 17.5 x 11.5
Weight: 5 lbs.
Pros: This is a super-portable and ultra-light weight tailgate grill.
Cons: The drip pan is quite small and we have had issues with it filling up on us quite quickly.

Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill, Red
1,680 Reviews
Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill, Red
  • Portable gas grill with 145-square-inch grilling area and foldaway legs
  • Cooks 8 burgers, 8 steaks, 6 to 10 chicken breasts, or 4 pounds of fish

The Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Gas Grill certainly lives up to its name. It is a super portable and ultra-light tailgate grill that still delivers great performance.

Despite its size, the grill is solidly build. Its small size, obviously, lets you pack it away quite easily in the back of your truck or RV, but the small surface area lets the grill heat up unbelievably quick while also requiring less fuel. So not only is this petit, but also incredibly energy efficient.

The grill has some nice features, including a carrying handle and legs that fold up to make it even smaller for storage. However, there is also a lack of a temperature gauge and, as noted in the brief above, the drip pan on this little guy fills up quite fast if you are grilling something particularly high in fat content (like burgers).

#5. George Foreman Electric Grill

Type: Electric
Size: 22.2 x 20.5 x 13
Weight: 21 lbs.
Pros: A massive 240-square inches of cooking space means you can cook for the entire crowd in the outfield.
Cons: Not exactly small; not easily portable.

George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, Silver, GGR50B
4,441 Reviews
George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, Silver, GGR50B
  • 15+ Servings - It’s tailgate time! The 240 square inches of circular grilling surface lets you make over 15 servings for large...
  • George Tough Nonstick Coating - There’s a lot to love about this nonstick coating; it’s durable, easy to clean, and removes...

We all know what the typical George Foreman Grill is. I personally love it. And I love his version of a tailgating grill as well.

The George Foreman tailgating electric grill includes your typical removable grilling plate, a grease tray, a handy domed lid that makes it seem like the grill is limitless, and an adjustable vent.

The stand itself is a bit on the lower side of quality, unfortunately. It is made out of plastic and aluminum and the legs at the bottom simply clip together. If needed, the stand removes very easily so you can actually place the grill on a table surface or on a truck’s tailgate.

The grill has five heat settings. But, our favorite part, is the mind-blowing 240-square inches of cooking surface. You can easily fit about 15 or 16 good-sized burgers on this surface.

However, with a cooking surface that size comes the issue that the unit is a bit top heavy. While we personally haven’t had a problem with it, there have been reports of the unit toppling over. As well, we tend to agree with the assessment that the power cord could be longer.

Best Tailgate Grills: Things To Consider

As you continue on your hunt through the best tailgate grills, there are a few things you need to take into consideration to make sure that the one you select matches your needs as closely as possible.

Frequency of Use

Because tailgate grill typically go through more wear and tear (being used in adverse outside conditions, etc). you should probably consider going for a more high-quality product. When it comes to the best tailgate grills, it is typically the norm that the better quality products are going to cost you a little more money than the lesser quality products.

Temperature Control Ability

A few of the best tailgate grills we mentioned above have the ability for you to control the temperature. That is a big deal for some, not so much for others. Being able to control the temperature just through vents and dampers is an acquired talent, so be prepared to learn the process if you decide to purchase a tailgating grill without the ability to control the temperature.

Surface Size/Number of Burners

Not all tailgating grill are going to be like the George Foreman above, with its massive cooking surface. Because of that, you have to think about two things: (1.) how many people are you cooking for on a regular basis at your tailgate and (2.) what kind of food are you cooking. Large pieces of meat and larger amounts of people are going to mean you need a large cooking surface. But, do not get a large surface just to have it if you truly do not need it – because that ultimately means burning through more fuel than you need.

Best Tailgate Grills: The Power Source

Personally, we are a fan of charcoal grills. There is nothing quite like the smell of lighting one up and the flavor of the food.

But we don’t use one at our tailgates. Instead, we use an electric grill hooked up to our generator. We simply do not like messing with the spent charcoal afterwards in the parking lot. It is a give and take scenario that you will have to figure out for yourself.

Best Tailgate Grills: Amazon’s Bestsellers

Below we are providing you a table of the bestselling tailgating grills on Amazon. While we may not have reviewed these grills directly, they do sell quite well on Amazon which is typically an indication of consumers being happy with their purchase.

Other Tailgating Reviews

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  2. Best Tailgate Chairs
  3. Best Portable Tailgating Bars

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