Navigating the world of grilling can sometimes feel like walking through a smoky maze, especially with so many options on the market. But if it’s that authentic, smoky flavor you’re after, nothing beats a classic charcoal grill.
I’ve stoked the coals and sifted through countless options to show you the best charcoal grills available. I’m so confident you’ll like the grills we recommend, I’d steak my reputation on it!
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My Ratings of the Best Charcoal Grills
In a hurry to find a grill that’ll turn you into an all-killer, no-filler griller? Here are the best charcoal grills I’ve tested and recommend:
- Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 (Overall Best Charcoal Grill)
- Kamado Joe Ceramic Grill (Best High End)
- Cuisinart 18” Kettle Charcoal Grill (Best Budget Pick)
- Weber 22” Kettle Grill (Best Charcoal Grill Under $300)
- PK Grills Classic (Best Grill Cart)
- Char-Griller AKORN Jr. (Best Portable Charcoal Grill)
- Royal Gourmet (Best Grill w/ Offset Smoker)
- Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler (Best Tabletop Charcoal Grill)
- Char-Grill 2137 (Best Large Capacity Grill)
- Outsunny Charcoal Grill (Best for Adjusting Charcoal Height)
The Best Charcoal Grills Reviewed
When choosing the best charcoal grill for you, it’s crucial to think about how you will be using it.
- Do you want a small, portable grill for picnics and tailgating?
- A larger model for family gatherings and becoming the neighborhood cookout king? 👑
- Or are you looking for the Cadillac of grills, one that will turn your backyard into an outdoor oasis?
Here are our reviews of the top ten charcoal grills on the market, including something for everyone.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 is the best charcoal grill on the market.
This is our top pick because it’s versatile, well-made, and easy to use. I’d deem this the best charcoal grill for beginners, because of how easy it is to use.
Several brands are already trying to copycat this style because it’s just so dang good!
The build quality of this grill is excellent. It’s made from high-quality materials that are sure to last for years to come.
The porcelain-enameled cook chamber ensures even heat distribution and resists corrosion.
The 560 grill also features a gravity-fed charcoal system that allows you to easily add more charcoal while cooking. This is a great feature, as it will enable you to cook low and slow without having to stop to add more charcoal.
The charcoal shoot does feel a little flimsy on the outside, but I’ve had no issues with daily use for almost 2 years. I’m guessing they went with thin material to keep the overall weight down.
Portability is another area where the 560 shines. It features 4 wheels that make it easy to move around your backyard or patio.
The grill also has an attached side table perfect for prep work or serving platters.
Its digital controls (that some other grills lack) make it easy to set and maintain the ideal cooking temperature.
It reaches 225°F in 7 minutes and 700°F in 13 minutes, which is nothing shy of impressive.
You can go from smoking brisket to searing steak within 6 minutes.
It also comes with a meat probe thermometer that allows you to cook your food to perfection, which is a great addition.
Charcoal grilling and smoking with the ability to control the temperature (accurately) at the press of a button? Game changer.
This is the grill I use at home almost daily and it’s also my #1 choice as the best smoker/grill combo.
- You can grill or smoke great food on this
- Gravity-fed charcoal for amazing taste and ease of use
- Quickly control temperature using the digital controls
- If you want a front-shelf, you have to buy that separately
Kamado grills have been around for centuries, and the Kamado Joe is one of the best on the market.
This grill is made from high-quality ceramic that ensures even heat distribution and retention.
The Kamado Joe can reach temperatures up to 750°F, making it perfect for searing steaks or cooking pizza.
The ceramic construction also makes this grill extremely durable; it’s sure to last for years with proper care.
This charcoal grill features a two-tiered cooking grate that provides ample space for cooking big cuts of meat or enough kebabs to feed the family all at once.
One of the best features of the Kamado Joe is its ability to retain heat. This grill can easily be used for low and slow cooking as well as searing.
However, because of its ceramic construction, it does require a bit more care and maintenance than other grills.
It has four wheels for portability and a removable ash pan and heat deflector that make cleanup a breeze.
Its patented ash removal system, versatility, and best-built features make the Kamado Joe one of the best grills on the market.
- Made from high-quality ceramic
- Two-tiered cooking grate
- Quickly reaches temperatures up to 750°F
- It is heavy, so you’re likely not taking this with you anywhere.
- Although a little more expensive than other grills on this list, it is cheaper than its main competitor – Big Green Egg
If you’re looking for a great charcoal grill that won’t break the bank, then the Cuisinart 18” Kettle Charcoal Grill is a great option. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best charcoal grill under $100!
This grill is made from porcelain-coated steel and features an 18-inch cooking surface.
The Cuisinart kettle grill comes with a heavy-duty stand that is perfect for tailgating or picnicking.
It has two wheels for portability and folds down for easy storage. This grill also features a built-in temperature gauge and ash catcher that make it easy to use.
Some of the other great features of this grill include its enamel-coated water pan, heat-resistant handles, and built-in lid hanger.
The Cuisinart 18” Kettle Charcoal Grill is an excellent option for those on a budget. It’s well made and features everything you need to make great food.
When it comes to extra space storage and portability, this grill has it all.
Its dual venting system also helps you to control the temperature inside without worrying about flare-ups.
With all these great features, the Cuisinart 18” Kettle Charcoal Grill is a great option for those looking for an affordable charcoal grill.
- Great budget pick
- Made from porcelain-coated steel
- Features a built-in temperature gauge and ash catcher
- Hard to complain at this price point, but the legs aren’t as sturdy as others on this list
The Weber 22” Kettle Grill is the classic kettle grill option when it comes to charcoal grilling. This grill has been around for generations and is still one of the best on the market.
It is made from porcelain-coated cast iron and features a heavy-duty stand that has a two-wheel design for portability.
When it comes to cooking space, this grill can hold up to 13 burgers at once and comes with a built-in lid thermometer that’s very helpful when cooking.
The Weber 22” Kettle Grill is perfect for those who want the classic charcoal grilling experience because of its remarkable features and durability.
Its ability to retain heat and produce evenly cooked food makes it an excellent choice for those who love to grill.
This grill can easily be used for low and slow cooking as well as searing, so you can make any type of food you want.
It has a one-touch cleaning system that makes it easy to clean, and it only weighs 33 pounds, making transportation a breeze.
With their durability and reputation, you can never go wrong with a Weber grill!
- Retains heat extremely well
- Incredibly easy clean-up system
- This grill will last a lifetime as it’s as sturdy as they come
- If you ever have to find replacement parts, you have to go directly through Weber
- The lid is heavy, which is good for heat retention, but hard to manage with a plate full of burgers in the other hand
If you’re looking for a great grill cart, then the PK Grills Classic is the perfect option for you.
This grill is made from cast aluminum from top to bottom and features a two-wheel design that makes it easy to move around.
The PK Grills Classic also comes with an ash pan for easy cleanup because of its sloped design.
In terms of cooking space, this charcoal grill can be used for both direct and indirect cooking, so you can utilize its full potential. This can also be used as either a griller or a smoker, so you don’t need to buy two different appliances to expand your culinary horizons.
The PK Grills Classic is a great option for those who want to cook on a budget; it’s very affordable.
It has a wide cooking surface that allows you to cook multiple items at once, and its four-point venting system provides better control over the temperature.
Plus, its cart is what makes this grill stand out from the rest. If you’re looking for a great grill cart, the PK Grills Classic is the perfect option for you.
- Made from cast aluminum
- Easy-to-assemble features
- Features a two-wheel design
- It can be difficult to control the temperature
- Took a few cooks to get used to opening the grill “sideways”
The Char-Griller AKORN Jr. is the perfect portable charcoal grill for those who love to cook on the go.
This grill is made from powder-coated steel and features a cast iron cooking grate that can be used for both direct and indirect cooking.
It is very durable and can be used for years to come, and it allows you to save money in the long run.
The cooking space for this charcoal grill is 155 square inches, which let me squeeze on 8 burgers at once while testing it out.
These grills also feature a temperature gauge that can be helpful when cooking. Since it’s simple to set up and use, this is perfect for those who love to camp or tailgate.
It doesn’t require any tools for assembly, so you can set it up in minutes.
The Char-Griller AKORN Jr. is also a great option for those who are looking for a budget-friendly charcoal grill.
Its heavy-duty construction and portability make it a great choice for those who love to grill.
Its accessories are sold separately, so you do need to pay extra for them, but this allows you to only spend on what you’ll use.
- Very portable
- Made from powder-coated steel, so this thing will last a long time
- Features a cast iron cooking grate for even heat distribution
- It’s a short-legged charcoal grill, so although great for tailgating, it likely wouldn’t make an everyday grill unless you have a separate stand for it
We all know that smoking meat is a process that takes time and patience. However, with the Royal Gourmet, you can smoke your favorite meats without any hassle.
This grill features an offset smoker and a front table that can be used as a prep station or a serving spot.
The Royal Gourmet also comes with a temperature gauge that is reliable and accurate.
This grill is very easy to assemble and can be put together in minutes without any of your own tools.
The Royal Gourmet’s two-level adjustable fire grates are easy to use, and it also has a storage shelf that can be used for storing your BBQ tools or other items.
Its side shelves can be folded when not in use, and you can easily transport it with its two wheels.
Its black coating is sturdy and weather-proof, preventing the grill from rusting.
The ability to use this as a grill or a smoker while having a modest price is also why this was made our list as an affordable offset smoker.
- Features an offset smoker
- Has a front table for prep work or serving
- Entry-level price point for a combo grill and smoker
- Comes with heat-resitant BBQ gloves
- While having the front shelf is nice, I didn’t want to use it much because it didn’t feel like it could hold much food at the same time
Tabletop grills are perfect for those who have limited space in their backyard or patio.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler is the ideal tabletop grill for those who want to enjoy grilling without taking up too much space.
This grill is very compact and can be easily transported from one place to another. It also has a durable construction that can withstand the elements.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler also comes with a temperature gauge, which is why it is one of the most popular tabletop grills on the market today.
This has a thick cast iron cooking grate that can retain heat very well.
It also has an adjustable damper that can be used to control the amount of airflow. This is perfect for those who want to smoke their meats and need to control the temperature.
Its height-adjustable features also allow you to fine-tune the temperature to your liking.
If you’re looking for a tabletop grill that’s easy to use and has all the features you need, you can rely on the Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler.
- Compact and portable so you can take it anywhere
- Has an adjustable damper for easy temperature control
- Although the instructions for assembly could have been way more clear, it only took me 22 minutes to fully put it together
For those who want to grill for large gatherings, the Char-Grill 2137 is perfect for you.
This grill has a large capacity and can accommodate up to 38 burgers at once. Now that’s some cooking space!
When it comes to extra space, this grill also has a bottom shelf that can be used for storing your BBQ tools. Not just that, it also has side and front tables that can be used for prep work or as serving stations.
If you are looking for a grill that’s big enough to serve a party, the Char-Grill 2137 is perfect for you.
It has all the features that you need to cater a large group with ease, so make sure to check it out. This could be the perfect grill for your next BBQ party.
- Has a large capacity
- Comes with an infrared searing burner
- Has a side burner and rotisserie kit
- You have to lift up on the side shelf to move it around, which makes that table weak pretty quickly. This wouldn’t be a problem if it has a permanent home, though.
If you want a grill where you can easily adjust the charcoal height, then the Outsunny Charcoal Grill is perfect for you.
This grill comes with an easy-to-use ash pan that can be used to control the amount of heat that your food gets.
It also has an adjustable air vent that can be used to manage the amount of smoke that is released.
This grill is also very easy to assemble and comes with all the necessary tools that you need.
If you’re looking for a grill that is easy to use and has everything you need to get started, you can rely on the Outsunny Charcoal Grill.
This grill guarantees that your food will be evenly cooked. It also has a durable construction that can withstand the elements.
This is a three-in-one grill that can be used as a BBQ, smoker, and oven.
Its ample space and easy-to-use features make it one of the most popular charcoal grills on the market today, so if you want the perfect outdoor cooking experience, check out the Outsunny Charcoal Grill to get the job done.
- Easy to use ash pan
- Adjustable air vent
- Durable construction
- I’ve put together a lot of grills, but the instructions for this one were not very clear. If you’re handy, no big deal. If you’re not, you’ll have some frustration with the assembly.
What Are Charcoal Grills?
Charcoal grills are grills that use charcoal as their primary heat source and fuel. The heat generated by the burning charcoal is used for cooking food on a metal grate above the coals.
These are the most popular grills on the market, and they come in a variety of sizes and styles to choose from to suit your individual needs.
A charcoal grill can be made in many different materials, including cast iron, steel, or ceramic, which can affect how well the grill retains heat and how evenly it cooks your food.
Read More >> How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill
How Does a Charcoal Grill Work?
Most charcoal grills have a firebox, where the charcoal is placed, and a grill grate, where the food is cooked.
There are vents on the bottom of the firebox that allow air to flow into the grill and control the temperature. There are also vents on the top of the grill, which allow the smoke and heat to escape.
To cook on a charcoal grill, you first need to light the charcoal. There are many different ways to do this, but one of the most common ways is to place the charcoal in the firebox and light it with a match or lighter.
Once the charcoal is lit, you need to wait for it to ash over.
You will know that it is ashed over when the flames have died down and the coals are covered in a thin layer of gray ash. This process can take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes.
When the charcoal is ready, you can start cooking!
Place your food on the grill grate and close the lid. The heat from the charcoal will cook the food, and the vents will help control the temperature.
To get a smoky flavor, you can add wood chips to the charcoal before you start cooking.
Read More >> Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking Food
What Should You Look for When Buying a Charcoal Grill?
There are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a charcoal grill, such as:
- Size: A charcoal grill can come in a variety of sizes, from small personal grills to large commercial models. Choose a size that will suit your needs and the space you have available.
- Price: The good thing about charcoal grills is that they come in a variety of prices to fit any budget. You can find a quality grill for under $100, or you can spend a few thousand dollars on a top-of-the-line model.
- Material: Charcoal grills can be made from many different types of materials, such as cast iron, steel, or ceramic. Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choose one that you think will work best for you.
- Features: Some charcoal grills come with additional features, such as side tables or shelves, that can be helpful when cooking. Others even come with storage areas for charcoal or tools.
- Durability: You want a grill that’s going to last, so look for one that’s made from high-quality materials and has a warranty. Warranties can get you a full refund or replacement if something goes wrong.
- Ease of Use: You also want to find a charcoal grill that is easy to use, so look for one with an adjustable fire grate and vents. This will allow you to control the temperature of the grill easily.
Pros and Cons of Charcoal Grills
- Flexible price range
- Added smoky flavor for food
- Can be used for grilling or smoking food
- They can be messy to clean
- Charcoal can be more difficult to light compared to a gas grill
- It can be hard to control the temperature
- They require some time and effort to set up and use whereas a gas grill can fire up at the click of a button
Read More >> How to Use a Charcoal Smoker
What Are the Main Differences Between Charcoal Grills and Gas Grills?
Charcoal grills use, you guessed it, charcoal as the main fuel source.
You’ll need to light the charcoal using lighter fluid or a special starter, and then let it burn until it’s covered in white ash. This can take a while, but the end result of that classic charcoal flavor is worth every minute.
You can also easily add wood chips and turn your charcoal grill into a charcoal smoker!
Propane grills, on the other hand, use propane gas as the fuel source.
Propane is a type of gas that comes in a cylinder, and you connect that cylinder to the grill using a special hose, which is part of the grill.
This is a lot easier and faster than lighting charcoal, and you can control the heat more precisely. On the flip side, propane grills also tend to be more expensive than charcoal grills.
With the help of an extra accessory known as a smoke tube, you can add some smoke flavor to your meat on a gas grill. I guess that means you can get your steak and eat it too. 😉
So, the main differences are the fuel sources, how easy they are to start, and how much control you have over the temperature.
How Do You Clean a Charcoal Grill?
The good news is that most of the time, you only have to clean the grill grates, which is easy to do.
It’s much easier to keep it clean than to let a bunch of grime build up.
But when you do need to deep clean it, it’s not too bad either. You can follow our guide on cleaning your charcoal grill.
Can You Use Wood in a Charcoal Grill?
You can use wood in a charcoal grill, but it’s vital to choose the right type of wood.
Hardwoods, such as hickory or oak, are the best to use because they burn slowly and evenly.
Softwoods such as pine or cedar, however, should be avoided because they can cause the fire to flare up and burn your food.
Why Do Charcoal Burgers Taste Better?
Because of its ability to reach high cooking temperatures and a lot of smoke, charcoal grilling imparts a unique flavor to foods. The high heat chars the exterior of the food while the inside remains juicy and moist. This contrast of textures and flavors is what makes charcoal-grilled burgers so delicious!
You can also imbue them with beautifully smoky flavors with the right wood chips.
Is it Worth Buying A Charcoal Grill?
Yes, we absolutely believe that it is worth it to buy a charcoal grill. They are versatile, portable, and durable, making them an excellent investment for any griller. Charcoal grills tend to be less expensive and easier to use than gas grills.
What Is the Best Charcoal Grill?
The best charcoal grill on the market right now is the Masterbuilt Gravity 560. It is easy to use, has electronic temperature control for perfect temps, and it can go from low-and-slow smoking to hot-and-fast searing within minutes.
What Is the Most Affordable Charcoal Grill?
Cuisinart makes an 18″ kettle grill that is usually under $100. While it’s not made from material as thick as a Weber kettle grill, and therefore isn’t as longstanding, if you’re looking for a cheap charcoal grill that works really well, this is your new toy!
Final Thoughts on Charcoal Grills
Like finding any other product that fits your needs, choosing the right grill can be tricky. There are many options out there, so it’s hard to know which one will work best for you without doing some serious research first.
However, when it comes to grills, one thing is easy to figure out: charcoal is definitely the way to go.
It may take a little bit longer to get going than a gas grill, but the flavor it brings to your food is definitely worth the wait. If you’re in the market for a charcoal grill but you don’t know which to pick, we’re hopeful our buying helped make your decision easier.
We put together this list of the top ten charcoal grills on the market based on our own extensive research and testing of 39 different charcoal grills.
Whether you’re looking for something small and portable or something large enough to feed a crowd, you can definitely find the perfect grill for you on our list.
There’s nothing better than cooking your first meal on a new charcoal grill. You’ll be an all-killer, no-filler griller in no time!