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Some would say that what makes barbecue parties so special is actually the ritual of preparing the grill itself. Adding the coals, enjoying the pleasant smell and warmth of the fire… It all seems to make your food taste even better. If you agree with these statements, then a charcoal grill is definitely what you need. These days, though, a charcoal grill really doesn’t have to be just a metal box with a cooking rack. There are many variations available, and you can choose to go with a simple grill or go all-out with modern accessories and gimmicks.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 best charcoal grills available on the market today. Look through these 10, and we can assure you there will be nothing you are missing out on. Once you are aware of what is out there, you can make an educated decision and choose the best grill for your needs. If you are still unsure, though, the buying guide at the end of this article should answer any of the questions you might have. So let’s start!
Weber has taken all of the best features from its previous models, combined them, and got this bad boy. Performer Deluxe offers 363 square inches of cooking space – that’s more than enough for grilling 12 burgers at a time.
The feature that makes this grill stand out among the others is the Weber Gourmet BBQ System. The system consists of a two-part cooking grate system with a removable center grate. You can replace the center great with a different cookware piece to unlock new possibilities for using your grill. These accessories are sold separately, and you can get anything you might need, whether it’s a wok, griddle (maybe even outdoor griddle), pizza stone or a poultry roaster. With the Gourmet BBQ System, you can make any meal you want – outside.
This model comes with an electronic Touch-n-Go gas ignition system, which lights up the charcoal with a one-button push. The button is connected to a 1-pound propane tank. This means you don’t have to mess around with lighter fluid or paper, you can get the fire started in a blink of an eye.
Like other Weber models, this one has those classic-style dampers for controlling the heat without opening the grill. The lid has a built-in thermometer, for keeping an eye on the temperature inside. The model also comes with two charcoal baskets, which allow you to create direct and indirect heat zones. This is great for cooking different food simultaneously, like veggies and meat (a valid option for grills for vegetarians).
The One-Touch cleaning system will make your life easier. All the ashes are swept into an ash-catcher, which you can easily remove to empty it out, without making a mess. On the right side, under the workspace, there’s a CharBin container, which is a more convenient charcoal storage option than having an open bag lying around.
The beauty is in the details. Having tool hooks is always a nice touch. This model comes with three hooks, so all of your cooking utensils are at hand. Another neat addition is a removable backlit LCD timer that allows you to set timers for your cooking sessions.
The Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill is a hibachi-style grill. The term “hibachi” comes from the ancient Japanese heating devices that were used directly at the table, but today this word is used for any kind of small portable grill. That being said, the Lodge Sportsman’s Grill does still offer a fair amount of space. The cooking surface is approximately 17 inches long and 9 inches wide which is actually enough to fit 8 burgers.
The main reason why this grill made second place on our list is the fact that it’s made completely out of cast iron. Lodge is known for making cast iron cookware that is insanely durable and affordable at the same time. This holds true for the Sportsman’s Grill too. The cast iron retains heat really well, which means the grill radiates heat evenly across its surface.
Another amazing thing about this grill is that you really don’t need to use a lot of charcoal. Since it’s rather small, the grill gets hot really quickly using just a small amount of coal. This takes some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll realize it’s actually amazing.
On a final note, this grill is still rather heavy even though it’s quite portable. It weighs 27 pounds. Luckily, there is a cute handle going over the grill that helps you lift it up more easily.
A list of the best charcoal grills wouldn’t be complete without at least one kamado-style grill. True, this type of grill is not for everyone. The ceramic shell retains heat really well, which means once the grill gets hot, it stays hot. Maintaining the right temperature does take some practice with this type of grill, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really an amazing experience. These grills are also quite heavy so you won’t want to take them with you on a camping trip, but that’s the price you have to pay for kamado-style excellence.
The Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill takes the classic kamado grill design and brings it to a new level with a range of modern features and accessories. For example, they created a special gasket made of fiberglass wire mesh that can easily last for decades.
Another thing we love about this grill is the air vent at the top. It’s made completely out of aluminum, it’s totally adjustable, and it has a rain shield so it can be used in all kinds of weather without issues. This is especially important when you want to do a long slow roast or smoke a large piece of meat. If rain surprises you during the process, it’s no challenge for the Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill.
Another innovation that’s included in the Classic Joe III is the flexible cooking system. The round grate is actually divided in half, and you can cook food on different heights or experiment with various accessories to expand the potential of your grill.
Overall, it’s a great, powerful, and versatile grill. It comes with everything you need to start preparing a tasty meal included. If you are looking for a kamado-style grill to place in your backyard and have it there for years to come, the Kamado Joe Classic Joe III is definitely worth checking out.
Premium 18″ ceramic grill with heavy-duty galvanized steel rolling cart with locking wheels.
Patent pending SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber - The first of its kind, the revolutionary SlōRoller leverages Harvard science that transforms a Kamado Joe into one of the world’s most optimal smokers. By distributing smoke and heat in rolling, recirculating waves, the SlōRoller surrounds food in clouds of delicious smoke while evenly distributing heat—resulting in enhanced flavor and significantly reduced hot spots.
3-Tier Divide & Conquer - Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System transforms the humble grill grate into the most powerful cooking tool in your arsenal. The revolutionary multi-level, half-moon design frees you to cook different foods in different styles at different temperatures—all at the same time.
Kontrol Tower Top Vent - Maintains consistent air setting for precise airflow management during dome opening and closing. Constructed of powder coated cast aluminum, the patent pending dual-adjustment top vent is rain and mold-resistant and allows you to smoke from 225F all the way to searing at 750F.
Patented Air Lift Hinge – Reduce dome weight by 96% with the Patented Air Lift Hinge. The grill dome can be lifted with a single finger giving the most comfortable grilling experience there is. W/ 3 Tier Divide & Conquer- 510 square inches
If you are looking for a small grill that you can place on the table or on a shelf, the Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill might be what you are looking for. The round grill has a cooking grate that measures 14 inches in diameter. This effectively gives you 150 square inches of cooking space to work with.
We find that this size is quite right for people who only use their grills for small gatherings, or for cooking for one or two people on a regular basis. To give you an idea of the size, we can tell you that 4 burgers will fit comfortably on the rack at the same time, but you could probably make it 6 if you arrange them right.
Other than that, the design of this grill is simple, but effective. There is a porcelain-coated firebox inside, and a chrome-coated cooking rack. The lid fits nicely on the grill and you can lock it securely in place when you want to move the grill. This Cuisinart Portable Grill also comes with three legs that hold an ash catcher directly below the grill. Thanks to this, you can actually use this grill on your table without creating a huge mess.
196-SQUARE-INCH CHROME PLATED GRATE: The 196-square-inch chrome plated cooking rack gives a spacious cooking surface is able accommodate lots of food at one time while still distributing heat evenly and efficiently.
DUAL VENTING SYSTEM: Features a Dual venting system, giving you the ultimate charcoal management and temperature control.
THREE SECURE LID LOCKS: The grill features three secure lid locks for easy and safe transport.
COMPACT ENOUGH TO TAKE ANYWHERE: Measures 14 x 14 x 15 inches and weighs only 2 lbs. , making it easy for transport and ideal for decks, patios and balconies, camping, tailgating and more.
ENAMEL COATED FIREBOX AND ASH CATCHER: Features a durable enamel coated firebox and convenient mess-free ash catcher for safety and ease.
The Weber Original Kettle 22-inch grill is probably the most well-known brand-name charcoal grill in the world. This classic grill basically looks like a large kettle – there is a large bowl covered with a pretty high lid. Both the bowl and lid are covered with a quality porcelain enamel coating both inside and out.
What is peculiar about the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is that you can choose the color of the exterior. That really is a nice touch, but of course it’s not why this grill made the top of our list. The reason, of course, is the amazing performance Weber Original Kettle offers.
Even though it’s simple, this grill from Weber is very well made and really enjoyable to use. We chose the basic kettle that measures 22 inches in diameter simply because we think this will fit the needs of most people. However, both larger (26 inches) and smaller (18 inches) versions are available. According to Weber, the 22-inch version can fit exactly 13 burgers at a time. That’s enough for a small party, but also means that the grill is not too big to fire it up for only one or two people.
Other than that, this grill is full of little details designed to make your experience more enjoyable. The air dampers let you adjust the airflow effortlessly (and thus control the temperature). The cooking grate is hinged so you can lift the edge without moving the whole grate. This means that you can add charcoal while your food is cooking. Overall, it’s a beautiful and versatile grill that’s hard not to like.
This Dyna-Glo grill is a giant on the list, with 816 square inches of total cooking area. The primary grill surface takes up 576 square inches, and the rest is a pivoting warming rack. This means that the rack goes above the main cooking area when the lid is open, and it relocates itself directly above the heat when the lid is closed. If you’re a bbq party type of person, this grill is large enough for your needs. You can cook as much as 30 burgers at a time.
The main grill surface consists of three porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates, which can be slid to the side. This is one way you can reach the charcoal. The other way is through the steel access door on the front side. Next to the door, you can find a charcoal tray adjustment crank, which raises and lowers the charcoal, for higher or lower temperatures. Furthermore, you can adjust the heat with large sliding side dampers, which are located on both sides of the grill. Adjustable flu on the lid is great not only for temperature control, but for achieving smoky flavor.
We’re aware that charcoal grilling can get quite messy. The great thing is that this model comes with a removable ash pan underneath the unit, which makes cleanup an easier task. The grill has two side shelves which are great for preparing the food. Underneath the unit, you’ve got a basket for charcoal bags and other grilling tools. And, if you want to cool yourself down on a sunny day, there’s a stainless steel bottle opener attached to the side of the grill. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cold beer.
It’s a misconception that big grills have to cost a pretty penny. Char-Broil 580 is a model that proves that, because for a price it’s sold at, it’s a steal.
As the name suggests, this unit comes with 580 square inches of overall cooking area, which consist of a larger main surface, and a swing-away warming rack. That’s more than enough for a full family dinner. Side shelves are large, so you can have all of your seasoning and utensils at hand while grilling.
Innovative charcoal pan creates air movement in such a way that it allows more efficient and even burning while using less charcoal. Furthermore, this design minimizes the possibility of flare-ups. All charcoal grill lovers know it only takes a moment to burn your food, so this is a much-desired feature. With a crank, you can easily raise and lower a charcoal pan to adjust the temperature, from searing to slow cooking. There are 4 large dampers on both sides of the grill, which give you even more air and heat control.
A large charcoal access door is located on the front side of the grill. It allows you to easily add more charcoal, while not interfering with the temperature. Underneath, you can find a pull-out ash drawer for easy cleanup.
This grill comes with a 1-year warranty on all parts, and it covers perforation, manufacturing and material defects only. It’s limited, but for a grill as affordable as this one, it’s more than you could ask for.
Here’s something different, for all of you tech-savvy people out there. This model from Masterbuilt is a perfect example of how a classic device like a charcoal grill can keep up with technology advancement.
Start the grill like any other – load up charcoal or briquettes and ignite it with firestarter or paper. And here comes the fancy part. Set the desired temperature on the digital control panel, and that’s it! One press of a button controls the fan which sends the air from the hopper to the cooking chamber, while keeping the temperature steady. You can also control the heat from your smartphone, by connecting it via WiFi or Bluetooth. Furthermore, you get 4 probe inputs, to monitor different meats that are grilling simultaneously.
GravityFed Hopper can hold up to 16 pounds of briquettes or 10 pounds of charcoal. That’s 12+ hours of fuel. The loading door is on the top, and it has a nice latch that holds the door tightly. On the bottom, you’ve got another door through which you can reach a charcoal grate that slides out. A firestarter goes right underneath it. Below that, there’s an ash bucket, which makes cleaning super simple. Furthermore, the unit also has a removable grease tray.
This model has a total cooking area of 560 square inches, and warming racks take up half of it. This might seem on the smaller side, but the porcelain-coated racks have two height options, so they can be used for a variety of food. Cast iron grates are dual-sided, with a flat side for searing and pointed side for smoking.
When the model first came out, the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill quickly became a favorite of those who like to, well, go anywhere with their grill. This grill is a bit more than 20 inches long, and just above 14 inches wide. That gives you a total of 160 square inches of cooking space to work with, which is enough for about 6 burgers, just to give you an idea of the size.
If you need a charcoal grill that you can take camping, but that will also look nice in your backyard or patio, this might be the right choice. The black exterior looks polished and elegant, while the plated steel legs and cooking rack last virtually forever. The grill also has two large handles on the sides as well as one on the top for easily moving the grill (even while it’s still hot).
The legs of the grill fold neatly over the top and lock the lid in place. This means that when you want to carry the grill somewhere or store it away for a time there is nothing to worry about. With the legs folded over, this grill looks like a compact, self-contained box. The unit weighs 14.5 pounds. It’s not so light that it would seem flimsy and fall over too easily, but it’s still light enough to carry it anywhere with you without issues.
All Oklahoma Joe’s appliances have that unique, rustic design that can be a real eye candy in every backyard or patio. This grill is no exception. The body is made out of heavy-gauge steel, and it’s as sturdy as it looks. This grill is quite heavy too, weighing 215 pounds. Even with wagon-style wheels, this bad boy isn’t easily moved around.
The model comes with 540 square inches of cooking surface, which is enough to accommodate around 15 patties. Removable cast iron grates are thick, they warm up evenly and produce a perfect sear. Underneath them, there’s a height-adjustable charcoal tray, which you can bring up towards the grate for high heat searing, or you can lower it down for long and slow cooking.
On the front side, there’s a firebox access door, which allows you to add more charcoal or wood, without opening the lid. Underneath, there’s a full-size removable ash pan. After usage, simply take it out and dispose of it in the trash. Furthermore, large air dampers are located on the right side of the grill, and they give you a perfect airflow control.
This grill also offers quite a bit of storage space. You’ve got two shelves on each side of the grill, perfect for food and utensils. Underneath, there’s a large shelf for your charcoal bags.
Like most models, this grill also comes with a built-in thermometer gauge located on the lid. It’s fancy-looking, with glow-in-the-dark details. However, these tools are almost never on point, so it’s not advisable to completely rely on it.
When it comes to choosing a grill, the biggest debate always seems to be the one about charcoal and gas grills. Some enthusiasts believe that charcoal grills give you a certain feeling and impart a certain taste to your food that just can’t be achieved with anything else. Others believe that the precision and ease of use of a gas grill is a much better deal.
The thing is, there will never be an end to this discussion. Gas grills are better at some things while charcoal grills perform better in other situations. And that’s the end of it – at least in our opinion. Some people will always prefer one or the other, but you are obviously here cause a charcoal grill is what you are looking for.
It might be worthwhile to mention that charcoal grills actually do have some advantages that nobody can deny. These grills are usually quite simple, but they still provide amazing results. They also tend to be more affordable compared to other grills, especially when you consider what you are actually getting for more money. And do we even have to mention the unique taste of meat grilled or smoked over charcoal? We probably don’t. If you don’t know what we are talking about, we suggest you get yourself one of the charcoal grills on our list and try it ASAP.
Back to our main topic today, there is still quite a lot to think about once you decide a charcoal grill is what you want. You simply can’t make amazing barbecue with a bad grill which makes choosing the right product even more important. In order to help you choose what is right for you, we’ll start by talking about the 3 main types of charcoal grills available on the market today.
Types of Charcoal Grills
Kettle grills are the round grills that basically look like an old kettle. The round shape of this type of grill, is not accidental, though. They are made this way to maximize their performance. The spherical shape maximizes the efficiency of the grill by reflecting the heat back to your food. These grills usually come with a tight-fitting lid, which means that you can also use them for smoking meat.
Kettle grills are usually not too big. A 22-inch diameter is the most common. This actually gives you enough space to cook for a large family or a small party, and most people find that they don’t actually need more space. You can find kettle grills both larger and smaller than 22 inches, but if you want a huge grill, you’ll probably want to choose one barrel grill.
Barrel grills are for those looking for a full-sized classic charcoal grill. Imagine a large barrel cut in half, the bottom half serving as the grill and the top half serving as the lid. Now, today’s barrel grills don’t always look literally like a barrel. They can have a more square shape, come with their own stands, chimneys, and a variety of accessories.
The main selling point of barrel grills is their size. They can be a little bigger than a standard kettle grill, but they can also be huge. Whatever the size you need, you can certainly find a barrel grill to fit. Another advantage of this type of charcoal grill is that they offer a lot of space for customization. Many come with warming racks, side shelves, and other features that expand your possibilities quite a bit.
Ceramic girls are actually quite different from kettle and barrel grills, but they do still use charcoal which puts them in the same category. Ceramic grills are often also called kamado-style grills. They were inspired by an ancient cooking method of preparing food in clay pots. Modern ceramic grills still have a thick ceramic shell which retains heat and reflects it back inside. This is what makes them so efficient. However, they still come with plenty of modern accessories to make your life easier.
One thing to note if you are considering buying a ceramic grill is that these boys can be really heavy. If you are looking for a grill that you can take camping, this is not the right choice. However, a ceramic grill can definitely become the star of your backyard!
Portable Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills are also a very popular choice among people who are looking exclusively for a grill to take camping or tailgating. If you are one of those people, you’ll be happy to learn that there are many portable charcoal grills available. Choose something like the Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill for a lightweight and easy to use solution, or go with the Lodge L410 Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill if you don’t mind a bit of extra weight.
How to Choose a Charcoal Grill?
Once you decide what type of charcoal grill you want, there is still a lot to choose from. Considering these 3 points will help you narrow down the choice.
1. Size and Price Range
Before choosing anything else, it’s a good idea to know what size of grill you need. Are you planning to cook mainly burgers, or is steak more your style? With smaller pieces of meat like burgers and sausages, you don’t really need a huge cooking area. However, if you want to experiment with large cuts of meat, you’ll need at least 300 square inches to cook comfortably.
Having a predetermined budget is also a good idea. All types of grills come in many versions, and those range from super-affordable to super-expensive. It’s easy to get swept up by the fancy accessories some expensive grills come with, but make sure to really think about which of those you can really use.
The construction of the grill is definitely the second most important point. There are many materials to choose from when it comes to charcoal grills. If you are looking for a lightweight grill, choose a model with porcelain-enameled steel or aluminum bowl and lid. On the other hand, cast iron and ceramic grills offer much better heat retention, but they are also much heavier. The choice is yours as every material has some advantages!
3. Cooking System
Last but not least, make sure to check out what kind of cooking system the grill offers. This can be just a simple firebox and a cooking grate, but many manufacturers today offer advanced cooking systems that give you much more than that. If both the cooking grate and the coal grate are adjustable, you get much more flexibility when cooking.
Although the sheer number of options can be overwhelming, buying a charcoal grill can really be an enjoyable experience. Whether you are looking for a new grill for yourself, or you want to give one as a gift to someone you care about, getting a brand new grill is definitely something to look forward to.
If a versatile back-yard grill that is equipped with everything you might need is what you are looking for, we suggest the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill 22-Inch. It’s simply the best charcoal grill Weber has to offer. On the other hand, if you want a quality grill that is somewhat old-school and not too big, go with the Lodge L410 Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill.