Trial by fire: 5 of the best portable braais

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 13 October 2015

Portable braais are perfect for short breaks, road trips and when packing space is vital. We fired up five of the best and put them to the test.

 

Test Conditions

We judged each braai on the following criteria:

  • Weight and packing size: Since they’re coming on holiday with us – will it be in the boot, under the seat or require a Venter?
  • Cooking area: Each grid size was measured and compared by the number of wors pieces it could take. We used thick traditional sausage (4cm x 20cm).
  • Charcoal needed: Turns out portable braais are economical too. We tested how many charcoal briquettes are needed to start a sizzle.
  • Nou-gaan-ons-braai time: We timed each of the braais to check how long it takes to get them set up, lit and ready to braai.
  • Special features: We noted which braais had extras such as a griddle pan and carry bag.

 

1. Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill

R1199, weber.co.za

Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill.

Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill.


Weight: 5,6kg
Packing size: 43 x 29 x 31cm
Cooking area: 41 x 25cm; holds about nine pieces of wors
Charcoal needed: 13 briquettes
Nou-gaan-ons-braai time: Took two-and-a-half minutes to set up and light. the fire was ready to braai after 40 minutes

 

Special features

  • Heavy duty legs pivot to lock the lid in place for travel
  • Porcelain enamel base and lid
  • 10-year warranty
  • Black colour and stainless steel finishings will wear well

 

Testing notes

  • Exterior gets too hot to touch

 

Verdict

A great-value buy that’s sturdy, well made and can take a beating on the road. The large cooking area means that you can braai for two easily and the compact braai box is designed to fit a small bag of charcoal too. Best for any camping trip and contained picnic braai.

 

2. LotusGrill

R2550, mobelli.co.za

LotusGrill

LotusGrill.


Weight: 3,7kg
Packing size: 23 x 35cm
Cooking area: 32cm in diameter; holds roughly seven pieces of wors
Charcoal needed: One cup of Etosha Hardwood Charcoal (regular charcoal burns too quickly and turns to ash)
Nou-gaan-ons-braai time: The wors was ready to cook in five minutes flat, including the setup time

 

Special features

  • Built in battery-powered fan for quick ignition and because of the fan there is no smoke
  • Available in six bright colours
  • Locked grid design ensures coal won’t spill out if knocked over
  • Carry bag and batteries are included

 

Testing notes

  • Use with fire gel (fire-lighting liquid for about R20 a bottle) as the chemicals burn off quicker than those in traditional firelighters.
  • Exterior doesn’t get hot

 

Verdict

We were sceptical of a battery-operated braai, but it works! It’s funky and functional and ready to sizzle almost immediately without sacrificing an authentic braai taste. It’s best one to use in bad weather as it’s smoke-free and quick to operate, but this convenience comes at a price.

Tip: In this test we learnt that prepping the drip bowl with spray and cook made for easy cleaning – just wipe out the grease with paper towel and pack away.

 

3. Cobb Premier Kitchen-In-A-Box

R2670, cobbonline.co.za

Cobb Premier Kitchen-In-A-Box.

Cobb Premier Kitchen-In-A-Box.


Weight: 8,2kg
Packing size: 65 x 35cm
Cooking area: 28cm diameter; takes roughly six pieces of wors
Charcoal needed: One Cobble Stone (R23 each) or six to 12 briquettes
Nou-gaan-ons-braai time: Seven minutes flat, including setup

 

Special features

  • Non-stick frying pan, griddle, roasting grid, chicken stand, dome lid and carry bag included
  • No firelighters needed for use with Cobble Stone, which lasts for two hours
  • Easy to clean with Cobb Cleaner (R50 per bottle)
  • Sturdy and well made

 

Testing notes

  • Cobble Stone emits a slight chemical odour when lit
  • Exterior doesn’t get hot

 

Verdict

A slick product for a speedy steak, but you don’t quite get that ‘braai’ taste. It’s a big package but still practical enough for long roadtrips and hungry kids who don’t have patience to wait for their food.

 

4. LK’s Big Box Grid and Hinged Stand

R183 for both, lks.co.za

Big Box Grid and Hinged Stand.

Big Box Grid and Hinged Stand.


Weight: 3,05kg
Packing size: 40 x 45cm
Cooking area: 44 x 32cm; nine pieces of wors
Charcoal needed: About 20 briquettes
Nou-gaan-ons-braai time: Took one minute to set up and light and the wors was ready to go on in 40 minutes

 

Special features

  • Height adjustable with three cooking levels
  • Can stack two braai grids at once over the coals: toasted sarmies on top and chops underneath

 

Testing notes

  • Requires a sheltered braai area for the coals
  • Simple to use, fold and store

 

Verdict

It’s the fail-safe – a slim, versatile and affordable braai option you can cover with a plastic bag and pop under the car seat.

 

5. Mbaula Green

R998, mbaula.co.za

Mbaula Green.

Mbaula Green.


Weight: 3,5g
Packing size: 27 x 26cm
Cooking area: 25cm diameter; roughly five pieces of wors
Charcoal needed: five to 12 briquettes
Nou-gaan-ons-braai time: Took a minute and a half to set up and light the fire. The wors was ready to go on in 30 minutes using five briquettes, more of them would be too hot and take longer

 

Special features

  • Ceramic liner allows for better heat retention
  • Ventilation door to adjust temperature
  • Potjie stand included
  • Designed and manufactured in South Africa

 

Testing notes

  • Coals stayed hot for two hours in the test making it a good option to use with a cast iron pot to make scrambled eggs or a potjie
  • Exterior gets too hot to touch
  • Ceramic bowl stains after use

 

Verdict

Nifty design, lightweight and easy to use, this cylinder braai delivers great charcoal flavour, but it doesn’t look great after use and has the smallest cooking area of those tested. Good for a solo adventurer’s dinner, but it took the longest to cool down before it could be packed away.

 
 
 

This article first appeared in the July 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

All prices were correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at each supplier’s discretion. Please check with them before ordering.