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The Best Grills for Tailgating

Updated on July 30, 2010

Voted the Best Tailgate Grill for the Money, the Char-Broil 08401504 Grill2Go ICE Portable Gas Grill's two coolers and collapsible grill are all you need to get a tailgate party started

Tailgating time is almost here and as people dust off their tailgating gear, many are finding it's time to get a new tailgating grill (or finding excuses to get a new grill).  And with so many options available, buying the best tailgating grill can be a long drawn out process.  The problem is there is no "one size fits all" grill and because of this I chose to present a number of portable grills in several different categories.  Each one is the best tailgating grill in that category and is one you can feel safe in buying knowing that you'll be happy with your purchase. 

Below you'll find reviews on the best portable charcoal grill and propane grill, the best portable grill for the money and the best ride behind, hitch mounted grill.  In addition, you'll find some tips on buying these grills at some of the lowest prices on the internet.  So enough of my rambling; here are the best grills for tailgating.

Best Portable Charcoal Grill

For some people Charcoal is king.  Nothing beats that smoky, charcoal flavor that sears the meat and provides that golden texture.  Charcoal has long been the predominant portable grill and I understand that it just wouldn't be the same without one.  So if you just have to go with a charcoal tailgate grill my recommendation is the Weber 616002 Char Q Portable Charcoal Grill.  The Char Q is a modernization of the charcoal grill that adds all sorts of features for tailgating.  The new Weber grill has an aluminum body and cover as well as a nylon reinforced glass frame.  Both these components make the grill much lighter and easier to travel and the glass frame keeps the handles nice and cool.  What's nice about the Char Q is that it provides the largest cooking area of any portable charcoal grill at a whopping 280 square inches; it's comparable to some of the best propane grills.  Both the lid and the charcoal tray have dampers that allow you to control your burn much better than those cheap charcoal grills.  And with a 5-year warranty it's hard to lose.

Best Portable Propane Grill

But if you're not one of the snobby charcoal grillers, you may prefer to opt for the convenience of propane.  Modern portable gas grills are highly engineered with so many features that it easily makes them the most popular tailgating grill around.  It's hard to beat the ease of firing up the grill, throwing the food on and walking away, not having to constantly sort the food around looking for the warm and cool spots.  While it's difficult to pick just one propane tailgating grill, the Coleman Road Trip grill was my top pick.  This grill has all the amenities that you need for tailgating, camping, or even just grilling on an apartment deck.  The grill itself is 36 inch collapsible grill with a wheeled base that makes it incredibly easy to transport.  One of the things that distinguished this grill is that it had a full sized grilling surface so you don't have to monkey around with tiny grill areas; it has 285 square inches and with 2 – 10,000 BTU burners it has the power to back it up.  The detachable side tables make it space efficient and setup and tear down are done in seconds. 

Best Grill for the Money

If you're trying to be cost conscious (and in this economy who isn't) you're going to want to try and buy a grill that's worth the money.  Normally, I would recommend a good and cheap tailgate grill that costs little and performs decently.  However, for this review I had to go with the Char-Broil Grill2Go Ice.  While it costs approximately the same as the other portable tailgate grills, there are several things that make your dollar go that much farther.  The first is that it comes with 2 removable soft sided coolers.  And while these coolers aren't much to kick and scream about, they have two distinct advantages over most other portable tailgate coolers.  The first advantage is that it comes built in to the grill stand, and by that I mean it has a spot that is fully protected, you don't have to worry about where it will fit and it's extremely easy to carry these coolers because they're practically part of the wheeled stand.  The second advantage of having two coolers is that you can store different things at different temperatures.  So while you want your beer to be ice cold, the meat and veggies can stay at fridge temperatures.  Beyond the convenience of having two built in coolers is that this grill comes with an incredibly designed collapsible frame.  When the grill is all packaged up it looks a lot like the luggage suitcases and is transported much the same way.  When it's time to grill just pull up the grill and it snap-locks in place.  The grill itself uses an infrared heating technology that takes a little getting used to; it's not the same as an open flame.  But it does do a great job at cooking and you have the option to throw in some hickory or mesquite chips to add that unique flavor.  This grill definitely gives you the most bang for your buck.

Best Hitch Mounted Grill

If you want to get serious about tailgating you're just going to have to get a bigger grill.  And in order to do that it's going to have to be hitch mounted.  Now there are some pretty serious trailer grills out there that you can tow a long, but if you can't throw down that sort of cash (or don't want that much of a grill) the best hitch mounted grill is the Margaritaville G1000 Ride Behind Tailgating Propane Grill.  This grill is as close as you get to using a real propane grill like you would at home but actually, it's better.  This full sized grill has an amazing 352 square inch grilling surface and uses a hearty 20,000 BTU burner so you can easily cook up to 20 burgers, dogs, chicken or any combination thereof.  The grill gets mounted on a special arm that can be attached to any 2 inch hitch.  Once the vehicle is parked, this arm will actually swing out so that you're grilling perpendicular to your vehicle.  This is fantastic because now you have complete access to the back of the vehicle and can use the tailgate as a huge side table to store all the food, drinks, condiments, etc.  It has numerous innovative features such as electronic ignition, hooks for grilling tools, a pop down shelf for condiments and spices, a match extension tool, fold down side tables and more.  The lid has a built in theremometer and will fold back just like a real grill so you don't have to worry about trying to put the lid down somewhere.  The Margaritaville G1000 is meant to use the tiny 1lb tank and will get you through a decent tailgating session; however, if you want to grill until your heart is content you'll be much happier hooking up a real 20lb tank.  And if you need to grill in cooler climates, this is the only way to do it.

The biggest drawback for the Margaritaville G1000 Ride Behind Tailgating Propane Grill is that it comes with a cheap plastic lock to secure the grill.  It's a combination lock that is not always easy to use and can be frustrating at times.  However, you can always purchase a better lock separately if you don't like it.  You may also want to purchase a lockable hitch pin to secure it for when you're in watching the game. 

Finding the Lowest Price on Grills for Tailgating

The beauty of the internet is that it allows us to easily compare prices for things and theoretically it will bring the overall price of items down.  The biggest factors that complicate this however are things like tax, shipping and deals and promotions.  You may have noticed that a lot of the product links above will send you to Amazon.  While not always a given, I've found that 9.5 times out of 10, Amazon has the lowest price.  I've actually done the research and found that Amazon has the lowest priced grills that are selected above.  If you want you can do the research yourself but if you want to save time getting the best price on tailgating grills click any of the links above.


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    • The Midwest Man profile image

      The Midwest Man 

      7 years ago

      Nice. Wanting to get myself a small weber for tailgating (although I'm more tempted to spend money right now on the Weber Smokey Mountain). I always tend to go with weber, but this was an insightful review of the competition. May do some more research on the coleman version!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We love the Big Green Egg for grilling when we're at home, and the Weber Baby Q when we're tailgating or camping. Most importantly, we love grilling and tailgating! Nice hub :)


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