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The 10 best portable grills you can buy

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The 10 best portable grills you can buy

Nothing says summer how to cook over open fire. Whether it’s the salty sweetness of lightly charred corn or the rich softness of smoked meat, the warm weather begs us to get outside and light a fire.

This is the time of year when, like a groundhog, the grill begins to peek out of the snow and show his rusty and neglected self. If you need a new grill this year, here’s our guide to the best portable grills. We have researched and tested dozens of them to see which one may be best.

For your other outdoor needs, check out our guides on the best camping gear, best tents, best waterproof jackets, and best binoculars.

Updated May 2024: We added the Skotti grill, some accessories for the Nomad grill, and the Ignik propane growler, and updated prices all the time.

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Best portable charcoal grill

Of all the charcoal grills I’ve tried, the Weber Jumbo Joe strikes the best balance between affordability, features and ease of use. It’s large enough (18.5 inches in diameter) to smoke two ribs or accommodate burgers and corn for six people (admittedly, it was full), but small enough to still have room in the trunk for a cooler and camping supplies. .

It is one of the most versatile grills I have tried. Grilling, barbecuing, smoking – you can do it all with ease. Thanks to its dual vent system (one at the bottom and one at the top), you get the same detailed level of temperature control that you’ll find in Weber’s full-size kettles.

It weighs 22 pounds and has a handle with a bar that sits over the top to keep the kettle and lid together for easy carrying. I threw mine in the back of the car for trips to the lake and the park and it never tipped over. The ash catcher on the bottom makes cleaning less of a hassle by allowing you to throw away the excess without removing the grill grates.

Jumbo Joe has a large following on the Internet. The fans have added thermometersknobs attached to make it easier to open and close vents, attached hanging trash cans, and come up with creative ways to cook taller items, such as beer can chicken.

Although it is not perfect. No thermometer is included and Weber does not make a storage cover for the Jumbo Joe. If you want to cook with indirect heat, you will want to purchase the hinged grill for $40 so you can feed fresh fuel without removing the upper grill, and the $26 Charcoal Basket It is also useful. Do yourself a favor, throw out the lighter fluid and get a charcoal chimney starter ($28).

Smaller alternative:

  • The Weber Smokey Joe Premium costs $46 on Amazon and $57 at Weber. This is our top pick for anyone who doesn’t need the larger Jumbo Joe. The downside is that you lose the bottom ventilation, which means less temperature control. That’s not a big deal unless you’re slow cooking. The Smokey Joe was also more difficult to clean. But if you want a smaller kettle, this is a good option.

Best Deluxe Upgraded Charcoal Grill

The Nomad’s eye-catching suitcase-style stove (8/10, WIRED recommends) is to grills what the Yeti is to coolers: better in every way, but expensive. The Nomad is well built, sturdy, and easy to transport. It’s heavier than the Jumbo Joe at 28 pounds, but in my experience the shape and large handle make it easier to carry. Like the Jumbo Joe, the Nomad uses a dual ventilation system to achieve good airflow even when the lid is closed. The vents, combined with the raised fins on the bottom of the grill (which raise the charcoal allowing air to flow underneath), allow for precise control of high and low temperatures.

The Nomad ships with a single rack, giving you 212 square inches of cooking space, slightly less than the previous Jumbo Joe. In practice, this is not a big difference. I managed to smoke nine chicken breasts and on another occasion I put in two ribs. If you need to grill for a crowd, pick up the second grill for $158, but even without it I never felt cramped while cooking for five (two adults, three hungry kids). For 2024 Nomad has introduced some new accessories, one of which is a must-have: ash and charcoal shovel ($88). The scoop greatly simplifies cleaning your Nomad and, frankly, should be included when purchasing one. The other thing I really like is the Carbon Steel Griddle ($168). It requires seasoning, but once you have it set up, it turns your Nomad into a flat surface that would make a Waffle House chef proud. Ventilation holes around the sides of the iron help maintain airflow and heat. As nice as it is, using the griddle made me realize that what I would really love is a half grill and half griddle option for maximum cooking flexibility. (Technically, you can achieve this by using the grill plate on one half of the grill and the griddle on the other, but that requires twice as much charcoal.)

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