Gas versus charcoal? They both have their advantages when it comes to grilling. Gas is sometimes thought of as more convenient, but that is debatable since it means bringing a gas bottle around for fuel. Charcoal is more portable and in that way more convenient. Gas is easier to control if you’re a beginner, but as you develop BBQ confidence, you will find charcoal is tops for flavor. The smoky taste is the trademark appeal of the charcoal grill. BBQ masters tend to prefer to use a charcoal grill over gas.
The smoky flavor with a charcoal grill happens as a result of meat being sealed by the heat from the hot coal. The smoke and ‘char’ from this type of BBQ adds to the flavor. This quality comes naturally with a charcoal grill but is almost impossible to replicate with gas.
Let’s check out some of the most popular and highest quality charcoal grills currently on the market.
The affordable Char-Broil 465131014 Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill is Amazon’s choice for favorite Hibachi. It is a high quality, popular brand that offers the ability for you to use it to prepare your entire meal at once. It has a more than ample cooking surface of 190 square inches. Simply place your charcoal or briquettes under the chrome-plated cooking grate and you’re ready to cook!
Use it grill chicken, shrimp, weiners, and much more. The drippings will sizzle on the drip pan to flavor the meats perfectly. Grill your steaks and burgers, covered, for two to three minutes on each side, for a tasty, smoky burger or medium rare steak. Slow cook jerk chicken thighs for mouthwatering flavor. You can also grill veggies or cook on top of the grill using your own pots and pans.
This is a sturdy and durable grill, made of chrome-plated steel, which not only makes it strong but also helps it retain heat. The steel also enables the grill to tolerate high temperatures; heat will not cause early structural problems. It is also rust-resistant.
This grill has handles that stay cool even when the grill is hot, so you can avoid burns. Watch out though – some users have reported that the handles melted when they cooked too long.
Also, despite its large capacity, this device is quite compact. It only weighs 7.5 pounds, and so is easily transported. Bring it camping or to the beach with you; it folds up and can fit into your car easily. Users suggest transporting it in the lid of a copy paper box if you have one handy; it can catch any leftover ashes so they don’t dirty your car.
This grill is easy to clean and maintain, which means you spend little time cleaning and more time grilling. Added bonus for clean up: the cooktop grill portion can easily fit in the dishwasher.
- Ample cooking surface
- Sturdy and durable; can tolerate high temperatures
- Handles stay cool when grill is hot
- Compact and easily transported
- Easy to clean; cooktop grill component fits into the dishwasher
- Some users have found the handles melted after cooking too long
The name Weber is synonymous with quality in the charcoal grill world, and the Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is no exception. It is very well liked on Amazon and easily accommodates cooking for a crowd. Despite its large cooking surface, it does not take up a lot of space. And it is so easy to use, even people who don’t normally like grilling enjoy using this one.
It comes in three stylish colors: black, copper, and green. In general, it is simple to put together, but one exception to this is installation of the legs.
This device comes with a thermometer built into its porcelain-enameled lid. You can control the grill temperature without having to lift the lid, by making adjustments to the dampers. The dampers/vents on this device help ensure the food is grilled to perfection without burning. And you can turn off the grill completely by closing the dampers.
Like the lid, the bowl on this device is also porcelain-enameled, and together they retain heat very well. They will not rust or peel. Overall, this device is very durable and will last a long time.
The lid has a hook so you can hang it on the side of your grill, to avoid having to place it on the ground. There are other hooks available on the grill for you to hang your tools, such as tongs and spatulas.
The cooking grate has a hinge, which makes it easy to add charcoal during the grilling process. The handle on the lid has a heat shield for protection against getting too hot, thus avoiding burns.
It comes on wheels, so you can easily move your grill around. And at 32 pounds, it can be transported easily; you can bring it up and down stairs or put it in your car to have a picnic.
This grill is easy to maintain, with its one-touch cleaning system. It has an attached ash catcher which users feel is a crucial feature. Unlike older models, this one does a great job of catching and containing the ashes in one place, which makes it easier to clean them up.
One drawback is the location of the charcoal grate is quite far below that of the grilling area, which makes it hard to grill meat without using a lot of charcoal. Also, it may take a long time to cook a whole chicken.
- High quality, durable, and long lasting
- Large cooking surface
- Built in thermometer and excellent temperature control
- Handle stays cool while grilling
- Can be transported easily; comes on wheels
- Easy to maintain and clean, and has built in ash catcher
- Legs are hard to install
- Requires a lot of charcoal
The Char-Griller E22424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box is affordable and quite versatile. It can be used on its own or attached to a larger grill, whatever you prefer. You can use this device as a grill or to smoke your meats. It has an offset so you can do Texas-style smoking to perfection. It gives beef, pork, and sausages a nice smoky flavor.
This grill can be used to make pizza, veggies, corn, potatoes, whole turkey, salmon, top sirloin, ribs, meat pies, pork, deer, and more. Users agree that everything comes out nicely done, juicy, and tender.
This grill has a large cooking surface, which enables you to make an entire meal and/or serve a crowd. If you connect this grill to your larger grill, you can extend the cooking surface area even more.
It contains two adjustable dampers which are handy for temperature control.
Despite all of these features and capacity, this grill is quite compact and thus portable. You can bring it around with you to a campsite or picnic, or anywhere you want to experience the fun of grilling. Keep in mind, though, it is quite heavy at 41 pounds.
It is also very durable. This grill is made of heavy steel, and the grates are made of cast iron. As a result, it can withstand a lot of heavy use. It is also quite safe, with its stay-cool hood and handle.
This grill is also easy to clean. It includes a removable (sliding) ash pan where you can sweep the ashes and then dump out. All of the components can be wiped down easily.
One drawback is the paint may chip and peel prematurely. Also, some users have mentioned challenges with attaching this grill to their larger grill. Some construction handiwork may be required in order to do this.
- Versatile: use as a grill or attachment to a larger grill; use as grill or smoker
- Large cooking surface
- Good temperature control
- Compact and portable
- Easy to clean
- Paint may chip or peel prematurely
- Some users mentioned challenges attaching to larger grill
The Uten BBQ Grill Portable Charcoal Barbecue Grill Smoker Grill is a great outdoor grill. It gives a nice smoky taste to your meat, and keeps it tender and juicy. Use it when camping, hiking, or on picnics. It is compact and only weighs 4 pounds so it is easy to transport.
You can place it on a table top or on the ground, but make sure it is on a flat, steady surface. It is ideal for serving up to five people. It is not suited for a larger crowd but it is large enough to cook a variety of foods at one time.
It is affordable yet highly durable and retains heat well. The wire mesh is constructed of chrome and cold-rolled iron, which adds to the durability. Because of this quality construction, the device cooks food quite evenly.
It has 12 air vents which means it is easy to start a fire quickly. This grill also provides you with excellent temperature control, so you can customize the heat at which you cook your meats.
It has strong legs that will stay in place even if the grill is loaded with food items. You can also fold away the legs for easy transport and storage of the grill.
It is easy to clean.
One drawback is the area where you put the charcoal is a bit shallow. However, this also means you will use less charcoal when cooking.
- Compact, lightweight, and portable
- Retains heat well and cooks food evenly
- Good temperature control
- Strong legs
- Charcoal area is a bit shallow, although this also means you use less charcoal
What to look for in a charcoal grill
Now that you have seen examples of some of the most popular charcoal grills on the market today, let’s find out what to look for when searching for such a device.
Type of charcoal grill
There are a few different types of charcoal grills on the market. One very popular style is the ceramic grill. These look like an egg and come in various trendy colors. And because of multiple grate layers, you can cook more food in these types of grills. They may not be very portable, though.
Other types of grills may be more compact and small and hence you may not be able to cook as much meat at one time compared to the ceramic grill. However, they may be more portable and easily transported.
Some grills are able to smoke your meat in addition to grilling.
Size is important when it comes to charcoal grills, and this mostly pertains to cooking area. First of all, make sure the grill you want to buy fits the space you will be using/storing it in. Then determine how many people you will be cooking for. If you are planning to host large parties and get-togethers, you will need a bigger grill. If on the other hand you plan to use the grill for small picnics and trips to the beach or camping, a small, portable grill may be more suitable.
Remember that some grills may not be wide but they may have multiple levels of grills which increase their overall cooking area size.
Materials and durability
Since your grill will be used outside, it needs to be durable and resistant to weather-related conditions such as rust. Grills that are made of ceramic or metal with a porcelain coating are generally very durable. Keep in mind that smaller grills can sometimes compromise on durability.
The grill needs to be easy to clean. Other features that might come in handy include:
- Wheels for portability
- A tray to collect ashes and dispose of them
- Hinges on the grill
- Areas to put your BBQ tools
- Heat resistant handles
- Multiple grates for warming and cooling spaces
- Built in thermometer