Although camping with a portable grill has its clear range of benefits, sometimes it’s just not as practical as having throw away grills. Disposable grills for camping hit the scene in the late ‘90s, and it’s clear to see why they’ve stuck around.
Campers or backpackers heading off on short ventures, hikes, or hunting and fishing trips might not want to lug around a portable barbecue, no matter how small it may be. Biodegradable grills take little to no space in your gear, and like their name suggests, are easily disposable and biodegrade for less of an impact on the environment.
As a camper, you have a responsibility to take care of your surroundings, which means you need to be wary of how you’re treating the earth and what you leave behind once you head home.
Disposable grills, liners, pans, or mats are the most ethical way to have a quick meal without needing to clean up much afterwards. You don’t need to lug around a bunch of gas cylinders, and you can make a fire using firewood or a small amount of coal. Some come in a pack with all the elements, like bamboo grills, while others are packs of grates, liners, or mats.
Obviously in terms of cooking prowess, they fall short of a quality camping grill, however these definitely serve their purpose for the given situation.
Continue reading for our full review on the best disposable grills for sale today.
1. Grillaholics Disposable Grill Mat
Type: Reusable PTFE-Fiberglass Mat
Size: 15.75”L x 13”W
If you’ve ever steered-clear of cooking fish on the BBQ because you hate the way it sticks, then this Grillaholics pack of mats is a smart choice. These mats aren’t just ideal for fish, though, as they prevent all foods from sticking on the rack or falling through the grill, while maintaining tenderness and juices for maximum flavor.
Another big advantage that stands out for us with these mats is that they make cleaning up an absolute breeze. You don’t need to cook on a filthy surface if you’re using a public BBQ and scrubbing the grate can be avoided because of its non-stick surface. Multiple tests were conducted on these mats, which led to the perfect thickness that still leaves grate marks.
With less juice falling down onto the coals, it also reduces flareups – this helps maintain a steady heat across the grate. It even doubles as a non-stick baking mat in your regular oven. Made from premium Teflon with a fiberglass layer, it doesn’t contain any silicone, PFOA, or other harsh chemicals.
- Premium & Heat-Resistant Teflon Fiberglass Coating
- Ideal Thickness Still Leaves Grill Marks & Maintains Flavors
- Suitable for Temperatures Up to 500°F
2. Kingsford Grilling Disposable Grill
Type: Aluminum Liner
Size: 16”L x 11.75”W x 1.5”H
The Kingsford disposable liners are made to stop your food from adhering to the grate of your grill. In that sense, these are better suited to those with a BBQ without a griddle attachment. Not only does that reduce cleanup, but it also broadens your horizons in terms of recipes. You can try cooking more dishes that you couldn’t otherwise do with a regular grate.
You can choose from either 8 liners in a 2 pack of 4, or 24 liners in a 2 pack of 12. One of the most promising features for us is the fact that you can crumple it up without much effort This means you can wrap up certain foods and let them marinate in sauces, before smoking them in the grill for a more intense taste.
The aluminum construction is extra-tough, so you don’t need to worry about it melting on high heat. Sauces and marinades won’t slip through the cracks of the grate, as they will stay enclosed in the tray.
- Ultra-Tough Aluminum Material
- Non-Adhesive Lining Prevents Burning
- Deep Pan Shape for Marinades & Sauces
3. Foilman Clean BBQ Disposable Grill
Type: Aluminum Liner
Size: 22”L x 12”W x 0.12”H
Lastly is this set of 12 liners from Clean BBQ. It’s essentially a grill topper, which gets placed on top of a barbecue rack for a cleaner cooking experience. On the front of the packaging, you’ll notice an image that shows you how different your meat can look when cooked on top of a dirty grate versus an aluminum liner surface.
Much like the other grill liners, this version cuts down cleaning time to less than half. You’ll hardly need to scrub, and since it’s aluminum, you can dispose it effortlessly without damaging the environment. Despite its tough build that can withstand high flames and heat, it can easily scrunch up into a ball when it’s time to throw it away.
The size fits most standard full-scale grills, although it may be a little big for some portable BBQs, so check the dimensions of your appliance surface area beforehand. The design is completely flat with no lifted edges. This means it will take the form of the straight grill bars for a more seamless experience. With a thickness of 0.12 inches, your food can still get a nice grill mark, but has less risk of burning since the liner catches grease splatter that would otherwise cause flames.
- Thin Yet Tough Aluminum Still Creates Grill Marks
- Flat Design Hugs Grate Bars & Stops Sticking
- Large Size for More Food
4. Oppenheimer USA Disposable Charcoal Grill
Type: Aluminum Tray
Size: 13”L x 9”W x 2”H
Next is an aluminum liner/tray that comes with charcoal and a wire rack for grilling. It can fit about 4 patties on top, so it’s great for a couple who’s camping. The kit comes multilayered, with the external base that keeps it ever so slightly off the ground, the pan, an internal frame, tray for the charcoal, and the grate.
You can achieve such a rich, smoky flavor with this model. At just over 4lbs it’s not the lightest we’ve seen, but you are getting quite a bit of charcoal plus a durable grilling rack that you don’t have to buy separately.
The charcoal that’s provided is EZ light coal, which means it can catch fire with just one match. One pack lasts up to 1.5 hours long, and the coal is all natural.
- Convenient Pack with Charcoal & Grate
- Base Legs Keep it Stable
- EZ Light Coal Uses 1 Match
5. Tiger Specials Disposable Charcoal Grill
Type: Aluminum Tray
Size: 12”L x 9.6”W x 2”H
Next up is this 2 pack from Tiger Specials. It’s called the “Easy Light” barbecue, because it can light with only a single match. It assembles in minutes and will give you almost 2 hours of burn time. With coal that’s all natural, your food will take on a delicious char-broiled taste.
At 3.6lbs, it’s easy to store in a backpack without weighing you down. The pack it comes in is simple and streamlined, with no complicated frills that could get in the way. This makes it a reliable choice for taking with you while camping, but also at the beach, park, sports games, and so on.
- Recyclable Aluminum Build
- One-Match Light & 1.5 Hour Burn Time
- All-Natural Charcoal for Smoky Taste
6. Oscarware Disposable Grill Topper
Size: 15.3”L x 12.6”W x 1”H
For those in need of an ultra-portable and slim option, this Oscarware version is one of our favorites. It’s so incredibly simple, as it’s a grate that sits on top of your grill. We think it’s also great for those camping on campsites, or at parks, where the communal grills can be dirty or old. Just pop this topper on the BBQ and you’re ready to cook.
As it’s made from 100% recyclable aluminum, it’s a cinch to dispose once you’re done. You can slot it straight into a nearby recycle trash can or wait until you get home and recycle it there.
We like that the design isn’t an ordinary flat rack. Each side lifts like a lip, so food can’t readily slip off or roll around and fall on the ground. The slots of the rack aren’t like a traditional grate, as they are tighter together. This means that food can’t slip through any cracks.
- Completely Recyclable Aluminum
- Side Lips & Rounded Corners Prevent Falling Food
- Available in 6, 12 or 35 Packs
7. CasusGrill Bamboo Disposable Grill
Type: Bamboo Complete Pack
Size: 12.2”L x 9.2”W x 4”H
This is one of the most ethical models you can find on the market, as it’s 100% biodegradable. Each and every part of this is made from natural materials, including a bamboo grate instead of aluminum, steel, or iron. If you coat it in some oil before use, your food won’t stick and will cook just as well as on regular grates.
In addition to the end product, the manufacturing process decreases emissions, so you’re truly reducing your carbon footprint. It comes in 3 parts out of the packet – the body, base, and grate. Inside the body there are innovative lava stones, which don’t need any lighter fluid.
It takes just 5 minutes for it to heat up, and the lava stones create minimal smoke and zero flames. In terms of the cooking surface area, you can fit about 3 regular sized kebabs or 4 burger patties. The pack is quite slim, without any bits sticking out, so it would slide right into a bag without consuming much space.
- 100% Biodegradable Materials
- Lava Stones Light Without Lighter Fluid
- Fast 5 Minute Heat Up Time
Top 5 Tips for Using a Disposable BBQ Grill
We all know that using these kinds of temporary grills already provide a user-friendly experience, but it’s important not to forget that you’re still handling high temperatures. Even if they are small cooking tools, there are certain things you can do to ensure you don’t end up with burnt or undercooked food.
Check out our top tips so you can get the best cook every time:
Just like any charcoal grill, big or small, there needs to be some type of airflow coming through. Ventilation is crucial when you’re using coals, because it can greatly affect the outcome of your food.
First, identify what kind of process is needed to cook the food you want. For example, things that cook rapidly (like burgers, shrimp, scallops, and hot dogs) typically need heaps of air circulation, so if you’re using a full-size grill, keep the lid off. Items that cook slowly (like whole chicken, pork, and lamb) can be cooked with less oxygen, as a lower amount of heat will make the charcoal burn at a slower rate.
If you’re using a liner or pan placed straight on the grate, you should follow the steps you would usually take while using your BBQ, as they basically become part of it. However, if you’re using a disposable model that comes with coals and a rack (like the CasusGrill and Oppenheimer models), then there should be a pocket of air at the base.
If it doesn’t come with a little stand, you can use some big rocks, bricks, or logs to create a gap. The base is where most of the heat will concentrate, so you should never put it straight on the ground.
Know When to Start Cooking
BBQ cooking can turn into instant heartbreak when the food turns out burnt with a raw interior. When this happens, it’s a waste of food, money, and time. That’s why it’s essential to know when to begin cooking, which involves the behavior of the flames.
After lighting up the coals, we recommend waiting at least 15 minutes (depending on the amount of charcoal) before placing any food on. The coals should have changed into grey, ash-covered lumps before anything can be placed on the grate. Most of these instant disposable BBQs can last for over one hour, so you shouldn’t feel like you need to hurry the process.
Did you know that you can cook your food on these mini-BBQs using the direct and indirect heating techniques? Direct and indirect heat aren’t just reserved for full-scale models, and you can definitely do it on these throwaway ones. To slow cook food (if you don’t have a lid) you can move things over to one side of the rack with the coals on the other.
Use a metal tool, like a fork or tongs, to gently lift up the grate and slide the charcoal over. When you want to sear using direct heat, simply place the food over the concentrated area of coals. Definitely keep your eyes on things, though, because burning can easily happen on this small scale with intense temperatures.
Achieving Quick Ignition
Attempting the light the coals while they’re huddled up in a pile is pretty much a waste of time. Get things going by shaking the pan or tray to shuffle that coals and make them flat. They will catch fire much easier that way, and the heat can travel faster across them.
Making the Flame Last Longer
Since these are such small-scale tools with less coal, it can be difficult to keep the fire going (this relates to trays and pans, not liners or mats). When the flames start to wither, try lifting the grate, and shove the coals around with a metal utensil. Shaking the whole thing also works, but be very careful as this could cause sparks or ashes to fly.
Pros and Cons of Using a Disposable Grill
Everything in life has positives and negatives, and it’s important to weigh them up to make informed decisions on what will best suit your needs. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of owning these kinds of one-use grills, liners, trays, or mats.
- Extremely convenient
- Uncomplicated to use
- Lightweight form is easy to transport
- Cleanup is greatly reduced
- Ideal for those on a budget
- Some models provide the essentials like charcoal, matches, and a grate.
- Fast set up process for spontaneous cookouts
- Amount of food to cook in one go is limited
- Can’t cook greasy foods as they can create flareups
- Need to carry multiple liners/trays/mats/pans for longer trips
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you cook on disposable BBQ grill?
There are stacks of different foods that you can cook, but there’s one thing to keep in mind: extremely fatty or greasy foods might not work as well as they can cause flareups in the flames from dripping oils. Some great ideas include meat and vegetable kebabs, burgers, steaks, hot dogs, corn on the cob, mushrooms, tomatoes, fish, and chicken (just to name a few).
Can you put water on a disposable BBQ grill?
Once it has completely cooled down and the coals are fully ashy and gray, you can pour a small amount of water over the charcoal to help it cool down. We don’t recommend relying on the water to cool it down, though, so just wait as many hours as it takes for the whole BBQ to be cool to the touch before disposing it.
Can you put a pan on a disposable BBQ?
No, we don’t recommend putting a pan or pot on top if it’s a mini version, but it is possible on a liner or mat. Most of these types of BBQs are very lightweight and will not be able to handle a pot or pan full of stuff. If it’s a liner though, you could put it on as long as the grill underneath can handle the weight. Always check with the manufacturer before putting anything on as well, because the material might not be suited to that.
Conclusion on Disposable Camp Grills
Disposable charcoal grills are easily the best tool to take for cooking on short camping trips. Other great uses include for a backyard party when you don’t have a full-size BBQ, people in small apartments who don’t have the room, picnics at the park or beach, and there are even disposable tailgate grills that make the cleanup process hassle-free.
You could even bring some along with your portable BBQ as backups if something happens to your grill. Follow the right safety precautions, dispose of them according to the manufacturer, and you’re well on your way to a streamlined camp cookout like you’ve never had before.