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The best portable grills for city dwellers and tailgaters

Your handy guide to becoming master of the grill fire -- even in small spaces.

cuisinart-portable-gas-grill-amazon
Amazon

If you're a grillmaster at heart lacking access to immediate outdoor space or looking to take your grilling skills to a tailgate party, a small portable grill, fueled by propane, charcoal or electricity may be the answer to your urban-induced culinary complication. 

Several times a summer I have the distinct pleasure of traveling with friends to a beach house paradise just an hour outside of New York City. This place is, quite simply, my favorite place on earth but maybe not for its most obvious qualities. Yes, uncrowded oceanfront space with soft sand is but a 5-minute walk, good for afternoon sunbathing as well as midnight stargazing but what makes this place a year-long inspiration for me is the grill. In front of the grill is where I am my most powerful self. Mistress of the fire. Giver of grill marks. Capable of serving shrimp tacos for two or pork tenderloin for 12. There I have grilled both ribeye and romaine with equal enthusiasm.

Read More on CNET: The best gas grills of 2019 | The best meat delivery services in 2019 | The best toaster oven is the one you'll hate the least   

How I have maintained any skill at grilling from one year to the next is one of life's sweet mysteries, because back in my normal life among the city dwellers I am mistress of approximately 9 square feet of unventilated kitchen space. But that needn't be the case for other apartment-dwelling grill aficionados, as all manner of devices exist to transform one's apartment kitchen into a space capable of evoking summer barbecues all year round. (Beach, park, and/or deck sold separately.)

From stovetop sizzlers to electric and gas-powered, smokers and even a few portable charcoal cookers, these are some of our favorite small and portable grills to tailgate and tote summer BBQ vibes along wherever you go.

Read More on Chowhound: The best grilling tools and gadgets | The best BBQ sauces

Amazon

If what you need to be happy are simply more grill marks in your life, then here you go. A durable, high-heat withstanding, stove-top grill pan that utilizes a non-stick coating is a perfect, low-maintenance way to brand your dinner with the original hashtag. I'm partial to the stay cool stainless steel handle and circular shape for burger maximization purposes.

Amazon

Perhaps you're in the market for a bit more square feet than can be covered by a single pan, with a constant craving for the taste of that sweet char of grilled food. If you're a grilling enthusiast who just has no desire or need for conventional stovetop burners at all, then two of these easily reversible cast iron slabs can transform your stove into a mega-surface grill.

Amazon

This small grill is perfect for tailgaters with access to electricity. For the kind of grill master who wields his or her firepower with the steady control of the lid, this stainless steel indoor countertop grill brings the additional satisfaction of looking like an outdoor grill. This tabletop grill has a large easy to clean drip tray and doesn't take up a lot of space on your counter.

Amazon

A perfect budget-friendly portable grill you can drag to tailgate or fall picnic. This classic Weber design is precisely what your brain conjures when you hear the word "hibachi" and great for apartment dwellers with even a fraction of outdoor space available in the form of a patio, balcony or backyard/alley. Or for those who have the grilling moxie and wherewithal to bring it to the nearest park, on a camping expedition or to a football game for a little tailgating. And it's small enough to store easily inside the oven that you never use.

When all burners are a go on your stovetop to produce the perfect grill-worthy side dishes, this electric unit stands alone to give you additional surface heat for all-purpose grilling. Adjustable temperature and a water-filled drip tray to minimize smoke are ideal for even the smallest of spaces.

Akorn

OK, but you're very serious about that which you would use to grill all manner of food. Kamado grills are great for charcoal minimization, heat retention and evenness of cooking. Just because you don't have a full backyard doesn't mean you can't keep this small beauty close for spur-of-the-moment summer picnics and outdoor grilling.

Amazon

This is not a grill. I repeat, this is not a grill. This is definitely a smoker, but if you already have any of the above devices for achieving year-round grill marks, you might just be the kind of person who can also tackle adding the nuance of smoky flavor that slow-smoking imparts despite a tiny kitchen. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

Amazon

Now we're cooking with gas. On a grill. On a small gas grill. In your apartment or at the tailgate. For the win. This propane-powered portable griil has foldable legs and a good sized grilling surface with easy to clean grates. 

Note that these products are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

This article was written by Pamela Vachon.