“G  

rilling creates an atmosphere that’s festive but casual.” Celebrity chef Bobby Flay nailed it with that description, didn’t he? Backyard grilling creates casual festivities, carefree celebrations, and easy-breezy barbecues where friends, family, neighbors, even acquaintances can all drop by and spend a sunny afternoon living, laughing, loving and eating. It doesn’t get any better than that!

And when it comes to the best grill on the market today, many of us seasoned backyard barbecuers swear by charcoal. Foods cooked with this method have a distinctive, smoky taste that always tells you it was cooked over charcoal. That’s why we’re here reviewing the best charcoal grills out there so you can make the right choice of the best charcoal grill for you and your family.

What are Some of the Advantages of Using a Charcoal Grill?

Tsssss Hot!

Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside—that right there is the main secret behind the amazing advantage of charcoal grills. Foods cook up hotter which means they sear up much better, from the outside in, and you can’t beat it for cooking the most remarkable foods you’ve ever eaten.

And meats and other foods cooked slowly over a charcoal fire, well, they get that sumptuous smoky flavor that’s totally distinctive to charcoal. Thankfully, though, many of today’s charcoal grills (including many on our list) have temperature control mechanisms built right in so that heat isn’t nearly the issue it used to be. [As with all cooking methods, though, be careful!]

Where there’s smoke there’s flavor!

That heat we just talked about? As we’ve already established, that heat is one of the main reasons charcoal grilling is different from the rest of the grills. But it’s not just the heat that crisps up the outside, sears it up properly, and seals in the juices to create that flavor you know and love; it’s the charcoal itself that creates that smoky goodness.

Save it - for a Sunny day!

Charcoal grills can be far more economical than many of the other types of grills. In fact, a budget-conscious beginner could easily find one for well under a hundred dollars. Saving money and creating fun-in-the-sun festivities—talk about a win-win!

Movin’ on up, and Down, and - Anywhere!

Charcoal grills are super portable. Have you ever seen one of those giant gas grills at a sporting event? Of course, you haven’t! Unless you’re the Hulk, they’re impossible to move. (Though we even have it on good authority that the Hulk uses a charcoal grill.) Heck, charcoal grills invented tailgating!

What are Some of the Disadvantages of Using a Charcoal Grill?

Cleanup

One of the biggest reasons folks shy away from charcoal grills is because they can be messy, which means cleanup can be a chore. Hey, charcoal’s messy, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to cleaning up after many of the newer models of the charcoal grill on the market today, cleanup can be a snap, especially when compared to some of those older models.

In fact, the best charcoal grills out there are all easy-to-clean and super user-friendly, and many even have a ‘one-touch’ cleaning system that makes it a breeze. Combine this easy-cleaning feature with the fact that no other cooking method tastes quite the same as grilling over charcoal, and you’ve got a no-brainer when it comes to choosing your best barbecue appliance.

If you’re still a little hesitant on this subject, here’s a little more information about
how to clean a charcoal grill straight from the Home Depot.

Ignition

Just as with the cleanup of some of those older models, one of the biggest gripes people have about charcoal grills is that they can be a little trickier to get a fire going. But, again, today’s charcoal grills are just so much more user-friendly. As a matter of fact, some of them even have starters that aid users in getting them ignited much faster than those older grills.

And even more — some of today’s charcoal grills also have temperature controls that can help you keep a cool watch over your grill’s heat without even lifting the lid.

The Best Charcoal Grills Out There

Every single one of the charcoal grills we’ve chosen as the five best is a well-constructed, consumer-top-rated, user-friendly way to get the best charcoal meats, cheese, seafood, veggies, and more. You won’t find better!

Weber is a very well-known, well-respected name in the world of charcoal grills. They’ve got a couple of grills they’ve dubbed ‘Joe,’ and all we can say is, Joe sure knows his grills!

This one is a user-friendly model that’s surprisingly compact considering how much food you can cook on it. It’s got a ‘tuck-n-carry’ lid lock with a dual purpose of acting as a lid holder so you don’t have to be concerned about where you’re going to put it when you don’t need it. The dampers are a great feature because they allow users to control grill temps which is a great tool for cooking meats and other foods that can be a little tricky to get just right.

Plus, for how much food you can cook with this baby, you’ll be pleased to know it’s super-portable for all your tailgating needs. This one also has a very nice low price that will fit into just about all grill-seekers’ budgets.

What consumers are saying: 

  • This grill gives you substantially more cooking space yet feels compact
  • Convenient portable charcoal grill that’s 90% as good as a full-sized one
  • You’ll be amazed at how much food you can cook on it
  • Very easy to assemble
  • Great for slow smoking
  • Clearance under the lid is tight; could be more domed
  •  The plastic handle fell apart in my hand

Pros:

  • Compact and portable
  • Very well-made and sturdy
  • ‘Tuck-n-carry’ lid mechanism acts as a lid holder
  • High-quality construction
  • Grills and smokes meats to perfection
  • Large cooking area, especially considering its size and portability
  • Excellent low price

Cons:

  • Could use more space under the lid
  • A few users report lid handle is flimsy

Here’s another Weber that makes our five-best list. This is the ‘original’ because it’s considered a Weber standard. It’s a portable charcoal grill that comes in three attractive colors and has a ton of wonderful features.

First, it’s got a ‘one-touch’ cleaning system that makes cleanup hassle-free.

Second, this grill’s precision heat control aids users in controlling temps without even lifting the lid. Here’s another weber that has a built-in lid-locking mechanism so you don’t have to set the lid on the ground. The cooking grate is hinged so it’s easy to add charcoal even while you’re grilling.

And here’s a great feature—you can cook up to 13 burgers at one time! Finally, this amazing little grill is extremely portable, so you can take it camping, tailgating—anywhere the party is!

What consumers are saying:

  • Excellent even for those who are new to charcoal grilling
  • Steaks, burgers, and everything else comes out perfect
  • Quality of this grill is fantastic
  • Clean-up was extremely easy
  • Very easy to assemble, takes only a few minutes
  • Sturdy and durable with a quality look and feel
  • Legs/poles don’t fit

Pros:

  • Grills and smokes meats to perfection
  • High-quality construction
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great for beginners
  • Free expert assembly offered
  • Moderate price

Cons:

  • A few consumers report the legs they received did not fit well into the unit

Char-Griller is another respected company known for its quality, affordable grills, smokers, and barbecuing accessories, and the Char-Griller Patio Pro certainly makes that grade. It’s built tough with heavy steel construction and cast-iron cooking grates that have an amazing 250 square inches of cooking space.

The super-convenient side drawer and bottom rack are great features, particularly on decks or at tailgating parties where space can be limited. Plus, the easy cleanup and convenient storage available with this unit make it ideal for apartments and condos. And it has a nice low price-tag that should fit into just about all consumers’ budgets.

What consumers are saying:

  • Tough, heavy, durable construction
  • Sturdy and small enough for my little apartment deck
  • Great for a small family
  • Big enough to cook several steaks and a half dozen burgers at once with room to space
  • Can’t find anything bad to say about it
  • Assembly was difficult
  • Wheels aren’t sturdy enough

Pros:

  • Excellent steel construction
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Perfect for small families
  • Ideal for apartments and condos
  • Large cooking space
  • Meats cook up perfectly
  • Excellent low price

Cons:

  • A few consumers report wheels aren’t sturdy enough to move the unit from place to place
  • Assembly can be difficult

This is one impressive model that Weber can add to its list of fine charcoal grills. It’s got an awesome cooking area of 363 square inches, yet it’s surprisingly portable.

The electronic ‘touch-n-go’ gas ignition system makes it super easy to ignite, the built-in lid thermometer for displaying internal temps, and the one-touch cleaning system with removable ash catcher all combine to make this unit just about as user-friendly as a charcoal grill can be. Plus, there’s extra workspace so you can keep all your utensils, seasonings, and more right at your
fingertips.

What consumers are saying:

  • Great quality
  • Looks awesome
  • Assembly takes just over an hour from start to finish
  • Huge work surface
  • Cooks the most amazing steaks we’ve ever eaten
  • Cleanup is a breeze with the easy-to-remove ash bin
  • Plenty of extra workspace
  • This grill is ideal for seafood
  • The grill was broken when I received it

Pros:

  • Very large work surface
  • Very well-built and durable
  • Lots of extra workspace
  • Easy assembly
  • Easy cleanup
  • Cooks up meats and seafood to perfection

Cons:

  • A few consumers report the grill arrived broken
  • Higher price

Weber’s on a roll, especially when it comes to portable, wheeled charcoal grills! This one is another high-quality, well-built model that has so many great features we almost can’t name them all.

It’s got a very large cooking space that holds over a dozen burgers at one time, especially if you use their Weber burger press. It’s got a built-in lid thermometer that shows internal temps to take out the guesswork that can come with charcoal grills. It has that one-touch cleaning system Weber’s becoming known for, which makes cleanup of ash super easy.

Tuck-away lid holder is nice because you don’t have to set the lid on the ground. And precision cooking is much easier with this unit because you can easily adjust the dampers.

What consumers are saying:

  • Great purchase; I’m very pleased with it
    Extremely easy to assemble
  • A super version of the classic Weber
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Grate has multiple access points to refill and maintain charcoal
  • Never had meats that tasted so good
  • Rugged design
  • Burgers, steaks, and smoked sausage come out amazing
  • Performs like a champ
  • Some parts were received broken

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Easy to assemble
  • Meats grill to perfection
  • Lots of extra workspace
  • Large cooking surface

Cons:

  • Mid-to-high price
  • Some consumers report receiving parts that were broken

How do you Pick a Winner?

Well, it sure wasn’t easy, but we had to do it. The winner of our best charcoal grills is:

Weber Performer Charcoal Grill

We chose this model because it’s got a very large cooking surface; its one-touch cleaning system makes cleanup a breeze; it has plenty of extra workspace, so it’s ideal for tailgating; it’s amazingly strong, sturdy, and durable; and it cooks up meats to absolute charcoal perfection.

Are you a charcoal snob? You’re in good company. Here’s another celebrity chef for you—Michael Symon, co-host of ABC’s hit show, ‘The Chew.’ He says this of grilling the perfect steak: Rib eye is my absolute favorite cut of beef … best grilled over charcoal … nothing compares to the taste that comes from cooking over live fire. Now, there’s an endorsement of charcoal?!

Charcoal-grilled foods have a uniquely smoky, sumptuous, absolutely heavenly flavor that no other cooking method provides. If you’re a seasoned charcoal snob, or even if you’re just starting out in the backyard barbecue game, consider one of the amazing appliances we’ve reviewed here on our top five best charcoal grills out there.

Every one of these newer models makes charcoal grills easier-to-use, easier-to-clean, and easier-to-create the sumptuous, smoky, aromatic meats, cheeses, seafood and more that will entice those friendly crowds straight to your backyard every time. One of these is bound to be the best charcoal grill for you!

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