9 Best Portable Grills (2021): Charcoal, Propane, Electric, Infrared

The iconic Big Green Egg has a cultlike following. But they are, indeed, big. If you can’t face the prospect of going without your Big Green Egg for a weekend, the MiniMax Big Green Egg is much smaller, but it still isn’t terribly portable. However, if you want to smoke, grill, and bake outdoors, this ceramic cooker is a strong choice.

The Big Green Egg is a Kamado-style cooker (Kamado is a Japanese word that roughly means “stove”), which makes it much more than a grill. The ceramic construction retains heat and turns it into a portable oven as well. The MiniMax Big Green Egg is identical to its larger cousin in nearly every way, but smaller. It weighs 75 pounds, making it by the far the heaviest grill I tested, but the double-handle carrying system makes it easy for two people to carry it. The problem is that the 13-inch grilling surface of the MiniMax can only grill for about four people.

It’s big enough to roast a chicken, sear a couple of large steaks at a time, or fit about six 12-inch skewers. But if you’re doing meat and veggies for a family of four, you’re going to be cooking in batches. In practice, this isn’t so bad. Most meats need to rest when they’re done cooking anyway, giving you time to do your veggies. In my testing, the Mini Big Green Egg has excellent heat control and, like the larger version, is extremely fuel-efficient.

Big Green Egg’s MiniMax costs $628 and can only be purchased in retail stores, including Ace Hardware. You can find a local store that carries the MiniMax here.

Best Grill and Fire Pit Combo

Biolite FirePit+ ($250)

Photograph: BioLite

Do you know what’s cooler than a grill? One that doubles as a fire pit, with the ability to recharge your phone and do your bidding via Bluetooth. BioLite’s FirePit is all of these things and more.

The FirePit is a sleek, portable mesh box with removable legs, a hibachi-style grill, and an ash bin. Biolite recently released the FirePit+ for $250, which features some slight design tweaks to improve airflow and a larger battery that can run the built-in fan for 30 hours on low. Like its predecessor, the new model uses a Bluetooth-compatible app to precisely control the airflow, which in turn controls your cooking temperature. Be sure to read through my colleague Adrienne So’s full review of the original model for more details, but I set out specifically to see how it grills, and the answer is: very well.

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