Welcome to our summer roundup of the best small barbecues and best portable barbecues you can buy in 2022. Portable barbecues are brilliant at this time of year because in most cases you can take them with you – on a picnic, to a campsite, a beach or possibly straight to the top of a mountain. In this guide we're looking at portable gas, charcoal, pellet and electric barbecues in a variety of sizes and price ranges, so chances are there’s a model just for you.
However, 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 a little too small for your needs, check out our best barbecues (opens in new tab) buying guide which is filled with charcoal, gas, pellet and electric barbecues of regular and large proportions. If you're thinking of buying a portable barbecue, be sure to also check out our buying guides to the best meat thermometers (opens in new tab), best BBQs (opens in new tab) and best pizza ovens (opens in new tab). 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 in 2022
This exquisite folding model from Weber is, for our money here at T3, the best folding portable barbecue on the market. 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. As we detail in our Weber Traveler review (opens in new tab), 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 one of the very best portable gas barbecues you can buy right now.
Like the Traeger Ranger reviewed below, the Pit Boss Navigator 150 (opens in new tab) 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 250 square inch grate and leave it for pretty much the entire cooking process while you chat to your guests.
The Navigator just pips the evergreen Traeger Ranger to the two spot by dint of its lower weight (19.7kgs against 27kgs) and simple but very clever patented Flame Broiler Lever that opens vents in the flame deflector directly above the fire pot. This allows the Navigator to sear steaks over an open flame – something that most pellet grills are incapable of.
The Navigator’s 2.27 kg pellet hopper is of ample size for a slow-and-low smoke or a few average grilling sessions. The main 36.8cm x 33.6cm grate should be just fine for about four people though there’s a smaller half-sized grate above it in case another two guests turn up.
Like all pellet grills, you operate the Navigator 150 using a digital controller – like an indoor oven, once the temperature is set (between 82˚C and 260˚C), it’ll stay within a couple of degrees as long as there are pellets in the hopper. Although portable, you wouldn’t want to carry this model too far and, of course, you will need an electricity supply to operate it. But if you’ve never used a pellet grill and are eager to try one without spending a small fortune, then this one is a great place to start.
Although it is table-top friendly and essentially portable, this suitcase-shaped pellet grill 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 or you're able to use Traeger's specialised power inverter.
The Traeger 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.
We tried a number of ingredients on it – burgers, sausages, chicken legs – and they all cooked perfectly well with only one visit to turn the food over. We even took a flier and lobbed on a whole medium chicken which was more succulent than any we’ve cooked in the indoor oven. We calculated that one fully loaded hopper lasts well over an hour at about 200˚C – much longer if cooking low and slow ribs and brisket.
Although Traeger says its maximum temperature is 230˚C, we noticed that the actual highest temperature reaches about 241˚C and with a roaring flame beneath the heat shield. This means it could feasibly be used to sear steaks, too; something pellet grills usually don’t excel at.
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. Read our full Traeger Ranger review (opens in new tab) for more details.
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 for this year, a keenly priced single-burner gas offering from one of America’s favourite barbecue manufacturers. 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 (opens in new tab) 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 superbly well.
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 to our top pick, check out our Traeger Ranger vs Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube (opens in new tab) 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.
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 Weber Traveler and Weber Q 1200, 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.
Now for the smallest, most portable grill in the world, enter the UCO Grilliput. 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.
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 (opens in new tab), 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.
Where to buy the best portable barbecues in 2022
If you're looking for the best portable barbecue for your garden, patio and balcony or something to bring with your on your picnic and camping trips, try these fine retailers in the UK and USA. If you're looking for a great deal but don't mind waiting for a little bit, our Amazon Prime Day (opens in new tab) hub and Black Friday (opens in new tab) page might unveil some cheap barbecue deals too.
In the UK:
- Amazon (opens in new tab)
- Argos (opens in new tab)
- B&Q (opens in new tab)
- John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab)
- Homebase (opens in new tab)
In the US: