Best Charcoal Grills Review

There is nothing more heart-warming than a celebratory cookout in the backyard, especially when the whole family can enjoy. And while propane and electric grills have established themselves as go-to favorites in the past decades, many BBQ lovers still prefer the classic taste that comes with food cooked on a charcoal grill.

Charcoal grills are far from uniform in terms of style and come in a wide range of designs, each aimed to improve certain aspects of charcoal grilling. But it’s this mind-blowing abundance of choice that makes finding a charcoal grill on a budget a little tricky, and even less for the novice grillers. Below is the list of grills in the middle-tier price category with some of the best cheap charcoal grills in 2020 that will hopefully be of some help.


Choosing a Charcoal Grill


Even a cheap off-brand charcoal grill can get your food grilled one way or another but there is no guarantee how good the food will taste or how long such a grill can even last.

Many leading brands in the outdoor cooking segment strive to make their products more affordable, be it travel-sized charcoal grills, premium gas grills that go just under 200, or various iterations of outdoor gas griddles—all of it is manufactured without sacrificing the quality of materials and performance.

Though no matter how good a grill is, there is always the question of compatibility. So how do you exactly decide which of the lauded budget grills is for you? There are a few major defining factors, all of which also influence the final price, but the main focus should always be on the capacity of the grill.

Capacity

This is perhaps the first thing that many customers tend to notice. And for a good reason: no matter how praised large grills might be, not everyone needs an oversized cooking station or even has space for one.

If your patio or any other outdoor space is pretty limited, or maybe your family is small and doesn’t throw a lot of parties, then a more portable, modest-sized grill will do you just fine. Similar to popular portable propane grills you see at picnics and campsites, these typically measure between 150 square inches and 400 square inches, depending on the design of the rack, shape of the firebox, and width of the entire grill.

Anyone who plans to cook large servings in one evening or cook for the entire campsite might want to look into something more substantial, specifically heavy-duty grills with cooking spaces of 500 square inches and more. The optimal size for BBQ parties would be an 800-1000-square inch grill.

Style

Contrary to widespread belief, charcoal grills do not all look and work the same. Just as sandwich grills powered by electricity are different from tabletop electric griddles in a variety of ways though they may be classified into the same wider category, charcoal grills come in many forms categorized by the design and application.

The main types of commercial charcoal grills can be shaved down to the basics:

  • Kettle grills
  • Cart-style grills
  • Tabletop grills

Kettle grills are your classic apple-shaped bowls with rounded grates, though they too can be made compact for travel. These are generally the easiest to master and they take less space in storage. The installation is also a breeze, and the cleaning can be done in a second provided the grill comes with a detachable ash pan.

Kamado-style grills made of ceramic or steel are also often grouped with other kettle grills due to their design, which is just as well—the differences in heat circulation inside the bowl are only minimal and in the end, it all comes down to the materials from which the firebox and lid are made.

Cart-style grills is a rather broad way to define such a diverse category, and you probably have seen the term used in gas grills reviews as well. But the crux of the concept is that a cart-style grill has four legs (typically on wheels, casters or a combination of both) and also features a bottom storage shelf or a protective steel panel. These can be quite hefty but there are plenty of lightweight versions around. The main issue with these models is the difficulty of assembly and transportation unless a cart-style grill is fully foldable and made for travel.

Tabletop grills can generally be any model that can be carried like a suitcase thanks to its distinct design. These portable grills are designed for cooking on the road or in nature away from home, so they tend to be lighter and easier to set up, though sometimes this efficiency takes away from its grilling versatility.

Customizability

The efficiency of any charcoal grill is in the little details, though to be fair they are pretty essential. In general, the ability to customize a charcoal grill is made possible by dampers or vents, height-adjustable grates, the location and adjustability of the coal box.

Dampers or vents are vital for more precise control of grilling temperatures. They can be located on the side of the firebox, on top of the lid, or sometimes even in the front. Larger cart-style grills often feature multiple dampers that are adjusted with cranks, while lid vents on smaller grills are usually adjusted by closing the shutters manually.

Adjustable grates are often gound in larger grills and are sometimes a part of a two- or even three-tiered rack system. One of the smaller racks is usually designed for warming or side dishes, though it can always be removed to expand the primary area. The adjustable main grate can be set up at different heights to accommodate different types of grilling, so grills with this design are best suitable for anyone who prefers more variety in their cooking.


List of Top-Rated Charcoal Grills


PhotoProductCooking areaStyleDetails
Royal Gourmet CC1830S Royal Gourmet CC1830S800 sq. in.CartMore Details
Weber 14401001 Weber 14401001363 sq. in.KettleMore Details
PIT BOSS 71240 PIT BOSS 71240662 sq. in.KamadoMore Details
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D816 sq. in.CartMore Details
Weber 10020 Weber 10020160 sq. in.KettleMore Details
Char-Griller E16620 Char-Griller E16620447 sq. in.KamadoMore Details
Char-Griller E1515 Char-Griller E1515250 sq. in.CartMore Details
Weber 60020 Weber 600201104 sq. in.KettleMore Details
Old Smokey 18 Old Smokey 18254 sq. in.KettleMore Details
Expert Grill XG1910200103 Expert Grill XG1910200103573 sq. in.CartMore Details
Weber 121020 Weber 121020160 sq. in.PortableMore Details
Char-Broil 465131014 Char-Broil 4651310141,000 sq. in.PortableMore Details

Reviews of the Best Charcoal Grills


Royal Gourmet CC1830S

Royal Gourmet CC1830S

Features

  • Total cooking area: 800 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 438 + 179 + 183 sq. in
  • Multiple vents or dampers: 2
  • Side shelf: Yes
  • Shelves qty: 2
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: Yes
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 2/4
  • Side burner: Offset smoker
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 55.1” x 27.2” x 48.4” 
  • Item weight: 54.2 lbs

Specs

  • Heavy-duty side shelf and bottom grate shelf for storage
  • Wide 30-inch grilling section
  • Heat-preserving porcelain-coated grates
  • Upper-level warming rack
  • Lid handle protects from burns
  • Side hooks for cooking tools
  • Powerful lid stack for air circulation
  • Includes recipes and instructions for optimal grilling

This multi-purpose charcoal grill from Royal Gourmet is a great choice for a backyard cooking station thanks to its dual design, caster support system, and a range of adjustable features allowing for precise user customization, making it probably the best charcoal grill smoker combo in this category.

What separates this model from other grills from this line is the addition of a side smoker box with built-in vents for simultaneous smoking and grilling, all of which makes the overall heat control much easier. 


Weber 14401001

Weber 14401001

Features

  • Total cooking area: 363 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 363 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: 4
  • Side shelf: No
  • Shelves qty: 1
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 2/3
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 39.5” x 22.5” x 27” 
  • Item weight: 32.3 lbs

Specs

  • The heat shield helps prevent your lid handle from getting too hot
  • Wide cooking area with 22-inch diameter
  • Ash pan can be removed with a single touch and pull
  • Adjustable lid dampers for better temp control
  • Fits up to 13 regular burgers in one batch. 
  • Supports direct and indirect grilling
  • Side lid and utensil hooks

This compact Weber 14401001 comes with a classic kettle-shaped grill bowl supported on three legs, two of which feature large durable wheels for easier mobility in the patio, backyard, or at a campsite.

As a more mobile and lightweight model with expansive grates and detachable ash pan, this grill will be the best addition for frequent travellers and campers given its easy assembly and stable support system designed for most terrains.


PIT BOSS 71240

PIT BOSS 71240

Features

  • Total cooking area: 662 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 662 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Top + bottom dampers
  • Side shelf: Yes
  • Shelves qty: 2
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: Yes
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 4/4
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 53” x 49” x 31” 
  • Item weight: 190 lbs

Specs

  • Large 24-inch Kamado-style firebox 
  • Runs on lump charcoal
  • Protective black coating
  • Supports all main grilling techniques including smoking
  • Environmentally-friendly 
  • Double-level stainless steel grates with top warming rack
  • Foldable shelves for easier storage
  • Superior temperature control 

The Pit Boss K24 is one of the best residential grills from the ceramic series, featuring a two-tiered cooking area and heat-retaining firebox that give your charcoal grilling more authenticity and versatility.

Although rather heavy in its assembly due to the fully-ceramic structure, the K24 is compact and efficient enough for quick installation while at the same time providing plenty of space for a large BBQ party.

The grill’s egg-shaped body and adjustable dampers provide better heat as well as its precise regulation, allowing it to reach inner temperatures as high as 770 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, its light but sturdy bamboo shelves give you more space for prep and storage.


Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D

Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D

Features

  • Total cooking area: 816 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 576 sq. in. + 240 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Side dampers
  • Side shelf: Yes
  • Shelves qty: 3
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: Yes
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Coal box
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 4/4
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 60.22” x 50.51” x 28.16”  
  • Item weight: 112 lbs

Specs

  • Durable lid with double walls retains heat
  • Two-chamber firebox and divider for single and dual grilling zones
  • Sleek stainless steel exterior
  • Adjustable side tables and bottom shelf for storage
  • Fully mobile legs with two casters and two industrial-size wheels
  • Sturdy lid handle and thermometer control
  • Manual damper adjustment 

A more substantial outdoor option can be found in this full-sized premium charcoal grill by Dyna-Glo, offering a spacious two-tiered cooking area with a coal box placed in a separate chamber underneath the cooking box in the manner of a fireplace. 

In addition to the two-rack system, this model allows you to control your own cooking space with the help of a divider that separates the firebox from the primary cooking area. The chamber can be accessed through double doors, each leading to its separate firebox section, so you can exercise more control over the cooking conditions.


Weber 10020

Weber 10020

Features

  • Total cooking area: 160 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 160 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: 4
  • Side shelf: No
  • Shelves qty: N/A
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: No
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: N/A
  • Number of burners: 
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: No
  • Dimensions: 14.2” x 14.5” x 17”
  • Item weight: 9.5 lbs

Specs

  • Light aluminium body with a protective porcelain coating
  • Multiple dampers are adjustable 
  • Durable steel grates
  • Scald-free lid handle
  • One-touch ash cleaning
  • Neat ash catcher underneath the coal bowl

Another great portable option from Weber, this classic Smokey Joe grill is an indispensable addition for any camper and BBQ lover who prefers to cook away from home. Standing at 17 inches with a closed lid, this compact yet capacious Weber charcoal grill can fit up to five standard burgers in one go, while the porcelain-coated firebox and lid help preserve interior temperatures and facilitate fast cleaning.


Char-Griller E16620

Char-Griller E16620

Features

  • Total cooking area: 447 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 314 sq. in. + 133 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Single damper
  • Side shelf: Yes
  • Shelves qty: 3
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 3/3
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 26.6” x 24.8” x 21.65” 
  • Item weight: 97 lbs

Specs

  • Long-lasting cast iron grates
  • Durable 22 gauge steel body with a layer of porcelain protection
  • Stable steel legs with locking rubber wheels
  • Adjustable dampers with readable positions
  • Lid with a safety lock
  • Removable ash pan
  • Nine utensil hooks

A great portable option for grill traditionalists, this heavy-duty Kamado grill from Char-Griller upgrades the classic ceramic design with a more enduring steel and porcelain combo in an acorn-shaped bowl and tall lid.

The dual insulation that comes with this design also means you will be able to ration your charcoal fuel much better while getting the same levels of heat, plus the cart-like structure with side shelves and bottom storage save space.


Char-Griller E1515

Char-Griller E1515

Features

  • Total cooking area: 250 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 250 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Side dampers
  • Side shelf: Yes
  • Shelves qty: 2
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 2/4
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 31” x 21” x 44”
  • Item weight: 50 lbs

Specs

  • Durable steel body and cast-iron rack
  • Side dampers with adjustment controls
  • Removable ash tray
  • Dual-layered firebox
  • Thick steel side shelf with wooden panelling
  • Storage rack for fuel and utensils
  • Two rubberized wheels

Though not as expansive as other backyard models from this line, this Patio Pro grill from Char-Griller can rightfully be called one of the best cheap charcoal grills in 2020, particularly for limited outdoor spaces such as patios, verandas, and small gardens.

The rustic design of the Patio Pro makes it impressively compatible while its cooking capacity is much more generous than other portable patio grills, fitting up to six classic kebabs in one batch or even an entire chicken for indirect grilling.


Weber 60020

Weber 60020

Features

  • Total cooking area: 1104 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 1104 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: 3
  • Side shelf: No
  • Shelves qty: N/A
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 4/4
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 44.75” x 37.75” x 42” 
  • Item weight: 63.9 lbs

Specs

  • Steel firebox and lid with porcelain protection
  • Durable cooking system with steel grates
  • Convenient holder for the lid and 3 utensil hooks
  • Easily cleanable ash pan
  • Nylon side handles are heat-resistant and reinforced with glass 
  • Two locking casters and two heavy-duty wheels
  • Stable and firm steel carcass 
  • Aluminium dampers

Despite its appearance at a first glance may suggest, this stocky Weber Ranch was originally devised as a kettle grill for professional caterers to serve large crowds at various outdoor events.

The grill’s simple yet effective design puts it at a comfortable distance from the ground while ensuring the cooking space is large enough to fit multiple batches of burgers for an entire party.  Moreover, the grill’s 37.5-inch grate is secured to the bowl by hinges to allow quick access to the firebox.


Old Smokey 18

Old Smokey 18

Features

  • Total cooking area: 254 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 254 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: 2
  • Side shelf: No
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: No
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: No
  • Dimensions: 18” x 18” x 25.5”
  • Item weight: 15 lbs

Specs

  • Gives about 10.5 inches of clearance above the grill
  • 18-inch main middle diameter
  • 15-inch top diameter
  • 17-inch grill section with a 14.5-inch grate
  • 6 inches between grate and grill
  • Two dampers with the 8-inch at the top and 9.75-inch at the bottom
  • Space-saving 19” x 19” x 11” firebox dimensions 

A truly lightweight and miniature camping companion, this classic Old Smokey charcoal grill works as the best budget grill for RV camping, tailgating, and home grilling in smaller spaces such as patios. For all its compact size, this grill can still feed between 4 and 6 people in one go, depending on the size of the burgers or hot dogs or roast.

The grill’s stylish white exterior proves to be weather-resistant despite its lightness thanks to its composition consisting of aluminized steel with a protective layer. All in all, this 18-inch travel grill is easy to transport and install regardless of the terrain.


Expert Grill XG1910200103

Expert Grill XG1910200103

Features

  • Total cooking area: 573 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 372 sq. in. + 201 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Side vents
  • Side shelf: Yes
  • Shelves qty: 2
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: Yes
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: No
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Wheels for each leg: 2/4
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 44.88” x 26.38” x 42.32” 
  • Item weight: 70 lbs

Specs

  • Tall grill box with a hinged lid for space efficiency
  • Removable ash tray with a slide-out mechanism
  • Two stable legs and two-wheeled legs combo for mobility 
  • Thick side shelf can be folded for storage
  • Utensil hooks and bottom shelf to optimize yard space
  • Side bottle opener for beers and soft drinks

The heavy-duty looking Expert Grill is more than just a grate and a charcoal bowl: combining the dual-tiered cooking area with a precisely-controlled bottom coal chamber, this 24-inch portable model serves as a perfect cooking station for a backyard of any size capable of feeding entire house parties.

The main cooking area and the warming rack give over five hundred square inches of space in total, allowing you to grill up to 20 burgers in one go, while the charcoal box is designed to be adjusted for better temperature and space control. All in all, this model is made to withstand any nasty weather as well as serve large groups of people.


Weber 121020

Weber 121020

Features

  • Total cooking area: 160 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 160 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Lid dampers
  • Side shelf: No
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: Yes
  • Easy-open grates: Yes
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: No
  • Dimensions: 12.2” x 21” x 14.5”  
  • Item weight: 14.5 lbs

Specs

  • Plated steel legs and grates
  • Lockable lid is porcelain-coated for rust prevention
  • Lid dampers for heat adjustment
  • Superior heat retention
  • Fits into most car trunks

If portability is something you look for in a charcoal grill above all else, this suitcase-style Weber Go-Anywhere was made for the lovers of nature and frequent campers, hikers, and tailgaters with its decent capacity of six standard burgers and lightweight body.

This compact model is probably the best charcoal grill under $200 in the category, designed for easy carrying and offering two comfortable handles that allow you to move the entire appliance however you deem most efficient. Additionally, the grill is equipped with flip-out wire supports for steady installation on soil, grass, pavement, and other surfaces.


Char-Broil 465131014

Char-Broil 465131014

Features

  • Total cooking area: 1,000 sq. in.
  • Cooking area: 1,000 sq. in.
  • Multiple vents or dampers: Yes
  • Side shelf: No
  • Adjustable-height cooking grates: No
  • Easy-to-clean ashpans: No
  • Easy-open grates: No
  • Ignition type: Charcoal
  • Portable: Yes
  • Side burner: No
  • Built-in thermometer: No
  • Dimensions: 12.64” x 15” x 20.53”
  • Item weight: 8.6 lbs

Specs

  • Chrome-plated stainless steel wire grates
  • Four stable wire legs
  • Aluminum lid and vent temp control
  • Supports multiple grilling styles
  • Light enough to carry around
  • Comes with one foot of cooking area

A slightly simpler take on a modern carry-on grill, this portable Char-Broil 465131014 is light and easy in operation and transportation, featuring side and top handles for different grip styles and an impressive party-sized cooking area.

Despite its straightforward design, the grill features all required specs for precise kettle grilling, including adjustable dampers and foldable legs.


Q&A


What is the best charcoal grill on the market?

No single grill can truly serve as the best model for everyone given the varying demands of different households, though you will often see many recurring models on lists of the best charcoal grills according to consumer reports, expert opinions, retail user feedback, and various best charcoal grill overviews from Wirecutter.
The general consensus is: there are a few sure choices in each category that could be considered among the best such as most Weber original kettle grills and the cart-style Royal Gourmet featuring the best charcoal grill smoker.

Are Weber charcoal grills the best?

As far as residential grills go, Weber produces one of the best top-performing grills including the best charcoal grill for steaks, burgers, indirect roasts, and vegetarian dishes as seen in the Weber 14401001. What’s even neater is Weber’s grill selection that provides a wide range of models to satisfy customers based on the price category and intended application.

What is the best grill for the money?

It might not come as a surprise but overall Weber grills are among the best in the charcoal grills under 200 category, though plenty of the brand’s more sophisticated models tend to aim a bit higher. One great example of an affordable Weber grill is Weber 10020 Smokey Joe with a more portable design meant for travellers.

Which is better: charcoal or gas grill?

The argument over the superiority of grilling fuel is as old as the gas grill itself. Proponents of both types of grills cite features that make that or another grill technically superior, but in the end, even the best of grills won’t work for someone who simply doesn’t like the taste of the food it produces based on its fuel system.

So what makes each of these grill types worthy of note? And are there any drawbacks to charcoal and gas grills? To help you take it in more concisely, the table below explores the pros and cons of both fuel systems.

  ProsCons
grill Charcoal- Greater versatility
- Allows for true indirect grilling
- Healthier fuel (if ignited with a smoke chimney)
- Faster searing
- Supports smoking techniques
- Richer in flavor and smokey aroma
- Better control over the heated area through manual manipulation of coals
- More intense heat
- Less precise heat control
- Slow ignition
- Need more space
- Not as storage-friendly
- Can be tougher to clean out
grill Gas- Fast ignition
- Greater speed of cooking
- More accurate temperature control
- Consistent heat zones
- Easier to install and get going
- Lower temperatures compared to charcoal
- Loss of radiant heat due to the individual burner system
- Not as handy for smoking and indirect grilling
- Costly fuel


Overall, gas grills are considered to be a more hassle-free option, at least compared to charcoal since eclectic grills are a whole other matter. So if you want a family grill for your backyard that will ignite faster and deliver quick breakfast in a more efficient manner, any multi-burner gas grill under 300 will serve you well.

Good charcoal grills are not exactly restrictive either. A patio grill would suit anyone who doesn’t mind getting their hands a bit dirty. These grills are also more cost-effective and easy to supply with fuel, regardless of whether you prefer lump charcoal or briquettes.

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