How to Choose the Best Outdoor Grill Table
Let’s face it, grilling is an outdoor event and it’s so much more fun when the whole party is outside with you. The one problem with outdoor grilling is that all that prep, cooking, and serving space that you had inside now has to make its way into the backyard.
Don’t worry, there’s an easy fix for that; the best way to add more space for your outdoor entertainment is with a simple, convenient outdoor grill table. The best BBQ tables give you ample room to cook for and serve your guests, whether you’re enjoying the fall with your family or cooking up a turkey on the grill for Thanksgiving.
In this article, we’ll help you find the best outdoor grill table for your cooking and hosting needs, based on things like size, height, capabilities, durability, cleanliness, usage, and more.
Types of Grill Tables
There are a few different types of grill tables:
Grill Prep Cart
Grill Prep Cart
This kind of grill side table is separate from your grill, but you can usually attach it with hooks if you’d like. This is often used for raw meat, chopping, and prepping the food that you’ll throw on the grill. Then, while your meats and veggies are grilling, you can disinfect the surface and use it to get your cooked food ready for serving if you’d like.
This is similar to a grill prep cart, but the grill is actually placed inside the table. The function is the same, but it might change the portability, design, and aesthetic of the table. If you love the look of a standalone Big Green Egg, for example, you might not want to hide it away with a grill-in-table. But if you love convenient usage and the look of a clean tabletop, then this might be the right choice for you.
If you’re a fan of at-home Korean BBQ, the grill-in-table is the most authentic and handy way to cook.
A serving station is an outdoor grill table used for serving, rather than prepping and cooking. These are often separate from the grill and placed closer to where people will be sitting. They have enough storage for all of your hosting needs, and they tend to have a more stylish and aesthetic look. This is where people can help themselves to silverware, drinks, BBQ sauces, cooked foods, and other dinnertime necessities. (Want to know which beers to serve that best pair with BBQ? Find out here.)
P.S. You should decide if your grill table is going to be for preparing food or serving it. You don’t want a table that does both, because you risk spreading unhealthy bacteria to cooked food, unless you’ll take the time to thoroughly clean and disinfect it between uses. Some people even have two grill tables: one attached to their grill for prep, and a separate, detached one for outdoor serving purposes.
Features to Look For in an Outdoor Grill Table
There are a lot of outdoor grill tables on the market, each with pros and cons. Let’s go through some of the features you want to consider for your outdoor grill table.
If you’re going to be using your grill cart for prepping and chopping food, especially before it’s been grilled, you want the tabletop’s material to be easy to clean and resistant to yeast, bacteria, and other microbes.
We highly recommend going for a stainless-steel grill cart if you’ll be doing any prep, because it’s antibacterial and easy to clean. If you’re just using your grill cart for serving, you could go for plastic or metal. (Wood is hard to clean, so we really don’t recommend it for a grill table unless you put protectants or plastic cutting boards on top.)
2. Tabletop Space
The point of an outdoor grill table is to offer additional space for preparing and serving food. So, make sure you get a table with plenty of room. You don’t want it to be too big, or it might be obtrusive in your yard, but you also want enough space to shape burgers, add seasoning, and hold your sauces and Sweet Mama BBQ rubs. In general, you want at least enough tabletop space to hold all the burgers, buns, and garnishes you’ll be cooking without intruding into your patio and seating area.
Along with the tabletop, you want additional storage space for all your grilling, cooking, and serving tools and equipment. The type of storage you’ll need depends on how you’ll be using your cart. For your grill prep cart, you’ll definitely want a place to safely store your grill accessories, and paper towel holders are always useful so it’s easy to grab a towel when you need it.
You may want different shelving options or other accessories based on what you’re looking to get out of your grill table. For example, you may want your serving station to have one shelf for drinks, another for bundled silverware, and another for napkins and plates, with the top used for serving the food. Think about how you best like to host a party and what kinds of storage options would make your life easier while entertaining.
If you don’t plan on moving your grill table, even for storage, then you don’t really need to worry about portability. However, if you want to take your grill and table to the tailgate with you, to a friend’s house, or you’ll be moving it inside when the cold weather hits, you want to make sure it’s easy to move around. Some grill tables have wheels, which make them really easy to transport.
You’ll also want to consider the size and material. If it’s too big and clunky, it’s going to be hard to move around. If you will be moving your grill table a lot, you’ll want to look into something small and lightweight. If you only need to move it for storage, you can determine height and weight based on your ability to move it twice a year.
Pro-tip: If you’ll be using a grill prep cart, make sure it’s similar in height and dimensions as the grill itself. This will make it easier to transfer foods from the cart to grill and back. And if you’re purchasing or making a grill-in-table, make sure it’s compatible with the grill you own.
Not to be confused with organizational storage, this is the feature of storing your outdoor grill table away after a party or during the winter months. Consider if you’ll need your grill table to fold up for storing, or if you have a little wiggle room in the shed.
Some of our favorite tables don’t fold up or store easily, which can be a pain. For these, you’ll definitely want a high-quality, weather-resistant grill and cart cover.
You always want something that’s high quality and durable. Your outdoor grill table should be able to withstand weather, chopping, prepping, and heat (especially if it will be right next to your grill). Consider the materials and frame used for the grill to ensure it will be a great long-term investment.
Practicality is important, but you also care about how your backyard looks, especially if hosting is your pride and joy. You can find an outdoor grill table that fits the style and design of your grill and décor, so you can create a stunning, unified outdoor-kitchen area.
Photo by Tim Rüßmann on Unsplash
How to Choose the Best Outdoor Grill Table
There are a lot of different designs, sizes, features, and price points of outdoor grill tables. We’ll give you a few of our favorites available on the market and direct you to resources to help you DIY your own outdoor grill table, if you’re handy and looking for a project.
Note: Make sure your outdoor grill table fits and/or will be compatible with the type of charcoal grill you have.
Keter Unity XL
This grill table is sleek and simple, but it definitely gets the job done. It’s made from weather-resistant resin and polypropylene, so it can hold up in even the snow and rain. The stainless-steel tabletop is super easy to clean, and it looks sleek for all designs. There’s plenty of storage space, hooks to hang your grill tools, and wheels for portability. The Keter Unity XL can work beautifully for a grill prep cart or serving station, depending on the day.
Here’s a more-portable version of the Keter Unity (Portable) as well.
JJGeorge Big Green Egg Table
This long table by JJGeorge fits a large Big Green Egg perfectly. This eastern red cedar wood has a gorgeous, outdoors-y aesthetic that looks great in any backyard. We know we gave a warning against wood– but this grill is finished with spar-urethane, which is a wood protector that helps keep it clean and safe from the weather. With durable construction, wheels for portability, and lots of table space, this is a go-to for kettle grillers.
Too big for you? There’s the JJGeorge MiniMax for a smaller Big Green Egg grill.
Do you have a Big Green Egg? Check out our baskets, dividers, and cans made for the BGE. Our Kick Ash Basket lets you easily and safely clean out the charcoal ash, so you can get back to cooking and spending time with your loved ones.
Camco Deluxe Folding Grill Table
If you’re looking for something that’s highly portable and store-able, this Camco Deluxe grill table is perfect. It folds down to just 6” tall, so it’s easy to store away or bring camping. It’s made of a lightweight frame and aluminum tabletop (easy to clean) with lots of space for cooking and serving, so you get the best of both worlds with practicality and portability.
Compact Grill Table
Just looking for a little extra prep space? If you already have a serving station, you might just want something simple like this grill table that clips right on to any 22” charcoal kettle grill.
How to DIY your outdoor grill table:
It’s extremely possible to make your own grill table if you’re looking for a new project. We’ll put some resources below if this is the route you’re interested in taking for your new grill table:
12 DIY BBQ Island Plans (in different layouts and styles)
Woodbrew’s in-depth construction for pro handymen
Choosing your outdoor grill table
There’s a lot to consider. Essentially, you just need to decide if you’ll use your table more for prep or serving, if you want it to attach to your charcoal grill, and what kind of features are most important to you. Whether you’re purchasing or DIY-ing your outdoor grill table, you’ll love the convenience and storage of having a little extra room for your grilling and hosting goodies.
Do you have an outdoor grill table you love? Tell us about it!