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Everyone loves grilling meats or veggies as the weather gets nicer, but sadly, not everyone has the outdoor space for a full-size grill. That’s where the best mini grills come in.
The best mini grills are small enough to fit on tiny apartment balconies and patios, making them a go-to for any city-dweller. Because they’re so small, these little BBQs are also portable enough to take to the roof of your building or on a picnic in the park. Break them out for a BBQ with friends on the Fourth of July, upgrade your tailgate, or elevate your personal home-cooked meals (and have a little more fun cooking). Plus, as heat waves begin descending on cities, taking your cooking outside will keep temperatures down in your apartment.
Another great use for tiny grills is camping and road trips. They won’t take up too much space in your car and eliminate the need to find a dirty campsite grill.
These handy little cookers use charcoal to grill without propane, and many have features to avoid soiling your apartment, balcony or local park with ash and smoke. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it does take a bit of shopping around to find the right one.
What to Know Before Buying a Mini Grill
There are many factors to think about when choosing the best portable grill for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Cooking Features: Not all grills have the same talent for, well, grilling. As any seasoned griller knows, adjustable heat and a lid are both very helpful when cooking the perfect burger or steak. However, not all mini grills come with these features, so be sure to double-check before buying.
Portability: Being able to transport your mini grill around town is a huge plus. This means cookouts in the park, at the beach or anywhere else you can think of. Mini grills are designed with portability in mind, but some are lighter and easier to transport. But if you just want something to plonk down on your small apartment balcony then this doesn’t matter.
Size: If you’re especially tight on room, be sure to measure the space you have for a grill and compare it to the grill’s dimensions. The smallest grills on our list are around 14 inches, but it’s best to get the largest grill possible for maximum cooking space.
Cleanliness: Some mini grills have added features to keep your balcony or local park looking its best, as well as features to minimize smoke for indoor cooking. We’ve noted these kinds of features for each of our picks.
1. Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Since launching more than 120 years ago, Weber has become synonymous with great grilling equipment. Their Go-Anywhere grill compresses the quality of Weber’s best-selling full-size grill into a BBQ that, as the name suggests, can go anywhere.
The Go-Anywhere is our favorite tiny grill because it’s very well-made and boasts some key features for making the best possible BBQ meals. The foldable legs and cooking grate are made of plated steel, and the whole thing has a superior build quality over most mini grills.
Weber’s tiny BBQ also has a couple key features: a lid and dampers for temperature control. The lid allows for smokey flavor and doubles as a wind-blocker with built-in lid hangers. The temperature control comes in when you’re cooking thin meats, veggies or fish. All this is done on a 160-square-inch cooking space, making the grill big enough for six burgers.
The only downside with the Weber grill is the size. It’s the largest grill on our list, but at 21 x 12 inches it should still fit in any space.
2. TopTable Chefs Grillerette Pro
If you’re truly short on space, this Grillerette Pro is your best bet. The tiny grill has a 14-inch diameter and stands only six inches tall, making it the smallest on your list.
Despite its small size, the Grillerete packs a punch with some impressive features. Our favorite feature of this grill is its lack of smoke. The grill plate’s design keeps grease from dropping onto the charcoal, which is what generates most of the smoke from a barbecue. TopTable claims that this small design upgrade translates to 90% less smoke, which is seriously nice when you’re grilling close to neighbors in an apartment building. This low smoke output means you can even grill indoors when it’s too chilly or rainy outside.
The Grillerette’s most unique feature is a battery-powered fan. This fan heats up the charcoal and can be quickly adjusted for lower heat settings. This offers incredible temperature control for all kinds of grilling. The problem with this battery-operation, however, is that the batteries don’t last that long, and once they’re dead you can no longer use the grill.
When it comes to tiny grills, you probably want something extra small. However, the Grillerette does sacrifice legs to save space. So when using this thing you’ll need either a table or some limber joints to grill down low on the ground.
3. TeqHome Foldable Charcoal Grill
TeqHome went in a more elegant, minimal direction with this chargoal grill. It looks great once set up, but the sleek design is mainly for functionality. The grill folds up for transportation to become a flat, one-inch thin piece of metal, making it easy to slide in a crowded trunk or closet. Once folded, it also has a handle to easily carry on a trail or the subway. This makes it the best grill in terms of transportation.
With 170-square-inches of cooking area, you get a ton of grill space. This makes it big enough to feed several people – or a few very hungry friends.
The grill features an X design that unfolds and snaps into place for an easy two-step setup. Once it’s assembled, just add charcoal and light.
4. Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill
This mini grill from Cuisinart is another good option to consider. Cuisinart is a massive, highly-established cookware provider, so you can rest assured that you’re buying from a good brand.
At just two pounds it’s the lightest grill on our list, making it easy for anyone to carry. However, it doesn’t break down much or fold up into smaller parts to fit in a crowded trunk or closet. This makes it ideal for carrying to the park or the beach, but not great for squeezing in with lots of camping gear.
A couple other notable features on the Cuisinart are an ash catcher and a lid. The ash catcher is a small tray on the bottom, which reduces the mess and makes cleanup easier. The included lid is also handy with a dual venting system for decent temperature control.
Some may notice an issue with the grate lip being too small. This puts the grate at risk of falling into the charcoals and ruining whatever is on it. It’s not likely to happen, but an accident like that could spell disaster.