Do we have any BBQ purists in the house?
If so, you’ll appreciate the shower of benefits delivered by charcoal grills. The taste and aroma are unbeatable. As an inbuilt bonus, most charcoal grills are also compact and easy to transport.
So, we’ve curated a list of the perfect portable grills spanning a broad range of sizes and designs.
We fully appreciate there’s no one-size-fits-all solution so we have something for everyone today.
Before we fire into our reviews, though, how can you pick the best grill?
Well, focus on this lengthy list of considerations and you’ll find the right charcoal grill the easy way.
- Portability vs Cooking Area: Look for the diameter of the cooking grates and the overall cooking area expressed in square inches. What counts here is striking the right balance between room enough to cook and a grill that’s small and compact enough to use on the road. To this end, we’ve included models across a wide range of sizes. We understand fully that everyone has differing needs when looking for a portable grill. Linked to the overall size, you should also think about the weight
- Weight: If you’re hunting for a portable grill, you need it to be lightweight enough not to become burdensome. You should also think about whether or not you’ll need to carry the grill far when you’re out camping. If you like the look of a bulkier grill, all is not lost. Many models come with ways of streamlining transportation
- Wheels or Handle: Some of the larger grills we explore today still remain portable thanks to go-anywhere wheels and carrying handles. As with all aspects of this buying decision, buy firmly in line with your needs rather than expecting a boilerplate solution
- Materials: Charcoal grills are made from stainless steel, porcelain-coated ceramic, cast iron, and other materials. Again, personalize things. Do you hate cleaning up? Prioritize materials like steel ideal for easy cleaning. Are you looking for durability above all else? It’s got to be cast iron.
- Hinged Grate: A hinged grate gives you easy access to the ember bed without needing to remove the grate completely. This is a huge time-saver if you’re involved in a lengthy cookout
- Dampers: Dampers regulating airflow are central to efficient fuel burning. The best charcoal grills have dual dampers, one for exhaust and the other for intake
- Seamless Construction: Regardless of the shape of your grill, look out for models seamlessly constructed to minimize the chance of corrosion ruining your grill
- Tight-Sealing, Lockable Lid: A tight-fitting lid is particularly valuable if you intend to use your grill as a smoker. For anyone looking to transport their grill, make sure there’s a lockable lid to prevent any unwanted spillage
- Adjustable Grates: If you can adjust the grates, you can set up discrete temperature zones, ideal for a larger cookout with a variety of food
- Solid and Stable Base: Since you’ll be cooking with white-hot coals, it’s vital to hunt down a solid, stable grill. Make sure the frame is robust and the legs capable of bearing the grill’s weight
With that framework in place, you should have no snags finding the best portable grill for your needs.
We’ll get right down to business now with our reviews of the best 16 charcoal grills you can find. See if any of these make the right fit.
I. The 16 Best Charcoal Grills
1. Our #1 Pick: Weber Original Kettle
- Diameter: 22 inch
- Total cooking area: 363 square inches
- Dimensions: 39.5 x 22.5 x 27 inches
Weber is a household name in the grill space with just cause. The Original Kettle comes in many iterations, with this 22-incher finished in a black porcelain.
You can easily add charcoal to this grill as you’re cooking, making for a seamless BBQ experience.
With this grill, you can quickly and easily moderate the temperature without needing to lift the lid. All you do is tweak the dampers and you can dial the heat up or down with ease.
Arranging your charcoal over the full grate gives you the opportunity to apply both direct and indirect heat. The grill is designed to withstand high temperatures so you get a traditional barbecue that’s also very user-friendly.
Cooking surface is pretty spacious, with a total area of 363 inches at your disposal. You get enough space to rustle up 13 burgers according to the manufacturer’s estimate.
The lid hook means you don’t need to set the grill lid down on the ground, and there is also onboard storage for tongs and serving spoons.
While this is a reasonably bulky grill, the wheels allow you to shift it around the yard without straining yourself.
Most user testimony concerning this grill is positive, but we found some isolated complaints concerning the difficulty of setting the grill up, specifically inserting the legs.
2. Best Charcoal Grill with Smoke: PK Grills Grill and Smoker
- Diameter: 16 inch
- Total cooking area: 300 square inches
- Dimensions: 16 x 35 x 35.5 inches
PK Grills serves up a classic grill and smoker rolled into one, so how does this unit shape up?
The innovative capsule styling affords you great versatility and the ability to cook slow and low, or fast and scorching hot.
Made from rugged and lightweight aluminum, this grill can take some serious punishment without rusting out over time. The grill is guaranteed against this damage for a decade.
A generous 300-square inch cooking area gives you enough space to grill for the whole family as well as a couple of guests.
You can very quickly and easily detach this grill from the stand, making it a neat travel grill if you’re off tailgating or out in the country camping.
This grill has carried off multiple awards and garners consistently positive user reviews. The few complaints we found center on the fit and finish. This is our vote for the best charcoal grill with smoker, and gives you huge flexibility along with first-class grilling results.
The ability to apply both direct and indirect heat is known as 2-zone cooking, perfectly possible with the PK. This gives you wider latitude for whipping up even more delicacies on the grill.
With a 4-point venting system, you’ll also enjoy easy and precise temperature control completing a winning package from a highly trustworthy brand.
3. Upgrade Pick: Weber 18-Inch Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 18 inch
- Total cooking area: 240 square inches
- Dimensions: 18 x 23 x 35 inches
If you’re hunting for a budget charcoal grill, you might be surprised to discover one of the best cheap grill out there comes from specialist Weber. This 18-inch model comes with no lid, so you’ll need to go without or make provision for this separately. In return for this bare bones package, you’ll get one of the keenest priced grills that doesn’t stiff you on the performance front.
The manufacturer estimates you can grill up to 9 burgers on the plate. The total cooking surface area is 240 square inches. If you frequently cook for lots of guests or have a larger family, you may find this compact grill slightly too small.
The cooking grate itself is made from plated steel. It’s easy and forgiving to cook on and shouldn’t take too much effort to keep clean either.
The lid and bowl are made from porcelain enamel so they shouldn’t draw in too much heat or end up burning your fingers.
Dampers are neatly engineered and allow you to fine tune the temperature without lifting the lid. There is a hook onboard so you don’t need to stash the lid on the floor.
If you struggle with DIY and assembly, you’ll appreciate the interactive 3D instructions. This should streamline set-up wonderfully.
4. Best Kamado-style Grilling: Char-Griller Kamado Grill
- Diameter: 31 inch
- Total cooking area: 447 square inches
- Dimensions: 26.6 x 24.8 x 21.65 inches
For lovers of the kamado-style grill, the classic Char-Griller is one of the finest examples out there.
You can choose from a number of iterations. This model is the combined grill and smoker, giving you great versatility without costing the earth.
You get plenty of room here to cook for large numbers. The main cooking area measures up at 314 square inches. You’ll also benefit from a spacious warming rack pushing up the total surface area to an impressive 447 square inches. This grill makes a great choice for larger families and frequent entertainers.
The design of this grill means you’ll use less charcoal with less airflow inside and more of the juices sealed inside your meat.
Tweaking the temperature couldn’t be easier. The dampers are marked with numbers making it easy for you to dial up the heat.
The rugged tubular steel build should return years of faithful service, and this model is finished in understated graphite gray.
Lockable wheels make it easy to shunt the grill around if required, but it won’t roll or present a safety hazard when you’re cooking up a storm.
Surprisingly for a company with this reputation, customer service is pretty poor. The good news, though, is that this grill is such a strong performer you hopefully shouldn’t need to contact customer care in the first place.
5. Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Weber Smokey Joe Portable Grill
- Diameter: 14 inch
- Total cooking area: 147 square inches
- Dimensions: 17 x 14.2 x 14.5 inches
Next up is yet another entry from the inimitable Weber with the Smokey Joe portable grill. This dinky little unit is ideal if you often grill when you’re camping, fishing, or tailgating.
With a 14-inch diameter and a total cooking area of 147 square inches, this is not your best bet if you’re looking to host large cookouts on the regular. For smaller batches of grilled food, though, this little grill is well worth popping on your shortlist. It’s our favorite portable grill in a crowded class.
Made from lightweight, durable, and rust-proof aluminum, you get a grill that’s built to the stay the distance without degrading over time.
The lid and bowl hold the heat in so you’ll get the perfect cooking environment with no precious heat escaping as you grill.
Damper let you take quick and precise control of the temperature depending on what you’re whipping up on the grill.
Weighing less than 10 pounds, this space-saving and lightweight grill is a smooth fit for anyone looking for a mobile BBQ on a budget.
Cooking with this grill is quite an active and engaging experience. You’ll need to keep a close eye on things as you cook for best results.
6. Kamado Joe Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 18 inch
- Total cooking area: 245 square inches
- Dimensions: 46.5 x 28 x 48 inches
Kamado Joe make some pioneering grills that have a loyal following the world over. How does this charcoal grill stand and fall, then?
Well, the first thing that needs mentioning is the ruthless price tag. We’re here to save you time and money, so if you’re shopping for a cheap charcoal grill, we’d suggest scrolling away right now. If, on the other hand, you have a fluid budget and you appreciate the finer things in life, this half-moon shaped gem is a must.
This is the base model of a deep range and it doesn’t come with the cover bundled with some of the pricier models.
With a multi-level cooking system, you’ll be able to create an organized grill environment when you’re looking to whip up big batches of food in a hurry.
Super-precise airflow control lets you manipulate the temperature from 225F (ideal for smoking) up to 750F (the optimum temperature for searing). An integrated thermometer lets you keep a close eye on this at all times without needing any third-party kit.
Removing the ash tray makes this grill easier to use than older iterations of this classic style.
As long as you can stomach the stiff price tag, you’ll be investing in a charcoal grill that should return years of faithful service and flawless cooking. What’s not to love?
7. Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 20 inch
- Total cooking area: 218 square inches
- Dimensions: 19.5 x 26.8 x 21.8 inches
Next up comes a space-saving and compact charcoal grill from the world-famous Oklahoma Joe’s.
The Rambler is a rock-solid steel grill that’s small enough to slip in the trunk of your car and use when you’re tailgating, fishing, or camping. You also benefit from a reasonably generous 218 square inches of cooking surface.
Built with cast iron grates, you can impart a trademark sear to your steaks without them catching on to the grill.
The tray can be lowered or raised so you can cook to your heart’s content without straining your back.
Airflow is quick and easy to manipulate so you can stay in complete control when you pop your chef’s hat on.
The oversized ash pan should keep you going for hours. This is easy to remove and ditch for fuss-free cleanup.
This is another company that makes first-rate products but suffers from a reputation for atrocious customer service. On the plus side, this grill is such a fine example that you shouldn’t need to call in for assistance in the first place.
8. Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 22 inch
- Total cooking area: 363 square inches
- Dimensions: 30 x 48 x 43.5 inches
Weber serves up another high-performing charcoal grill in the shape of the Performer Deluxe.
The first thing to note is that the gas-powered ignition system requires a propane tank that doesn’t come included. Budget for this and purchase one separately if you don’t already have some at home.
The 22-inch grill offers you a total overall cooking area of 363 square inches, a good fit for couple and small families.
There’s a thermometer built in so you can keep close tabs on temperature. This is easy to change in line with what you’re grilling.
A one-touch cleaning system lets you quickly and easily remove the oversized ash catcher. This is a very user-friendly charcoal grill and makes a great choice for beginners, especially with the convenience of the ignition system.
You can access 3D assembly instructions in-app if you struggle with putting things together. This is a small but welcome touch.
Overall, this is one of the best small charcoal grills on the market. It looks great and gives you the opportunity to grill like a pro even if you’re a complete amateur.
9. Char-Griller Patio Pro
- Diameter: 21 inch
- Total cooking area: 250 square inches
- Dimensions: 31 x 21 x 44 inches
Char-Griller has a deep bench of superb grills including the Patio Pro, a pocket-friendly and elegant grill that punches above its weight.
Fashioned from rugged steel, you’ll have no concerns about lifespan if you invest in this affordable premium grill.
Cooking surface area is reasonably compact at 250 square inches, so this doesn’t make the best choice if you often cook up large batches when you’re entertaining. For singles, couples, and smaller families, it’s a neat fit, though.
The grates are made from cast iron so you’ll be searing your steaks like a chef with the grill making things easy on you.
The wooden handle is designed to remain cool to the touch, and this grill makes a perfect addition to any patio or deck area.
A pair of wheels makes it easy for you to shift the grill around if required. These lock into place for your security when you’re grilling.
Air vents on the bottom and sides of the grill help you to alter the temperature on-demand.
Several disgruntled users complain about the lack of transparency with instructions, but with this niggle set aside, you’re looking at one of the best charcoal grills out there. Even better? This is one of the more affordable grills on our shortlist, too.
10. Masterbuilt Gravity Series Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 25 inch
- Total cooking area: 560 square inches
- Dimensions: 24.7 x 54.1 x 52 inches
Masterbuilt is a highly reputable brand in the grilling vertical, and with the Gravity Series, you get all the expertise of this company rolled into one hard-hitting unit.
This base model, the Gravity Series 560, is certainly not cheap, but it’s less than half the price of its bigger brothers in a deeply impressive lineup. In return for the savings you’ll make with this model, you’ll need to do without the cover and warming rack bundled on the upscale models.
You won’t be faced with a tedious wait when you’re hungry for barbecued food. You’ll have this grill up to 225F in just 7 minutes, just the ticket for some slow smoking. For more immediate results, the Masterbuilt will hit a staggering 750F in just 13 minutes, allowing you to sear and finish your food like a pro.
The innovative gravity-fed hopper can take enough fuel to keep this grill going all day long, making for a seamless grilling experience and letting you focus on the food not grill maintenance.
Although you’ll benefit from WiFi connectivity and smart control, the grill is incompatible with newer 5GHz WiFi networks, running only on 2.4GHz networks. Aside from this small hiccup, you’re getting an exceptional charcoal grill that’s built to last, even if you need to dig deep for the privilege.
11. Weber 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 22 inch
- Total cooking area: 363 square inches
- Dimensions: 25 x 22.5 x 39.5 inches
As should now be abundantly clear, Weber has a stranglehold on the grill space with a welter of excellent models all coming with their own benefits.
This 22-grill makes a wise investment for smaller families looking for a classic kettle-style grill that’s portable enough to wheel around the yard without undue effort.
The cooking surface area totals 363 square inches, pretty impressive for a smaller BBQ. To put this into perspective, you should have space for over a dozen burgers on this thing at full capacity.
The porcelain enamel build traps the heat inside with none of it seeping out thanks to the airtight seal.
You use the dampers to control the temperature on this grill, and most users review overall ease of use favorably.
As with all Weber charcoal grills, you’ll appreciate the one-touch cleaning system. Remove and empty the ash catcher from time to time and that’s about the extent of the upkeep required with this thing.
This model doesn’t come with a cover, but in return it’s priced very competitively. Get everything you need and nothing you don’t with this Weber, a worthy contender for the best charcoal grill for small families.
12. Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 28 inch
- Total cooking area: 816 square inches
- Dimensions: 60.2 x 50.5 x 28.2 inches
The Dyna-Glo charcoal grill gives you an enormous total cooking surface of 816 square inches. This is the combination of a primary cooking area of 576 square inches and a secondary space measuring 250 square inches.
With a removable firebox divider inside, you can cook with single or dual zones depending on your needs. This is a highly versatile grill that’s a great choice for beginner and more experienced grillers alike.
Both the lid and the firebox are double-walled so the heat stays locked inside searing your food rather than escaping into the air.
The ash pan is reasonably large, so you won’t be endlessly emptying it. It slides out for easy ash disposal and stress-free grilling.
There is a cover available to protect your grill, but you’ll need to buy it separately. Considering the reasonable price point, we feel this is fair enough.
As you would expect from a grill with such a large cooking capacity, it’s correspondingly large and heavy, weighing well over 100 pounds.
13. BioLite Fire Pit
- Diameter: 27 inch
- Total cooking area: 363 square inches
- Dimensions: 23 x 14.9 x 15.2 inches
BioLite serves up a powerful but compact charcoal grill in the form of the Fire Pit.
This is a smokeless wood-burning fire pit allowing you to load up the charcoal and enjoy a traditional BBQ experience. You can choose to use wood in place of charcoal with this model, giving you total flexibility.
You get a power pack bundled with the Fire Pit, but you can also take control of the fan intensity using the free app.
The striking transparent mesh allows you to experience the raw power of the flames up close and personal. This grill doesn’t just help you cook great food, but it also makes a real conversation piece when you have guests over.
If you’re looking to treat yourself to the best charcoal grill you can find for the approaching summer months, you can’t go wrong with the BioLite Fire Pit.
Ideal for permanent use or portable grilling, this multipurpose gem is one of the most versatile models on our shortlist.
14. Heston Blumenthal Everdure Portable Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 14 inch
- Total cooking area: 115 square inches
- Dimensions: 9 x 13.7 x 16.7 inches
World-famous chef Heston Blumenthal, known for cooking with liquid nitrogen, puts his name to the Everdure portable charcoal grill, but is it any good?
Choose from a handful of bright colorways to inject some fun into grilling.
The integrated base plate lets you comfortably pop this grill down on just about any surface and safely start cooking.
With an integrated food tray and preparation board, this grill is a superb travel solution if you often cook when you’re camping, fishing, hiking, or tailgating.
Equally easy to clean as it to use, this charcoal grill is a cinch to use even for total beginners, and it’s also very keenly priced considering the celebrity endorsement.
15. KitchenAid 60-Inch Barrel Charcoal Grill
- Diameter: 60 inch
- Total cooking area: 851 square inches
- Dimensions: 60.1 x 51.4 x 28.9 inches
KitchenAid is a highly reputable brand renowned for producing a variety of kitchen appliances and kitchenware with a commendable price/performance ratio. How does this charcoal grill shape up, then?
The key selling point with this grill is the enormous cooking area. A 60-inch barrel-shaped grill, the total cooking surface measures 851 square inches, giving you plenty of room to rustle up a large spread.
The cast-iron grill doesn’t need seasoning, so you can get grilling right out the box.
The trays are height-adjustable, and you can quickly and precisely alter the temperature to suit the food you’re grilling. You can keep your eye on the temperature thanks to the onboard gauge, meaning there’s no need to rely on a thermometer for the job.
Easy access via the front door ensures you won’t break your stride and need to fuss around when you’re surrounded by hungry guests.
As you would expect from such a substantial grill, this is quite heavy and bulky. If you’re looking for a portable cooking solution, this model doesn’t make sense. For a set and forget solution in the back yard or on the patio, though, it’s hard to beat this beast. It’s a strong contender for the best charcoal grill overall, despite the slight inconvenience of that huge form factor.
16. Char-Griller Grill and Smoker
- Diameter: 22 inch
- Total cooking area: 570 square inches
- Dimensions: 42 x 29 x 50 inches
Last but by no means least in today’s comprehensive roundup of the best charcoal grills is another entry from the ever-reliable Char-Griller.
The Super Pro is a wheeled and reasonably compact grill with a surprisingly spacious cooking grate. With a total surface area of 570 square inches, you have plenty of room to cook up a feast for a large family.
The grates are made from cast iron, ideal for your searing requirements. You can impart a perfect edge to your steaks and burgers with ease using this grill.
The hood comes with an integrated heat gauge, allowing to grill with precision without relying on third-part equipment.
You’ll find adding charcoal a cinch without needing to completely remove the grate. The overall grilling experience is seamless, and this unit is a smart choice for beginners not looking to grapple with a sharp learning curve but appreciative of the benefits of cooking with charcoal.
We could find nothing but praise for this grill, but the company’s customer care has a universally poor reputation. Despite this small gripe, this heavy-grade steel grill is one of your best bets for an easy entry into charcoal grilling.
1) What is direct heat when grilling?
This is the term used to describe cooking your food directly over the bed of charcoal. Setting things up to cook with direct heat is straightforward. Spread lit charcoal across the full surface of the cooking area in a single layer. The wide heat zone created will grill your food consistently and evenly.
2) What is indirect heat when grilling?
If the food in the grill is shielded from full exposure to the heat, this is known as using indirect heat. To achieve this method, you spread lit charcoal on opposite sides of the food on the grill. The center then becomes a zone of indirect heat
3) What’s the best way to light charcoal?
If you have a larger pile of charcoal to ignite, you could consider a charcoal chimney. If you’re planning to use a lighter, use an electric lighter to avoid the taint of lighter fluid entering the equation.
4) How should I get rid of the used charcoal after grilling?
You should not ditch ash on the ground as it can burn the feet of pet and kids when it mixes with water. Instead, wrap up the ash from your briquettes in some foil and throw it in the trash. You can compost lump charcoal ash, but avoid throwing this directly onto your garden beds as lye burns.
5) How often do I need to clean my charcoal grill?
Best practice is to clean your grill after every use. You should remove any residual charcoal and ash. As mentioned, when ash mixes with water it forms lye, a highly corrosive burning agent. If there is not ash collection system onboard, think about a shop vac to streamline cleaning your charcoal grill. By staying on top of upkeep and cleaning your grill every time you finish using it, you’ll never need to spend long scouring it.
6) How can I stop embers flying out of the grill and onto my decking?
Ember kickout is tiresome and potentially dangerous. Take sensible precautions by sliding a grill mat underneath the grill if you’re cooking near combustible surfaces.
7) What’s the difference between briquettes and lump charcoal?
Briquettes are packed with additives and fillers which can impart a chemical taste to your food. Lump charcoal burns slower, but it contains no additives, and it also leaves less ash.
8) How much charcoal should I use?
There are a handful of variables that impact the quantity of charcoal required, including the size and type of your grill, the temperature, and the time. Start with a reasonable amount of fuel but make sure you have plenty more on hand.
9) How can I control the temperature on a charcoal grill?
One method of controlling temperature is to alter the amount of fuel you use. Alternatively, you can tweak the airflow using dampers. The wider the vents, the more airflow and oxygen become available. Manipulating the airflow is the most common method of quickly and easily altering temperature when you’re cooking. Some models come with numbers on the dampers to make things easier for you.
10) How long does it take the charcoal coals to cool down completely?
If you’ve been grilling properly, it could take from 24 to 48 hours for the coals to be totally cool. Suffocate your grill when you’ve finished cooking but severing the airflow will starve the grill of oxygen and prevent further combustion. Next, allow the coals to cool naturally. Adding water will turn the ash into lye.
Well, if you arrived here today with no idea about how to choose the best charcoal grill, or whether to invest in one of these BBQs in the first place, you should now be much better placed to decide.
We included a variety of grill sizes so you should find something in line with your needs. We also targeted grills at varying price points so there should be something for everyone here today.
Now, we’re just starting out and immediately engaging on a large content campaign, so we’ll be bringing you informative guides and useful, impartial reviews daily. Watch this space, bookmark Madiba before you head off, and be sure to pop back soon.