Don’t you just love the incredible flavor produced by grilling meat over charcoal? If so, you might be looking for a new charcoal grill.
However, there are thousands of options, and choosing the best one for your needs can challenging.
In this article, we will be reviewing five of the best charcoal grill options. We want to provide you with buying tips, and we’ll also answer some of your most pressing questions.
Best Charcoal Grill: Reviews
Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill
If you are looking for a small and lightweight charcoal grill that’s very portable, durable, and doesn’t cost a fortune, this Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill could be a good option for you.
One thing that stands out about the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill is its ability to travel with you on the road no matter where you go. Once you assemble this grill, its dimensions are 14.5 “L x 14.25 “W x 17 “H. Moreover, the total weight of this grill is well under 10 pounds.
It’s a small, lightweight, and compact charcoal grill that you can pop in the trunk or on the backseat, and take with you to the beach, the park, or anywhere in between.
Even if you don’t plan on taking it anywhere, it’s a good option for a small backyard BBQ, particularly in places where you don’t have room for anything larger.
While the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill is small and portable, if you are just one or two people, maybe three, it has enough room for five large burgers or a few good-size steaks. It’s not huge, but large enough for a quick BBQ.
We like the nickel-plated steel cooking grate because it is very durable, food shouldn’t stick to it much, and it’s easy to clean too.
The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill has a thin yet fairly durable layer of porcelain-enamel coated steel, which makes this grill fairly durable; it can certainly handle the heat produced by burning coals.
Both the bowl and lid are porcelain-enamel coated steel, so we believe this is a reliable BBQ. Moreover, these materials are excellent at retaining heat, which allows for fast and even cooking, even in windy conditions.
To help you control the temperature inside the grill and allow for proper airflow, it has aluminum vents, one in the lid and the bowl’s bottom.
You also get an aluminum ash catcher; this will help reduce the mess you’ll have to clean once you are done barbecuing. These aluminum components are highly resistant to rusting.
On a side note, the aluminum legs will keep the grill off the ground.
The glass-reinforced nylon handle will not get hot at all, so you never have to worry about burning your hands.
The good part about this Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill is that it’s an all-around good grill.
It’s small and compact, lightweight, portable, exceptionally durable, has a decent amount of space, and is affordable. It’s nothing super special, but it gets the job done.
Something that is not the best about the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill is the size, which is suitable for cooking for two or maybe three people. It’s not something you could use to feed a lot of people at once.
- Lightweight and portable
- Retains heat well
- Fairly durable components
- Handle never gets hot
- Easy to control airflow and temperature
- Only large enough for 2 or 3 people
- Legs could be a bit more stable
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
This is a larger and slightly more expensive charcoal grill. This one may not be as portable as the previously reviewed grill, but it does have much more cooking space.
One of the biggest highlights of the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is that it features a diameter of 22.5 inches, with a total cooking area of 360 square inches.
In case you aren’t great with numbers, this grill is almost 2 feet in diameter. You can easily fit ten or more burgers on this grill; it will be ideal for cooking for a good-sized group of people.
The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is relatively large, with assembled dimensions of 25.8-inches x 25.8-inches x 38.8-inches; it weighs nearly 40 pounds, so it’s not very portable. However, this is the tradeoff you get for a larger area that is ideal for cooking for the whole family.
What is also worth noting is that the bowl and lid are porcelain-enamel coated steel. This material is very durable, it’s super resistant to denting and basic damage, and it’s not about to rust.
Moreover, this material also holds heat very well, so you don’t need much charcoal to produce a lot of heat for long-term grilling; a little charcoal goes a long way with this grill.
The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill features vents under the cooking grate; every grill that uses charcoal needs a steady airflow.
This model also has an adjustable vent located on top of the lid, which you can open or close to help regulate the temperature. It’s effortless to control the temperature with this grill.
The lid is hinged, so you don’t have to lift it off the bowl, as with other charcoal grills, plus it comes with a handle that won’t get hot, so you can easily open the lid without any risk of burning your hands.
Another notable feature of the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is the aluminum ash catcher in the bottom, just something to help reduce your mess.
Finally, the other thing worth mentioning about the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is the infrared porcelain-coated cooking grate, designed to reduce flareups for better cooking results, plus it will prevent food from falling through to the charcoal.
The grate’s height can be adjusted to bring it closer or further from the charcoal on that same note.
The good part about the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is that it’s just an excellent unit to have in the backyard. It’s tough and long-lasting, it allows for precise temperature control, and it’s large enough to feed a family of 4 or 5 people at once, and all for a reasonable price.
One of the only bad things about the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill that we noticed is that the included heat gauge (thermometer) could be more precise, and after prolonged use, it may stop working altogether.
- Durable design
- Easy temperature control
- Adjustable grate height
- No-flare and no-fall-through grate
- Large enough to cook for several people
- Easy-open hinged lid
- Heat gauge has some issues
- Assembly can be complicated
Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker
If you want a large grill for feeding a lot of people at your backyard barbeques, you want something that looks very nice, is durable, easy to use, and can even double as a smoker, this Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker could be an option for you.
The first thing worth mentioning about the Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker is that it is built to last.
The grill is heavy-duty steel with a powder-coat finish. This is not the kind of grill that easily scratches, dents, or breaks. It’s resistant to rust, corrosion, and of course, it can handle extreme heat.
In general, everything about this grill is designed for durability, even the wooden platforms, to set various items while you grill.
Now, the Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker is quite large, as it measures 49” L x 50” H x 29” W (there is an even larger model available).
The smaller of the two models weighs over 100 pounds, and it features a total cooking area of over 1,000 square inches. As you can see, it’s more than large enough to feed dozens of people at any backyard BBQ.
Although this grill is large and heavy, it has a set of wheels so you can easily roll it from the garage, to the backyard, to the driveway, and back.
To allow for precise heat control, the Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker has an adjustable fire grate, so you can choose how far the food is from the charcoal (there are three height levels).
Moreover, for even better temperature control and good airflow, this model has an adjustable vent located in the bottom. There is a thermometer/heat gauge included in the lid to keep track of the temperature.
The Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker is easy to clean as it comes with an easy-dump ashtray, which means that you can remove the ashes by lifting out the tray instead of scooping them out by hand.
On that same note, it’s also a convenient option because you can easily add more charcoal without removing the entire cooking grate.
All in all, this is a big, sturdy, spacious, and convenient grill and smoker combination, a great grill to have in any backyard.
We like that the Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker can be used as both a smoker and a grill. It comes with a small smoke chimney. Moreover, although this isn’t the cheapest grill around, you get what you pay for, and here you get quality.
One thing that isn’t so great about the Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker is that even with proper care and seasoning, the grates seem to rust rather quickly. Also, assembling this beast isn’t very easy.
- Grill and smoker
- Rolling wheels
- Heavy duty and super durable design
- Easy to control the heat
- Very easy to clean and add charcoal to
- Tons of cooking space
- Grates may rust
- Assembly could be easier
PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker
If you want a super durable yet lightweight grill, one that can double as a smoker, and one that looks ultra-sleek and modern, the PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker could be a good option for you.
This is not the most affordable grill, but as we often say, you get what you pay for, and here you get a top-quality product.
Right off the bat, what stands out about the PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker is its shiny silver finish. Moreover, this grill is cast aluminum, which has a couple of advantages.
First off, aluminum conducts and holds heat about four times better than steel, which means that this unit heats up fast, and it stays hot for a long time with minimal charcoal. This is a grill that allows for exceptionally even cooking, thanks to its unique capsule shape.
Moreover, the aluminum build of this grill is very sturdy and durable. It’s highly resistant to rusting, scratching, and corrosion. What is surprising is that this grill is so durable, yet also so lightweight.
It weighs just over 40 pounds, and it also features a set of wheels on the bottom, which provides maximum portability.
Just for extra oomph, this grill features a tremendous 10-year warranty in case something happens to go wrong with it.
The PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker features 300 square inches of cooking space, which is enough to hold quite a few burgers, steaks, wings, or whatever else.
It’s not a massive grill, but large enough to feed a few people at once; it’s light and small enough to be portable and convenient. You can detach the grill from the base, so you can pop it in the car and take it with you.
This grill has four adjustable vents to help you control the temperature to cook high and fast or low and slow.
We also like how the PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker comes with a large shelf on the bottom and a smaller shelf on the side, both great for storage. The fact that this doubles as both a grill and a smoker is pretty neat.
What is good about the PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker is that it is just a reliable and easy-to-use grill.
It’s easy to control the temperature, and due to its cast aluminum construction, it heats up fast and evenly. It’s an excellent grill for any backyard BBQ, not to mention that it features a high level of portability.
Although a minor issue, the PK Grills Original PK Grill & Smoker is very reflective. If it catches the sunlight the right way, it could reflect light into your eyes; the silver finish is almost like a mirror.
Moreover, although it is large enough for several people, the cooking area is a bit limited.
- Very durable
- Easy to assemble
- Lightweight and portable
- Retains heat well
- Good temperature control
- Grill + smoker
- Looks very nice
- Super-reflective exterior coating
- Not large enough to feed more than 3 or 4 people max
Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill
If you need a feature-rich and good looking, spacious, durable and long-lasting charcoal grill, and you don’t mind paying a bit of extra money for top quality, the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill is a great option.
Something that stands out about the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill is the black powder-coated steel, which is exceptionally durable.
It can easily withstand extreme heat, it won’t rust, and scratching or denting it is nearly impossible. It a very sturdy design, made with quality materials, and it’s made to last for a long time.
What is worth noting about the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill is that it is very good at conducting and retaining heat, which means that you don’t need to keep adding charcoal to achieve and maintain high and steady cooking temperatures.
On that same note, this model comes with three vents (one in the charcoal base and two in the lid), which provide optimal airflow and temperature control, so you can always get the right temperature, whether for beef, chicken, ribs, or anything else. It also has a heat gauge so you can keep track of the temperature.
Keep in mind that the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill has a cooking area of nearly 600 square inches, so it should be more than large enough to feed a whole family.
It is convenient because the grill comes with a separate hinged door for the charcoal in the front. This means that you don’t have to remove the grilling grates to add charcoal to it.
Simply pop the door open, throw more charcoal in, and it’s good to go. For easy cleaning, it has a sliding ash tray. Instead of scooping up charcoal one handful at a time, just slide out the ashtray, dump it, and that’s that.
Even more convenient is the hinged lid with a heatproof handle, so you can easily open and close the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill without burning yourself.
Also convenient is how this grill has plenty of storage space, both beside and under the cooking area.
We also like the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill because it has rolling wheels, so you can easily move it to and from the garage. It’s not the lightest grill, and it’s quite large, so it’s not a grill you can put in the car and take with you, but the rolling wheels do allow for a certain degree of portability.
What we like about the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill is that it’s big and durable. It has more than enough space to feed several people at once and features to allow for precise temperature control. It’s a fancy-looking grill that is easy to use and has many convenience factors.
One of the negatives about the Expert Grill Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill is that it may bubble and melt if the exterior paint gets too hot. Also, this grill can take about half a day to assemble, which is annoying at best.
- Durable design
- Lots of cooking space
- Removable ash tray
- Easy to control the temperature
- Looks very nice
- Retains heat well
- The paint job could use some work
- Assembly is not easy
Before you run off and buy a charcoal grill, there are a few things that you should know and keep in mind.
The first thing to think about is whether you want a charcoal grill to begin with instead of something like a propane BBQ. There are some tradeoffs to consider.
Propane grills are easier to use, more convenient, and faster. You have to make a fire first with a charcoal grill and get the coals evenly lit before you can cook.
However, there is no denying that charcoal produces a far better tasting result than gas, not to mention that many charcoal grills can also double as smokers without much effort.
Of course, if you are looking for the best-cooked food with that excellent flavor, charcoal is the way to go.
Grill Size and Shape
Determine the size of the grill you need. As you may have noticed, we covered a range of sizes, from 300 square inches to well over 1,000 square inches.
You need to consider how many people you plan on grilling for, as well as if you plan to take the grill with you to the beach, park, or wherever else.
For two or three people, 300 square inches is fine, 600 square inches is adequate for up to 7 or 8 people, and 1,000 square inches is excellent for those large family reunions.
Just remember that only the smallest grills will be suitable for putting in your car and taking with you.
On that same note, you also want to consider the shape of the grill. Here, you have four main options: Basic round grills, round kettle grills, barrel grills, and squared-barrel grills.
Generally speaking, the basic round and the kettle grills are smaller, have less cooking area, and tend to be a bit more basic and more portable and affordable, and very easy to operate.
The barrel-type grills are usually larger and ideal for cooking for many people; these models can usually double as smokers. If you aren’t too sure on this front, we would recommend doing more research into grill types.
Of course, the grill materials, particularly the cooking compartment and lid, are critical. Generally speaking, charcoal grills will be made of cast aluminum, enamel-coated aluminum, or porcelain-enamel coated steel.
The larger and heavier grills may also be powder-coated heavy-duty steel.
Aluminum grills are going to be very lightweight, making them super portable, plus they also tend to conduct heat exceptionally well, although they may not retain it for too long.
On the other hand, steel grills will be heavier and not quite as portable, and although steel won’t conduct heat quite as well, it does hold it. Also, in terms of durability, steel is probably the better option.
You also want to consider the weight of the grill. On the one hand, you can safely assume that heavier grills are made of more durable and sturdier materials, but on the other, a heavier grill is a less portable grill.
It’s a tradeoff to think about, particularly if you want to take your grill with you to the beach, park, and camping trips.
Pay attention to the brand of the grill in question. Some of the best grill brands out there include Weber, Expert Grill, Char-Broil, Char-Griller, Kamado Joe, and Broil King.
How to Use a Charcoal Grill?
Using a charcoal grill is not very hard. To get your coals lit, you can make a very small wood fire and pile the coals on slowly, or you can first pile in the coals, and these use a charcoal fire starter.
You can also use charcoal that comes included with its own lighter fluid coating for easy lighting. Once the charcoals go white-hot, you can start grilling.
How to Smoke Ribs on a Charcoal Grill
To smoke ribs, make sure to place the coals to one side of the grill. Then, on the other side of the coals, you will need to put a small wood pellet container and a water container, which together will create flavorful smoke.
Be sure to put the ribs above the pellets and not directly above the coals. Keep in mind that this process can take up to 4 hours.
How to Clean a Charcoal Grill?
To clean a charcoal grill, simply remove the ash (either by hand or by sliding out the ash tray), and dump the ashes.
You can then use a brush (with a bit of water if need be) to scrub out residue’s compartment. For the grill grates, a stiff grill brush should do the trick.
Are Charcoal Grills Safe?
In the grand scheme of things, yes, charcoal grills are safe. There is a risk of causing a fire if the grill tips over and spills hot coals on a flammable surface, but other than that, they are generally relatively safe. Just practice good grill and fire safety at all times.
How to Put Charcoal Out of a Grill?
Wait for 24 to 48 hours for the charcoal to cool, and then use a heatproof scoop to remove all the ash. Dispose of them in the garbage, or if you live in the country, ashes are an excellent fertilizer. If you have a grill with a removable ashtray, life is even easier.
The charcoal grills that we have reviewed today are all top-notch products when it comes down to it. However, if you want something small, convenient, and portable, we recommend the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill.
If you want something large with plenty of cooking space, something you can also use as a smoker, the Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill & Smoker, is our recommendation.
That said, as long as you pay attention to all of the essential features, choosing the right charcoal grill for your needs should not be too difficult.