BEST CHARCOAL GRILLS | NOVEMBER 2017
A charcoal grill is an essential part of the summer season, especially if you love backdoor barbeques with meat and veggies grilled to perfection. Even through there are multitudes of charcoal grills on the market today, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find one that fits your needs and budget. That’s why our team compiled a list of the best charcoal grills, separated into five categories, like portable charcoal grills and charcoal/gas hybrid grills. Each of our picks lists detailed information about key features that will help you make the best purchasing decision. Read more about our methodology.
Weber grills are among the sturdiest and longest-lasting grills on the market, and the Weber 741001 Original Kettle charcoal grill is no different. This classic grill offers greater internal temperature control and easy ash cleanup after grilling is done, among a variety of other userful features.Read full review.
If you're looking for someting on a budget that is large enough to grill for bigger bareque parties, look no further than the Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro charcoal grill. This grill features the high-quality builds that Char-Griller is know for and also provides extra features such as more storage and easy clean up and maintenance.Read full review.
Incredible portability, a collapsible design and high-quality build are among the best features for the Quick Grill Medium charcoal grill. If you're always on the go and on a budget, this is a perfect charcoal grill for you.Read full review.
If you want perfomance and all the bells and whistles for you charcoal grill, you've come to the right place. The Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe lives up to its deluxe name. With a ton of extra features, like a removeable kitchen timer, on top of the standard high-quality that Weber products provide, this charcoal grill stands out from the pack.Read full review.
Charcoal Grills BUYING GUIDE
The best meals come from appropriate temperature control. Indoor ovens have very precise temperature controls that stay consistent, but controlling temperature while cooking outside can be more difficult. Charcoal grills use a variety of different features to control the internal temperature, such as a lid, dampeners, thermometers and the ability to adjust the position of the cooking grate.
Size and Portability
Before you buy a charcoal grill, you should first determine how many people you are going to feed with the food you cook on that grill. Charcoal grills come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to consider what size you’ll need to be able to cook enough food efficiently for everyone you want to feed. Along these same lines, there are many charcoal grills that are more portable than others, which can be incredibly useful if you want to take your grill to a friend’s house or on a camping trip.
Since most people use charcoal grills outside, it’s also important to consider the durability of the grill you purchase. Most charcoal grills are designed to weather outdoor conditions, but you should also think about how often you use your grill and whether it can stand up to prolonged, regular use. The most durable kinds of charcoal grills are made from stainless steel, ceramics or 16- to 18-gauge steel. Grills constructed with thicker and higher-quality materials also hold heat better than other grills.
Maintenance and Cleanup
A common belief is that charcoal grills mean more maintenance, especially when it comes to cleanup. The trust is, you should be cleaning every grill after each time you use it. Consider how easy it is to clean up your charcoal grill. Does it include an easy-to-remove ash tray? Are the grates easy to clean? You won’t want to flip your grill upside down after each use just to clean it out.
For under $100, you can purchase a budget charcoal grill. These grills are simple in construction and are often considered portable options. Typically, these charcoal grills are smaller than others on the market. In the $100-$200 range, you can get a charcoal grill that will fit the needs of most backyard grillers. These grills offer easier temperature control and maintenance, along with more durability. If you’re looking for a charcoal grill with all the bells and whistles, expect to pay more than $200. These grills often come with premium features like digital thermometers, extra food preparation and storage space, and materials of a higher quality.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Weber 741001 Original Kettle charcoal grill is a backyard classic. This Weber grill offers a durability that people have come to expect from Weber grills. It's also incredibly easy to clean up and provides plenty of cooking space at a stellar price. With a wide range of useful features, enough room to cook for large groups and a classic look, this charcoal grill is sure to become an instant and memorable hit at all of your backyard barbeques.
Why We Recommend It
- Hard-to-beat durability. When you think charcoal grill, you likely picture something close to the Weber Original Kettle, and for good reason. This grill is built for durability with a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid. The construction is so good that many users report that they've had this same model for upwards of 15 years without a worry about it breaking for many years to come.
- Plenty of cooking space. If you’re cooking for a medium or large group of people, you can rest assured that the Weber 741001 Original Kettle is up for the job. The grill features 300 square inches of cooking space and even has a hinged section that allows you to access the fuel without moving the food. The domed design of the lid also makes it easier for you to cook larger food like turkeys and pot roasts without worry.
- Easy to control internal temperature. The Weber 741001 Original Kettle charcoal grill features one dedicated damper on top of the lid, which allows you to let in more air or shut off airflow completely in order to adjust the internal temperature. Simply slide the damper open or closed depending on the airflow you need. The One Touch cleaning system also acts as a damper by naturally dumping the ash into the ash tray so you don’t have to worry about air flow. Closing both dampers completely allow you to quickly extinguish the charcoal once you’re done cooking. Many users report that this simple way of controlling internal temperature has made their grilling experienes easier overall.
- Incredibly easy to clean up. This charcoal grill features a “One Touch” cleaning system that allows you to clean up in a jiffy after you’re done grilling. Inside the bowl are three blades that can be easily rotated using a handle on the outside of the grill. This siphons the ash into the removeable ash catcher.
- No adjustable cooking grate. The Weber 741001 Original Kettle doesn’t include an adjustable cooking surface, meaning you can’t bring the food closer or move it farther away from the charcoal.
The Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro charcoal grill is the perfect choice for grillers on a budget looking to purchase a grill that still offers all the standard features. This grill is compact and portable without sacrificing cooking capacity. It also features a useful storage table for added convenience before and during your barbeque. Also, this charcoal grill is made from extra-durable materials that results in a greater overall lifespan.
Why We Recommend It
- Made with durable heavy steel and cast iron. Durability isn’t an issue with this charcoal grill either. The Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro grill is made from durable heavy steel, which is also powder coated for added strength. The grate is made from cast iron, which isn’t only durable, it also adds an extra level of searing to the meat you cook on the grill.
- Compact and portable without sacrificing cooking space. The Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro charcoal grill is compact, measuring in at only 31 inches wide, 21 inches deep and 44 inches tall. Users with smaller patio spaces have loved this compactness. The added wheels on the grill also make it easy to place exactly where you need it to be. On top of that, you won’t have to worry about losing cooking space because of the grill’s compact design. It still features an impressive 250 square inch grate, and many users rave that they still have plenty of room to grill for upwards of five people at a time.
- Convenient storage table. You won’t be lacking for space to store extra food, spices and other cooking materials with this charcoal grill. It includes a small wood tray on the side for extra storage, along with the metal grate at the bottom of the grill for storing your extra charcoal.
- Easy to clean up. Once you’re done grilling, simply slide the ash tray from the side of the grill and dump the ashes. This simple cleanup process is made simpler by the fact that you won’t have to bend and twist to access an ash tray on the bottom of the grill. It just slides from the side of the grill.
- Easy to assemble. Many users are impressed with how easy this grill was to assemble, even though the written directions were a little muddled. The manufacturer also includes clear and simple pictures that greatly aided users in the assembly process.
- No thermometer. While the Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro includes dampers to control the internal temperature, the charcoal grill doesn’t include a built-in thermometer to monitor internal temperature.
The Quick Grill Medium charcoal grill is the perfect choice for on-the-go grillers who are also on a budget. It features a unique collapsible design that allows you to fold up the grill and take it with you. It’s also built from high-quality stainless steel for greater durability. This means you can take it with you wherever you go, without having to worry about it getting too roughed up. These features, along with more cooking space for larger groups, make this grill a solid competitor.
Why We Recommend It
- Extremely portable. The Quick Grill Medium charcoal grill is compact and extremely portable. It’s completely collapsible and folds up into an easy-to-carry package that you can store in the included carrying bag. This portability makes this a great choice for those always grilling at friends’ houses or the campground.
- Surprising amount of cooking space. Even though this budget charcoal grill is considered compact and portable, it still boasts an impressive surface area for cooking. With 170 square inches of cooking space, you can still expect to be able to cook a good amount of food simultaneously. Users report that they’ve been able to cook six burgers simultaneously.
- Built from durable stainless steel. Since this grill is built from high-quality stainless steel, you can expect it to last a long time. This is especially important to consider since the grill is collapsible. Many users report that they were pleased with how durable the grill was, even though they were constantly setting it up and breaking it down. The stainless steel also makes this grill easy to clean.
- Hard to control temperature. Since the Quick Grill Medium charcoal grill is an open grill, it can be difficult to get your cooking temperature just right, especially compared to charcoal grills that have lids and dampers.
The Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe is a charcoal grill with all the bells and whistles. Beginners and pros alike will find this grill packed to the brim with better performance and coking capacity. It features a full food preparation cart with a built-in cooking timer and easy-to-access temperature controls. The grill also includes a very handy gas ignition system and Weber’s standard high-quality build and durability.
Why We Recommend It
- Simple gas ignition system. Getting charcoal lit and burning is a process, but this charcoal grill includes a simple and easy-to-use gas ignition system that gets the briquettes lit quickly. You won’t need to connect to any gas lines to use this feature. Simply attach a small gas canister to the grill. Users love this feature, reporting that it cuts down their grilling prep time significantly.
- More space to prepare food. The Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe is a charcoal grill built into an incredibly handy food preparation cart. Instead of worrying about not having enough hands, simply use the extra surface area to store spices, raw food and cooking utensils.
- Extra temperature and cooking tools. You can easily control the internal temperature of the Weber Performer Deluxe using the damper built in to the lid, but you’ll also be able to see exactly what that temperature is using the built-in thermometer. The grill also features a removeable cooking timer on the cart so you can be sure you’re cooking food precisely and safely.
- Includes all the standard Weber features. On top of all these added features, you can expect the same level of quality you should come to expect from Weber charcoal grills. In fact, many users rave about the quality of Weber grills, reporting durability and quality that's hard to match. The grill is durable and made from high-quality materials. It’s also incredibly easy to clean because of Weber’s signature “One Touch” cleaning system that allows you to easily clear the ash from the grill’s bowl without getting dirty.
- No adjustable cooking grate. The Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe charcoal grill doesn’t have an adjustable cooking grate, meaning you can’t get the food closer to the coals or farther away. This limits some of your grilling flexibility.
- Premium features for a premium price. While this charcoal grill offers plenty of added, premium features, expect to pay a premium price for them. The Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe costs you more than most charcoal grills on the market.
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Best Portable Charcoal Grill
Grilling is all about spending time with family and friends. However, many people don’t own grills and having the option of taking your charcoal grill with you is an incredibly useful ability. Portable charcoal grills are often smaller than their traditional counterparts, but they often still provide the same level of sturdiness. These grills are perfect for people always on the go while visiting friends or going camping.
The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe is small and portable, all while offering the same durability that you can expect from all Weber grilling products. It’s a low maintenance option that is perfect for grillers that are always on the go. Don't let the size fool you, either! This charcoal grill can still hold enough food to feed medium-sized groups with ease. Whether it's the the beach, the campground or your backyard, the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe is sure to please.
Why We Recommend It
- Made from high-quality materials. Most Weber grills are made from high-quality, durable materials, and the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe charcoal grill is no different. Featuring a porcelain-enameled build, this grill easily handles the elements. It also includes a lid handle from glass-reinforced nylon, making it safe to handle even during the heat of grilling.
- Plenty of cooking space. Even though the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe charcoal grill is small, it doesn’t sacrifice cooking surface area. The 14-1/2-inch grate can fit up to six full-sized hamburger patties or three steaks, allowing you to cook for you and your friends or family at the same time.
- Easy to take anywhere. This charcoal grill is easy to carry around to all the places you want to grill, whether that’s to the backyard or to the beach. The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe weighs in at an incredibly light 9 pounds and measures only 9 inches tall and 15 inches wide.
- Incredibly easy assembly. You won’t have to worry about hours of assembly with this portable charcoal grill. Many users report that it only took them a few minutes to get it set up entirely and ready to grill. This means you get cooking faster without the frustration of a complicated assembly process.
- Difficult to control airflow. While the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe charcoal grill includes a damper on the lid, many users report difficultly controlling the airflow to the coals. This makes it harder to maintain an optimal internal temperature for grilling.
The Wolfwise Portable charcoal grill provides a unique ventilation system that controls cooking temperature for you, so you don't have to spend too much time fiddling with temperature controls. This grill is also built from very sturdy materials, which is great if you're planning on carrying it around on your adventures with you. This charcoal grill can also be folded up and stored easily in the included carrying case, making it a great choice for grillers on the go.
Why We Recommend It
- Extremely light and portable. The biggest selling point for the Wolfwise Portable charcoal grill is its portability. It features an impressively simple and easy folding design for easier portability. The whole grill weighs less than 5 pounds, which is impressive considering how much cooking area it still provides you. Many users report that this portable charcoal grill is more than capable to grill enough food simultaneously for four to five people.
- Made from premium materials. This charcoal grill is made from stainless steel and carbon crystal plate. Many users report their pleasure at how sturdy the whole grill was, especially when considering how often it is folded and unfolded. The charcoal grate is enameled with porcelain, which is durable and easy to clean, as well.
- Unique and effective ventilation system. The Wolfwise Portables doesn’t include a lid, but it makes up for it by featuring an innovative and unique double-sided intake system to promote convection ventilation for better airflow. This eliminates the need for dampers and other temperature control features. Users are pleasantly surprised at how well this charcoal grill performs without manual temperature control features.
- Simple and quick assembly. Initial setup is made incredibly simple by having most of the components pre-attached to the grill already. This helps get you up and grilling in no time so you don’t have to keep hungry bellies waiting.
- Legs can be wobbly. Many users mention that the thin metal legs on the Wolfwise Portable charcoal grill can get wobbly and need to be on a completely stable surface. This can limit where you place the grill, especially when you’re camping.
Best Charcoal Grill and Smoker
Sometimes, grilling over charcoal briquettes isn’t the best way to go for certain kinds of food. Charcoal grills and smokers allow you to smoke your food at a lower heat to provide an even more delicious taste and tenderness to meat and other foods. These grills give you another level of flavor that other grills can’t match.
The Char-Griller 1225 Smokin Pro charcoal grill is a grill that also includes a smoker, making it a more flexible and versatile choice for grillers looking to expand their cooking horizons. If you're not planning on smoking, use the side firebox to grill more food at the same time. This grill also provides a number of convenient features like extra storage tables built in to the grill and an adjustable fire grate for more flexibility during grilling.
Why We Recommend It
- Great for quick grilling and slow smoking. If you’re a griller and want the extra benefit of smoking your food, too, look no further than the Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro. This charcoal grill includes a firebox that you can use for smoking your food. It also provides an additional 250 square inches for grilling.
- Sturdy and durable construction. Char-Griller charcoal grills like this are made from durable cast iron and powder-coated steel, and many users are happy to report that their Char-Griller grills last for years, even when exposed to the elements.
- More flexibility with additional temperature control features. Controlling the internal temperature and flow of smoke is essential to any charcoal grill and smoker, and the Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro includes several features to aid you in this process. First, the lid provides a temperature gauge so you can closely monitor how hot the grill is. You’ll also have access to an adjustable fire grate that you can use to bring your food closer to the coals, if needed.
- Extra storage tables on the front and side. The Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro has two added storage tables built in to the front and side of the grill. This gives you more mobility and flexibility in keeping spices and food close at hand while you’re grilling. Many users love having the extra space available to them, especially in the middle of grilling.
- Hard to assemble with included instructions. Many users reported having great trouble assembling this charcoal grill with the included instructions, as they were written poorly.
The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker users a unique design to grill better with less heat and less air flow. This style of grilling is beloved by many, and offers a new way to explore even more tastes and grilling experiences. The grill features a sturdy build with extra insulation and a large cooking surface area so you can cook for larger groups. This charcoal grill and smoker is sure to provide a different experience with delicious results.
Why We Recommend It
- Unique kamado design for better smoking. The Char-Griller Akorn is a kamado grill, which is known for its unique design and easy heat control capability. This charcoal grill uses a triple-walled, insulated build to increase internal heat without using as much charcoal and air flow. The 314 square inch cooking space utilizes this unique design to grill food to perfection. The grill also includes a removeable warming tray. Users report that this unique design leads to more tender meat and better-cooked food overall, especially when compared to a classic charcoal grill.
- Extremely durable build. There are many different components that go into this grill’s build, all designed for long-lasting durability and strength. The cooking grate is made from cast iron, while the body of the grill is made from 22-gauge steel. Finally, the exterior finish is made from powder-coated steel and the interior finish is porcelain-coated steel.
- Versatile and useful exterior accessories. The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker also features a variety of useful exterior accessories, like folding storage shelves and adjustable top and bottom dampers. You can also lock the wheels on the grill so it doesn’t move while you are grilling.
- Steeper learning curve. Since the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker utilizes such a unique design, it can take a little longer to learn how to use it properly, especially when compared to simpler charcoal grills.
Best Charcoal/Gas Hybrid Grill
Charcoal/gas hybrid grills are relatively new players in the grilling game. These grills provide greater flexibility between fuel sources and even help you light your charcoal quicker than you normally could, while using the gas burners. These grills are typically more expensive than most, but the extra grilling capacity and added versatility make the jump in price worth it.
The Char-Broil Gas2Coal grill is a charcoal/gas hybrid. This gives you a wider range of cooking ability and even helps you start up your charcoal briquettes faster than normal and without lighter fluid. Featuring a durable build and a larger cooking capacity, this grill is great for grilling enthusiasts who want the widest range of flexibility. You'll also find more versatility with this grill with its added temperature controls and extra exterior features.
Why We Recommend It
- Gas and charcoal heating capability. The main selling point for the Char-Broil Gas2Coal charcoal/gas hybrid grill is that it can be used with charcoal or gas, without much hassle switching between the two fuel sources. Simply remove the cooking grates and add the charcoal tray to transition from gas grill to charcoal grill, all in under a minute. You can even use the gas burners to light the charcoal so you don’t have to worry about lighter fluid. While many users report to be hesitant at first about this combination, they also report that the feature adds an extra level of convenience you can't find in other grills.
- Larger cooking capacity. This hybrid charcoal and gas grill is large and boasts a whopping 420 square inches of cooking surface. This is perfect for when you are grilling for larger groups of people or when grilling large pieces of meat. The grill also includes a warming rack built in to the lid for extra storage space, if you need it.
- Sturdy and durable. This charcoal/gas hybrid grill features a sturdy and durable build, both on the interior and exterior of the grill. The gas burners are built from stainless steel and the grates are cast iron. Many users were pleased with how sturdy the side trays and burner were, as well as the overall build and design.
- Easy temperature control. With a built-in temperature gauge and easily accessible dampers, you can control the internal temperature of the Char-Broil Gas2Coal grill with ease, and users agree. They find that easy access to these features allow you to easier maintain the perfect internal temperature for grilling. This also allows you to conveniently monitor the pre-heating process without worrying about starting to grill too early.
- Versatile exterior features. The Char-Broil Gas2Coal grill provides more versatility with an added side burner that you can use for cooking things in pots while you’re grilling. If you’re not using the side burner, it’s lid folds down easily and provides a companion to the shelf on the other side of the grill. If you’re using the grill as a gas grill, you simply store the charcoal tray below the red panel at the front of the grill.
- Difficult assembly process. Since this grill is a gas and charcoal combination, the assembly process can be a bit more difficult, according to users’ reports. It may take you longer to assemble this grill than it would to assemble simpler charcoal grills.