Can you possibly imagine a tailgate party without grills, beers or friends? Grilling is the heart of an every tailgate party, and any tailgater will tell you that a party without the best tailgate grills is incomplete and utterly useless. The absence of a good tailgate charcoal grill or propane grill makes a tailgating bbq party look like some random parking.
Cool nights and the changing leaves, school supplies and pumpkin-flavored everything—fall is here and its onset marks the start of another glorious football season.
You need one of the best tailgate grills for all those beautiful and memorable days to come. Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, Thursday night—from Labor Day through the New Year, over half the week features a kickoff and, of course, tailgating.
To have a game, you must first have a pre-game, complete with great food and beer. Sure, you could just pack sandwiches or, if it’s a big game, get crazy and break out the spicy queso. But, like a fan wearing the game jersey of a subpar player cut two seasons ago, you’d be telling the world you can’t be taken seriously.
You’ve seen the pros in the parking lot, their grills billowing smoke and burdened by sizzling meat.
Want to play in their league? Here are our favorite best tailgating grills, grouped by their pre-gaming abilities—and they can all be easily transported without an oversized truck or breaking a sweat.
Best overall tailgate grill|best tailgate propane grill
The Coleman RoadTrip LXE Portable propane gas Grill is the overall winner, and certainly one of the best tailgate grills around, which offers the best tailgating bbq party experience! Packed with 285 grilling surface, switchable cooktops to easily switch up different grill grates, sliding side tables and super lightweight material!
You can easily morph Coleman RoadTrip LXE portable propane gas grill into a trolley with its collapsable legs with superb wheels. This makes the Coleman Roadtrip a top choice among all tailgaters.
Best Tailgate Grills – Cheap Tailgate Grills
Sometimes, you’re satisfied to just kick off your shoes, chill and get into the game. The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill and Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill allow you to get into the tailgating game with only a modest investment. Small, portable, affordable, both are perfect for entry-level tailgating grill lovers.
Love charcoal flavor, and only want a tailgate charcoal grill? Go with this top of the line portable charcoal grill, The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill. At less than $100, this makes the Web Go-Anywhere Charcoal grill one of the cheapest charcoal grills and certainly one of the best tailgate grills for the money.
Just in case you’re one of those who are often turned off by the charcoal lightening process, we’ve covered that for you on our “how to light a charcoal grill” in this article, and if you’re thinking about what fuel source to used, wood chips and charcoal lumps will do the trick for you.
There’s also a great article on how to prepare wood chips for grilling here.
Prefer the ease of propane and would rather choose a tailgate propane grill? Choose the Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill.
Either one will give you the ability to fire up burgers, hotdogs, wings, and sausages while arguing the merits of a 3-4 defense with a cold brew in your hand.
However, just like that rookie walk-on from South Boise Junior College, these grills have limited ability.
With less than 200 square inches of cooking space, you won’t be hosting many people at your tailgate bbq party. And if you’re thinking about pre-gaming with real-deal BBQ, think again, because smoking and indirect cooking aren’t options.
Best Tailgate Grills – Portable Vertical Smokers
Everybody dreams of getting their number called in a big spot and making a game-changing play. Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker and Weber Smokey Mountain 14.5 are true game-changers, taking a ho-hum tailgate to the next level with authentic BBQ. Want to win fans? These small smokers are perfect for tailgating, especially if you’re looking for a vertical smoker grill!
They feature dual cooking levels for more cooking area, so you can wow the crowd with low-and-slow pulled pork and baby back ribs. Thanks to a stacked design, both can be easily broken down and packed in the trunk of a car.
Much like that undersized scatback, these portable smokers are primarily specialists. Although you can use the lower tier of both cookers as a small charcoal grill, their strength is smoking.
Best Tailgate Grills – Portable Ceramic Grill
Everyone loves a quarterback with a howitzer for an arm, but wouldn’t it be great if he could also run a naked bootleg for fifteen yards. Both the Kamado Joe Jr. and Traeger Tailgater bring that kind of do-it-all versatility to tailgating.
Grill, smoke, bake or roast, they do it all. Despite their big abilities, both have a compact size that makes going from backyard to parking lot hassle-free.
A small kamado that weighs just 56 pounds, the Char-Griller AKORN Jr is one of the few ceramic grills you can actually take on-the-go. Whether you want to serve low-and-slow BBQ or flame-grilled burgers, the Joe Jr. will do it masterfully.
It can smoke at 250°F for hours then be cranked to 700°F to sear steaks or bake parking lot pizza. It even comes with key accessories like a cast iron stand and the deflector plate needed for smoking.
Best Tailgate BBQ Grills – Portable Wood Pellet Grill
Wouldn’t it be super awesome if you had the power to spend more time hanging out at your tailgate and less time cooking? And even monitor your cooking on your Wifi connected phone? The Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi-Controlled Portable Wood Pellet Grill will grill, smoke, bake, and roast at the touch of a button.
Because it has automatic temperature control, you just set the temperature and let Davy do the rest. While it cooks, you’re free to pregame like a champ. The Wifi connectivity enables are fast and teady connection with your grill, and allows you to casually check your phone as if you were reading a message from the side chick. The Green Mountain Davy also features fold-away legs for easy packing and transporting.
Greatness isn’t given, it’s earned through excellence. Want to be a Hall of Fame tailgater? Bring your A-Game and an amazing menu. The Broil King Keg 5000 and Louisiana Grills Tailgater have the versatility you want and the performance you need to achieve legendary status.
Wish you could take a full-sized kamado to the stadium, but can’t fathom loading and unloading a 200-pound ceramic grill? The Broil King Keg 5000 is a steel kamado with all the capability of a ceramic grill, but weighs less and is more durable.
With the included secondary cooking rack it has 480 square inches of cooking space, so whether you smoke brisket or grill ribeyes, there will be enough for all of your adoring fans. Despite its size, the Keg is easy to transport—it can be outfitted with an optional Trailer Hitch Adapter.
The Louisiana Grills Tailgater is another portable pellet grill, but it takes set-it and forget-it to another level. This Tailgater can hold its temperature within a few degrees, even during those cold weather games.
It also has a programmable meat probe that will turn down the heat when food is done—even if you get caught up in an epic game of Cornhole, it’s impossible to overcook food. The Tailgater additionally includes a direct grilling feature, so you can use this pellet grill for searing steaks and burgers over an open flame.
No matter where you rank as a tailgater, there’s always availability of best tailgate grills for you to choose to help you get game-ready, including a number of portable charcoal and gas grills.