How to Buy Tailgate Grills
Your guide to grill master status on game day.
There’s nothing quite like a tailgate before the on-field action begins.
Before you choose just any outdoor grill for your portable, outdoor cooking setup, there are some considerations to keep in mind. We’ll help you get ready to cook a feast in the parking lot with our guide to the best tailgating grills for game day.
Just like with your backyard barbecue, there are a few fuel source options available for tailgaters. Gas and charcoal grills make up a majority of the tailgate scene thanks to their portability and general ease of use. Based on your grilling style, there are pros and cons to each.
Propane grills can be simply set up by attaching the fuel tank and hitting the ignition button. They efficiently allow for controlled flame and heat while you’re cooking, unlike the open fires used in charcoal grills. Most gas grills also leave little mess, which can be a huge pro when it comes to cleanup. Simply shut off the gas, unscrew the bottle and wipe down the grates. Some chefs argue that gas grills don’t provide the same flavor as other fuel options.
When it comes to charcoal grills, flavor is the driving factor. That charred, smoky taste can be a crowd pleaser. To set up a charcoal grill, simply pour the briquettes into the grill and light. When it comes to cleanup, you need to allow the ashes time to cool and also need to discard them properly or transport them home.
With a pellet grill, you can smoke, bake, sear or grill your tailgate meal, making it a favorite cooking device. A pellet grill burns small, compressed wood pellets and diffuses heat throughout the grill for an easy cooking experience. You can also use different types of pellets to customize the flavor you’re after. Keep in mind, however, that this versatile grill does require a standard outlet to be plugged into so it may not be your best bet for tailgating. Learn more about this versatile cooking tool here.
PRO TIP: Before making any decision on which fuel source to use, check with the stadium parking authority for rules and regulations on the types of fuel allowed on site.
When choosing your tailgating grill, bigger does not necessarily mean better. After all, you not only have to transport it from your home to your parking space. You also have to load, unload and maneuver the grill to a location that will allow for a feasible cooking experience. It’s a good idea to take into consideration your lifting threshold as well as your available trunk, bed or cab space.
If you don’t have a truck bed or a sturdy tabletop to cook on, consider purchasing a grill that offers a stand or fold-up legs. Wheels are also a good option for the tailgater on the go and makes setting up the scene that much easier.
Ultimately, we recommend purchasing a tailgating grill that will fit into your vehicle and is easier to move. It should offer features that fit your needs and should be lightweight, easy to carry and easy to store.
Don’t forget to take your cooking surface area into consideration as well. While a small, portable grill might easily fit into your car, consider how many people you may be feeding. You’ll probably want something large enough to cook more than one burger at a time. Generally, a good starting point is to look for a grill that’s roughly 190 square inches or more. This should provide enough room to cook six 1/3 lb. hamburgers at once — plenty for the average tailgater.
Consider adding a side table to your set up to keep cooking essentials at the ready, along with a outdoor cooking accessories, like a thermometer to monitor your grill heat and food doneness.
Now that you know some of the features to look for, it’s time to explore your grills to match your cooking style..
The griddle can be the ultimate culinary companion for your next tailgate. A griddle has a large, flat top cooking surface that is perfect for grilling up juicy burgers or sizzling bacon for the whole crowd using electric or gas. It’s great at diffusing heat so you can cook food evenly, features grease management systems for easy cleaning and can be used to cook an array of your favorite eats. Plus, a griddle comes in many sizes and is designed for easy transport. Time to score some big taste!
Bring a pizza oven to your pre-game festivities to serve up a fan-favorite dish. These compact ovens bring the authentic taste of brick oven pizzas using propane- or gas-powered heat. They use adjustable temperatures and give you wood-fired perfection in just minutes. Pizza ovens can do more than just bake pizza. Like most conventional ovens, you can fire up some barbecue or roast or even bake your favorite deserts.
A final option available to newcomer tailgate grill masters is a camping stove and grill box combination. Camping stoves are a great way to cook up a campfire dinner with the efficiency of gas burners. These stoves can be converted into grills themselves with the addition of a grill box, which sits right on top of the burners and diffuses the gas heat over metal grates. If you already own a camping stove, grill boxes are a smart option as they come in multiple sizes and can eliminate the need of buying another cooking structure.
With all these details in mind, you can successfully add a tailgating grill to your festivities. This can be a great way to expand your gameday menu and amp up the fun. Pick yours up today and get to grilling.