Best Camping Grill [Review & Guide]
Whether you’re on the trail or in your own backyard, grilling food is the way to bring out healthy, old-fashioned flavor in the meats and vegetables you love. From simple grate designs that fit in a backpack to models with as many features as big backyard barbeques, the convenience of a portable camping grill makes it possible to enjoy the advantages of grilling anywhere. Our article aims to help you choose the best camping grill for your needs.
Table of Contents
Forget the cold sandwiches and processed food. With a camp grill, you can create healthy meals without the unwanted carcinogens other cooking methods like frying can produce. Meats retain their juices, and vegetables stay moist while the action of heat on their natural sugars — called the Maillard reaction — causes the welcomed sizzle and caramelization that adds deep, delicious flavor.
Just a spritz of oil prevents sticking and fat melts away, leaving only a clean, healthy meal with no greasy taste. Use your favorite marinades and seasonings to bring out the best in steaks and chops and maybe a squeeze of fresh citrus to liven up a skewer of grilled onion and summer squash. The right amount of heat and a little know-how will truly change the way you see food.
Whether you’re new to outdoor cooking or an old hand looking to upgrade, we’ll review the basics of grilling right here and take a look at the most important features to look for in a camp grill. We’ve researched the top models and poured over hundreds of user reviews to find the best camping grill for everyone. Here are our top choices.
Best Camping Grills
Bushcraft Grill - Welded Stainless Steel High Strength Mesh
Stansport Pack Grill
Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill
Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill
Blackstone Table Top Grill
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Coleman Fold N Go Propane Grill
Coleman Camp Propane Grill/Stove
Weber 1211001 Jumbo Joe 18-Inch Portable Grill
Best Camping Grill Reviews
Review of Bushcraft Grill - Welded Stainless Steel High Strength Mesh
Made for the trail, this compact grill is just a wire mesh grate that’s designed to cook over open flame, but at only 4 ounces, it’s lightweight enough to carry anywhere, requires no fuel and the 9.5 x 5-inch size fits conveniently in a pack.
The unique 3-dimensional, edge-to-edge construction of the heavy-duty 308 stainless steel lets it handle weight without warping or sagging — an important feature for heating a pot full of water — and the tight 0.5-inch mesh spaces keep food from falling through.
Each unit is handmade, handles heat up to 1200 degrees Celsius (2190 Fahrenheit), and the cooking surface is safe for direct use — just lay the food on and grill. It sets up in seconds over supports of your choice like wood or rock, cleans up easily and slips back into the included nylon carrying pouch for easy transport.
- Lightweight and compact
- Choice of set up options for use over a campfire or open flame stove
- Tight mesh weave keeps food secure
- Small cooking surface
- No integrated supports
Review of Stansport Pack Grill
The Stansport Pack Grill is made of heavy gauge chrome plated steel. Like the Bushcraft, it’s a simple grate design, but with folding legs that eliminate the need to add supports. The grill surface is larger at 12.5 x 6.25 inches, but it’s heavier at almost 14 ounces, and the unidirectional wire cook surface isn’t ideal for keeping small items from falling through.
For a family, however, the larger size is perfect for accommodating more food. Set up is as easy as unfolding it, and the legs are both sturdy and adjustable for height. Users report the overall construction doesn’t feel as impressive initially as heavier grills, but it holds a large skillet with ease and with care seems as durable as other models in its class.
This grill may not be ideal for a single hiker looking for least possible weight to carry on a trail, but it’s still highly portable and a top choice for small groups at a campground or fuss-free roadside grilling.
- Integrated legs for quick setup
- Folds for easy transport
- Large cooking surface
- Heavy for backpacking
- Unidirectional grate design
Review of Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill
If you’re looking for a grill that’s simple, but rugged enough to handle extensive use and heavy cast iron cookware without sagging, this may be a good choice. It’s made of heavy-duty steel and comes in three sizes — medium (16 x 12 inches), large (24 x 16 inches) and extra-large (36 x 18 inches). The integrated legs fold underneath the grill for quick set up and compact storage and the tight mesh grate keeps food from falling through. Set it up over a fire pit, and you’re ready to grill.
At an average of seven pounds, this grill is no lightweight, but the large cooking surface can make a meal for a family of four or more, and the sturdy construction is well-suited for consistent use. A few users have had issues with paint peeling off the surface, so cooking in pots and pans may be a better option than direct grilling, however, but that makes it easy to clean and the large capacity makes it a best camping grill for family camping or regular use in the backyard.
- Choice of three sizes
- Sturdy all-steel construction
- Large capacity cooking surface
- Painted surface may flake
Review of Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill
For a backyard grilling experience, this model by Uten blends the best features of a large charcoal grill with the portability you need to take it on the road. Closed, it measures 13.8 x 9.4 x 2.4 inches for easy transport, but opens to a generous 13.8 x 10.6 x 7.9 inches to offer plenty of cooking surface for both you and friends. It’s lightweight at less than four pounds, and the handle makes it a breeze to carry.
Set up takes only a minute. When the unit is unfolded, the interior pieces fall into place without installing additional parts – just lock the legs in place, put it on an even surface, add charcoal and grill. The vented design burns cleanly and doesn’t produce an excess of ash. The grate is aluminum and prone to warping if the heat gets too high, but with care, it makes food with the traditional barbecue taste you love while the lightweight, travel-friendly design makes it a winner for last minute tailgating.
- Compact, easy to use design
- Charcoal imparts smoky grilled flavor
- Grate prone to warping in high heat
Review of Blackstone Table Top Grill
If you want a grill that’s portable, but feels more like you’re cooking in your own kitchen, consider this premium model from Blackstone. It’s fueled by propane, but unlike similar grills, there’s no open grate. It features an easy-to-clean solid steel surface that sits over an H-shaped 12,000 BTU burner and functions more like a griddle than a conventional grill. It heats quickly and evenly and the 260 square inches of cooking capacity is plenty for a family.
For transport, the cooktop inverts over the base and it measures 15.25 x 17 inches. At 25 pounds, it’s heavy, but has features like a home cooktop that make a good choice for novices. The propane fuel source is familiar to most and easy to use, the starter is electric and a single knob adjusts the heat like a conventional gas burner.
If you like the concept but would like a larger gilling surface, it's also available in a 22-inch version.
This may not be the best camping grill for roughing it, but for bringing kitchen convenience to the great outdoors, it’s worth a second look.
- Easy to clean solid surface
- Grease catch prevents messy spills
- Use one pound propane canisters or twenty-pound tanks with the optional adapter
- Powerful burner uses fuel faster
Review of Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
The Weber name is synonymous with grilling and this well-appointed Go-Anywhere charcoal model is no exception. It weighs just 14 pounds, measures 12.2 x 21 x 14.5 inches and provides 160 square inches of grilling surface. The heavy-duty steel body is porcelain enamel coated for weather-resistance, and the triple-nickel-coated steel grate is both durable and easy to clean.
Where this grill truly excels, however, is with design features that make cooking easier like dual dampers. These allow you to regulate the flow of air into the grill, letting you better control heat and smoke levels. The glass-reinforced nylon handle stays cool while you’re cooking, and an integrated lid hanger lets you rest the lid on the side of the grill, creating an effective windscreen.
For portability, the legs fold up to secure the lid in place and a top-mounted carrying handle is ergonomically-friendly. Like all Weber products, it’s built to last and comes with both a two-year warranty and parts support.
- Dual vents for precision air and smoke control
- Built-in lid holder
- Shallow base doesn’t hold enough charcoal for extended cooking
- Top handle is short for large hands
Review of Coleman Fold N Go Propane Grill
Coleman’s Fold N Go propane grill is small, but it’s a powerhouse. It produces up to 6000 BTU of heat over its 105 square inches of grilling surface and has a horseshoe shape burner that’s adjustable for precision temperature control and even heating. At 11 pounds and 14 x 16 x 4.5 inches, it’s not for backpacks, but it’s a good compact alternative for small families on an overlanding or camping trip.
One feature that stands out on this grill is its fuel efficiency. Like other propane models, it uses standard 16.4 ounce cylinders, but Coleman’s PerfectFlow technology helps each lasts about 3.5 hours, making it possible to cook for several days on one cylinder depending on usage.
It has a grease catch and the grate is dishwasher safe, but while Coleman claims the surface is non-stick, it has a reputation among users for not releasing food as well as expected. Still, with a spritz of oil or a brush of butter, the grill gets high marks for performance.
- Fuel-efficient for cost savings
- It has a compact design
- Adjustable temperature control
- Grate surface sticks more than expected
- Small cooking surface for the weight of the grill
Review of Coleman Camp Propane Grill/Stove
This Coleman Camp stove is the traditional design that many of us grew up with, but with a twist. It has a two-in-one design that features two independently-controlled burners. One can be used to grill or griddle while the other tackles a different task like heating water for coffee. Combined, they offer 130 square-inches of cooking area.
One each side of the unit is a folding windscreen for top performance in the cold and wind. On quiet days, they fold down for use as side tables — a handy feature for keeping utensils clean. Like some of Coleman’s other stoves, this one comes equipped with PerfectFlow technology to maximize fuel combustion and save on propane costs.
Convenience features include a drip tray for grease and a smooth, streamlined design that makes both interior and exteriors surfaces easier to clean. For travel, just fold it up like a briefcase and engage the heavy-duty latch.
- Two independent burners
- Flexible windscreen
- Fuel efficient
- Heat controls are on or off, not variable
- Exterior of the grill gets very hot during use
Review of Weber 1211001 Jumbo Joe 18-Inch Portable Grill
If you need big grill performance, the Weber Jumbo Joe is a top contender. Assembled, it measures 19.75 x 20.5 x 19.75 inches and features a full 18.5-inch heavy-duty steel cooking grate with 240 square inches of surface. The porcelain-enamel bowl is resistant to rust and fading, and it holds enough charcoal for an afternoon of grilling.
An aluminum ash catcher contain hot ashes, and the damper helps control vital air flow over the hot coals. The glass-reinforced handle stays cool during use and also helps keep the carrying handle secure over the lid for travel. Once assembled for the first time, it’s essentially carry and go.
Despite its large size, it comes in at under nine pounds, making it both large enough for a crowd and portable enough to go almost anywhere.
- Rust-resistant construction
- Extra-large cooking surface
- Effective damper controls air flow and smoke
- Lightweight, but bulky
- Initial assembly can be challenging
How to Use a Camping Grill
To get the most of your camping grill, here are few expert tips.
First, consider fire safety. Nothing puts a damper on a cook-out faster than an injury, so always start by reading the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Some grills may look alike, but the materials and technology can be vastly different.
Use only the recommended fuels and accessories, and keep things away from the perimeter of the grill when it’s hot — especially tiny fingers. Always throw hot coals away in a fireproof receptacle, and if you’ve started an open fire outdoors for a grate-style stove, extinguishing it safely before leaving your camp site.
Use the right level of heat
Next, learn to prepare your favorite foods using the right level of heat. The two most common methods are direct and indirect grilling. Foods that cook quickly are best cooked over direct heat for maximum flavor and moisture retention. Chicken breast, hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks as well as seafood and pizza are good examples.
Other foods, especially tougher cuts of meats like ribs benefits from slow cooking under lower heat. This allows collagen to turn to gelatin and tenderizes cuts like ribs and roasts without over-charring the outside.
On a propane grill, keep the food in an area where there is no direct flame. With a charcoal grill, confine briquettes to one side of the grill or push them around the edges to keep the center cooler. Creating two zones of heat lets you cook foods that require different temperatures at the same time.
Indirect heat and direct flames
It also helps when combining methods to get the most out of your food. Vegetable skewers and seafood, for example, are best cooked indirectly until tender, but need a few minutes over high heat to char and develop a deep grilled flavor. Similarly, ribs become moist and tender over a long, slow heat, but need a blast of high temperature to spur the Maillard reaction and achieve a crusty, caramelized exterior.
Add wood chips for extra flavor
For extra flavor, add wood chips to the fire. Hickory, mesquite and apple wood are good choices. Soak them for an hour in water before grilling and toss them directly on a charcoal fire. If you have a propane grill, add them to a metal smoker box or tube and place it directly on the grate.
Proper food handling
Finally, prevent food-borne illness with proper food handling. If you’ll be cooking meat frequently, invest in a quick-read meat thermometer. Check the interior temperature of all grilled meats, and follow USDA guidelines for safety. It’s the only way to be sure bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms have been eliminated. Always use separate utensils to handle cooked and uncooked foods to prevent bacterial cross-contamination and discard used marinade.
What are the best easy foods to cook on a camping grill?
Most foods are particularly delicious when cooked on a grill, but some are more challenging to make than others. If you’re ready to move beyond hamburgers and hot dogs, here are some of the best easy foods for a camping grill.
Corn on the Cob
Peel the husks down, but not completely off. Butter the corn and add seasonings of your choice. Pull the husks back up and place the corn directly on the grill over indirect heat until the husks darken. Remove and enjoy!
Thread sturdy vegetables like onions, peppers, eggplant and cherry tomatoes onto wood or metal skewers. Wood skewers should be soaked in water for at least thirty minutes to prevent scorching. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top and grill over indirect heat until they’re tender. A quick roll over high heat will give them the tasty char they deserve. Splash them with a bit of citrus juice for a bright finish.
Boneless Chicken Breasts
Boneless chicken breasts are nearly goof-proof. Prepare them with your favorite marinade or spice rub, and then lay them over medium, but direct heat. Pounding breast flat first to make them an even thickness will give you more consistent results and avoid the problem of drying out the tapered end to ensure the thicker end is fully cooked.
One word of caution — breasts cook quickly and will dry out if over cooked. The USDA recommends poultry be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally, but if you remove chicken breasts from the grill when they reach 160 degrees and let them rest, they will continue to cook and will reach 165 degrees without risking overcooking.
Scallops and shrimp are ideal for the grill with a little care. Like chicken, they can overcook quickly, but by grilling them over indirect heat until tender before subjecting them to charring heat, moisture and flavor are retained. For practice, try cooking them in a skillet on your grill first to get a feel of how long they take to cook, or skewer them and wrap them in foil for protection — removing them only when you’re ready for the final sear.
Take some advice from the top pit masters, the secret of fall-off-the-bone ribs is simple. All takes it lots of time over gentle heat and the perfect rack can be yours. For the best baby back ribs, start with a dry spice rub. This is also a great trick to flavor inexpensive cuts of meat. Wrap the ribs in foil, and lay them over indirect heat until tender. Be patient, this may take up to six hours. Then remove the ribs carefully, and give them five to eight minutes over medium high heat on each side. Then pass the napkins — you’re going to need them.
The Final Roundup - The Best Camping Grill
Choosing the best camping grill for your needs is the first step to perfect results. All eleven grills on our list are top performers, but a few stand out.
Among family-size grills, the Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill and Weber’s Jumbo Joe deliver both portability and big barbeque performance. For steakhouse quality grilled meats, the edge goes to the Jumbo Joe, but for the best camping grill that’s still reasonably portable, the nod goes to the lightweight Uten Barbeque. If charcoal isn’t your style, we like the Blackstone Tabletop Grill for it’s large capacity and user-friendly design.
For backpackers, the best camping grill is the stainless steel Bushcraft. At four ounces, it’s lightweight enough for long days on the trail and tough enough to handle whatever nature throws at it.
For everyone in between, the Coleman Fold-N-Go grill is mid-size alternative with 106 square inches of cooking surface, good fuel efficiency and reputation for solid performance.
Why settle for cold sandwiches or rehydrated packaged food when you can have healthy, full-flavored meals outdoors? Make your next expedition an adventure in flavor with a portable camping grill.