Camping and grilling often go hand in hand. If you want to enjoy a nice hot meal while you’re camping out and enjoying nature, then you need to use the best camping grills. The quality and type of grill you choose can have a major impact on your cooking and camping experience. The right type of grill can easily whip up the perfect amount of food to feed all of your hungry campers, and it’ll offer cooking efficiency and even heat distribution. If you’ve never purchased a camping grill before, then this guide can help you choose the right type and size you’ll need for your next camping trip, based on the types of features you need, how many people you’ll be cooking for, and what your budget is like. I’ve also tried out several top-selling models, narrowing it down to seven models that have what it takes to provide a fast and efficient cooking experience when you’re camping out in the backcountry. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart, which includes each grill, their top features and how each model rated.
Camping Grills Comparison Chart
Coleman Coleman RoadTrip 225 Stand-Up Grill
This portable propane grill offers up a total of 11,000 BTUs, for the type of cooking power you need if you’re feeding a large group of hungry campers. This model comes equipped with two adjustable burners that provide excellent temperature control and a large grilling area that measures in at 225 square inches. This grill is highly portable and features a fast and easy set up, thanks to the durable quick-fold legs and wheels. The grill also fires up instantly, due to the push-button ignition, which offers matchless lighting. This grill is compatible with 16.4-ounce propane canisters.
- Highly portable
- Easy to set up
- Large cooking surface
- Two burners
- Legs are not adjustable
This model can be stored upright, so it can fit into tight spaces, making it highly portable and easy to haul and transport. The swappable cooktop allows you to cook over a griddle or cast-iron grate, for superior versatility. If you’re looking for a model that’s highly portable, versatile, and designed to cook for larger groups of campers, then hit that buy now button.
PUPZO Liquid Propane Grill
This compact grill comes with a couple of burners and features an innovative dual design that allows you to use it as a grill and a stove. The cooking surface is rather small, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a grill that you can use to prepare meals for a large group of campers. The grill’s surface is nonstick, for easier cleanup, which will be a huge selling point for most campers. The portable design includes a carrying handle for easier transport and compact housing that allows the grill to fit inside most trunks.
- Detachable legs
- Two burners
- Compact design
- Wind shields
- Low price
- Small cooking surface
This model may be small, but it’s loaded with some great features, including two burners, a nonstick grill, wind block panels that will shield the burners from high winds, and adjustable controls that allow for precise temperature control.
This lightweight, compact grill is highly portable, easy to use, and designed to handle preparing food for up to three people.
Char- Broil Standard Portable Propane Gas Grill
This compact, portable little propane grill is perfect for camping trips and RVing. The foldable leg design makes this model easy to haul, store, and transport. The legs are designed to fold over on the top of the grill and will lock the lid in place, so the grill stays safe and secure during transport. The moderately large 187 square inches of cooking space allow you to prepare food for up to six people, which is surprising, considering the grill’s compact design. The grill is also pretty powerful, offering up to 11,000 BTUs and it’s compatible with 14.1- or 16.4-ounce propane containers.
- Compact design
- Highly portable
- Decent cooking surface size
- Takes a long time to heat up
This model features a high-quality steel construction and a high-temperature, durable finish that will prevent corrosion and rust, easily extending the life of the grill. Lightweight, durable, and highly portable, if you’re looking for a model that’s easy to haul on your next hiking or camping trip, this model is it.
Weber 51060001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
This latest portable grill by Weber is one of their best-selling camping grills. It features 8,500 BTUs, with a large cooking surface that measures in at 189 square inches. The body of the grill is made out of cast aluminum, while the cooking grates are made out of cast-iron with a porcelain enamel coating. The grill also comes with an infinite control burner valve setting and easy-start electronic ignition, so you can instantly fire up this grill and precisely control the cooking temperature. The grill itself is efficient, durable, and low maintenance.
- Made out of cast aluminum
- Large cooking surface
- Electronic ignition
- Does not come with wind shields
- Temperature runs slightly hotter than what the controls read
This model offers excellent heat circulation, efficient heating and warm up time, and features a lightweight design that makes it easy to transport and store. This grill can prepare food for up to six people, comes with nonstick grates, and offers the type of low maintenance design that’s a must for a grill that’s worthy of camping. Overall, this grill is a great buy for both short and longer camping trips and can provide the type of superior cooking efficiency and power that you need when you’re cooking out in the backcountry.
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
If you don’t want to have to haul several canisters of fuel for your camping grill, then a model that runs on charcoal is a great alternative. This latest charcoal grill by Weber is compact, highly portable and features a large grilling area. It also comes equipped with a carry handle, so you can easily transport and haul it. This model can cook up to eight burgers and comes equipped with a porcelain enameled bowl and lid, both of which do an excellent job of retaining heat. The porcelain will not peel or rust. The built-in dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside the grill, however, if you’ve never cooked with a charcoal grill before, then you can definitely expect a learning curve. Additionally, the grill’s tuck and carry lid lock doubles as a lid holder, so you won’t have to place the lid directly on the ground.
- Large cooking surface
- Built-in carry handle
- Retains heat well
- Not beginner friendly
This highly portable travel-friendly charcoal grill is built tough, features an enamel coated bowl and lid, and is designed for cooking out in the backcountry. This model is a great buy if you’re looking for a simple portable grill that offers a large cooking surface and durable construction. While it may not come with any of the fancy features that you’ll find on a gas grill, the basic design and the grill’s overall durability are both huge selling points for campers who prefer to cook with charcoal.
Cuisinart CGG-059 Propane Grill
This compact propane grill offers 146 square inches of cooking space and comes equipped with an enameled steel grate with a nonstick surface. The grate is also dishwasher safe, which will come in handy at the end of the camping season when your grill could definitely use a deep clean. The burner offers 8,000 BTUs of cooking power and is compatible with one-pound propane tanks. The grill also features a lightweight design, weighing in at just ten pounds. The grill comes with a drip tray that will collect drippings and grease, for easy cleanup. Additionally, the model also comes equipped with a built-in gas regulator that will closely monitor the flow of gas from the tank to the grill as you prepare food.
- Three-year warranty
- Grate is dishwasher safe
- Drip tray is very small
This model may be small, but it offers plenty of firepower and offers the type of control over the gas flow that allows you to cook at precise temperatures. The compact, lightweight design makes this grill easy to haul, set up, transport and store. But despite the compact design it offers plenty of cooking space, so you can easily prepare food for up to four people at a time.
Camp Chef Tahoe Deluxe Grill
For some campers, this massive grill that offers three burners with 30,000 BTUs may be overkill, but if you’re feeding a large group of campers, then the 608 square inches of cooking surface it provides will be invaluable, allowing you to cook a larger volume of food, faster. The grill also comes with a three-sided windscreen, so you can prepare food in high wind conditions. Additionally, the burner’s housing limits cold and hot spots, while providing extra wind protection.
- Removable legs
- Three burners
- Large cooking surface
- Flame is very high even when on the low setting
- Housing scratches easily
If you need a grill that can feed an army, this model by Camp Chef delivers. It offers plenty of cooking space, three burners, and a large windshield that’s designed to protect your food as it cooks, preventing the burners from going out while you cook. Of course, the larger size adds to the weight of the grill, so this model isn’t a good choice if you hike several miles a day from campsite to campsite.
Camping Grills Buyer’s Guide
The size and type of camping grill that will work for you can depend on a variety of factors. Are you going car camping? Are you hiking from campsite to campsite or will you be spending several days or weeks in the same spot? All camping grills should be highly portable, lightweight, and easy to use. But not all grills are created equal. Some may struggle with heat distribution, may have a design that’s not exactly portable, and others will be a pain to maintain. Before I discuss what features to look for in a camping grill, lets learn more about the benefits they have to offer and why you’ll never go camping again without one.
Benefits of Camping Grills
- Many campers prefer to camp over an open fire. It’s one of the best parts of camping and it allows you to really rough it when you’re out in the middle of the backcountry. But cooking over an open campfire can be very limiting in terms of what you can cook and how quickly you can prepare a meal. If you’re cooking several dishes, you can expect dinner to take over an hour to prepare.
- Cooking over an open fire can be difficult since it’s hard to control the temperature the food cooks at, which can result in undercooked or overcooked food.
- Using a grill will allow you to precisely control the temperature you’re cooking at.
- A gas grill may come equipped with a couple of burners, so you can prepare multiple dishes at the same time.
- These grills are lightweight and highly portable, so transporting them is a cinch.
- You can prepare a wide range of dishes using a camping grill and you can cook them significantly faster compared to preparing a meal over the fire.
- Many of these grills are very affordable and with proper care and maintenance can last for several years.
Now that you know more about the benefits of using a camping grill, and how they can help you prepare meals faster and easier when you’re camping out in the wilderness, it’s time to take a look at all the factors you’ll need to consider before you hit that buy now button.
Below, I’ll begin this buyer’s guide by going over some of the most important features, including heating power, cooking surface size, and fuel options.
Heating power refers to the strength of the flame a burner can deliver. BTUs are often the unit of measurement used. A grill that has a higher BTU rating can perform better than a model with a lower rating. However, a grill with a higher BTU rating will use more fuel compared to a model with a low BTU rating.
Typically, a model that has a high BTU rating will come equipped with more than one burner, although it’s possible to find a single burner grill with a high rating.
Cooking Surface Size
The size of the cooking surface is another important factor to consider, since a larger grill can feed more people at once. Additionally, the size of the cooking area can determine the rate of fuel consumption. A larger cooking surface will consume fuel at a much faster rate, compared to a smaller model. If you’re cooking for four to five people, a grill that measures in at two-hundred square inches should be sufficient. For a larger group of people, you’ll need a grilling surface that measures in at around two hundred and fifty square inches.
A camping grill can use charcoal or gas. Gas grills can use different types of gas, although most will use propane. With a gas powered model, you’ll have to haul canisters of propane. With a charcoal model, you can anticipate a bigger cleanup process when it comes time to pack everything up. Plus, you’ll have to bring along a bag of charcoal briquettes.
Gas-powered models will give you more control over the cooking temperature and are easier to clean and maintain compared to charcoal, however, charcoal grills are more budget-friendly and they infuse food with that rich smoky flavor that many campers love.
How portable a grill is can be a big factor if you’re hiking from campsite to campsite. Heavier grills, even those on wheels, will have trouble making it through the backcountry. A lightweight, highly portable model may be lighter and easier to transport, but these models also often come with very small cooking surfaces.
Some gas-powered models will come equipped with a burner or two. A model with a couple of burners will allow you to cook separate dishes at the same time you’re grilling up meat and veggies. Some grills may only have a single grilling area, especially charcoal grills.
Controlling the temperature on a grill can be tricky, especially when it comes to charcoal grills. For a charcoal grill, you’ll have to control the temperature by moving the charcoal around and making cooler spots. With a gas grill, you’ll have knobs that are similar to the knobs on your stove at home, so controlling the temperature is much faster and simpler.
Most grills will come with grates that are made out of stainless steel, enamel coated steel, or cast iron. Enamel grills can be easier to clean since they have a non-stick surface. Most grills, regardless of the material they’re made out of, will require a good scrub down with a steel brush, before and after each use.
The price can vary from model to model and will depend on the materials the grill is made out of, the cooking surface size, and whether you’re buying a charcoal or gas-powered grill. Often, charcoal grills are more affordable, but they don’t offer the type of precise temperature control that some buyers are looking for. When you’re shopping for a grill, you can expect to come across models that range from $50 up to $250.
How to Use a Camping Grill
- If you’re using a gas grill, make sure you keep the lid or hood up before you light the grill. This will help to prevent the gas from accumulating under the lid. Next, switch the burner on the highest setting, then push the ignition button. Do this repeatedly until the burner is lit. With some models, you may need to press the button several times before the burner ignites. Once all the burners are lit, you can adjust the heat to the proper temperature, depending on the type of food you’re preparing. Many grilling pros recommend allowing the grill to preheat for approximately fifteen minutes.
- If you have a gas grill, make sure you bring along plenty of canisters so you don’t run out of fuel on your trip. Always bring along two more than you anticipate needing.
- For safety reasons, never leave the gas tank valve open when you’re not using the grill, this can increase the chances of a gas leak. Always switch the valve off as soon as you’ve finished cooking.
Firing Up A Grill
Gas grills can be very easy to start, but charcoal grills can be a little trickier. By following the methods below, you can easily start your grill, in a matter of minutes.
- I recommend using the chimney method. You’ll begin by pouring charcoal into a vertical chimney. Place the fire starters at the very bottom of the chimney. The charcoal will catch fire gradually.
- With the lighter fluid and pyramid stacking method, you’ll begin by stacking the charcoal into a pyramid. Next, spray some lighter fluid and light the charcoal. The charcoal should then be spread out. Place the grate back on the grill and start grilling once the charcoal turns white. Avoid spraying more lighter fluid once the charcoal is already lit.
- The easiest method for starting a charcoal grill is using matchless charcoal. This method only requires you to stack the charcoal and an accelerant or fire starter. You won’t need to use any lighter fluid. Once the charcoal and fire starter are in place, all you have to do is press the ignition button and the grill will be ready to go in ten to fifteen minutes.
How to Clean a Camping Grill
- If you can’t give your grill a good scrubbing at the campsite, then make sure you do so before storing it away for the season, otherwise you’ll have a rust problem on your hands.
- If you have a gas grill, first disconnect the gas line.
- Next, you’ll disassemble the grill and soak it in water. Take the grill apart. This can include the metal plates, grates, and side panels. Prepare soapy warm water in a tub or bucket and soak the removable parts.
- Clean the drip pan and under the hood. While the removable parts are soaking you can scrub down the inside of the lid. For this job, use some foil and a brush with tough bristles. Pay attention to any areas that have an accumulation of smoke residue. Use some wet paper towels to wipe off any excess water after you’ve finished scrubbing.
- If the drip pan on the grill is removable, remove it and dump out the grease into a garbage bag. Make sure you wipe away any remaining grease using a damp cloth or paper towels. Place the drip pan in a bucket with warm soapy water and allow it to soak for twenty minutes.
- Go back to the bucket that contains all the removable parts and use a special grill brush to scrub each piece. Pay close attention to any corners and wash away any grease residue. Once you’re done scrubbing, you’ll need to rinse all the pieces in clean water, then allow them to air dry.
- Clean any burners with a steel bristle brush. Make sure the brush is dry since a wet brush can damage the elements. Once you’ve finished scrubbing down the burner, dry it off immediately to prevent any water from penetrating areas inside the burner, which can cause problems when you try to ignite it later on.
- Once you have everything clean, you can replace the metal plates, grates, and drip pan.
- Next, take a wet cloth and wipe down the outside of the grill.
- The best time to clean your grill is right after using it. When the surfaces are still warm, scrubbing off old food, grease, and grime is much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Should a BBQ Last?
Most people tend to toss their grills out after about three years of use. However, your grill can last significantly longer with proper care and maintenance. Many models can last five to fifteen years before they need to be replaced. But again, this will heavily depend on how well the grill was taken care of.
Do I Need a 2 or 3 Burner Grill?
The number of burners you need depends on how many people you’re planning to cook for and the types of food you want to prepare. A one or two burner grill is perfect for groups of four to five people, while a two-burner model is a better choice if you want to prepare food for five to six people.
Is it Safe to Cook on a Rusty Barbecue Grill?
A rusty grill is not safe to use, especially if the rust is loose because it can stick to food. If the grate only has a low amount of rust that’s thin and easy to scrape off, you can try using a special rust removal spray, which you can apply after heating the grill up. This will make it easier to scrub the rust off using a steel bristle brush. Consuming rust from just one meal is not exactly harmful, but continued exposure can be problematic to the intestinal tract.
Can You Put Aluminum Foil on the Grill?
No. placing foil on the grates on your grill can hinder the air flow inside the grill, which can result in damage to the internal components.
Do You Poke Holes in Foil When Grilling?
You don’t need to poke holes in the foil when you’re grilling, especially if you’re preparing food in a foil pouch. Steaming food in a foil pouch is a very popular grilling technique and one that allows you to steam your favorite foods in a matter of minutes. If you poke holes in the foil when you’re steaming food on the grill, then you’re allowing the steam to escape, which can lengthen the cooking time.
Is Aluminum Foil Toxic When Heated?
Cooking with aluminum foil can be dangerous when the foil is heated to a higher temperature. The heating process can cause the aluminum in the foil to leach which will contaminate the food. When foil is exposed to certain types of foods it has been proven to leach a portion of the metallic components into the food.
Can I Line My Charcoal Grill with Aluminum Foil?
No. Avoid lining the bottom of a grill with foil. This is because grease tends to collect in the creases of the foil, which can lead to a grease fire.
A high-quality grill is an essential piece of camping gear for the avid camper. The best camping grills will allow you to enjoy a delicious hot meal when you’re camping out with your family and friends. The right type of grill will offer the power and cooking space you need to feed all of your hungry campers. Of course, the right size and type of grill will depend on your specific needs, how many people you’ll be cooking for, and how long you’ll be camping. The grills I’ve included here, and my buyers guide will help you choose the perfect grill, one that’s lightweight, highly portable, durable, and designed to last season after season.