People often don’t know how to find the ideal solution for a great BBQ experience. Sometimes it’s hard to get the right combination of features, ease of use and maintenance simplicity and therefore, to make your choice easier, we review the best charcoal grills.
Charcoal grills combine taste and convenience in the most desirable way and are therefore, great for BBQs. Most experienced grillers usually prefer charcoal grills over the gas ones.
So, here are some of the best ones for 2020:
Is a Charcoal Grill What You Precisely Need?
Many people get lost in the dilemma of charcoal and gas and have trouble deciding which type of grill to get.
Let’s go about it the simple way: If you value taste over convenience, then there is no doubt that you should go for charcoal. There are advantages to using gas, but there is nothing like the smoky taste briquettes or natural wood charcoal can provide. If you value convenience over anything else, I think you should read about the best gas charcoal combo grills
So, now that you know charcoal is the way to go for the best taste, there remains the question of which charcoal grill to buy? And even after you’ve bought one, you might still wonder about the best way to use it.
That is not always so easy, and there are some things to consider like the following:
Lump Charcoal or Briquettes
Lump charcoal and briquettes are really two different things. Lumps are made from burning wood without oxygen; the charcoal is what remains after that.
It will light easier and burn hotter. Briquettes are made from wood by-products mixed with additives to help them burn longer and maintain a consistent temperature.
Lumps are natural, but they tend to be more expensive and burn out more quickly. Briquettes are anything but natural, but they are usually cheaper and the fact they can burn for longer times makes them a more popular choice.
How Much Charcoal to Use?
The amount of charcoal to use is something that often goes overlooked. Generally, it depends on the size of the grill you’re using.
Larger grills will obviously require more charcoal. The more charcoal you use, the hotter the fire will be and you should bear in mind different types of food need different amounts of heat.
As a guide, your grill should be about two thirds covered.
How to Light a Charcoal Grill?
One of the most popular ways to light a charcoal grill is with a little lighter fluid. This will generally work but it is recommended to leave enough time for the fuel and chemicals to completely burn off, or the food will end up having “lighter fluid taste”.
To light it up, the charcoal can be piled up in a heap. Once all of the charcoal is lit up and the fire is burning evenly, the charcoal can be spread out.
Some people prefer to use a chimney charcoal starter. It’s easy to light up charcoal in one of these because all of it is confined in a small space.
After being lit up, the charcoal can be transferred to the grill. And, then, of course, there are some grills that include an electrical or gas ignition system, making the job even easier.
If you need a charcoal grill that light-weight enough to bring it everywhere you want, then I think you might want to see this article about best portable charcoal grills
Reviews of the Best Charcoal Grills for 2020
We begin with a classic from one of the oldest and most respected manufacturers of grills and grill-related accessories. This one is a great grill under $100, which is definitely a competitive price point.
The design has changed over the years; they still follow the principle of combining features, ease of use and simplicity. It strikes a blend of tradition and innovation at the same time, offering a great grilling experience.
The features of this grill make it stand out from other grills and that is why this is a top rated Weber charcoal grill. It has plenty of space, a large cooking surface for you to do those really big and great BBQs.
Cleaning is easy and simple, with an aluminized steel ash catcher which does not let all the ash float around the place. Cleaning is also equally easier after cooking.
The grill’s body is completely resistant to rust. This is very important because it means the grill will last you for a long time.
This tabletop charcoal grill includes an aluminum damper and two high-quality nylon handles which are glass-reinforced, and even have hooks for your cooking utensils.
All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable models, and a quite inexpensive charcoal grill.
- Durable, rust-resistant construction
- Easy to clean up
- Large grilling surface
- Three-leg design gives it not-so-great balance
- The included thermometer is a bit off
Extra-large, premium quality, as the name states, and striking. This is a lot of grill for the money.
This brand makes grills that are at the high end, and this is no exception. So, you know you’ll be getting good quality equipment here.
The cooking area has two different charcoal trays, which is a plus. With this feature, it’s almost as if you have two separate cooking areas, and each tray is removable, so they can be easily cleaned.
There is a steel divider that lets you separate the firebox in two parts. This means you’ll get two cooking areas where the heat can be adjusted separately.
Each tray can be independently lowered or raised to get a different temperature on each side.
Of course, having two separate areas means that you can grill with a lot more flexibility. You can grill different types of food, for example or use one side to cook and the other side to finish off and keep the food warm, while you put the next batch on the first side.
And if you’re cooking for a smaller group of people, you don’t have to use charcoal on the whole grilling area.
The firebox has two cast iron and steel doors, one for each side. There are also independent air vents for each of the two sides, so you get even more heat control.
The cooking grates are made of cast iron, which is great for heat retention. They are coated with porcelain enamel, which helps to transfer the heat to the food.
They are easy to handle and clean, since they are split. You won’t have to deal with one large grate.
The lid is stainless-steel, which gives it an attractive look and also helps protect the interior of the grill. It has a galvanized steel double wall, which keeps the heat in and prevents it from getting too hot to touch from the outside.
Even though this is a very large grill, it is still portable, as grills of this size go. It has heavy-duty resin wheels, so it shouldn’t be too hard to take it from one place to another.
However, assembling it from the scratch can be quite a task just like controlling the temperature is a bit tricky too.
- Strong, heavy-duty construction
- Dual charcoal chamber system
- Stainless steel lid with double lined walls
- Good portability in spite of the large size
- Full assembly required
- Controlling the temperature can be tricky
This rust-proof charcoal grill has a flat bottom making it easy to push the coals to one side for smoking and indirect cooking. The lid has adjustable dampers for temperature control.
The quite large grilling grate is hinged, convenient for easily adding charcoal.The unit has a side shelf, where you can place the food to be cooked and a bottom shelf, for storing charcoal bags and other things.
Designed to be tough and durable, the model is designed with the very first aluminum grills in mind. There are very few moving parts and, so the idea is that this grill will be in service for a long time, just like the grills of old times, many of which are still used today.
The unit can be used with charcoal briquettes or hardwood lump charcoal, and it performs well with both, whether you’re doing fast grilling or slow barbecuing.
Temperature control is fairly simple on this grill. Thick cast aluminum and four-way venting make for a very efficient cooking chamber.
It can also hold steady temperatures for a long time and it lets you use the same charcoal for multiple cooks.
The cooking unit can also be detached from the stand and turned into a fully portable charcoal grill ideal for camping, tailgating and other types of excursions, adding to its versatility.
- Durable cast aluminum construction
- Can be used with different charcoal types
- Detachable, turns into a fully portable grill
- Price point is a bit high
You’ll have plenty of room for lots of food, you can put up to fifteen hamburgers in at the same time, so if your family is large or if you’re having lots of people over, you’ll have no problem cooking for all of them with this budget charcoal grill.
The cooking grate is coated with porcelain, which helps distribute the heat and reduces the risk of flare-ups by allowing the flavor of the charcoal to pass through to the food while keeping the flames away from it.
The body of the firebox has air vents to allow the air to flow in all around. That way, the air increases the fire from all sides and that keeps it evenly spread heating up the whole cooking surface.
The large air vents on top of the lid help control the temperature. Opening these vents makes the inside of the gill a little cooler, and closing it increases the temperature inside.
The included thermometer lets you know if your food needs more or less heat, and the lid itself is hinged for simple opening and closing when you want to check how done your food is.
Everything in the unit’s design points towards efficient burning. Plus, the grill has Char-Broil’s own Tru-Infrared cooking system, which further helps with better heat distribution and temperature control, and it lets the grill cook food more evenly while using less charcoal.
And don’t worry about cleaning up any ashy messes. The removable ash tray at the bottom of the grill collects all the ash so it can be easily disposed of while also being large enough.
- Robust construction and large
- Easy to assemble and hinged lid
- Tru-Infrared technology to cook more food
- Temperature control can be difficult
This one is the deluxe version of the Weber Original Kettle, and it shares some similarities with it, but it takes grilling to a whole new level. That means this is not a cheap charcoal grill so, let’s see if it’s worth spending a little more.
The enamel on the bowl and lid is super tough, and the grilling surface is the same size as the Original Kettle. The grilling plate is hinged, so it’s easy to get to the charcoal should you need to stroke it or add more.
This grill comes with Weber’s Touch-n-Go gas ignition system. You don’t need matches or lighter fluid to get the charcoal burning.
This system does that for you. You can get the fire going with just one touch, hence the name.
That does not mean this is a gas grill. It just uses gas to light up the charcoal.
There are two charcoal baskets, and they can be placed at the edge of the drum or in the middle of it. This helps control the amount of smoke that gets to the food, and gives you the option to use direct or indirect cooking.
The lid has a thermometer built into it, so it’s easy to check the temperature inside the grill. A digital timer is also included.
The handle on the lid does not get hot while the grill is in use, so you can remove it and put it back in place without worrying about getting burned.
Also on the lid, there are rust-resistant dampers to control the temperature, and the lid itself can be held to act like a windshield by means of a lid holder.
You’ll also notice the steel cart frame, which is a great addition, since it provides an area where you can put the food you’ve grilled, or the food you’re about to grill. It also has hooks for hanging your cooking tools.
The bottom part of the cart can also be used to store your charcoal when the grill is not in use although removing the ash tray can be bit of a tough task.
- Touch-n-Go easy ignition system
- Tough, well made body
- Large table area
- Charcoal storage area
- Full assembly required
- Ash tray can be difficult to remove
As is usually the case with the grills of this particular brand, this one too is meant for serious grilling enthusiasts. Its size and price point are, however, a little beyond what is usually found in regular home grills.
This is for when you’re holding a large outdoor party. This is a heavy-duty grill that is well designed and meant to last.
It’s not a small investment, so let’s see how much you’ll get for what you’ll be paying if you go for this grill.
There are more expensive grill models, but this one is still considered one of the finest ones.
The unit offers heat control, which is necessary to get perfectly grilled food, with a crank handle that lets you raise and lower the charcoal basket. The access door to the basket is made of cast iron, which is great for keeping the heat inside.
The cooking grates can be slid from side to side, so they can go after the heat. More heat control comes from the stainless steel smoke stack and side dampers, which allow you to control the air flow and therefore the temperature.
These parts of the grill are also meant to help you control the flavor of your food by regulating how much smoke you want on it.
The cooking surface is made of cast iron with a porcelain enamel. The cast iron maximizes heat transfer and the porcelain enamel makes it easy to clean.
It is quite a large grilling surface, enough to fit up to thirty hamburgers at once.
Two side shelves offer more space, and there is a basket underneath the unit that is good for storage. In there you can keep cooking utensils, plates, or even the food that you’re going to cook.
There is even a little extra touch: a bottle opener fixed on the side, so you and your guests can enjoy cold drinks while waiting for the food.
- Sturdy, well-built design
- Large cooking area with sliding cooking grates
- Movable (up and down) cooking basket
- The lid does not close completely
- Full assembly required
This one is a great table top charcoal grill for those times where you just want to cook food fast, but for its size and weight it also works great as a camping charcoal grill, or for picnicking with your family, or for anywhere you want to take it.
It has a durable construction that is sure to resist all the elements and is sure to last for a long time. It can also be used as a side fire box, when attached to a compatible barrel grill of the same brand.
It’s made of heavy steel which is a durable material, so you won’t have to worry about it when you’re carrying it around. Take it anywhere as it is a great small charcoal grill that is well built and comes at an affordable price.
The size of the unit means it won’t take up too much space. This makes it perfect if you’re a little bit constrained for space and also makes it easier to find a place to store it.
This grill is ideal for grilling at tailgate parties, at the beach or when camping and also for when you’re grilling for just a few people.
It comes fully assembled, so you don’t even have to think about putting it together. Cleaning it is not a problem, either.
It has a removable ash tray that can be detached to get rid of all the unwanted coal residue and ash.
The entire body of the grill is coated in porcelain, so you can give it a clean look just by wiping off the dirt and dust.
The grilling grates are made of cast iron and they are larger than what most grills of this size and price have to offer. It has adjustable dampers to control the heat.
This is another feature that is usually only found in more expensive grills. You really get a lot of value in this little grill, which is also a charcoal grill under $200.
With this model, you get the versatility of using it by itself or as a firebox attached to another Char-Griller grill. You should note, however, that once attached to a larger grill, it can no longer be used as a table top grill so the design does have its limitations.
- Dual use as a table top grill and as side firebox
- Ample cooking surface
- Cast-iron grates & heavy-steel construction
- Lightweight and small
- Could use more dampers
- Dual use has limitations
To sum up… what is the best charcoal grill on the market for 2020?
After having looked at the grills on this list, it is not an easy thing to decide. If we must make a choice, we’d go for Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill.
It’s a higher end grill, so it’s affordable and robustly and beautifully built. It has an ample cooking surface and storage area and it can and is overall a good, high-quality appliance.