When it comes to tailgating, you want to be sure whether you’re talking about security scares, bad drivers, or football parties. For some people, the pre-game experience is more meaningful than what’s going on at the gridiron. Many happy memories are formed around the grate.
But even if you don’t know why they call it tailgating, you’re aware how much your choice of grill affects your ‘courtside success’. But how can you be sure you’ve bought the best tailgating grill? Let’s start by looking at seven popular grill brands before we share our recommendation.
The best tailgate grill on the Market 2020
1. Coleman RoadTrip 285 tailgate grill (Our Top Pick)
Available in five stylish colors, the Coleman RoadTrip is built for outdoor use. It emits 20,000 BTU and has a convenient slot for your gas bottle. The grill also has interchangeable cooking surfaces that include a flat grill, a ridged griddle, and a spiral stove crate. These grilling surfaces are made of cast iron and coated with porcelain enamel to reduce rusting and corrosion.
Two large casters make it easy to transport your Coleman, which weighs a little over 50 lbs and stands 35 inches tall. The Coleman comes apart and its pieces fold down to the size of a regular suitcase. This is useful at tailgating events because your truck will have tons of gear including tents, folding chairs, barbeque ingredients, memorabilia, and more team-related merchandise.
So you want a grill that won’t hog space in the back. This tailgating grill has three separate burning units, each with its own temperature. These burners are positioned in an elliptical structure and each one has its own dial – outer left, outer right, or inner elliptical heating tube.
You can use the burners individually or combine them – they all have rotary knobs so it’s easy to adjust and control your cooking temperature and timing. This allows you to adjust the heat and achieve better barbequing results. And you don’t need matches to use this grill – it has a bright red button for ignition. You have to buy the 16.4oz gas separately though – it weighs roughly 1lb.
And the detachable components include folding legs that form a sturdy barbeque table. Once you set it up, or Coleman provides a large grilling surface of 285 square inches including two sliding worktops on the side. It also has three carrying handles – an insulated one at the top and two stainless steel ones on the side. They make the grill easy to use and convenient to carry.
This hooded tailgating grill is stylish, sturdy, and convenient. It has grills you can swap, a high BTU, adjustable temperature, and triple burners. And it probably matches your team palette too!
- The color selection lets you wear your team colors.
- Coleman has rugged, all-weather casters for convenient movement.
- You can swap your cooking surfaces for added versatility.
- The water tray often spills, leaving greasy residue everywhere. And you have to ensure the grill is on a completely flat surface to avoid excess mess.
2. Weber Q2200 Propane tailgate grill
In many parts of the world, Webers are so popular that people say ‘Weber’ when they mean ‘grill’. They use the brand name as a generic descriptor for grills. This particular Weber costs close to 50 pounds. It has a cute dome shape with worktables on the side that can fold away when the grill is not in use. The grill emits 12,000 BTU every hour and ignites electronically.
The Weber Q2200 has a beautiful silhouette that’s a signature look for the brand. But it does need assembly and that can feel a little daunting. But you can follow along with an interactive demo on the BILT app, and said app is available for free download. The grill has grates made of cast iron and coated in porcelain enamel. A thermometer is built into the grill’s aluminum lid.
This grill has a cast aluminum and a nylon body reinforced with glass. And because on many grills the burner is the first thing to break, this grill is equipped with an infinite control dial. This means the knob doesn’t have a start or endpoint where it can snap. Instead, it spins on a loop.
The burners on this Weber are made of stainless steel so they burn efficiently. You don’t need matches because you can turn on your Weber by pressing the electronic ignition button. This does mean you need a power outlet for ignition, but you can still use a match if you’re cooking outdoors. And the clean-up process is fairly easy because the drip pan is removable.
You may think the Weber Q2200 is a small grill. But once you unfold the side tables, your tailgating grill develops a ‘wingspan of 51 inches across. With a large grip handle at the front and ledges on the sides, it’s easy to move this portable grill even though it’s on the heavier side.
The Weber Q2200 is an upgrade of the Weber 220, but they didn’t just add a zero. The foldable side tables and the ergonomic handles make it a pleasure to use at any sporting event.
- It has a generous cooking surface of 280 square inches.
- You can fold and stash your Weber in a drawer.
- The grill has two side tables.
- At 44 lbs without casters, it can be challenging to lug around.
3. Blackstone Grills Tailgater tailgate grill
The best tailgating grills are designed with the outdoors in mind. Its whole body is powder-coated to avoid rust and damage. And it doesn’t need assembly – it’s usable right out of the box. Tailgaters are generally a tough crowd, and the Blackstone is designed to keep up with them.
It offers barbequing versatility with three cooking options – grill, griddle, or gas. For gas, the Blackstone has two burners that have triangular stove crates with rounded tips. You can use the gas stove section as is to cook a variety of football favorites. Or you could place the grill or griddle over the flames for a juicy barbeque roast. The burners have independent control knobs.
The grill on the Blackstone is made from cast iron while the griddle is made of cold-rolled steel. The burners mix materials too. One is a stainless steel H-burner that can hit 15000 BTU. The other burner is cast iron and gets to 20000 BTU. The legs on your Blackstone are adjustable so you can tailgate in style and comfort, and each legal be set at a different height level.
This feature is ideal for cooking outdoors because the ground is sometimes uneven, especially those grassy tailgating patches. Each of the two cooktops measures 16 inches by 16 inches. This tailgating grill reaches high cooking temps – up to 500°F. This is a massive grill that measures 52 inches by 24 inches and stands 38.5 inches off the ground at its tallest setting.
The Blackstone is the best tailgating grill if you want to combine sporty barbeques with stovetop cooking. It offers four cooking surfaces and multiple grilling styles for your event.
- The grill has two separate burners.
- It comes ready to use – no assembly required.
- Blackstone offers multiple cooking options – griddle, grill, and stovetop.
- It’s a heavy grill so you may have issues with portability.
4. Cuisinart Tabletop CGG-180TB tailgate grill
Grills aren’t that complicated, so it’s interesting how diverse their designs can be. The Cuisinart CGG-180TB – for example – looks a bit like a suitcase on stilts. It stands about a foot high on four adjustable, sturdy feet that fold back for storage. The cooking surface is enameled porcelain and the grill has a knob that you twist to ignite your burners. You don’t require matches.
When you’re not using it, your Cuisinart collapses into a compact, portable piece. It might be on the smaller side for a large tailgating crew, but it’s fine for one or two people. Besides, if every crew member has one, the cumulative result is still plenty of food. The Cuisinart TableTop uses a propane cylinder, and you have to buy it separately. Buy an adapter or connector hose as well.
Visually, the Cuisinart doesn’t look that big. But it’s a foot wide and nearly 20 inches long. This provides 145 square inches of cooking area, and the porcelain enamel grate is ideal for non-stick outdoor barbequing. It doesn’t have casters, but it weighs 17 pounds and has a suitcase-styled handle so it’s easy to carry. The lid locks in position so it won’t slip open in transit.
While the legs are foldable, you can stretch them beyond 12 inches. You can set up or dismantle your grill in minutes, it’s far simpler than it seems. The grill doesn’t have a slot for the gas bottle though, so plan for that as you load your car for the game. Cuisinart does offer a 3-year warranty on this product. And it comes with a gas regulator so you can conveniently monitor your gas bill.
This tailgating grill is pretty and portable, so some of you more rugged types may dismiss it as delicate and ladylike. But it’s a sturdy, go-anywhere device and it comes in three colors.
- It measures 18 inches by 12.2 inches and stands about a foot tall.
- The ergonomic insulated handle makes it easy to transport.
- It’s a lightweight unit at less than 20 pounds.
- At 145 square inches, the cooking surface is a bit on the smaller side. Plus 5500 BTU s below average for tailgating grills.
5. Char-Broil Portable Propane tailgate grill
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The best tailgating grills prioritize portability. They could do this in a variety of ways. They might be designed to be deliberately lightweight, have convenient carrying handles, fold away into compact units, or come with a wheeled carry case. Sometimes the grill itself is fitted with casters. But you still have to wait for the grill to cool before you stash it back in the car.
That can be annoying at a tailgating event because it means you stop cooking before you’re done eating. After all, you don’t want to be stuck at the empty gridiron for ages waiting for the cooker to cool. Luckily, the Char-Broils stands on foldable wire-frame legs. They’re thin and open, allowing the grill to cool faster. And they can tuck over the top of the grill to lock it shut.
Once that’s done, you can lift and move the grill even while it’s hot, because the folding legs keep the heat locked in, and the grill has three insulated handles. One is at the top and two are at the sides, so while they’re strategically positioned, you still have to be careful if you decide to move the Char-Broil before it cools. The grill has a piezo push-button to ignite it without matches.
The cooking grate is coated in chrome and dishwasher safe. This grill can cook up to 8 burgers at a time. It’s fitted for 14.1oz or 16.4oz cylinders and gives off 11,000 BTU. Not bad for a grill this small. And the company has been in business since 1948. The grill is made of black steel and coated with a heat-resistant finish that can handle extreme heat, both on and off the field.
Char-Broil is a simple tailgating grate with a manly exterior and a high heat output. It has foldable legs that lock it shut, preventing spills and burns as you move your grill.
- It has foldaway metal legs that double as a locking system.
- The generous cooking surface is 187 square inches.
- At 10.2 lbs, it’s delightfully lightweight and portable.
- The ignition button sometimes sticks, so have some matches handy!
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6. Solaire Anywhere Gas tailgate grill
Tabletop cookers can be tricky. They take up a lot of counter space and may end up crowding your kitchen. But if you’re cooking outdoors, size matters. You probably have more elbow room and a larger crowd, so the bigger the better. Unfortunately, Solaire is on the smaller side. Closed, it measures 20 inches by 13 inches by 12 inches. Open, its height rises to a good 21 inches.
Since it doesn’t come with a trolley or legs, you need a firm cooking surface to place it on. Preferably a flat surface, since the grill sits on rubberized feet. This is a hooded barbeque grill, so you can cook moister meat with the top down or crisper cuts with the lid open. The grilling chamber is 13 inches deep and the cooktop is 155 square inches, which is a mid-range size.
This grate can hold six to eight 4-inch burgers and you can fit some extra food on the warming rack, though it has to be pre-cooked. Like many modern tailgating grills, Solaire uses a push button to ignite – no matches necessary. The grilling grate has a tailored v-shape to prevent gas fires. And the heating elements are made of infrared ceramic filaments for a smoke-free burn.
Solaire has three stainless steel handles and lots of vents so there’ a lower chance of contact burns. The brand offers lots of accessories, but they’re not bundled so you’ll have to order them separately. It emits up to 14,000 BTU and the stainless steel is all 304-gauge. It’s a US-made grill that only needs three minutes to pre-heat. The grill comes with a carry-case with side slots.
The slots are large enough to fit the gas bottles (1 pound each) but you have to buy the bottles separately. The grill needs minimal assembly – just attach the feet and the handles. The feet are adjustable for added convenience, and while it uses LPG, you can buy a conversion kit if you’d prefer to use natural gas. The infrared burners effectively mimic charcoal barbeque.
For those who like the look of stainless steel, this is the best tailgating grill. It may need a table and other accessories. The brand provides them, but you need to order them separately.
- It has a warming rack that uses infrared rays.
- Solaire’s stainless steel housing is easy to clean.
- At 20 pounds and 20 inches, it’s compact and lightweight.
- Stainless steel can resist corrosion, but it’s still susceptible to grease spatters. These are best removed using a ceramic scraper – soap and elbow grease won’t do it.
7. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron tailgate grill
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By nature, tailgating is a spectacle. It’s all about flash and fun, and the bigger the spectacle the better. But if you prefer something more understated, you could opt for the Lodge with its simple silhouette and its matte finish. The Lodge is made of cast iron and it comes pre-seasoned to start off that coveted non-stick patina. It’s on the smaller side at nearly 20” by 8.25”.
This grill has a rustic, bare-bones feel. It’s an old-school barbeque stove with vintage styling. The metal grate at the top can be adjusted and ‘floated’ on a slider to better manage airflow. This is important because, on analog grills like this one, ventilation is the main way to control heat levels. (You can also increase or reduce the amount of charcoal to raise or lower cooking temps.)
The grate can be raised or lowered in two positions. Its cast-iron body of this grill has superior heat retention capabilities so you’ll save on fuel. You end up using way less coal, and it’s easy to load this coal because this tailgating grill has a coal door. The door flips down, letting you comfortable control coal levels and the sliding grate facilitates efficient circulation.
Lodge is an American-made model with a history that dates back to 1896. The grill can achieve high temperatures, withstand extreme heat, and keep your dishes warmer for longer. That can be helpful if the game goes into overtime. The grill is styled like a hibachi and is great at searing barbeque. It’s cast iron cookware though, so you still have to wipe, dry, and season it regularly.
Cast iron cookers are popular, but cast iron grills are the true MVPs of the tailgating world. But don’t buy one unless you have a reliable coal supplier. Otherwise, you’ll never have enough fuel.
- It has a rugged, masculine aesthetic.
- Lodge measures 19 inches by 8.25 inches and stands 10.25 inches tall.
- The grill ships pre-seasoned.
- It uses coal as its fuel source, which isn’t ideal for green living.
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When you’re looking for the best tailgating grill, you should consider tailgating basics such as snacks and games. And our grill is a key part of that, so let’s explore some shopping tips as you hunt down the perfect grill for your game-day activities. We’ll start with the most crucial feature.
The best tailgating grill uses a fuel source that’s easy to use and conveniently available. If you prefer your game-day burgers moist and smoky, you may want a tailgating grill that uses charcoal or wood pellets. They’re designed to cook slowly at low heat, but you have to carry your bags of charcoal, firewood, pellets, or briquettes. These can get messy with all that ash and soot.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to bother with the extra storage space, you could buy an electric tailgating grill. This only works if you have electrical outlets available at your chosen game-day spot. Most people opt for gas grills because you can buy a propane bottle anywhere and it won’t take up too much room. Plus, some tailgating venues have gas lines you can plug into.
Even if you’re a seasoned tailgater, you can’t always stake your preferred spot. So you won’t be sure whether your tailgating crew will be on grass, tarmac, or concrete. You also can’t be sure how close your car will be to the barbeque spot. So but for a grill that’s easy to move, in case you have to travel far from your car, especially on unpaved surfaces such as turf or cobblestones.
It helps if the grill as a carry-case to keep it safe and dust-free as you lug it about. It’s useful that casters are essential since they let you tug the grill rather than lifting it. This makes it a far more feasible device for outdoor cooking. Your grill needs to be lightweight since you’ll load and unload it for every game. It’s nice is if your grill has detachable parts for easier packing.
How big is your game-day party? If you’re making burgers for twenty, you want a grill that’s large enough to minimize the number of batches. But if it’s just you and your girl (or boy) you could opt for something compact that leaves more storage room in the car. Other convenient features include adjustable temperature and built-in thermometers to suit your cooking style.
Grills with foldable or detachable legs are easier to pack in tight spaces. This is important because a typical tailgating party involves lots of gear. If your grill has a lid as well as a dust cover. The lid lets you cook more versatile dishes. Some tailgating grills come with accessories like wire brushes and extra grates. Look out for safety features like LED pre-heating indicators.
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Based on our research, the best tailgating grill is Coleman RoadTrip XXL. Here’s why:
- It comes in five colors so you can match your team.
- You can dismantle your Coleman into a compact easy-carry unit.
- The grill has a carry-case to protect it from dust and manual damage.
- The casters make it easy to lug the grill around.
- It has a large cooktop that’s 285 square inches.
- The grill has multiple cooking surfaces you can swap.
- Coleman’s casters run on all surfaces (grass, concrete, etc.)
What tailgating grill are you using this season? Show us a photo in the comments!