Updated May 2017
Cuisinart Petit Gourmet
To get you ready for summer, we added in a new award winner: the Weber Q 1200. It replaced the Q 1000 as our favorite heavier model for when performance is a top priority. The 1200 has an excellent thermometer and side trays. This adds weight and a little cost, but we think it's worth it. The Cuisinart is still the best bet if portability is a priority.
Cuisinart Petite Gourmet Portable Gas Grill
Locking lid latch
Grills great considering its low BTU output
If you're looking for super portability above all else, the Petit Gourmet
is your best bet. Its legs tuck nicely and flush to the rest of the design, which made it the easiest grill to transport even without its bag. It joined in more adventures than the other grills tested because it is so ultralight and convenient to carry. The bag is nice, too, just in case a few crumbs spill out. Though this grill isn't extremely powerful, it does grill nice and evenly.
This grill has a tiny little drip tray that attaches securely to the bottom. The drip tray didn't seem to catch much grease, but it didn't leak much either. The Cuisinart's porcelain-enameled cast-iron grill grate was the easiest to clean by far. This grill was our least favorite to start up as it often takes two to three tries before lighting. This was disappointing, especially since we had this ignition problem with none of the other grills. When turning from high to low, it's hard to accidentally shut the fuel off — you have to push in the dial and twist it to turn it completely off.
The low setting on this portable grill is very low, and it
doesn't have much of a medium setting either. The highest setting isn't too high; there is no flare-up, and nothing gets stuck on the excellent nonstick grate. It didn't cook the most amount of food of all the grills tested, but it was by far the most portable. It cooks evenly with a slightly warmer (by just a few degrees) area directly in the middle row horizontally across. Its maximum output high was 336 degrees. When set on the low setting it nicely grilled vegetables slowly or roasted garlic without worry. Our testers might prefer the slow and low method of grilling rather than the hottest temperature searing methods. If hot is the style of grilling you prefer, further investigate the Coleman XLT and the Char-Broil.
Top Pick for Tabletop Grilling
Weber Q 1200
Weber Q 1200
Super non-stick grill surface
Easy to clean
Snazzy side tables
Excellent temperature control
Starts first try
No lid latch
Disposable aluminum grease trap inserts fly away in the wind
Can be challenging to attach disposable propane canister at first
If grilling performance is your top priority, and you don't mind the extra weight, the Q 1200
is the best. It's a sturdy and portable grill with an effective
porcelain-enameled, cast iron, non-stick cooking grate that was the second easiest of all the models tested to clean. Its ignition system was flawless. It didn't have a lid latch, which bothered us at the start. But after testing, we realized that the absence of a latch wasn't as much of a problem as we had anticipated. Due to
the fact that this grill is very sturdy and the lid is heavy and fits securely, a missing latch wasn't a problem. This grill has a very low center of gravity and small squares of black rubber on the bottom of its legs that make it stable and bump proof.
You must pull down on the regulator for there to be enough room to attach a 16.4 oz propane canister or even a hose to a one or five-gallon tank. See the "Ease of Transport" below for more details on this subject.
This grill came with a disposable aluminum insert that goes into the drip tray. We suspect that this was intended for ease of cleanup. However, the aluminum tray liner was not wind resistant and ended up blowing around a bit.
The 189 square inch cooking surface of the Q 1200
holds a surprising amount of food for its size. It kept everything in our test piece with room to breathe. Our medium heat setting for cooking the test pieces was not enough for this grill. Even on medium-high it took over 34 minutes to cook
our test piece on the Weber
. Though this model runs a bit cooler than most of the grills tested here, it is still a very nice grill to cook on. The temperature was easy to regulate, the grilling surface was evenly heated and the porcelain-enameled, cast-iron non-stick cooking surface made it easy and nearly effortless to grill on.