The Best Charcoal Grills

There’s nothing quite like the smoky flavour of charcoal-grilled meat. While gas grills are convenient, they simply can’t match the flavour that a charcoal grill produces. If you’re looking for the most flavorful and juicy meat, a charcoal grill is the way to go.

Best Charcoal Grills
The Best Charcoal Grills

The Best Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills have a number of other advantages. For one thing, they’re typically more affordable than gas grills. And because they don’t require a constant supply of propane or natural gas, they’re perfect for camping and other outdoor activities.

Charcoal grills are a popular choice for outdoor cooking, and it’s easy to see why. There’s nothing quite like the smell of food cooking on an open fire. While charcoal grills do require a bit more effort to get started, the results are definitely worth it.

In this article, we have reviewed the five best charcoal grills for you. Plus, the buying guide below will help you with the selection process.

So, if you can’t wait to enjoy some grilling, dive right in!


Quick Overview


Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill [Editors Pick]

Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill
Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill
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The Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill is a large charcoal grill, perfect for hosting BBQ parties or even a family reunion. There is a total of 764 square inches of cooking surface area between the 511 square inch primary cooking grate and 253 square inch warming rack. Both cooking grates are made of steel wire; the primary cooking grate is porcelain-enamelled while the warming rack is chrome-plated.

The height-adjustable charcoal pan with front door access makes adding charcoal and controlling the temperature simple and straightforward. The charcoal pan can hold up to 7.5 pounds of coal at a time and with bottom vents, it keeps the flame lit for hours. Below the charcoal pan is a removable ash pan that allows for easy cleanup after use.

This charcoal grill weighs around 72 lbs. so it is equipped with two wheels for easy maneuvering and transporting. Since this is such a large grill, it is equipped with tons of space for storage and prep. Two collapsible side tables provide space for preparing meat or placing your seasonings and grilling accessories. Under the right side table there is a paper towel holder and all along the grill are multiple “S” hooks that hang all of your grill tools with loops. This grill will have you well on your way to preparing the best meat with a delicious smoky flavor for all of your guests.

PROS

  • Large cooking surface
  • Height-adjustable charcoal pan
  • Removable ash pan for quick cleaning
  • Lots of storage space

CONS

  • Lengthy assembly process
  • Lid d0es not seal shut
  • Heavy grill

Masterbuilt Gravity Series Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo [Best Overall]

Masterbuilt Gravity Series Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo
Masterbuilt Gravity Series Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo
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The Masterbuilt Gravity Series Digital Charcoal Grill & Smoker brings versatility to a whole new level, allowing you to smoke, grill, sear, bake, roast and so much more, all in one place. The reversible cast iron grates let you choose between low and slow smoking or high heat searing on 560 square inches of usable cooking area, perfect for feeding large groups of people.

The digital control panel makes setting and managing the internal temperature easy, effortlessly reaching 225°F in 7 minutes or 700°F in 13 minutes. It has Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity so you can keep an eye on the grill temperature from your smartphone and its leave-in meat thermometer sends real-time temperatures of the inside of your meat as well. You’ll never have to open the lid until it’s time to serve!

The Masterbuilt Gravity Series features a gravity-fed charcoal hopper that holds a whopping 10 lbs. of lump charcoal or 16 charcoal briquettes for up to 15 hours of use in one go. Long gone are the days of continuously topping up your charcoal pan for long cooks.

PROS

  • Versatile grill and smoker
  • Digital temperature control
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • GravityFed Hopper

CONS

  • Material is not durable

Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill [Best Small Budget]

Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill
Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill
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The Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill is the best charcoal grill for those on a small budget who still want big results. This powder-coated steel body barrel-style charcoal grill and smoker is made for direct heat searing and low and slow smoking with an unmatchable smoky flavour.

The size of this grill is unbelievable for the price, with 950 square inches of total cooking surface area, you’ll be able to host large BBQ parties without worrying about space. Plus, the large cooking area allows you to create up to 3 fire zones at the same time. Or, pair with the Char-Griller Smoker Side Fire Box to turn this unit into an amazing offset smoker.

It features two dampers that allow for easy temperature control and the built-in thermometer on the lid lets you keep a close eye on the internal temperature. With a stylish wooden handle that remains cool to the touch and a wooden front and side table with accessory hooks, this grill will not only impress your guests but increase your overall grilling experience as well.

PROS

  • Fair price
  • Extra large cooking surface area
  • Converts into an offset smoker
  • Stylish cool-to-touch wooden handle

CONS

  • Lengthy assembly procedure
  • Lid doesn’t align perfectly

PK Grills Charcoal Grill & Smoker Combo [Best Luxury]

PK Grills Charcoal Grill & Smoker Combo
PK Grills Charcoal Grill & Smoker Combo
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The PK Grills Charcoal Grill & Smoker is a bullet-shaped capsule grill with a cast-aluminum cook chamber that is easy to set up and resistant to rust. It has four air vents that provide excellent airflow and cooking temperature control. This charcoal grill has an attractive design with user-friendly features, making this unit quite versatile for both experienced and novice grill users.

It’s designed to offer two-zone cooking where one zone grills on high heat and the other cooks low and slow with indirect heat. The primary cooking area of this grill is 360 square inches, and though it is not the largest grill on our list, it is still sufficient space to cook great BBQ for your family and friends. This portable charcoal grill comes with a convenient stand that can be removed for travel or storage, making it one of the best portable charcoal grills on the market.

What’s unique about this charcoal grill is its four-point venting system for even more temperature control. It features two adjustable air intake vents and two adjustable exhaust vents that allow you to take control of the airflow and temperature.

PROS

  • Two-zone heating design
  • Easy portability
  • Four-point venting system for more temperature control

CONS

  • Low heat retention
  • Small grill space

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill [Best for Beginners]

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
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The Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill is the best charcoal grill for beginners because it is an easy-to-use unit and more straightforward than most other grills. This 22-inch grill is perfect for a family who wants a budget-friendly grill that can meet all of their BBQ needs, able to hold up 13 burgers at once.

The first Weber kettle was first introduced in 1952, and following the same design, the Weber Original Premium Charcoal Grill is a perfect unit for your backyard BBQ party. It features a built-in thermometer to help you maintain and control the grill’s internal cooking temperature. It also features rust-resistant dampers that support a healthy airflow in and out of the system. This ventilation is necessary to keep balanced temperatures and ensure that the smoke remains stable around your food.

The porcelain-enamelled lid retains heat inside the grill and will not rust or peel if cared for properly. The grill features a one-touch cleaning mechanism and an ash catcher that makes disposing of spent charcoal a breeze. Overall, this Premium Charcoal Grill by Weber offers great temperature control, distributes heat evenly, and cooks your food to perfection.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Easy to clean
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Ash catcher may be difficult to remove

The Verdict

Well, there you have it, our list of the best charcoal grills to elevate your outdoor cooking experience. Here’s a recap.


Things to consider when buying a Charcoal Grill

There are tons of charcoal grills on the market, so how do you choose the best charcoal grill for you? To help you decide, we have some essential factors to consider before you make a purchase. So take a look and analyze!

Types

Unlike a gas grill, charcoal grills are available in a variety of shapes and styles. There are kettle grills, barrel grills, ceramic cookers, and also portable versions.

A kettle grill is a round unit with a domed lid, known to have circular cooking grates with excellent heat distribution. This is the most classic type of charcoal grill design and one that you will see quite frequently. The domed lid of the kettle grill is excellent for trapping smoke, effectively delivering a mouthwatering smoky flavour to your entire meal.

Barrel grills are large with a rectangular, barrel shape and can typically hold more food than any other grill because of their long shape. Barrel Grills are great smokers and usually have multiple air vents for maximum temperature control. However, because barrel grills tend to be larger, they do use more charcoal to support the large charcoal fire.

Ceramic cookers also use charcoal to grill, this type of charcoal grill includes the Big Green Egg and Kamado Grill. Ceramic is known to resist moisture and retain heat exceptionally well. Typically these charcoal grills are in an oval shape and are best for slow-cooking meat. Check out our guide on the Best Kamado Grills.

If you’re looking for a charcoal grill that you can easily transport to camping trips, tailgating events, or BBQ parties in the park, it might be worth investing in a portable charcoal grill. Check out our guide on the Best Small Charcoal Grills if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.

Vents for Airflow

When using a charcoal grill, you must carefully maintain the airflow coming in and out of the grill. This is imperative to keep the coals burning and support a high heat for a long period of time.

You will want to look for a charcoal grill with adjustable air vents, as this will allow you to have even more control over the temperature and your overall grilling experience. It also helps you shift from fast to slow cooking whenever you need it.

Thermometer

A charcoal grill without a thermometer is a true hassle. Look for a grill with a built-in thermometer and temperature gauge that gives an accurate temperature reading.

Some charcoal grills are also Wi-Fi compatible. Such grills make it easy for you to control and set the temperature using your smartphone. Plus, with the help of a meat probe, you can get the internal temperature of your meat without lifting the lid to check on it. The Masterbuilt Gravity Series Digital Charcoal Grill offers both digital temperature control and a meat probe thermometer, both of which are able to connect to your smartphone.

Maintenance and Cleaning

If your charcoal grill is made of durable, high-quality material, you won’t have to worry about rust, chipping, or peeling. Though it is important to maintain a regular cleaning habit of your new charcoal grill. Lucky for you, many grill brushes and cleaners are available to maintain the cooking grate and the body of a grill.

One feature that should be a non-negotiable when shopping for a charcoal grill is an easily removable ash catcher. This essential feature is located below the cooking space or below where you would add charcoal. The ash catcher is designed to catch the spent charcoal, keeping the ashes in one place, easy for you to remove and dump when you’re finished grilling.

Budget

You will find a wide range of charcoal grills in your search. Some are high-end models with a high price tag but exceptional features and performance to offer. On the other hand, some mid-range grills are also good for people who perform occasional grilling and don’t need the extra fancy features.

Whatever your budget is, we’re sure you will be able to find a charcoal grill that fits it. The Char-Griller Outlaw Charcoal Grill is a great charcoal grill for a small budget, while the Masterbuilt Gravity Series Digital Charcoal Grill has a higher price tag but a ton of specialty features that make it worth it.

BBQ Hero Tip: Don’t skip the preheat process! Before you start grilling it’s important to give your charcoal ample time to ignite and create an even flame with excellent heat distribution. This will greatly impact your finished product.

Features to consider when choosing a Charcoal Grill

There are a few more features to consider while searching for the best charcoal grill.

Construction Material

While comparing different models of charcoal grills, you should pay attention to the construction material of the unit. Your chosen grill should be made of a solid material that should not only provide a sturdy structure but also help in heat retention and ventilation.

Typically, charcoal grills are made of either stainless steel, cast iron, or aluminum. Stainless steel and aluminum are usually great options because they offer rust resistance and are easy to clean.

Cast iron, on the other hand, is a lot more durable and retains a lot more heat. However, cast iron has been known to rust easily and be harder to maintain.

Some grills are also made of ceramic which again offers excellent insulation. The good thing about a ceramic shell is that it stays warm for a long time.

Dimensions

When making your final decision in your hunt for a new grill, it’s important to think about how many people you will typically be cooking for. Cooking space varies from grill to grill and you must ensure the one you choose can accommodate your life. Typically, manufacturers will state, on average, how many burger patties or hot dogs a grill can hold at once. This is a great general guideline to base your decision on.

The great part about buying a large grill is that it will usually come with side tables for meal preparation and storage hooks and shelves built into it. These are handy features that will improve your overall cooking experience.

On the other hand, you must ask yourself if you really need a full-size charcoal grill or if a compact design would suffice. If you live in an apartment or a shared property, a compact design with easy portability is a good option. This type of grill can be easily packed with you to join any adventure you find yourself on as well.

It’s best to evaluate your purpose of grilling and available space before you make your final decision.

Warranty

When you make a big purchase like this one, it’s important to consider what kind of warranty you’re protected by. Sometimes things go wrong and you have no control over the outcome. There may be faulty parts, or maybe you’re just not happy with your decision. This is where a warranty comes in handy. Also, when a company offers a free lifetime warranty you know it’s a good product that the company trusts will do its job.


Safety Tips for Charcoal Grills

Grills of any kind should be handled with care and caution, whether it’s a charcoal grill or a gas grill. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when handling your new grill.

Place Grill Away From Home

Charcoal Grills get extremely hot and should be placed far away from your home or any structural or flammable objects. Be prepared with a fire extinguisher on hand at all times.

Let Coals Cool

After you’ve finished grilling, you will likely still have hot coals in your grill. It’s important to ensure that your coals have been completely extinguished before disposing of them. Start by closing all vents in your grill to remove oxygen from the equation, then douse the coals in water to ensure they’ve been completely put out.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

While grilling, ensure you’re wearing proper grill attire. Avoid articles of clothing with long sleeves or any loose clothing that might get too close to the hot coals. If you’re wearing an apron, ensure that the strings are tied in the back and not hanging in front of you.

BBQ Hero Tip: Regulate the temperature of your charcoal grill using the air vents and dampers. The more oxygen you allow into the grill, the bigger the flame and the hotter it will get. If you’re trying to reach high temperatures, leave the vents open.

Charcoal Grill FAQs

What’s the best way to ignite charcoal?

The best and easiest way to ignite your charcoal is by using a chimney starter. A chimney starter eliminates the need for lighter fluid and the yucky taste and smell that accompanies it. Simply place some crumpled-up paper in the chimney starter then fill it with charcoal. Light the paper and wait for the charcoal to catch on fire. That’s it, you’ll be well on your way to start cooking.


Are portable charcoal grills worth it?

Portable grills are definitely worth it if you plan on doing a lot of camping or simply want a grill that you can bring with you to outdoor events. They produce the same great smoky flavour and are easily transportable.


What’s the difference between lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes?

Both lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes are viable fuel source options for a charcoal grill. Lump charcoal is a more raw form of charcoal and is simply pieces of wood burned into carbon. Charcoal briquettes are further processed and include additives that help with easier ignition and longer burn time. Lump charcoal is best for high heat grilling while charcoal briquettes are best for a more controlled, low and slow method.