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 are easier to use than their charcoal cousins: Just turn a knob to set your desired heat level and you’re good to go! They’re also cleaner and easier to wipe down after use. While most portable gas grills are fueled by one-pound “camping size” propane cylinders, you can get an adapter hose (starting at $10), which lets you run the portable off your home propane tank, lowering costs and eliminating the need to switch tanks if you’re cooking for a long time.

But not all portable gas grills are created equal, and features vary from model to model. Here are three things to keep in mind when you’re shopping.

Easy Clean-Up

Make sure your choice has a grease management system that’s convenient for you. Coleman

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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.

Multi-Tasker

More than one control knob means you can cook more than one type of meat at once. Giantex

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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.

Monitor Temperature

Warming racks are a great feature, as they keep your food warm and away from rain and dirt when you’re set up outside. Smoke Hollow

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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.