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Charcoal grilling is more of an art than a science. There are no conveniently premade hot spots, or even consistent set temperatures to go by, you need to wing it all the way and go by feel through most of the cooking process.
This makes charcoal grilling easy to fail at, producing food that is closer in consistency to the fuel used to cook it than anything edible, but also rewarding and delicious when you get it right.
If that sounds like the kind of adventure you want to embark on, then this buying guide should be a great first step down that road.
Our Top Choice...
Top 9 Charcoal Grill Reviews
1. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill - Best Overall
The Original is everything you need in charcoal grills and nothing you don’t. While it would be nice to have an attached smoker or side tables, you can make do without both. The lack keeps the cost low, and allows the grill to focus on the basics.
It’s made of good quality materials, sturdy but still lightweight, large without being overbearing, and focuses mostly on quality of life features as its extras.
The lid hook is nice, and something more grills of this type could easily implement but choose not to. The biggest draw here is the easily removable ash catcher, which makes the chore of cleaning ash and soot out of the grill as easy as humanly possible without moving away from charcoal altogether.
Some grills have more stuff that comes with them, but none are better at just being a simple charcoal grill than the Weber Original.
363 square inches of cooking space (Holds up to 13 burgers)
Style: 22 Inch Charcoal Grill
Dimensions: 39.5 x 22.5 x 27 inches
Weight: 32.3 Pounds
Portable and easy to use
Easy to maintain and clean up
Perfect for everyday use
Great value for your money
Might not be a good idea for large meat cooking
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
2. Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill - Top portable choice
Tiny and immensely maneuverable.
A great choice for quick and convenient cooking comes from Weber. As the name implies, the Go-Anywhere is a grill that goes anywhere you do. It weighs less than 15 pounds and is easy for just one person to carry.
When you use the Weber hamburger press, you can perfectly form six patties that will all fit on the top grates. The grates offer 160 square inches of cooking space and can easily hold and cook both chicken and seafood as well as other foods. Though the grates use steel, they also have a special coating that keeps food from burning or sticking to the grates. That coating also makes the grate easy to clean.
Thanks to the convenient locking lid, you can use this grill in a few ways. When you lock the lid, you can keep the heat and smoke inside to keep it from escaping, which helps you grill faster. That lid also locks when you’re not using the grill to create the perfect place to store your extra supplies. The biggest downside of the Go-Anywhere is that it doesn’t have a hinge link other grills do, which means that you need to completely remove the lid to check on your food.
160 square inches of cooking space
Style: Go-Anywhere portable charcoal grill
Material: Porcelain-Coated Cast Iron
Dimensions: 12.2 x 21 x 14.5 inches
Weight: 14 Pounds
Easy to handle and put together
Best choice for urban grillers
Perfect for camping
NO fold out arms or tables
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
3. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Charcoal Grill - Best small choice
Small, simple, and cheap as they come.
The best small charcoal grill and one that you can use on the tiniest of patios or decks is the Smokey Joe from Weber, which is just 14-inches across. Don’t assume that the small size will limit your cooking though. It has plenty of room for pork chops or chicken breasts and can cook up to six burgers. You might even have enough space for some side dishes too.
Thanks to a handle on the top, you can easily remove the lid to check on your food or flip the burgers. You cannot use that handle when the grill is still hot though, which can make moving it difficult. It also comes with a tripod base that gives the grill some structure and keeps it from falling over or wobbling.
As the Smokey Joe has just one damper, it’s easy to control and adjust the heat based on your foods. The exterior uses stainless steel with a coating that keeps the color from fading or peeling. A similar type of coating used on the steel grates will let your food come off easily without the addition of extra oil.
14 inch grilling space (Holds up to 5 burgers)
Style: 14-Inch Portable Grill
Dimensions: 14.2 x 14.5 x 17
Weight: 9.5 Pounds
Retains heat and is easy to clean
Small enough to take anywhere
Perfect for small spaces
It has no table or side handles
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
4. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS730CBO-D Barrel Charcoal Grill
If you need a smoker and a grill, Dyna-Glo has you covered.
Why spend extra on one grill that you use for cooking and another that you use for smoking? Dyna-Glo makes this Signature Series grill that can do perform both cooking methods and several others too. It has the capability of a combo smoker and griller that has a steel construction which keeps the interior hot. That metal helps regulate the temperature and prevents hot spots too.
With a total of 730 square inches of cooking space, this is a grill that you can use for tailgating or your next party. You get 443 square inches of primary cooking space for cooking foods that you want to keep an eye on while outside. It also has more than 280 square inches of offset cooking space for foods that you want to cook slow and those you need to keep warm.
The included firebox turns this into the perfect smoker for meats and seafood too. You can use the temperature gauge on the top of the grill to monitor the food and use the oversize wheels to push it around your yard or patio. The grill also has a top handle that remains cool to the touch.
730 SQUARE INCHES total COOKING SPACE
Style: Charcoal Grill & Side Firebox
Dimensions: 52 x 33.9 x 59.8 inches
Weight: 123.2 Pounds
Solid construction and heavy duty
Cooks quickly and evenly
Perfect for big cooking
Might be harder to move around
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
See our complete list of charcoal smokers.
5. Weber 15502001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill - Under $500
Essentially the Weber Original with all the extras; it’s the same base grill with a lot of add ons.
If you only have $500 to spend on a new grill and want one that will meet all your needs, make it the Performer Deluxe from Weber. It mimics the design of egg grills with a large copper bowl that sits on one end of an attached table. That bowl measures 22 inches and has space for burgers, chicken breasts and more with 363 square inches of cooking space.
The top feature of this grill is easily that attached table. It extends out from one side of the grill to give you space for prepping and has even more storage space below. Though the ash catcher does take up some of that valuable space, you’ll still have room for some of your supplies. The base of the table has both casters and wheels to move it around.
Two other nice features include the thermometer and LCD timer. While the timer lets you set a reminder to flip or remove food from the grill, the thermometer shows you the temperature inside. It also has a cleaning system that lets you clean the entire grill with just one touch of a button and a Touch-N-Go ignition system.
363 SQUARE INCHES total COOKING SPACE
Style: Electronic Touch-N-Go gas ignition system
Dimensions: 30 x 48 x 43.5 inches
Weight: 91 Pounds
Comes With a stylish design
Has a huge work space
Comes with an excellent warranty
Larger and heavier than the Kettle
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
6. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker - Under $300
An interesting and unique charcoal grill.
The best charcoal egg grill priced at under $300 is this Char-Griller model that mimics the classic design but is available at a lower price point. Insulation around the edges of the grill keeps the heat locked inside, which allows you to use less charcoal and save some money. It also has a steel body with a powder-coated enamel covering that can withstand the high heat of the grill without fading or chipping.
Perfect for small families and groups, the grill has nearly 450 square inches of space inside for cooking. This includes a warming rack with more than 130 square inches available. Though the rack lets you keep food warm and away from the direct heat, it can get in the way and reduce your overall cooking space.
With the locking lid, you can prevent mishaps and keep the lid firmly shut. It has a small storage area below the grill and two wheels for moving it, though the wheels could be better. You might like the folding shelves that give you more prep space too.
447 SQUARE INCHES total COOKING SPACE
Style: Kamado Kooker
Dimensions: 26.6 x 24.8 x 21.6 inches
Weight: 90 Pounds
Has a great temperature control
Extremely well insulated
Can use for long cooking
Quite heavy to move around
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
7. Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill
This cast iron grill might not be what most people think of in a portable grill, but what it lacks in lightweight portability it more than makes up for with an incredibly high performance design.
Cast iron cookware is arguably the best you can use in terms of raw ability to make good food. It’s good for baking, searing, and sautéing all sorts of things. Cast iron is also naturally nonstick when properly seasoned, which this grill comes out of the box already done for you.
That ability extends to grills made of cast iron as well, providing an excellent sear for steaks, with unmatched ability to retain heat among standard grilling materials.
This particular cast iron is especially well made. Lodge is an experienced company that’s been making cast iron products for over 100 years, and their experience shows with this grill. It’s thick and has clean lines, with an adjustable height for added convenience. The coals can be accessed by a simple flip down hatch in the front (where the logo is), and from their coals are easy to add or manipulate as needed to make a better fire.
The only real drawback is the aforementioned weight, clocking in at 27 lbs. While not ridiculously heavy, travel grills often come in at about half that weight, and for good reason. They should be easy to transport on long hikes and the like fi needed.
That makes this an excellent campground or cabin grill, and works well for tailgating too, but you should probably look elsewhere if you want a light, easy to carry, and compact travel grill.
Material: cast iron.
Dimensions: 19” x 8.2” x 10.2”.
Shipping weight: 30.6 lbs.
Cast iron construction is sturdy and built to last a lifetime.
Small and portable, easy to pack in a truck or van.
Greta price for the quality.
A little bit too heavy to be a proper traveling grill, at least fi you plan on hiking on foot.
8. Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill
This is an interesting one. It’s designed a lot like a compact version of a larger grill. Where most manufacturers would instead change the whole design (likely to a kettle grill shape), Char-Griller instead has shrunk down the classic barrel grill design to a more manageable size.
This is perfect for smaller patios or decks, back porches, smaller covered grilling areas, and anything else of that nature where space is at a premium.
Its smallness also makes it quite good for tailgating, loading up easily in the back of a truck (or van in a pinch) and unloading just as smoothly. This grill is lightweight (not even double the weight of the Lodge cast iron grill above) and has a very steady construction, if a bit top heavy. I’d be careful about bumping this one, as it’s likely to tip over if jostled too hard.
The rest of the design is good though. Well made steel construction and a nice wooden side table that’s heat resistant and perfectly sized for preparation. The price is good, and the size (250 square inches of grilling space) provides a lot of workable space compared to similar compact grills.
It’s hard to go wrong with this option, especially given how inexpensive it is.
Materials: steel (exterior and grates), wood (side table), plastic (wheels).
Total grilling area: 250 square inches.
Dimensions: 31” x 21” x 44”.
Total weight: 51.7 lbs.
Lightweight and easy to transport.
Compact, perfect for smaller patios and porches.
Good grilling space for a compact grill.
While not wobbly, the grill is top heavy, and could be tipped over fairly easily.
9. Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill
This is a very nice and surprisingly large budget grill. It costs less than most you’ll find, but it’s decked out with a lot of good quality of life features. It’s a full (if slightly smaller than average) grill, with two side prep tables, and a very sturdy, blocky shape that makes it difficult to tip over.
The interior is spacious, with a great 393 square inches of primary coking space, plus a 205 square inch warming rack included.
The construction is solid, with an overall steel shell and porcelain cooking grates that are nonstick and exceptionally easy to clean.
The real standout features here are the nice little quality of life touches. The grill rolls easily on its oversized wheels, but stays solidly in place when parked. The ash tray pulls out from a hatch in the front, and it makes cleaning this grill a snap compared to a lot of charcoal grills. The height of the charcoal pan can be easily adjusted for maximum control of cooking, and it’s done with a nice little level on the front that can slide through 6 different levels.
Even the chimney on this one is great, a full smokestack that makes this grill excellent as a simple smoking tool.
It’s very hard to do better than this for the price, with its only drawbacks being a lack of portability. While it’s relatively lightweight for the size and fairly compact, it’s a very awkward shape to try and hoist onto something; it would absolutely not be my first pick to take tailgating or to some kind of camping trip.
Materials: steel (exterior), porcelain (grates), plastic (wheels).
Total cooking area: 598 square inches
Dimensions: 50” x 22” x 48.8”.
Total weight: 64 lbs.
Great interior cooking area.
Small footprint makes for easy storage and use in smaller spaces.
Very low price, especially given the quality.
Well constructed of sturdy steel.
Nonstick porcelain grates.
Wide variety of quality of life features.
A bit of an awkward shape to try and move around.
Dyna-Glo grills tend to be fairly large by comparison to other brands, and usually have a smoker attachment or something similar to justify that size. This makes them very sturdy, long lasting grills that have a bit of versatility to them for the tradeoff of being a little more expensive than the competition. Still, the price difference is small enough for what you get that you might consider it well worth the extra money for something like a smoker, which is harder to buy separately in any case.
Dyna-Glo products are well worth the price of admission, and few more so than the Signature Series of grills, most of which are quite affordable and come in a range of combination grill types. If you do decide to get this grill we would suggest to try out our ribeye steak recipe.
Kamado (or Kamado Joe Grill) is an interesting brand. They pride themselves on innovation and pushing the limits of what you can do with a grill. The construction of their grills is second to none, being highly insulated (the Akorn on this list is triple insulated) to make highly efficient grilling machines.
Unfortunately with each new innovation comes an exponential increase in price, with some Kamado charcoal grills coming in at well over $1000, for features like multiple racks for cooking (layers deep) and better ash catchers, among other things.
They are high quality, and you get what you pay for, but Kamado runs into a problem when they’re compared to higher end brands which boast a similar price and much larger grilling surfaces, with no drop in quality.
Weber is the go to brand for affordable grilling. Their construction is inexpensive without being cheap, and sturdy enough to stand up to most standard abuse. It doesn’t hurt that most of their products are warrantied up to 10 years.
The Weber Original is essentially the baseline for every charcoal grill Weber makes. All of the upgrades are variations on the same basic design. If you want good, affordable grills that are available almost anywhere (unlike some high quality, higher priced brands) Weber is a good go to.
If you’re looking for backyard grilling that’s cheap and good, then this weber grill hits the perfect sweet spot. Weber is a great grill for everyone from beginner charcoal grillers to masters of the char. Actually, every other grill on this list is great as well, but many are either more niche (like the portable models) or have extra features and a higher price point that may not be for everyone. Sometimes simple is the way to go, and the Weber Original nails those fundamentals of grilling.
Our best overall grill also comes in well the best under $200, making it the clear winner here. Most charcoal grills are $150 or less, with very few outliers. For the price range, this is hands down the best grill on the market. Some match it, but none come to mind that exceed it. The ash catcher’s easy cleaning alone is enough to recommend it over similarly large and sturdy grills that don’t have such a feature.
Interested in weber grills? See our Review to see what the top products are made of.
What Am I Looking Out For In A Charcoal Grill?
Charcoal grills, like any grill, share the same basic things you’re looking for. You want to look at how large the grill is and what it’s made of first and foremost. Other than that, anything else is extra…but you want a lot of these extras.
First, the basic:
You want sturdy materials that retain heat well and can stand up to the elements. Steel is good, and aluminum is acceptable. Cast iron (whether they’re coated with porcelain or not) for the grilling bars is the metal of choice here.
You want a good seal on the lid to keep the smoke in, but enough ventilation that your meat doesn’t end up tasting like nothing but smoke.
Finally, although a backyard grill is not like an RV grill that’s easy to move around and sturdy, there are a lot of backyard grills that are portable which you can easily move around your home.
Other than that, for a charcoal grill everything else is a plus. They’re pretty simple that way. The main one I want to go into detail on is the big one though:
Easy To Clean
There are a lot of bonuses to charcoal grilling once you get the hang of it, but the one thing that will always stay a downside is the cleanup. The mixture of ash and grease that accumulates in the bottom of a charcoal grill is its main sticking point. You want to make sure you’ve got a grill that you can easily drop the ask out of and doesn’t require too much scrubbing to clean up after.
Smoker attachments, tool racks, table space, storage shelving, and other similar extras are all optional but nice to have.
A charcoal grill is pretty simple overall; it’s a rounded chunk of metal with some legs on it for the most part. This makes them fairly cheap on average, so adding extras isn’t going to hit your wallet as much as other types of grills. You may as well look for one that will make your life easier if you can find it.