If you want to get back to grilling basics and cook delicious food, you need the best charcoal grill. There’s nothing quite like charcoal. Electric grills may be efficient, electric may be easy to use, but nothing has the smoky, sumery taste of charcoal, and there’s no seasoning in the world that can make up the difference. Keep reading for charcoal grill reviews and ratings below.

The 5 Top Charcoal Grills

Finding the best charcoal grills is really about finding the best charcoal grills for you. Maybe you want the very biggest and best money can buy, something for when the entire family comes over. Or maybe you want something that’s easy to throw in the trunk of the car. Whatever the case, we’ve done the footwork so you can find just what you’re looking for. Check out the top five best charcoal grills below.

Best Choice
Our Score 10 Out of 10
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Premium Pick
Our Score 10 Out of 10
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Best Value
Our Score 6 Out of 10
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Runner Up
Our Score 8 Out of 10
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Honorable Mention
Our Score 8 Out of 10
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* Ratings are determined using our specialized rating system.

Royal Gourmet Outdoor Charcoal BBQ Grill

Our Score 10 out of 10
Royal Gourmet CD1824AC 24 Inch Charcoal Grill BBQ Outdoor Picnic, Patio Backyard Cooking, with Cover, Black
Royal Gourmet CD1824AC 24 Inch Charcoal Grill BBQ Outdoor Picnic, Patio Backyard Cooking, with Cover, Black amazon.com Check price

Easy to assemble. 393 square inches for cooking grates, porcelain enamel steel wiring, 205 square inches for warming rack, chrome steel wiring
Heavy duty Lid-Mounted Temperature Gauge design, with ...

With five hundred ninety-eight square inches of cooking surface, the Royal Gourmet Outdoor Picnic, Camping, Patio, Backyard Charcoal BBQ Grill is a grill I wish I had last summer when I was picking chops off the rack four at a time. If you love to spend all summer in the backyard, park or campsite grilling up feasts for friends and family, you could do a lot worse than a Royal Gourmet.

Note that this is no beginner’s grill. If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is you work your way up to this one, starting with a simple kettle-grill set up until you’ve learned the way of the coals. If you’re already an experienced outdoor chef, on the other hand, the Royal Gourmet is the perfect centerpiece for the backyard.

Pros
  • Generous cooking space
  • Pull-out ash-drawer
  • Front door for coal pan
  • Adjustable charcoal pan
  • 205 square inch heating rack
  • Too large for regular travel
  • Loose build
  • Not ideal for beginners
Cons
  • Too large for regular travel
  • Loose build
  • Not ideal for beginners

Dyna-Glo X-Large Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill

Our Score 10 out of 10
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill, X-Large, Stainless
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill, X-Large, Stainless amazon.com Check price

Removable firebox divider for single or dual cooking zone
Primary cooking area is 576 square inches
Secondary cooking area is 240 square inches
TOTAL cooking area is 816 square inches
Protect your ...

If you’re looking for the luxury car of charcoal grills, I’ve got to recommend the Dyna-Glo X-Large Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill, Stainless. This is a dual-zone setup with five hundred seventy-six square inches for the main grill and two hundred forty for the secondary, for a total of eight hundred sixteen square inches of cooking space, so no cooking your items in shifts.

The beautiful stainless steel design makes this piece the envy of every backyard chef. This is the grill I recommend to anyone who’s looking for something just a bit showoffy. It’s got a few more bells and whistles than the average griller needs, but if you know your way around an open flame, you’ll find a use for all those extra features.

Pros
  • Removable firebox divider
  • Double-walled firebox and lid
  • High-capacity ash tray
  • Adapts to rotisserie and smoking add-ons
  • Beautiful stainless steel design
  • Some sloppy welding
  • Prone to discoloration
  • Open-mesh coal basket drops wood smoking chips
Cons
  • Some sloppy welding
  • Prone to discoloration
  • Open-mesh coal basket drops wood smoking chips

BEAU JARDIN 18-Inch Round Portable BBQ Charcoal Grill

Our Score 6 out of 10
BEAU JARDIN Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor 18 inch Barbecue Grill and Smoker Heat Control Round BBQ Kettle Outdoor Picnic Patio Backyard Camping Tailgating Steel Cooking Grate for Steak Chicken
BEAU JARDIN Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor 18 inch Barbecue Grill and Smoker Heat Control Round BBQ Kettle Outdoor Picnic Patio Backyard Camping Tailgating Steel Cooking Grate for Steak Chicken amazon.com Check price

PORTABLE CHARCOAL GRILL:Portable charcoal grills with dimension of 17.5 inch diameter by 24-inch high without lid. Durable 17. inch diameter of BBQ grill plated steel cooking grate provides ample c...

The BEAU JARDIN 18-Inch Round Portable BBQ Charcoal Grill provides the ultimate simplicity: just a tray to hold the coals and a grate to hold the food. This simple kettle grill is a no-frills piece of backyard equipment that might not look like much, but it gets the job done just fine. Twenty four inches high, seventeen inches in diameter, easy to clean and small enough to toss in the car for your next camping trip, picnic or tailgate.

It’s perfect for parties and gatherings or just cooking up a few steaks for lunch. Even if you’ve already invested in a more elaborate grill, it’s always a good idea to keep one of these around for impromptu fishing excursions. Having an inexpensive grill that you can load into the RV to take camping can be convenient.

Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Easy assembly
  • Very good heat-retention
  • Modest but adequate cooking space
  • Very easy to use
  • Shallow bowl
  • Came with missing screws
  • Galvanized bowl
Cons
  • Shallow bowl
  • Came with missing screws
  • Galvanized bowl

Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill in Black

Our Score 8 out of 10
Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black
Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black amazon.com Check price

250 square inches of cooking space, cast iron cooking grates, side drawer
Ideal for small decks or patios
Features Stay Cool wood handle, side shelf, double steel bottom and side air vent
Wheels ma...

The Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black might not be my most favorite grill I’ve ever used, but it’s an excellent meat machine with plenty to recommend it. The grill features two hundred fifty square inches of cooking space, it uses a nice, weighty steel construction for a sturdy build, and the spacious interior makes it easy to fit anything from tri-tip to whole birds with some room left over.

The Royal Gourmet may be the best griller on this list, but this might be the best smoker. The simple, spacious design makes the whole process pretty easy, from managing the heat to packing in the meat.

Pros
  • Elegant, simple design
  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Stay Cool wood handle
  • Wheels offer easy transport
  • Ample cooking space
  • Confusing instructions
  • Bare-bones design
  • Legs are wobbly without stabilizing brackets
Cons
  • Confusing instructions
  • Bare-bones design
  • Legs are wobbly without stabilizing brackets

Weber Round Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Our Score 8 out of 10
Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill amazon.com Check price

Stay true to the modern version of the kettle that started it all—the Original Kettle, invented by Weber’s founder, and loved around the world. Its ultra-durable, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl re...

A simple grill made well, the Weber Round Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill offers everything you need to feed a medium-sized group, and no frills besides. If you feel no need to get really ambitious with your grilling, if all you need is an aluminum bowl and a grate, this gets the job done in a versatile, durable, dependable package that may last you for years to come.

For many grillers, this is really all you’re ever going to need. Just a simple, efficient, easy-to-use grill-station. It might not be as fancy as some of the other pieces on this list, but maybe fancy isn’t what you’re looking for.

Pros
  • Elegant, simple, easy,
  • Good heat retention
  • Upper and lower vents for easy heat control
  • Spacious-enough grill
  • Adjustable racks not included
  • Some parts are cheaply made
Cons
  • Adjustable racks not included
  • Some parts are cheaply made

Features to Consider for the Best Charcoal Grill

When it comes to the very best charcoal grills, it really comes down to the person using it. There’s no one, single best grill in the world, whether you prefer flat-top grills or charcoal grills. There are some that are great for travel, others that you will want to set up as your permanent outdoor kitchen in the backyard. Maybe you like to host big blowouts, cooking for ten or twenty people at a time, or perhaps you’re more than happy to simply flip a few patties for the family now and then. The best charcoal grills are going to be the ones that meet your needs, whatever those needs may be.

Size

Size is actually going to be your major first concern when selecting a grill. You might think “the bigger the better,” because you can always cook a small meal on a big unit, but consider how much charcoal it’s going to take to heat a full-sized grill with five hundred-plus square inches of cooking space. That’s a lot of wasted coal to heat up just a couple of burgers. If you’re looking for a camping grill then, again, the additional size is going to be a drawback, making it more difficult to transport. Bigger is better if we’re talking about tailgate grills, combo grills, or the best charcoal grills for Thanksgiving and family reunions, but a portable grill or two burner grill may suit you better otherwise.

Vents

Vents are kind of a big deal when you’re shopping for a new charcoal grill. Letting the air flow through your coals will help you to maintain a high heat for burgers and steaks, but slow-roasted pork, barbecue, and smoking demand a lower temperature, which can be controlled by shutting vents off to limit airflow. If the vents are poorly-sealed, leaky, or difficult to operate, you’re not going to get the cook you’re after.

Quality

Build quality is another biggie when looking for the best charcoal grills. A grill that’s too top-heavy, that’s produced from flimsy material, that won’t stand solid on its legs is going to be difficult to braise, roast and smoke with. Ideally you want something that you could just about lean against without worry, and some of the best charcoal grills are truly about as sturdy as your kitchen stove. But, smaller grills just plain aren’t going to offer that level of heftiness. Just make sure to look for something that won’t topple over in a gentle breeze.

Benefits of Using Charcoal Grills

Why Charcoal? Because it tastes better. Next. Okay, in all seriousness, this isn’t the only benefit to using charcoal. Here are some others:

  • Charcoal is more consistent and easier to control than wood. It’s easy to control heat distribution with charcoal grill–no high-tech infrared grill needed.
  • A propane grill has so many moving parts, but for your charcoal grill all you need is the grill and the charcoal. You can take a charcoal grill nearly anywhere without much issue.
  • Wherever you go, you can probably find a grocery store or gas station that sells charcoal. That might not be the case with other fuel sources.
  • With the right setup, charcoal grills can even sometimes function as marine boating grills.

And here’s something to contemplate: the smell. There’s something about the smell of charcoal that instantly conjures up a feeling of childhood summers, cooking at the park or the beach with family. There’s a reason for that: Smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. There’s a certain nostalgic magic to charcoal that you just aren’t going to get from natural gas grills or other types of grill. I learned to cook on a charcoal grill, and I can for sure attest to this.

These aren’t the only types of charcoal grills. Kettle grills and kamado grills are both examples of different types of grills that primarily use charcoal as a fuel.

Precautions When Using Charcoal Grills

If you’re planning on becoming a master griller, here are some safety tips you’ll need to memorize in order to practice grilling safety.

If you use lighter fluids, keep them capped and stored well away from the grill. Never squirt more lighter fluid onto the fire when it’s already lit. This can cause the flame to travel up the stream, and the bottle can explode. Always use your charcoal grill in a well-ventilated area, never, ever inside any enclosed structure. Keep your grates clean to avoid flare-up. Let ashes cool for forty-eight hours before tossing them in the trash. Keep the grill out from under any low-hanging tree branches. Never put the grill cover on your while it’s still hot to avoid risk of it catching on fire. Always wait until it has cooled down to cover it.

Conclusion

We all have our own opinion on which are the very best of the best of the best charcoal grills, but if you want mine, it’s got to be the Royal Gourmet Outdoor Picnic, Camping, Patio, Backyard Charcoal BBQ Grill.

What can I say, I’m an ambitious griller. Even when it’s just me, a few friends, and a PK Grill, I don’t like to just put a couple burgers on the grill, I like to put a couple dozen on the grill, try out as many different seasoning blends as I can, load them up with grilled onions and peppers and save a bunch for midnight snacks. And of course, you’re going to need all that cooking space when you’re hosting a party. While the build-quality isn’t perfect, a few DIY tweaks have made mine as sturdy as I need it to be.

It’s nice to have a smaller grill tucked away for camping trips, too, but push come to shove you can always dig a fire pit in the woods. At home, on the other hand, you can’t beat the generous cooking space and perfect flow of the Royal Gourmet.

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