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RVing and grilling go together like hamburgers and cheese–it’s hard to imagine one without the other, but some people do it somehow. Between you, me, and all the cheese-eating grill lovers out there, those other folks are crazy. Grilling is amazing! It might be half the reason we like camping so much.
But picking the perfect RV grill is more complicated than you might think. There are hundreds of options out there–and even more if you don’t limit yourself to those well-known RV brands. How do you choose? Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting one you’ll love using every day.
Buyer’s Guide – Picking the Perfect RV BBQ Grill
Step 1 – Should You Get an RV Grill?
It’s hard to find a campground where there isn’t a shiny new RV-mounted grill attached to every coach and trailer. Everyone’s got one, so it must be a required part of the kit, right?
The truth is, not everyone needs an RV grill. But many campers find them handy for more reasons than simply because they like the good old-fashioned camping cookout. Here are a few reasons why having an RV grill is an excellent idea.
More Space To Cook
The smaller your RV, the more true this will be. But even if you drive a land yacht, the kitchen tends to be a small place, hence the importance of kitchen organization. There’s not much counter space and even less space on the cooktop.
Want to spread out a little? Setting up an outdoor kitchen is the answer. With a grill and a table, you’re in business. Your site will likely have a standard picnic table. If not, adding one to the grill or a folding prep table is no big deal.
Keep the Heat and Mess Outside
And then there is the actual cooking. If you’re somewhere hot, cooking outside keeps the heat outside of the RV. It also means you aren’t messing up your counters or standing in everyone’s way.
Social Cooking and Outdoor Time
Why did you buy an RV, anyway? Was it, by chance, to get more outdoorsy, travel, and see the country? You can start by getting out of your camper and using your grill.
Most Versatile Cooking Appliance You’ve Got
Finally, you can’t deny that grills are just handy. They produce great-tasting food, sure. But the real power of a grill is its ability to use a variety of cooking methods. On a nice grill with decent temperature control, you can grill, roast, braise, sear, bake, smoke, and a whole lot more.
If your idea of grilled food is limited to burgers and hot dogs, it’s time to take a deeper dive into grilling culture. As a culinary tool, it’s possible to cook every meal on the grill. Some results will be better than you ever imagined, and some won’t be. But one thing is sure–grills are way more versatile than most people give them credit for. There are very few things that you can’t cook on a nice grill.
Plus, most of us use grills that operate off a different fuel than our kitchen or RV fuel source. This is part of your decision-making process and figuring out what type of grill you want to have. But generally, using a grill that can work anywhere without any other support, like a portable propane RV gas grill or a charcoal grill, means that it’s always available as a backup cooking appliance.
Step 2 – Types and Brands of RV Grills
The first thing to realize is that there’s nothing inherently special or unique about an RV BBQ. So instead of buying a crappy camp grill just because it is marketed to RVers, consider instead the best grill you can fit in your RV.
RV Grills vs. Griddles
Many RV and camp units include a griddle option. This is simply a flat skillet in place of the typical grill grates. It’s perfect when you’re cooking something that would fall through the grates or cause flare-ups, like pancakes, chopped veggies, eggs, or bacon. If your grill of choice comes with a griddle, you’ll probably find it pretty handy. If it doesn’t, just invest in a cast-iron skillet and call it a day.
Best Grills by RV Type – Will It Suit Me?
There are many options on the table when it comes to grills, and you’ll have to take a look at the big picture and put all of these pieces together. Ask yourself, will it suit my RV? Will it suit how often I use it and where I use it?
Grills for Van Campers
Vans, car campers, and micro RVs are the most limited in space. At the same time, they’re more likely to lean on their grills more often as their primary RV cooking appliance. Versatility is best for these campers, as is small size. Luckily, you can still choose from multiple fuel choices. Look into backpacking stoves and grills if you’re really pressed for space.
Grills for Small RVs
Trailers and smaller RVs can usually have a dedicated grill of moderate size. They’re likely to have an inside RV kitchen, but the grill will still become an important part of the cooking routine. This size of the vehicle will need to be the most careful, though. It’s easy to get swept away by features and size and buy a grill that works great but is just slightly too large for your van storage setup. Always start with the grill’s folded dimensions and know where it will live.
Grills for Large RVs
Large RVs can usually have their pick of grills. The amount of space you want to dedicate will depend on how serious you take your grilling and how many other toys you need to fit in the space.
Brands of RV Grills
Of course, there are brands made specifically for RVing, but you don’t need to limit yourself to those. Many of the best grill manufacturers make portable or smaller models that can make excellent RV grills.
Camco and Kuuma Grills–Camco Manufacturing is a well-known brand name in the RV and camping world, so it’s no surprise they offer a range of grills to suit any camp chef. Although Kuuma is a Camco-owned brand, the two companies each have unique lines of grill options. Both lines include rectangular grills with more cooking area.
Magma–Magma is a marine-industry standard that makes stainless kettles and rectangular grills of various sizes. Magma, however, makes a few options that are significantly larger than the available Camco options.
Weber–This company invented the kettle-style charcoal grill. They make a few portable versions of this great grill that are excellent for camp chefs. They also make some great portable propane and electric options.
Coleman–Coleman manufactures everything camping, so it’s only fitting that they have a complete lineup of grills, too. Their portable models use standard one-pound propane camping gas cylinders. They come in various sizes, from small tabletop units to stand-alone grills with smart folding legs.
Other Brands–There are hundreds of grill makers out there these days. Many brands that have become popular in the van life and RV scene have sprung up to fill the needs of the mobile lifestyle. Don’t shy away from these brands since they might make a unique product that fits your needs perfectly.
Beyond the camping, tailgating, and RVing brands, there are hundreds of grill makers out there making “portable” models. Generally, there are cheap budget grills like you will find in big-box retailers, and then there are high-end makers that you’d only find at specialty grill stores. In many cases, you get what you pay for. The better-made grills will cook better and give you more options in the long run.
Step 3 – Determine What Kind of Griller You Are
There are at least two types of grill users out there. Some use their grill for cooking anything, and others want an authentic pit barbecue with lots of wood smoke flavor–which is really smoking.
So, of these ways to use a grill, which one matches you and your style? The truth is there are many different grills for different users. So don’t assume that the most expensive one is the best, because if it’s built for a different way of cooking, you will be very disappointed.
Best Grills for Daily Grillers
Grilling in itself does not produce smoky flavors–indeed, it is the simple application of direct high heat from below the food. These grills can do that, whether fuels by charcoal, propane, pellets, or electricity.
The beauty of using a grill in this way is that the fuel matters little–all you need is a heat source. But there’s still plenty of variation between chefs. Some users see a grill as nothing more than a searing station–high heat very fast. Charcoal works great for this, as do many portable gas grills. Some high-end infrared grills will put a sear on a steak like nothing else. But grills that work best for searing tend not to work well for other types of cooking.
A grill with a wide range of temperature settings that can hold those settings accurately can be used for a variety of cooking styles. It can sear, char-grill, grill, roast, bake, braise, bake, and even smoke with the right equipment.
For life on the road, the more ways you can use your grill, the more often you will use it. And the more you use it, the more you’ll justify its expensive and the space it takes up. A good grill should be able to handle a range of temperatures. It should allow you to roast a whole chicken, for example, without burning one side and leaving the meat raw in the middle. With the right pan and careful heat management, it should allow you to bake a pan of cornbread or maybe a cobbler for dessert.
Grills That Are Better for Smoking Food
On the other hand, for some people, “grilling” equals barbecuing. Barbecue is a tricky word in the US, where the word is synonymous with a particular style of cuisine that involves smoking more than grilling. Yet many people use the word barbecue to describe any grill or the act of grilling.
If authentic barbecue is your goal, most RV grills on the market will not make you happy. They produce flavorless heat that is equivalent to a gas oven or stovetop.
To get those smokey flavors, you’ll want to choose your grill carefully. An electric grill will never do. Gas grills will work better, but only if you take the time to add a smoker tube or smoker box. The best results will come from a pellet grill if you want to be fancy or an old-school charcoal grill if you want to keep it cheap and simple.
Step 4 – Where and How Will You Use Your Grill?
Next, figure out where and how you’ll use your grill. If you want something for daily use, you’ll want to have a flexible mounting system that can work anywhere.
There are a few different ways you can set up your grill if you want to attach it directly to your rig, plus a few ways to use the grill nearby at your campsite.
- RV mounted grill side rails
- RV grill bumper mount
- Trailer hitch mount
- Freestanding grills with folding legs
- Tabletop grills
RV mounts provide a sturdy platform for your grill no matter where you go. The side rail is the most common and least obtrusive mount, but it also requires the most specialized attachment options from the grill manufacturer. Bumper and luxury travel trailer hitch mounts are usually hefty steel arms that swing out of the way when not in use. All of these options require you to remove and store your grill somewhere else since you can’t leave the grill attached on the highway. All the mount does is provide a sturdy table to sit any grill you like on.
But what if you don’t want to attach it to your rig, or you drive a smaller van? There are plenty of options out there that don’t require unique mounts. Likewise, you don’t need to physically attach the grill to your RV to make a workable solution. Wherever you park your RV, there are probably other options with RV security. A quick look at van camping gear will result in a plethora of grills. And even if you have a big rig and plenty of space, don’t discount the appeal of having an ultra-portable and functional grill.
Many portable grills have fold-down legs for tabletop use. A few models have taller folding legs–these are usually geared toward the tailgating crowd but are perfect for van life or RV use.
Step 5 – Pick Your Cooking Fuel
As with many other grill choices, fuel choice will come down to how you use your grill. No matter which grill choice you pick, you’ll need to carry fuel around for it. Thankfully, many of these options are widely available for RVers–a community that appreciates the value of grilling.
Charcoal Camping Grills
Many grilling purists out there do not consider it “grilling” if you cook with anything other than charcoal. There are undoubtedly many pluses to using charcoal, and it does produce a wonderful aroma that conjures memories of cookouts and great food. Charcoal is an easy starting point if you’re after authentic barbecue flavors.
But there are more convenient and versatile options for an RVer or camper to grill with. When push comes to shove, most people can’t tell the difference in taste between food cooked over charcoal versus gas. Charcoal has a long preheating time and is very difficult to control the time and temperature of the grilling surface. The charcoal itself adds very little smokiness to the food’s flavor–but it is better than nothing.
All of this makes charcoal fun for purists but a hassle for most every-night chefs. If you plan to use your grill only occasionally and your inside kitchen more often, charcoal will work great.
You can find a variety of grill styles, from ultralight folding camping barbecues to heavy-duty Kamado grills. Most RVers are happiest with something in between those two extremes–one that is high-quality enough to have some mass to it, which makes heating more even, but is still small enough to store when not in use.
Propane RV Gas Grill – The Most Common RV Mounted Grill
Propane or LPG is probably the most popular fuel for RV grill buyers. Most of us already carry propane on our rigs anyway, so having one more propane appliance makes sense. If you have a built-in system, you can add another port for your grill or at least use your spare tank.
Even if that is the case, you might still want to look into grills that use portable one-pound propane cylinders. This provides you with a backup if you ever run out in your regular tanks. Being able to cook and grill might buy you a few more days in the boondocks before you need to find a propane filler.
An RV gas grill is usually a smaller portable model with one or two burners. Higher quality units can provide an excellent cooking experience that isn’t unlike using a large backyard grill. They give you lots of control over the heat and can cook long and slow-cooking recipes or hot and fast grilling and searing methods.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of cheap grills in this range, too. Many portables have poor heat control and insane hot spots that make it almost impossible to use for anything but searing–and even then, you must use care.
Wood Pellet Grills for RVers
A look at modern pellet grills is warranted for the serious chefs out there. Most of the major players in the wood pellet grill market (like Traeger, Pit Boss, and Green Mountain Grills) make portable models.
A pellet grill burns special hardwood pellets, which you’ll have to purchase and carry with you, much like charcoal. The grill uses an electric burner to ignite the pellets, so it will also need 12 or 110-volt electricity to run–but not very much. The electricity runs the pellet feeder and starts the fire–after that, the burning pellets make all the heat.
The beauty of the pellet grill is the electronically controlled firebox, which allows you to control temperatures accurately. Using them is not unlike a home oven with a reliable thermostat. Set the cooking temperature, let the grill preheat, and cook as long as necessary. You can even use them for low-temperature smoking recipes.
The pellets provide clean heat and flavorful smoke all in one fuel. A pellet grill is hard to beat if you want that perfect barbecue flavor.
A final fuel option worth considering is the electric grill. Of course, this will only work if you have grid power or are running a generator. But an electric grill is a great backup cooking appliance. You can move it around anywhere, in or out of the RV–assuming it’s a smokeless model.
Another benefit of this type of grill is its portability. They are usually lower profile than other fuel methods, and they can be stored very easily. In addition, they come in a variety of sizes, from small folding units to expansive tabletop party grills.
Step 6 – What Size Grill is Good for Me?
The grill size you choose is a complicated question for the RV owner. On the one hand, there are some basic rules of thumb that you can find online to help grill buyers purchase a grill.
One cooking tip, or rule of thumb, is that you should allow 72 inches of grill space for every person you’re cooking for. That means that the following grill sizes will equate to the following group sizes.
|Number of People
|Grill Size (square inches)
Mobile chefs are already used to making do with small appliances. Sure, it’s no fun to squeeze food for six onto one tiny portable grill. But on the other hand, that’s an unlikely scenario for an RV grill, which is used differently than one at home. Still, don’t get a grill too small that crowds your food, and keep enough room on the grates for direct and indirect cooking.
Step 7 –Know Where You’ll Store It and How Big It Can Be
Balanced with how big of a cooking area you want will be how and where you store your grill when not in use. More likely than not, you’ve got a storage cubby in mind. And that space has very definite dimensions which you cannot exceed.
Everything is a give-and-take on the road. For example, you might give up a few other items to have a bigger grill. Or you might determine that you won’t use the grill that often, and you’d instead save more space for toys like folding bicycles or inflatable paddleboards.
Every camper makes this math work uniquely. A van lifer might opt for the smallest grill they can find. On the same note, a grill that can double as a stove or oven would be handy, too.
Someone in a large motorcoach would likely be interested in a larger grill that mimics the outdoor cooking experience they have at home. This size vehicle will have outdoor storage, too. So it will be easier to find a good option that provides multi-burner cooking versatility and still tucks away nicely in a storage cubby.
Using Your RV BBQ – 7 Tips for Getting the Most From It
Tip 1 – Make It Easy–Consider an RV Grill Bumper Mount
To ensure that you’ll love your grill, make it easy to use. Unfortunately, RV grills are often the victims of poor planning. More often than not, you’re still doing all the cooking in the kitchen but using an appliance that is outside. That doesn’t make much sense when you think about it.
Instead, work out a way to do most of the work outside. This means that no matter where you go, you need to have a workspace to cook. Even if you’re only grilling one thing, you’ll still want to have a place to have the food going on the grill and the food that has come off of it.
The most successful grill gurus have worked out a functional outdoor kitchen. Take the time to organize your equipment–both the appliances and the ingredients. Maybe this means installing an RV-mounted grill, or at least a mounted tray table that can act as a space for preparing food.
All you really need to do is have a table next to your grill. Then move as much of the prep work as you can outside. Of course, you probably won’t have running water or immediate access to the fridge. But the more you practice, the better you’ll get at planning the meal so that you minimize walking back and forth. A little bit of planning now can save you a lot of aggravation later.
Tip 2 – Practice and Pay Attention
The best pitmasters in the world will have some stops and start if you hand them a brand new portable-sized grill. A lot of skill at grilling food comes with simple practice. What worked before, and how long do you think it will take next time?
Part of this also comes from being mindful while cooking. As smart tech fills our home kitchens, we’re becoming more distracted and less engaged in the process. This is a recipe for burned food on an RV grill.
Portable grills usually do not have very good heat distribution. They are prone to getting really hot or cold very quickly. Once they are holding the right temperature, they often have uneven hot and cool spots on the cooking surface.
None of these problems makes them unusable, but it certainly makes them challenging to use. If you’re trying to grill your supper while sending off a couple of work emails, doom scrolling the day’s news or posting your latest ‘grams, your dinner is going to wind up crustier than the soil at Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii.
Tip 3 – Cookware
If you want to try your hand at other recipes and some more varied cooking techniques, a few hand-picked, high-quality items will make it easier. Each chef has their preference, but you just can’t beat classic cast iron cookware for grilling and camp use. Here are just a few items that you might wonder how you ever lived without.
Cast-Iron Skillet or Griddle–Great for everyday cooking and can be used on the grill as a griddle top. If it’s large and heavy enough, you can even use it as a pizza stone for grilled pizza!
Cast-Iron Loaf or Bread Pan–If you want to try baking, you can’t go wrong with cooking in cast iron. The heavy metal distributes heat better than the grates on your grill do. That will give you more time to react should the grill act up and more of a cushion to keep whatever’s in the pan from burning. Baking is always tricky on the small grill, but if you can find a loaf pan that fits with the lid closed and can keep the heat indirect to the pan, you should be in business.
Cheap Pot–You can use heat from a grill in many different ways. If you frequently cook your sauces to go with your main courses, a small pot that you can set on your grate will be invaluable. The cheaper and thinner the pot, the quicker you can get things to boil. That’s handy if you want to boil water for your coffee, but kind of a pain if you’re trying to simmer a gravy delicately.
Grill Basket–A grill basket is an invaluable tool that every pit boss should own. It is basically a pan or wok with holes in it. It lets you cook smaller, loose items that would otherwise fall through the grill grates and make a big mess. If you like stir-fried veggies or small things like shrimp on the barbie, a grill basket will be one of your most-used items.
Tip 4 – Tinfoil
Tinfoil. Everyone has it in their cupboards, but only serious grillers know how valuable it is. Foil is a must-have cooking accessory if you’re trying your hand at braising, roasting, steaming, or baking on the grill.
Foil is essential to the cooking process. When you cover a dish with foil, the first thing you’re doing is keeping intense direct heat off the top of the food. That’s vital if you’re trying a slower recipe because that heat is the path to burning it. Combined with a hefty pan, you can accomplish slow recipes in relatively high-temperature environments.
Next, the foil is also trapping in moisture. This allows you to cook food on the grill for long periods without the risk of drying out. That’s a great help with low-moisture items, like baked goods. But it also helps with items like ribs, which need to be cooked in lots of moisture (braised) to get the fall-off-the-bone tenderness you want.
Tip 5 – Accessorize
To become a master griller, you’ve got to have the right master-griller tools. You’ll often see RVers and campers making do with what they’ve got on hand, making the entire cooking outing an ordeal.
For example, tongs are must-have items when grilling. They let you move your food around, flip and rotate and arrange things so that you can maximize and perfect the use of your cooking real estate. You don’t need huge grilling specialty tongs for the typical campsite grill–a standard kitchen accessory set will suffice.
Another item that you cannot grill meat without is an instant-read thermometer. There are all sorts of fancy and inexpensive thermometers on the market. Depending on how you use it, the best kinds work when you ask them to. That more or less precludes fancy Bluetooth and connected devices. Remote-probe thermometers are great, too, if you want to get a temperature reading without opening and closing the lid repeatedly.
Tip 6 – Clean Up
As with the entire cooking process, try to make cleaning easy. Most of these grills have an included drip pan. If you can use reusable and disposable liners, get a supply of them. And again, tin foil is your friend. You can use it to line the bottom of the grill if any drips make it past the catcher.
Tip 7 – Refill Disposable Propane Cylinders
Many of the options in this size grill use standard one-pound propane canisters. These are designed to be disposable and are widely available. Since they are simple steel cylinders, they are recyclable, although you may have trouble finding someplace that will accept them.
If you are using quite a bit of fuel, another solution is to refill them. You can purchase an adapter that attaches the disposable one-pounder to your bigger tanks. Once you have them connected, turn the assembly upside down so that the smaller cylinder is on the bottom. Then open the valve and allow the propane to flow into the smaller tank.
Propane is highly explosive, and you want to be very careful if you’re attempting this. Ensure you’re outside in a well-ventilated area and that there are no ignition sources nearby. Also, only attempt it if your disposable can is in perfect condition. The safety valve is a simple spring, and once the can gets dirty or rusts, it will likely stick.
It’s not a perfect system, and you’re not likely to get the little cans completely full again. But if you are using your grill regularly, the cost of those camping gas cylinders adds up.
If it’s convenient, another alternative is to purchase a converter kit that will allow you to operate your portable grill from your RV’s standard-size propane tank. Most grill makers sell these, but they require that you set up camp near your tanks.
The Best RV Grills of 2022 – Charcoal, Gas, Pellet, and Electric RV Grills
It’s impossible to make a definitive list of the best RV grills without narrowing down the search criteria a little more. It isn’t just about finding the best RV bumper mount grill, you’ve also got to narrow down the sort of grilling you do and what the best options are for you. Here are five great options for each of the main grill types you might want to use–charcoal, gas, pellet, or electric.
RV BBQ Charcoal Grills
Everyone is familiar with the immovable park service pedestal grill or the ubiquitous Weber kettle grill. Charcoal is an excellent fuel source, and the aroma brings back memories of holiday cookouts and summers by the lake.
But there are also plenty of people who regard charcoal as everyday cooking fuel. You don’t need a special occasion to use it, and once you start using it, you’ll find that it takes less and less effort with each meal. You certainly get a lot better flavor results when cooking with charcoal, although a pellet grill or a gas grill with a smoker box can beat it any day.
If you’re new to charcoal grilling, the number one rule is to say no to lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is a petroleum product used to make the process faster. Some charcoal briquettes even have lighter fluid mixed in.
The problem is that the lighter fluid often permeates the food. Many people can still taste it in the food. And even though most of it burns off well before your food goes on, it leaves nasty gunk on the charcoal and grates that doesn’t go away.
Instead, invest in the ever-reliable chimney starter. All you need to get a chimney going is a little bit of paper in the bottom and the coals you’re going to burn.
You can experiment with different types of coals, too. Some grills require you to use hardwood lump charcoal, like high-end ceramic Kamado grills. Also, be aware that some brands of ultra-small camping grills have custom-made charcoal lumps that fit perfectly in their small fireboxes.
Best Powerful but Tiny Charcoal Grill – Cobb Premier Plus Grill
The Cobb is a micro-sized charcoal grill that is sure to catch the eye of any van lifer. The Cobb Premier is about the size of a large pot, while the larger Cobb Supreme looks like a turkey roasting pan. The Premier Plus comes with a grill, griddle, and roasting rack. It is 11.25 inches wide and 13.25 inches tall.
All Cobb grills are made from high-quality stainless steel and have a unique design. There are very few other charcoal grills on the market that are made from the ground up to take up so little space and offer such functionality. The excellent airflow of the Cobb’s design gives it excellent heat control on a small amount of fuel. But, of course, there isn’t really enough space to do indirect or low-temperature cooking with such a small cooking area.
While Cobb does sell a proprietary size and shape of charcoal, the charcoal tray also works with widely available briquettes or hardwood lump charcoals. The small Cobb grill can be used virtually anywhere but is best on a table.
- Small size is ultra-portable
- Even heating thanks to convective airflow design
- Uses standard charcoal or Cobb proprietary briquettes
- High-quality stainless construction
- Small cooking area
Best Big Grill for Parties – Solo Stove Grill
If you like everything about the Cobb grill but need to cook for a party, check out the Solo Stove Grill. This freestanding charcoal grill is 22 inches wide and just under 30 inches tall. It has a 360-degree airflow design that works similarly to the Cobb grill. It creates a powerful convection current of air flowing around your food to cook it fast and evenly.
The downside of the Solo Stove Grill is that it is massive. If you love the idea of gathering around a fire pit-like campfire grill, then the Solo Stove is perfect. But it will take up a lot of space in your storage cubbies and is likely only possible if you drive the biggest of rigs.
- High-quality build
- Excellent airflow
- Great for big groups and parties
- Includes a lid (uncommon on larger party grills)
- Very large and difficult to store
- Does not fold down smaller
Take a Classic on the Road – Weber Smokey Joe and Big Joe
If these new-fangled stainless steel grills are a little too flashy for your liking, you can’t go wrong with the original, classic Weber kettle grill. Unfortunately, the standard kettle is a bit large for most RVers, so thankfully, Weber makes a variety of smaller options. They still have the same excellent Weber quality, however. And even though their small size limits their features and cooking area, they have similar damper systems to control heat and airflow.
- Classic easy-to-use design
- Widely available
- Steel construction can rust
- Enamel finish easily chipped
Longlasting and Lightweight Grill – Magma Kettle Charcoal Grill
Magma makes high-dollar marine grills. One of their nicest is also one of their simplest–a stainless steel kettle grill. The mount for the grill is sold separately. However, they make many mounting options to suit any purpose. While the fishing rod-style mounts will likely not help your RV, they offer many removable surface mounts. Best of all, all of the Magma options are low-profile and store away easily. Another great option is the folding “shore-side” legs which turn the grill into a tabletop unit.
The grill comes in original or party size. The original has a 13-inch grate with 133 square inches of cooking space, while the party has a 15-inch grate with 177 square inches.
- High-quality stainless steel won’t rust
- Convenient hinged lid
- Available in two sizes
- Thin-wall material retains heat poorly
- Difficult to control the heat in strong winds
Best to Slow Roast or Smoke Foods – Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Steel Kamado-Style Grill
The last thing that probably comes to mind when RVing is the heavy, bulky, and delicate kamado-style grill. But like other grill makers, the companies that make these beautiful grills make portable versions. Now, these certainly aren’t as portable as some of the other options on the list. But if you have the space and don’t mind carrying the weight, it’s hard to deny that these are some of the best grills for serious barbecue.
Kamado grills have a distinctive egg shape. Traditionally, the design is based on super well-insulated ceramic grills. Ceramic is somewhat fragile, however, and isn’t the most practical for the bumpy life on the road. However, Char-Griller makes a line of these grills from triple-walled steel with a powder-coated finish. The result is a durable grill with all the excellent insulating properties of a Kamado, but for less money and less weight.
Unlike other types of RV BBQ, the Kamado relies on an amazingly well-insulated and sealed grill box. They have heavy lids that seal tightly to trap all the heat and capture a more authentic smoky flavor. This means that their dampers are very effective and can control the temperature and burn rate with fantastic precision. These grills are routinely used for everything from smoking to grilling, with temperatures ranging from 200 to over 700 degrees.
The Char-Griller Akorn Jr. weighs 33 pounds and stands 26 inches tall on an included steel stand. It has 155 square inches of cooking space. It stretches the definitions of portable, but if you want the best charcoal grill money can buy–that will still fit in a moderate-sized RV–then the Akorn Jr is tough to beat.
- Best option for authentic RV BBQ
- Best heat control and retention
- Triple-walled steel construction
- Can maintain low or high grilling temperatures
- Great option for low-and-slow smoking recipes
- Fantastic barbecue flavors
- Great value of performance for the price
- Heavy and bulky–takes up a lot of storage space
- Small cooking area for such a large grill
- Must use high-quality hardwood lump charcoal
- Requires practice and careful heat management to get temperatures right
Best RV Gas Grill Options
You’ll find a lot of variety in the propane portable grill options. Propane grills are wildly popular. They require very little setup–just set them on a level surface, attach the fuel source, and start the fire. Most grills take about 10 or 15 minutes before they’re preheated for grilling. So compared to charcoal, there’s less mess and less fuss to get cooking.
Most portable RV gas grills use disposable one-pound propane cylinders. For occasional and completely off-the-grid cooking, these work great. If you’re next to your RV and have a built-in system, however, you might want to invest in an adapter that will allow you to use your bigger tanks. It will pay for itself in the long run, and you’ll still have the option of using the small tanks if you ever need to. Some adapters will work off your RV’s low-pressure system, while others will need to be connected directly to the tank for a high-pressure feed.
In theory, cooking and temperature control on propane grills is easy. However, in reality, the temperature regulators often perform poorly on portable grills. While grills excel at getting very hot for grilling and searing, anything requiring lower temperatures may be challenging. This is exacerbated by the fact that most of these grills have only one burner.
Beyond that, the next problems that portable gas grills suffer are thin walls and cheap construction. Even high-dollar stainless grills tend to favor thin single-wall construction. There is very little mass to retain heat, so cooking at low temperatures or in cold conditions often produces poor results.
Best All-in-One for Vans and Small Campers – Eureka! Gonzo Portable Grill 3-in-1 System
The Eureka Gonzo is a unique 3-in-1 grill system that checks many boxes and should interest any space-conscious van camper or boater. The tabletop unit consists of a simple propane burner, pot holder, and combo grill/griddle. The grill cooktop is cast iron. Using the burner to heat a kettle or warm soup makes it practical as a single camping appliance that serves many purposes.
The Gonzo runs off of one-pound propane adapters, but a 20-pound tank hose is available separately. The grill weighs 14 pounds, is about 14 inches in diameter, and stands 11 inches tall. The cooking surface (grill or griddle) is 12 inches in diameter, giving it a cooking area of about 113 square inches. That’s about right for four burgers.
- Stove, grill, and griddle all in one
- Small tabletop package
- Good heat control regulator with a lot of adjustment options
- With an available hose, it can be connected inline to other grills or cooktops running from the same cylinder
- Lower quality construction with a plastic base
- Small cooking area
- Cleanup is messy, with no separate drip pan provided
Top-Rated Anywhere Gas Grill – Weber Q2200
The Weber Q-series portable grills have been around for a while. It’s a popular tailgating grill, and since they are well established, you shouldn’t have any problems finding accessories or parts. The multiple mounting options available are of particular interest to travelers, including a portable folding cart or the standard tabletop legs.
There are also many size options available from Weber with the same basic layout. For example, the Q1000 is an entry-level grill with a small grate on the smaller end. However, if you need more space and power, the Q3200 comes with a stand and two burners totaling 21,700 BTUs.
The Q2200 doesn’t have that much power, but it does have a combination of features that sets it apart from other portable grills. The grates are made from hefty cast iron, which distributes heat better than stainless rods and retains it better, too. Plus, you can fit the Q grills with option griddles in place of the grates–an excellent option for camping.
The Weber Q-series grills are some of the best-loved and well-regarded portable grills you can buy. They cook well and reliably and are an excellent value for a portable gas grill.
- Large cooking area
- Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates
- The powerful 12,000-BTU burner is better than most small grills
- Side tables provide a prep area anywhere you go
- Ability to set up two grates, two griddles, or half and half
- Quality Weber Construction
- Multiple options are available (freestanding, without side shelves, etc.)
- Low-profile lid limits cooking space
Best RV Mounted Grill – Flame King Freestanding or Trailer Mounted Grill
The Flame King is a great choice if you want a grill that is completely designed to work with your RV. The included hanging rack and bracket mount can be used on side rails or bumper mounts. Additionally, the included regulator attaches the grill to your existing RV propane system, so you never need to worry about getting those one-pound propane bottles.
Beyond those features, the grill is unremarkable. It is a steel rectangle with a wire grate and warming rack. It has a total of 214 square inches of cooking space. It gets generally good marks for heating evenly, and it has a nice lid to trap some heat in. Overall, it’s best described as a starter grill that works well for the needs of many RVers.
- Very good value
- The included stand can be used as an RV mount or a freestanding grill
- Compact grill that stores in small spaces but still delivers enough cooking space for up to eight burgers
- Some quality control issues and bad regulators reported
- Requires purchase of separate propane quick-connect hose
- Can’t be used with one-pound propane cylinders away from your camper
Most Like Your Backyard Grill – Pit Boss Two-Burner Portable Grill
If you regularly cook with a multi-burner backyard grill at home and are looking for a similar experience on the road, the Pit Boss two-burner grill is one to check out. The design will feel familiar since it uses two conventional 10,000 BTU grill burners mounted side-by-side in a sharp-looking stainless steel body.
This grill is too powerful to run on a single disposable propane bottle. So instead, it comes with a 36″ LP hose to connect to a standard 20-pound propane cylinder. If you need to use it with smaller cylinders, there are adapters available online to allow you to do that, too.
- Powerful with 20,000 BTUs of total power
- Conventional side-by-side burners for indirect cooking
- Folding legs and hood latch make it easily portable
- Large cooking grates
- Quality stainless steel construction
- Excellent value–cheaper than many other portables with more cooking features and power
- Must be mounted to a full-size propane tank
- No cart or stand options–tabletop only
- Slim design limits space on the grill with the lid down
RV Gas Grill with Best Cooking Experience – Napoleon TQ285 TravelQ
Wishing a really good grill name brand made something portable? While the Weber and the Coleman grills have the biggest following, they also have their quirks. Some are simple quality control issues, and others stem from design flaws and the limitations of using only one burner/one zone design.
The Napoleon TQ285 might be just the ticket. This grill has a classic two-burner design for zoned cooking. Unlike many of the other portable grills, its cast aluminum lid is tall enough to allow you to cook pretty much anything. And when combined with the indirect cooking options that the two burners give you, that means this grill is likely one of the most versatile on our list.
The Napoleon is of excellent quality and holds and maintains its heat well. It comes with a griddle for half the cooking area. The standard TQ285 has folding legs for tabletop use. The TQ285X, on the other hand, comes with a wheeled folding scissor cart and side tables.
- Best dual burner setup–true two-burner, two-zone design
- Tall lid with enough room for roasts and whole chickens
- Includes reversible drop-in cast-iron griddle
- Easy cleanup with standard foil drip pans
- Available RV adapter connects to low-pressure supply on your rig
- Built to last with an unbeatable ten-year warranty
- Expensive for a portable propane grill
Best for Searing – Magma Newport 2 Infrared Marine Grill
If you’re a frequent backyard chef who loves a good steak, you’ll no doubt notice that many of these portable grills lack the now-common infrared burner technology. But meat lovers can rejoice–there are infrared options available, too. An infrared burner creates a hotter fire under your food, which is excellent for getting a serious sear on.
This grill gets shockingly hot, but that usually isn’t a problem for portable grills with small cooking areas. The Magma grills use an effective, albeit entry-level, ceramic infrared burner. Like all Magma marine grills, it has a sleek stainless steel design that will look great wherever you use it.
The Newport 2 is also available with one stainless steel burner design instead of infrared. If you need a little more cooking area, check out the larger Catalina 2, also available in traditional or infrared.
- Stays lit in windy conditions
- High-quality stainless construction for the marine environment
- Beautiful grill
- Optional front prep shelf available
- Includes fold-down table legs, and many more mount styles available
- Small and easily portable
- Propane regulator gives poor control over temperature
- Difficult to get the grill to cook at lower temperatures
- A single burner provides little control over heat
Most Portable and Versatile Grill – Coleman Roadtrip 285
Coleman makes a great alternative to the Weber Q-series, and their entrant has a few great upgrades. There are several versions of the Roadtrip available. The 225 has a two-burner propane system, but adding the second burner only adds more BTUs–it doesn’t add an option for indirect cooking.
The larger 285, however, has a unique three-way burner that does give you some more cooking options. It produces up to 20,000 BTUs, an impressive amount on a small grill like this. Coleman says the grill can maintain anywhere from 350 to 700 degrees.
The Roadtrip is an attractive grill that is built on a folding cart. When folded flat, the grill can be wheeled like a suitcase. That makes setting it up easy, even if you are walking with it away. The fold-flat design also makes it the perfect size for RV cubbies. And if you are into color matching your accessories, the Coleman’s porcelain-enameled lid comes in your choice of five colors.
The grill features two cast-iron grates that can be swapped out for optional griddles or stove grates. The Coleman Roadtrip has an impressive amount of cooking space–285 square inches–but its low profile design doesn’t provide much space for lid-down cooking.
- Integrated folding stand with wheels and prep table
- Three burner design gives better heat control with up to 20,000 BTUs
- Large cooking area of 285 square inches
- “Swaptop” grates give you flexibility with a grill, griddle, or stove for a complete grilling station solution
- Three-year warranty
- The flat design leaves little room under the lid for roasting or baking
- Messy water pan and grease tray
- Quality control issues–broken handles, bad regulators, and other problems reported by users
Best RV BBQ Wood Pellet Grills
A wood pellet grill is an excellent solution for serious pitmasters on the road. On the downside, they’re bulkier than other options, and they will require you to carry hardwood pellets for fuel. But for these inconveniences, you’ll get a grill that will heat evenly.
The single-fuel source provides heat and flavorful smoke, making an all-in-one grilling solution that will make your mouth water with every meal. If you want to try your hand at smoking, a pellet grill is the easiest way to get in business with an RV BBQ.
Pellet grills work by using an electronic controller–meaning that these grills will require either 12 or 110-volt power. You set the thermostat to your desired grill temperature, and the controller feeds the pellets into the firebox via a motorized auger. These grills can maintain their cooking temperatures to within five degrees or so.
Most Connected RV BBQ Grill – Green Mountain Grills Trek Prime (formerly Davy Crockett)
The Green Mountain Trek is a mini-sized pellet grill. It looks just like a regular outdoor wood grill, right down to the vertical smokestack. But everything is downsized.
The Trek is a newly redesigned version of the venerable GMG Davy Crockett. Gone are the folding legs, replaced by sturdier fixed legs. They now sell longer legs or a beefy rolling cart if you want to move it around a patio. Both of those options, however, seriously limit its usefulness around camp.
The Trek has a 219-square-inch cooking area and a substantial nine-pound pellet hopper. It runs off of 12-volt power, but there is an included adapter to run off of a standard 110-volt outlet. The electricity runs the auger motor, ignitor, and fan. The total power draw is only between 2 and 165 watts.
- Wi-Fi-enabled controller for use in GMG app
- Cart or taller legs available separately
- Comes with both 12 and 110-volt power cords
- Adjustable air baffle for fine-tuning air flow and smoke
- Excellent temperature range–150 to 550 degrees settable in 5-degree increments
- Available pizza oven attachment will achieve 400 to 800 degrees for authentic pizza, bread, or searing steaks
- Stubby legs for tabletop use do not fold (older Davy Crockett model had folding legs)
- Still large and heavy–measures and 57 pounds
Powerful but Small RV BBQ – Traeger Ranger Portable Pellet Grill
The Ranger is a small tabletop pellet grill. It’s built like a large suitcase or toolbox. Since it’s a Traeger, though, it’s still hefty and well-built. In this grill’s case, it weighs over 60 pounds. It’s great for RVs or tailgating, but you’re not likely to carry it very far from camp.
- Includes a cast-iron griddle and porcelain-coated grill grates
- Large eight-pound hopper
- Integrated timer
- Digital Arc Controller for precise temperature control
- Small cooking area
- Maximum temperature limited to 450 degrees
Best Starter Wood Pellet Grill – Pit Boss Tabletop Pellet Grill
The Pit Boss tabletop pellet grill is an excellent alternative to the expensive Traeger Ranger. It has 256 square inches of cooking space and an integrated seven-pound pellet hopper. It’s a tabletop unit with a digital controller that allows you to set the temperature anywhere between 180 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Well built by a respected brand
- Users report it works just as well as larger Pit Boss pellet grills
- Large seven-pound hopper for longer recipes
- High-heat searing up to 1,000 degrees with direct flame
- Great temperature control
- Excellent value–a portable pellet grill for less than some gas grills
Electric RV Grills
Electric grills are interesting for RVers in a few respects. Traditional RVs who spend any time off-the-grid will probably want to stick to charcoal or propane options. But there are plenty of RVs now kitted out with lithium battery systems and inverters that can easily provide the 1500 to 2000 watts an electric grill might need. If your rig has a generator, you’re in business no matter where you are.
Electric grills mean no carrying propane and no running out of propane, and no more dirty cooking fuels. Electric grills might not get quite as hot as other options, but they make up for that by having superb heat control. Where the regulators and dials on portable propane grills are notoriously bad, these grills really can maintain any temperature you set them to.
You’ll find a lot of options if an electric grill interests you. Modern indoor grills are also smokeless, so you can use them outside on the picnic tables or inside on the counter. Many of them include smart cooking and connectivity options, and some are cleverly combined with other cooking tools with modes for dehydration or air frying. On the other hand, you’ll also find several portable grills listed above outfitted with electric heating elements instead of gas ones.
Best Electric Grill for a Party – George Foreman Round Electric Grill
For a few decades, George Foreman has been the go-to name brand in electric grills. The GGR50B is a large round grill made for indoor or outdoor use. It has a high dome-shaped lid to allow the cooking of bigger items, even things like a roast or a whole chicken. The non-stick grill grate is removable for easy cleaning.
- Indoor or outdoor use
- Can be used with or without included pedestal stand
- Easy-to-clean drip pan
- Large dome lid for grilling large items
- Big cooking area rated for up to 15 people
- Large grill at more than 20 inches diameter
Best Everyday Indoor Grill – Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill
If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to cooking on your indoor cooktop, this little grill is worth a look. It’s dead simple and can be used virtually anywhere. Best of all, it comes apart for easy cleaning–it’s even dishwasher safe should you want to give it a good wash when you get home.
It’s a little bit of a stretch to call this grill a grill–even if that is what it is, technically. The lid is more for catching splatters than trapping heat, but it will help you cook thicker items.
In the end, this is an electric skillet with ridges that drain the fat away. Its selector allows temperatures between 200 and 450 degrees. Hot enough to sear marks and cool enough to cook thick steaks all the way through.
- Great heat control
- Sear setting leaves lovely grill marks
- Indoor or outdoor use–use it more often
- Small countertop footprint
- Easily washable
- Great drip pan system makes cleanup easy
- Only suitable for traditional grilling–not roasting, baking, smoking, etc.
- Short power cord
Outdoor Grilling with Electricity – Weber Q2400 Electric Grill
This is a 1,560-watt electric version of the propane Q2200 grill listed above. It shares the same basic design and uses all of the same accessories. You can outfit it however you need, with grills, griddles, or a folding cart. It comes standard with two grill grates and legs for tabletop use.
- Large cooking area of 280 square inches
- Uses Weber’s standard cast-iron grates or griddles
- Many other Q-series accessories are available
- Removable catch pan for an easy cleanup
- Short six-foot power cord
- Outdoor use only
Which RV BBQ Grill is Right For You?
Picking the perfect grill is all about combining your passion for cooking and great food with your love of adventuring and traveling. Whatever you decide to do, don’t fall into the trap that you must have an RV-specific grill with an RV-specific barbecue. Doing so will reduce your options to only a few grills, none of which were designed for serious cooks.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is an RV grill?
There’s really no difference between an RV grill and a backyard grill–except for the fact that you need something small enough to carry with you on the road. Just like backyard chefs, RVers and campers can choose between charcoal, gas, electric, or pellet grills. Grills can be mounted to the side or bumper of your RV, or they can be freestanding or tabletop models for use around the campsite. They usually fold up for storage when not in use.