If you are going tailgating or camping and plan on bringing a grill along, you really have two options. You can bring a disposable grill or a portable grill. We will take a look at both types and compare a disposable grill vs a portable grill. Before we dig in, where do I stand on the portable vs disposable grill debate?
In my experience, I prefer a portable grill. They allow for more even grilling and are easier to use. The quality of a portable grill is much higher than that of a disposable grill.
A disposable grill is a one-time use grill that is filled with charcoal, lighter fluid and a flammable piece of paper. They are easy-to-use, all you need to do is light the paper and wait for the charcoal to catch fire. With a disposable grill, DO NOT light them directly on grass. Instead, either light them on a table or a baking tray. Using the grill directly on grass could cause the grass to catch on fire.
Disposable Grill Pros
In a pinch, disposable grills can be a great thing to have. One thing that is great about disposable grills is that they are easy to set up and clean up. All you have to do is light the paper and wait for the coals to get hot. The packaging is small so transporting the grill is no problem. You also do not have to keep a tank of propane handy. Unlike portable grills, you do not have to clean a disposable grill for the next use. Once you are done with your grill and it has cooled down, you can dispose of it.
Disposable grills are also useful if you are only grilling for a small crowd. If you are only grilling a small amount of food, it may not even be worth the hassle to bring along a portable grill. Instead you might just opt to bring a disposable grill. While a disposable grill is not as large as a portable grill, there is certainly enough space for a couple of pieces of meat at once. The flame also lasts about an hour, so you will have the option to grill for a good amount of time. The last reason someone may choose to go with a disposable grill is the price. Disposable grills are much cheaper than portable grills.
Disposable Grill Cons
A big downside for disposable grills is their size. They are fairly small and can only grill a few pieces of meat at a time. Disposable grills may be good if you are grilling for a small group, but for larger groups you may want to consider upgrading to a portable grill. Disposable grills are also not the most effective method for grilling. People have issues with burning their food on disposable grills because it cooks a little differently then a regular grill.
Another issue is the temperature from disposable grills in uneven, making grilling difficult. Some people have also had issues with food taking a long time to cook because it does not get as hot. If you are going to use a disposable grill, just stick to the basics and don’t expect the quality to be the same as a regular grill.
Unlike a disposable grill, portable grills are meant for multiple uses. They can range in price and come in all different grill types. You can get a portable charcoal grill, gas grill, flat-top grill, or whatever fits your needs. Portable grills work the same as a full-size grill, they are just smaller. Portable gas grills also use a smaller size propane tank so they are much easier to travel with. They can also vary in size, giving you a lot of options when choosing which is best for you.
Portable Grill Pros
If you need something that is reliable and don’t mind spending the money, a good portable grill is the way to go. You will get as many uses out of as you need and it will greatly improve your tailgate. They have a larger grilling area than a disposable grill and are much easier to cook. If you know how to grill on a full size grill, you’ll know how to grill on a portable grill. Portable grills are great for tailgating and camping, but they can also be used at home. If you don’t want to buy a full size grill, a good portable grill will easily get the job done as your at main grill.
One portable grill that I like is the Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill. The Weber Q2200 is small enough that it is easy to bring along to a tailgate. That said, you can easily grill for a big group with a cooking area of 280 square inches. The grill uses disposable propane tanks which makes grilling on the go very convenient. If you prefer to use it for your at-home grill but don’t want to keep using portable propane tanks, you can get a propane tank adapter hose that will allow you to use a 20 pound propane tank.
Portable Grill Cons
The biggest downside for a portable vs disposable grill is the price difference. As I mentioned earlier, disposable grills are going to be cheaper if you only grill a few times. Portable grills can be a bit more of an investment depending on which type you get. They do have cheaper portable grills but you get what you pay for when it comes to grilling. If you are looking for a long-term solution, it may be worth the investment to pay extra money and get something that is reliable. If you are going to be grilling a lot, a portable grill will cost you more upfront but will save you money in the long run. Another price that needs to be factored in is the price of propane and any accessories you may want.
A small downside for portable grills is that they are more work to maintain than a disposable grill. After each use you will have to clean the grill grates, and deep clean the grill every year or so. Cleaning is one area where disposable grills have an advantage because there is no upkeep required. Once you are done you can just throw it away. Even though they do take more to maintain, I still prefer a portable grill over a disposable grill.
I prefer portable grills because I think the quality is much better. In a pinch, disposable grills can get the job done, but I would rather grill on a portable grill. What works for me might not work you though. When deciding what to go with, you’ll definitely want to consider price as well as what you are going to use it for. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and only plan on using it once, a disposable grill would definitely make sense. If you are going to get a lot of use out the grill, I think a portable grill is worth the investment.
Check out our section on grilling for more grilling tips!