Best portable barbecues: 8 of the best options for the beach and your boat

 

Serial boat owner Drew Maglio picks out 8 of the best portable barbecues available right now and explains what features to look out for…

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The ability to cook quality meals onboard or on the beach is a necessity for all but day boaters. While most motor yachts and sailing vessels have galleys that feature gas or electric ranges and even ovens, the absolute easiest and best way to cook quality food efficiently and swiftly is by choosing one of the best portable barbecues on the market.

A quick safety note on fuels

Because boats are far from flame retardant and have many sources including teak and varnish cabins, liquid fuel reserves, and fiberglass itself which is inherently flammable, an open flame that is not tightly controlled is a risky proposition on a boat.

Therefore, as an experienced boater who has been tried by fire at times, I highly dissuade the use of solid fuels like charcoal or wood on a boat, which are not always easy to control and can quickly grow out of hand under the wrong conditions.

Instead, propane or natural gas with proper safety equipment and safeguards, are much safer and better fuels as it is controlled via a regulator valve and can be shut off or turned down at any moment, unlike a charcoal grill, which — if tipped over — can spill fuel onto the surrounding area which may or may not be flammable.

Another downside to charcoal — unless expertly controlled — is that it tends to smoke and has a propensity for creating large flames which flare up when one opens the lid of a grill. You should never use portable barbecues in an enclosed space, and even under a canvas Bimini top or fiberglass hardtop, they could be very dangerous.

Best portable barbecues for your boat

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Magma Marine Kettle Gas Grill

Magma is the market-leader in marine grills and their various kettle grill offerings are what one typically thinks of when the words “marine” and “grill” are used together.

With a fully stainless steel construction (that is polished on the outside), the Magma Kettle will last for years to come, provided you clean it regularly.

The Magma Kettle comes in two sizes: 15” and 17”, respectively. There are also more expensive variants that can double as a portable stove instead of just a grill.

Personally, I would opt for the more feature-rich and expensive option, as it is a small premium to pay for greatly increased utility.

Pros:

  • Premium construction
  • Versatile with many uses and mounting options (sold separately)
  • Small profile; very portable
  • Regulator valve allows for very precise control of cooking temperature

Cons:

  • Relatively small cooking surface
  • Much more expensive than non-marine portable barbecues
  • Accessories are sold separately and will drive up total price
  • Cheaper models do not have an automatic lighting method (requires match or lighter to light)

RRP: $180-330 / £359-£395 (depending on configuration)

Buy the 15” Magma Kettle Grill on Amazon

Buy the 17” Magma Kettle Grill on Amazon

 

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Kuuma Premium Stainless Steel Mountable Gas Grill

Unlike in the kettle-shaped grill market-sector, Magma has some competition when it comes to rectangular grills and this rectangular table-top grill by Kuuma is a prime example.

While the unit can be mounted, it is versatile in that its feet allow it to be carried and used on various flat surfaces. With 125 square inches of cooking surface, this grill will allow for meals to be prepared efficiently for around 4-5 people at a time.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel construction
  • Affordable
  • Extremely versatile in that it can be used on a flat surface or mounted
  • Comes with regulator

Cons:

  • Does not have an electronic ignition: requires matches or a lighter

RRP: $145 / £310

Buy it now on Amazon

 

Magma Cabo

True to form as market leader, Magma offers a number of rectangular grill options as well.

Of the match-lit options, the Cabo is the “base model” which features a large 162 square inch cooking surface, premium stainless steel construction, and many mounting options sold separately.

Because of its feet, the Magma Cabo is suitable for usage on a wide variety of flat surfaces, in addition to being a prime beach companion.

Pros:

  • Premium construction
  • Versatile in terms of usage and mounting options
  • Large 162 square inch cooking area

Cons:

  • Far more expensive than the Kuuma grill above
  • No electronic ignition

RRP: $250 / £160

Buy it now on Amazon

 

Magma Chefsmate

Compared to the Cabo, the Magma Chefsmate is the higher end option with not only a higher grade of stainless steel in a satin finish, but also an integral double-liner construction.

Like the Cabo, the Chefsmate features 162 square inches of cooking area and is able to be used with a wide array of proprietary accessories and mounts.

However and of particular note: the Magma Chefsmate is able to use propane, LP, and even CNG (compressed natural gas), making it an extremely versatile grilling solution.

CNG — if you can find it — is a much safer cooking fuel than propane as its vapor is lighter than air and therefore dissipates, instead of concentrating at the bottom of enclosed spaces, eliminating the risk of an explosion.

Pros:

  • Premium construction
  • Versatile in terms of usage and mounting options
  • Able to use different types of fuels
  • Large 162 square inch cooking area

Cons:

  • Far more expensive than the Kuuma grill above
  • No electronic ignition

RRP: $300 / £229

Buy it now on Amazon

 

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Magma Newport 2

At $500, the Magma Newport 2 is about the most expensive portable barbecue grill I would recommend for boaters, as above this price  point you’d be better off investing in a fixed grill.

Featuring a “dynamic combustion system,” this grill is suitable for use even in heavy winds. Unlike the other rectangular grill options on this list, the Newport 2 features an electronic ignition so no lighters or matches are required.

The Newport 2 is also built from the highest grade of stainless steel that is practicable and is mirror polished. Furthermore, surface temperature will be much easier to maintain and optimize with the integral temperature gauge.

Like the Chefsmate, the Newport 2 is able to use propane canisters, LP, and CNG. For boaters looking for the best, the Newport 2 is a great option.

Pros:

  • Premium construction
  • Electronic ignition so no matches or lighters required
  • Designed to work well in windy conditions
  • Features an integrated temperature gauge

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Heavy at just over 20 lbs.

RRP: $500

Buy it now on Amazon

 

Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill

The best-respected name in barbecues in the UK (and pretty big in the US too), Weber is renowned for the quality and durability of its products.

This portable barbecue grill comes with a stainless-steel cooking grate and a porcelain-enameled lid and base that should retain heat and ensure even, consistent cooking.

The legs double up as clips to hold the lid closed while carrying your grill, while the optional adapter hose allows you to connect up to 20lbs of gas.

Pros:

  • Relatively affordable for such a high-quality product
  • Handle and clips aid portability
  • Large enough to grill 6 burgers at once

Cons:

  • No grease trap
  • Some reviewers report that it’s hard to clean

RRP: $82 / £179

But it now on Amazon

 

Best portable barbecues for the beach

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Everdure Cube Portable Charcoal Grill

Although I do not recommend charcoal for use onboard, if you’re looking for a portable barbecue grill for beach use, charcoal is a fine fuel and this Cube grill by Everdure is a quality unit with plenty of premium features.

Of note, are the sturdy grab handles and integral food storage plus cutting board, which will make barbecuing on the beach a breeze.

British buyers may be interested to learn that it comes endorsed by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal.

Pros:

  • Integral grab handles
  • Integral food storage and cutting board
  • Aesthetically pleasing appearance
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Not suitable for usage onboard
  • Non-stainless steel construction will likely not hold up as well if stored in a marine environment

RRP: $170 / £169

Buy it now on Amazon

 

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Lotus Grill portable barbecue

The Lotus is one of the most popular portable barbecues among boat owners as it combines the speed, convenience of a gas grill with the flavour of a charcoal one while staying cool on the outside for maximum safety.

The secret is a built-in battery powered fan that fast tracks the usual 20 minutes of hanging around while the charcoal gets going and ensures a nice even spread of heat with all the great smoky flavour but none of the faff.

You can even control the cooking temperature by adjusting the fan speed to suit. Perfect for a day on the sandbar!

Pros:

  • Quick to light and virtually smoke-free due to built-in fan
  • Adjustable fan speed allows you to control the heat
  • Stays cool enough to to carry without handles

Cons:

  • Not suitable for usage onboard
  • No grab handles

RRP: £149

Buy it now on Amazon

What to look for in a portable barbecue grill

When selecting a portable barbecue for your boat, the most important thing to ensure is that it will hold up to the corrosive marine environment.

One also should be sure to select a grill that suits its intended use: for cooking onboard, a propane grill should be securely mounted so as to not accidentally tip over or fall overboard, whereas a grill for use on the beach should have feet so it can be placed and used on a flat surface.

Depending on the mounting method, there are various round and square rail mounts that can be purchased for marine grills separately. Some grill mounts also have provisions for being mounted in a fishing rod holder, which—depending on one’s vessel—could be an excellent and portable mounting method.

If left out in the elements all the time, I highly recommend purchasing a cover to shelter your portable barbecue from the elements.

Some more cautious boaters would recommend purchasing a grill and mount with a quick release, so the grill could be quickly discarded overboard in the case of an uncontrollable fire.

I personally have never seen the need for this on propane grills that are controlled via a regulator, but can see the logic.

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated boating page for more marine products.

 

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