All You Need to Know to Pick the Best Charcoal Grill

When talking about the best charcoal grill, you can spend any amount of money on a fancy deluxe charcoal grill (I found something costing up to thousands of dollars).

About me, I love cooking and do it seriously, but I am NOT looking for the Rolls-Royce of charcoal grills.

Instead, I just want a well-designed backyard barbecue that helps me make flavorful ribs, smoky pork loin, juicy chicken steak and burgers without taking out a second mortgage.

And, that’s why I also advise you to set an upper price limit of $400 when it comes to choosing a good charcoal grill. Based on that price range, I have here, top 10 great charcoal barbecues that any die-hard charcoal grill fans should know.

1. Weber 14501001 Master-Touch Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

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Surely, this collection can’t miss my longtime favorite called Weber 14501001.

The whole set includes a 22-inch black diameter bowl made from high-quality porcelain, a black round lid, a grate, an aluminum ash catcher, a damper, two handles and some tool hooks. This unit takes roughly 363 square inch cooking area, which is enough to fit many places from your small balcony to a backyard.

It costs under $200 and that’s well-known as a fine unit, but I also want to know if it’s still the best charcoal grill.

My very first test – assembly!

With some of these grills, you come home from the store or get it online with an enormous box of a million parts and some terrible instructions. The worst of these took at least two people nearly two straight hours of hard work to have it been installed, which I’m quite sure not you wish for.

Luckily, this weber charcoal grill will relieve you with its very clear instruction and easy assemble. To be honest, that’s a little bit difficult when installing its legs and handles, but there are a lot of available tricks on the internet to help you out.

Only about 20 minutes to get everything done and that’s a big difference!!!

About the material, very outstanding and high-quality. I also particularly appreciate its glass-reinforced nylon handles as you can change the grilling temperature easy peasy, even when it’s freaking hot. But the spotlight might be its sear grate! Firstly, it’s designed with removable center for easily adding charcoal and secondly, its bigger width than most for more loads of food.

Besides, you can use a griddle and sear grate at once to save a tone of time. Perfect!

2. Portable 18″ Charcoal Grill Outdoor Original BBQ Grill Backyard Cooking Stainless Steel 18” diameter

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This stainless-steel charcoal grill is a little bit smaller than the Weber (18-inch diameter cooking space) with much more affordable price.

But just worry less about it being as poor quality as such Chinese junks because LavoHome does offer 100% satisfaction warranty to ensure you won’t regret the purchase.

In general, this small charcoal grill can cook pretty well burgers, steaks, pork and other kinds of food. But with the large like a full-sized turkey, that’s surely an impossible thing.

Instead, they do offer many additional features to help your grilling easier, for examples the heat resistant handles, the removeable ash catcher, the slide vent and the porcelain-enameled steel storage shelf.

I also did find that I prefer its grate that are set in to provide a backstop. It is not flush with edge of the grill if you don’t have the chance to slip off.

In other words, for those who are on a tight budget or don’t plan to make barbecue parties usually, the LavoHome’s will do its best job for the average grilling functions. Kindly understand this’s an obvious rule – you get what you paid for.

3. Charcoal Grill 17in with Steel Cooking Grate for Home Garden Barbecue Tool Sets

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If you are looking for the best charcoal grill that can cook a superior smoky flavor dishes, don’t miss out the BEAU JARDIN’s. This is also one of my requirements when it comes to choosing a charcoal grill – its ability to handle low slow barbecuing like when you are making a brisket or ribs.

Thus, I tested the slow barbecued baby back ribs for four hours as well as added coals halfway through. Now, for slower cooking, you need indirect heat. That’s when you put the coals over to one side of the grill and the food on the opposite side. Then, you want to open the lid vent on the side directly over the food. That draws the heat and smoke across and over.

For such a perfect low slow barbecuing, never opt for those charcoal grills with lid vent right in the middle as that sends the heat straight up and out before it even gets to the meat on the other side.

With this design, as you can see, the lid vent is on a side of its lid so that you just need to place coals on the opposite side and meat on this side.

Not saying that, BEAU JARDIN also provides a thermometer control, a removeable ash catcher, foldable legs with wheels and BBQ smoker to help you cook more efficiently and quickly. In my opinion, it’s perfect to grill steaks, Vadelia onion, mushrooms, halved summer squash, chicken breast, asparagus and hot dogs.

4. Portable Foldable Tabletop Charcoal BBQ Grill with four Foldable legs and a warming rack for camping, hiking, picnic

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There’s a fact that being able to easily adjust vents is really critical to the best charcoal grill! Why? Vents are like your temperature controls like the dials on your stove. By opening the vents, you let more air into the grill and that feeds the fire, making it hotter. Closing them a little cut off some air and makes it cooler.

Thus, adjusting the vents on some of these grill is way more difficult than it should be. From that point, I like the simple vents on the ISUMER’s which you can adjust with the simple level from the outside.

Now, this grill comes in even smaller than the LavoHome with only 17-square inch cooking area, however, it does provide a dual rack with the bottom for grilling and the upper for heating up your food. It’s kind of convenient and surely save you a lot of time.

With compact dimensions as well as foldable legs, I highly recommend this tabletop charcoal grill for both outdoor and indoor use. However, once bring it outsides, chances might you need a table to raise up its height to fit yours.

5. Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill, 30-Inch

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kingsford charcoal grill is a perfect design for a backyard barbecue charcoal grill for your weekend parties. But also consider your space because this guy takes spacious cooking space – roughly 793 square inches.

Besides, it’s a little bit pricier compared to the previous ones, HOWEVER, the grill is worth every single penny you pay for. Designed with a side lid vent for perfect smoky steaks, cast iron grate for superb durability, expand metal side shelf with bottom rack for extra storage and two wheels for easy transportation.

But don’t you know the secret to have the best low and slow barbecuing?

It’s the temperature!

You want to keep the heat as well as temp steady within hours to have meat grilled evenly. To make it possible, a grill thermometer comes in handy to help you control and acknowledge how hot the grill is as well as the temperature.

By the way, I also advise you to stay away from those thin, flimsy walls of grill or those with big gaps around the lid as they terribly retain heat.

6. Char-Broil Charcoal Grill, 580 Square Inch

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This might be a typical example for those big charcoal grills with terrible assembling instruction. In fact, it took nearly 3 guys and 4 hours to get it installed properly. Oh my…! So, based on my pain-butt experience, you should search for video instruction on the internet for better guide and call for your friends’ help.

However, why I list this bad boy in my collection?

It’s because the quality of almost dishes it can create. The grill does it decent job in giving very tasty and charcoal-flavor hot dogs and cheeseburgers.

Plus, side 4-hole simple lid vent, high-quality heat resistant handles, two side cast iron shelves with bottom rack, efficient thermometer on its lid, two sturdy wheels, a dual inner grate with the half foldable bottom one for easy inserting fuel and convenient ash catcher.

Compared to other grills in this collection, this unit is a moderate design that takes only 580 square inch cooking space so that with an average backyard or balcony, it’s excellent for any weekend barbecue parties.

Another small thing I want to notice you is its porcelain coating. As I already told you in my guide of choosing the best BBQ grill, it might be peel away after a while. So, to solve this, I highly recommend you to repaint with heat-resistant paint or oil it frequently.

7. Portable Charcoal Grill Outdoor thickened Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill

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This colorful charcoal grill is the best choice for those who are finding a portable barbecue for the next perfect camping trip. Truth to say, it’s measured by 17 x 11 x 11 inches and totally made out of high grade stainless steel material to ensure no twist or no rust.

If you are like me who love spending weekends with your lover, on a small barbecue party, to just grill burgers and steaks, buy one for him and one for you. Truth to say, that’s going to be a perfect night ever.

Besides, the grill is asserted to stay longevity and durably to serve you for years. As designed as a portable charcoal grill, its four legs are foldable for easy transportable.

There is a round lid with heat-resistant handles and 3-hole vent to help you easier to adjust the temperature or remove the grill. With low barbecuing, you want to close the lid to have low flare-ups and gradual heat.

in terms of drawback, well, this isn’t actually a con at all. Just kindly take notice to break the coal into smaller pieces because based on my experience, with large charcoal, after spreading out the fuel and putting the grate, I found no gaps between it and the charcoal at all.

8. Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

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Though this is a brand-new company, Expert Grill soon gains their fame for great outdoor barbecues and tasty grilled food they do offer. This Heavy-Duty Charcoal Grill is a typical example.

It sports sturdy cast iron cooking grates and takes about 36 inches wide x 24 inches deep cooking space. Seem like it’s small, but it’s not! The grill can handle a lot of kinds of food (20 buns at once) and in fact, can serve easily a big basic party barbecues.

The metal shelf attached to its side creates enough space for storage of food, ingredients and tools during and after the grilling process. Meanwhile, the charcoal tray is adjustable up and down by a knob. So do the imbedded thermometer, very come in handy.

This product is really cool, but it’d be more functional if setting it up were easier and the assembly instructions more straightforward.

9. Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker, 30” L, New Process Paint Not Flake

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Taking 620 square inch cooking area, this big boy can grill almost any kinds of food such as buns, chicken breast, vegetables, hot dogs and so on, holding a weeknight party of 8 people without difficulty.

“Assembling easily” is a true statement. It just took me nearly 30-45 minutes to have everything done. Another good feature is this grill heats up pretty fast thanks to the seamless connection between the main chamber and the side smoker. Alongside with that is the great help of its side smoker box to speed up your grilling process.

One thing you should bear on mind when choosing the best charcoal grill is its heavy-duty lid. As we all know that the biggest benefit of this charcoal smoker grill is giving tasty flavor food, better than the propane, the electric and the gas.

A heavy-duty lid will keep your food closure enough to hold all flavors back, which plays an essential part as well. Besides, Royal also provides an embedded thermometer to help you control or acknowledge how much heat inside, whether it’s stable or not, etc., especially when you intend to cook something that takes a long time.

The only thing which’s disappointed me the most is its advertisement of “the paint on the burn box won’t flake”. It doesn’t work, guys. So, don’t give much hope for this.

10. Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

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Weber is synonymous with high-quality and functional products, which is how it delivers great designs make outdoor cooking leisurely and convenient. The Weber 121020 has compact dimensions of 12.2(L) x 21(W) x 14.5(H) inches to help the transportation more easily.

Assembles are quick, just take 5-10 minutes to attach its legs and handles in place. BUT IMPORTANTLY, if you just want to keep your beach cooking easy like hot dogs and burgers, this bad boy can serve 50+ people.

Yeah, 50+ people!

You didn’t hear it wrong, guys. It’s 100% based on my experience and the key for that is its quick heating and cooking, just a couple of minutes to have a burger done. So, don’t worry if you intend to host a large group of friends, it can handle everything easy as a piece of cake.

In terms of the outer performance, very nice and eye-catching. It looks like a mini suitcase standing on two stylized stainless-steel legs. The entire product is pretty well-made with three sturdy heat-resistant handles, one thick lid, one durable rectangular grate and two simple, adjustable air vents.

Besides, thanks to its high-grade porcelain-enameled coating, just worry less about it getting faded or rustic.

For those who like to have it off the ground while grilling outdoors, you can buy a foldable table like me and put it on. But I sincerely advise that you should because this design doesn’t come in any side shelf so, an extra table will help you out A LOT to keep ingredients and tools.


How to start a charcoal grill

I think a lot of people, when they use lighter fluid and want to douse everything to get a big flaming inferno. They think that’s the only way to get those things going. BUT, that’s really not the case as it’s kind of dangerous and smells bad.

So now, I will share you how to start a charcoal grill without a lighter fluid or tricks.

First thing you want to do is getting down below the grate to get down the bottom of your grill. Now, take a couple of sheets from the local paper, wad them up (but not too tight, not too loose) like a good ball around as you need some air flowing to keep that stuff going.

Next, create another little pile of paper on the top of the grate as well as some twigs. You just want to 3-4 inches, just some dry twigs are fine around the yard. Also, don’t need to fancy about this.

Then, add some charcoals around the fire, like a little pyramid. But, don’t smother it because you need some air inside for a good burn.

Once you get everything in place, light the paper underneath first. But my tip is to light around a couple spots so that you can get a good going. It’s good to have a flame coming up above the charcoal because then there is a good contact.

To start a charcoal grill is very easy, you just need a couple of these stuff to get ignited, begin heating up and once that happens, the rest will follow suit.

Remember to move the outside charcoals into the middle to get even burns. Please use tongs or something like a gloved hand. Don’t ever grab these things!

One of the biggest mistakes that many people like to use a lighter fluid is they don’t have enough patience. But even with a lighter fluid, it still takes 15-20 minutes to get these charcoals going.

How do you know when a charcoal grill is ready?

It usually takes about 20 minutes to get the charcoals ready. That’s when all the fuels are gray and ashy.

Now, just move these guys aside and divide it down the middle. Finally, put the top grid back on and start your party.

How do you cool down a charcoal grill?

When you’re done your barbecuing with a charcoal grill, you need to know how to shut off the fire. So, after removing all food, put the lid on and close both of the vents completely.

Just sliding the vents until the holes are closed and move to the bottom vent, slide the lever to the middle to make sure they are completely all closed.

All of the air will burn up from the charcoal, everything will die out. It takes a little while so, it’s still hot and you need to be careful.

Once the fire is going out, your charcoal grill will be done for the day.

How do you control the heat on a charcoal grill?

Now, the last frequently-asked question is how you can control the heat on a charcoal grill. We all know that controlling its temperature is very straightforward. You can control it in one of two ways.

You can either control it by the amount of charcoals that you use or how you actually position the vents.

On this occasion, I’m going to be grilling some chicken drumsticks. So, first of all, lay out the coals in the base of your barbecue. Distribute them evenly over the cooking grate and this will help to create an even temperature whilst cooking.

If you have a collection of coals in one place, just use some tongs to position them evenly across the cooking grate.

Don’t be temped to put too many coals into your barbecue as this will create too much heat and therefore, burn your food. Just one layer of coals will suffice.

Once the coals are in place, put the cooking grate on top of the coals and then, add the food. Remember to place the lid on top to keep an oven environment and reduce flare-ups.

As I said, the vents are also key to controlling the temperature of your charcoal barbecue. They should be opened during cooking to allow the air to be drawn in through the bottom of the barbecue passed through the coals circulate around the food and then, be pushed out the top.

On the windy days, it’s possible to close the vents by 50% to restrict the airflow going into the grill therefore, reducing the oxygen to the coals and reducing the temperature. It’s also great when your food is cooked and can help to keep them warm.

In summary, top features to consider when it comes to choosing the best charcoal grill is its ease to install, temperature adjustment, dimensions, material and vents. Other things are foldable legs, the lids, the side table or smoker box, the bottom rack, etc. Hopefully, this article can drop you as many useful information as possible for the next best grilling.


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