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Best Charcoal Grill – Complete Reviews with Comparisons

Let’s take a look at our top 5 recommendations for the best charcoal grill, followed by our buyers guide and FAQs. Read on to learn more.

Nothing says summer quite like cooking burgers, steaks, chicken, and corn on the grill. While some barbecue grills are very convenient, they will never be able to match a charcoal grill when looking at taste.

Gas grills don’t give you a smoky flavor like charcoal and wood grills do. So, if you are looking for a grill for the season, you best look at getting a top charcoal grill.

But, you first need to consider a few things before going out and buying the first charcoal grill you see.

Although charcoal grills are simple, there is a big difference between top-quality and cheaply built grills. If you want your food grilled to perfection, you need to know what makes a top grill.

You need to consider things like grill size and shape, materials, weight, and brand. Let’s take a look at our top 5 recommendations for the best charcoal grill, followed by our buyers guide and FAQs that allow you to make an informed decision.

Comparison Chart

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

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Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill

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Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill

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PK Grills PK 99740 Original Grill & Smoker

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Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

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Charcoal Grill Reviews

1. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

If you would like to grill while camping, fishing, at the beach, or your backyard, then this Weber portable grill has just what you need: a high quality product that is also affordable.

Product highlights

This grill by Weber is the ideal traveling grill; its compact size allows you to take it on camping and fishing trips, tailgate parties, cookouts, and picnics. It is 17 in. (H) x 14.5 in. (D) x 14.25 in. (W) and weighs just 9.42 pounds.

While it is small, you can cook up to 8 burgers or 3 steaks at the same time. The bowl and lid are porcelain enameled and retain heat evenly while resisting rust and corrosion. This grill comes with a 31-page manual with cooking tips and recipes for Cornish hens to bratwurst to pork chops and everything in between.

The Weber Smokey Joe grill comes with a 10-year limited warranty, ensuring that you are purchasing a top-quality product. The ash catcher is made from robust aluminum and the cooking grate is steel plated. The lid also has a handle to allow you to easily lift it to check on your food while preventing the risk of burns.

What’s to like about the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

Although it is compact, it still packs a punch in terms of a high-quality build. Plus, if you do not have a huge family, what more could you need?

What’s not to like about the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

Some users reported that the assembly instructions are a bit unclear. A few others also complained that you need to stack the charcoal quite high in order to be able to cook your food.

PROS

  • checkStrong aluminum ash catcher
  • checkSteel plated cooking grate
  • checkRust-resistant dampers made from aluminum
  • checkHandle with a lid to prevent burning

CONS

  • Assembly instructions could be clearer
  • Distance between base and grate is a bit far

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2. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill

This grill is an innovative update to classic kettle-style grills. This Char-Broil grill gives you all of the benefits that you would expect but ups the ante with its new infrared cooking technology.

Product highlights

This grill is constructed with a rust-resistant porcelain-coated lid that is very easy to clean. The infrared cooking grate is also porcelain coated and has been designed to evenly spread heat, eliminate flareups, and use less charcoal.

This grill weighs just 36 lbs. and can easily be rolled from one place to another. It stands at a height of 29.9 in., which is perfect for most people. The 360 sq. in. cooking space allows you to enjoy barbecues with all your friends and family.

Char-Broil specifically designed this model with a nifty hinged lid that allows you to operate it hands free, and you never have to place the lid on the ground. The lid has a vent that allows you to regulate the temperature inside the grill. The charcoal grate is adjustable and the ash bowl is slide-in and allows for mess-free, simple cleanup.

The infrared grates ensure you use less charcoal, even heat distribution, and they provide a great barrier between the flames and your food, promising that you never need to worry about flareups.

What’s to like about the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill

This grill is very easy to use and boasts an infrared cooking grate that allows you to evenly cook all of your favorite foods on the large cooking space.

What’s not to like about the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill

This Char-Broil grill can be a bit complicated to use, especially when compared to the ease of other grills, but once you have the hang of it, you will enjoy it.

PROS

  • checkEasy-to-use infrared cooking grate
  • checkHinged lid for simple use
  • check360 sq. in. cooking space
  • checkLightweight 36 lb. grill

CONS

  • Could be simpler to use

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3. Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill

If you want to cook your steaks to perfection in no time in a hassle-free grill, then this Char-Griller Deluxe grill will quickly become a favorite in your home.

Product highlights

This grill has 2 dampers and a flame grate that can be changed, as well as a temperature gauge so you can monitor your grilling. The side rack and marinade tray allow you to place your tools, food, and spices within easy reach.

This grill has a solid design thanks to its heavy-duty metal build and various layers for improved sturdiness. The grill itself is cast iron and will sear your food to perfection. You can lift and lower the flame grate to add more or less heat to your food.

The grill comes with an underside ledge where you can store your charcoal. There is a massive 580 sq. in. cooking space that gives you more than enough room to cook for your whole family. This grill can also be cleaned in minutes – just dump the ash pot, give it a rinse, and let it dry.

What’s to like about the Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill

You only need a few charcoal briquettes to cook your food. The grill adds a delicious smoky flavor to your meat. You can keep the heat consistent by using the crank handle when adjusting the charcoal.

What’s not to like about the Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill

The rectangle-shaped grill only has 3 legs, which can be unstable. You will need to replace the cooking and charcoal grate every few years.

PROS

  • checkVery easy to assemble
  • checkNon-stick cast-iron rack
  • checkAirtight lid for even grilling
  • checkEffortless to clean

CONS

  • Need to keep an eye on food at high temperatures
  • Screws can misalign

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4. PK Grills The Original Grill & Smoker

If you are looking for a durable, stylish grill, then this robust premium charcoal grill and smoker by PK Grills is one of the best options on the market, promising excellent barbecues every time.

Product highlights

This grill is made with cast aluminum that has been hand-poured like how it was done in the 1950s. The thick construction ensures that the grill will never rust while also retaining heat better and more evenly that its competitors. The lightweight carriage is made from aluminum and the cooking grid is made from nickel-plated steel, promising a grill that looks good and grills better.

This grill is 35 in. (L) x 35 in. (H) x 16.5 in. (W) and boasts a cooking surface of 301 square in.. This means there is plenty of space to cook different foods at the same time. The cooking section can detach from the carriage, allowing you to disassemble the grill in minutes.

This grill retains heat optimally due to its thick design and 4-way ventilation system. This means you can keep the temperature steadily between 180°F and 700°F. You can easily use this grill for low and slow, or for high and fast cooking.

What’s to like about the PK Grills The Original Grill & Smoker

This grill has strong aluminum casting that promises a product that will last for years. It is also very attractive and can be disassembled to take along on camping and fishing trips.

What’s not to like about the PK Grills The Original Grill & Smoker

This grill is a bit more expensive than other grills in its category, but it is made to last for many years, so the price is worth the investment over time.

PROS

  • checkRobust aluminum casting
  • checkEasy to disassemble
  • checkStylish yet functional
  • checkCan cook on high and low temperatures

CONS

  • Quite pricey

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5. Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

If you would like a heavy-duty grill that is effective as well as durable, this grill is just what you need. Plus, it has a large cooking space, perfect for summer barbecues.

Product highlights

This grill is very easy to use because of its simple design and nifty temperature gauge. The lid is powder coated and can tolerate very high heat while the warming rack is chrome plated to resist corrosion and rust, and is safe for your food.

This grill has an easy-to-adjust charcoal pan that allows you to easily regulate the heat in your grill. This grill measures 44.88 in. x 42.32 in. x 26.38 in. and has an impressive 372 sq. in. of cooking space, which is enough to grill up to 20 burgers at the same time.

There is a side shelf that is foldable and perfect for holding tools, spices, and food. There is also a 201 sq. in. warming rack that is chrome plated and a handy bottle opener built in.

What’s to like about the Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

This grill has plenty of space to cook up all of your family’s favorite foods. There is a large warming rack to keep your food warm once cooked if you are still waiting on other items to finish off.

What’s not to like about the Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

This heavy-duty grill could be constructed from a more sturdy, thicker metal that could hold up for a longer period of time. The customer service is also not as friendly or efficient as one would hope.

PROS

  • checkLarge 372 sq. in. cooking surface
  • checkCharcoal pan can be adjusted for easy cleaning and handling
  • checkEnergy efficient, powder-coated lid
  • checkFoldable shelf for holding tools, food, and spices

CONS

  • The metal could be thicker
  • Customer service is not as efficient as hoped

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BUYER’S GUIDE

The decisions that need to be made when purchasing a grill do not end at charcoal or gas. If you have decided to buy a charcoal grill, there are a few features you need to consider first.

Grill Types

There are quite a few different grill types to select from; however, there are three main types. The first, and most common, is the kettle grill. This is the classic grill that most people think of. They are made to evenly distribute heat for an excellent cooking experience. If you have a large family or group of friends and require a larger cooking surface, you should consider a barrel grill.

This grill looks like a barrel that has been sliced in half horizontally, with the lid at the top and the chamber at the bottom for charcoal. Barrel grills sometimes come with smoke boxes which allow you to smoke meat at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. A ceramic grill, sometimes also called a kamado, retains moisture and heat very well, making it ideal for roasting and smoking.

Grill Size and Shape

When purchasing a grill, it is vital to remember that size always matters; when it comes to barbecues, bigger is definitely better. Even if you normally only use your grill for your immediate family, you never know when you might have friends or family members over, and you want to be able to cook all of the food at the same time. If you want to do any smoking, you will need space for the two zones – the one side for your charcoal and the other side for your meat and vegetables.

You also want to think about where you are going to place your grill. You need to find a space that allows you to have at least 2 ft. on all sides of your grill for safety. This means you will also need to consider the shape of the grill you are going to choose: circular, rectangle, or square.

Material

There are many different types of grill materials available on the market, including: stainless steel, cast iron, plain steel, porcelain-coated steel,  and porcelain-coated cast iron. Each has their own pros and cons. Our recommendation is cast iron, as it is the most durable and it holds its heat. It is the heaviest and most expensive, but will serve you for years to come.

Weight

Grills come in many shapes and sizes, thus also many different weights. If you plan to use your grill on camping or fishing trips or picnics, you may want a lighter, more portable grill. If you plan on leaving your grill in your backyard on the porch or deck, you should look for a heavier grill that will not move in the wind.

Brands

There are many brands available on the market, with each offering their own features. There are popular, well-known brands that have been around for many years, such as Weber and PK Grills. There are also a few newer brands. Buying by brand is not as important as buying by material.

Charcoal Grill FAQ

How to use a charcoal grill?

Start by placing your coals in a charcoal chimney and preparing a fire starter; newspaper dipped in lighter fluid or vegetable oil is normally a good way to go. Light the fire starter and add it to the coals. Keep an eye on your coals as they burn – it should take around 20 minutes until they are ready.

Pour your coals evenly into the grill under the grill grate. Place your food on the grill and watch it carefully. Cover your grill as your food cooks. Use the dampers to control the heat of the grill and use a thermometer to check the temperature of your food. Remove your food once ready and enjoy.

How to smoke ribs on a charcoal grill?

It is best to cook your ribs at 225°-250°F. This will cook your ribs without burning or scorching them while maintaining the moisture. Light your charcoal and pour it on one side of your grill. Put your grate on your grill and wait until the coals are at the correct temperature.

Place your ribs on the grate furthest from your coals. Maintain the temperature by closing the air vents. Monitor the heat using a temperature probe if your grill does not have a built in one. Halfway through the cooking process, add another batch of charcoal like the first to keep the temperature maintained.

How to clean a charcoal grill?

Start by gathering your supplies. You will need foil, paper bags, a grill brush, a scourer, a putty knife, a fork. And a bristle brush. Next, remove your grill grate and clean it using the grill brush. Do the same for the charcoal grate if your grill has one. Scrub the grate using aluminum foil scrunched into a ball. Remove all debris and dirt from the grate using the foil.

Wipe or brush any debris from the bottom of your grill and place it in a paper bag. If your grill has an ash catcher, empty this into the bag too. Them use the putty knife or bristle brush to scrape off any grease from the grill. Use warm soapy water and a scourer to clean the grill. Allow the grill to dry and put your grill back together.

Are charcoal grills safe?

Cooking on a charcoal grill can be dangerous if you do not do it correctly. You could get serious burns if you use too much lighter fluid, gasoline, or other flammable substances to ignite the charcoal. You could also get monoxide poisoning if you use your charcoal grill in an enclosed, unventilated space. However, when using safely and properly, a charcoal grill poses very little danger and is safe to use.

How to put out a charcoal grill?

The best way to put out a charcoal grill is to close the vents and damper to cut off the supply of oxygen to the coals and extinguish the coals. The amount of time it takes to extinguish will depend on how much charcoal you have left. This technique does take some time for the grill to cool, but it is the easiest and safest way to do so.

FINAL VERDICT

Having a grill is one of the most necessary tools during summer – everyone loves a good cookout in the backyard or around the swimming pool. But, with the large variety available on the market, it can be a challenge working out which is best for you. By reading our buyer’s guide and FAQ, you should now have a clearer understanding of what you are looking for and what will suit you best. This will allow you to select which of our top 5 charcoal grills will suit you best.

Our favorite is the PK Grills The Original Grill & Smoker with robust aluminum casting that will last for many years while also providing a very even cooking experience; you can cooking on high and low temperatures with ease. It is easy to assemble and disassemble while also being stylish yet functional.

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