Grilling enthusiasts everywhere prefer charcoal grills over gas grills. They impart a delicious smoky flavor and a sear on the foods we grill.
But there are many types of charcoal grills out there. Read on to learn what charcoal grill is the best for you and your grilling needs.
What is a Charcoal Grill?
As the name suggests, charcoal grills are powered with the use of charcoal.
You start by adding the desired amount of charcoal briquettes to the pit of your grill. Then you light them with the use of a chimney starter or multi-purpose lighter.
Lighter fluid is optional – although keep in mind it can affect the flavor of your grilled foods. Finally, you maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cook time.
Achieving the perfect temperature and maintaining this temperature is one of the challenges of using a charcoal grill. It is a challenge that many grill masters enjoy overcoming, however.
The heat needed to cook your food is created by these lit charcoal briquettes. It imparts a flavor that makes charcoal grills a popular choice as a backyard grill.
Once the charcoal ashes over, you can begin to grill your foods. Built in vents allow for airflow which contribute to temperature control.
Thanks to the variety of charcoal grills on the market, your charcoal grill may come with features like adjustable racks. This will allow for a deeper sear.
Pros and cons of charcoal grilling
There are many pros and cons to using charcoal grills that are worth considering before making a purchase.
There are so many grills available and such a diverse selection of charcoal grills to peruse. It is helpful to explore what makes charcoal grills both great and troublesome.
For starters, many grilling enthusiasts agree that charcoal grills create the most flavorful foods. If you want to grill meats that have a perfect sear on the outside and tender juiciness inside, charcoal grills consistently rise to the challenge.
Charcoal grills also reach a higher temperature easier, without having to rely on costly infrared searing zones like those used in gas grills.
Speaking of cost, you can likely find a charcoal grill to suit any budget. From stripped bare basic charcoal kettle grills to premium multi-station charcoal grills with all the bells and whistles.
Variety and type of charcoal grills available, from some of the best grill manufacturers in the business, are another excellent feature.
It can take time for your grill’s charcoal briquettes to reach the desired temperature. Your delicious grilled meal may be delayed if you do not factor the additional time needed to cook your grilled fare.
The charcoal needed to power your grill will also cost more than the gas needed to power a gas grill. The exact price difference depends on where you live.
You also need a lot more cleaning time and general maintenance when owning a charcoal grill. After you are done using your charcoal grill, you must wait for the briquettes to completely cool before you can begin the often-messy cleanup process.
Proper cleaning is necessary for the upkeep of your charcoal grill. It will ensure the grill continues to function properly and work for years to come.
Features to consider with a charcoal grill
Along with the pros and cons to owning a charcoal grill, there are also many features to consider before you buy one. Keep these features in mind as you shop for a charcoal grill.
There are many size options available when you search for charcoal grills.
Do you want a large charcoal grill for grilling meats and veggies side by side for a crowd of diners? Maybe you prefer a smaller, portable charcoal grill that is easy to move in and out of storage?
When it comes to charcoal grills, size is the first place to start.
The size of a charcoal grill isn’t just about its height, width and heft. The most important size to consider is that of the cooking surface.
The average cooking surface of a charcoal grill ranges from about 18” to about 32”. To choose the right size for you, it is important to think about what you intend to grill and who you plan to grill for.
You may be planning to grill the occasional steak for yourself, your significant other, or maybe just a couple friends or close family members. In that case, you likely will not need a charcoal grill larger than 18” to 22”.
Or, you may be looking to grill for large gatherings of people at which lots of meats, seafood, vegetables. If this is the case with you, you will probably want to opt for a charcoal grill ranging from 22” to 32”.
Along with size, and maybe even more so for many consumers, price is another huge factor when purchasing a charcoal grill. You can find cheap charcoal grills that still perform with excellence if budget is an issue.
When considering your price range for a charcoal grill, you will need to consider the features that are most desirable for your needs.
For the most part, large charcoal grills with the most features will be more expensive. Small charcoal grills with only basic functions will likely be cheaper.
This often goes hand in hand with price, although the features of a charcoal grill may be more important to some than price and size.
Features to consider when buying a charcoal grill include options like a dual fuel hybrid grill. These grills can be useful if you desire the taste and sear created by traditional charcoal with the ease and swiftness of a gas grill.
Also read through charcoal grill reviews from other consumers to gain the full picture of a grill’s features. Many charcoal grills also offer features for the serious griller.
Maybe you want a charcoal grill with an attached smoker so you can slow-cook smoky ribs? Or is space saving important to you?
Because many charcoal grills also come with shelves alongside the grill service, as well as below the grill. These features are great for holding your food and tools.
Brand loyalty is an important factor to many consumers, and this is no different when it comes to the purchase of a new charcoal grill.
The most popular charcoal grill brands include Weber, Royal Gourmet, Dyna-Glo and Char-Griller. All of these brands offer a range of charcoal grills at various price points, different sizes and an array of features.
Top 12 Charcoal Grills Comparison Table
Grill Surface Size
Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl
2-10 years on certain parts
300 square inches
Grill + smoker in one
2-10 years on certain parts
Built-in temperature gauge
Side and bottom shelving
314 square inches
Cooking space + warming rack
Foldable for easy portability
Dual cooking surfaces
Top 12 Charcoal Grills Reviews
#1 Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
Weber has been making high-quality charcoal grills for decades. Thanks to their versatile designs and ease of use, Weber grills remain the most popular manufacturer.
Weber’s Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill boasts beautiful and durable porcelain-enameled lid and bowl that traps heat and helps promote even cooking.
It also has side vents that allow for necessary air flow. The lid also features a built-in thermometer
It is also designed with plated steel cooking grates to further retain heat. The grates are also easy to clean, as is the bowl, thanks to the one-touch cleaning system and ash catcher.
With handles on each side and the grill’s two wheels, Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is easy to move. You can bring it out of storage and back again with ease.
The handles also have hooks at each end, the perfect spot for hanging your grilling tools and accessories.
Consumers also appreciate Weber’s best-in-class warranties, that extend from 2 to 10 years, depending on the grill part. It has some of the best charcoal grill reviews for a reason.
This Weber charcoal grill is our number-one pick thanks to its exceptional blend of quality cooking capabilities and its thoughtful features.
#2 PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Original PK Grill & Smoker Grill Smoker
PK Grills’ PKO-SCAX-X Original PK Grill & Smoker Grill Smoker is a popular hybrid grill that allows you to charcoal grill and smoke meats, seafood and veggies.
It is constructed of thick aluminum for lasting use, as well as to help retain an even cooking temperature.
This grill boasts patented four-point venting system, dual cooking zones and portability. These features make this award-winning charcoal grill a favorite of grill masters and novices alike.
This charcoal grill also features convenient design details like a side shelf and a lower shelf. It can hold your food and grilling accessories as needed.
Wheels are also attached to the bottom of the grill legs to improve its portability.
Whether you want to grill burgers or smoke bratwurst links, this one grill can do it all. The incredible design, functionality and 10-year warranty of this charcoal grill make it one of our top picks.
#3 Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch
Weber’s tabletop Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch makes taking the grilling fun with you on the go possible.
Like other Weber grills, this charcoal grill is made with a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid for durability. It also properly traps heat for a sustained and even grilling temperature.
This grill also has plated steel cooking grates and an aluminum ash catcher for easy cleanup.
Designed to be lightweight with an easy to handle lid locks into place, this grill can go from home, to work, to the park and back, simply. It’s one of our top choices due to its seamless functionality and portability.
#4 Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill
Lodge is a popular American brand known for its sturdy cast iron pans and grills. Its Sportsman’s Grill is a tabletop model that is simple to use and care for.
This pre-seasoned charcoal grill has a grill surface with two adjustable heights. Its charcoal pit is easily accessible through a flip down door.
The size of this grill makes it ideal for taking on camping trips or tailgating. Keep in mind it can only cook a meal for one or two diners at a time.
Though it may not be ideal when grilling for large amounts of diners, it’s exceptional for making tasty grilled dishes for a couple of people.
Lodge’s hibachi-style charcoal grill is made to last, is easy to care for and makes grilling delicious meals easy. It is a hearty number-four choice for us.
#5 Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill
Expert Grill designs grills that, as the name suggests, master grillers love. Like its other grills, this one is also easy enough for the casual griller to enjoy.
The Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill has an average-sized grill surface that is perfect for weekend barbecues with the family. It can also handle massive summer party cookouts.
The grill surface is made of cast iron as opposed to the more common stainless-steel material used in other grills.
For convenience, there are adjustable charcoal and ash pans to make adding charcoal and removing ash simple. A built-in bottle opener is another feature that grill enthusiasts appreciate.
This Expert Grill charcoal grill boasts features like a side handle and wheels for easy maneuverability. A folding side shelf and bottom rack for storage and a temperature gauge built into the lid are other pluses.
Its durable construction and handy features make it our number-two choice for charcoal grilling.
#6 TACKLIFE 22.5 inch Charcoal Grill, Outdoor Grilling Barbecue, Camping Cooking, Portable BBQ Grill
TACKLIFE’s 22.5 inch Charcoal Grill is a wonderful option for those who wish to grill at home or while away on camping trips or picnics.
It can cook about 12 burgers at once on its spacious cooking surface.
This grill also boasts adjustable dampers and a temperature control gauge. It is constructed to withstand temperatures up to 800 degrees.
This charcoal grill is also easy to assemble and is simple to use, making it a great choice for novices.
Thanks to its design, which includes a lightweight, yet stable steel frame and large wheels portability is simple. You can move this TACKLIFE grill from grill site to grill site with ease.
#7 Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill
Char-Griller’s E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill makes grilling delicious foods in smaller spaces possible.
It has an 18” grilling surface that is ideal for cooking up a few burgers or hot dogs on the weekend. You can also grill several kabobs at once during summertime parties or a whole chicken for a special weeknight dinner.
The wooden handle on the front of the lid stays cool, so you can open and close the lid while grilling without burning your fingers.
This charcoal grill is designed with powder-coated steel for durability. It also helps to trap heat for even cooking temperatures.
It has a shelf on one side with hooks for holding your food and grilling tools. Sturdy wheels at the bottom make it easy to move this grill around your yard as needed.
With its durable construction and simple yet thoughtful details, Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is our number-three pick for charcoal grills.
#8 Char-Griller E56720 AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill
With Char-Griller’s AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill, you can roast, smoke, bake and grill, all in one handy charcoal grill.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this grill is its overall design. It is constructed using power coated 22-gauge steel with a cast iron grilling surface.
This charcoal grill not only has a spacious grilling surface, it also has a built-in warming rack. The warming rack is the perfect spot for resting your freshly grilled foods.
AKORN Kamado charcoal grill has two shelves, one on each side of the grill surface, as well as a bottom shelf. The side shelves have hooks for hanging your grilling tools.
Durable wheels are present at the base for easy portability.
Grilling enthusiasts love that this charcoal grill has a locking lid and an ash pan for security and easy cleaning. Its overall versatility put it at our number four position.
#9 Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker CC1830S
Royal Gourmet’s BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker is one of our top choices for hybrid grills.
This grill boasts a total grilling surface of 800 square inches.
Its attached smoker can serve as a second smaller grill if desired or as a small roaster for vegetables. The cooking grates are porcelain coated to resist sticking and for easy cleanup.
Its chamber boasts an adjustable charcoal pan. You can easily move the charcoal upward to enjoy deeper sears and richer flavors.
Temperature control is easy with the adjustable fire pan and pair of adjustable dampers.
For added convenience, this Royal Gourmet charcoal grill has front, side and lower shelves for holding food. It also boasts hanging hooks for tools.
The wheels at the bottom make it easily portable.
Its construction and fine detailing put it at our number-five spot.
#10 Royal Gourmet CD1824A Charcoal Grill, BBQ Outdoor Picnic, Camping, Patio Backyard Cooking
Royal Gourmet’s CD1824A Charcoal Grill makes grilling large amounts of food possible and ensure your grilled food can stay warm prior to serving.
It is built with spacious porcelain cooking grates, with a second grate above for keeping just-grilled foods warm. The charcoal pan is adjustable and is easily accessible thanks to a door along the front of the grill.
Royal Gourmet’s CD1824A Charcoal Grill also has wheels for easily mobility. Its built-in thermometer and two side tables make it a great all-around option.
#11 Outdoor4less Stainless Steel Portable Folding Tall Barbecue BBQ Charcoal Grill with Legs
Outdoor4less crafts simple and affordable charcoal grills that are simple to put together and carry with you on the go.
Constructed of 410 stainless steel, this charcoal grill is durable and food safe. The side shelves fold together as a lid for the grill.
The sturdy legs also fold in, making it easy to carry this grill from one grilling site to another and also making storage simple.
In addition to the grill itself, it comes with three mesh grill grids. Heat is evenly distributed thanks to the air vents.
Another bonus is that there isn’t really any assembly required – simply unfold it and you are ready to go.
Though this Outdoor4less charcoal grill is designed without many popular features, it is great for grilling lots of tasty food at one time and is an affordable option.
#12 Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill, X-Large
Dyna-Glo’s Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill, X-Large is a wonderful charcoal grill option for those who intend to grill lots of food at one time.
It boasts a total cooking area of 816 square inches across two separate grill spaces.
It also has as a removable firebox divider. This makes it perfect for placing charcoal and collecting ash for each cooking space.
To ensure a high temperature is held and consistently distributed, both the lid and chamber are double walled, a popular design feature.
Be sure to keep yours covered from the elements if you’re not going to store it in a garage or shed after each use. Its thin steel construction makes it prone to rusting.
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill, X-Large is one of our top picks as it’s great for cooking various foods at two different temperatures as needed.
Finding the right charcoal grill may seem difficult due to all the available varieties on the market. Consider the following in order to make an educated decision.
Do I need a charcoal grill?
You may have already weighed the pros and cons of owning a charcoal grill with the information already provided. Always consider the pros and cons for your particular situation.
As well as these pros and cons, think about your living situation and your hobbies. Do you have a backyard or patio that makes an ideal environment for charcoal grilling?
If you own your own home and have a yard, the answer is most certainly yes. If you live in an apartment, a charcoal grill may not make sense.
You will need to have a spacious patio that offers plenty of space to setup your charcoal grill. Enough open air to allow for proper ventilation is also recommended.
If you love spending time outdoors and relish the idea or cooking grilled meats and veggies, then a charcoal grill can be an excellent option.
How do I maintain my charcoal grill?
Cleanup can be tricky with a charcoal grill. All charcoal grills need a certain amount of upkeep in order to keep them clean and functional.
The ease of cleaning your charcoal grill will depend on the model.
As listed above, many of our top picks of charcoal grills have ash pans, some of which can even raise and lower with the touch of a lever. Features such as these make cleaning your charcoal grill post grilling simple.
You will also want to invest in a wire brush to properly scrape the grill cooking surfaces after use. Many people also use an indoor/outdoor vacuum to easily suck up and dispose of loose ash.
Are charcoal grills safe?
Charcoal produces pollutants that can be dangerous to both our health and the environment. The reason being is it distributes hydrocarbons when burned, which are then released into the atmosphere we breathe.
One type, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), can be cooked into our food and may be cancer causing.
PAHs are created when fat from meat drips onto the charcoal and raises into our food through smoke. They can also be produced on the meat itself when the meat is charred.
To reduce health risks to yourself, your fellow diners and the atmosphere in general, look for natural charcoal. Natural charcoal is made from 100% hardwood and is free from coal, petroleum, oil and limestone.
Charcoal grills vs. gas grills
As mentioned, charcoal grills can create the taste and texture of the meat and veggies we’ve been craving.
Gas grills may at times be easier to use, igniting with just the push of a button. However, gas grills cannot replicate the taste developed by charcoal grilling.
Charcoal grills also do not need a gas line to function.
Grilling tips and tricks
Following some of these tips and tricks can help you get the best use out of your charcoal grill.
As stated, be sure to pick up natural charcoal for your grilling needs. It is healthier for you and the environment.
If you find that you use a lot of utensils when grilling, you can choose a charcoal grill that has attached shelves and hooks to access utensils.
If you’re a grilling novice, it may be best to scour grill master blogs and recipes to enhance your grilling repertoire. This ensures you’re always cooking the most delicious fare for you and your guests.
In case we haven’t stated it enough yet – regular maintenance is essential for the healthy life of your charcoal grill.
Be sure to remove leftover charcoal and ash after the grill has cooled post cooking. Use a wire grill brush to scrape and clean the grill surface.
Always follow the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer as well.
Charcoal grills will always be a popular choice of grilling device for both novice and master grillers everywhere. More so than gas grills, charcoal grills can impart a rich flavor and a deep sear for the perfect taste and texture.
This is true whether you are grilling meats, seafood, vegetables and more.
Because there are so many different types of charcoal grills available, it is important to review several important aspects. Brands, price ranges, sizes and features will tell you the ideal charcoal grill for your particular grilling needs.
Use our charcoal grill guide to buy the best charcoal grill today and enjoy countless barbecue meals cooked while enjoying the fresh air outdoors.
You and your loved ones will be happy you did.