Tailgating Grill Buying Tips
Expert Advice

Image: Deposit Photos, sjlocke

You’ve prepared everything. The decorations in your team’s colors, a TV hooked up to a generator to keep up with the early game, ice cold drinks, and delicious food. But do you have the right grill to cook all the wonderful food you bought? An empty stomach would surely ruin the big game.

You don’t want to start the tailgate just to find out you have too much food for your grill, not enough heat to cook it, or improper cooking surfaces for your feast. So, here’s what to know before buying a tailgate grill.

Frequency of Use

Winter is a great time to think about buying a new tailgate grill. After all, spring is just around the corner, then there’s summer grilling. And before you know it, the 2023 football season will be here!  Since tailgate grills tend to go through heavier wear and tear, you might want to consider spending the extra money on a higher quality product. The reason is simple: it will last longer and provide you with a more bountiful tailgate.

Temperature Control Ability

The ability to control temperature is key. If you are using a charcoal grill, you’ll have to learn the art of controlling the cooking temperature with vents and lids. But on most gas grills, you should be able to control the burners. Either way, temperature control is a big deal when preparing your meats and veggies!

Surface Size and Number of Burners

Not all tailgating grills are made the same. When considering how large of a cooking surface you need, there are two things to think about: how many people are you cooking for and what kind of food you are cooking. Two burners might be needed for two cooking temperatures. Do you have enough surface area to cook meat for everyone? Do you need different temperatures? Questions like this are what you must ask yourself.

Charcoal, Gas, Pellet, or Electric

Just like backyard grills, there are fuel source options for a tailgate grill. Because of their portability and general ease of use, gas and charcoal grills make up a majority of the tailgate scene. There are pros and cons to each, so it really is a matter of personal preference. Most experienced tailgaters have a generator, so an electric grill or a pellet grill will always be great options!

Charcoal Grills

When it comes to charcoal grills, flavor is the driving factor. That charred, smoky taste created from this style of cooking can be a crowd pleaser among fellow tailgaters. To set up a charcoal grill, simply pour the briquettes into the grill and light. When it comes to cleanup, allow the ashes time to cool and discard them properly or transport them home. The Weber Jumbo Joe is a great option to consider.

Gas Grills

Gas 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. The Coleman RoadTrip 285 is definitely worth checking out.

Pellet Grills

Probably the number one reason to choose a pellet grill is for the flavor; it’s tough to compare to the natural smoky taste of food cooked over a wood fire. pellets come ready to burn, and the auger feeds the pellets into the fire as needed. Wood pellets make cooking incredibly simple. All you have to do is set thermostat to the temperature you want and let the auger do the rest. Where pellet grills really shine is in their ability to do any kind of cooking. With an average temperature range of 160–500 °F, you can smoke, roast, grill, sear, and even bake. Green Mountain Grills TREK Prime WiFi is our favorite pick.

Electric Grills

While many grillers are very opinionated about their fuel sources, don’t turn these electric ones away just yet. Electric grills are often looked down on for not giving off that “smokiness” some crave from a good burger. But by sacrificing billowing smoke, users gain endless usability. They are simple to operate, easy to clean, and generally hassle-free. Just turn the grill on, get it up to temperature, and place your food on the grill. You get a much more even sear on any food you place onto the grill since there are no hot and cold’ zones. The Weber Q2400 is a worthy choice.

No matter what your grilling preferences are, there’s bound to be the perfect grill that’s right for you. So, don’t get left in the cold on game day. Consider these tailgating grill buying tips before purchasing your new grill. Happy grilling and happy tailgating!