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Best Tailgate Grill: The Ultimate Guide

If you are in a hurry and want to find out what the Best Tailgate Grill is then we would recommend the Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Grill.

Tailgating is one of the most entertaining ways to show your love for sports. Nothing short of sitting in the stands themselves can beat the feeling of tailgating with friends outside your favorite team’s stadium. What better to do while celebrating your love of sports than indulging in your other passions: grilling?

In this article, I’ll walk you through several of my picks for the best tailgate grill, from the fanciest pellet grills to the simplest no-nonsense cooking surfaces. 

Here is our list of best portable grills for tailgating:

Best Tailgating Grills: Our Favorites

When you’re tailgating, it’s all about maximizing portability while still being able to create a delicious final product. (It might be a little bit about impressing the other tailgaters, too, but I digress.) These best tailgate grill picks will have you well on your way to cooking delicious burgers and hot dogs on your next outing. 

Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Grill

It doesn’t get much simpler than a classic, round charcoal grill. If you’re looking to cook up some delicious hamburgers and hot dogs on a tight budget during your next tailgate, a charcoal grill like this one is an excellent choice.

While an old-style charcoal grill is unlikely to net you any style points, it’s reliable, electronics and moving-parts free (aside from the vents), and virtually indestructible. Short of running this thing over, it’ll last until your children are old enough to attend their own tailgates.

Finally, with a grill like this one, you can even get a little adventurous and use hardwood logs or chunks instead of charcoal briquettes. This will give your food a delicious, smoky taste that might even rival a Traeger. 

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Reliable

Cons: 

  • Boring
  • No handles make it hard to move around

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

George Foreman 15-Serving Electric Grill

An electric grill might be a bit strange to start this list off with, as not all tailgaters have access to electricity on their outings. However, if you have a portable generator, a reliable battery pack, or a car that can support this grill’s power needs, it’s an excellent option.

Of course, the primary advantage of an electric grill is that you don’t need to worry about bringing propane, pellets, or charcoal. Electric grills have their challenges, though. Since they don’t use a flame like traditional grills, they cook food differently, and this process (and the final taste) can take some getting used to. 

However, one final thing to consider is that this grill — unlike the others on this list — is designed to be indoor-friendly. If you brought an RV or camper with you to go tailgating, for example, and you were experiencing bad weather, you could simply move your grill inside. This grill is cheaper than the propane and pellet grills on this list, too. 

Pros:

  • Indoor and outdoor-friendly
  • No need to buy propane, charcoal, or pellets
  • Large enough to cook for a small family 

Cons:

  • Requires an electric power source, so it’s not usable everywhere
  • Cooks food differently than traditional grills

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Propane Grill

If you’re looking to get your tailgating adventure started with a reliable, no-nonsense propane grill, Coleman’s model is an excellent choice. It’s designed to be ultra-portable. It’s heavy, but when the unit folds down, it collapses into a wheeled, suitcase-like shape that makes it easy to load up and move. 

Coleman seems to have gotten just about everything right with this grill. It comes in several colors (meaning you can support your favorite team), has three temperature zones, and the grill grates can even swap out to support burners or griddle plates. 

The only complaint I have about this grill is that the handles included with it seem to be weak points. Be careful not to use them to try and support the grill’s weight, or you might end up breaking one. 

Pros: 

  • Large cooking surface
  • Can support a grill, a griddle, or burners
  • Easy to use
  • Reliable
  • Support your favorite sports team’s colors

Cons: 

  • Expensive
  • Handles can break off too easily

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Blackstone Table Top Grill

Have you ever tried cooking on a flat top propane grill before? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on an entirely different cooking experience. This tabletop grill from Blackstone utilizes a flat cooking surface instead of a grate, and this choice has both benefits and drawbacks. 

The primary benefit of a flat top grill like this is how easy it is to clean. After a long day of tailgating, you’ll appreciate this more than you might think! Additionally, because the food you cook on this grill cooks in oil instead of over an open flame, it ends up more moist than a grate-style grill can offer. 

The only thing to remember with this grill is that it should be seasoned before you begin using it. Make sure you purchase it a few weeks before your next tailgate so that you have time to prepare. 

Pros: 

  • Food is moist and delicious
  • Extremely easy to clean
  • Inexpensive
  • Available in two sizes: 17-inches and 22-inches

Cons:

  • Requires seasoning before use
  • Doesn’t come with legs, so you need a table (or a convenient tailgate) to use it

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Traeger Grills Renegade Pro Pellet Grill

If you have any experience with grilling at all, you’ve probably heard of Traeger grills. These grills are top-of-the-line and very expensive because they run on hardwood pellets. It’s thought that these grills run cleaner and are healthier to use than traditional propane or charcoal, and they imbue a delicious, smoky wood flavor in your food at the same time.

As such, while this Traeger grill is tremendously expensive, half of that cost goes towards a better (and healthier) grilling experience. The other half, well, that’s going towards making your tailgating neighbors green with envy.

All in all, the Renegade Pro is a great tailgating unit from Traeger as it’s small (but not too small), and easy to manage. Traeger has other tailgating models available, but the Renegade Pro seems to me to be superior in terms of quality.

Pros:

  • Better, healthier grilling experience
  • Traeger grills are built to impress
  • Lightly smokes your food as you cook it

Cons:

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Prone to electronics failure

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

What to Look for in a Tailgating Grill

What’s best in a tailgating grill is a hotly contested topic, and every grill master will have his or her own opinions about what’s best. However, there are a few things you should always be looking for in your tailgating grills: portability, efficiency, and safety. 

An unsafe grill is never a good idea. This is all the more true in a public location, for instance, while tailgating, where an unsafe grill can harm others and yourself. Of course, since you’ll be traveling, portability is essential, too, though the level of portability you need depends on how much you’re willing to lift and maneuver. 

Efficiency is often less of a concern while tailgating, but it’s something that I urge you to think about nonetheless, as it can bring the final cost of your trip down. The best portable grills for tailgating combine all three of these things. 

Other Things to Consider

Once you’ve taken care of the three most important things above, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff: things like extra features, colors, style factor, accessibility, and taste.

A push-button propane grill might be the easiest for you to use, for example, but it might not create the same flavor profile as a charcoal grill or a pellet grill. In the same way, you might have an old charcoal grill on hand at home, but you can’t bear to bring it tailgating because it cramps your style. 

An excellent place to start is with taste. Take the time to test whether you prefer charcoal-roasted food, or you can tolerate propane-cooked. If taste or healthiness is king for you, you might even consider upgrading to a clean-burning pellet grill. 

If you don’t have any preference for taste, find some features you can’t live without, such as a grill that’s easily collapsible or one that features the colors of your home team. Cooking surface size might be a consideration for you if you like to bring your whole family tailgating with you. 

Finally, the most important thing you should consider is the cost. Grills can be deceiving in terms of value because not only are you paying for the cost of the grill itself, but you’re paying for the grill’s fuel, too. Some fuel types are more expensive than others, and this could make the total price over time more costly than a different grill with a higher upfront cost. 

The Verdict

In the end, which of the above is the best tailgate grill? To me, the answer is a no brainer. The Weber Smokey Joe is inexpensive, portable, and more reliable than any modern grill can ever hope to be. 

However, personal preference should play a role here, too. If you don’t want to deal with charcoal or logs, for example, the Coleman grill is an excellent secondary option. Each grill on this list has its own pros and cons, so the real “right answer” depends heavily upon your circumstances. 

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