Food & Drink

The 4 Best Charcoal Grills – My Top Picks!

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On hot summer days, I prefer firing up the grill than cooking indoors on a grill pan, and while gas grills are undeniably convenient, I personally like the flavor you get when cooking on a charcoal grill. The best charcoal grills give food a delicious smoky flavor and crisp char marks, and during the summer, I use my charcoal grill to cook everything from hamburgers and Grilled Chicken Breasts to Grilled Zucchini and other seasonal produce.

Credit: Skinnytaste

Grilling with charcoal does take a little practice. You have to learn how to light the charcoal and adjust the airflow to control the grill temperature, but the effort is worth it for delicious grilled meals. Over the years, I’ve personally used several of the best charcoal grills, and the following are my top picks if you’re in the market for a new grill. 

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My Top Picks

  1. What’s in My Kitchen: Kamado Joe Classic Joe II – $1,299 at Home Depot
  2. Best Budget Charcoal Grill: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill – $219 at Amazon
  3. Best Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: Char-Griller Classic Charcoal Grill – $299 at Home Depot
  4. Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill – $159.18 at Amazon

Reviews of The Best Charcoal Grills

1. What’s in My Kitchen: Kamado Joe Classic Joe II

Best charcoal grills: Kamado Joe
Credit: Williams Sonoma

If you’re experienced with charcoal grills, the Kamado Joe Classic Joe II is a worthwhile purchase for your patio. This Kamado-style grill has ceramic walls and a unique egg-like shape that offers better heat retention and fuel efficiency, and it can be used for high-heat grilling as well as smoking. I love it! 

The Classic Joe II has a two-tier grate system that lets you cook foods at different temperatures, and its lid has an assisted-lift hinge that makes it easier to open and close. The grill is mounted on caster wheels and has two side tables where you can place your grilling tools, and with proper care, it will last for many years. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Kamado
  • Dimensions: 46.5 by 28 by 48 inches
  • Weight: 233 pounds
  • Cooking Surface: 250 square inches

The Pros:

  • Suitable for grilling and smoking
  • Two-tier grate system
  • Assisted hinge on lid
  • Easy-to-empty ash drawer

The Cons:

What Others are Saying: The Kamado Joe Classic Joe II was named the best kamado grill by Epicurious, and The Spruce Eats gave it a glowing review, scoring it a 4.7 out of 5. It also has a 4.7-star Amazon rating from around 900 buyers. 

Buy the Kamado Joe Classic Joe II: 

2. Best Budget Charcoal Grill: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Best charcoal grills: Weber Original
Credit: Amazon

For beginners, the Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill is an easy-to-use option that isn’t too expensive. This classic grill has a round grate that’s 22 inches across, and one side hinges upward, allowing you to adjust the charcoal underneath. There’s a hook on the side of the grill where you can hang the lid while tending to your food, and the grill is mounted on two wheels, so you can move it around your yard easily. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, but it’s a solid entry-level model that many avid grillers love. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Kettle
  • Dimensions: 22.5 by 22.5 by 27 inches
  • Weight: 37 pounds
  • Cooking Surface: 363 square inches

The Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Classic, easy-to-use design
  • One-touch cleaning system
  • Built-in lid hook

The Cons:

What Others are Saying: The Weber Original Premium Charcoal Grill is a bestseller on Amazon, with a 4.8-star rating from more than 6,700 reviewers. It’s also a top choice among food publications: both Serious Eats and Food & Wine named it the best charcoal grill in their testing.

Buy the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill: 

3. Best Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: Char-Griller Classic Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller charcoal grill
Credit: Home Depot

Cart grills have built-in side tables and lower storage shelves, making them a convenient all-in-one station for food prep and cooking. This model from Char-Griller has a large cooking surface, as well as a secondary rack for warming foods like burger buns, and it has a crank that lets you raise or lower the charcoal tray to adjust the cooking temperature. The grill is mounted on locking caster wheels for easy portability, and there’s a large pull-out ashtray that makes it easy to clean, as well. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Cart
  • Dimensions: 57.4 x 27 x 51.7 inches
  • Weight: 88 pounds
  • Cooking Surface: 810 square inches

The Pros:

  • Large cooking surface
  • Mounted on wheels
  • Height-adjustable charcoal tray
  • Side tables and storage shelf

The Cons:

What Others are Saying: The Char-Griller Classic Charcoal Grill is well-rated among food publications, and both Serious Eats and Food & Wine say it’s the best cart-style charcoal grill. 

Buy the Char-Griller Classic Charcoal Grill: 

4. Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill

Everdure CUBE charcoal grill
Credit: Amazon

If you’re looking for a charcoal grill you can take to the beach, on a picnic, or even to a tailgate, the Everdure CUBE is compact and convenient. It has two large handles that make it easy to carry, and it can be used on any surface, whether it’s a wooden picnic table or a truck bed. The grill comes with a built-in food storage tray and cutting board for on-the-go prep, and they latch into place on top of the grill to serve as a lid while you’re traveling. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Portable
  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 16.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Weight: 15.4 pounds
  • Cooking Surface: 115 square inches

The Pros:

  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Built-in food storage tray and cutting board
  • Can be used on any surface
  • Available in several colors

The Cons:

  • Fairly small cooking grate
  • No lid while cooking

What Others are Saying: The Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill has a 4.5-star rating from 340 Amazon reviewers, and it’s included on lists of the best portable charcoal grills from The Spruce Eats and Food & Wine

Buy the Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill: 

Other Charcoal Grills to Consider

PK Grills PK300-BCX Charcoal Grill and Smoker

If you want to grill or smoke your favorite recipes, this model from PK Grills has a four-point ventilation system that gives you more control over its temperature. It offers around 300 square inches of cooking space and is made from cast aluminum, so it’s not too heavy. The grill’s unique oval-shaped design is handy for two-zone cooking, and it comes with a convenient cart that gives you plenty of space to prep food. The PK Grills PK300-BCX Charcoal Grill and Smoker is available at Amazon for $524.99.

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

The Weber Performer Deluxe is a higher-end model of the brand’s classic kettle grill, and it comes with a convenient cart that serves as an all-in-one grilling area. The grill has a 22-inch diameter and around 363 square inches of cooking space, and it’s mounted on wheels, so you can move it easily around your yard. In addition to a cart, it has a basket for charcoal storage, as well as an ash catcher and lid hook, but the grill itself is the same as the classic model. The Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill is available at Amazon for $549

Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Tabletop Charcoal Grill

No room for a full-size grill? The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler is a compact tabletop model that you can put on a picnic table or other elevated surface. It has 218 square inches of cooking space with heavy-duty cast iron grates, and you can raise or lower the charcoal tray to control the temperature while cooking. An ashtray on the bottom makes for easy cleaning, but the grill is a little pricey, considering its small size. The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Tabletop Charcoal Grill is available at Amazon for $177.77.

Char-Griller Double Play Gas and Charcoal Combo Grill

If you’re not ready to give up the convenience of a gas grill, the Char-Griller Double Play gives you the best of both worlds. One side of the grill uses propane for quick and easy cooking, while the other is powered by charcoal for those times you want the best flavor. It has a total of 1,260 square inches of cooking space, and it can even be outfitted with an additional side box for smoking meat. The Char-Griller Double Play Gas and Charcoal Combo Grill is available at Home Depot for $449.

Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill

The Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill is another good option for grilling on the go thanks to its folding cart. It folds into a convenient flat form that you can pull along behind you if you’re camping or at a tailgate, and the grill is larger than many portable options, boasting 200 square inches of cooking area. Plus, it has a unique battery-powered temperature control dial that takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking with charcoal. The Masterbuilt Portable Charcoal Grill is available at Amazon for $325.99

Why You Can Trust Me

Hi! I’m Gina, the author and recipe developer behind Skinnytaste, where I share my favorite lightened up recipes made with whole, fresh ingredients. I love grilling for my family when the weather gets hot, whether it’s something easy like Turkey Burgers or more adventurous recipes like Grilled Chicken Tacos.

grilling salmon on an outdoor grill
Credit: Skinnytaste

I’ve used many different grills over the course of my career, and I’ve tested several of the models included on this list. For the ones I haven’t used myself, I turned to my favorite food bloggers and cooking publications for reviews and prioritized products from brands that I know make high-quality grills. 

Everything to Know Before Buying a Charcoal Grill

grilled vegetables
Credit: Skinnytaste

What to Consider Before Buying a Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills come in a range of shapes and sizes, and there are a few key features to look at as you compare models:

Style: There are multiple styles of charcoal grills available, including kettle, cart, kamado, and portable options. Kettle grills tend to be the most basic and affordable, while cart-style charcoal grills have built-in prep area and storage. Kamado grills have a unique egg shape and are made from ceramic, which makes them ideal for heat retention.  

Cooking Area: The capacity of a charcoal grill can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 square inches. The larger the cooking area, the more food you’ll be able to cook at one time without overcrowding. 

Charcoal Adjustment: As you cook, you may need to adjust the charcoal inside your grill. Some grates have hinges that give you easy access to the briquettes, and others have height-adjustable charcoal trays that you can raise or lower to help control the temperature. 

How Do You Light a Charcoal Grill?

The easiest way to light a charcoal grill is by using a tool called a chimney starter. You fill the tube up with your charcoal, then place lighter cubes or crumpled newspaper underneath the starter. When you light the fuel on fire, it will spread upward to the charcoal, and in 20 to 30 minutes, your briquettes should be red hot and ready to transfer into the grill. Alternatively, you can use an electric charcoal starter to light the grill. Some people use lighter fluid, but it can give your food an off flavor, and I don’t really recommend it. 

How Do You Use a Charcoal Grill? 

To use a charcoal grill, you’ll want to start by lighting your charcoal using the steps listed above. When the charcoal is red hot, carefully transfer it into the charcoal tray, then cover the grill to allow it to heat up before placing food on the grates to cook. 

You can control the heat of a charcoal grill by adjusting its air vents or dampers. When the vents are fully open, the grill will be hotter, and as you close them, the temperature will go down. 

How Do You Put Out a Charcoal Grill? 

When you’re done cooking, it’s easy to put out a charcoal grill. All you have to do is put on the lid and close all the air vents. This will deprive the charcoal of oxygen, causing the fire to go out. However, the grill will still be hot for quite some time—often an hour or more, depending on how much charcoal is left—so use caution when touching it. 

What’s Better: Gas vs Charcoal Grill?

There are benefits to both gas and charcoal grills, and the best option depends on your cooking style. Gas grills are easy to use, even if you’re a beginner. They light easily and heat up quickly, and you can adjust their temperature using knobs on the front of the grill. Charcoal grills, on the other hand, take longer to light and are a bit trickier to adjust. However, many people love charcoal grills because they give food more of a smoky flavor than gas grills. 

The Best Grilling Recipes

Credit: Skinnytaste

Once you get the hang of using them, charcoal grills are a versatile tool for grilling and smoking your favorite foods. You can use them to cook classic cookout foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak, and they’ll give the meat a delicious smoky taste. However, you can cook many other recipes on a charcoal grill—here are a few of my favorite grilled recipes to get you started: 

Prices were accurate at time of publication. 


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Scoop Sky is a blog with all the enjoyable information on many subjects, including fitness and health, technology, fashion, entertainment, dating and relationships, beauty and make-up, sports and many more.

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