Charcoal grills are not so popular today as they used to be; this might be because more people have shifted to cleaner types of fuel like natural and propane gas. However, charcoal grills are still the most affordable grills you can get around. They still provide you with that unique BBQ experience, and they can make your friends or family gathering a very pleasing one.
With so many charcoal grills on the market today – from established brands and new ones- you need to know exactly what you want before you purchase any charcoal grill. The following are some of the best charcoal grills you can get around, with the features they come with discussed in detail.
Top 15 Best Charcoal Grills by Consumer Reviews
1. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill.
This is one of the few charcoal grills that you can just carry anywhere with you. The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill comes with a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl, it comes with a plated steel grate that is durable and easy to clean, and it also has dampers that will allow easy temperature control in the grill.
For a grill as small and as portable as this, the cooking surface is quite big, and it measures about 14.5 inches in diameter. All charcoal grills generate ash, and there should be a reasonable feature on any grill to deal with this.
The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill has a small, rust-free catcher to ensure that ash doesn’t spread all around. This is an excellent option for those that need a portable and affordable charcoal grill.
It is very compact
Easy to clean
Cooking temperature control
The legs may bend easily
No storage space
2. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
When it comes to charcoal grills, certain features are essential; these features are necessary for easy cleaning, for heat control, and mobility. The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill comes with these crucial features. Charcoal ash can be easily cleaned by swiping everything into a removable ash catcher. To control the temperature, you don’t have to necessarily lift the lid, by merely adjusting the dampers to allow or reduce the air flow, you can control the heat efficiently. Any charcoal grill should be designed in such a way that will allow for easy fuel addition, and with this Weber grill, you can easily do that even when you are cooking.
Since the lid is not hinged, it comes with a hook that allows you to hang it to the side of the grill without necessarily placing it on the floor. You can also have easy access to your cooking tools by hanging them on the hooks, and the wheels on the grill make it easy to move the grill around.
Easy to clean
Comes with hooks for cooking utensils
Allows users to add another fuel
Cooking temperature control
The cooking space may not be sufficient for a large number of people
3. Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
This is one of the more common charcoal grills, and just like charcoal grills should be, it is easy to clean because of the one-touch cleaning system which features an ash catcher. It has precision heat control which works by adjusting the dampers to either allow or reduce the flow of oxygen to the coals. The durable cooking grate is made from plated steel, and it ensures even grilling. The lid and bowl are porcelain-enameled; this prevents rusting and peeling, even at high temperatures.
The grate can hold up to thirteen burgers at once. Unlike some charcoal grills, you don’t have to put the lid on the floor; you can simply use the lid hook to attach it to the side of the grill. Additionally, the Weber 741001 comes with durable wheels that allows you to move the grill easily from one place to another.
Precision heat control
Wheel for easy movement
Easy to clean
Durable and sturdy design
The lid is not hinged, although it can be hooked to the grill
4. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker
Kamado grills are known for heat retention and their versatility. The Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker is no exception; it is a durable charcoal grill, it can maintain up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, it has dampers at the top and the bottom for temperature control, and it comes with triple-walled insulation to ensure heat retention. The Char-Griller E16620 is made with 22 gauge steel for durability; it is finished on the outside with powder coated steel while the interior is made from porcelain coated steel. With this grill, you have sufficient space to cook whatever you want to, and it comes with a 133 Sq. Inch warming rack that is removable.
The Char-Griller E16620 is as versatile as other Kamado grills, serving as a grill and a smoker. Additionally, it comes with an easy dump ash pan that makes the grill easy to clean. It is also one of the few charcoal grills that come with side shelves; this might look like a tiny feature, but it is vital you have a place to place your ingredients and other stuff when grilling, especially when it is outdoors.
Triple-walled to retain heat
Folding side shelves
Easy to clean
It is more expensive than most charcoal grills
5. Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill
If the space you have is really limited and you still want to treat yourself, your friends, and your family to a wonderful BBQ experience, the Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is perfect for you. It is a very compact grill with only 250 Sq. inches of grilling space. The small size of the grill, however, doesn’t affect the quality of materials used in constructing the grill. It weighs just fifty pounds, and it comes with wheels for easy mobility. It is also easy to clean because of the easy dump ash pan that you can easily pull out.
The grill is made from heavy-duty steel, and it is powder coated to ensure durability. A major problem that comes with most charcoal grills is the lack of storage space. However, this grill comes with a side shelf to put your ingredients while cooking, and it also has a storage rack underneath. If you are looking for a charcoal grill that can fit into minimal space, the Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is a perfect one.
Comes with wheels for mobility
It is affordable
Some people may find it too small
Side shelf is small
6. Char-Griller E2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill
The Char-Griller E2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill is made from heavy-duty steel, and it is powder coated for durability. It features a very functional heat control system with adjustable dampers to control airflow, adjustable fire grate and a heat gauge on the hood. The grill grate comes in multiple pieces which you can easily lift to add more fuel when cooking. The cooking area is 580 Sq. Inches and it has an additional warming rack with an area of 270 Sq. Inches.
One feature that is usually lacking in charcoal grills is storage space. However, this grill comes with a side shelf, a front rack, and a bottom shelf. Like any good charcoal grill should have, it has a dump ash pan that makes the grill easy to clean. On the side shelf are hooks where you can hang your cooking utensils, and there is also a wire basket to store ingredients. For mobility, the grill comes with two wheels. If what you need is an affordable grill for the outdoor grill when you have friends and family over, the Char-Griller E2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill should serve you well.
It has ample storage space
Heat gauge on the hood
Large cooking space
Functional heat control
Cooking space may not be sufficient for some
7. Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Kay Home Product’s Cast Iron Hibachi Charcoal Grill
This Marsh Allen 30052AMZ is a small grill that you can place on a surface as you use it. It is made of durable cast iron, and it comes with two curved-up side grates that provide a cooking space of 157 Sq. Inches. The grates come with wooden handles so you can move them easily when cooking and you can adjust the heights of the grill to control the cooking speed. To control how fast or slow the charcoal burns and to ensure even cooking, there are two adjustable air vents.
Gas grills are more common these days, but some years ago, these charcoal grills were pretty common. They can still be functional today, especially if what you need is a grill you can fit in a small space. Using this grill, you have to be careful where you put it, because it may burn wooden surfaces and other related surfaces; you should get a steel mesh table to place it on, or you can use it on concrete to be safe. This is one of the cheapest options you have whenever you want to buy a charcoal grill.
Adjustable grills with wooden handles
Adjustable air vents
The cooking area is small
No side shelf for storage
8. Beau Jardin Portable Charcoal Grill
Outdoor grilling is indeed a remarkable activity, especially when you have friends and family around. To get the best BBQ experience, you don’t have to spend much necessarily, the Beau Jardin portable charcoal grill has everything you need for the beautiful grilling experience, and you can get it at a very affordable price. It has a lightweight design, a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, rust-resistant aluminum legs, and a one-touch cleaning system that features an ash leak and ash catcher.
It is very durable because of the porcelain coat on the lid and bowl, the adjustable air vents can control the heat, and the rust-resistant ash catcher makes it easy to clean. The grilling surface is 18 inches in diameter, and it should be sufficient for you to cook any meal for yourself, your family and friends. Additionally, it comes with wheels that make it easy to move around. While it is not a sophisticated as some of the conventional gas grills, the Beau Jardin comes with the basic features that will ensure you have a wonderful BBQ experience.
It is cheap
Easy to clean
Comes with wheels for mobility
It doesn’t have side trays to keep ingredients while cooking
The lid is not hinged to the bowl.
9. PK Original Outdoor Charcoal Portable Grill & Smoker Combination
It is vital that any charcoal grill be portable and mobile and the PK Original Outdoor Charcoal grill is very compact and mobile. It is designed to maximize temperature control by the airtight design of the aluminum grill capsule. It comes with a 4 point heating system that ensures adequate airflow throughout the grill capsule to keep the heating consistent throughout the grill. Another important thing in any grilling endeavor is storage space to keep things while cooking; the double shelves ensure that you don’t have to keep turning your back to the grill to pick up ingredients while using the grill.
Additionally, the lid is hinged to the grill part, making it possible to open and close the grill easily without having to place the lid on the floor. The 300 Sq. inches of cooking surface provides enough space to cook your meat, burgers, vegetables and other things you need to make your outdoor gathering a success. The aluminum grills have a 10-year warranty so that you can be sure of the quality. If you are looking for a durable charcoal grill, the PK Original Outdoor Charcoal Portable Grill & Smoker is what you need.
Dual shelf system
4 heating point
The cooking area may be too small for some
10. Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill
This is a more sophisticated charcoal grill than most. Using charcoal grills may look outdated to some people, but with this Dyna-Glo grill, you stand to enjoy everything you enjoy from other types of grills. It comes with a removable steel firebox divider that will allow you to divide the cooking space depending on the quantity of food you want to cook. Additionally, the two charcoal grills can be adjusted depending on the intensity of heat needed to cook whatever you want to cook.
Adding fuel while cooking is very convenient because of the charcoal access doors. Easy cleaning is ensured by the removable ash pan, and the grill is easy to move because of the wheels that come with it. Temperature is also controlled by sliding side dampers which either allow or reduce airflow. You have enough space to cook for yourself, your friends and your family as the total cooking area is 816 Sq. Inches. Side shelves on both sides allow you to keep your ingredients close by while cooking.
Side shelves to hold ingredients
Wheels for mobility
Easy to clean
Optimized cooking space
The cooking area is small
11. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
It is very important that a charcoal grill distributes heat evenly; this is the only way that the small cooking area that usually comes with them can be fully utilized. The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill comes with 360 Sq. Inches of cooking space; which is quite adequate for a charcoal grill, it comes with porcelain-coated, rust-resistant grate which was designed for even heat distribution and flare-up prevention. The vent can control heat on the lid, and the grate can be adjusted to move it closer to or further from the heat.
This grill comes with triple support, two of which are wheels that allow for easy mobility. Another good thing about this grill is that the lid is hinged to the grill and you don’t have to remove the lid and look for where to place it whenever you are cooking. Cleaning is made easy by the removable ash bowl, and the Infrared technology further ensures that heat is distributed evenly.
Wheels for mobility
Infrared technology for even temperature control
Lack of storage space
12. Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill
This charcoal grill is perfect for friends and family gathering, and it is also suitable if all you want is a quick BBQ grill. It comes with features that make it easy to assemble, easy to clean, and easy to use. The 438 Sq. Inches cooking surface retains heat well and ensures even heat distribution by locking heat in. You can control the temperature easily by adjusting the charcoal pan to be closer to or farther from the cooking surface. Apart from the cooking surface, this charcoal grill has an additional 179 Sq. Inches of warming space which you can use as a secondary cooking area or keep your food to warm.
It comes with a thermometer on the lid for temperature control, the adjustable vent allows for better airflow control, and it has two racks for convenient storage of ingredients and cooking utensils. With all these features, you can still assemble the grill easily, and you have an offset smoker with 183 Sq — inches of space.
Air vent for better airflow control
Sufficient storage space
Easy to assemble
The cooking area may not be enough for a large crowd
13. Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill
When it comes to charcoal grills, getting one with enough cooking space may prove challenging at times; this is why this Kingsford grill comes with 793 Sq. Inches cooking area- to give you sufficient cooking space. The iron grate is cast iron, and it can be adjusted for temperature control. For easy storage, it features a side shelf and a bottom storage rack.
Another important feature that this grill has is the wheels for easy transportation, while it also has a thermometer for temperature control. Although it is not as sophisticated as some other charcoal grill, it is still a functional grill, and it comes at an affordable price.
Wheels for mobility
Large cooking space
Side shelf is quite small
14. KamadoJoe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill
Designed for excellent heat and moisture retention, the KamadoeJoe comes with a unique divide and conquer system that allows you to cook different foods at different temperatures at the same time. It has an aluminum top vent that allows you to set the air flow, and it comes with a slide-out ash drawer that helps you clean the grill easily.
The top closes and opens easily without too much effort because of the Air Lift Hinge feature. Additionally, it comes with locking wheels so that you can move the grill easily, and two side shelves on either side provide space to store ingredients while cooking. Even though it doesn’t come with a feature that allows easy fuel addition, this grill is still a very functional and good looking one.
Wheel or mobility
Unique divide and conquer cooking system
Easy fuel addition
You have to lift the grate to add fuel
15. Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill
This is one of the cheapest charcoal grills you can get around with essential features that make a grill worthwhile. It is specially made for outdoor activities, and it comes with sufficient cooking space for when you have friends and family around. It comes with a lightweight design, foldable legs for mobility, and comfortable lifting handles.
Assembling this grill is made easy by the easy-to-follow instruction manual that comes with it, and you don’t really need any form of technical know-how to make it function.
It is made from 430 rust-resistant stainless steel, and the manufacturers ensure the quality of the grill through the one-year full guarantee. Although it is not as sophisticated as some charcoal grills, you can still be confident in the quality and functionality of the Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill.
It is lightweight for mobility
1-year limited warranty
Rust-resistant stainless steel
No storage space
Everything You Need to Know About Charcoal Grills
The use of charcoal grills started as a result of an increase in the price of fuel. This mode of cooking has been in existence for decades now, and it is being revisited by the modern kitchen world. Charcoal grills are smokers that are powered by charcoals. You might know what charcoals are but believe me, not everyone knows what they are, and even if they do, some people do not know how this heating material is being produced.
What are Charcoals?
The process of making charcoals can be dated far back as 30,000 years ago. Charcoals are end-products of wood, peats, bones and other carbonic substances. They are made through a process of cooking wood and burning off fickle compounds such as water, methane, hydrogen, and tar.
This process usually takes days because the organic matters are burnt very slowly and without much oxygen. The materials burn very slowly, leave black lumps, and stop before they turn to ashes.
Over the years, charcoal has emerged to become people’s favorite asides gas, and this heating process is being reconsidered once again by many people because of its low cost.
Asides the fact that it is affordable, it gives your food this unique smoky taste that can only be achieved through the use of wood -charcoal has lots of advantages over wood in that it burns hotter, cleaner and produces less smoke.
Besides, the use of charcoal is quite easier than that of wood; just keep stoking the already burning charcoals with more charcoals, and you will get the same heat temperature this Sunday, next Sunday and the next.
In case you already know what charcoals are, did you know there are different types? Yeah, I mean we have different types of charcoal, and each has a different price range.
There is the charcoal briquet, the wood ember, hardwood lump charcoal, extruded charcoal, etc. What separates the types as mentioned above of charcoal is the process through which they are produced. Some are produced with cornstarch as a natural binder, some with tree woods and other brands are produced with the combination of tree wood and lumber scraps.
Of all these types, the hardwood lump charcoal is the most populous. It is made from hardwood and so add the same unique flavor as woods.
How do Charcoal Grills Work?
Charcoal grills are operated through patience. If you are hungry, you cannot decide to use them for cooking your food; only if you have one hell of enduring strength.
Charcoal grills cook your food through lit coals. They feature vents that control the airflow to the coals and the temperature of your food.
Some are designed with an adjustable charcoal tray that enables you to heap more coals on one side of the grill, thereby increasing the temperature on that side.
What’s So Great About Charcoal Grills?
Smokers who know the worth of charcoal grills will never joke with them. These grills with “ancient” powering system are filled with lots of advantages that place them above some other types of grills. So, what is so great about charcoal grills? Would you like to know? OK then, let’s highlight some few points:
There is one universal thing smokers route for, and that is an even cooking. A professional smoker who knows what it takes to cook food evenly will go any length to get the perfect grilling no matter how expensive; hence, with charcoal grill, you have the 100% assurance that your food will be cooked evenly to perfection any day, anytime.
If we are to mention grills that burn cleaner, charcoal grills will always find their way into the list. At the start of your cook, ignite the charcoals (you can easily do that also wit chimneys) and watch as it burns and spreads. Charcoal grills usually emit little or no smoke although, at the start of burning, there might seem to be a release of light smoke when the charcoals eventually get lit, the smoke reduces drastically or even stops totally.
Looking for a grill that can provide you with the desired high temperature that will sear your food, then a charcoal grill is what you need. Charcoal grills are hot smokers. However, the level of hotness depends on the kind of charcoal used (remember I mentioned some types of charcoal earlier on) and also the way you have arranged the coals.
In as much as charcoal grills burn very slowly, its temperature is maintained throughout cooking. If you want a hotter temperature, then you will stoke in more coals and increase the amount of oxygen. If you, however, want a reduction in the temperature, you reduce the number of coals and the amount of oxygen too.
If there is anything charcoal grills are good at, that is uniquely flavoring your food. This is a perfect replacement for firewood cooking. Charcoal grills add this unique smoky taste to your foods.
Asides that, your food will also be filled with flavor depending on the type of charcoal you have used. Flavor in charcoals varies due to the kind of wood used to produce them. As you are smoking, the coal emits flavor into your meat, which gives it extraordinary sweetness.
Tips on How To Use A Charcoal Grill and Smoker
Using a charcoal grill might not come off easily as you had expected, but when you do the right thing, it becomes easy, and before you know it, you are used to the process already.
The first thing you need to do is to lay coals perfectly in your chimney (a metal cylinder with grates at the bottom and holes a the sides; using a chimney makes the work easier). Then you go on to light your coals using a chimney starter (do not use lighter fluid) then you wait for the coals to be ready (that is until the burning circulates and the coals are ashed over – this can take up to 25 minutes).
When the coals are ready, you will lift the grill grate and transfer the coals from the chimney to the grill. Lay the coals carefully and spread them evenly throughout the product. It is important that you create different temperatures on the sides of the grill (you can achieve this by more layers of coal on one side of the unit than the other) so that you can cook foods that require high temperature and those that require low temperature at the same time.
Lay down the grill grate and wait for it to be hot before laying your food. While waiting, you can do a thorough cleaning of the grate to get rid of debris from last cooking. All you need for the cleaning is a long, strong object wrapped on one end with a wad of wet cloth; then you swipe the surface of the grate with it.
Also, you can add wood chips made out of different varieties of wood like applewood, hickory, mesquite, and more. The essence of these wood chips is to give your food an extra smoke flavor. You can as well soak the wood chips in plain water for 20 minutes before adding them to the coals in the grill; this will give the wood chips ample time to burn, and your food will have longer contact with the smoky flavor.
All this done, brush a little oil on the surface of the grill and lay your foods directly on it. Close the unit to trap heat if you have foods that take time to cook. Also, avoid opening the lid now and then to prevent the heat from escaping and add new coals every 30 to 60 minutes.
To monitor your cooking, you can get a digital thermometer like thermapen to check the temperature of your food. Just stick the thermometer’s probe into your meat, the temperature will be read and be hugely displayed on the LCD.
When you are done the cooking, cover the grill and let it cool down. Then scoop out ashes to avoid blockage and problems when next you want to use it.
What are The Key Differences in Charcoal Grills?
Today, different models of the charcoal grill have been created. Trying to make a pick might not seem significant to a lot of people since none of the models even have advanced technology of touchscreens or computer chips.
However, there are significant differences among charcoal grills, and these differences clearly set them apart.
Some of the differences are
Not all charcoal grills are portable to fit into that small space you have created. Therefore, go for portable grill if you love to carry along your unit on a road trip or an adventure.
Charcoal grills built in Stainless Steel are more durable than others. however, bear in mind, that they comes with an hefty price tag.
Not all charcoal grills feature smokers. so, if you are a smoker lover, ensure you consider this feature before purchasing a unit.
Features to Look Out for Before Buying A Charcoal Grill
If you will truly enjoy using a charcoal grill, then it has to come with features that will make your BBQ experience fun and easy. Without these features, using these grills may prove to be problematic. Some of the necessary features on a charcoal grill include:
There are charcoal grills that do not come with any lid, and this is not ideal. A lid will help you capture heat and provide the food with the unique BBQ flavor. Even in grills that have lids, you still have to check if the lid is hinged to the grill or not, having to place the lid on the floor while cooking is not a fun experience.
This is very important because all charcoal grills will give out ash waste at the end of the day, it is essential that an easy removal system should be incorporated. Try to avoid grills that will require you to remove the grates and then sweep away the ash; there are a lot of models that come with easy ash removal system
Access to Fuel
When using a charcoal grill, you should be able to add more charcoal easily whenever it is required. Before buying any grill, check to see if you can easily add more charcoal when you are cooking. Some manufacturers do not consider this, and you end up having to move your food while it is cooking before you can add fuel
These will help you control the temperature well. Ideally, there should be two dampers on a charcoal grill; one for intake of air and the other for exhaust. You control the temperature by closing the intake damper off when you need to reduce the temperature and opening it more when you need to increase the heat.
Charcoal Grills FAQs
Which charcoal is best for grilling?
Like I said earlier, there are different types of charcoal: the charcoal briquettes, the instant charcoal briquettes, the hardwood lump charcoal, the flavored briquettes, binchotan and Thai charcoal.
All the types mentioned above are all perfect for grilling, but the kind you use depends on how high your food needs heat and what you can afford. Some of these charcoals burn slow or fast, and some are expensive.
Is charcoal grill right for me?
To decide whether to use a charcoal grill or not, you have to consider some things because these grills might not be right for everyone.
Do you have enough time on your hands for cleaning and maintenance? Have you been grilling before and you are knowledgeable in the technical know-how to regulate the temperature of a charcoal grill? Does your apartment feature a backyard or patio where your unit can fit in?
If your answer to all the questions above is “no,” I do not think a charcoal grill will be right for you.
Do charcoal grills make food taste better?
Yes, charcoal grills are useful in giving your food a unique smoky flavor that tastes better than when you grill with a gas grill.
Are charcoal grills healthy?
Grilling with charcoal grills do not hurt; the coals are really safe but what can pose a problem is if fat from your meat drips onto the coals and rises with the smoke to be deposited in your food.
Are charcoal grills cheaper?
When it comes to cost, charcoal grills are cheaper compared to the other category – gas grill. You can get a charcoal grill for as low as $25. But then, if you are an everyday griller, you will spend more on charcoals than you would have spent on propane.