If you’re shopping for a small portable barbecue to take camping, caravanning, boating or the beach, or even for use in your garden or on the patio or balcony, you’ve come to right place because we’ve lovingly curated this comprehensive guide to the very best portable barbecues in all categories, from charcoal and pellet to gas and electric.
Bear in mind that charcoal, gas and pellets produce carbon monoxide as a by-product of burning so, for heaven’s sake, never ever use the barbecue indoors or bring it into a tent. If using charcoal, be aware that the coals continue to emit carbon monoxide for many hours after they've stopped glowing. However, you can use an electric model indoors – as long as you don’t mind everything smelling of cooked meat.
If a portable barbecue is too small for your needs, head over to our best barbecues buying guide which is filled to the brim with charcoal, gas, pellet and electric barbecues of regular and large proportions.
Oh, and, if you're thinking of buying a portable barbecue, be sure to also check out T3's best meat thermometers, best BBQ accessories and best pizza ovens buying guides, too. These will help outfit your garden with the very best food cooking equipment on the planet and make your neighbours very jealous.
The best portable barbecues you can buy today in 2022
This exquisite folding model from Weber is arguably the best folding portable barbecue on the market right now. Yes, it’s large when folded (104x60x32cm) and, at 28.141kgs, it’s extremely heavy too – at least for a portable. But on the plus side it can be transported like a shopping trolley on its large wheels with the whole barbecue section locked into place. But whether the wheels make it tough going on beach sand is open for debate.
Before we get to grill size and general features, I need to tip the hat to Weber’s designers for coming up with the most elegant folding system the world may have ever seen. To unfold the Traveler, you undo a safety latch, put your foot on a grippy red section on the leg and pull it up until it clicks into position. Simple. However, it’s the folding up mechanism that impresses the most because the whole thing collapses with a really slow and satisfying damping action that you will probably play with a number of times before even attempting to barbecue on it.
For a single burner barbecue that’s being advertised as portable, this handsome devil comes with a 2,065cm cast-iron grilling area and that’s big enough for 20 drumsticks or around three dozen sausages. The porcelain-enamelled lid, meanwhile, provides typically reliable indirect grilling without flare ups.
The Traveler is designed to work with disposable canisters of the screw-top variety from the likes of Coleman, Weber and Primus. However, it can be easily adapted to work with a standard Patio Gas propane bottle.
There are many portable BBQs on the market – some more transportable than others – but this one is in a different league when it comes to functionality, practicality and efficiency. Remarkably for a Weber – and one with such a complex mechanism – the Traveler is very reasonably priced, too. And that makes it a shoo-in as the best portable gas barbecue you can buy right now.
Of all the barbecues we’ve reviewed – both large and small – this is still this writer’s go-to model for compact size, ease of use, efficiency, reliability and results.
Like the larger Broil King Regal 500 and Traeger 575 Pro that feature in T3's best barbecue guide, the Traeger Ranger uses wood pellets, electricity and a computer processor instead of charcoal or gas, and this means you can set the temperature, load ingredients on to the ample four-to-six person grate and leave it for pretty much the entire cooking process while you chat to your guests.
Although it’s table-top friendly and essentially portable, this suitcase-shaped barbecue does weigh a small ton that makes it nigh on impossible to carry more than about 10 metres without developing a hernia. However, for RV, caravan and tailgate use, it’s the perfect take-away model – but only if you have access to an electricity supply.
The Ranger’s interior is divided into two sections: a 3.6kg pellet hopper on the left and a 184 square inch non-stick porcelain grill on the right, with a short auger to deliver the pellets in between. It’s all controlled by a Digital Arc controller that allows you to set the cooking temperature in five degree increments. Also featured is a handy timer, a ‘keep warm’ function that works brilliantly well and a single port for the supplied meat probe. It also comes with a heavy duty flat cast iron griddle plate for whipping up camp side breakfasts of bacon and eggs or even pancakes if you wish.
The Ranger is also ideal for balconies and patios. In fact, if you’re a family of four, it might just be the only barbie you’ll ever need. It’s just so easy to use and so reliably good at grilling without burning everything to a crisp. Warmly recommended.
There’s a good reason why most Weber barbecues are kettle shaped – the curved interior helps circulate the hot air within for perfect indirect convection grilling. And that means less likelihood of food scorching to a cinder – as long as the lid is left on without too much peeking.
This portable model features a 14.5-inch stainless steel grill grate, an adjustable air vent on the porcelain lid and an integrated carry handle that won’t scorch your hand when you grab hold of it.
The Smokey Joe is a doddle to control, large enough to accommodate about 16 sausages, and light enough to carry to a beach, campsite or picnic spot of your choice (as long as it's not too far a walk). It’s also perfect for small patios or as a second standby barbecue.
New in this year, a keenly priced single-burner gas offering from one of America’s favourite barbecue manufacturers. The Porta Chef 120 is the smaller sibling of the Porta Chef 320 we review in our main Gas Barbecue Guide. For a snip under £300, this barbie is a great choice, especially if you’re looking for a product that’s built better than most no-name brands.
The Porta Chef 120 comes with a solid 2,245 sq cm cast iron grate, a 4.1 kWh stainless steel burner, electronic ignition, resin side shelves and a cast aluminium cook box powder-coated in black epoxy paint for durability. To transport it, simply pull out the legs and clip them underneath the chassis.
At just 18kgs, this barbecue is ideal for camping, caravanning and narrowboat sailing as well as balcony and patio use. It’s easy to use, store away and transport in a hatchback and it grills like a beast.
The Cube is the cheapest and smallest model in a tranche of Heston Blumenthal-branded charcoal and gas barbecues that screams style and sophistication.
This eminently portable charcoal burner doesn’t sport any groundbreaking technological features because it is, to all intents and purposes, just a square container with a shallow charcoal tray and a steel grill on top.
However, there are plenty of refined Heston touches here to whet the appetite, including a beautifully moulded porcelain enamel interior with walls that are raised about an inch above the grill so sausages can’t roll off and a heat guard fitted to the bottom so it doesn’t scorch grass or ruin the patio table.
The firmly secured lid, too, is a clever design flourish since it encompasses both a sealed plastic storage tray with room for a few cuts of meat and a bamboo food prep board. The Everdure admittedly only provides enough meal estate for a romantic picnic for two… But what a stylish and tasty picnic it will be.
To see how this portable barbecue compares against our top pick then check out T3's Traeger Ranger vs Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube comparison feature.
This efficient gas-fired portable barbie from outdoor experts Primus is a perfect cooking companion for campers, boaters and picnic fiends, and a handy table-top griller for balcony use, too.
Despite the very slim legs, the compact Kuchoma is exceedingly well built and runs off both mini camping gas canisters or large Patio Gas cylinders (with optional adaptor). It also comes with an integral hinged lid – with carry handle – for either direct or indirect cooking; a very good thing indeed.
The Kuchoma’s non-stick 40cm x 24cm grate will comfortably accommodate about 20 sausages or a dozen chicken legs – enough cooking estate for a cult of campers – and, at 4.5kgs, it’s light enough to carry a fair old distance without your arm falling off. Highly recommended.
And to see how this portable grill stacks up against a celebrity chef-backed competitor, then take a read of T3's Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube vs Primus Kuchoma comparison feature.
With its rugged military looks and superlative build quality, this new portable gas-fired barbie is the perfect choice for patios, balconies and camping and caravanning where the campsite doesn’t allow the use of charcoal. Granted, the Grill2Go isn’t as compact or as light as the Primus Kuchoma reviewed above, but it isn’t too heavy to carry short distances; the two fat handles are a big help in this respect.
Char-Broil is justly famous for its TRU Infrared grilling technology which ensures food is cooked evenly across the grill plate. The slight downside is that the corrugated infrared grill requires burning off after each barbecue session and scraped down using the supplied cleaning too. If you neglect to do that, the tiny holes in the infrared plate could become blocked and the system won’t work as well. The Grill2Go’s grate will accommodate about 12 hamburgers so there should be enough grilling space for two to possibly four adults.
Like the Primus, Weber Traveler, Weber Q 1200 and Napoleon TravelQ, this model is designed to be used with small camping gas canisters which simply screw onto the gas regulator. It can also be used with large traditional Patio Gas bottles but you’ll need to invest in the special adaptor.
This model performed exceptionally well, grilling everything we threw at it with consummate aplomb. It’s also built like a brick outhouse so it should easily withstand the bumps and scrapes of outdoor living.
For fire-prevention reasons, many campsites in Britain and France forbid the use of charcoal-based barbecues. Gas versions, though, are invariably fine; which is where Weber’s excellent kettle-style travel grill comes in. The Q1000 is light enough to carry some distance and features a porcelain-enamelled, cast-iron cooking grate big enough for three or four, a tall aluminium lid and push-button Piezo ignition.
Since the compact Q 1000 uses small propane cylinders, it’s easy to transport; yet you’ll still get half-a-dozen five-place meals out of each canister. Great for picnics too.
Forget faffing about with hairdryers to fan the flames. This award-winning barbie uses a built-in battery-powered fan to get the whole thing up to cooking temperature in three and a half minutes flat, and with no choking smoke in the process. What's more, it'll go on grilling for up to an hour on only a small handful of charcoal.
The LotusGrill works by creating a bellows effect that forces cool air over the charcoal, turning it into a raging inferno, albeit a safe one. Available in a range of cheerful colours, the LotusGrill is ideal for small patios, balconies, campsites, picnics and boats – its 12-inch grill is good for up to four hungry gannets. At just 4kgs, it’s also easy to carry a fair old distance without your arms falling off.
This is one of the most versatile charcoal-fired mini barbecues on the market and one of the most efficient. Invented in South Africa, the sturdy, kettle-style Cobb is a small, portable cylindrical unit that can grill, fry, bake and even roast a whole chicken, albeit a small one.
Its secret lies in a controlled ventilation system that keeps the briquettes (or Cobb's own proprietary Cobblestones) up to fiery temperature for more than three hours and without any heat being transferred to the BBQ's outer casing.
This particular model comes packaged with an overly slippery Teflon-coated griddle – whoops there goes another sausage – but there are plenty more grilling accessories available. A top buy for alfresco table-top feasters, boaters and glampers.
This 1,600 watt electric grill brings outdoor cooking indoors by dint of a simple smoke-free design that encompasses a dishwasher-safe ‘Titanium Infused’ non-stick grill plate positioned a few inches above a drip tray that cools the dripping fats, reducing the amount of smoke by about 80%. Although it does indeed produce very little smoke, if using indoors we would still recommend placing it on the cooker hob below the extractor fan for completely smoke-free grilling.
This is a great grill for burgers, sausages and other fatty foods because most of the fats drip away and that means healthier eating. It also does steaks pretty well though it’s best to halt grilling until the heating element is up to its highest temperature.
If you live in a bedsit with no cooker, regularly go on caravanning trips (and your caravan or RV has 240v power), or simply like the idea of smoke free grilling, then this is a worthwhile choice that delivers the goods for a very modest outlay.
And now for the smallest, most portable grill in the world. This barbie in a stainless steel tube is just the ticket for the picnicker, beach bum, hiker, climber, Bear Grylls wannabe or anyone with very little room in the backpack.
To build it, simply empty the tube of its contents – 12 stainless steel struts, four short legs and a second, slightly narrower steel tube – thread each strut through both tubes and then attach the legs. Now place it on a non flammable surface and stuff some wood or charcoal under it and, voila, instant campfire barbecue.
The Grilliput’s is available in two sizes: the Duo serves two-to-three gannets and the larger Quattro will handle up to six. Once it’s cooled down, disassemble it and you’re good to pack up and go.
For two-person picnics, this natty barbie-in-a-case is a better bet than the disposable variety. It won’t scorch the grass for start – well not much. To use, simply unclip, fill the titchy charcoal grate with a very small amount of charcoal (four or five broken briquettes may be best in this instance) and a couple of firelighters, and rest the steel grill on top. Voila, instant barbecue.
Now it has to be said that this barbie’s 16 x 25cm grill area is tiny and only good for about 10 sausages at a squeeze or three hamburgers or possibly even two 6oz steaks. Nevertheless, once it’s up and running, it makes a surprisingly good fist of grilling on the go.
At under 2kgs, it’s one of the lightest portable grills on this page though you will need to wait for it to cool down before you can fold it up and be on your way.
- Heading off camping? We have a dedicated guide to the best camping stoves
What is the best portable barbecue?
Our number one contender is the rather brilliant Weber Traveler which folds up in a thrice for relatively easy porterage. For smoking fans, the number two spot goes to the Traeger Ranger, which uses wood pellets instead of charcoal or gas. If you're looking for fuss free grilling on the go, this is the model to choose.
Weber takes the three spot with its simply kettle style Smokey Joe, hotly followed by the excellent Broil King Porta Chef 120 gas BBQ. Everdure 'by' Heston Blumenthal has disrupted the barbecue market to highly impressive effect in recent years. For the not inconsiderable feat of making what is essentially a metal box that you put charcoal in stylish, the Everdure Cube is our #5 pick. But don't rule out the excellent gas-fired Primus Kuchoma, our top choice for campers and boaters and the rugged RV-friendly Char-Broil Grill2Go.
There are plenty of other great options here and whichever you choose, they're all leagues ahead of a disposable aluminium tray that you pick up by the entrance to the supermarket.
How to buy the best portable barbecue
First of all you'll need to decide if you want to use charcoal, gas, wood pellets or electricity
Gas and electric certainly have their place in terms of consistency and convenience when cooking outside, but they arguably also reduce the authenticity of the results to some degree. That said, if camping or barbecuing in the wilderness, then gas is far and away the safest option. In fact most campsites in the UK and France forbid the use of charcoal and probably pellets, too.
Secondly, you need to look out for the grill size with these portable units – as well as how much they weigh if you really are after something you can carry down to the beach.
Equally, you don't want something you can carry but you can't cook what needs to be cooked – especially if it means you need to do two or three batches of cooking. That's no fun.
There are two different methods of cooking on a barbecue. Without a lid is known as grilling or direct cooking, and you'll need to keep an eye on the food as it's hard and fast and there's a danger of over cooking or burning the food very quickly. Indirect cooking under a lid is what purists call proper barbecuing – using convection currents and smoke to flavour and slow the cooking process. Try using a plant spray or mister to tame any flare-ups.
Ben Tish, owner of Sicilian-Moorish influenced London restaurant Norma, gives his verdict on that age old question - what's best? Charcoal or briquettes? "Lump wood charcoal is superior in flavour to briquettes due to the fact there aren't any chemicals or binders in there to mask or skew the flavours.
"Most charcoal is from South Africa and will have been compressed so it travels better and doesn't break up in transit. I'd suggest British charcoal which is much lighter and burns better. Apple, hazel and oak all have their differing flavour qualities.” So now you know.
Barbecues out of stock?
If stocks of the very finest barbecues have run out, the best barbecue becomes the one that is actually available. Try these fine retailers in the UK and USA. If you like to play a longer game, our Amazon Prime Day hub and Black Friday page might unveil some cheap barbecues too.
In the UK:
In the US: