12 Best Charcoal Grills in 2017

Grilling is, without a doubt, one of America’s favorite pastime activities. From cooking up juicy dogs to charring fresh, crunchy vegetables, the BBQ serves us well for just about any dish that we would like to prepare.

Many people tend to favor the charcoal grill when it comes to cooking on an open fire thanks to the distinctive smoky flavor that it gives food, but deciding which grill to purchase can be difficult with so many options and styles available.

Still trying to decide which one will meet your grilling needs? Read on, and our experts will provide you with a list of the best charcoal grill models and share some valuable shopping tips in this useful guide.

Top 12 Charcoal Grills Comparison Table

DesignNameTypeGrilling SurfaceRating (1-5)
  1. Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill Backyard 22” 4.7
  2. Volcano Grills 2 Fuel Charcoal & Wood Collapsible Stove Portable 13” 4.7
  3. Weber 15502001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill Backyard 22” 4.4
  4. Party Griller 32” Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill Backyard/Portable 32” 4.4
  5. Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill Backyard 250 sq in. 4.3
6. Tailgater Grill – Portable Camping or Tailgating Grill Portable 12” 4.3
7. Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Backyard 14” 4.3
8. Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box Portable 250 sq in. 4.3
  9. Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill Backyard 793 sq in. 4.1
  10. Kuuma 58110 Stow N’ Go 160 Charcoal Grill Portable 160 sq in. 4.0
  11. Fire Sense Notebook Charcoal Grill Portable 228 sq in. 3.9
  12. Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill Portable 14” 3.8

Burger, Hotdogs or Steaks?

When shopping around for the best charcoal grill, you need to ask yourself a few simple questions. The first would be what do you plan to cook? Most folks turn towards hamburgers and hotdogs, but steak, chicken, and shish kebabs are popular options as well. A great grill can handle all of them with ease although some are designed to deal with different types of meats better than others.

You should also consider how often you plan to grill. If it’s a seasonal activity for you, you may want to keep things simple and opt for a classic model with no frills. People that grill all year long or tailgate will want something a bit more stout so that it can hold up through multiple seasons of abuse. You’ll also want to ensure it’s easy to clean; something that can be extremely difficult depending on the style of the grill.

Where Will You Grill?

While you may not know how often you’ll cook out from year to year, you probably know where you plan to grill. Backyards are where you’ll find most charcoal grills, but that’s far from the only place they’re used. This style of grill can come in many sizes from tabletop models that you can use on a deck to gigantic cookers big enough to serve half the neighborhood.

The overall concept of the grill has not changed much over the years, but manufacturers have found ways to make smaller cookers just as nice as the larger ones. It’s not uncommon to find a full-featured griller that you can toss into the trunk and take on a camping trip or ones that use “dual fuel” in case you’re out in the wilds and sans charcoal.

Grilling Surface

Even if you find the best looking grill on the market, it won’t do you a bit of good if the cooking surface is not big enough for your needs. All of the cookers on our list can handle a pack of hamburger although smaller models may only be able to do a few burgers and dogs at once. That means some food will get cold while you cook the rest of your meat; not an ideal situation for anyone.

Despite your best efforts, that griddle is going to get nasty very quickly, and there is only so much seasoning or scrubbing can do. Eventually, you’ll have to replace that top, so you’ll want to make sure the grill you choose has replacements available or comes in a common size. Not all grills are round, and square or rectangular grilling surfaces can be tough to find or extremely expensive to replace on some models.

Top 5 Best Charcoal Grills Reviews

1. Weber Original Premium Kettle Grill

It’s safe to say the Weber Kettle grill is an American classic and a grill that’s been in use for decades in the states. You may have even owned one in the past, but not like this one. The Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Charcoal Grill is the company’s “Premium” model and certainly qualifies as an option for the best charcoal grill.

In terms of size, this grill is larger than a medium-sized cooker, but not quite as big as models built to cook for a large gathering. The cooking area should be more than sufficient for most families at 363 square inches, and it’s made from stainless steel which holds up well as long as you keep it clean. Unlike a traditional stainless grate, this one has hinges on each end that allow you to tend the charcoal as needed. Throw in an aluminum damper, tool hooks, and an ash bucket, and you’ve got yourself a grill that will last multiple seasons.

This particular model has a one-touch cleaning system that’s said to make cleaning your grill a breeze, which is a bonus, but no substitute for a grill brush and some elbow grease. It’s simple to use, easy to put together and comes in black, green or copper.

2. Volcano Grills 2 Fuel Charcoal & Wood Grill

Looking for something smaller you can take on the road? Volcano Grills has just the thing for you with their 2 Fuel Charcoal and Wood collapsible stove. Yes, we said stove as this one allows you to cook meat up top the old fashioned way but can also deal with Dutch Ovens with ease.

Cute isn’t a word generally associated with grills, but his little unit is cute and collapse down to only 5” tall so it can travel with you wherever you may roam. It’s also a dual fuel model so you can cook with charcoal or use wood if you’re camping and don’t have access to briquettes. It doesn’t bring much to the table when it comes to features, but does have a carrying handle, diffuser plate, and is sturdy enough to take some abuse if you do take it on the road.

While there’s a lot to like about this little unit, its size will automatically rule it out for some folks as it’s just not built to cook a lot of food. It is our top choice when it comes to portable cookers, however, and comes complete with a handy carrying case to keep things clean.

3. Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

Our second grill from Weber is far more high-tech than the first but still simple enough for anyone to use. It’s the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, and while it has the same cooking area of our top model, this one comes with a few handy extras.

One of the biggest problems when dealing with charcoal grills is space. We’re not talking about the cooking surface, as this one offers up 363 square inches, but the space you’ll need to store the food, sauces or other things you may use while grilling. The Performer Deluxe handles that nicely as there is small tabletop next to the grill and a rack below. It’s also a hybrid of sorts considering it has a “Touch-N-Go” ignition system that uses gas to ignite your briquettes. No more dealing with lighter fluid or fighting the wind, this one will get you up and cooking in no time.

Not everyone fancies gas, but this model only uses a small canister, so it’s easy to deal with and refill when needed. It also has a built-in timer so you don’t have to keep checking the clock and there’s a thermostat on the lid as well. It’s considerably more expensive than a regular Weber, but well worth it if you are a frequent griller thanks to those extra features.

4. Party Griller Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill

Grills typically come in two distinct shapes – round and rectangular. Occasionally you get an oddball or a long and lean cooker built for BBQ’s in the backyard. This grill can handle several racks of ribs with room to spare and is one of the few full-sized models that can convert for easy travel.

The Party Griller lives up to its namesake by providing you with a huge grilling surface to work with. It’s 32” long and 8” wide constructed from sturdy stainless steel. Those measurements aren’t just for show either, as this one is all cooking surface considering the grilling area actually wraps around the front. Its design allows you to cook steaks, dogs, ribs and is perfect for shish kebabs as well. As a bonus, you’ll get a couple of slick stainless steel shakers for seasoning and a sturdy pair of tongs.

To say this one looks “industrial” would be an understatement but rest assured it’s safe and those edges are rounded to prevent cuts. Despite its size, it’s also portable as you can fold up or remove the legs and take it on the road.

5. Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill

Depending on the styles of grills you’re used to, this one may seem a little odd. Well, don’t let those looks fool you. The Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill is small, but mighty and can handle any kind of meat you throw its way.

This grill is a little smaller than most with 250 square inches of grilling area. It has a hinged lid that provides easy access to your food when it’s time to flip, and the grates are not stainless but cast iron, so they are going to last longer and are arguably easier to clean. There are wheels on the bottom which make it easy to move, and the double steel bottom is the icing on the cake. Needless to say, this grill is ideal for consumers that need to save space, but still want to enjoy a great burger outdoors in the summer.

We save the best for last with this one. Our favorite feature is the charcoal drawer built into the side which eliminates the need to remove grates as you would on a classic grill. It also makes it considerably easier to dump when the grill cools off, something that can be messy on other kinds of grills.

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