Best Charcoal Grill Reviews and Buying Guide

When you’re looking to rustle up a BBQ, there really is no substitute for a charcoal grill.

While many other types of grill might be more convenient in various ways, you can’t beat a classic charcoal grill for that authentic, smoky taste sensation.

In today’s charcoal grill reviews, we’ll break down 5 of the best BBQs out there in a range of sizes and at varying price points so there’s something for everyone.

5 Best Charcoal Grill Reviews

We’ll explore the best grills right now then give you a few neat tips to get the best grill for your BBQ needs.

Weber is by far the most prominent BBQ brand in the UK and sales have spilled over worldwide. The kettle charcoal grill is a true BBQ icon and while it’s not exactly cheap, the best things in life seldom are.

Simplicity rules with charcoal grills and the rounded shape doesn’t just look great it also helps to create a convection heating system adding a further dimension to your grilling. Straight-up grilling is straightforward but this is not the best piece of kit for smoking. If that’s your intended route, you’re much better off buying a dedicated smoker.

While it occupies a fairly small footprint at 38 ½ x 27 x 22 ½ inches, you’ll get a whopping 363 square inches of cooking space meaning you get a grill man enough to feed a large family without eating up your entire lawn. While it’s not strictly speaking a portable grill, wheels allow you to maneuver it around when necessary.

For a back-to-basic approach to grilling that will deliver you immaculately barbecued meat and fish any time you want, the Weber is hard to beat.

Pros.

  • Compact design but cooks enough for the whole family
  • Enclosed ash catcher renders cleaning up a breeze
  • Circular shape creates a convection heating system
  • 363 square inches of cooking space
  • Optional rotisserie kit further extends your scope

Cons.

  • Not a portable grill

Next up in our charcoal grill reviews, we’ve got a dinky 18-inch from Beau Jardin that works well as a portable unit.

This small but highly effective grill is proof positive you don’t need to spend the earth to get the best BBQ experience.

One of the main drawbacks that often puts you off firing up the coals in the first place is the thought of cleaning that grimy mess later in the evening. There’s none of that with this grill and the 1-touch cleaning system ensures you won’t be reluctant to get the party started.

Whether you want to BBQ at home in the garden or when you’re on the campsite, this mobile grill is the ideal choice if you’re looking to get the best charcoal grill on a budget.

Pros.

  • Super-simple assembly so get going in minutes flat
  • 1-touch cleaning system is a boon
  • Optimized for heat control and retention
  • Exceptional price to performance ratio
  • 90-day refund or replacement so buy without a headache

Cons.

  • Some quality control issues so check contents of package on arrival

As we hit the midpoint of our charcoal grill reviews, the Royal Gourmet makes a commanding statement for less than you might imagine. Sure, it’s not the cheapest charcoal grill but it’s great value when you consider what you’re getting for your money…

Straight off the bat, you’ve got that striking design so this grill will slot neatly onto any manicured lawn or patio.

Assembly is a pain so make sure you’re aware of this in advance. Be patient and you’ll soon be up and running ready to exploit that cavernous cooking space…

The overall area is 598 square inches with the cooking grates making up 393 square inches with the remaining205 square inches warming racks. This 24-inch beast will handle enough food for even larger parties and BBQs making it a real people-pleaser.

You’ll be able to manipulate the temperature with ease using the cool-touch handle while the front access door for the charcoal is a welcome touch.

Clean-up is straightforward thanks to the thoughtfully-designed ash pan.

The Royal Gourmet hits all main bases with this giant charcoal grill and it’s a serious contender for best charcoal grill of 2018 so why not road test one today and you could be enjoying some prime ribs tomorrow.

Pros.

  • Impressive 598 square inches of cooking space
  • Tweak temperature quickly and easily
  • Understated and elegant design
  • Impeccable brand heritage without breaking the bank
  • Cleaning couldn’t be much easier

Cons.

  • Assembly is awkward since parts are not labeled

As we edge to the end of our charcoal grill reviews, we’ve got a compact but powerful 22 ½-inch kettle-style BBQ from Char-Broil.

While you’ll be getting a precisely engineered and very well made unit, this grill is not much more than budget price so makes a smart choice if you’re tight for cash but don’t want to sacrifice your BBQs this summer.

Even though the grill measures up at just 26 x 26 x 39 inches, you’ll get an expansive 360 square inches to cook on so there will be plenty for all the family along with any guests, too.

The Tru-Infrared cooking plates give you consistent and succulent results every single time.

As with all the best charcoal grills, the issue of cleaning up has been addressed. Slip out the ash pan and empty it out, pop it back in and that’s pretty much the extent of maintenance required.

For a mini grill that makes maximum impact, check out this infrared beauty at your earliest convenience.

Pros.

  • Generous 360 square inch cooking area
  • Temperature gauge for your safety and convenience
  • Porcelain-coated grate for consistent cooking
  • Removable ash pan so no hassle cleaning up
  • Space-saving design despite the cooking capability

Cons.

  • Some complaints about rust developing over time

To wrap up our charcoal grill reviews, we’ve got a cult favorite from KamadoJoe in the form of this eye-wateringly expensive fire hydrant red Classic II.

Along with your kamado grill, you’ll get the following:

  • Stand with locking wheels
  • 2 side tables
  • Divide & Conquer grill system
  • Grill gripping equipment
  • Ash tool

The Divide & Conquer grill system is a heat deflector and split grill combo so you can grill directly and indirectly at the same time. Temperature range is impressive from 225 degrees Fahrenheit right through 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the 18-inch diameter grill is not the biggest, you can set up grills at varying heights to really make the most of what you’ve got. Whether grilling or smoking, this design classic does not disappoint.

If you’re looking for the best charcoal grill on the market and money is no object, we can’t recommend the KamadoJoe Classic II strongly enough. Go fire one up and see if you can resist!

Pros.

  • Cook at high or low temperature with equal ease
  • Versatile cooking surface so use different techniques simultaneously
  • Usual super-simple clean-up
  • Rock solid construction built to stay the distance
  • Unbeatable brand image

Cons.

  • Ruinously expensive but still good value

OK ...

Now you’ve got a sound overview of the best charcoal grills at your disposal, why should you go charcoal in the first place?

What Are The Benefits of Charcoal Grills?

Gas grills certainly have their place and legions of fans but charcoal grills come with 3 distinct advantages:

  • Authentic BBQ Flavor: While gas grills don’t do anything to negatively affect taste, the way charcoal grills imbue food with all that smoke gives them an unbeatable advantage on the flavor front
  • Superior Heat: Since charcoal burns hotter than either natural gas or propane, you’ll sear steaks and burgers far more effectively when you’re cooking with a charcoal grill
  • Better Value For Money: While some charcoal grills are undeniably expensive, like-for-like charcoal grills are the cheaper option

What To Look For In The Best Charcoal Grill

Buying the best charcoal grill is reasonably easy but there are a few factors you should take into account.

First up, you’ll want to think about which type of charcoal grill would sit best in your garden or out on the patio…

Type of Charcoal Grill

  • Kettle Grills: The classic kettle grill is affordable, reliable and also extremely versatile. Named for the rounded dome shape, this compact type of charcoal grill is perfect for medium-sized grilling duties on a budget
  • Barrel Grills: Barrel grills are shaped just like the name suggests and ideal if you plan to cook for larger parties. These grills are costly but come repay the investment when it’s time for slowly cooking and smoking meats
  • Ceramic / Kamado Grills: Egg-shaped and of Japanese origin, these ceramic grills warm up quickly and retain heat like a dream. More expensive, you’ll soon know where the money went when you’re serving up

Size Matters

Once you’ve determined the shape and style of charcoal grill that best fits your needs, you need to think about size.

Firstly, consider the overall dimensions of the unit. Think about whether or not you need something portable to take camping or whether you’re going for a permanent set-up in the yard. Kettle grills are small and pretty mobile while ceramic grills are a bit heftier and not so simple to shift around.

More importantly in terms of size is the cooking area. This is expressed in terms of the diameter of the grill and also the number of square inches this represents.

We’ve chosen a broad spread of charcoal grill in varying sizes so there’s something for everyone.

Intended Use

If you have no ambitions beyond a few burgers and hot dogs, just about any charcoal grill will be fit for purpose.

If your scope extends beyond this and you’re confident with a number of grilling techniques, a kamado grill might work best.

Barrel grills are ideal for slow cooking and smoking.

While there’s no right or wrong answer, if your intended use is wide-ranging, a ceramic charcoal grill offers the best overall experience if you can afford it.

Controlling The Temperature

The first thing to focus on is that the light fits neatly and tightly. This simple point alone will keep the temperature just as it should be.

You can adjust the coals on some grills to alter how much your food is exposed to the coals.

If you’re looking for the ultimate in temperature control, you simply can’t beat a kamado grill.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Almost all manufacturers have realized that grills that demand too much cleaning and maintenance soon end up discarded hunks of metal.

Look for removable ash pans and make sure no user reviews comment on the grill being awkward to clean. With so many strong options calling for pretty much zero maintenance, there’s no need to fall foul.

Durability

Even though you might spend a fair bit to get the best charcoal grill, it’s an investment that should give you years of happing BBQs as long as you don’t neglect it.

Look for build quality, durability and overall value rather than obsessing purely over the bottom line.

A Final Word

With any luck, you’ve now got the charcoal grill of your dreams firmly in sight.

Whether you want an entry-level grill for occasional use or you want to go all-in with the magnificent KamadoJoe Classic II, you’ve got no shortage of options.

Come back soon for more help with all aspects of your home and garden.

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