Choosing the Right Charcoal Grill

There are certain features that, when combined, make a high-quality charcoal grill unit. This may depend on your intentions, but we found that the below features seem to be perfect factors to consider, no matter your needs.

We used these features as our guidepost for the below selections, and we know that it will help you choose your grill easily.

Type

You should start by choosing the type of grill you want; there are a few different types to choose from. The first option is the kettle type. This is the classic charcoal grill, and it offers an even distribution of heat.

Another option is the barrel grill. This is the choice for those grillers who need a lot of space for cooking up their meals. These look like a barrel cut in half, and the charcoal goes in the bottom of the grill. Many of these models also come with a smoker.

The last type of grill to choose from is the kamado/ceramic grill. This type of grill retains heat and moisture. Because it does this, it is a great option for those that like to smoke or roast their meat.

Grates

Just like with the type, you have to choose your grill according to the grates it comes with. There are several types to choose from.

First, you have stainless steel. This is the ideal option for charcoal grills because they are easy to clean and maintain. Charcoal grills are not the cleanest option for grilling, so having a grate that is easy to clean will decrease the time needed to maintain these grills. It also holds heat well. This type of grate also is fairly rust-resistant; however, it will darken after a lot of use.

Another material used in gates is cast iron. This style of grate takes a lot of love and care; if not taken care of, it tends to rust. You also have enamel-coated options. These are good for heat distribution as food does not stick to the grates.

After determining the type, look at the construction. You will want to look for thinner grates over thick. Choosing a thick grate will reduce the retention and spread of the radiant heat. This will leave the meat unevenly cooked. Thicker grates also are heavier, which makes them more difficult to lift and move. They typically are more expensive as well.

Size

When you are looking at grills, no matter what type you are looking at, size should play a part in your decision. If you are looking for a grill for a large family, then you want a large cooking space that is only available in larger grills. With a large grill, you will also have more versatility in cooking options. You can have hot spots and indirect cooking spots.

Size doesn’t only matter in regards to cooking space, though. Another factor that plays a role in choosing the size is the area you plan to place the grill. You should choose a grill once you have measured the space. 

Temperature Control

Charcoal grills are naturally not as easy to control the temperature in. However, it is not as hard as you might think, as long as the unit has the right built-in features. You will want to look for one that has vents in the top and the bottom of the unit. This will help you control the airflow so that you can increase or decrease the heat.

Also, pay attention to the seal of the lid. By having a tight seal, the control of the air is better. Another great feature that plays a role in temperature controls are adjustable grills. Some grills allow you to move the grill closer and further from the coals, which will affect the cooking temp. 

Maintenance

Charcoal grills are notorious for getting messy. Do you want a model that is fitted with a system that makes removing the ashes easy? This means looking for a removable tray. You also want easy access to add coal. Having good access to your coals will allow you to move around the coals. This is key to maintaining even heat.

The Best Charcoal Grills for a Large Family

Using the buyer’s guide, we were able to whittle down our choices to five of the best charcoal grills on the market today.

Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill

Having a good charcoal grill for the family is nice, but when it comes with a small box attached, it is so much better. That is why the Royal Gourmet CC1830F-C is one of the best options on the market. The side smoker is fitted with its own airflow control system. This is done by including damper controls. The unit itself is attached securely; by routing the smoke from the main chamber through the box, you can easily smoke your meats.

The main firebox of the grill is made of premium-grade materials with superior welds. The unit is  made with a sturdy cart that comes with an expanded shelf. This grill also has a small shelf that is welded into the front of the grill.

The grates of the unit are coated with a porcelain enamel that creates a non-stick aspect to them. The grill also is constructed with a warming rack. Once your food is cooked, simply move the food to it, and you are set to cook another batch of whatever is on the menu. The unit has an adjustable charcoal pan. With this feature, you will be able to increase and decrease the heat easily.

Even with all of that, though, there are a few issues that need to be discussed. These issues may be the deciding factor on whether this is the perfect model for your family. The first is the size of the smoker. Many feel that it is small and not really useful for a large family. If, however, you’re just looking to smoke a small brisket or chicken, it works just fine.

Other than that, the charcoal pan is difficult to adjust once you have it heated. This will keep you from adjusting the heat as easily as you may like. If you are looking for a grill that has plenty of room and extra features that elevate the performance, then this may be the choice for you.

What Consumers are Saying About This Charcoal Grill

  • Nice and sturdy
  • Temperature gauge works well
  • Nice lightweight unit
  • Comes up to temp fast
  • Easy to put together
  • Value for price is exceptional
  • Good size
  • The smoker is easy to use

Pros

  • Charcoal pan is adjustable
  • Nice budget-friendly price tag
  • The primary grill grate is large
  • Base is sturdy
  • Fitted with an expanded metal shelf

Cons

  • Size of the smoker is small
  • Charcoal pan is difficult to adjust one hot

Royal Gourmet CD1824A Charcoal Grill

This grill isn’t one of the more well-known options, but if you are looking for a grill that is easy to clean and great for even cooking both direct and indirect, this is the model for you. The CD1824A has dimension of 50” x 22” x 48.8”. The grilling area is large as well.

The main cooking area is 393 square inches, and it also includes a 205-square-inch warming rack. This is a big enough area to be able to cook a large meal for a large family.

The unit is constructed using high-grade materials. Everything from the firebox to the grill is all top-notch. The primary cooking grate is steel coated with porcelain enamel. The warming rack, however, is chrome-plated steel. The lid and body are made with heavy-duty steel with a stainless steel handle.

One of the features that make this grill stand out is the adjustable grill grate. The grate is adjustable to six different levels. The adjustment to these heights is made with the handle on the front of the grill. By adjusting the grate, you can get it closer to the meat to get a flame-kissed piece of meat. It is typically hard to reach the coals in a large grill.

This model from Royal Gourmet comes with a uniquely designed front access door. There are also two dampers and a smoke chimney that help with the airflow. All of these features are designed to allow you to control the temperature with more accuracy.

There is a lot to love about this grill, but there are also a few areas that we feel could stand to be improved. The first relates to the construction of the legs. The legs are adjustable, but that is very difficult to do. A good rule of thumb would be to get it set to your preference and don’t plan on moving it again.

The last major issue is with the paint. When the heat gets too high, there have been reports of the paint chipping. This will affect the durability, and no one wants paint chips in their food.

Both of these issues can be fixed with a bit of patience and care. Once you take those off the table and look at the quality of build and performance, it is easy to see why it is one of the best options on the market.

What Consumers are Saying About This Charcoal Grill

  • Sturdy and well sized
  • Easy to use
  • Love the grate level adjustment
  • Simple to put together
  • Nice heat capability
  • Lightweight design makes it easy to move
  • Love the sliding ash catcher

Pros

  • Good price
  • Charcoal grate is adjustable
  • Built with side tables
  • Has a bottom shelf
  • Thermometer is built-in
  • Bottle opener is built-in

Cons

  • Legs are difficult to adjust
  • Issues with paint peeling

Weber 741001 Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

Weber has been one of the big names in grills. It has been delivering quality products for affordable prices for decades. This unit is very similar to the original kettle grill. The cooking area that you get with this grill is one of the things that shines brightest when you look at the Weber 741001; the cooking area measures 363 square inches.

The lid and firebox are also coated with porcelain enamel. Not only will this help you retain heat, but the coating protects the unit from rust and paint peeling. The shape of the unit allows for the circulation of heat. On top of that, the grates are very durable and steel-plated; the steel plating helps even out the heating and makes the grill easier to clean.

The grill is also designed with hinges that allow easy access to the charcoal grate without the need to move the main grate. The built-in damper creates an optimized airflow, which means you will have better control over your temps. The dampers are constructed with high-grade rustproof aluminum.

There are other great features that you get when you invest in this grill. One of these is the one-touch cleaning system. This system is created by using a rotating wheel which gathers and clears out the ash. The lid handle is heat shielded so you can grab it without fear of burning yourself.

There are also some issues that you should be aware of before you make your final decision. The thermometer that is built into the lid is in a very awkward place; this will make it difficult to keep the temp just right. There is also the issue that the legs are a little flimsy. Constructed with aluminum, they wobble a bit and can be easily damaged if not careful.

Those flaws are not enough to detract from the overall performance of the piece. So with that, you would be in good hands if you opted for this as your family grill.

What Consumers are Saying About This Charcoal Grill

  • Grill heat is easily adjusted
  • Offers versatile use
  • Easy to empty ashes
  • Offers even heat distribution
  • Good value for money
  • Simple to put together

Pros

  • Classic design
  • Constructed with durable materials
  • Good size cooking area
  • Nice heat retention
  • Good quality wheels
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Thermometer placement could be better
  • Aluminum legs seem a bit flimsy

Weber 15301001 Performer Charcoal Grill

The Performer Charcoal Grill from Weber is one of the best grills available today. This is one of the best kettle-style grills. The grill measures 22” and has a lot of great features that elevate its durability and performance. The grill is a large capacity grill that is easily able to cook up to 13 burgers at one time. The thermometer also allows you to ensure you don’t overcook the meal.

One of the included features is the tuck-away lid holder. This will keep the lid from needing to be placed on the ground, which makes it more hygienic than many other kettle-style grills. The lid also is fitted with a handle that is heat safe as well as ergonomically designed. The handle also has hooks you can use to hang your tongs and spatula.

There is also the removable warming rack, which will allow you even more space to cook your meals. Plus, the overall construction of the piece included a set of two large wheels with locking casters. It is also fitted with a great ignition stem which allows for one-touch lighting of your charcoal.

The product, though, isn’t perfect; there are a few flaws that need to be discussed. This is a smaller grill, so it does not work great for a super large family but still can handle quite a bit of food. The size also limits the versatility of methods you can use the grill to cook in.

Despite these few flaws, when you look at this choice, you find a well-built and durable grill. The grill offers a lot of cooking space for such a compact grill, and that is perfect for a medium to large-sized family.

What Consumers are Saying About This Charcoal Grill

  • Compact size; suitable for backyard
  • Easy to assemble
  • Nice grilling grates
  • Durable construction
  • Uses less charcoal
  • Nice and easy to remove ash collector
  • Thermometer works great

Pros

  • Tuck-away lid holder in nice
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Thermometer displays internal temp
  • The grill is easy to clean
  • Nice control overheat
  • Retains heat well

Cons

  • Build is on the smaller side
  • Not a lot of versatility of use

Char-Broil American Gourmet 625 Charcoal Grill

If you have a large family, the American Gourmet is a great option to consider. It gives you 625 square inches of cooking space with a 24” grilling grate. This means you have room enough for about 16 burgers. The grate itself is versatile with an adjustable height system. This gives even more versatility as it allows you to move the meat closer and further from the heat.

The unit is also crafted with an enhanced airflow system. This system is composed of 4 separate dampers that help you control the flow of air, which in turn helps with heat control. The lid also has some heat control, aspects, starting with the built-in thermometer that measures the internal heat of the main compartment. The unit also retains heat very well.

Along with all of these fantastic features, you also have a side shelf with hooks for utensils. The unit is movable thanks to its two large wheels. The addition of two fixed legs gives this unit extra stability.

A few drawbacks could be a problem for some. The first is in regards to the cooking area. There is no enamel-coating, and that will increase the chance of food sticking. There is also an issue with the welds of the unit, as there have been some reports of leaks.

These issues are not universal, and that means you can focus on what makes this unit shine. This translates to honing in on the durability and the performance of the grill itself. If you can do that, it is easy to see why it is one of the best available.

What Consumers are Saying About This Charcoal Grill

  • Nice, heavy-duty construction
  • Love the price versus the value
  • Grill cooks very evenly
  • Good to use as a smoker too
  • Unit is easy to assemble
  • Size of the cooking area is great

Pros

  • Good size for most backyards
  • Cooking grates are made of cast iron
  • Height is adjustable
  • The grill is easy to use
  • Easy to assemble
  • Offers good heat retention

Cons

  • Cooking area is not porcelain coated
  • Issues with leaks

Making a Choice

When you are looking for a good grill for a large family, you want size and performance. By looking for these two factors, you will inevitably get a quality option for your backyard grilling needs.

We have created this guide to ensure that it is easier for you to make that important decision. The selection we have chosen has something for every size large family and a couple of options regarding space availability.

Now all that’s left is to get those coals hot and cook up some awesome BBQ.

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