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Which portable barbecue is best for summer outings?

As the sun continues to shine, you might be thinking about picking up a portable barbecue so you can enjoy freshly grilled food wherever the summer takes you.

There are so many options available it can be tricky knowing what to look for, and there’s no guarantee that spending more money will ensure you end up with a better barbecue.

We’ve rounded up a handful of portable barbecues we’ve recently tested, as well as some more general information to help you make a more informed decision.

The article below is about portable barbecues which have gone through rigorous testing in our lab to ensure they are safe to use. We do not test disposable barbecues as they are potential fire hazards and also cannot be reused, meaning they are not an environmentally friendly option.


If portable isn’t for you then take a look at our guide to the best barbecues – we’ve pulled out our top-scoring gas, charcoal, electric and dual fuel grills. 


Pros and cons of portable barbecues

Portable barbecue in a garden

Pros

  • Small and lightweight – it’s rare to find a portable barbecue that weighs much more than 12kg, and we’ve come across some as light as 2kg. This means you’re usually able to lift them without any help and they won’t take up too much space in your garage, shed, or the boot of your car. You’ll also need to carry a gas canister for gas-powered models. 
  • Typically cheaper – you can spend anywhere from £30 up to well over £1,000 on a barbecue, but portable models tend to cost less than their full-sized counterparts. We’ve recently tested high-scoring portable models costing well under £200.
  • Usually easier to clean – portable barbecues are smaller which means there are often far fewer nooks and crannies for dirt and grime to get stuck in. The grills are usually about the right size to squeeze into your kitchen sink too, meaning less time spent outside scrubbing with a wire brush.

Cons

  • Very small cooking area – because they’re much more compact, the grills on portable barbecues can usually only cook enough food for around three to four people at a time. If you’re catering to a bigger group, you could try cooking in batches but it might be difficult keeping everything warm. 
  • Lack of built-in storage – most full-sized barbecues will include some kind of storage for your plates, cups and utensils so you don’t have to keep running indoors to grab them. You’ll need to be a bit more organised if you’re using a portable barbecue, as most of them will have little to no storage space.
  • Less versatile – if you like to experiment with different cooking techniques, you might not be able to do so on the majority of portable barbecues. They either use gas, charcoal or electric, not a combination, and you’re unlikely to get any fancy extras such as searing areas or hotplates.

Make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job – see our list of the best BBQ tongs

Are portable barbecues worth it?

If you’re keen to pack up your grill and take it camping or to the beach, a portable barbecue can be handy and versatile. They’re also something to consider if you’re short on outdoor space and haven’t the room to store a full-sized barbecue. 

Portable barbecues can be used repeatedly, so are a much more sustainable choice than disposable barbecues. We don’t test disposable barbecues as they are potential fire hazards and cannot be reused, meaning they are not an environmentally friendly.

Can you use a portable barbecue on a table?

Some portable barbecues have legs but, either way, they tend to be low down which doesn’t make bending down or sitting beside it a particularly comfortable barbecuing experience. 

You can safely place a portable barbecue on a heatproof surface – this can include concrete, stone and brick but make sure it’s stable and not left unattended, especially if there are young children running about who could potentially burn themselves or knock it over.  

If your table isn’t heatproof, for example if it’s made from wood, don’t sit your portable barbecue on top of it. 

Are you planning to take your portable barbecue camping? See our family tent reviews.

Recently tested portable barbecues

Argos Home Table Top Oil Drum Charcoal BBQ, £42

Argos Home Table Top Oil Drum charcoal barbecue

This low-cost, barrel-shaped charcoal barbecue is compact (H53 x W51 x D47cm) and weighs 7kg, so it should be fairly light if you plan to carry it around. 

It does have four legs but that doesn’t mean it stands very tall. You might find it easier to place it on a suitable table to make the working height more comfortable.

See our full Argos Home Table Top Oil Drum Charcoal BBQ review to find out whether it’s good value for money and if it’s compact enough for outdoor adventures. 

Cadac Safari Chef Compact 30, £125

Cadac Safari Chef Compact 30 portable barbecue

This circular, gas barbecue weighs just 3.6kg, so it should be ideal for taking on your picnic or camping trip. It also comes with a carry bag to help you move it. 

There’s an array of optional extras, which is rare with portable barbecues. These includes a pizza stone and a plancha, which is a flat-top griddle that combines high-temperature searing with a small amount of smoking. 

You’ll need a 220/227g bayonet-style gas cartridge to fuel it – but it neatly sits inside the main body of the barbecue so you won’t have to carry it separately. 

Read our full Cadac Safari Chef Compact 30 review to find out just how well this barbecue cooks, as well as how easy it is to use.

Landmann E-PANTERA 2.0, £200

Landmann e-pantera 2 portable barbecue

There’s no need to bother with bags of charcoal or gas canisters if you opt for this electric portable barbecue from Landmann – but you will need somewhere to plug it in. It’s not the lightest, weighing 13.8kg but has a spacious cooking area of 43 x 33cm so it could be worth looking at if you plan to cater for four guests or more. 

Is this electric portable barbecue worth the money, or is it too heavy and bulky to squeeze into the boot of your car for a beach trip? Check out our full Landmann E-PANTERA 2.0 review to find out.

Argos Home Table Top Charcoal BBQ, £75

Argos Home Table Top Charcoal BBQ

This portable barbecue is fairly light, weighing less than 6kg, and it has two handles to make it easy to carry around. The lid also has clips so it stays securely fastened when you’re moving it about. 

Multitasking accessories, such as a wooden lid that doubles up as a chopping board, also come included – great if you’re hoping to travel light. 

Wondering if this barbecue is any good at grilling burgers and sausages? Read our full Argos Home Table Top Charcoal BBQ review to find out.

Landmann Portable Suitcase BBQ, £42

Landmann portable suitcase barbecue

A somewhat unconventional-looking barbecue, this grill can be carried just like a suitcase – simply fold the legs over to secure it and use the lid as a carrying handle.

This competitively priced compact barbecue is incredibly light (2.4kg), but does this mean it’s ideal for outdoor excursions?

Read our full Landmann Portable Suitcase BBQ review to find out if this portable barbecue is any good at producing delicious-tasting food, or if you’ll be left wishing you’d chosen a different model.

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