When it comes to grilling, charcoal is king. From its inviting aroma to the way charcoal enhances the taste of grilled meats, vegetables, and fish, a high-quality charcoal grill will not only enhance your meals but your overall enjoyment of your time spent at your backyard patio. However, not all charcoal grills are winners, and there are plenty of factors to consider when picking out the grill that is perfect for you. We made this guide to simplify your search for the best charcoal grill so that you can spend less time shopping online and get to grilling!
Shopping for a Charcoal Grill
Here are some things to consider:
- Size: Before choosing a grill, think about how many people you typically grill for and how often you will use your grill when hosting cookouts and parties. Going slightly larger than you need is usually a safe bet, but if space is a concern, there are plenty of compact grills out there that still afford a large surface area to grill on for your friends and family.
- Temperature Management: Your charcoal grill’s ability to maintain and regulate heat will be another key factor, especially if you plan on using it to smoke meats. Check reviews to verify the effectiveness of a grill’s airflow control mechanisms, and remember, some materials are better than others for heat regulation.
- Portability: If you will be traveling with your grill, finding something that is compact, durable, and shaped appropriately for easy in-vehicle storage can save you a lot of hassle. You will also want to ensure the grill has a locking mechanism on the lid so it does not become dislodged during your trip, as this can cause damage to your grill.
Top Choice: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch
Weber is a brand that is synonymous with grilling, so it’s no surprise that the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill snags our top pick due to its excellent heat retention, rugged durability, and overall quality. This grill features a weather-resistant, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl that traps heat like a beast. However, it also sports a built-in lid thermometer and hinged cooking grate so you can keep tabs on temperature and add more charcoal when necessary. You will also love the simplicity of its one-touch cleaning system, which makes for a struggle-free ash cleanup every time. As a bonus, this grill comes in several unique colors for those wanting their grill to really pop in their backyard patio area.
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black
This classic grill features a built-in thermometer, excellent heat retention, and great weather-resistance. Its high-capacity ash catches make cleaning up a breeze.
Best Value: Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill, 14 Inch
For those looking for a durable, functional mini grill at an amazing price, this offering from Cuisinart ticks off all the right boxes. Featuring a 150-square inch chrome-plated grate that affords a lot of grilling space given this grill’s compact design, this product is also more sturdy than similar compact grills you will find. This super-portable grill also sports a nifty dual venting system that affords great temperature management, even if one might desire a little more room for charcoal. Factor in its lightweight design, nifty ash catcher, and secure lid locks, and you can see why this grill is a steal at its budget-friendly price point.
Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill, 14 Inch
This ultra-portable grill features secure lid locks to protect it while traveling. Its dual-venting system works wonders in terms of temperature control.
Best Cart Style: Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill
For those seeking to maximize their enjoyment of their outdoor patio area, the Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is the way to go. Extremely easy to move, thanks to its compact, wheeled design, this grill is a perfect size for small families and intimate outdoor cookouts. It’s also incredibly durable, thanks to its heavy-duty powder-coated steel construction. Despite its compact size, you’ll have an impressive 250 square inches of surface area to grill on as well as plenty of shelf space for storing food or charcoal. Factoring in its excellent heat retention, easy dump ashtray, and the fact that it’s built to last for many years of summer cookouts, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better cart-style grill at this price.
Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black
Despite its space-saving design, this grill affords an impressive 250 square inches of cooking space. It's also easy enough for anyone to assemble.
Best with Smoker: Original PK Grill & Smoker
If you like smoking as much as you like grilling and want a product that can do both, the Original PK Grill & Smoker is an amazing choice. Its unique capsule shape and quad-vented design are ideal for regulating temperature, whether you are doing it low and slow or hot and fast. Additionally, in terms of construction, you can’t beat its cast aluminum body when it comes to durability or conducting heat. It also gives you a ton of grilling area to work with and can be easily detached so that you can take it on the go.
Original PK Grill & Smoker
This grill and smoker combo is lightweight, rustproof, and detaches easily from its stand so that you can bring it to the tailgate or campsite.
Best for Camping: Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
A compact design and rugged durability are two key factors for a great camp grill, and this Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill possesses them in spades. Featuring a lockable lid, durable plated steel cooking grate, and rust-resistant porcelain-enameled lid and base, this is a travel-ready grill you can use and abuse without fearing the worst. Thankfully, it also affords outstanding temperature regulation and can grill up to six 1/2-pound burgers at a time despite its compact size. This grill is also incredibly easy and secure to travel with, thanks to its unique shape, so you won’t have to worry about it crashing around in your trunk on the way to the campsite.
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
This grill has the perfect shape to securely store in your vehicle and can grill up to six large burgers at a time. Additionally, it's adept at retaining heat.