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The best portable barbecues on test

Published: June 10, 2022 at 5:00 pm
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Portable barbecues are a convenient middle ground between hefty grills and disposable trays. Here's our pick of the best travel, bucket and tabletop BBQs, tried and tested.

Portable barbecues make life easier for the space-constrained and gardenless. They also offer an economical alternative to wasteful disposable barbecues that scorch grass and are, ironically, difficult to dispose of. We looked for barbecues that are easy to use and make good food.

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Provided you have the appropriate means to transport them – some of our choices would need to be taken by car rather than carried by hand – portable barbecues can be used on campsites, beaches and potentially in the park, though you should check your local council website first.

We tested pint-sized barbecues and scored them on ease of assembly, portability, heat retention and durability.

Looking for some barbecue food inspiration? Browse through our best ever barbecue recipes which includes recipes like our sticky barbecue chicken and our Swedish meatball burgers. Plus we have a collection of the best vegetarian barbecue recipes and best vegan barbecue recipes so nobody feels left out of the picnic.

Read on to discover the results of our test. For over 400 buyer's guides, visit our reviews section and find reviews of charcoal, gas and budget barbecues and much more.

The best portable barbecues at a glance

  • Best designed portable barbecue: Berghoff tabletop barbecue, £126.26
  • Best multipurpose portable barbecue: Cobb barbecue cooking system, £139
  • Best lightweight portable barbecue: Landmann Piccolino portable charcoal barbecue, £44.99
  • Best portable barbecue that heats up quickly: LotusGrill, £149
  • Best portable barbecue that's durable and reliable: Weber Smokey Joe Premium, £74.99
  • Best portable gas barbecue: Weber Q1200 gas barbecue, £275
  • Best portable gas barbecue for couples or small families: Char-Broil Grill2Go, £143
  • Best budget portable barbecue: George Foreman GFSBBQ1 single burner, £124.99

The best portable BBQs on test

Berghoff tabletop barbecue

Best portable barbecue with genius mat design

Pros: Ultra easy to carry and has a cork lid to double as a mat on grass
Cooks for: three to four people

This stylish Berghoff barbecue is lightweight, despite being made of sturdy carbon steel. The strong carrying strap is more than fit for purpose, then the cork lid cleverly doubles as a heatproof mat when using the grill on grass. When alight, the lid also acts as the vent to allow or prevent too much air coming into the firebox from the bottom.

Read our full Berghoff portable barbecue review.

Cobb barbecue cooking system

Best multipurpose portable barbecue

Pros: ultra easy to carry and a multitasker
Cooks for: three to four people
Accessories: padded shoulder bag

This is a serious piece of al fresco cooking kit – not only does it barbecue food, it’s also suitable for smoking, roasting and pizza making. The design is sleek and futuristic, it requires minimal charcoal and the Teflon cooking plate is easy to clean. It's worth pointing out that as it doesn’t have traditional griddle grooves, our sausages rolled around and got a bit unruly.

Landmann Piccolino portable charcoal barbecue

Best lightweight portable barbecue

Pros: attractive colour and very lightweight
Cooks for: three to four people
Accessories: set of tongs and warming rack

This barbecue is light as a feather and easily portable, but pretty solid and durable too. It’s really easy to pack away – the coal sits in a small bowl inside the base of the barbecue so all you have to do is remove this, throw away the remains and give it a quick wipe. Once in the box, it would easily fit under patio furniture or could be stored in a small cupboard.

LotusGrill

Lotus Grill charcoal barbecue

Best portable barbecue that heats up quickly

Pros: super-speedy cooking time and compact shape
Cooks for: four to five people
Accessories: carry bag and batteries (for the fan)

If the worst part of barbecuing is waiting for your food, then this is the portable grill for you. The LotusGrill has a built-in fan, which helps the charcoal get to temperature in around five minutes. Compared to other charcoal barbecues, we couldn’t believe the ease with which you could cook – no need to coax the coals, simply fire it up and expect good heat for over half an hour. The charcoal is in an enclosed container, and with a fan going, you don’t get much in the way of charcoal flavour, but the efficiency and generous cooking area far outweighs this.

Weber Smokey Joe Premium

Portable barbecue that's durable and reliable

Pros: classic American barbecue design at its finest
Cooks for: three to four people
Accessories: none included

Weber don’t just do barbecues – they do epic, Tony-Soprano-friendly contraptions the size of small sheds. For those of us without acres of lawn, they also make this neat, dinky dome. The porcelain-enameled material is deceptively lightweight and extremely durable, with a handy lid that clips onto the side for protection against the wind, plus it’s a doddle to clean. We left ours outside, uncovered, for an entire winter and it barely diminished, despite considerable pummelling from the British weather.

Weber Q1200 gas barbecue

Best portable gas barbecue

Star rating: 4.5/5

Pros: easy to use, compact to store
Cooks for: four people
Accessories: none included

As you might expect with this trusted brand, the Q1200 portable gas barbecue is easy to use and cooks well, albeit without the fancy features of larger models. Despite using a small C500 gas cartridge, it heats efficiently, but the temperature quickly drops if the lid is opened for any length of time. It takes several minutes to regain heat after this, especially once the grill is covered with food.

Clear instructions mean it’s easy to assemble, and it can be used without the stand, so it’s a sensible option if space is tight or to take out and about. One word of warning: make sure the plastic side tables don’t accidentally touch the hot grill as they are likely to scorch.

This is a versatile bit of kit, which can be used with or without the stand, making it completely portable, whether you’re in the garden or on the beach. Read our full Weber Q1200 review.

Available from:
BBQ World (£275)
John Lewis and Partners (£376)
Weber (£389)

Char-Broil Grill2Go

Best portable gas barbecue for couples or small families

Star rating: 4/5

Pros: compact and lightweight for moving round the garden (9.7kg), easy to set up and use, good cooking results
Cooks for: two to three people
Accessories: scraper

This is a single-burner gas model. It's quick to reach temperature, hitting the top temp in just five minutes. For ease, there's also a thermometer in the lid. The 44cm x 28cm cooking area is generous and the entire unit is compact enough to take camping, too.

We couldn't fault the burgers we cooked on this barbecue; they each had well-defined grill lines and retained moisture well. The veggie kebabs we cooked were crisped and charred on the outside, and remained soft inside. While we loved the impressive power of the grill, it was still pretty ferocious, even when cooking at lower temperatures.

Read our full Char-Broil Grill2Go review

Available from:
Amazon (£143)
Appliances Direct (£180)
BBQ World (£199.99)

George Foreman GFSBBQ1 Single Burner

Best budget portable barbecue

Star rating: 4/5

Pros: low price for a gas barbecue, even heat coverage, easy to set up with clear instructions, cooks well
Cooks for: three people
Accessories: none

This George Foreman single burner barbecue is a great choice for three people, or up to four people at a push. This reached temperature in just five minutes, plus the knob to the side of the barbecue made it easy to control. All test dishes cooked on this model turned out brilliantly.

There are no bells and whistles with this barbecue – it's simplistic in design and there are no additional functions.

The char lines produced were good, but we definitely saw better from some of the other models in this list. That said, we found this barbecue easy to set up, save for the fiddly regulator valve.

For simple burgers, sausages and buns on a sunny day, this model did a good job.

Read our full George Foreman GFSBBQ1 Single Burner review

How we tested portable barbecues

  1. How easy it is to put together: convenience is key here. We looked for models that can be assembled in minutes.
  2. Portability and storage: how easily the barbecue can be carried and how heavy it is, plus how well it can be stored in the long term.
  3. Design: we're suckers for nifty aesthetic flashes.
  4. How quickly it cools down: we don’t want to be trapped in the park, sat around burning cinders until dawn.
  5. Durability and accessories: the quality of the metal and whether it comes with added extras.

Barbecue recipes and tips...

Best barbecues for less than £100
How to barbecue safely
Our best-ever barbie recipes
How to throw a last-minute barbecue
Our barbecue section

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If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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