The Best Tailgate Grill (Guide) – 2016 Reviews

It’s a cool, calm Autumn day and your favorite team has a game tonight. To get yourself excited for the game, you and your friends are tailgating in the stadium parking lot. You have your drinks. You have your music. But what you don’t have is hot food.

What you need is a tailgate grill. These grills are compact and portable, capable of being carried from place to place with ease. Allowing you to cook food in small areas, they are perfect for making hamburgers, hotdogs, and other foods before a big game.

Compare: The 10 Top Rated Tailgate Grills of 2016

What exactly is a Tailgate Grill?

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A tailgate grill is a grill that can be easily transported to various types of get-togethers such as pre-game tailgates. Undersized and light when compared with standard grills, they are easy to store into your car, and are capable of being operated in tight quarters.

Available in all fuel formats, including charcoal, propane, and more, tailgate grills are often accompanied by small, compact fuel sources, such as miniature propane tanks. If you’re looking to get out to the stadium parking lot in order to have some food and fun before the game starts, a tailgate grill is a vital piece of equipment to have.

Related: The Best Gas Grill (Guide)

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Tailgate Grill?

If you’re into tailgating, a tailgating grill would be very useful to you. These types of grills have a huge advantage over standard grills when it comes to grilling in public areas. Because they are small and compact, they are very easy to transport from place to place.

Where tailgate grills pale in comparison to standard grills is in their size. Because they are compact, they are not capable of grilling large amounts of food at once. They are more appropriate for grilling a hamburger or two at a time.

Also See: The Best Charcoal Smoker (Guide)

Who are the Contenders for Best Tailgate Grill?

Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill

A propane gas grill with an 8,500 BTU burner, the Weber 386002 packs a lot of power in a compact cookbox. Adorned with legs that are made of a tough polymer material, it is both highly durable and easy to carry. Its cast-iron cooking grate is enameled with porcelain, keeping it hot and consistent over long periods of time, and helping to make it the best tailgate grill on the market today.

Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

Measuring in at 19 inches x 10 ¼ inches x 8 ¼ inches, and weighing around 32 pounds, the Lodge L410 is a compact and easy-to-carry portable grill. It’s powered by charcoal and possesses a high-quality, Hibachi-style cooking grate. With a draft door that helps to regulate heat, it provides you with a precise and constant burn.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

With porcelain-enameled exterior coating, the Smokey Joe is designed to withstand poor weather conditions. Weighing in at a miniscule 9.5 pounds, this charcoal grill is beyond easy to transport from place to place. A glass-reinforced nylon handle makes it easy to remove the grill’s lid at any point in time.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Tailgate Grill

The primary thing to consider when looking for the best tailgate grill is convenience. You want to be able to transport it from place to place with as little hassle as possible. This means that big grills are out of the question, and that smaller grills are what you should be looking for. However, there is more to a great tailgate grill than just size and transportability. There are several other factors to consider, such as fuel type, durability, and the quality of the grill’s burner.

Portability
The absolute most important aspect of a tailgate grill is that it’s able to be transported from one place to another with little trouble or hassle. You don’t want to have to lug around a giant propane grill with you every time you cook out in public. Finding a lightweight grill with rubber-gripped handles will ensure that it can be easily transported.

Fuel Type
In general, grills are fueled by three different types of fuel: charcoal, propane, and gas. Each fuel type offers its own benefits and drawbacks to the function of the grill as well as to the taste of the food being grilled. Though propane is more convenient for its ability to start a grill quickly, you might prefer the taste that charcoal is able to produce in food. Pick at your own discretion.

Durability
As with any product, durability is something that you must consider when making a purchase on a tailgate grill. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a grill that’s just going to give up on you in a few month’s time. Because tailgate grills are meant to be outside, they might be exposed to poor weather. You want to make sure that your grill is resistant to rain and other extreme weather conditions.

Burner Quality
Obviously if you’re going to be cooking food on a grill, you want to make sure that its burner works adequately. If you purchase a propane grill, you probably won’t have much trouble with heat retention and consistency. But if you purchase a charcoal grill, you’re going to want to make sure that it allows you to vent heat so that you can alter temperatures and keep the burn consistent.

Portability

Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill

Weighing in at around 28 pounds and measuring in at 20.5 inches x 27 inches x 25.5 inches, the 386002 is very compact for a propane grill. Accommodating a small propane tank, and possessing comfortable plastic handles, it is beyond easy to pick up and move from place to place.

Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

Measuring in at 19 inches x 10 ¼ inches x 8 ¼ inches, and weighing in at 32 pounds, the Lodge L410 is very easy to handle and take from place to place. A metal wire handle makes it simple to pick up quickly with one hand, allowing you to carry it along with other items.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

Weighing 9.5 pounds, and measuring in at 15.6 inches x 15.6 inches x 9 inches, the Smokey Joe is ridiculously lightweight, compact, and easy to carry. Where it falls short of the other two grills is that it has no handle with which to transport it.

Fuel Type

Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill

The Weber 386002 is fueled by propane, making it easy to start on command whenever you need it. This makes it ideal for tailgate situations where you’re limited on space and time. To make it as portable as possible, it makes use of miniature propane tanks measuring in at either 14.1 ounces or 16.5 ounces.

Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

The Lodge L410 runs on charcoal which will necessitate having to carry a bag of charcoal around with you everywhere you bring it. Like all charcoal grills, it will take a little more time to get started than you would find with propane grills. However, if you prefer charcoal-cooked meat, this is the best tailgate grill for you.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

The Smokey Joe is fueled by charcoal and contains a rather large container under the cooking grate in which charcoal can be placed. Though it can’t get a consistent flame burning as fast as a propane grill can, its ability to control the heat of charcoal through venting makes it very valuable.

Durability

Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

Made out of solid cast-iron, the Lodge L410 is built like a tank. This makes it great for outdoor settings where there’s a risk of it falling off tables and scraping against the cement ground. Also, because it’s made out of cast-iron, it’s very easy to clean.

Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill

The 386002’s exterior is made of cast-aluminum and has a glass-reinforced nylon frame, giving it great strength and durability. Its weather-resistant handle protects it from the elements, making it safe to have outside in the rain on dreary days.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

With a porcelain-enameled coating on its exterior, the Smokey Joe does a superb job of withstanding poor weather by preventing rusting and fading. Its legs are a little flimsy, but with a 10 year warranty, it gives you very little reason to worry.

Burner Quality

Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill

A 189-inch cooking area gives the Weber 386002 ample room to grill burgers, hotdogs, or any other food you’re looking to enjoy before the game. The grill’s simple push-button ignition lights an 8,500-BTU stainless steel burner that gets hot quickly, and that provides a consistent burn throughout the grilling process.

Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

With a cooking grate measuring in at 17 ¼ inches x 9 inches, the Lodge L410 isn’t as big as the Weber 386002, but still provides quite a bit of room to grill anything you need. Capable of being set at two different heights, you can also alter the temperature of the grill by using its draft door. The cast-iron grating provides a constant and consistent burn that retains heat over long periods.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

The Smokey Joe’s cooking grate measures in at 14.5 inches in diameter, making it big enough for grilling around six hamburger patties at a time. To help control the overall heat of the grill, its lid includes an air vent that can be manipulated to alter temperatures. So, though it’s not quite as easy to control as the Lodge L410, it still provides a very consistent burn.

Conclusion: Our Tailgate Grill Reviews

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill – Best Cheap

weber-10020-smokey-joe-14-inch-portable-grillAvailable at an affordable price, the Smokey Joe is a great charcoal grill for taking to tailgates and other outdoor get-togethers. With a 14 ½ inch diameter cooking surface, it provides you with plenty of room for grilling meat while sacrificing nothing in the way of portability. Its porcelain-enameled coating protects it from rain and other sources of precipitation, staving off rust and early deterioration. If you’re looking for a tailgate grill that offers high quality at a low price, you should definitely consider the Smokey Joe.

Pros:

  • Safe against precipitation
  • Extremely lightweight

Cons:

  • No carry handles
  • Has trouble maintaining a consistent temperature

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Fox Outfitters Quick Grill Medium: Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill – Best for the Money

quick-grill-medium-original-folding-charcoal-bbq-grillWith the ability to be folded compactly, the Quick Grill offers great portability and storage benefits at a very reasonable price. Made of stainless steel, it is capable of burning both wood and charcoal. With a cooking surface measuring in at 12 inches x 12 inches, it allows you to grill a great deal of food compared to other portable charcoal grills. If you’re looking for a ridiculously portable tailgate grill at a reasonable price, you should take a look at the Fox Outfitters Quick Grill.

Pros:

  • As portable of a grill as you will find
  • Comes with a carrying case

Cons:

  • Slightly flimsy construction
  • Doesn’t come with clamps to attach cooking surface to legs

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Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill – Best Overall

weber-386002-q-100-portable-189-square-inch-8500-btu-liquid-propane-gas-grillThe premier tailgate grill currently on the market is the Weber 386002 Q 100. Fueled by propane, it makes use of a compact tank that is easy to transport and that doesn’t get in the way. With a porcelain-enameled cooking grate, it’s very durable, and provides a clean, consistent flame. Weather-resistant and large enough to grill about 6 burger patties at a time, it’s the best tailgate grill you’re going to find.

Pros:

  • Very compact for a propane grill
  • Weather-resistant
  • Easy to start

Cons:

  • A little heavy

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All in all

There’s no better way to get ready for a sporting event than by tailgating. To make your tailgating experience as positive as possible, you need a tailgating grill. These grills are compact, easy to operate, and highly portable.

Small, but powerful grills such as the Weber 386002 Q 100 Portable 189-Square-Inch 8500-BTU Liquid-Propane Gas Grill can be operated seamlessly in cramped areas. Want to make the most out of your tailgate party? Purchase a tailgate grill.