Some of the best things come in small packages. For your wife, that may mean a robin’s egg blue box, but for us, it means a charcoal grill! Especially portable charcoal grills. Portable charcoal grills are practical and convenient while allowing you to entertain in almost any environment.
A BBQ party is supposed to be fun and all about food. No food, no party, right? So thanks to small charcoal grills, you and your friends can feast almost anywhere: the backyard, the campsite, the park, or even the beach.
Excited yet? In this article, we will review the ten best portable grills that use charcoal. We also include a bonus buying guide to help you source the best portable grill for you.
Ready. Set. Go!
10 Best Small Charcoal Grills
So why charcoal grills? Why choose a charcoal grill instead of other options? Well, there are many pros to a charcoal grill, and the first–and let’s be honest, the most important–is affordability.
Charcoal is an inexpensive fuel source that can prepare a drool-worthy meal in a short time. In addition, it adds a unique smoky flavor to your food that is quite unmatchable.
Secondly, charcoal grills are easy to operate. They are a great tool for all levels of grilling experience.
But that doesn’t mean that all portable charcoal grills are created equal. Some models are more advanced and efficient than others.
The list below shares, in detail, the best small charcoal grills.
#1 – Weber Go-Anywhere
The major pro to this grill is in the name. The Weber Go-Anywhere grill is all about portability with its folding mechanism. This grill is not only lightweight and foldable, but it also can collapse and become half of its size to be carried easily. Including, the stainless steel legs that swivel up and out to wrap around the lid.
This amazing 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 innovative lid also features vent dampers with three holes that prevent any air from ruining the coals that can be used in future grilling experiences.
The enamel coating prevents the grill from rusting. It also provides good heat management to keep the food warm and well-cooked.
Want to know the best part? This small charcoal grill weighs only 15 pounds and is about the size of a breadbox.
This sleek charcoal grill has plated steel cooking grate with a cooking surface of 160 inches. That’s just the right size to easily grill six burgers or two Porterhouse steaks at once.
However, the Go-Anywhere grill is not perfect. It has some design flaws. The first to note is the cooking grate is closely attached to the main body of the grill, which creates a hindrance when it comes to adjusting the cooking time.
Next, this charcoal grill has imbalanced wire legs, which is a big design flaw for many.
And, 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 also place an aluminum sheet on the grill’s bottom to collect any dripping grease and ashes.
Other than that, if you are a grilling enthusiast who likes to maximize cooking space while keeping your grill light and portable, the Go-Anywhere charcoal grill is the one for you.
- Foldable design
- Quick to set
- Excellent lid to maintain the temperature
- Adequate cooking area
- Grates too close to the grill
- Wire legs aren’t sturdy
- No ash pan
#2 – Cuisinart CCG-100 GrateLifter
Cuisinart is famous for manufacturing small kitchen appliances, but they also have created one of the best portable charcoal grills. Is there anything Cuisinart can’t do?
There are many reasons why the CCG-100 Gratelifter grill is one of our favorite small charcoal grills. First, it has a solid steel structure that features exceptionally sturdy legs.
The lid of this grill has a user-friendly lift system; you can conveniently access the cooking area without getting burning your hand. The lid of this grill is made of porcelain enamel, reflecting exceptional durability.
It features a temperature gauge that is very easy to use. The airflow mechanism maintains the temperature so your food can cook properly within the expected time, taking away the cooking guesswork and giving you a consistent result every time.
Lastly, the CCG-100, compared to most charcoal grills, is quite easy to clean and comes with an ash bin to collect the deposits of charcoal briquettes.
This is a very lightweight grill, weighing only 2.2 pounds. The coated grill measures 240 square inches. That’s enough area to grill eight chicken breasts in one single go.
It’s hard for us to find a flaw with this portable charcoal grill. We have to get really picky here. If this grill is to have flaws, we’d have to say that it is only available with a green lid and you might have to tighten the pins on the grate every time before using this equipment.
Other than that, both experienced and novice BBQers loved how quickly this grill heats up and cools down. That’s a plus when you need to pack up in a hurry.
- Solid model grill
- User-friendly lift system
- Comes with a temperature gauge and an airflow mechanism
- Bin makes it easy to clean
- Cools down quickly
- Available in only green
- Pins need tightening before every use
#3 -Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Premium Charcoal Grill
Introducing the affordable Weber Original Kettle portable charcoal grill. Charcoal grilling on this piece of equipment is a treat. Here’s why.
It requires very minimal assembling. A user says it takes about 15 minutes to put this unit together.
Second, it comes with a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid that retains heat and keeps the cooking temperature consistently exactly where you want it. It also comes with a built-in lid thermometer that helps maintain cooking temperatures.
The cooking grate of this grill features a hinge to help add charcoal while you are busy cooking.
The grilling space can hold 13 beer-can burgers at a time, making it easy for you to cook for a lot of hungry people at one time.
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. However, according to some users, you might have to apply some force to remove this catcher.
Whether you are a seasoned expert or a beginner, the Weber Original Premium charcoal grill will serve you right.
- Quick to assemble
- Maintains internal temperature
- Comes with a built-in thermometer
- One-touch cleaning system makes cleaning easy
- Catcher takes effort to remove
#4 – Kamado Joe Junior Grill
The Kamado Joe Junior grill is a rule-breaker, and for good reason.
It is a much lighter version than its predecessor and is an ideal tool for outdoor grilling events like tailgating or camping trips.
This Kamado grill features in-built handles coated with HDPE, which makes it quite easy for two people to hold this grill.
The thick walls of the Joe Junior grill trap all the heat and moisture. This enhances flavor and, at the same time, limits the use of excess charcoal. And the deflector plate is made of ceramic, which makes cooking under indirect heat quite easy.
Lastly, 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.
This grill has so many pros, but it does come with one big con: it weighs 68 pounds.
While this amazing grill is versatile and great for both slow and fast cooking, the high weight can be too much for a single person to carry. And, the Kamado Joe Junior grill doesn’t come with wheels which would have helped move the unit from one place to another.
The Kamado Joe Junior grill has a 22-inch height and a cast iron stand that helps add four inches to the senior’s version’s width. The cooking area is almost 148.5 square inches, which is more than enough to prepare a turkey breast or delicious ribs.
- Versatile grill
- Built-in thermometer
- Solid structure
- Ceramic finishing
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Heavy unit
- Doesn’t come with wheels
#5 – Char-Griller E22424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Firebox
What makes this charcoal grill special? The 2424 Charcoal grill and firebox is designed for Texas-style slow smoking. You can either utilize it as a tabletop unit or use it as a smoker. However, while you can convert this grill into a firebox, you cannot use it as a grill again.
The 2424 charcoal grill features an adjustable air vent positioned perfectly under the charcoal box providing excellent cross ventilation. Another vent is located close to the grill’s top that helps move the smoke required to cook food.
What’s more, this portable charcoal grill has an easy dump ash pan and a charcoal drawer for easy maintenance. It also comes with an ergonomic handle making it easy and safe to remove and add charcoal.
The cooking grates are made of ever-lasting cast iron. However, quality materials come with a compromise. The Char-Griller 2424 grill and firebox are heavy, weighing in at almost 40 pounds, and it doesn’t come with durable wheels.
That said, its cooking surface area is 250 square inches. This means you can easily cook a 12-pound brisket on this piece of equipment.
There are a few things that we wished were slightly better. First, the distance between the coals and grates is very small, which could harm the grates over time. And, it doesn’t come with a cover, so you will have to buy one separately if you want to maintain the quality of this grill for a long time.
- Works great as a grill and firebox
- Durable structure
- Excellent cooking area
- Comes with an ash pan to remove charcoal
- Heavy grill
- Doesn’t come with wheels
- Grates too close to the coal area
- Cover not included
#6 – Fox Outfitters Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill
This grill pushes the limits when it comes to size, but doesn’t compromise on quality.
The Fox Outfitters Folding charcoal grill can challenge your idea of how small a portable grill can really go. This Quick grill comes in a small nylon bag that folds to become the size of a notebook. However, unfolding and setting up this grill can happen in about a minute. 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 the grill serves you well if you don’t mind cooking with lighter pots.
If you look closely, this grill’s shape looks like a steel inverted colander. But do you know that this unique shape has a brilliant purpose to serve? The funnel shape accompanied by a reflective metal increases the intensity of heat produced, contributing to a controlled internal temperature. However, according to a user, high heat can increase the overall temperature of the grill, so you need to be very careful while working around it.
This Quick Grill has a cooking space of 144 square inches. You can either cook 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.
- Completely Foldable
- Compact and lightweight grill
- Comes in a storage bag
- Retains the heat for a smooth cooking process
- Dishwasher safe
- Not designed for a big party
- May heat up while cooking
#7 – Old Smokey Charcoal Grill
Do you want a portable charcoal grill made in America and for America? If yes, we are sure you will love the Old Smokey charcoal grill. This is a great all-around grill.
The 22-inch grill weighs 19 pounds and is also available in 14-inch and 18-inch models. This grill may not look fancy, but its excellent performance and portability make up for its humble appearance.
The unit has a steel body and also features chrome hardware. It also has legs and grates made of aluminum and wooden handles. It takes less than 15 minutes to assemble this grill.
This unit has a unique barrel design that helps retain smoke and heat around the food, enhancing the perfect flavor. The grills also have a tall structure, which means the distance between the grate and coal is adequate to reduce the chances of burning.
And, since this grill can conveniently hold moisture and heat, you can also use it as an amazing smoker.
But we have a few complaints about this grill. First, we think that the grill isn’t space efficient and is not designed to be transported in smaller vehicles.
Second, it doesn’t come with a temperature gauge. That’s a major missing feature as a temperature gauge helps control the internal temperature and also guides the user to increase and decrease the heat intensity.
That said, if you prefer good results over everything else, the Old Smokey grill will most probably amaze you. In addition, it is also quite inexpensive, so it is a good option for people on a tight budget.
- Inexpensive grill
- Requires cook assembling
- Easy to use
- Retains moisture and heat
- Can also be used as a smoker
- Traditional design
- No temperature gauge
#8 – PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Charcoal BBQ Grill With Smoker
Do you want to experience the best of both worlds?
Grilling and smoking are two different methods to prepare delicious food. Smoking utilizes indirect heat to prepare your food slowly, 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 Grill and Smoker is the portable charcoal grill for you.
Made of cast aluminum, this grill offers excellent heat conduction. Its ergonomic shape and unique venting system make the grill ideal for smoking and grilling.
What’s more, the solid aluminum construction makes this grill durable and lightweight while preventing rust from forming. In addition, this material helps to conduct heat way more efficiently than charcoal grills made of steel.
You can place this grill on a trolley and also dismantle it easily when its job is done. The grill has a lot of room for cooking–its cooking space is 305 square inches, which means you can conveniently grill a whole turkey.
But there is one design flaw that we should mention here. The lid of this grill doesn’t attach securely, so make sure you pay attention to the internal temperature while cooking.
- Sets up easily
- Portable grill
- Works for both grilling and smoking
- Provides excellent heat conduction
- Made with lightweight and rust-free aluminum
- The lid doesn’t attach securely
#9 – Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill
Char-Broil is a well-known brand that manufactures quality products every time. And so, the CB500X charcoal grill is no exception and follows the brand’s values and high standards.
This portable charcoal grill has a smart design and a steel structure. It also comes with a charcoal drawer.
The size of this grill is ideal to fit any vehicle. It also features an adjustable and well-designed fire grate that helps maintain the heat levels of the grates.
There is a temperature gauge mounted on the lid to monitor the internal temperature. The dampers also help manage the temperature as you close or open them. So, if you want to increase the temperature, open the damper, but close it partially if you want to decrease the temperature.
The pull-out drawer works as an excellent mess-free ash catcher to support quick cleanups.
This grill weighs about 34 pounds. This weight can be easy for some and tricky for others. But we feel this is a small compromise for the quality you’re receiving in this product.
The CB500X grill has a cooking area of 240 square inches. This means that you can easily cook eight burgers at a time.
We don’t have many complaints about this model, but the design of the hole for gas elements is unnecessary.
And, according to some users, the fat drippings from the meat can ruin the grill’s foundation very quickly.
- Great design
- Adjustable ash pan
- Comes with a gauge to measure temperature
- Good enough cooking surface
- Unnecessary holes as part of the design
#10 – Lodge L410 Sportsman Charcoal Grill
Our final recommendation is the Lodge L410 best portable charcoal grill. It is a simple piece of equipment with a no-frill feel. No fancy features here, and that’s what makes it special. This basic grill is designed for beginners and expert grillers to enjoy great cooking without getting lost in a pool of advanced features.
Unlike most other units, this grill heats up quickly. This portable charcoal grill weighs almost 9.8 pounds and features a solid and durable cast iron body.
The good thing about its cast-iron structure is that you can adjust it for two different heights. This feature helps the users cook on the grill according to their comfort.
And, the Sportsman charcoal grill also has a unique draft door for the regulation of heat and also offers quick access to the charcoal bed.
However, this timeless cast iron body requires maintenance. It can easily rust, so if you want to keep your L410 grill clean, you should oil it regularly and clean all the parts properly.
Also, if you live in a city with wet weather, this grill may not suit your needs.
This amazing grill has a cooking area of 14 ¼ by 9 inches. This surface is enough to accommodate five to six steaks at a time. In addition, the sturdy structure of the grill makes sure you can use the grill anywhere you want.
But be careful as the grill’s body might heat up quickly, resulting in a burn.
- Basic grill that heats up quickly
- Solid and durable structure
- Cast iron grates are adjustable
- The draft bed helps regulate heat
- Sufficient cooking area
- Not designed for wet weather as it can rust quickly
- Grill may turn hot and cause burn
Best Portable Charcoal Grill Buying Guide
Okay, we’ve given you a lot to think about. Now we need to figure out which of these incredible charcoal grills is the best fit for 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 amazing recipes asap.
Below we have some imperative factors to consider before you make a purchase. So, let’s take a look and find the right match for you before you hit the checkout button.
Any grill with a cooking 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.
With that said, if you are planning to cook regularly for a party of 10 guests, buying a portable grill may not be the best fit for you and you will then have to invest in a large grill to conveniently cook for that many people at one time.
Whether you go for a portable grill or choose a full-size one, make sure you properly consider the number of people you’re serving. This factor is imperative to reducing your cooking time and allowing your guests to eat altogether.
Compactness and Foldability
Why do you want a portable grill in the first place? It’s because you want something transportable that can move with you whenever you feel like BBQing.
So, while you select a portable grill, make sure it’s the right size and you have the means to move it. It should easily fit in your vehicle and doesn’t take up much space while it’s fully set up.
Also, foldability is also key. Any grill that folds easily is worth considering. You can’t carry an open grill at all times, so the one that packs conveniently can be your best bet.
Also, make sure to invest in a charcoal grill that doesn’t demand cumbersome assembling and disassembling. No one has the time to understand the parts and their adjustments before putting their grill to work.
Maintenance and Cleaning
No one wants to spend a ton of time cleaning up after they’ve had a fun day with their family and friends. But you also can’t neglect this job. It’s very important to the longevity of your grill and the food it produces for you at your next cook.
So, consider the cleaning and maintenance required for your grill.
If your portable grill cleans easily, it won’t take you long to make it new again. Some users think that a grill with a round shape is far easier to maintain than the one with a rectangular shape, but that’s not all you should consider.
Factors such as the grill’s weight, the depth of the bin, and the availability of ash drawers also contribute to the ease of cleaning a grill.
Features and Design
Do you know what makes one grill superior to its competitors? Its features like drawers, vents, and dampers affect the overall quality and performance of a unit. So, regardless of the size of your charcoal grill, you shouldn’t take these features for granted.
Some charcoal grills have a dual venting system that supports healthy airflow and help manage the cooking temperature. Without vents and dampers, your temperature will get quite high, which is best for hot grilling but not low and slow cooking.
So if you want to cook large pieces of meat slowly you want a grill with dampers and vents.
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 food and may also lead to accidents that can damage the grilling experience.
Do not invest in a grill that doesn’t have a solid structure or isn’t made of long-lasting material. Just because a grill is portable doesn’t mean it should have a weak or disposable structure.
Good quality grills are either made of steel or cast iron. Some also have aluminum structures that make them worth your money.
The grates of a portable grill are its most imperative parts. You will either find plated steel cooking grate or porcelain-enameled. Some cooking grates are also made of stainless steel or cast iron.
When choosing a grill, you should check whether a cooking grate can stand the unit’s weight or not. You should also pay attention to how efficiently it rests on the unit and holds food carefully.
Finally, grates that require quick cleaning should also be considered.
Some cooking grates have adjustable heights. So, if you’re wanting to cook a wide variety of foods on your grill, you’ll absolutely want to look for a grill with this feature for optimal cooking flexibility.
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. If you plan to cook different meats requiring varying temperatures, only invest in a grill with a perfect lid.
A lid that comes with a lock is also a plus. This feature allows for better storage and transportability of your grilling tools.
So, make sure to buy a lockable grill that can also help you store items such as a charcoal chimney and other grilling tools inside the grill chamber.
How much space will you have to arrange to store your portable grill? Will it fit in a cabinet, or will you have to arrange a separate shelf?
These questions will help you choose a grill that won’t require more space than you already have.
Some portable charcoal grills also come with the covers and tools required for their operation. Some generous manufacturers will also provide you with carrying bags to store the grills when they are not in use.
For some accessories, you might be required to pay extra. If you find a bonus tool important, there is no harm in purchasing it, but don’t waste your money if you can find it for free from another manufacturer.
Brands and Price
Finally, don’t overlook the brand and price of the grill you want to buy. Portable grills are less expensive than full-size units. But make sure you choose the one that offers good performance every time.
You will also come across grills that will be expensive, but if their brand and quality are impeccable, there is no harm in considering them.
If you want to make a wise decision, read customer reviews and expert recommendations before you head out to spend your money.
If you love BBQ parties and enjoy eating smoky and grilled meat, a portable charcoal grill is your best weapon to impress your guests with your culinary skills. This piece of equipment is not only handy but is also a user-friendly unit to make all your BBQ dreams come true.
Make sure to consider the factors above before you select the best charcoal grill. Hopefully, our ten recommendations will help you to pick the best item for your grilling adventures.
Best of luck!
Dad Joke: What’s a social gathering where everyone has beef with everyone?