5 Best Portable Charcoal Grills for Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Looking to upgrade your outdoor cooking game? Look no further than portable charcoal grills! Whether you’re grilling at the beach, on a camping trip, or in your own backyard, a portable charcoal grill is a versatile and flavorful option. And hey, no one said you can’t be a grill master AND a world traveler.

There are several portable charcoal grills available on the market, and we’ve rated and reviewed them all. They’re ranked below so you can find the best portable charcoal grill for your family. 

So, without further delay, read on to check out the best portable charcoal grills!

The Best Portable Charcoal Grills Ranked

1. Best Overall: Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill

2. Best Runner-Up: Weber Jumbo Joe

3. Best Portable Kamado Grill: Char-Griller E06614

4. Best on a Budget: Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill

5. Best Tailgate Grill: Oklahoma Joe Rambler

The Best Portable Charcoal Grills

1. Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill (Best Overall)

Masterbuilt MB20040722 Portable Charcoal Grill with Cart, Black
$324.71
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06/12/2024 02:43 am GMT

We can’t say enough about this amazing Masterbuilt charcoal grill. Not only does it have collapsible legs allowing you to easily fold it up and store it, but it also has wheels for easy moving once it is set up. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about having space on your table for grilling while camping because this grill stands all on its own.

The Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill has a wide range of temperatures from 250°F-500°F and can hold 1.5 lbs of charcoal which gives you a solid 4 hours of cook time.

You don’t need to worry about bringing a power source, as this grill can be loaded with batteries (though there is a cord option if you prefer). There is also a dial for easy lighting, temperature adjustment, and monitoring. 

With enough space for 8 burgers or 10 hot dogs, this isn’t the largest grill, but it can still feed your whole family on the go. If you prefer tabletop grilling, this grill can be ordered without the cart, but the cart is one of the reasons we’ve listed this grill as number one! 

What we love about this grill is that with the easy lighting and temperature dial, even if you don’t have much experience using charcoal you will still be able to use this grill.

Specifications:

Dimensions: 18.8 X 44.6 X 36.2 inches

Weight: 52lbs

Fuel Source: Charcoal, electricity or batteries

Easy to Use: Yes

Easy to Clean: Yes

Portable: 9/10 (cart is a must!)

Temperature Range: 250°-500°F

2. Weber Jumbo Joe (Best Runner Up)

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black
$89.0010
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06/12/2024 02:28 am GMT

If you love your full-size Weber Kettle grill, then the Weber Jumbo Joe is a must. While the name might be a bit deceiving, really, this grill is just like the full-size versions of these grills but heavily compacted. 

To start, this grill has the same cooking space as the 18” Kettle classic but only weighs 22 lbs, making it even easier to carry than the Masterbuilt grill. Charcoal is the only way to power the grill, meaning there are no cords or batteries required. We do recommend bringing your charcoal chimney with you to make this grill easier to start!

Unlike the Masterbuilt, there is no dial on this grill, and you will use it just as you would your Kettle grill at home. There is also no way to extend the legs, meaning you will need a table or tailgate to place this grill on. But it is one of the lightest on the list, so for camping where you can’t drive into the campsite, it is a real lifesaver! 

This grill is mostly recommended for those who have Weber Kettle grill experience. If you don’t have any, you might find this grill difficult to use. 

Specifications:

Dimensions: 19.75D X 20.5W X 19.75H inches

Weight: 22lbs

Fuel Source: Charcoal only

Easy to Use: Only if you’ve used a Kettle Grill before

Easy to Clean: Yes

Portable: 9/10

Temperature Range: 250°-700°F

3. Char-Griller E06614 (Best Portable Kamado Grill)

Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr. Portable Kamado Charcoal Grill, Red
$197.77
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06/12/2024 12:47 pm GMT

Kamado grills are known for running on charcoal but are able to cook much more than just a basic charcoal grill. If you’ve got a Kamado grill you know and love at home, then the Char-Griller E06614 is a no-brainer to take on the go. 

The Char-Griller isn’t as easy to move as the Weber Jumbo Joe, but it is still only 33 lbs, so you shouldn’t have a problem lifting it from place to place. The Kamado Joe is additionally easy to clean thanks to the removable ash pan.

One of our favorite parts about this grill is the massive amount of cooking space you get. With 155 sq inches as well as a dial temperature control, you can smoke or grill up to 8 burgers at once. 

While you don’t need a table for the Char-Griller, you won’t be standing at your full height like you will be for the Masterbuilt either. With its unique egg shape, this grill can be placed on the ground though you will likely need to lean or bend down in order to check on the contents. 

Getting the hang of cooking on a Kamado Joe isn’t too difficult, but if you’ve never used one before, you may want to practice a bit before you head out to the wilderness. Just keep in mind that while you can grill, bake, and smoke with a Kamado Joe, searing can be a bit difficult compared to a regular charcoal grill. 

Specifications:

Dimensions: 20 X 20 X 26 inches

Weight: 33lbs

Fuel Source: Charcoal only

Easy to Use: Yes

Easy to Clean: Yes

Portable: 7/10

Temperature Range: 250°-450°F

4. Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill (Best on a Budget)

Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch BBQ, 14" x 14" x 15", Portable Charcoal Grill, 14" (Red)
$39.99 $26.47
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06/12/2024 02:38 am GMT

Are you on a strict budget when it comes to picking a portable charcoal grill? We’ve got you there. The Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill is the cheapest on the market. While it isn’t anything fancy, it will certainly get the job done until you can afford something nicer.

The Cuisinart is small and extremely portable, being the most similar to the Weber Jumbo Joe. While you won’t fit quite as much on it, it’s the same shape and concept, giving you a similar cooking space of 196 square inches. Weighing only a few pounds, this is a portable grill that anyone in your family can carry.

Even though this grill is similar to the Weber Jumbo Joe, it’s important to note that this grill isn’t as durable as the Weber Jumbo Joe. In fact, this grill only costs a few dollars, and for a good reason. You can definitely use it on your next camping trip, but know that this isn’t a grill that you will have around for years to come. 

If you’ve used a charcoal grill before, you’ll have no problem with the Cuisinart. But if you are new to charcoal, you should grab a different grill that allows you to control the temperature, as it is easier to learn on. 

Just like with the Weber Jumbo Joe, this grill isn’t freestanding, and you’ll need a table to put it on. But for the price, it’s such a good deal it’s a good place to start. 

Specifications:

Dimensions: 14.6 X 14 X 15 inches

Weight: 4lbs

Fuel Source: Charcoal only

Easy to Use: Somewhat, charcoal experience recommended

Easy to Clean: Yes

Portable: 10/10

Temperature Range: 250°-500+°F

5. Oklahoma Joe Rambler (Best Tailgate Charcoal Grill)

Oklahoma Joe's 19402088 Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill, Black
$199.00 $159.00
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06/12/2024 02:43 pm GMT

If you love to tailgate with your charcoal grill, then there is no better option than the Oklahoma Joe Rambler. This small charcoal grill works best while sitting on a table or tailgate and can easily be lifted using the two side handles. 

What we love about this grill is the cooking space. At 218 square inches, it’s one of the biggest on the list, giving you the ability to cook for the maximum number of people. We also love how easy this grill is to use.

While it isn’t quite as easy as the Kamado Joe or Masterbuilt, it is much easier than the Weber or Cuisinart grill. We think a beginner, once they mastered lighting the charcoal, could impress people with this grill. 

There’s a temperature dial on this grill, making it easy to estimate cooking times, and this grill is durable enough that you don’t have to worry about denting it or damaging it. It’s also got a removable ash tray for easy cleaning, so you won’t spend hours scooping ash.

While this grill is a bit on the heavy side, 48 lbs with no wheels, we still think it is manageable for most travel situations, as long as you can drive within a few yards of your campsite. No batteries or electricity are needed for this grill, and you can even smoke a whole brisket! 

Specifications:

Dimensions: 19.5 X 26.8 X 21.8 inches

Weight: 48lbs

Fuel Source: Charcoal only

Easy to Use: Somewhat, charcoal experience recommended

Easy to Clean: Yes

Portable: 7/10

Temperature Range: 250°-500+°F

What to Look For in a Portable Charcoal Grill

There is no one grill that fits all. Everyone’s grilling style and experience are different, which plays a huge part in selecting the grill that is right for you. Below we go through a few of the things you should consider as you shop for your portable charcoal grill. 

Weight

While all of the grills on our list are around the same size, they vary greatly in weight. Remember, if you are taking this grill on the go, you need to consider if you will be expected to carry it or not. If you are, think of what you can lift comfortably. 

Ease of Carrying

Besides just how much weight you will carry, you need to also consider how you will carry the grill. While all of the grills on our list have some sort of handles that can be used for easy carrying, you may come across portable charcoal grills that don’t have this, making it that much more difficult to move your grill from place to place. 

Cooking Space

Most portable charcoal grills are small, but some have even less cooking space than others. Beyond deciding how heavy of a grill you want to carry, you should also make sure you can cook for your entire family. 

If it’s just you and your spouse, this is likely less of a big deal than if you’ve got a few kids. And if camping is an extended family affair, then you better grab something like the Oklahoma Joe that will allow you to cook an entire brisket. 

Power Source

All of the grills on this list require charcoal, but some also require electricity or batteries to use the lighting feature. Ensure you are planning to use your grill somewhere where you will have access to these items if your desired grill has them. If you go with a basic charcoal grill, then charcoal is all you’ll need!

Ease of Use

Charcoal grilling is a bit of a skill. Unlike gas or pellet grills which are turned on and turned to the right temperature, with a charcoal grill, you have to be able to light the charcoals and then estimate the heat the grill is giving off yourself. 

Some of the more premium grills on this list have other methods of helping you with these tasks, such as an auto-ignition or temperature gauge.

You need to consider your own experience when choosing to have a grill with extra features. If you aren’t an experienced charcoal griller, we highly recommend choosing a more premium grill that will help you along! 

How Easy the Grill is to Clean

If you are headed camping or to a tailgate, remember that you will need to keep how you plan on cleaning your grill in your mind as you shop. All of the portable charcoal grills we listed have an easy cleaning system, but some of the less expensive grills available may be quite the challenge to clean. 

What You Plan to Grill

All portable charcoal grills will have space for hamburgers and hotdogs. But if your family is like mine, you are probably already thinking of asking which grills will allow you to smoke a brisket or maybe even a whole chicken.

When this is the case, you’ll likely need to do a little more research to ensure the charcoal grill you want will fit these more complicated dinners. 

Pros and Cons of Charcoal Grills

Still not sure if you are sold on the idea of a portable charcoal grill? Well, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of a charcoal grill for you as a whole to aid in your decision-making process. 

Pros:

  • Lower in cost than other types of grills
  • Most charcoal grills sear really well
  • Amazing taste
  • Lightweight because the charcoal can be carried separately
  • Easy to take on the go because they often don’t require electricity

Cons:

  • More difficult to use than other types of grills
  • Difficult to tell what temperature they are at without auxiliary features
  • Can be difficult to clean up
  • Cannot be left unattended
  • Hard to light without a chimney or other tool

Related >> How To Put Out A Charcoal Grill (3 Easy Steps)

Who Are Portable Charcoal Grills Good For?

Overall, portable charcoal grills are for those who have experience cooking with charcoal who want to take their grill on the go. If you are new to cooking with charcoal, we recommend looking into another type of grill to take on the go that you have more experience with. 

They are also best for someone who doesn’t mind babysitting their food–as you need to keep an eye on the charcoal. If you prefer to set it and leave it, then a gas or pellet grill is a better idea for you. 

If you aren’t experienced with charcoal, we recommend purchasing a full-size charcoal grill to test out in your backyard first. This way, you won’t be left hungry when you head out camping and discover you aren’t as good at cooking over charcoal as you thought! 

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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