Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: February 25, 2021
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When you think of grilling, you might think of an open and expansive space that just isn’t realistic for those of us who live in apartments or smaller houses. Space is a commodity, and there just isn’t the ability to break out a massive grill for regular use. However, there are compact grills designed for cooking in a small space that are excellent.
The best grill for apartment balcony setups allows for the same cooking power in a small space. If you want to upgrade your culinary game from your apartment, we’ve got you covered with a review of 10 different grills that can all fit on the average apartment balcony. While the winner of our Editor’s Choice was the Cuisinart CGG-240, each of the top products we revealed was a solid option. It was a close race between this top grill for an apartment balcony, so we dig into the details to help you make the best choice for you.
Primarily, our ratings are based on a couple of key factors. First and foremost, we looked at the portability of these grills, to make sure they can actually fit and service most apartment balconies. We then wanted to check for ease of use and the type of fuel needed for the fire. Lastly, we looked at the primary cooking area to make sure that these grills could still feed a household. The testing was rigorous, and these top ten certainly earned their spots as some of the best portable grills perfect to set up at your apartment. So, it doesn’t take much to pick the best grill for apartment balcony, just read our detailed reviews and the buying guide, to find the most suitable model.
It was a narrow contest, but after all the testing, this grill earned the coveted title of Editor’s Pick. The reason this earned our top spot is that it crushed it in a few key areas that make this an excellent choice for space conscious grillers. This can fold up into a compact dimension of just 44 x 23 x 21 inches, which makes it easy to store or even transport if you want to take the grill on the go. However, this portability doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice space, as when it unfolds, you still get a solid amount of space with plenty of nice features.
After unfolding the grill, you get a whopping 240 square inches of cooking space on porcelain enameled cast iron grates. Providing the fuel for this grill is from a propane tank, which helps this grill put out a whopping 15,000 BTU, allowing for excellent heat distribution for both fast and even cooking. It is an incredibly solid amount of cooking space for a grill that has wheels and can easily be moved to allow your apartment balcony to be more than just a cooking area.
There is plenty of ease of use features with this bad boy, as well. It comes with a twist start electric ignition, which makes this a snap to get going. In addition, this grill has folding shelves that give space for utensils, plates, seasoning, and more. This grill does a great job replicating the full-sized grilling experience in a small package.
What we liked:
Solid cooking space of 240 square inches
Folding shelves and wheels make this exceptionally portable and easy to store
There’s something special about cast iron grills as everything that comes off them seems to taste fantastic. Added to that, they also get better over time. The common downside to them is a high weightб but this compact version only weighs 18lbs.
It comes with two separate grates, which allow you to cook independently. Both sides can be placed in three different positions, and you get an overall cooking area of 181 square inches. It makes it small enough for apartments while saving plenty of space.
A nice little feature, especially for balconies, is that the ends of the cooking areas are curved slightly upwards to keep everything neatly on the cooking area. While it works very well for a balcony, the high portability design allows you to take it anywhere you want.
It’s easy to move it using the heat-resistant wooden handles on both the grates and the body of the grill. They also allow you to adjust the cooking heights very easily. Unfortunately, there is no grilling lid here, which some may wish to have, but for quick and simple grilling, it’s not going to be required. Also, it’s hard to get any sizzle or searing from the grill.
The air vents on the front of the unit allow you to easily control the flow of air in and out for more precise cooking. The build quality is excellent with the cast iron, and you’ll be using this for many years to come on the balcony and beyond.
Cuisinart makes the entry again with another of our favorite and best grills for an apartment balcony with this portable product. It’s not quite the full-grill experience that made the other Cuisinart grill our Editor’s pick, but this one is even easier to carry around, earning it our award for the best portable grill. Only weighing 17 pounds with an easy carrying handle and quick folding legs, this grill will work at the smallest apartments, as well as excellent for camping, tailgating, or just any reason to grill on the go.
While it is exceptionally portable, you do lose a bit in the cooking space and power, which is why this grill isn’t the top of our list. With this grill, you get 145 square inches of cooking space. However, it’s still on high quality porcelain enameled grates. Similarly, you only get 5,500 BTU from the burner (although that’s in a substantially smaller cooking space), but it still comes with a twist start ignition and a built-in temperature gauge for excellent heat monitoring. This may not match up to its bigger counterpart, but you’ll struggle to find a more effective and compact grill on the market.
It is this portability where this grill truly shines. The folding legs can have it, so the grill is broken down and ready for storage in a matter of seconds, freeing up your balcony again. The folding legs provide a very stable and secure base, which is imperative while grilling, while also allowing for easier storage. If you want to take it on the go, it has a briefcase-like carrying handle, making it easy to haul with you anywhere you want. Easily the best grill for even the smallest of spaces.
What we liked:
Exceptionally portable, weighing only 17 pounds
High quality porcelain enameled grates
Built-in heat monitor and quick start ignition
What could be better:
Lower cooking space and heating power from the burners
Nothing sparks grilling nostalgia like the rounded top of a class Weber charcoal grill, an image synonymous with a backyard cookout for many years. As we move to find the best balcony grilling items, this one is sure to bring back memories of days gone by.
As you are looking for something that can accommodate friends and family, this one deserves a closer look. It can hold up to 13 hamburgers, which means that it has plenty of cooking space, all with a compact encasement.
The porcelain enameled lid retains heat perfectly, all while having easy to clean grates, and it is very easy to empty the ashes. You can grill all summer long without having to sacrifice a lot of time in maintenance. This classic grill comes in at just over 33 pounds. This will not be one that you want to move constantly. This grill does boast durable wheels, so you can move around the balcony as you need to, but loading into your car will be a little more difficult. The durable plates and the handle that shields your hands from the heat will definitely be a pro. Grab this classic grill at a great price.
One of the most premium grills we reviewed, this Green Mountain product, actually has a couple of distinguishing factors. It’s actually the only wood pellet grill that cracked the list for the best grills for apartment balcony setups. As notable as that is, even more noteworthy is the fact that this grill offers some incredible modern features, earning it our award for the Best Grill with Wifi. It’s incredibly impressive because the wood pellet setup is not normally considered very portable. However, the technology behind this grill is astonishing. Utilizing wood pellets (which you can select to give you different flavors), this grill fits in small spaces and runs on electricity, which makes it ideal for apartments. While it’s one of the heavier grills, at 57 pounds, it’s something that you can still fold up and take on the road.
Wood pellets give you a ton of ability to customize the flavor and grilling experience, and this grill is no exception. It includes a healthy 219 square inches of cooking space. It does a very solid job of cooking food and putting out heat.
However, the optional features are where this product really jumps off the page. It is compatible with an Android or iPhone app that allows you to monitor the temperature of your grill from afar, allowing you to monitor some of the heat fluctuations that are more difficult than other grilling methods. You can even make adjustments to the heating settings without leaving the comfort of your couch. Stunning features in a solid grill.
What we liked:
WiFi enabled, allowing you to monitor and adjust the temperature from afar
One of the hottest trends in grilling is the Kamado style, also known as the big egg (one famous brand is green). However, these grills are also notoriously large, taking up a ton of space and not exactly suitable for the average apartment setup. However, the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. has fixed all that, creating a small and portable version of the classic Kamado style grills.
This has all of the advantages of the Kamado style, including very quick heating up to temperature and excellent temperature maintenance without a lot of fussing being required. However, this grill takes up a fraction of the space of the conventional grills. It has a smaller cooking space, at just 153 square inches. However, it’s some high quality for the smaller package. It’s built with solid 22 gauge steel, porcelain coated on the inside. It has excellent heat control, with a triple thick wall which enables heat up to 700 degrees.
The Kamado style grills are charcoal but done to the utmost degree. For example, this grill has both a top and bottom hamper, allowing picky grillers to get the exact hot zones in the grill that you are looking for. The top damper includes a built-in thermometer to help you monitor grill temperature. The bottom damper is integrated with an ash pan that allows for quick and easy clean-up, one of the more difficult jobs of charcoal grills. With the ability to smoke foods low and slow to getting a great sear on your favorite steak, this portable grill can do it all.
What we liked:
Quick heating and easy to maintain temperature
Solid steel construction
Classic Kamado style grill in a smaller package
What could be better:
Heavier grill at 40 pounds makes it not the most portable
This is undoubtedly the most unique of the grills we examined for this test, earning our Best Design award because it is just so different from other portable grills. The design isn’t just for aesthetics, either. It was designed by the former Chief Designer at Apple, Robert Brunner, to be effective as well as cool to look at. It is designed to get up to 500 degrees in as little as 5 minutes and with a maximum heat of 650 degrees.
At a heavy 73 pounds, it may seem like a stretch to call this a portable grill or a good grill for an apartment balcony, but there are a few mitigating factors. The grill is taller rather than wide, meaning it has a very compact footprint at just a 21-inch square. This may immediately sound like you’ll be sacrificing grilling space, but that just isn’t the case. In fact, this has the one of the largest cooking space of anything we examined, at 346 square inches, considered enough to grill 12 burgers simultaneously. In addition, this grill is on wheels which makes it easy to move around as you see fit, making it easy to move in different locations as space requires.
It has tons of easy access features as well, including a simple push-button ignition, a residue tray that is easy to remove and clean, a thermometer built directly into the lid. Even better, it will take only about 30 minutes to use, and it is an effective burner that will be good for 50 cooks at 20 minutes a piece (1,000 total cooking minutes). You don’t lose efficiency for this, with a whopping 21,000 BTU put out by the burner.
Weber is synonymous with quality when it comes to grills, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see them enter into this top 10 list multiple times. This liquid propane grill is one of the more compact grills we examined, making it fairly portable and easy to get set up on an apartment balcony. The nice thing is that it cooks a lot bigger than it looks because it has a fairly decent 280 square inches of cooking space. In addition, the grill comes equipped with folding worktables that ease in the process of actually grilling greatly by providing space for plates or tools.
The material isn’t quite as sturdy and durable as some of the other options we checked out. It’s made of cast aluminum for the lid and body, and the frame is glass-reinforced nylon. It’s not quite the durable and hard to top cast iron, but it’s not exactly flimsy either. A nice feature of this grill is the fact that the grill plates are interchangeable and can be swapped out for griddles as well. These griddle plates aren’t included with the grill by default but are a nice optional accessory.
Another thing that is versatile about this grill is the fuel. By default, it is designed to work with the disposable liquid propane tanks found at many outdoor stores. This is more suited for campers or more infrequent grillers. If you are looking at a permanent apartment setup, there is an optional hose adapter that can make this grill compatible with a 20-pound propane tank so you can make this grill fit your lifestyle.
What we liked:
Versatile grill allows for both standard grill plates or optional griddle plates
Can be adapted to function with a 20 pound propane tank
Solid 280 square inches of cooking
What could be better:
Aluminum material not as durable as other options
By default, only functions with disposable propane canisters
While this grill is definitely designed to be taken on the go, it has enough positive features to make it a consideration for one of the best grills for apartment balcony setups. The toolbox look is actually quite utilitarian, made out of cast aluminum and stainless steel latches. More importantly, the frame is designed to take high impact and secured with stable legs and carrying handles. This was designed to be thrown in the back of a truck and taken to a tailgate or camping, but it can work just fine for more permanent setups as well. In fact, the thing that really makes it ideal for small spaces is the TRU-Infrared cooking system.
This heating source is different than most other grills which use only the convective heat of hot air. The infrared system actually distributes heat throughout the whole grill, providing consistent and even cooking. Even more impactful is the fact that the system reduces flare-ups which can be so common when grilling. When you consider the small spaces that you are often working within an apartment balcony, reducing flare ups can be essential.
On top of these nice features, it also does a solid job of grilling as well. There are 200 square inches of cooking space, which puts us right in line with many of the other grills on the market. Not the biggest but certainly not the smallest. The burner puts out a respectable 9,500 BTUs, but this is made even more effective with the infrared technology.
What we liked:
Durable construction good for portable and permanent setups
Infrared technology prevents flare-ups
Weighs only 20 pounds
What could be better:
Works with propane canisters by default however it can be converted to a 20 pound tank
Weber makes another entry into the list with their Jumbo Joe charcoal grill. Given that we are dealing with portable grills, it may seem like the name Jumbo Joe is an oxymoron, much like “jumbo shrimp,” but it’s actually relatively fitting. It actually has a spacious 363 square inches of cooking space, making it one of the largest grills we worked with. That means that it can cook a very solid 8 burgers, made with a Weber burger press, sold separately. You may be dealing with an apartment set up, but with this grill, you aren’t restricted to only cooking for a couple of people.
This is a charcoal grill, which means it doesn’t have as many of the bells or whistles that you may find with propane or wood pellet grills. Dampers are present for heat control and management, but you won’t find any niceties like a built in thermometer on this one. That being said, this grill earns our Budget Pick award because it grills very well at an affordable price.
Even better, your dollar goes a long way because the entire lid and bowl are porcelain-enameled, which means that it won’t rust or peel, even in the elements. Another feature that helps to keep this clean is a Tuck-N-Carry lid lock, which can be used as a lid holder, so the lid never has to go on the ground while cooking. Easy, compact, and affordable, hard to argue with this as a great value for your money.
What we liked:
Budget Pick means an affordable price
One of the larger grills at 363 square feet
Durable lid and bowl that are rust and peel-proof
What could be better:
No built in thermometer
No easy start found in propane or electric wood pellet grills
Things to Consider
The decision on which is the best grill for your apartment balcony setup isn’t cut and dry. There are plenty of things to consider. This buying guide will help you break down what you need to select the best grill for your own situation.
Who might need a grill for apartment balcony?
We constantly reference the best grill for an apartment balcony set up, but these grills can have a lot wider of an application. Apartments with small balconies need to make the most use of their space, and these grills make it possible to still use their space and enjoy the fun and flavor of cooking fresh food on a grill. However, this is also good for shared houses or townhomes with exceptionally limited outdoor space. Anywhere space is at a premium, and these smaller grills can be a great option without sacrificing cooking ability.
Grill portability and the features it depends on
One of the great features you can find with these grills is their versatility. While they can be perfectly good choices for setting up permanently on your balcony, they are generally light enough that they can be taken on the go, like Cuisinart CGG-180TS with only 17 lbs. The ability to make these grills portable varies on a few things. First, you’ll want to consider weight as an important component of how much you can move it around. However, weight isn’t the be-all end-all because several of these grills have features which make them more portable, such as carrying handles or wheels. Another thing that helps improve the portability of these appliances is that they can fold or collapse, which can be used for easy storage or to throw in the car and take on the go. If you are a fan of camping or tailgating and plan to take your grill on the go, portability can be a big selling point.
Pros and cons of different types of grills
As mentioned, you can find people who love to grill who are passionate about the superiority of either gas or charcoal. In reality, there are benefits and drawbacks to each of the options, and it can be good to select the fuel that best suits your own style. In the end, it will come down to what you like best, but choosing between gas and charcoal can narrow down the field quite substantially.
Propane is certainly and objectively the easier fuel to work with. Propane is delivered in disposable canisters or larger tanks. The canisters can be found at a plethora of outdoor or camping stores but are designed for a single use. On the other hand, the larger tanks take up substantially more space and can be refilled. You may want to explore the options on where you can get your propane tank refilled near you and make sure it is feasible. Once you are hooked up, propane grills are fantastically simple. Often, the best gas grills for apartment balconies are equipped with easy ignition features that don’t require any fuss or maintenance. It can be easy to get grilling fast. Besides the downside of having to refill the tank, another issue is that propane tanks can be hard to judge how much cooking time you have left, leaving you in danger of a grill with no fire in the middle of dinner.
On the other hand, charcoal grills require a lot more babying. Getting consistent and even heat from the charcoal briquettes that you can find at most grocery stores require a bit more finesse. On top of that, charcoal grills don’t come with easy features like auto ignition because you need to set up the stack of charcoal to get the heat you want. However, if you are a master at using charcoal, you can set your grill up in a ton of ways, including creating hotter and cooler spots at your whim. In addition, charcoal purists will say that there is a notable flavor benefit to cooking with charcoal that is worth considering. In the end, the choice is definitely yours on which type of grill you’d like to use most. To help, we’ll break down some of the important features of each type of grill.
Key gas grill features
When it comes to propane grills, there are a few major things to consider that may help you make the decision on which grill will be best. These features only apply to gas grills, so if you have your heart set on a charcoal grill, you don’t have to worry about these features.
British thermal units (BTU)
When it comes to propane grills, the number you see related to cooking power is BTU, which stands for British thermal units.
Scientifically, a BTU is actually the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water by one-degree Fahrenheit.
It may sound fairly obscure, but a good parallel is actually the unit of horsepower used in cars. It’s hard as an average person to know just how much power a horse has or how much energy is required to heat one pound of water, but you can quickly know that more horsepower or more BTU means a stronger machine. If you particularly want to cook a lot of food at once or you’d like to get a really nice sear on your steak, more BTUs will mean more power to get food cooked quickly and evenly.
At first thought, heating elements may bring to mind the grates you actually cook food on but heating elements actually refer to the source of the fire in a gas grill. The heating element provides the heat that you will use to cook food and there are a few things to look at here. For instance, you may want to examine how many heating elements your prospective grill has.
Multiple heating elements make it easier to cook multiple types of food at once while one heating element will give you a single temperature to work with.
Another thing to consider is the shape. Some heating elements are single straight lines but others are u-shaped which means that one burner can provide fire throughout the grill. These will put out more BTU and give you multiple hot spots for areas of high heat cooking. Of the gas grills we examined, the Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 actually used an infrared heating element which reduces flare-ups.
This may seem simple after all; a gas grill obviously uses propane for fuel. However, there are actually a few more things to consider in this regard. Some of the gas grills we examined are designed by default to use the disposable propane canisters found in camping stores. These are certainly convenient if you want a portable grill, but if you want to set up your grill permanently on your apartment balcony, it won’t quite work. You will want to get grills that are compatible or can be adapted to larger propane tanks. Sometimes, these are built in by default, but they can also be optional add-ons.
Key charcoal grill features
Charcoal grills have a whole different set of requirements to consider since you are directly responsible for building and managing the flame and heat. These are some important features to remember for your charcoal grill.
With propane grills, the heat can be changed with the turn of a knob. That’s not the case with a charcoal grill. You build the fire yourself with the charcoal as fuel. As any experienced fire starter knows, oxygen is one of the most essential fuels for a fire. Instead of turning a knob, you control the airflow to help regulate the heat in a charcoal grill. On most grills, this is done with dampers.
The number and location of dampers can be an important feature for a charcoal grill. The more dampers, the more heat control you’ll have.
For propane grills, you never have to really interact with the burners directly. However, since you are making the fire, with charcoal grills, you are intimately involved with the heating source every time you grill. In a charcoal grill, this area is called the firebox. Easy accessibility to the firebox is an important feature. In addition, one of the byproducts of charcoal grills is ash in the firebox and having the ability to easily and quickly clean out a grill will extend the longevity of your grill.
The lid is also very important on a charcoal grill. Again, air flow is a crucial component in how much heat your grill will generate. Often, the dampers are located on the lids of the grill, so removing the lid can remove some of your heat control. Charcoal grills are more frequently used with the lid closed to help manage temperature, so this is an important feature to consider.
Body and grate materials
When you are making the investment in an area like a grill, durability is something to consider and the materials involved can be important. When it comes to the body, there are a few materials to choose between. One of the most durable belongs to the Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Cast Iron Charcoal Grill, which is made with Marsh Allen’s signature full cast iron. With care, these grills are designed to last for over a generation. However, cast iron is also heavy. Other materials used here include cast aluminum and stainless steel. In the end, this comes down to personal preference.
Another area of importance is the grate material. Different grate materials will provide different heat retention and cleaning abilities. Most of the grills on this list use porcelain-enameled cast iron and that’s done for good reason. Cast iron retains heat very well, giving you the chance to get a truly excellent sear on your food. The porcelain enamel is also an important feature because it is non-stick and fairly easy to clean. While you will find stainless steel grates, by and large, the best grills for apartment balcony setups will use the enameled cast iron.
The cooking area refers specifically to the amount of grate space that a grill has that are directly exposed to heat. Generally mentioned in square inches, the more cooking area you have, the more food you can cook. The grills we examined ranged from about 155 square inches up to 363, found in our Budget Pick, the Weber Jumbo Joe. If you aren’t visual, square inches can actually be a bit hard to visualize, so it is often rendered in the amount of food you can cook. For example, the Fuego Element F21C touts the ability to cook 12 quarter pound burgers at once.
Grills are one of those things that can vary greatly, both for these portable ones and the conventional full-size options. You can spend less than $100 on a grill for an apartment balcony setup or you can easily spend more than three times that amount. With more dollars, you tend to get more features, like built-in thermometers and easy ignition, as well as more cooking power or area. That being said, our Budget Pick, the Weber Jumbo Joe, rests well under $100 and still grills you up a fantastic meal so you can get a good grill at any price point.
The world of grills seems pretty daunting. However, if you are looking to narrow it down, start by deciding by the fuel that you want to use, gas, charcoal, or even our one wood pellet grill on the list, the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill. Once you have the fuel down, you can narrow the field. Then, consider your portability and your cooking area that meets your needs. At this point, you should be down to a couple of options, and you can make your final decision.
Generally, most of the best grills for apartment balcony setups use porcelain-enameled cast iron because they tend to be easy to clean and retain heat. The porcelain is naturally non-stick and easy to scrub clean, while cast iron is one of the best materials for getting hot and effectively retaining that heat.
If you stay on top of cleaning, grills are fairly easy to clean. Getting a good grill brush and taking care of your grill after every cook with make it easy. If you go with a charcoal grill, emptying out the ashtray is important. Grills only become hard to clean if you let them go, and the food residue gets baked on.
The difference between the top few grills on our list is exceptionally small, each and every one of them is truly an exceptional product. However, in the end, the best grill for apartment balcony setups was the Cuisinart CGG-240. It has a solid cooking area, excellent portability, and admirable cooking power that made it an overall contender. Cast iron is a classic, which made the Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Cast Iron Charcoal Grill one of our top contenders. This charcoal grill is meant to last for many years, giving you an exceptional bang for your buck. Lastly, another favorite was the other Cuisinart grill on our list, the Cuisinart CGG-180TS. This was one of the best grills for portability on the list, with a light weight and easy carrying features, this was an exceptional choice if you were planning to grill on the go. In the end, however, these appliances were all exceptional, and the best grill for apartment balcony setups will come down to your preference.