Best Charcoal Grills for Backyard BBQs — [2020] Reviews

Best Charcoal Grills: Durable Options for Outdoor Cooking

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A good, dependable grill is a must-have item for backyard parties, cookouts and family fun. Charcoal grills offer versatility in cooking, impart that delicious smoky flavor, and can be an affordable choice for your outdoor fun. The best charcoal grills hold heat for slow, low-temperature cooking, can burn hot for quick high-heat cooking, and provide easy-to-use controls, ample surfaces, and mess-free cleanup. If you’re in the market for a new charcoal grill or trying to decide whether it’s the right kind of grill for you, these top picks could be just right for your backyard barbecuing needs.

5 Best Charcoal Grill Comparison Chart

PRODUCT FEATURES
WEBER 14407001 ORIGINAL KETTLE PREMIUM CHARCOAL GRILL - Best Charcoal Grills: Durable Options for Outdoor CookingWEBER 14407001 ORIGINAL KETTLE PREMIUM CHARCOAL GRILL
  • Type: Kettle
  • Size: 39.5 x 22.5 x 27
  • Best For: Small spaces, high heat, great moisture
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CHAR-GRILLER 2137 OUTLAW - Best Charcoal Grills: Durable Options for Outdoor CookingCHAR-GRILLER 2137 OUTLAW
  • Type: Barrel
  • Size: 49 x 50 x 29 inches
  • Best For: Spacious cook surfaces, good heat retention
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CHAR-GRILLER E06614 CHARCOAL GRILL - Best Charcoal Grills: Durable Options for Outdoor CookingCHAR-GRILLER E06614 CHARCOAL GRILL
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Size: 20.5 x 21.5 x 25.3 inches
  • Best For: High heat, versatility, portability
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ROYAL GOURMET BBQ CHARCOAL GRILL AND OFFSET SMOKER - Best Charcoal Grills: Durable Options for Outdoor CookingROYAL GOURMET BBQ CHARCOAL GRILL AND OFFSET SMOKER
  • Type: Barrel
  • Size: 55.1 x 48.4 x 27.2 inches
  • Best For: High heat cooking, smoking
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Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill - Best Charcoal Grills: Durable Options for Outdoor CookingWeber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill
  • Type: Kettle
  • Size: 30 x 48 x 43.5 inches
  • Best For: Large work space, dependable grilling surface, convenient set-up
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What Is a Charcoal Grill?

Charcoal grills are a simple design that requires the use of charcoal briquettes or natural charcoal lumps. You can charcoal burning with either a consistent source of fire that heats them to their combustion point, a charcoal chimney or simply use a little charcoal lighter fluid and a lighter to get them started.

a gloved hand pours a chimney starter of hot coals into a kettle grillOnce they begin to burn, they release radiating heat that cooks your food. Some people argue charcoal grills are dangerous due to these hot coals, but the only issue you need to take care of is not tossing your coals before they have entirely burned out and are cool—otherwise, they have the potential to start a fire.

What Are the Differences Between Charcoal and Gas Grills?

The use of a charcoal or propane gas grill is an entirely personal choice, and many people like to use both depending on what they are cooking. Charcoal grills use charcoal briquettes or wood chips to produce cooking heat, which generally provides a higher heat than propane. Temperature can be controlled through venting and the placement of the coals.

Propane grills are less messy since they do not require the addition or removal of used charcoal. They also are a bit more portable for the same reason. Although they may cook as hot as a charcoal grill, they produce a more consistent flame to cook over. However, propane doesn’t offer the smoky grilled taste many prefer for certain dishes.

Types of Charcoal Grills

There is a surprising selection of charcoal grill varieties from which you can choose. They aren’t just a metal container in which you cook, they are a sophisticated tool for infusing flavor to your meal.

Barrel

Barrel grills are one of the most popular backyard styles. They provide a lot of cooking space and have vents both on the bottom and top for airflow. They also have a chimney to help allow smoke escape.

burning briquettes and wood chunks inside a charcoal grill closeup

Kettle

A kettle grill is more upright and has a kettle-shaped bottom in which you place the charcoal. It helps distribute heat evenly and is very good at holding in smoke to infuse the flavor into the food.

Ceramic

Ceramic grills are a bit more high-tech and incredibly versatile. They retain heat and moisture very well, can be used for smoking, and can even bake pizzas and bread.

man kindles kettle barbecue in backyard with flowers in background

Lighting and Cooking on a New Charcoal Grill

If you have never cooked over a charcoal grill, you might find it a little bit tricky at first. Understanding how to get the charcoal burning good and hot, and how that heat translates to your food items, often takes some experience and adjustments. This is especially true if you are using a new grill.

Before lighting your charcoal, make sure to open all your vents to allow oxygen through the grill. Use a charcoal chimney or create a little stacked charcoal chimney with newspaper underneath. Once you light your newspaper, it should create a consistent enough flame to get the charcoal started.

Let the briquettes burn until they are covered with ash, oil the grates with vegetable oil, and place your food over the heat to cook! Adjust the temperature inside the grill by opening or closing the vents. Closing the vents will lower the temperature.

You can move the briquettes to one side to keep the heat from being directly under what you are cooking if you want it to cook slower, or you can spread them out for a more even heat across the whole bottom of the grill. Some foods handle high heat better than others.

Top 5 Charcoal Grills to Consider

Finding a good grill isn’t always easy. You want to choose a dependable grill that will last and not degrade with use and high cooking heats. Plus, you want enough cooking surface to handle your culinary options.

Best Traditional Kettle Charcoal Grill

Weber specializes in grill and grill accessories and is a well-known company in the industry. This kettle-style grill is incredibly popular and holds heat in a consistent manner for even, tasty results. The 22-inch diameter holds up to 13 burgers and provides plenty of space. The porcelain-enameled lid won’t rust or peel, and can easily hang from a lid hook to avoid having to place it on the ground.

If you love the smoky grill flavor of charcoal, this is a perfect grill that is great both for beginners and more adept backyard barbecuers.

Weber 14407001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
    For the everyday charcoal griller

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Best Barrel Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil grills are another popular brand name for grilling products and provide quality options for your grilling needs. This 24-inch barrel-style grill is perfect for patio and deck surfaces and offers plenty of space for your favorite foods. Cast iron grates and a warmer surface provides the room you need to cook different foods at the same time. A side table also allows you to set your plates and pans within reach.

Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw
    When you want to cook up plenty of food for family and guests, this grill provides a lot of space to cook up your favorites in no time.

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Best Budget-Friendly Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Ceramic grills often come with a hefty price tag, but the Char-Griller Kamado ceramic grill offers both a budget-friendly choice and quality product. A 153-inch cooking surface provides plenty of room for cooking, smoking, and even some baking. It holds heat wonderfully and is easy to adjust temperature with the airflow dampers. It also provides a portable, and easy to carry design.

Char-Griller E06614 Charcoal Grill
    If you have wanted to use a ceramic grill, but weren’t sure you could afford it this is an excellent choice.

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Best Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker Box

This traditional barrel style grill is a great addition to high heat cooking, and also provides a unique smoker box offset option for creating smoked masterpieces. Heavy-duty cast iron construction ensures this product lasts and includes aluminum dampers to control heat and smoke movement. Ashtrays slide out for easy cleaning as well.

Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
    If you love to grill, but want to try out smoking without having to invest in a whole new product, this is a great alternative.

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Best Deluxe Charcoal Grill System

Weber kicks it up a notch with their Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill System that provides 363 square inches of cooking space and a dynamic set-up to make your grilling experience memorable. The electronic gas touch-and-go ignition switch allows you to light your charcoal with a simple push of a button. A mounted timer with LCD backlight, lid rack, tool hooks, a large workspace, built-in thermometer, and easy to adjust venting system round out the details.

Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill
    This is the perfect set-up for the griller who enjoys taking advantage of an outside work space and dependable grilling system.

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Conclusion

If grilling is your way of perfecting your favorite meals, you want to have a dependable cooking option to work with. For your money, you can’t beat the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. These charcoal grills are the perfect addition to your backyard and produce high heats and smoky flavors that enhance meats and vegetables alike, at an affordable price and with reliable durability, easy cleaning, and even multiple colors to suit your tastes.

backyard bbq hot dog roast on sticks over traditional charcoal kettle grill

The grill options highlighted above showcase some of the most favored items with consumers due to design, dependability, and ease of use. They hold high heat well and allow you control over how they are being used. We’d love to hear of your personal experiences with them below, and, as always, please share!

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