Are you looking for the best charcoal grill? Here's full review of 5 best charcoal grills and unbiased buying guide.
There are few things as enjoyable as spending a summer afternoon in your backyard or in a campsite, surrounded by friends and family while enjoying delicious BBQ, burgers and other meat cuts you cooked yourself.
The smoky taste of a grilled to perfection meat, a refreshing beer and the laughter of the people you hold dear.
Is there anything more idyllic?
Owning a charcoal grill opens the door to all kinds of opportunities and fun adventures. It’s a way of getting closer to the people you’re close to and getting to know new people.
Best of all?
What used to be an expensive, almost unaffordable luxury is now available to people of all budgets, giving you the chance to own your own charcoal grill.
This guide is aimed to make things even easier.
In this article, we’ll cover the things you need to keep in mind when purchasing a charcoal grill, as well as some tips and tricks to help you keep your grill in top shape for as long as possible and more. Not only that, but we’ll also analyze some of the best charcoal grills the market has to offer. [AMC1]
Let’s get started!
What Makes Charcoal Grills So Special?
You may be asking yourself this question. After all, isn’t charcoal just one more way of producing heat?
Charcoal grills are different from gas or propane grills because they can’t produce a constant flame.
A gas grill, for example, will keep a continuous flame running for a long time, or at least until there’s gas available. The same goes for a propane grill.
A charcoal grill, on the other hand, slowly consumes its fuel. It burns slow at first, strong once things really get going and slow once again once the charcoal is about to be completely consumed. This can seem like a disadvantage, since there’s less control involved, but this actually allows the food to cook in a truly unique environment, giving you the chance to experience all kinds of flavors and textures in your food.
Things To Keep In Mind When Purchasing a Charcoal Grill
First things first, it really helps to know what you’ll be cooking the most in your charcoal grill. Some meat cuts require more heat, others require more space, others will need to be smoked, etc.
So first things first, make a list of the kind of things you plan on cooking the most and then continue reading:
Grilling or Smoking
If you’re only planning on grilling meat, there’s no need to worry about your grill being able to work as a smoker.
However, if you plan on smoking your meat, make sure your grill is large on the inside, both sideways and upwards, which will give you plenty of room to smoke.
Finally, some grills actually have smoker functions, which will make smoking meat a lot easier.
Size is important for more than just smoking. After all, the larger the grill the bigger the cooking surface, which means you’ll be able to cook a lot more meat.
However, a large grill isn’t always the most portable so if you plan on taking your grill with you, you may want to go for something smaller.
You should always keep in mind the height of your grill, as some particular meat cuts require a lot more space, volume wise, than others.
While all charcoal grills use charcoal to heat up, which means the temperature is roughly the same between one and other, some of them come with air vents that let you control just how hot it gets inside the grill.
Some grills also let you control the height of the cooking surface, which in turn can help you achieve different cooking results.
There are many other features to keep in mind, so make sure to read on everything a grill has to offer before choosing the one that’s perfect for you
While a grill may seem perfect at first, you’ll find that they can always be improved. Always make sure to check the reviews of the grill you like to see what people are purchasing to use with it, so you can be well prepared.
Types of Charcoal Grills
Not all grills are alike. As we mentioned, there are propane grills, gas grills and charcoal grills but did you know that even charcoal grills are split into different kinds?
Here, we’ll cover as many of them as possible:
Portable: Small and easy to move around, these are usually square shaped and have collapsible legs that allows them to be placed anywhere. They’re usually the smallest kind, but they can be used just about everywhere.
Brazier: A very traditional and simple kind of grill, braziers are one of the most affordable as well as straightforward. Most portable grills will be braziers, but not all braziers are portable, as some can be pretty large.
This type of grill usually has no features, just a tray for the charcoal and a grate on top. As such, these are perfect for direct cooking and little else.
Kettle Grill: One of the most traditional types of grills out there, this is the image that pops in your mind when you think “charcoal grill”.
With a round design that includes a charcoal tray, a lid and a grill, these are perfect for cooking all kinds of things, as long as they fit there.
Some even have vents, so they’re perfect for smoking.
Cart Grill: Another popular models, these feature a rectangular design and wheels, which makes them easy to move around. They’re usually too large to take with you, but they’re perfect for backyards and the like.
Thanks to the rectangular shape, this kind of grill also features ash drawers, storage shelves, side trays and more.
Barrel Grill: While this type of grill, made out of a 55 gallon barrel, may not look like much, but it works beautifully. This is one of the best kinds of grills out there if you plan on smoking your meat, and they usually offer a lot more cooking room than other grills.
Ceramic Cookers: Usually confused for kettle grills, these egg—shaped grills have a long history that can be tracked back all the way from Japan.
The peculiar shape makes them perfect for smoking, grilling and even barbecuing, and they’re one of the most durable grills out there.
Top 5 Best Charcoal Grill Reviews
A single look at this grill will tell you what you need to know about its durability because the Old Smokey is as sturdy as it looks.
At only 20 pounds, this grill made out of aluminized steel is highly portable and its minimalistic design guarantees there’s no paint that can peel off with time and makes it very easy to clean.
The ‘egg like’ design is perfect for smoking, though the grill itself doesn’t come with a temperature gauge nor any place to put one.
In fact, the simple design means that there’s not a single accessory or add-on you can simply attach to the grill, which is a big downside unless you want to keep things as minimal as possible.
The size makes it perfect for a medium to large family, though it’s not good for grilling small portions since it requires a lot of coal to get going. That said, if you’re looking for a large cooking surface, you’ve got it!
It’s important to keep in mind that, because of its weight, the grill does feel flimsier than others, but it can last for a long time and it works like a charm.
Another great characteristic of the Old Smokey is its price! Making it a perfect choice for those of you who want a high-quality grill you can take everywhere!
- Perfect for smoking and barbecueing
- No attachments or accessories
- No temperature gauge
- Not good for cooking small portions
If you’re looking for a comfortable barrel grill that has plenty to offer while still being in a comfortable price range, the Char-Broil Gourmet 800 is for you.
With 840 sq. inches of cooking surface alone, two grates with adjustable height, a temperature gauge, hooks and shelves, this grill offers it all at a rather affordable price.
The cooking grates are cast iron, so they need to be seasoned before using, as this will help them become non-stick and reduce cleaning time for you, which is definitely a pro because this grill isn’t easy to clean at all.
Luckily, that’s about the only difficult thing when it comes to this grill, as it’s easy to use and, even better, easy to assemble.
With enough room to cook 20 hamburger patties at the same time, this grill sure is a champ when it comes to getting the most bang from your buck!
- Very large
- Comes with a variety of accessories
- Needs to be seasoned thoroughly before using it
- Hard to clean
- Cast iron grates are a little loose, so they require to be tightened every few uses
A small and portable grill that looks as good as it works, this portable charcoal grill is one of the smallest barrel grills you’ll find but also one of the most convenient when it comes to function and portability.
It’s also one of the most affordable items in this list, so if you’re looking for a portable grill that fits even small budgets, this is a perfect place to start.
There’s a lot of complaint about this grill being difficult to assemble and, let’s face it, the attached instructions do little to help. In fact, they can actually confuse you more, but once you have everything in order you won’t have any problems with this grill.
Perfect for cooking two good sized steaks, this is a wonderful grill for a single individuals or young couples who enjoy camping and getting away from it all. It’s also a great option for people living in apartments who still want to enjoy the grilling life.
Though simple, the grill works wonderfully with straight to the point recipes, as you can’t really use it to smoke, even if it does have an air vent.
It also comes with a side shelf, which we found very useful.
There seems to be an issue with grease and ashes falling/leaking from this grill, but that seems to be more of an assembly problem than anything else, so make sure to follow the instructions to the T and to have help while putting this together to avoid any issues.
- Simple but useful
- Made with high quality materials
- Compact and portable
- Looks great
- Very difficult to assemble
- Not good for a family, unless it’s a family of two
- No grease hole or tray
An all-time favorite, the Weber is usually one of the most popular models wherever it’s being sold and it’s easy to see why.
Affordable yet very useful, this kettle grill offers 363 square inches of cooking surface and is as sturdy as they come.
Easy to assemble, thanks to the readily available instructions, easy to clean, thanks to its “one touch cleaning system” that collects the ash quickly and efficiently, this grill is perfect for those who want to grill as simply as possible.
Perhaps the best thing about this grill is its performance, as it allows you a good level of control when it comes to temperatures and gives you a lot of versatility when cooking, as it can be used as a smoker and a grill, both for direct grilling or indirect cooking.
Not everything is perfect when it comes to this grill, though, as we’ve found that the lid handle can get really hot and that the paint can chip rather easily, ruining its otherwise pristine looks.
The biggest problem, however, comes in the shape of rust, as this grill doesn’t handle humidity at all, so make sure to purchase a cover alongside the grill to prevent any accidents.
- Easy to clean
- Very practical
- Works great
- Looks great
- Handles get very hot
- Rusts easily if not taken proper care of
As the name implies, this is the grill you get when you’re planning on grilling a lot and for a long time.
Sturdy, though hard to assemble, the Expert Grill looks like it means business and it does, thanks to its 372 sq.in cooking surface (perfect for cooking up to 20 patties at the same time) and its cast iron grates.
Not only that, but this grill comes with an sizeable charcoal pan that can be moved up and down to change the temperature intensity and a temperature gauge to keep track of things.
This is a rather heavy grill, particularly since it also comes with a foldable side table and a storage shelves, but the wheels do make it easier to move.
Perhaps the most peculiar thing about this grill is the charcoal chamber, which looks like something out of the steam era, but works very well. (That said, it doesn’t make cleaning easy)
Another peculiar characteristic is that this grill comes with a built-in bottle opener, perfect to crack open a cold one with the boys.
- Plenty of cooking space
- Adjustable charcoal tray
- No vents
- Hard to clean
Old Smokey #22 Charcoal Grill
Talya, like all members of the HomeDesignX team, is enamored by all things related to cooking and eating. She’s written cookware articles for numerous publications before working with her lifelong friend Jessica to create their very own website on cookware.
She’s co-written a book on induction cooktops, and enjoys making clean, vegan meals for her family.