Three Things to Know Before You Buy a Portable Gas Grill

They’re the ultimate convenience for grilling food away from home. Make your picnic or beach trip a success by choosing a gas grill with features that favor your cooking style

Portable gas grills have several advantages over portable charcoal grills. Besides not having to continually monitor burning charcoal for safety reasons, you can easily set a gas grill to the heat level you desire simply by adjusting a knob. They’re cleaner than charcoal grills too, because you don’t need to load charcoal, light it, and then deal with hot coals once you’re finished cooking. While most all portable gas grills are fueled by one-pound “camping size” propane cylinders, you can get an adapter hose (which starts at $10) and run the portable off of a large propane tank at home, lowering your cost and eliminating the need to switch tanks if you’re cooking for a long time.

Not all portable gas grills are created equal, and features vary from model to model. Here are three facts about portable gas grills to keep in mind when you’re shopping:

1. You have to deal with the grease.

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
Make sure the grill you pick out has a grease management system that's convenient for you.Coleman

Unlike a charcoal grill, which simply burns off the drippings from meat, a portable gas grill must have some type of grease management system built into it. It’s easy to clean a grease trap on a full-size backyard gas grill at home, but if you’re in a public space, you have to plan a way to either dispose of the grease onsite or bring it home.

2. Not all portable gas grills have more than one burner and control knob.

Giantex Propane Tabletop Gas Grill
A portable gas grill with more than one control knob lets you cook more than one kind of food at once.Giantex

A full-size gas grill has two or more control knobs, allowing you to cook foods at different heats. That’s not necessarily so with portable gas grills. A one-burner grill means one heat level. That’s fine if you’re cooking the same meats at the same time, but not if you want to grill, say, strip steaks and chicken breasts at the same time.

3. Not all portable gas grills have warming racks and built-in thermometers.

Smoke Hollow 205 Stainless Steel TableTop Propane Gas Grill
Warming racks are a great feature on portable grills, as they keep your food warm and away from rain and dirt when you're set up outside.Smoke Hollow

Warming racks do a wonderful job of keeping cooked food warm (and toasting hamburger buns) without leaving it on the cooking surface—a great advantage if you’re preparing a lot of food for a big crowd and don’t want to have your guests eat in stages. Thermometers allow you to monitor temperature at a glance when the lid is closed, so you know that your food is cooking consistently and at the right temperature. Rubbery chicken and crunchy steaks can ruin an otherwise great outdoor dining experience.