Choosing a Portable Grill: Take the sizzle with you!
Summer isn’t complete without the sizzle of the grill and the mouthwatering smells of burgers, hot dogs, and roasted veggies. Something about cooking outdoors while sipping cocktails with friends makes for an easy and carefree way to pass the afternoon.
But, what if the time is right to fire up the grill, but the grill is miles away? Sure, you could go to the local big box store and purchase a cheap-o little grill, but when will you use it again?
But, if you have a portable grill tucked away into the trunk of your vehicle, you can have your sizzle right at hand and bring a whole new flair to your next picnic, camping trip, weekend getaway, or fishing excursion.
Tips for choosing
With so many options, choosing the right portable grill for your needs can be daunting, especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune but also don’t want to end up with something cheaply made that gives you problems while cooking. To make an informed decision, ask yourself these five questions before you choose:
Question 1: How do you plan to use it?
Are you going on camping trips? Are you planning to bring it to your kids’ daylong sports events to avoid concession stand food? While you may have a primary reason for buying a portable grill—say, an upcoming camping trip—consider secondary uses as well. You want to get the right one for the way you’ll use it most often.
Question 2: How portable is portable?
Once you’ve decided on how you’ll use your portable grill, the next thing to consider is how big of a grill do you need?
The size is going to be dependent on how many people you think you’ll typically be cooking for. The more food you want to serve at once, the larger the grill you need. Keep in mind, though, that the bigger the grill, the heavier and more awkward it
is to carry. The idea of a portable grill is to downsize as much as possible so it is easy to take it to tailgate parties or picnics.
Question 3: What kind of fuel does it use?
Whether you prefer a charcoal grill or a gas grill, this is an important factor to consider since portable grills are often used differently than your stay-at-home grill. Keep in mind that electing to buy a portable charcoal grill also means transporting bags of charcoal with you. If it’s a long walk to your picnic spot, you are now carrying a picnic basket, a grill, a bag of charcoal, and the parts and pieces of any other outdoor activities you brought along.
One other thing: If you’re considering a portable grill because you live in an apartment with a small porch that doesn’t allow for a standard-sized grill, keep in mind some apartment complexes have regulations about what kinds of fuel can be used by tenants in their buildings.
Question 4: What about storage?
Just because it’s portable doesn’t mean your new grill will fit where you want to store it. Check to verify how much storage room you have in your garage, cabinets, pantry, or basement and compare that to the size of the grill you’re considering.
Question 5: Are there any extra add-ons?
You’ve considered the basics and whittled your choices down to three grills. Now comes the fun part: What extra features does each grill have? For instance, Do the accessories come with the grill or do you have to buy them separately? Some portable grills come with tote bags that you can put them in to make transportation easier. Does the travel tote have a shoulder strap, or are there wheels on it so you can pull it along behind you? If all else is equal, the add-on features can help make your decision easier.
Taking care of your grill
Keep in mind that portable doesn’t mean disposable. You’ll want to take good care of your new grill just as you would your standard one. Think of your grill like your stove top: After cooking something on the stove, you generally have to wipe up the spills and, occasionally, you do a more thorough cleaning that includes moving everything out of the way and wiping around and under the burners. Treat your grill similarly.
Your grill grates need to be cleaned completely after every use to prevent food from sticking on your grill. There are many products for cleaning your grill grates, but any good stiff wire brush will do.
Remember, it is better to clean your grates after you grill—not before. Once your grill has cooled down a bit, but is still warm, take your brush and clean off any food particles. It’s easier to clean off food chunks while warmth is still present rather than after they have cooled and been allowed to harden on the grate.
Then, when you store it, make sure to put it somewhere that is safe from leaks and flooding. If it doesn’t come with one, consider getting a cover for it.
Once you have your portable grill, take your sizzle on the road and add a little razzle-dazzle to your next picnic!
Love picnics? Then do we have some good information for you—right here on CHEFS Mix:
- Celebrate Your Independence—Picnic Style!
- Packing the Perfect Picnic Paraphernalia
- Take the sizzle with you!
- Two People + One Picnic Basket = Romantic Rendezvous
Your turn: Where will you picnic this month as you celebrate National Picnic Month?