Although there are numerous ways to grill food outdoors, most people have fond and delicious memories of the backyard barbecue grill stoked with glowing charcoal and ready to cook burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and more. The tantalizing aroma of seared steaks and meat doused with your favorite barbecue sauces is a sure sign the summer has arrived.
To buy the best charcoal grill, you'd need to do research and searching for information. But our experts at Sweet Lady Cook have done the work for you so you can buy your grill and get barbecuing this weekend!
Best Choice - Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill
When you want to diverge from the doldrums of indoor cooking and get the itch to cook outdoors in the fresh air, you'll want to consider the benefits of a charcoal grill like this Weber Smokey Joe—a classic Weber grill in a portable size. These Go-Anywhere Grills from Weber have all the features of the full-size grills but fit in small places for anywhere you travel. You'll get the same great tasting results from this tried and true portable grill as any of the full-size Weber products!
The 5 Best Charcoal Grills on The Market
#1 Best Choice Weber 10020
5 Year Limited Warranty
#2 Weber 14401001
10 Year Limited Warranty
#3 Weber 741001
10 Year Limited Warranty
#4 Char-Griller 2-2424
10 Year Limited Warranty
#5 Char-Griller 1515
1 Year Limited Warranty
363 sq. in
363 sq. in
240 sq. in
363 sq. in
508 sq. in
360 sq. in
250 sq. in
Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker
153 sq. in
447 sq. in
635 sq. in
The 5 Best Charcoal Grills For The Money
1. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill
We love this Weber Smokey Joe portable grill! It's just the right size for camping, RV'ing, a day at the lake, or a picnic at the park. It's a popular traveling grill with all the features and durability of any Weber product. You can actually fit 3 steaks or 6 burgers on the 14 ½ diameter grill surface and the well-designed construction saves on charcoal costs by holding in the heat in the porcelain-enameled grill bottom and lid. The durability and high quality material resists rust and warping and an ash tray under the grill collects ash for easy cleanup. You can't go wrong with this small but very useful portable grill!
- 14-1/2-inch diameter Cooking Grate is triple nickel-plated
- Portable grill perfect for camping, tailgate events, and small backyard patios
- Grill body has a porcelain enameled coating which prevents rust and fading
- Grill can fit 2 steaks or 6 burgers
- Handle gets too hot to handle without an insulated mitt.
2. Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
This is the original Weber Kettle Grill with premium features. We love the hinged cooking grate that makes it easy to add charcoal while grilling and the dampers that allow you to set the temperature and when closed completely, endure the coals g out. (Always check to be sure the coals are completely extinguished before leaving the grill unattended.) One side of this grill has hooks to hang utensils like a grill brush, spatula, and grill fork and the handle is shielded from heat for safer operation. There's nothing common about this premium barbecue grill and as always, it holds up for years like other Weber grills!
- Grill bowl and lid are 2 inch diameter and porcelain enameled
- 363 square inch cooking surface
- One-Touch cleaning system made with aluminized steel
- Removable, high-capacity, ash container
- Customers complained the screws and bolts do not fit snugly and tighten properly.
3. Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
This Weber Kettle Grill can withstand higher temperatures for searing meat and can also maintain lower temperatures for slow cooking. The grill's lid and bowl are porcelain-enameled to ward off peeling and cracking from high heat and is rust resistant. A heavy duty steel grate promotes even cooking and is easy to clean. An ash catcher, heat shield for the handle, tilted cover hooks, and adjustable dampers make barbecue meals a breeze with this kettle grill for charcoal grilling. The grates for the charcoal briquettes to sit on is heavy duty steel to prevent warping and bending from high heat and a One-Touch cleaning system with 3 blades makes this a great purchase that will last you through all your barbecues and summer parties!
- Large capacity 363 square inches of cooking surface
- Cooking grate is plated steel and 22 inches diameter
- Heat shield and reinforced nylon handles
- One-Touch Cleaning for easy clean-up
- There are frequent reports of the screw for the handle being missing. Check for it when you first open the box.
4. Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box
This Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box serves as a barbecue grill and side box to use with any Char-Griller barrel grill made for smoking. Its portable size makes it a great option for camping, a day at the lake, tailgating, and RV traveling. This grill is made from heavy duty steel to last for years of use. Although a table-top grill size, you have 250 square inches of grill to cook burgers, chicken, kebabs, grilled vegetables and more! It comes designed with two dampers to adjust the cooking temperature. To make it even easier to use, the Char-Griller Table Top grill has an ash pan that is convenient and makes cleaning up simple!
- Cooking grates are made from durable cast iron
- 250 -square inches of cooking space
- Handle on hood stays cool for easy opening
- Use for a charcoal grill and smoker
- When using with higher temperatures from lump coal or wood, the paint is subject to bubbling and peeling off.
5. Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill
For a smaller patio or limited space, the Char-Grill Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is the perfect option. Although compact, this barbecue grill has 250 square inches of grilling surface; enough for a whole chicken or six kebabs and a host of vegetables on the side. The grill body is made from thick steel and the grate is cast iron to create a perfectly seasoned grilling area. Cooking on this grill for backyard barbecues is convenient and cleanup is easy with an ash pan that slides out for ash disposal. Wheels make this grill easy to move around and use anywhere in your yard. There's nothing like the flavors of grilled foods cook on charcoal!
- Cast iron cooking grates for long-lasting use
- Wheels make this grill portable
- Side shelf for utensils, pans, and other items
- Stay cool handle protects from burns
- This grill does not have a grease drip opening and pan, which causes grease to pool in the bottom and leak from loose seals.
The Origin of Charcoal Grilling
From the pit-roasting of a whole pig in the ground to today's high-tech barbecue grills, all our favorite home barbecue cooking comes from the original charcoal fuel source. Remember that delicious taste as you bit into a juicy hamburger with charred grill stripes to accent the flavor? It was done on a steel grill place atop glowing red coals; the result of sufficiently heated charcoal.
The original charcoal company, Kingsford Products Company, automatically absorbed the origin of commercially produced charcoal, but it was actually a man named Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer who patented the first developed charcoal briquettes in 1897. The marketing leverage of Henry Ford, car mogul, promoted his idea to use the left over wood scraps and sawdust from the manufacturing of his Model T. Kingsford was founded in 1921 and still produces much of the charcoal purchased today.
Essentials of a Charcoal Grill
Charcoal grilling in its primitive element is a bowl-shaped steel or aluminum grill with a lid, a grate at the bottom to hold charcoal briquettes, a grate to grill meat and other food, and a damper to control the temperature. You won't typically find electronics, LED screens, or timers and gadgets.
To barbecue the very best meats and dishes, all you need is the essential grill and your choice of charcoal, lump charcoal, or wood chips for your heat source. A few other nifty features can be valuable too.
A properly placed damper with vents to control air flow and thus temperature is needed to cook food with the right amount of heat. A grill surface with a hinged side, like the Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, makes it easy and safe to add more fuel. Something to protect the grill handle from getting hot is an important safety feature. Wheels on at least one side of the frame makes the barbecue grill easy to move around. Hooks on the side are perfect for hanging utensils and a hand towel for spills. And if your grill comes with a die table, it's a great place to store condiments and plates.
The size of your grill is determined by where you plan on using it and if you need one that is portable. Our top pick, the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill, is a small-sized yet tough little grill that can be transported easily and still delivers big taste and delicious barbecued foods! Nothing beats the taste of outdoor cooked foods and charcoal grilling is a time-tested method for the best barbecue!
Reminisce about the god ole' days of summer barbecues and once you can almost smell the old time backyard barbecue meals, go ahead and purchase the best charcoal grill to start tasting and eating those fond memories—not just reminiscing!