Charcoal Grills: The Best of

Nothing beats a big juicy steak, and there’s no better way to cook it than with a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills have become a symbol of summer barbecues. Any man knows the secret to cooking perfect burgers or steaks is to use a charcoal grill, a gas grill just can’t do it. There are tons of options when it actually comes down to choosing a grill. However, that is why I have tested some of the best and picked only the best of the best. I have chosen the best grill from 5 categories to make choosing one even easier for you.

Best Charcoal Grill: Weber 15502001

Weber 15502001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Copper

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When you choose a Weber grill, you know what kind of quality you’re getting, only the highest out there. This grill is my top choice because you really can’t get any better than the Weber 15502001 Performer Deluxe. It’s a little more expensive than the other options but it is well worth the money. It’s a grill that will last you a lifetime and make grilling easy. It certainly looks great as well; it has a shiny, sleek finish in your choice of 3 colors, copper, green, or black. Take grilling to the next level with the Weber 15502001 Performer Deluxe.

Top Features

  • LCD Cook Timer

    The Weber 15502001 comes with a handy LCD timer. This timer ensures that all your meats will be cooked to perfection. It attaches to the grill or it can be easily removed. So, if you aren’t standing by the grill the whole time you’re cooking, you can keep it by your side, which is especially handy when you are slow cooking a piece of meat. It also has a large display screen which is super easy to read and set.

  • Gas Ignition

    Unlike other grills that may take forever to light, this one has a Touch-N-Go ignition system. Say goodbye to the days of struggling to get your charcoal briquettes to stay lit on a windy day. The ignition system is an easy to operate system that quickly lights your charcoal briquettes at the touch of a button. This grill combines the best of both worlds, the smoky taste charcoal can offer and the ease of a gas grill. This is one of the main reasons this grill is my top pick, and it is super easy to use and worry free.

  • Easy Cleaning

    Another reason this grill is at the top of my list, it is super easy to clean. It features a One-Touch cleaning system to make cleaning up after barbecues easier than ever. It also has a high capacity ash catcher. The ash catcher is also removable so you can easily dump and clean it. It’s easy to get to and you don’t have to have any special tools or a few extra hours to clean your grill, you can do it in a matter of minutes and then have the rest of the afternoon to whatever you please.

  • Heavy Duty

    The Weber 15502001 is a grill that will last for years. The bowl and lid is porcelain enameled and won’t give out on you. It’s 2 part grate system made from heavy duty steel that will last a lifetime. The grates are also removable, making it even easier to clean and adding to its durability. You don’t have to worry about pieces snapping and breaking while you try to clean it.

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Best Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill: Char-Griller 16620

Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill, Graphite

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Yes, you read that right, this is an Akorn Kamado Kooker. Kamado cooking has been around for centuries, but it has always used heavy ceramics that aren’t convenient for everyday use. But with Char-Griller’s innovative technology and design, kamado cooking is easier than ever. Out of all the grills on this list, this one is the best value for your money. It has so many great features and can be used in so many ways you’d think it’d cost close to $1,000, and it’s definitely worth that. But it’s list price is only $616.75, but when you buy it through Amazon you get it for a steal. It also comes in 3 marvelous finishes, black, red and brown, any of which is sure to look great on your deck or patio.

Top Features

  • Well Insulated

    This Akorn grill is insulated like no other grill out there. It features triple walled insulation that will retain heat and keep your meat nice and juicy. It will perfectly retain temperatures between 200 and 700 degrees. This gives you endless options when it comes to cooking your meats or veggies.

  • Durable

    This grill is also incredibly durable and built to last. From top to bottom it is made from solid, high-quality steel. The exterior has a beautiful powder coated steel and the interior is made from porcelain coated steel. The rack itself is built to last as well. The cooking rack included with this grill is made from cast iron, which as any southerner knows, is one of the most durable materials out there. If you are not familiar with cast iron cookware, this grill will definitely sell you on it.

  • Versatile

    The great thing about this grill is that it also seamlessly doubles as a smoker. Most other grills aren’t great at slowly cooking meats, but with the adjustable double dampers, you can cook as fast or slow as you please. The dampers maintain perfect air flow and temperature. Also, the adjustable dampers make it easy to perfectly cook any time of meat. You can cook everything from chicken tenders and ribs, to steaks and fish. You can even cook a pizza! And with 314 square inches of cook space you can load it up with all sorts of meats at once.

  • Extra Bells & Whistles

    When you get this char-griller, aside from the obvious benefits and features, you also get tons of small bells and whistles to enjoy as you discover your grill. The first extra thing is the 2 folding side shelves with utensil hooks. This makes it easy to store utensils or meats or a cool drink while you’re grilling. It also has an ash pan for easy dumping and cleaning. It’s also easy to move from place to place with the two large front wheels and a locking rear caster wheel. And lastly, this grill has a removable warming rack. So if you finish cooking before everyone arrives or before it’s time to eat, you can easily keep the food warm and ready to eat with this 133 square inch warming rack.


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Best Value to Money: Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

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Another great grill from Weber. This one too provides you with unrivaled quality and endless features. You have tons of options with the Weber 14401001, from the meats you cook, to the way you cook them, to the color of the grill. The Weber 14401001 comes in black, copper, and green, all of which look great at a cookout on a summer’s day. This grill is definitely designed with comfort in mind as well. It has 2 glass reinforced nylon handles with utensil hooks, so you have all the utensils you need within an arm’s length away. It also has a heat shield on the lid for added comfort. And all of that is just the beginning of what this amazing grill has to offer.

Top Features

  • Rust-Resistant Damper

    The Weber 14401001 features a rust-resistant damper that will help cook your meat to perfection. It helps get the ideal air flow in the grill and allows you to cook without lifting the lid. No more almost singing off your eyebrows or coughing from billowing smoke that somehow always seems to find you. The damper also allows you to slowly smoke your meats and keeps them juicy and tender the entire time.

  • Easy Cleaning

    Like the other Weber products, the 14401001 features an easy Touch-N-Go cleaning system that allows you to clean the grill easily with one hand. It too, collects ash in its high capacity ash catcher. With the simple swipe of a handle, the ash is emptied out of the bowl and into the aluminum ash catcher. It is so easy you can do it with one hand in just a matter of seconds. The ash catcher also allows you to go longer in between cleanings since it will keep the ashes out of the bowl and out of the way of the charcoal and food.

  • Built in Thermometer

    This grill has a super helpful thermometer to make sure you keep your meats at the ideal temperature. Of course, the right temperature depends on what meat you’re cooking and how fast you want it cooked. But no matter what kind of meat it is, this grill can cook it wonderfully. Is also very easy to read and, thankfully, very accurate.

  • Easy Assembly

    Along with everything else that makes this grill great, it also is very easy to put together. It’s not too heavy, less than 40 pounds, so there aren’t any really heavy parts you have to move around. The legs of the Weber 14401001 also has a spring clip/push system, which makes assembly even easier. Even the large, spacious, cooking grates go on and come off easily, which makes cleanings even easier.

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Best Under $100: Weber 441001 Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

Weber 441001 Grilling, 35' H x 23' W x 18.5' L, Black

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The Weber 441001 Original Kettle Charcoal Grill is a classic option you can’t go wrong with. It is also perfect for those on a budget, since it is less than $100. Additionally, it has tons of features and is super easy to use. It makes grilling a breeze and can be used for years. It isn’t super fancy or anything, but it gets the job done perfectly every single time. You can use this charcoal grill to cook any kind of meat you can think of and even grill your veggies to succulent perfection.

Top Features

  • Damper

    This charcoal grill from Weber features a rust resistant aluminum damper. The damper allows you to both smokes and grills your meat to perfection. It also allows you to cook all your food with the lid closed. So no more sweating grill side as you struggle to get your meat cooked just right. You don’t have to worry about any wild flame flare ups either every time the wind blows. The built in cleaning system also doubles as a second damper.

  • Hassle-Free Cleaning

    The One-Touch cleaning system and heavy duty ash catcher make cleaning out this Weber grill a breeze. Ash is collected in the bowl when you rotate the handle on the bottom side of the grill. When the handle is turned, 3 blades go to work moving the ask through the bowl of the grill and down into the ash catcher. The ash catcher lifts out and goes back in easily to ensure a hassle-free cleaning, all without getting your hands dirty. The ash catcher also makes it so you can cook longer since all the ashes are moved out of the way and don’t build up.

  • Spacious

    The Weber 441001 has 240 square inches of cooking space. This gives you plenty of room to cook all the burgers and hot dogs you can eat at your next cookout or tailgating party. With this grill, you can cook even the biggest of steaks and still have some room left over. Of course, there are bigger grills out there, but they tend to be really expensive and slightly overrated in my opinion.

  • Durable

    The porcelain enamel coating allows it to last for hundreds of cookings, makes it rust proof, and eliminates the possibility of any burn throughs.

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Best Charcoal Grill Under $50: Quick Grill Medium

Quick Grill Medium: Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill Made from Stainless Steel

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This simple and compact grill is super convenient for any occasion. And no matter what your budget is, you can definitely afford this one. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars you don’t have, especially if you don’t grill a whole lot. This one is not only the least expensive, but it also is the easiest to transport, most lightweight, and by far takes up the least space. By buying this grill, you’re buying a grill that you can count on to perform in any situation and under any circumstances. It may not look like much, but it packs a punch and is mighty impressive.

Top Features

  • Compact

    This isn’t one of those big clunky grills that will take up all of your patio and leave no room to sit. This charcoal grill is lightweight and compact, weighing only around 4 pounds and taking up a little more than 1 square foot. Compared to other grills, which can weigh over 100 pounds, this one feels as light as a feather. It really blew my mind the first time I unpacked it because it was so light, I thought for sure I had to be missing parts, but it was all there. It’s compact nature makes it easy to take anywhere, especially since it won’t take up all the trunk space in your car.

  • Portable

    This grill also comes with a carrying bag, making it extremely easy to transport from one place to another. It collapses easily, folding down and fitting perfectly into the bag. It is great for every occasion, but I like to use it most for when I go backpacking. However, if you aren’t a camper, it’s still perfect for you. It can be taken to sports games to tailgate, on camping trips, to picnics, parks, and more, the possibilities are virtually endless with this one.

  • Easy to Set Up

    You can’t get this one professionally set up for you, mainly because there’s no need to get it professionally set up. It is super easy to set up; anyone can do it in 5 minutes. It goes up and down easily, adding to its compactness and portability.

  • Versatile

    This grill is one of the most versatile ones out there. Although you can’t use it as a smoker, I don’t see why you would want to while you’re camping or tailgating. You can, however, use either charcoal or wood with this grill, and they’re both super easy to add to the grill. I find this especially useful when I’m camping. I like to wait until the campfire dies out a bit and then use the embers in this grill to cook over. Not only is it versatile in regards to the cooking material, but it is also very versatile when it comes to what you can cook on it. Fish, steak, chicken, vegetables, burgers, and more, whatever you can think of you can easily cook on this portable charcoal grill.

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Charcoal Grill Buying Guide

Benefits of a Buying a Portable Charcoal Grill

Everyone loves a good burger or a juicy steak, and any grill cook knows this is best achieved using a charcoal grill. Charcoal adds a smoky flavor that you just can’t get using a gas grill. One major benefit of using a charcoal grill is the fact that it can get hotter than gas grills. Charcoal grills can reach temperatures up to 700 degrees, which gas grills simply can’t do. They are able to give you that perfectly seared caramelized steak with a juicy center. Another reason to choose charcoal over gas, is that they’re more portable.

Gas grills are big and heavy and can’t be easily moved. However, charcoal grills are lightweight enough to take wherever you go, making them great for tailgating or picnics, or whatever else life may throw your way. With charcoal grills, you also have the option of cooking your meat slowly, which adds a whole new dimension of flavor. By slow cooking your meat you’re able to get a rich flavor while retaining all the moisture and tenderness of the meat. By slow cooking meat you’re also able to minimize the fat on your meat.

Slow cooking tends to liquefy fat and gristle, which adds to the one of a kind charcoal cooked flavor. Lastly, and probably the biggest advantage of charcoal grills, they are far cheaper than any other grill. Gas grills can cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars, and even after you buy it you have to keep spending money on it. You have to purchase the fuel, which can get pretty pricey, and can spell disaster if you forget to turn it off. Whereas, charcoal grills can be purchased for significantly less, some even less than $50, and the only expense you incur are the charcoal briquettes, which are pretty cheap and can last a long time.

How to Choose a Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill

When you’re in the market for a charcoal grill, there are a few things to consider. The first thing to consider is how easy it is to add charcoal. Most briquettes will burn out within an hour, so if you’re going to be cooking for a big crowd, or slow cooking your meat, you’ll want to make sure the grill you choose allows you to add briquettes easily. It is easiest to add briquettes when the grill has a hinged cooking grate that can easily be lifted. Another thing to consider is how easy it is to clean. You don’t want a grill that you have to constantly clean or one that is really difficult to clean. Luckily, most of the grills on this list are super easy to clean.

You’ll also want to make sure the cooking grates are made out of high-quality material such as cast iron or stainless steel. Both of these materials work great and are easy to keep meat from sticking to them. Price is another thing that will influence what grill you buy. While it isn’t bad to shell out a few extra bucks on a grill that you know you can count on, if you are hard pressed for money and really have to stick to a budget, there are still plenty of options. Lastly, I would implore you to choose a grill with a good warranty option. Just in case something happens, it’s good to know you can get a replacement or refund.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Cooking with a charcoal grill is a ritual, an art form even. But it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so here are some pointers to help get you started. First, you’ll want to remove the grate and place some charcoal briquettes in whatever fashion you please. If you prefer, you can use a charcoal chimney instead. If you choose to use a chimney you’ll want to stuff some newspaper in the bottom. Then place the charcoals in it, then place the chimney in the grill.

Next, you’ll want to splash a little bit of lighter fluid on the briquettes if you aren’t using a chimney and light them using a long handled lighter. If you use a chimney, you’ll want to light the newspaper in the bottom of the chimney. Next be patient and let the briquettes get a white ash on top of them. It takes around 5 minutes for the briquettes to get to high heat and around 30 for it to cool down to medium heat. If you are using a chimney, at this point you’ll want to use some oven mitts and pour the briquettes into the grill bowl, then place the grate back on top. Now you’re ready to start cooking your food.

Burgers, steaks, corn, and onions are good to cook on high heat. When you cook on high you are able to get a beautiful caramelization on the outside and still keep your food juicy on the inside. Pork, chicken, hot dogs, fish, and things of that nature should be cooked on medium heat. It is important to keep an eye on your food while cooking so it doesn’t burn or get dried out.

Round Up

To sum up: you have many options when it comes to picking a charcoal grill. To make the process easier, we’ve rounded up the best one for typical categories. If you’re looking for an all around great grill with lots of features, go with Weber 15502001.

If you decide you want a less expensive option yet of almost the same high quality, you’ll want the Char-Griller 16620 Grill and Smoker. It is an extremely versatile and durable grill that can also perfectly smoke your meats.

If you want a charcoal grill that’s budget friendly and easy to use, then the Weber 441001 is for you. But, if you’re looking for a grill that is very inexpensive and super easy to transport, but still highly reliable, the Quick Grill Medium is your best bet.

Finally, if none of the other options on the list appeals to you, the Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is another great option that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

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