A charcoal grill is undoubtedly the most popular type of grill in the world, adored for its smoky flavor, versatility, durability, fun and tradition. You need to know that the best charcoal grill is not a huge expense and every average person can actually afford such purchase.
Of course everything depends on your expectations, but one has to admit that charcoal grills are definitely cheaper than any other type of grill. For example, a good charcoal grill costs up to three times less than a good pellet grill or gas grill.
You will find plenty of models at stores based on the brilliant Weber kettle grill, but we suggest to avoid regular supermarket creations. It is the best to buy something decent from a manufacturer that has been specialized 100% in grill related products for decades.
We have spent many hours analyzing the whole offer available on the market and that way we have selected few different charcoal grills available in different price ranges. Without a doubt, the leader is weber original kettle premium, but we have found several equally great alternatives.
All of that only made us even more convinced that you don’t need to have a thick wallet to buy a really good charcoal grill.
With such a huge offer at stores, we decided to only choose few options with vastly different prices. Each of them is directed at a different target group, we were focused not only on the price but also on the size, quality of workmanship and additional features.
It was no surprise to us that you can buy a decent charcoal grill at reasonable prices, but it did surprise us when we saw how good small, portable charcoal grills are that are available at very low prices.
Time is money, so don’t waste any more of it and check out our reviews below as soon as possible.
The Best Charcoal Grills Reviewed
1. Best Overall Weber Original Premium 22”
Chances are that no matter what website you visit or whom you ask, in most cases you will get the same answer, Weber Original Premium Kettle is number one among charcoal grills.
How did this model earn so much fame? We all look for a grill that is durable, efficient, versatile and most of all doesn’t cost much. That’s exactly the perfectly known in the world of BBQ Premium Kettle from Weber.
It has everything that you actually need, we chose the 22’ version because we believe that it is the universal size for most people. Such size will work in many situations, regardless of whether you grill for 2-3 people or for a bigger group, there will be just enough space.
A large advantage here is the ash catcher that makes it possible to get rid of the ash after cooking in a very convenient, easy and fast manner. Each of us knows what an awful task manual ash removal is. If you have never used an ash removal system then you really have to check out this solution, as it is phenomenal.
The greatest advantage of this model, however, is its very well thought-out construction, which makes it possible to easily control the temperature using cleverly located air vents ( on the bottom and on the top ).
Another advantage of this size is large cooking area that makes it possible to utilize different heat methods ( indirect or direct ). Most guides available on the Internet for charcoal grills are usually based on this model, which also makes it a great choice for beginners.
Another advantage in favor of this model is its durability and warranty. The bowl and the lid are covered with whole 10 years of warranty, all the other parts with slightly less ( learn more about the warranty here ). It’s just a warranty, and yet the reality is that a well-maintained model can last for much longer.
To get a full satisfaction, we suggest buying many useful accessories that increase the convenience of using this grill significantly.
2. Upgrade Pick Weber Performer Deluxe
A regular Kettle grill with the basic features is not enough for you and you want something more interesting? Here you go, Weber has prepared the Perfmomer model for you that on top of the basic features and the Original Premium Kettle structure has many interesting conveniences.
Let’s start with the interesting construction that not only looks great but also provides a lot of working space as well as a place to store accessories and charcoal right under the countertop. We really love this approach, it allows to prepare food in a very convenient way right next to the grill’s bowl. Such construction is also significantly more stable than a regular kettle grill.
Another neat solution is the hole in the grill grates ( on the hinges ) that provides an easy access to the charcoal when cooking without having to remove the whole grates. A very useful solution especially when you use different cooking methods.
The biggest surprise is the Electronic Touch-N-Go gas ignition system which in simplest words is an easy, convenient and fast method to get the charcoal burning. A very good solution if you’re tired of using any other method to get the charcoal burning. All you have to do is press the button responsible for starting a burner powered with a small propane tank.
When it comes to other features, everything looks just like in Original Premium Kettle we mentioned above. Of course it comes with an ash removal system that makes it much easier to clean up afterwards. Another neat solution is the ability to hang the lid on a hook which means that you will no longer have to ask yourself “where did I put that lid?”.
The equipment also include a small LCD timer that may not be anything brilliant, but it will definitely come in handy when cooking for everyone ( it is detachable ).
Another thing worth mentioning is the equally great manufacturer warranty for this model and a very huge amount of positive reviews for the approach of the Weber brand to the client. If you’re looking for a versatile high quality charcoal grill and good customer service then you’ve just found what you’re looking for.
3. PK Grill & Smoker
Are you bored of the popularity of kettle type grills? You need to know that there’s a place on the market for other charcoal grills because what matters the most is results and quality, after all. PK Grill & Smoker is a great alternative for those looking for something completely different.
The phenomenal PK grill returns to the market after many years of absence which is great news not only for those who remember it from many decades back. Plenty of people have a sentiment for it from old days but not many people know that it is actually a great, nearly indestructible grill.
The construction was well thought-out which resulted in plenty of space inside ( 300 square inches ). Air vents were put in four places ( two on the top and two on the bottom ), such solution allows to utilize different cooking methods.
When it comes to durability, it is probably the most durable grill that was ever made. Even today, there are plenty of people who brag about this grill after few dozen years. How is it possible that PK Grill can survive so many years? It was made of cast aluminum, making it resistant to corrosion, which is the thing every grill owner fears the most.
PK Grill is a model for those who expect a grill to last for eternity while also giving great results of cooking. We can confidently confirm that this is the case, although these days plenty of people expect something more. Better technology, useful features, ash removal systems etc, which is where PK grill loses to the competitive Weber Perfomer Deluxe.
The durability of PK is phenomenal, so are the results of cooking, but it does lack the “convenience” that is expected these days by many BBQ enthusiasts, including our team.
4. Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch
You spend a lot of time away from home or simply want to prepare a small meal on a charcoal grill very fast? In that case, we recommend the Smokey Joe 14-Inch model which is a small yet versatile charcoal grill that you can bring along with you.
It works well in many situations, like if you only cook for 1-2 people and don’t want to use a lot of charcoal then this model will be a convenient and economical solution for you. For those who want to grill away from home, on the other hand, there is no problem, Smokey Joe is small and lightweight enough to be easily carried along wherever you wish.
Very easy and fast to assemble, which matters away from home when you need to pack up fast and go back home. A small downside is that it lacks any kind of handle on the side of the grill which might pose a problem if we wish to move a warmed up grill somewhere else as well as the lack of a lid lock ( such solution would be very useful for transport ).
The round construction of the grill and location of the air vents make it a miniature version of a full-scale kettle. A lot of space under the lid makes it possible to grill even much larger chunks of meat.
Smokey Joe 14-Inch is a very good quality of workmanship, durability, great temperature control, results of cooking, mobility and most of all price. If, however, you care even more about mobility when traveling, you should check out the Weber Go-Anywhere model.
Charcoal Grills have been around for quite some time, some models that we presented today were created as many as few dozen years ago. Since then, they kept getting perfected as technology went on in order to improve already great models.
Today we are lucky enough to be able to very easily buy a great charcoal grill at low prices. That’s great news not only to beginners but to everyone who loves to cook and wants to do this on an even better equipment.
Despite our list being dominated by one brand, you need to know that we weren’t influenced just by the brand alone. Our goal was to buy a very good grill for an adequate price and that’s how we rated each of the grills you will find on our list.
Plenty of beginners or simply those without adequate knowledge on the topic choose to buy a new grill without analyzing – that’s a huge mistake. That’s exactly why we made this guide for people like them so that it helps choose the right charcoal grill for you and avoid disappointment. A guide that will solve all your doubts in just few minutes and answer the most important questions on the topic.
What to pay attention to when buying a Charcoal Grill
- The Size
- Ash Catcher
- The Warranty
Perfect Size – Think about how much free space you have in your backyard and for how many people you usually cook. It’s the number of people you’re planning to cook for that mainly impacts what size of a grill you should choose. Speaking from experience, we suggest choosing at least a medium sized charcoal grill ( about 300 square inches of cooking area ).
A large area under the lid gives more opportunities, we’re talking about utilizing different methods of heat and charcoal arrangement. A big grill also means bigger fuel consumption and more to clean up so if you cook for 1-2 people then a much better solution is some smaller model.
The Price – Luckily charcoal grills have the advantage of even good quality models not costing much.
If you expect much more from your grill, however, then you should get ready to spend a little more.
We advise against cutting corners, as majority of more expensive models are an investment for years to come, very often covered with a very good manufacturer’s warranty.
Features and Gadgets – We recommend checking out Weber Performer Deluxe if you like all kinds of useful gadgets and large working space.
Remember that all kinds of gadgets only increase the convenience of grilling, a regular grill without gadgets can make food just as great as that out of one with many additional features.
The main difference is only the convenience, so if you don’t have a limited budget then it’s a good idea to invest in something like that.
Cleaning System– Without a doubt the most valuable solution in modern charcoal grills.
Each of us has had to remove ash manually while cursing having to do so. Today for a little bit extra you can buy a grill equipped with an ash removal system that allows to quickly and easily remove ash from the grill.
A truly helpful solution that is worth those few dozen dollars extra.
The Warranty – You spend a lot of time away from home at the beach, camping or around the park?
In that case, your priority should be low weight and small size of the grill. To make it easy and convenient to pack the grill in the car or carry it along in your hands.
Mobility is also an advantage when you have a very limited space around your backyard or terrace.
The Warranty – When buying a new grill at store, pay attention to the warranty. Plenty of models from obscure manufacturers offer very poor warranty condition ( short term ).
If you actually plan to spend a large amount on a new grill, it is better for the conditions of warranty to be as favorable as possible. All the suggestions included in this guide are covered with a very good warranty for many years.
That matters, as even the best manufacturers can have models with factory flaws that nobody noticed prior to selling.
Why a Charcoal Grill?
Flavor – Without a doubt, out of all types of grills it is the charcoal grill that gives the best results in term of flavor. The ever so characteristic rich, smoky flavor of food is only present in this type of grill.
Versatility – Depending on how big your grill is, it is versatile enough to let you grill or smoke meat. In both cases, it works great and in both cases the results are delicious. You can quickly grill steaks or hamburgers and slowly smoke a whole chicken or turkey.
Durability and quality – It is no secret that charcoal grills are durable and not prone to malfunction. They don’t have crucial electronics like gas or electric grills. In case of any malfunction, repairs are usually low-cost and simple enough that you can do it yourself.
Warranty – Not many types of grills come with this kind of advanced warranties, high-quality charcoal grills are covered with as many as 10 years of manufacturer’s warranty for such elements as the bowl and lid. It guarantees that the grill you bought will make a safe investment for years.
Mobility – Most models don’t take that much space, there are models that were designed with travelers in mind. Such grill can be easily brought along wherever you want.
Temperature – As we have mentioned before, it is a versatile type of grill that makes it possible to smoke meat over many hours at low temperatures or grill delicious steaks at a very high temperature that leaves classic sear marks on the food’s surface. Of course a lot also depends on the type of charcoal you use for cooking.
How did we test?
We gain experience during practical tests that we conduct before writing each guide. Such method of testing not only is expensive but also time consuming.
The first step, therefore, is analyzing the entire offer available at stores, you need to know that there’s a whole lot of this and the entire process takes a lot of time. Then, once we have a complete list of decent grills, we move on to practical tests.
The first step is to gather all the models together in one place, then we move on to assembling each of the grills. When it comes to this type of grills, it didn’t take us as much time as we thought it would take, so not long after that we were ready to conduct the actual tests.
We decided to start with typical grilling of steaks, hamburgers or sausages. For that purpose, we lit up the charcoal in each of the grills and waited for it to reach the right temperature for cooking. Then we put the food on the grill grates and started cooking at the same time adjusting temperature with the air vents.
Then after we finished grilling, we moved on to the next tests, this time it was slow meat smoking. Of course not all models were capable of this, small charcoal grills had to be ruled out. We decided to prepare a whole turkey and ribs, the entire process was time-consuming, but that’s the only way we could learn what the temperature control is like in each of the grills.
That way we prepared the same amount of food on each of the grills so that we can compare the end results and evaluate the whole cooking process. We believe that’s the only way to honestly and objectively choose few best charcoal grills the reviews of which you could read above.
Just like with all tests, this time there were plenty of surprises as well. When testing, we were paying attention to everything that matters, we especially checked how the ash removal problem was solved. We definitely advise everyone considering a charcoal grill to buy a model with an ash removal system, it is an option that is 100% worth the extra money.
Why trust us?
We are a team of people brought together by the same passion – its name is barbecue. We’ve been together through a lot of great moments when grilling and gained a lot of experience throughout these years.
One day we decided that we would start sharing our knowledge through the very website you are on right now. We had been thinking about it for a very long time and we’re happy that we finally achieved it. Today it’s a place where everyone ( beginner and advanced ) will find something useful for themselves.
We aim to constantly develop and perfect our skills which is why the opportunity to test different grills was a very interesting vision to us. Today we can easily say that we have come across every type of grill, and all tests provide us with a lot of fun, knowledge and plenty of surprise with something new. We also try to be up-to-date with all the news coming from all sides.
Each of us owns several different charcoal grills which makes it the topic we are most familiar with. Despite that, we have conducted the tests so that later we can write objective reviews for each of the grills in this guide.
As you have already noticed, we chose several models targeted at different people and available in different price ranges. That way we tried to provide a wide choice so that everyone can find something for themselves.