According to science, grilling the perfect steak doesn't require hours of thawing and prep. It also doesn't require a huge, expensive barbecue. You just need to heat up the meat's exterior quickly for a sear that looks great and seals in the juiciness. The best small gas grills offer enough heat and surface area for all of your grilling needs — and they do so without breaking the bank and without taking up too much room on your porch or patio. (Some are even small enough to fit in your trunk for your camping and tailgating expeditions.) That said, despite the size, you should always make sure that you're not compromising on must-have features, like prep space and gas compatibility.
If you're looking for a small grill, you're probably short on space, so take a look at the measurements first to make sure your new grill will fit in its intended spot. For those who want to take their grills on the road, you'll also want to know its weight in addition to whether or not it'll fit in your car easily.
Next, check to see if the grill has some kind of prep space — especially if you'll be preparing your dinner far from your kitchen. Some of the best options have fold-out arms or built-in cutting boards where you can chop and marinade your ingredients. (For home grills, this is less essential, but it is nice to have somewhere to rest your tools and serving platter.)
Last but not least, see what kind of gas tank the grill takes. When you're talking about grills, the terms propane, liquid propane, and gas are often used interchangeably, but the canisters will differ from unit to unit. Make sure yours are easy to use and obtain.
With all of that in mind, here are the four best small gas grills for both travel and home use.
1. The Overall Best Small Gas Grill
- Overall size: 20.5 by 40.9 by 24.6 inches
- Cooking area size: 189 square inches
- Weight: 30 pounds
- Types of gas cylinders: Disposable 14.1- or 16.4-ounce LP cylinders
The Weber Q-1200 grill has over 1,500 reviews and a 4.8-star rating, which is virtually unheard of in this category. Still, the combination of smart features and a portable design have made this a fan favorite. It has a thermometer built-in, porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates, effortless ignition, and two hinging arms for extra workspace. Most importantly, the 8,500-BTU burner "gets extremely hot and cooks fast with even heat," according to one reviewer. It's also easy to clean, easy to transport, and comes in your choice of six colors. Note that the cylinders are sold separately, as is the Weber Q Portable Cart that turns this into a more traditional grill.
One reviewer wrote: "Why oh why have I been using a giant clunky and incredibly difficult to move grill for so long? This grill is a total winner. I bought it for our family campout. I've been using the usual 'camp stove' for years but really wanted something that I could use camping and at home for cooking and for grilling - all in one item. I have found it with this Weber Grill."
2. The Best Grill With Legs
- Overall size: 28 by 17.5 by 32.5 inches
- Cooking area size: 160 square inches
- Weight: 17 pounds
- Types of gas cylinders: 16-ounce propane cylinder
Those who live with small decks or just want a portable grill with legs will appreciate the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet gas grill. The porcelain-enameled grilling surface is large enough to cook up to eight burgers at once, but the small footprint, folding legs, and lightweight design mean it's ideal for tight yards. It also has a handle for easy transferring, plus the twist-start electric ignition lights quickly while the 5,500-BTU burner cooks evenly and without hassle, though it's a little less powerful than the other picks on this list.
One reviewer wrote: "I absolutely love this little grill. I moved to an apartment with a small balcony and had no room for my large grill. This is fantastic and so easy to pack up and take with you. Highly recommend it."
3. The Best Grill For Camping
- Overall size: 16.3 by 13 by 10.75 inches
- Cooking area size: 154 square inches
- Weight: 21 pounds
- Types of gas cylinders: 1-pound propane tank
Because it's the size of a larger lunchbox, the Cuisinart Venture grill is the best pick for camping, RVs, picnics, and small tailgating parties. The porcelain-enameled cast-iron grill cooks using an impressive 9,000 BTUs, while the lid becomes a chopping board that you can use to prep your ingredients. It also has a built-in, rubber-wrapped handle to transport the 20-pound frame and a storage area for the propane tank underneath the body.
One reviewer wrote: "Perfect for taking to the beach or camping. Doesn’t have the biggest grilling area, but works exactly like it should and feels like good quality. It does go through a lot of propane, but that’s to be expected."
4. This Serious Grill That's Worth The Splurge
- Overall size: 21 by 21 by 46 inches
- Cooking area size: 346 square inches
- Weight: 72 pounds
- Types of gas cylinders: Standard propane tank
Small doesn't have to be synonymous with subpar. The Fuego Element propane grill is specifically designed for serious home grillers, thanks to its dual-zone burner system, cast-iron grilling grate, and a hinged lid that traps in temperatures of up to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. (It produces up to 22,000 BTUs of heat per hour.) It also has a residue tray that automatically catches grease. All of that said, it houses the propane tank inside the unit and has a compact 21-by-21-inch footprint, so it'll take up minimal space in your yard. (As of May 2020, the lid is made with porcelain enamel to prevent peeling and bubbling, which is what most of the negative reviews are about.)
One reviewer wrote: "This grill looks great and cooks even better! I have it on my small balcony and it's perfect! I just roll it into the corner when I'm done grilling. It's very compact and sleek but still has a large cooking surface."