The Best Small Charcoal Grills

A small charcoal grill is a perfect way to enjoy a summer BBQ with friends and family. The small size makes it easy to transport, so you can take it anywhere – from the park to the beach. And by adding charcoal, you’ll get that classic smoky flavor that’s essential for any good BBQ.

The 10 Best Small Charcoal Grills
The 10 Best Small Charcoal Grills

The Best Small Charcoal Grills

For many people, the idea of grilling conjures up images of large grills that are permanently installed in outdoor kitchens. However, small charcoal grills offer a number of advantages that make them ideal for everyday use.

Small charcoal grills are practical and convenient while allowing you to entertain in almost any environment. Charcoal also provides a more authentic way to add flavor to your BBQ that many grill masters and professional chefs believe to be superior for cooking.

For all of these reasons, small charcoal grills are an excellent choice for anyone who loves to grill. In this article, we will review the best portable charcoal grills. Enjoy easy grilling in a limited space with easy transport. Ready? Let’s go!


Quick Overview of The Best Small Charcoal Grills


Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Firebox [Best Overall]

Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill And Side Firebox
Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill And Side Firebox
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The Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Firebox is perfect for Texas-style slow smoking. This unit is special in that you can use it for two purposes. One way to use it is as a small and portable, heat-controlled, and easy-to-clean charcoal grill. The other is to convert it into a side firebox for horizontal smoking!

If you have a Char-Grill Barrel Charcoal Grill, this side firebox is designed to mount to the side to make your own offset smoker. However, while you can convert this grill into a firebox, you cannot use it as a grill again once it’s been converted.

The Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill is made of steel and is powder coated for durability, while the cooking grates are made of everlasting cast iron. It has two adjustable dampers for precise temperature control and an adjustable air vent positioned perfectly under the charcoal box and close to the grill’s top providing excellent cross ventilation.

This portable charcoal grill has a removable ash catcher for easy clean-up. The easy dump ash pan and charcoal drawer allow for worry-free maintenance, ensuring your grill lasts for years to come.

PROS

  • Dual purpose
  • Durable structure
  • Large cooking surface area (250 square inches)
  • Removable, mess-free ash catcher
  • Beautiful wooden handle

CONS

  • Heavy unit
  • No wheels
  • Grates are very close to the hot coals
  • Cover not included

Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill 18″ [Runner Up]

Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill 18"
Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill 18″
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The Weber Original Kettle portable charcoal grill has a porcelain-enameled coating that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but is also quite effective at retaining heat. The porcelain enameled lid and bowl prevent rusting and peeling while retaining heat and providing a consistent cooking temperature that you can depend on. You can control the temperature gauge by adjusting the damper.

The plated steel cooking grate is durable, easy to clean, and can hold 9 burgers at a time, making it easy for you to host backyard BBQ parties for all your friends!

One of the best things about this grill is its cleaning system. The one-touch mechanism helps move all the debris and ash into the ash catcher. Whether you are a seasoned expert or a beginner just getting started with charcoal grilling, this portable charcoal grill will serve you right.

PROS

  • Quick to assemble
  • Maintains internal temperature
  • One-touch cleaning system makes cleaning easy
  • Heat shield prevents handle from getting too hot

CONS

  • Catcher takes effort to remove

PK Grills Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker Combo [Editors Pick]

PK Grills Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker Combo
PK Grills Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker Combo
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Are you ready to experience the best of both worlds? Buckle up as we take you through what we think is one of the best portable charcoal grills out there.

Grilling and smoking are two different methods to prepare delicious food. Smoking utilizes indirect heat to prepare your food slowly and gives the meat a delicious smoky flavor, while grilling uses high heat to cook food quickly. So, if you want the best portable charcoal grill that can help you shift from one method to another, the PK Grills Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker is the best charcoal grill for you.

Made of cast aluminum, this grill offers excellent heat conduction and is rust-proof, durable, and most importantly, lightweight. The smoker also easily detaches from its stand, making transportation a walk in the park. Plus, it has a huge cooking area that can conveniently grill a whole turkey!

PROS

  • Easy set up
  • Portable grill
  • Works for both grilling and smoking
  • Provides excellent heat conduction
  • Made with lightweight and rust-free aluminum

CONS

  • Lid doesn’t attach tightly

Fox Outfitters Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill [Best Small Budget]

Fox Outfitters Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill
Fox Outfitters Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill
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This grill pushes the limits when it comes to size, but doesn’t compromise on quality. If you’re on a tight budget, the Fox Outfitters Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill is a great option.

This charcoal grill will challenge your idea of how small a portable grill can really go. This folding charcoal grill comes in a small nylon bag that folds up to the size of a notebook! Plus, unfolding and setting up this grill takes no longer than a few minutes. Talk about a made-to-move grill!

The best thing about this BBQ grill is that it weighs only 4.8 pounds. But just because it is light and compact doesn’t mean the grill lacks performance. It isn’t built for heavy iron pans but this grill can serve you well with a cooking area of 144 square inches, fitting either five burgers or 12 hot dogs on this grill at one time. This isn’t enough grilling space for a huge party, but if you plan a small get-together with a few friends, this portable charcoal grill will support your adventure.

Its unique funnel shape accompanied by a reflective metal also increases the intensity of heat produced, contributing to a controlled internal temperature.

PROS

  • Completely Foldable
  • Compact and lightweight grill
  • Comes in a storage bag
  • Retains the heat for a smooth cooking process
  • Dishwasher safe

CONS

  • Not designed for a big party
  • May heat up while cooking

Kamado Joe Junior Grill [Best Luxury]

Kamado Joe Junior Grill
Kamado Joe Junior Grill
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The Kamado Joe Junior grill is our top luxury charcoal grill, and for good reason.

The thick walls of the Joe Junior trap heat and moisture which enhances flavor and limits the use of excess charcoal. And the deflector plate is made of ceramic, which makes cooking under indirect heat quite easy. It has a solid body made of stainless steel and ceramic components. It also has a self-cleaning process. All these parts come with a lifetime warranty, giving you trust in the longevity of the grill.

The Joe Junior features a slide-out ash drawer to simplify cleanup and cast iron air vents to maintain consistent cooking temperatures. The cooking area is almost 148.5 square inches, which is more than enough to prepare a turkey breast or delicious ribs.

This grill is truly amazing in so many ways, but it does come with one big con: it weighs 75 pounds. However, it features two handles coated with HDPE, which makes it quite easy for two people to transport this unit. Though it’s probably not the best portable charcoal grill, it is one of the best small charcoal grills out there.

PROS

  • Versatile grill
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Solid structure
  • Ceramic finishing
  • Easy to clean and maintain

CONS

  • Heavy unit
  • Doesn’t come with wheels

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
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The major pro to this grill is in the name. The Weber Go-Anywhere grill is all about portability with its folding mechanism. One of the best portable charcoal grills out there, it’s not only lightweight and foldable, but it can also collapse and become half of its size for easy transport. Including the stainless steel legs that swivel up and out to wrap around the lid!

This Go-Anywhere Grill has a nylon handle on top of the porcelain-enameled lid, providing a comfortable grip to move this piece of equipment from one place to another. The porcelain-enameled lid prevents the grill from rusting and provides good heat retention to keep the food warm and well-cooked. The innovative lid also features vent dampers with three holes that prevent any air from ruining the coals mid-cook.

This sleek charcoal grill has plated steel grill grates with a cooking surface of 160 inches. That’s just the right size to easily grill six burgers or two Porterhouse steaks at once. And the best part? This small charcoal grill weighs only 15 pounds and is about the size of a breadbox!

Unfortunately, the Go-Anywhere Grill doesn’t contain an ash pan, but you can easily flip the grill over to dump all the ashes out for a quick cleanup. Or, you can place an aluminum sheet on the grill’s bottom to collect any dripping grease and ashes.

If you’re a grilling enthusiast who likes to maximize cooking space while keeping your grill light and portable, the Go-Anywhere charcoal grill is the best portable charcoal grill for you.

PROS

  • Foldable design
  • Quick to set up
  • Excellent lid to maintain the temperature
  • Adequate cooking area
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Wire legs aren’t very sturdy
  • No ash pan

The Verdict


Things to consider when buying small charcoal grills

Okay, we’ve given you a lot to think about. Now we need to figure out which of these incredible charcoal grills best fits your needs.

We want to help you take the guesswork out of your purchase, so you can have confidence in your new grill and get started cooking some of these delicious recipes asap.

Here are some important factors to consider before buying the perfect charcoal grill.

Cooking Grate

The grill grates of a portable charcoal grill are one of its most imperative parts, after all, this is where you’ll be cooking your mouth-watering delicacies. Cooking grates are seen in a few different materials, mainly cast iron or stainless steel.

Stainless steel is a good option for a portable charcoal grill because it’s lightweight and therefore easy to transport. It’s also corrosion resistant and heats up rather quickly. Cast iron, on the other hand, is a lot heavier and the porous material is prone to rust if not cared for properly. However, cast iron is still one of the best cooking grate materials because of its high heat retention. Its ability to retain heat creates an even cooking temperature all throughout the cook that some grill masters swear by.

Another point worth mentioning is the cooking surface area. When choosing a small grill you must keep your ultimate needs in mind: cooking enough food at the same time. Think about how much food you might be cooking on a family outing or beach day. Will a grill that holds 6 burgers and a few hot dogs be enough room for you? Read the specs to find out how much grilling space your potential charcoal grill actually has.

Lid

A proper fitting lid is imperative to the results of your cook. Your food won’t cook properly if your grill’s lid isn’t tight-fitting. Heat will escape! When a lid doesn’t fit right it makes it hard to maintain the airflow around the food.

There may also be extra features built into some charcoal grill lids! A lid that comes with a lock is a plus as it allows for better storage and transportability of your grilling tools. Some even have a built-in lid thermometer! You’ll also want to keep air vents and handles in mind when looking for the perfect charcoal grill.

Air Vents

Vents, and adjustable dampers affect the overall quality and performance of a unit. Most charcoal grills have a dual venting system that supports healthy airflow and help manage the cooking temperature. Without proper vents and dampers, your temperature will get quite high, which is best for hot grilling but not low and slow cooking. If you want to cook large pieces of meat slowly you want a grill with sufficient dampers and vents.

Extra Features

Keep an eye out for bonus features that your next small grill offers. There are many features that manufacturers keep adding to grills of all kinds, it’s up to you to find out where your priorities lie. Would a built-in lid thermometer with a temperature gauge be useful for you? Would a one-touch cleaning system like the one the Original Kettle Charcoal Grill has save you time, allowing more time to spend with your family? What about an ash catcher, durable wheels, utensil hooks and a glass-reinforced nylon handle? Bonus features come down to personal preference, so first, decide what would be truly beneficial to you.

Dad Joke: What’s a social gathering where everyone has beef with everyone?

BBQ parties.

Features to consider when choosing a small charcoal grill

Construction Materials

Keep an eye out for solid structures built from long-lasting materials. Just because a grill is portable does not mean it should have a weak or disposable structure.

Another feature that holds lots of importance is the sturdiness of the handle and legs. These two characteristics can greatly impact the way you can use a grill for a purpose. Weak, flimsy legs and handles can ruin your cooking experience and may also lead to accidents that can result in injury.

Dimensions

The fact that you’re in the market for a portable charcoal grill probably means that you’re looking for something smaller in size that can be transported easily. There are different sizes of portable charcoal grills, some that fold up to the size of a notebook like the Fox Outfitters Folding Charcoal Grill or some that still require a little heavy lifting like the Kamado Grill. Be sure that the size of your new grill will fit in your vehicle and won’t take up too much space when set up.

Also, make sure to invest in a charcoal grill that doesn’t demand cumbersome assembling and disassembling. No one wants to waste time trying to understand the parts and their adjustments before putting their grill to work.

Also worth considering is the cooking area, or cooking space. Any grill with a cooking surface area of less than 350 square inches is an ideal candidate for a portable charcoal grill. You can easily utilize this unit to prepare food for almost five people at once.

Mounting

Mounting your portable grill is an important factor to keep in mind. Most portable charcoal grills are small enough to place on an outdoor table or tailgate, but what if you’re going somewhere that doesn’t have a place for you to set up? A stand or mount is an important feature that could change your entire grilling experience.

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 like the one on the Kamado Grill, you know it’s a good product that the company trusts will do its job.


Safety Tips for Small Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills of any kind should be handled with care and caution, especially small grills that you can move around. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when handling your new charcoal grill.

Sturdy Base

When setting up your portable charcoal grill, ensure you’re resting it on a sturdy base that will not fall over. Wiggle the base and put some weight on it before trusting it to hold your grill full of hot coals to prevent disaster.

Avoid High Traffic Areas

When choosing a spot to set up your portable charcoal grill, avoid high traffic areas or play zones. If you set up next to a group of people throwing a football around, for example, there’s a chance that the ball might knock your grill over, creating a very dangerous situation for those nearby.

Allow Ample Cool Time

The point of a portable charcoal grill is to bring it along for your adventures for outdoor cooking, whether that’s a camping trip, a beach day, or an afternoon at the park. It’s important to ensure the grill has cooled completely before attempting to disassemble or pack up your grill.

BBQ Hero Tip: Clean your charcoal grill after every use to avoid wear and tear and build-up. After your grill cools off, scrape off anything stuck on the cooking grates.

Small Charcoal Grill FAQs

Why should I buy a small charcoal grill?

A small charcoal grill is an excellent addition to your BBQ collection because it allows you to have delicious BBQ food with a smoky flavor while out and about. You can easily pack a small charcoal grill with you on a camping trip, beach day, or afternoon at the park.


Where can I buy a small charcoal grill?

You can find small charcoal grills at any hardware store or appliance store, but you’ll never find the kind of selection like you will online. By shopping online for a small charcoal grill you have the opportunity to read reviews, find pro and con lists, and hear from real customers about their experiences.


How do I properly care for a cast iron cooking grate?

To care for your cast iron cooking grate it’s important to clean it after every single use. Start by removing any stuck-on food, either by burning it off at a high temperature or scraping it off with a brush. Next, coat the entire cast iron cooking grate with a high smoke point oil and allow it to dry. That’s it!


What’s the difference between a charcoal grill and a gas grill?

Charcoal grills allow you to cook your food over hot coals on a rack above them. Gas grills are more complex in that they have many different parts like burners, hoses, tanks, and valves involved in the cooking process. Many enjoy the smoky flavor you get by cooking over charcoal briquettes that you wouldn’t get on a traditional gas grill. Furthermore, lots of moving parts on gas grills mean more could go wrong.


How do you light a charcoal grill?

The easiest way to light a charcoal grill is with a chimney starter. To use a chimney starter, simply add charcoal (either lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes will do) to the chimney and ignite with either a pre-made combustible or a wad of newspaper. Allow 15 minutes for all the charcoal to catch and it’s ready to use!