This design allowed us to create three possible heat zones, which is impossible to do on most other portable grills. This capability allowed us to grill a burger at sear temperatures on one side while cooking our chicken and vegetable kabobs at a lower temperature on the other side. The Coleman roasted well with the lid closed, although we found the lid’s latch a bit hard to operate. Portable gas grills that work with natural gas operate similarly to propane units, but the gas nozzles that control the fuel are different. They’re efficient, easy to light, and controlling the temperature is almost intuitive.
In my testing, the Mini Big Green Egg has excellent heat control and, like the larger version, is extremely fuel-efficient. No matter how you measure it, the Traveler’s 13,000-BTU burner gets plenty hot and really shines when searing. The 320-square-inch grilling surface is big enough to grill for a crowd. It’ll still fit in the trunk of most cars, but it definitely takes up a considerable amount of space. The only part about using the Nomad that I didn’t love was emptying it.
But more heat alone doesn’t equate to better grilling performance, as a grill’s performance is based on a combination of output, design, and quality of materials. Think of portable gas grills as small, outdoor, propane-powered ovens. The push-button ignition and the temperature-control dial should be easily accessible and clearly marked so you can quickly start the grill and adjust the heat without fumbling.
The Grill2Go has a maximum 9,500 Btu output, versus the Weber Q 1200’s 8,500 Btu. After we preheated it for five minutes on high, the Grill2Go reached over 600 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Weber Q 1200 never broke 525 °F. Char-Broil claims its “TRU Infrared cooking system” eliminates flare-ups, but we still had to manage moderate flares while weber genesis 2 cooking burgers, chicken, and brats. Of all the portable propane grills we tested, the Weber Q 1200 grilled foods the most consistently, with a cast-aluminum firebox that evenly held and reflected heat throughout. It had the fewest hotspots of all the grills we tried, due in large part to the U-shaped burner, which evenly heated the grate.
With the lid in place, Jumbo Joe’s bulbous kettle shape created an ideal roasting environment for our kabobs. As with the smaller Joe, the vents on the lid and base do an excellent job of controlling oxygen flow into the cooking chamber, which allowed us to control temperature. Though, like the regular Joe, wear a grill mitt to adjust the metal vents to avoid burns. The Jumbo Joe’s wide base gives it a stable, sturdy feel even when cooking on an uneven lawn. Many gas-powered grills feature an electronic push-button ignition to fire up the fuel source quickly.
Camp Chef claims it puts out 12,000 BTU, but it’s uneven—our bread test revealed comparatively cool corners at the front edge, owing to the coverage of one burner. Otherwise, that’s a lot of heat available to a relatively small grill surface. From indoor grilling to cooking weber genesis 2 pancakes for the whole family, this compact appliance can do it all. Plus, check out a clever tool for whipping up creative pancake shapes on the griddle kids will love. They deliver an ultra-satisfying sizzle when you throw your burger, steak or hot dog on the cooktop.
We like the spacious dome lid with a built-in thermometer that lets you know when it’s hot and ready to grill. The small fold-out side tables are convenient for keeping grill tools within reach. And its roomy handles make this 30-pound grill comfortable for one person to carry, too.
When closed, this portable grill is easy to carry one-handed thanks to a soft, grippable handle. When opened it has 212 square inches of cooking space—that’s enough for a whole chicken with room to spare, a rack of ribs, or close to a dozen turkey burgers. And the design of the grill surface—made of small hexagons instead of slim bars—is incredibly effective at keeping food from sliding down into the coals. Flipping and turning food on the Nomad was easier than on some grills I’ve used that had twice the space to maneuver.