The Weber Q 1200 is our go-to for efficiently and effectively cooking meals while on the go. This table-top powerhouse roars to life by pressing the reliable electric starter and quickly preheats thanks to a heavy-duty construction — both in the porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates and the cast aluminum body. An easy-to-read, integrated thermometer helps you accurately track temperature, and fold-out side tables offer plenty of space for your BBQ tools. While its weight and lack of latching lid make it less than ideal for carrying into remote picnic sites, the Weber Q 1200 is the ideal companion for road tripping and car-camping. Many portable grills function to cook food but lack the finesse needed for grilling more than hot dogs and burgers. This one brings power and control to this category better than the competition.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 8, 2022, with sections that take a closer look at value and offer recommendations for directly comparable products.
Weber Q 1200 Review
Cons: Less portable due to weight and lack of latching lid, hot even on lowest setting
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|Pros||Excellent heat retention, convenient side tables, consistent ignition||Great burner system, quick to assemble, even cooking, rolls well||Sturdy, simple, good sized coal bed and grill space||Large cooking area, lightweight, affordable||Well insulated, gas efficient, sturdy|
|Cons||Less portable due to weight and lack of latching lid, hot even on lowest setting||Bulky, heavy||Handles get hot, vents are hard to adjust, requires more preparation than gas grills||Loose regulator, lack of portable features, requires full build||Poor control of heat range, quick deterioration of grill surface|
|Bottom Line||From folding side tables to easy to clean cooking grates, this thoughtfully designed model makes grilling on the go fun and easy||This wheeled model offers top-tier cooking performance and a cooking area that is on par with many grills that aren't meant to leave the back patio||Simple and highly effective, this portable charcoal grill will help you show-off your pit cooking skills away from home||An affordable alternative that sacrifices power in an unsuccessful search for portability||With a lot of heat output from a single burner, this compact powerhouse specializes in high-temperature grilling at a fair list price|
|Rating Categories||Weber Q 1200||Coleman Roadtrip 285||Weber Go-Anywhere C...||Char-Broil 240 Port...||Cuisinart Grillster|
|Output Power (25%)|
|Cooking Area (20%)|
|Wind Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Weber Q 1200||Coleman Roadtrip 285||Weber Go-Anywhere C...||Char-Broil 240 Port...||Cuisinart Grillster|
|Weight (pounds)||31 pounds||47 pounds||12 pounds||16 pounds||13 pounds|
|Cooking surface area (inches)||189 sq in||285 sq in||140 sq in||225 sq in||148 sq in|
|# of Burners||1||3||N/A||1||1|
|Grill material||Porcelain-Enameled Cast Iron||Porcelain-Coated Cast Iron||Plated steel||Aluminum, w/ Porcelain Finish||Enameled steel|
|Packed Size (inches / cu ft)||15" x 26" x 14" / 3.2 cu ft||39" x 14" x 19" / 6 cu ft||14.5" X 21" X 12.2" / 2.2 cu ft||22" x 14" x 17" / 3.1 cu ft||20.5" x 12" x 10.2" / 1.5 cu ft|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Weber Q 1200 is a unique portable grill option, mainly in terms of design. Weber is known for their recognizable kettle-bell design — it's even featured as the company's logo — and this grill uses a similar lid design to mimic that reliable heat distribution across its 189 square-inch cook surface. A single, U-shaped burner puts out 8,500 BTU to efficiently heat the porcelain-enameled, cast-iron grill surface. Although it tops our list of portable grills, the 31-pound, 3.2 cubic-foot frame of the Q 1200 is best suited to your tailgate, apartment patio, or as part of your RV setup.
The Weber Q 1200 is an unexpectedly powerful grill, resulting in cook times that were much faster than expected for such a petite barbecue. Like other top models, this is all thanks to a single, U-shaped burner that effectively delivers heat across the range of the grill surface.
The grill surface itself also has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the Q 1200. Unlike so many other grills that are outfitted with a simple, stainless steel grate, the range of this barbecue is porcelain-enameled cast iron. While it is likely best known in its skillet form, this material is famous for heat retention and the resulting even distribution across the cook surface.
This means that the burner doesn't need to crank out heat at nearly the same rate as other, less well-insulated grills. Even though the small flames of the 8,500 BTU burner don't seem like they are capable of reaching searing temperatures, within mere minutes of preheating with the gas burner opened to the highest setting, the internal temperature of the chamber climbs above 500°F.
As a portable gas grill that will likely appeal to novice cooks and experienced chefs alike, the accessibility of the Q 1200 is a major selling point. The battery-powered electronic ignition is the same you will find on a high-end, full-size grill. The integrated thermometer — available from 150°F to 600°F — allows you to accurately monitor internal temperatures without having to lift the lid and lose critical heat. The regulator is integrated into the body and employs an infinite controller that is easily adjusted between clearly marked low, medium, and high settings.
Don't misconstrue manufacturer claims of an "infinite control burner valve." In appliance-speak, this simply means that a controller is "infinitely variable rather than being limited to a few switched levels." So while it may not be as exciting as it sounds, this capability still allows you to accurately dial in precise burner output to help control temperature.
All portable grills, in our experience, struggle to control their internal temperature. Not surprisingly, this grill doesn't offer the control of full-size grills. This is not to say that it cannot be controlled, but that it will likely take a bit of a learning curve until you figure out how to do so. Temperature control tends to run away if this grill still has room to heat, i.e., it has yet to achieve its maximum temperature. But if you need to turn the Q 1200 down to a lower heat level, it will adapt within a matter of minutes — albeit, even if you turn the grill down to low, it is unlikely that the cast iron surface will drop below a measured average of 560°F without some time completely shut off. Still, our testers were able to control the heat of this grill better than other models.
There's really no way around the fact that at 31 pounds, this is heavy for a tabletop grill — it is by far the heaviest non-rolling unit, and tips the scales at 11-pounds heavier than the next closest competitor in this regard. But behind that weight, you have a glass-reinforced nylon frame, supporting a cast aluminum body and lid, that cover a porcelain-enameled cast iron cook surface. All of these are heavy-duty, making the Q 1200 sturdy, durable, and likely to last a very long time.
But even understanding the reasons behind the weight does not benefit this grill's portability. Again, considering this grill against all other tabletop models in this review, the Q 1200 "packs down" to a less-than-reasonable 3.2 cubic-feet. We put that phrase in quotations because the only thing that packs away are the side tables, which do conveniently fold up securely underneath the lid.
The sturdy handles extend far enough away from the grill body to make it reasonable to pick up and move even while lit. But the positioning of the regulator setup directly underneath the right handle severely limits your grip — so with a disposable propane bottom attached, you are practically lifting this grill with only your fingertips on one side. Last, but certainly not least, we wish this model came with a latch to secure the lid. Though it doesn't solve the issue, the cast aluminum lid is at least heavier than most, so it doesn't bounce around much during normal travel. But if you're planning on four-wheeling into your BBQ site, consider using a bungee cord to help secure it.
The highlight of the Q 1200 is its porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates. This is the same material that is known as the signature of top-quality cookware like Le Creuset. The cooking performance of this naturally non-stick material is rounded out by its ease of cleaning — even at its dirtiest, it can be cleaned with a soapy sponge; at its easiest, these grill plates are dishwasher safe.
While it is incredibly easy to use, porcelain-enameled cast iron is meant to be treated with a level of respect commensurate with its cooking performance. Unlike a regular grill surface, you never want to use a wire brush, which will destroy the naturally non-stick coating. Instead, for heavy cleanings opt for a soft bristle or nylon brush.
Despite its large frame, the Q 1200 only sports 189 square inches of grill space. While this measurement objectively lands in the middle of the grills we tested, it tends to be plenty of room for most travel-cooking needs. If you are just grilling up the meat portion, it is enough to cook 3-4 servings; if you are cooking just for two, it is ample room to grill up both meat and veggies. Even though the side tables may seem superfluous, they come in handy in places where you may not be cooking on a tabletop — even on a tailgate, these spots tend to come in handy to keep both your food and truck bed clean.
The domed lid of the Q 1200 keeps the wind at bay — even high winds do not affect the flame, even on the lowest setting. Even though it is not necessarily insulated, the heavier-weight cast aluminum lid seems to be well-suited to retaining critical heat when outside temperatures drop. While Piezo igniters can also be finicky in cold weather, the electronic ignition system is entirely dependable (as long as you remember to replace the battery when needed).
The only annoyance in the wind is the disposable aluminum drip tray liner, which is designed to save you from having to clean what can notoriously be the nastiest part of a grill. Without some significant weight added — like a rock — you can expect that this drip pan will pick up and fly away with the first significant gust of wind.
Should You Buy the Weber Q 1200?
Like all products, the Q 1200 is not infallible. But weighing grilling performance — the sum total of output power, control, cooking area, and wind resistance — against the minor setbacks related to portability, and this grill is well worth its price tag. Like all Weber products we've tested, the popularity of the brand is backed by quality service and sales, with replacement parts being widely available. But considering the quality of their products, you can expect a long and happy culinary relationship with this grill.
What Other Portable Grills Should You Consider?
Unequivocally, the Weber Q 1200 is a fantastic portable grill, taking the top spot as our favorite. However, it is relatively expensive compared to other top models we tested. In particular, the Cuisinart Grillster produces a ton of power for a gas grill, and is offered at a phenomenal price. The infrared Solaire Everywhere also packs a punch for its size, and should be on the radar of any meat griller.
— Aaron Rice
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