The Best Charcoal Grills for Outdoor Barbeques

We like the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill because of its size and price.

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best charcoal grills
Photo: Amazon

Charcoal grills are a popular choice for backyard chefs because they reach higher temperatures and give foods a more charred flavor than other types of grills. Whether you're simply cooking burgers or whipping up a big feast for friends and family, the right charcoal grill helps you prepare food quickly and ensures top-notch taste quality.

With input from our editors and Allrecipes Allstars, a network of trusted home cooks, we selected models on the market of various sizes, budgets, and materials. From budget-friendly and portable to hand-forged and heavy-duty, these are the best charcoal grills, including our top pick, the 22-inch Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill.

Our Favorites

Best Overall: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

best charcoal grills

Also available at Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

Why It's Great

  • Even temperature distribution
  • Portable
  • Easy to clean

Grain of Salt

  • Legs may be a challenge to assemble

The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is our best overall pick because it's easy to assemble, great for beginners, and even a good upgrade for seasoned cooks.

There's a reason this classic model put Weber on the map in the 1950s: It's small enough for compact areas but large enough to cook more than a dozen burgers at once. Plus, it has wheels for fuss-free portability and a porcelain lid and bowl for easy cleanup.

"I've used Weber grills for years and can attest to their quality and performance," says Commerce Editorial Director Taysha Murtaugh, who purchased this particular model last year. "The Original Kettle is not only the best value I've found, but it also suits my small outdoor space without holding me back when hosting."

We're big fans of the side hooks that come in handy when you need to put down your tools—after all, multitasking is key when grilling. The lid features vents to help with temperature control, as well as a built-in thermometer to make sure you're maintaining the right temperature. In addition, the hinged cooking grate allows you to effortlessly add more charcoal without removing the lid.

Thanks to its even heat distribution across the cooking surface, there will be no hot spots during cooking. Overall, this grill's price and qualities are hard to beat.

The Details: Measures 39.5 x 22.5 x 27 inches; total cooking area is 363 square inches

Best Budget: American Gourmet by Char-Broil Charcoal Barrel Grill

best charcoal grills

Also available at Amazon.

Why It's Great

  • Ideal for searing
  • Easy to assemble
  • Affordable

Grain of Salt

  • Need to season grates

This Char-Broil grill is our favorite budget-friendly option for those looking to get started with charcoal grilling. It's easy to build and use—you'll go from assembly to dinner in no time.

This cart-style charcoal grill offers a fairly generous amount of cooking space for such an affordable price. It features an adjustable charcoal tray that allows you to reach low and high temperatures for a variety of foods, as well as a warming rack to keep food hot until you're ready to serve. Storage is also a major win on this model, providing a side shelf for platters, a pull-out shelf for grilling tools, and a bottom shelf for other essentials.

The grates are made from cast iron, which offers superior heat retention and is especially ideal for searing meats. Before use, just make sure to wash and season the grates to prevent rusting and food from sticking. Overall, this grill is excellent for beginners, but it also has excellent features to satisfy the more experienced griller on a budget.

The Details: Measures 29 x 35 x 49.5 inches; total cooking area is 625 square inches

Best Charcoal-Smoker Combo: Char-Griller Smokin' Outlaw

best charcoal grills

Why It's Great

  • Great for entry-level smokers
  • Lots of cooking space
  • Durable construction

Grain of Salt

  • Takes a while to assemble

Get the best of both worlds with this all-in-one charcoal grill and smoker. One day you can make charred steaks and the next smoke brisket and ribs. And with 975 square inches of cooking space, this grill offers plenty of room to feed a crowd.

Allstar Mary Burns landed on this grill when looking for a quality charcoal grill and smoker combo that also provided storage for tools. "This charcoal grill and smoker is great," Burns says. "It's well made and sturdy, so it should last a long time. The shelves and hooks are very convenient."

The grill has a side firebox that allows you to cook with wood chips or charcoal without having to open the main chamber and let precious heat escape. The adjustable fire grate gives you complete control over the temperature, and the dual dampers allow you to manage airflow in both chambers so your grill heats quickly and efficiently.

The sturdy side shelf makes it easy to prep your food, so when it's time to start cooking, there's no delay. And once you're finished cooking, cleanup is a snap thanks to its ash pan.

The Details: Measures 33 x 67 x 50 inches; total cooking area is 975 square inches

Related: The Best Grilling Equipment for Excellent Barbeques at Home

Best Gas-Charcoal Combo: Blossomz Duel Fuel Combination Grill

best charcoal grills

Why It's Great

  • Versatile
  • Features a side burner
  • Offers a lot of storage

Grain of Salt

  • Assembly might be challenging

The Blossomz Dual Fuel Combination Grill gives you everything you need for a versatile and functional outdoor cooking experience: a charcoal side, a gas side with a three-burner grill, and a side burner. You can use one side at a time for quick weeknight meals and both for larger gatherings. It also has a cover where you can store your tools, as well as a grease tray where all your excess grease will collect from cooking.

Assembly is usually part of buying a new grill, so we love that this one comes with the tools to get it done right, including a screwdriver and wrenches. Depending on your skills, it can be a challenge to build so you might want to have an extra set of hands on deck for assistance.

This grill is the sweet spot between small and large, so it's a suitable option for most families—not to mention a really great price for a dual-fuel grill.

The Details: Measures 49.75 x 28 x 64 inches; total cooking area is 557 square inches (262 charcoal/295 gas)

Best Small: Char-Griller Akorn JR. Kamado Charcoal Grill

best charcoal grills

Also available at Walmart.

Why It's Great:

  • Easy to transport
  • Durable construction
  • Affordable

Grain of Salt

  • Can get very hot

Small but mighty, we love that the Akorn Jr. portable grill has all the power of a full-sized kamado grill but can easily be transported from place to place. This model fits up to 14 hot dogs across the cast-iron grill grates.

Allstar Frances Cevallo recommends the Akorn JR. Kamado Charcoal Grill from Char-Griller for small families, couples, and individuals. "It's compact enough to take on picnics and is super durable and sturdy," she says. "The temperature control is excellent—no problem getting it screaming hot to sear steaks or lower temps for smoking wings."

It has a sturdy design with legs that stand strong even on the bumpiest outdoor surfaces. This means you can take your grill anywhere, from the back patio to the beach, and not have to worry about it wobbling or falling over. There are top and bottom airflow dampers, so you can achieve the perfect temperature. It also holds just as much heat as more expensive ceramic grills, meaning that even if you use less charcoal, the insulated design and locking lid will still let the heat crank from 200 up to 700 degrees.

The Details: Measures 20 x 20 x 26 inches; total cooking area is 155 square inches

Best Portable: Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill

best charcoal grills

Also available at Target, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware.

Why It's Great

  • Lid lock system for travel
  • Simple assembly
  • Easy to clean surfaces

Grain of Salt

  • Ash tray can be tricky to remove

Weber's Jumbo Joe might not be best for everyday use, but it's the best choice for camping, tailgating, and beyond. It weighs just 22 pounds and has a locking lid for fuss-free transport.

"Before I upgraded to the Original Kettle, I had its smaller sibling," Murtaugh says. "Whether I was going to a park or cooking out on my patio, I could always count on this trusty, travel-friendly companion."

Great for a small crowd, the Jumbo Joe can fit up to eight burgers at a time. The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat so that your food cooks evenly throughout. We're fans of functional design and love that the locking lid doubles as a lid holder during cooking, so you don't have to place it on the ground.

For temperature control, you can adjust the dampers inside your grill to create more or less airflow through the vents at the bottom of each side panel. The dampers help prevent your food from burning, no matter how long you leave it unattended.

The Details: Measures 19.7 x 19.7 x 20.5 inches; total cooking area is 240 square inches

Best Splurge: Texas Original Pits Corsicana Charcoal Grill

best charcoal grills
Texas Original BBQ Pits

Why It's Great

  • Professional grade
  • Option to grill with charcoal or wood
  • More than 550 inches of cooking space

Grain of Salt

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

If you're an avid griller, consider this professional-grade grill. The Corsicana is a smaller version of Texas Original Pit grills, but it's not exactly small in terms of weight at almost 250 pounds. Luckily, it has wheels to help you move it around. This hand-forged grill lets you grill with charcoal or wood and can reach up to 600 degrees for outstanding searing.

Offering more than 500 square inches of cooking space, this grill fits two briskets or 18 hamburgers at the same time. It features a grease drain, a storage shelf, a temperature gauge, and a dual damper airflow system for optimal circulation. The grill's construction is extremely durable, ensuring it will last for many years of use.

We love that it's easy to switch between wood or charcoal depending on what you're cooking. The Corsicana Grill is an excellent choice for the backyard barbeque master who wants to invest in an easy-to-use, top-of-the-line grill.

The Details: Measures 46 x 28 x 48 inches; total cooking area is 558 square inches

Related: The Best Gas Grills for Grilling Everything from Burgers to Veggies

Our Takeaway

The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill was clearly the best charcoal grill for us. It has a classic design that makes it look high-end, while also being incredibly sturdy and reliable. We believe it is a great investment, as it will last you years and can be used to prepare delicious meals for all your family and friends.

How to Pick the Right Charcoal Grill


Make sure to select a size that can fit the amount of food you want to cook on it. You'll also want to keep in mind whether or not you want to bring it on the road to campsites or tailgates. Lastly, consider the size of your patio space. If you have a balcony, a small grill is your best choice. Those with large outdoor spaces can go for medium- to large-sized models.


Charcoal grills typically cost between $50 to $500 but can go up to $3,000, depending on style, size, and features. There are options for every budget, but cheaper grills won't last as long and will have fewer bells and whistles than more expensive models.


There are three main types of grill materials: enamel-coated steel, porcelain-coated cast iron, and plain steel. Enamel-coated steel and porcelain-coated cast iron retain heat better than plain steel grills, which means less charcoal is needed to cook your food at a high temperature, plus the nonstick surfaces are easier to clean. Plain steel grills tend to get hotter faster and retain heat better than enamel- and porcelain-coated grills. However, they're also more expensive and require more maintenance than their coated counterparts.

Common Questions

How do you use a charcoal grill?

The first thing to do when you're using a charcoal grill is to put charcoal in it. Next, light the charcoal with a fire starter or lighter fluid (though not too much; nobody likes food that tastes like lighter fluid). Once the charcoal has turned gray, you're ready to start cooking. Make sure there are no flames coming out of the vents underneath the grill. If there are flames coming out of those vents, then you need to put more coals on.

Do you leave the lid open on a charcoal grill?

You will want to keep the lid open while lighting the fire and adding more coals during cooking time. You can leave the lid off during cooking time, too, but you may need to cook your food longer with the lid off to compensate for escaped heat. If you want to sear your food quickly, it's best to keep the lid closed for most of the cooking time.

How long should charcoal burn before grilling?

If you're using a charcoal chimney or starter cube, your coals should be ready in about 15 minutes. If using lighter fluid, let them burn for at least 20 minutes before adding your food to ensure that all traces of lighter fluid have burned off. The coals should turn gray when they're ready for cooking.

How do you clean a charcoal grill?

The easiest way to clean a grill is with a wire brush while the grate is still hot. For tough stains, use a grill cleaner or scouring pad. To clean the inside of your grill, remove the grate and ashing tray, and then scrape off excess grease and particles with a putty knife or trowel. For stubborn spots, try spraying the area with oven cleaner, then wipe away with a rag after 10 to 15 minutes.

Why Take Our Word for It?

This piece was written by Stephanie Gravalese, a food and drink writer and recipe developer. Stephanie's work has been featured on EatingWell, Zagat, Food & Wine, The Guardian, and Food Network among others. For this article, Stephanie reached out to our Allstars and editors to compile the best charcoal grills on the market.

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