Traeger Grills®

I live in Brooklyn where I write about food subscriptions, cooking, kitchen gadgets and commerce. My only complaint about the Venture is that the grease tray is small and therefore prone to spilling if you aren’t careful when you slide it out. Despite that, this is a clever, fun, well-designed grill that’s perfect for searing on the go.

portable bbq

Two clips in the front hold the whole unit tightly together, and you can effortlessly carry the whole thing with one hand . Weighing over 40 pounds , the Weber Q 2200 stretches the meaning of “portable” to its limits. However, the Q 2200 is still an excellent grill for small backyard spaces. And unlike a full-size grill, it folds down small enough to stash in a garden shed or a garage.

And the heat-resistant lid handle stays cool enough to grasp without a towel or oven mitt. For those who love the taste of wood pellet grilled and smoked food, the Frontier Series Traveler Country Smokers Wood Pellet Grill is a must-have. The portable model works as both a grill and smoker, and it can hold up to 5 pounds of wood pellets in its built-in hopper. The grill features 256 square inches of cooking surface, and it can be used to bake, seat, roast, braise, grill, and smoke all sorts of foods on the go. First of all, we loved the way our food tasted after being cooked on the Big Green Egg MiniMax. It’s everything we love about the larger Big Green Eggs, just in miniature form!

But Weber’s warranty covers most of the unit for five years, so we think the price is justified. The propane coupling sat a couple of millimeters too close to the body, and we had to flex the assembly away from the grill to get the canister to fit. We asked Q 1200 owners on staff if they had this issue, and they confirmed that attaching the propane was easy on their grills. We’re chalking this up as a one-off problem unique to our test unit. When the side tables are tucked inside the grill for transport, the Weber Q 1200 is about the size of a small carry-on suitcase. You need both hands to carry the Q 1200, because it doesn’t have a latch to hold the lid securely to the firebox.

The two-piece grates are made of cast iron and coated with porcelain, covering three burners that yield 20,000 BTUs. The burners all sit under the solid center sections of the grates, which our bread test revealed to be the hottest area on the grill. You will need to carefully manage indirect heat when cooking thicker things like chicken on the bone—we kept it over the open grates around the edges of the grill. The 25 x 12-inch cooking surface will hold a lot of burgers, dogs, or whatever your preference. And, if you want to mix things up, the grill grates swap out for griddle or stove grates .

When it came to performance, Traeger’s reputation preceded itself. The burgers cooked evenly throughout the cooking surface while the chicken drumsticks prepared on the Ranger were the best out of all the grills we tested. The Ranger has a heat deflector plate that prevents direct searing, but everything we cooked on this pellet grill was infused with smoky flavor from the pellets. The eight-pound pellet capacity is plenty for a regular grilling session, and we had more than half the pellets left in the hopper after hours of testing.

While we didn’t test it on low-and-slow smoking temperatures, we anticipate this hopper capacity should be able to produce smoke for five to six hours before needing a refill. We also loved that the Traeger is easy to clean, especially if you use Traeger’s drip tray and bucket liners. As with its larger Weber kettle grills siblings, the Jumbo Joe’s stainless steel grates were easy to clean, as was the large ash catcher bucket clipped in underneath the grill. Being able to control the airflow is important when cooking over charcoal; the bottom vents control the heat of the fire, while the top exhausts hot air and smoke out of the grill. And while it’s size may have made it bulky and hard to transport, Weber’s round, kettle design kept it from being intimidating. If you prefer that smoky charcoal flavor, the lightweight Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18″ matches the searing and grilling abilities of a full-size kettle.

We were really impressed by how easy it was to cook with either direct or indirect heat. The charcoal tray is adjustable, hanging from a ladder rack that can quickly raise or lower the coals as needed. The burgers came out with fantastic coloring and that “cooked over charcoal” taste. To cook chicken more slowly, we shuffled the coals to one side, put it in away from them, and closed the lid.

One grill we’re looking at is the Napoleon TravelQ 285, which has strikingly similar specs and body design as the Weber Q2200. We also want to look at a couple of fancier-looking portable grills like the BioLite FirePit+ that, as the name suggests, can be used as a grill weber genesis 2 and a fire pit, and burns wood and charcoal. It’s on the pricier side, but this model folds up into a suitcase for portability, and it can be used open as a high-heat grill or closed as a smoker. We’re curious if its build and functionality could be worth the cost.

The Ranger’s 176 square inches of cooking space fits about six burgers, which isn’t enough to feed a crowd but is more than enough space to feed two to four people. We actually liked the reduced cooking area compared to other portable pellet grills we tested because it makes the unit more compact. After locking down the lid, this 13- by 21-inch tabletop grill fits easily into the storage compartment of your RV or on the floor in the passenger side of a car. That said, it does weigh 60 pounds and doesn’t have any carry handles, so it is a little difficult to transport.