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The 7 Best Small Grills For Apartment Living

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With summer bearing down on your urban locale, there’s never been a better time to prep for the upcoming grilling season. From picnics and parties to the occasional get-together with your immediate family, there’s nothing more American than a full-fledged grill-out. But just because you live in a small, one-bedroom apartment, it doesn’t mean you can’t partake in one of cooking’s greatest disciplines.

We know what it’s like when you have to get rid of your prized propane partner — whether you’re moving to a complex that doesn’t allow full-width grills or just trying to minimize your footprint by getting rid of your life’s biggest peripherals. But, if you’re like us, you’ll soon realize that grilling is an undisputed addiction that’s become deeply rooted within your very being. When it comes to finding the perfect grill for everyday apartment use, compromise is key; you’ll have to give up space, power, and potential in order to suffice. But don’t fret, our guide on the best small grills for apartment use is about to quell your fears when it comes to delicious, charred goods.

Best Apartment Grills

Can You Even Use a Grill in Your Apartment?

Before you take out your wallets to purchase your new grill, make sure you check with both local regulations and those of your apartment complex as to whether or not you can even have a grill, either on your balcony or inside, or if you’re even allowed to store fuel tanks. Likewise, some apartments let you use propane but not woodfire, or vice versa.

What To Look For

Fuel Type: As described above, each fuel type has different pros and cons. Electric grills are better for indoors, while other fuel types aren’t allowed by certain laws or housing regulations (always check first). If flavor is your biggest concern, you’ll likely have a preference between charcoal and propane. However, pellet grills are a great option for meat lovers, allowing you to control the taste based on the wood type.

Grilling Area: If you live alone, are an amateur griller, and are just looking to make a couple of chicken breasts every so often, you will do just fine with a smaller grilling area. However, if you have a larger family or you’re an experienced griller, you’ll want a bigger surface area.

Footprint: If you’re worried about saving space, a grill’s footprint is of utmost importance, especially if it’s a heavier model that can’t be moved as easily. Tabletop grills are a good option for those who have disproportionately more countertop space compared to floor space.

Weight: While most of these grills will be staying put in your abode, certain models are good for camping or picnics. Likewise, if you’ll be moving a certain grill back and forth between your balcony and your kitchen, you’ll want them to be lightweight.

Types of Fuel

Charcoal: Often the cheapest type you’ll find, charcoal grills are no-frills units that work by burning charcoal underneath the grill plates, by spraying them beforehand with lighter fluid, and cooking over an open flame. Many apartment buildings don’t allow charcoal grills, so double-check before buying and using one.

Pellet: Pellet grills work in a similar way as charcoal except, instead of cooking with fire, you’ll use the heat from the smoke, either to grill or as flavoring. For small grills, tiny pellets of wood are burned in a separate smoke box, with the smoke running over the food in a different compartment. That smoke then exits from a chimney of sorts.

Propane: Like a gas stove, propane grills are increasingly becoming more and more popular. After you buy or refill a propane gas tank from the store, you hook it up to the grill and the heat generated is used to cook your food. These units will have a much different flavor than a charcoal or pellet grill. Likewise, many apartments won’t let you store your tanks there.

Electric: Perhaps the safest option, and easy to use indoors as well, electric grills plug into a wall, so they preclude the dangers of propane gas, and they don’t create open flames. Likewise, many of these units are able to have some unique features and can even be adapted to mimic woodfire flavor qualities.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

Weber Smokey Joe
  • Will last you a long time
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to clean
  • Ash tray should be detachable

Best Budget Grill: When you’re looking for an affordable, bare-bones grilling apparatus that’s become synonymous with one of the most trusted names in the industry, the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill is often the first example that comes to mind. Not only is this all-encompassing charcoal grill a hit for mid-summer beach parties and lazy afternoon picnics, but it’s also small enough to be utilized in compact deck areas, porches, and well-ventilated enclosures. Keep in mind, the Smokey Joe is as basic as it comes, so when modern indulgences like propane aren’t available, this charcoal/wood-burning example is the perfect alternative.

Type: Charcoal/Wood
Grilling Area: 147 Square Inches

George Foreman GFO3320 Indoor/Outdoor Grill

  • For indoor and outdoor use
  • Large cooking space
  • Built-in thermometer and temp controls
  • Easy to clean
  • Top-heavy

Most User-Friendly: If you’ve never heard of George Foreman, then you’ve got some research to do on one of the cooking world’s most iconic grillmasters. Even though the company’s GFO3320 Indoor/Outdoor Grill won’t make you a legendary chef overnight, it’ll do the job for the urban aficionado who’s looking to prepare large portions for friends and family, whip up some weekly meals, or celebrate a national holiday with some burgers and brats. The GFO3320 utilizes a “frying pan” surface with over 240-square-inches of cooking area, a non-stick ceramic coating for ease of use, and a low-profile orientation for those who might not have the space to entertain a large, freestanding grill. Better yet, a built-in thermometer and precise temperature controls ensure that you’ll get the perfect sear, every time.

Type: Electric
Grilling Area: 240 Square Inches

Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill

  • Portable
  • Porcelain-enameled grate for even heating despite external temps
  • Budget-friendly
  • Won’t last forever
  • Clean-up can be tricky

Best Tabletop Propane: Cuisinart’s CGG-180T Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill is the perfect all-arounder for someone who’s looking to take their cooking game to the next level. A 5,500 BTU stainless-steel burner and porcelain-enameled grate ensure that you’ll receive even heating, no matter where you are, and offers you a premium grilling experience at an attractive price point. Not only is this compact system the perfect companion for mid-summer picnics and get-togethers, but it’s also quickly become one of the quintessential cooking apparatuses for individuals with small tabletops, or decks. There’s even an integrated lid to help you keep your cooking area clean and clutter-free.

Type: Propane
Grilling Area: 145 Square Inches

Ninja OG701 Woodfire Outdoor Grill & Smoker

Ninja Woodfire
  • Electric power lets you use inside
  • You can broil, bake, roast, dehydrate, and air fry
  • Built-in doneness control
  • Not portable; heavy
  • Griddle plate sold separately

Most Versatile: Ninja may not be known for grills, but their Woodfire model happens to be one of the best on the market. If you’re looking for a single unit that can provide the performance of an electric grill top with the option of pellet smoke flavor enhancements (using real pellets with the integrated smoke box). Oh yeah, there are also settings to bake, roast, broil, dehydrate, and air fry. While its footprint is on the larger side, this unit also does the most, thus eliminating the need for other appliances. Not to mention, the grill takes the guesswork out of the process with built-in doneness settings (e.g., rare, medium rare, well done) that can be adjusted with the screen in the front.

Type: Electric/Pellet
Grilling Area: 141 Square Inches

Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

  • Super portable
  • Good for smoking meats
  • Built-in thermal sensor for temp monitoring
  • You can check on food via smartphone app
  • Small WiFi range
  • Smoking takes some practice

Best Pellet Grill: Green Mountain Grills’ Davy Crockett is the lone representative of the traditional pellet variety on our list (the Ninja is an electric pellet), giving it a leg up on its competition in more ways than one. Not only does the Davy Crockett boast one of the most elaborate cooking systems in the grilling world, but it also provides immaculate portability, convenience, and taste, all in one unassuming package. It’s outfitted with Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor that monitors grill temperature on a near-constant basis, a 110-volt or 12-volt adaptor for three separate power options, and a digital WiFi controller that allows you to check, regulate, and control your grill from a smart device. A peaked lid allows for more space than conventional grilling apparatus, making it the perfect companion for everything from tailgating, camping, and house-boating, to everyday apartment use.

Type: Pellet
Grilling Area: 219 Square Inches

Kamado Joe Junior Grill

Kamado Joe Jr
  • Great for slow cooking
  • Has many of the brand’s popular features
  • Locks in smoke really well
  • Top-heavy

Best Eggshell: Kamado Joe’s Junior Grill is a miniaturized version of the company’s renowned Classic Joe — offering users the same, highly-acclaimed performance as the original, but in a much more apartment-friendly package. With 148.5 square inches of cooking space, the Junior fills the niche for portable grilling companions, offering aspiring pitmasters the perfect alternative for deck or patio use. Like most Kamado Joe grills, the Junior sets the bar for slow cooking, and features the company’s proprietary SlōRoller + Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System for the ultimate grilling experience.

Type: Charcoal/Wood
Grilling Area: 148.5 Square Inches

Fuego Element F21C

  • Vertical orientation similar to regular grills
  • Large grilling space
  • Frustrating to assemble

Best Large Grill: Fuego’s Element F21C tops our list as one of the most extravagant apartment-friendly grills that you can buy, boasting a vertical layout that’s reminiscent of traditional grilling platforms. A monstrous 525-square-inches of grilling surface seems like a bit of overkill for an apartment-savvy setup, but, thanks to the grill’s interesting orientation, it works surprisingly well. Aside from being able to cook more than enough for a family of four, the Element F21C makes the most of its space-saving architecture by hiding the LPG tank in its cylindrical neck, utilizing two 26,500 BTU burners for exceptional temperature control, and providing a hinged 45-degree lid design that prevents discomfort from reaching over the grill’s scorched surface. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line grill with the looks to match, the Fuego Element F21C has you covered on all accounts.

Type: Propane
Grilling Area: 525 Square Inches

Essential Grilling Tools For Summer

Now that you’ve found the perfect grill for your space, grab a set of the most essential grilling tools for summer to become a true pitmaster.