Best Tailgate Grills of 2018 & Buying Guide
Grilling’s become something of a national pastime in America. It’s not just a way of cooking food – people consider the proper cooking of their steaks, roasts, ribs, and even their veggies to be a lifestyle.
This means that people put serious thought into what grill they want to buy. A good grill represents how seriously someone takes grilling, so it’s good to make sure that you buy a high-quality grill.
Grilling has also gone beyond the traditional backyard cookouts that have become iconic in Western countries. You can bring a portable grill with you on a boat, on camping trips, or, as we’re about to discuss, to a tailgate party! How perfect would it be to roast some steaks on a mountaintop with a few of your friends, kicking down the tailgate in your truck and enjoying the sunset?
What grills would be good for a tailgate party?
A tailgate party isn’t going to require the same grill that you’d use in the back yard – first off, that would be clunky and way too big to fit conveniently in your truck, especially if you’re just going out for the evening. A grill that suits a tailgate is going to be smaller and more transportable than a traditional kettle grill.
There are a few things you’ll want to consider when you’re making a choice of which grill to buy for a tailgate party.
The size of your grill
You’re going to want a smaller grill than your standard size, but one that’s still big enough to serve you and the couple buddies you’ll bring with you to your tailgate party.
- Grills with much more than 150 centimeters of cooking space will probably be too big to easily fit in the back of your truck. Though they might cook more food, and deliver it quicker, you probably won’t find it necessary to rapid-cook burgers when you’re just hanging out on your tailgate.
- Grills with less than 150 centimeters of cooking space are generally lightweight, transportable, and they heat up quickly so you’ll be able to cook whatever food you can fit on it fairly quickly.
The size of your grill impacts a few aspects of your grill’s quality.
- Big grills heat up slower. This is the price you pay for being able to fit, say, 24 burgers on a grill instead of 12. You’ll cook twice as many, but you’ll do it way slower.
- Smaller grills tend to be made for transportation, so they may have features built in for camping or road trips, which would come in beneficial on your tailgate
- Smaller grills have a smaller temperature range so they can’t cook things that require extremely high heat, however, they also heat up a lot faster.
The fuel for your grill
You’ll have to consider the type of fuel you’re going to want for your tailgate grill. Some prefer the ease of propane, whereas others prefer the flavor of smoky charcoal – this adds a nice touch to an evening on the tailgate.
Propane grills are very convenient for a number of reasons.
- Propane stoves are much easier to set up – all you have to do is flick a switch and spark them up and you’re ready to grill
- Propane stoves heat up quite a bit faster than charcoal, hit greater temperature ranges and will be able to cook your food faster
- Propane stoves are much easier to clean than a charcoal stove
- They’re easier to maintain while you’re grilling – you won’t have to shovel more charcoal into a propane stove
All the benefits of a propane stove come at a cost, though – the price. Most propane stoves are a bit more expensive than a similarly sized charcoal equivalent.
Charcoal stoves are good for people who just can’t resist the allure of a charcoal grilled steak and who prefer the oldest, most traditional method of grilling.
- Charcoal stoves take a while to heat up but provide even heating throughout the grill
- Charcoal grills take a bit more maintenance and can be a bit difficult to clean
- Charcoal grills can provide the option of smoking your food with an undeniably delicious flavor
Charcoal grills aren’t going to run you as much money as a propane stove, which makes them appealing for people who aren`t going to be using their grill on a daily basis.
The convenience and features
Each grill may have a similar set of basic features – a grate, a fuel source etc. – but the differences really lie in what one grill has that another one doesn’t. This is what will most likely determine the ultimate decision that you make.
A lot of grills are made for camping or road trips, and they’re built with a number of features that you won’t find on a regular grill.
- Some of them have wind blockers that can help keep your food and your flame safe from the elements
- Some grills have a lid that turns into a griddle, expanding the cooking area by almost twice as much
There are also a lot of features that can benefit the mobility and transportation of your grill. These can be a deal breaker for some folk – if you can’t get your grill from point A to point B, then you’re not going to bother buying it.
- Some grills have special handles built into them that make them easy to carry
- Some grills are collapsible, making them able to fit into very small spaces when they’re not being used. Collapsible grills often come with a compromise to their grilling capacity.
Things to know about tailgate grills
If you’re buying a grill for the purpose of using at your tailgate party, there are a few things you should know. These grills are usually smaller and it’s important that you know some general tips about their operation.
- Make sure you check whether or not your grill, if it’s charcoal, allows you to change your charcoal easily.
- See if the grill is adjustable – this makes a world of difference, since you can change the flame so it’s either direct or indirect
Of course, you should make sure you pay attention to basic safety tactics, and make sure you modify any safety procedures that you’d follow on a regular sized grill to fit whatever one you end up purchasing.
- Make sure that the wind doesn’t get a chance to impair the flame keeping your grill lit
- Make sure not to use too high of a temperature. Most grilling injuries are caused by excessive heat.
- Use proper safety gear! Wearing gloves is ideal. Make sure you have a good set of tongs and a grill brush
- Maintain the quality of your grilling gear. If the bristles in your brush fall out you could lose them in food
As long as you keep all this information in mind, you should have no problem having a great tailgate party with your new grill.
We’ve taken the liberty to look out for the best tailgate grills you can buy today so you don’t have to search store after store in hopes of finding the perfect grill. These grills have the best balance of features for their price.
Top 5 Best Tailgate Grills Reviews
1. Party King Grills Swing’n’ Smoke
This grill, as you can tell by the brand name, is made for people looking to have a good time or a night out. It’s a propane grill that’s mounted onto a spin arm that’s designed to be installed on a truck for tailgate parties.
As far as tailgate grills go, this one’s pretty big and hosts a lot of power. It also has an attachment that allows it to be used as a regular patio grill.
2. Coleman Road Trip XL
Coleman’s a well-known brand for camping equipment and travel gear, so you know this grill’s backed by a good brand. It’s got an aluminum grill which is durable, and the top turns into a griddle, almost doubling the cooking area of the grill.
It’s got two adjustable heat knobs and sets up easily. There’s a detachable grease pan for easy cleanup and a push button ignition system.
3. Picnic Time Vulcan All-in-One Cooler & Grill
Now here’s a cool piece of gear. This grill happens to be built into a cooler which doubles as a storage bag, and the whole unit functions as a trolley with an extendable handle that you can wheel around with you.
It comes with grilling tools and It comes with grilling tools and the space is enough to hold a 24 case of beer and grill a dozen burgers.
4. Weber’s Go Anywhere Grill
Of course, we need to see something from Weber on this list, since they’re the pioneers and the masters of grilling technology.
This grill has aluminum coated bars on the grate and a removal grease trap, making cleanup a breeze. The legs fold up for either easy transportation or to act as a wind barrier during blustery times.
The grill is quality and can cook a steak professionally. With all this grilling technology crammed into this small device, you can expect it’s going to be quite heavy.
5. Coleman Roadtrip Party Grill
Another contender from Coleman made specifically for tailgating. This grill’s cute and compact, using an 8000 BTU heat system which isn’t very strong, but a special integrated system distributes the heat evenly so you cook your food at the same speed.
The whole thing’s detachable and fits in the provided bag. The entire thing’s machine washable as well, which takes the elbow grease out of cleanup. A push button ignition makes lighting this thing up simple.
So which one’s the best?
Depending on your tailgating needs, you may decide that one of these grills suits you better. For the average Joe hosting the average tailgate party, though, we’ll recommend Weber’s Go Anywhere grill.
Weber’s been in the grilling game for more than half a century and they know how to make quality products. This grill packs up nice and small, yet boasts an incredibly powerful grill for a tailgate grill. The price tag attached to this grill is pretty average, so you aren’t going too far out of your way to spend money on it.
The legs might be a bit unsteady, but this can be remedied with some home improvements. Aside from that, this is a great go-to grill for occasional tailgating.
Hopefully, this article has helped you make a good decision! Tailgate parties are great, and having a good grill to cook good steaks makes them even greater. Shopping around can be a nuisance, so if we’ve been able to help you, then enjoy!