- 1 How to Choose the Best Charcoal Grills
- 2 Reviews of the Best Charcoal Grills in 2020
- 2.1 1. Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s – Editor’s Best to Buy
- 2.2 2. Royal Gourmet CD1824A — Best Value Charcoal Grill
- 2.3 3. Weber Jumbo Joe 1211001 – Best Portable Charcoal Grill
- 2.4 4. Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro – Best Small Charcoal Grill
- 2.5 5. Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Hibachi – Best Tabletop Charcoal Grill
- 2.6 6. Dyna-Glo DGB730SNB-D Dual – Best Gas Charcoal Grill Combo
- 2.7 7. Royal Gourmet CC1830S – Best Charcoal Grill-Smoker Combo
- 2.8 8. Weber Original Kettle Premium – Best Weber Charcoal Grill
- 2.9 9. Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual – Best Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill
- 2.10 10. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn – Best Char-Griller Charcoal Grill
- 3 Top-Rated Charcoal Grills Comparison Table
- 4 How to Use a Charcoal Grill
- 5 How to Start a Charcoal Grill
- 6 Best Charcoal Grill Brands
- 7 Conclusion
For this entry, we’ll instruct grillers how to select the best charcoal grills for themselves with our detailed buying guide. The following are our picks and in-depth reviews of the chosen models. Before wrapping things up, we’ll address a few issues encountered when cooking with charcoal grills and how to tackle them.
As to why charcoal grills are the ultimate form of BBQ: they have been embedded in the American lifestyle. Even with the emergence of gas grills and electric grills, charcoal grills account for half of US grillers, as pointed out by HPBA.
How to Choose the Best Charcoal Grills
The clearer your standards, the more likely you can find the right charcoal grill. Below are a few things to bear in mind.
Typically, a brand-new charcoal grill is typically more expensive than an electric grill and cheaper than a gas-fueled one. Of course, there are exceptions, but that’s how the general gist goes.
A charcoal grill’s price tag can go from $80 to $600, depending on various specifications and features. Let’s break things down into smaller categories.
Premium Tier: $400 – $600
Charcoal grills in this tier have a large cooking surface— big enough to grill gigantic slabs of briskets and various birds. High-grade materials also drive up the final cost.
These grills are perfect for huge cook fests with multiple diners, like those you’d find every Fourth of July. And understandably, they’re too bulky to travel on the road with you. Rather, they’re to be confined to a patio or backyard.
Outside an ample cooking interior, you can expect an assortment of extra features. These add-ons don’t directly affect the outcome of the food, but they sure make things easier for whoever mans the BBQ station.
Anything north of this price range is either unavailable or not really worth it— unless you’re seriously considering investing in one of those ceramic cookers, also known as kamado grills.
Upper-Middle Tier: $200 – $400
The majority of charcoal grill falls in this price range. You can find well-rounded models— albeit they’re smaller and less impressive than those from the premium tier. That said, they are decent enough for casual and advanced grillers alike.
Also, you can still expect to find plenty of complementary features on these grills. These add-ons are similar to those found in premium grills, but there’s a noticeable drop in their quantity and quality.
Middle Tier: $150 – $200
These charcoal grills aren’t too bulky, flashy, or anything too overwhelming. But they’re nothing short of a proper pick, either.
If anything, they are suitable for small families who grill casually on weekends or around the big holidays. Their reasonable prices also strike a chord with those who don’t want to overspend their budget.
Conventional BBQ treats like steaks, filets, and burgers are no problem for these grills, but you might have a hard time inserting full-sized turkeys or slabs of brisket inside their cooking chamber.
You’ll also notice that besides the basic components, some of the extra features are in lower quality, if not removed entirely to cut cost.
Bottom Tier: Below $100
These grills perform basic cooking functions without adding anything to the table. And more often than not, these grills are either portable or tabletop models, meaning there isn’t a lot of cooking space. And understandably, their overall quality and durability are much inferior. That said, they’re plenty adequate for parties of four or five adults.
As compact as they’re, these grills can fit inside vehicles nicely. They can whip up a decent meal for frequent campers and cross-country road trips in an RV, for instance.
Compactness aside, these expensive charcoal grills are great for those who don’t barbecue too often or haven’t gained enough experience just yet.
While building up your confidence and improving several techniques, let’s just practice on these grills for a while until you’re ready to move on and commit to more expensive grills.
To determine the right size for the soon-to-be-yours charcoal grills, you ought to take various things into account.
The most important thing is determining how many people you’re cooking for. For those hosting weekend neighborhood parties or annual family reunions, you could be expecting 12 to 25 adults and somewhere in between. On the other hand, if you’ve made it clear that it’s going to just be your family of four or five, a medium-sized grill should suffice.
Another factor is how often you’re grilling. A medium-large grill would make sense for avid BBQ-aficionados who fire up their grill every weekend, if not every other day. And conversely, if you grill casually on national/federal holidays for the festivities or every once in a while, then a small grill should suffice.
Lastly, you should consider what you’re cooking as well. Burgers and hotdogs are the norms commonly found in every BBQ. But if you find yourself craving ribs, turkeys, or briskets, go for a big grill that can cook large items.
Charcoal grills are to be used outdoors, so rust resistance is of critical importance. The use of stainless steel may not be economically profitable, so manufacturers often used porcelain-enamel cast iron for the grates and painted steel for other components.
For those who want to alternate between direct/indirect grilling, get yourself a grill with an adjustable coal bed. This feature lets you raise or lower the flame toward the food on the grate easily, so you can either sear or let things slow-cook to perfection.
Speaking of coal beds, you’re likely to stoke the coal many times while cooking. To make things easier for you, pick a grill with an easy access to the coal bed— either a designated door or through the cooking grates— so you can add/remove coal at will, tend to the flame, and clean things out hassle-free.
One more thing to look out for: the air vents— also called dampers. A lack of fine-tuning temperature controls makes charcoal grills a bother to many grillers. However, with enough practice with the dampers, you’ll get the hang of it.
Granted, while charcoal grills’ immense cooking prowess is unmatched, their cleaning trade-offs can be overwhelming for some.
Ash, soot, and charred food will gather at the bottom of the grill after every cook, so you’d be well-advised to pick a grill with an easy-slide ash pan/tray to collect residues.
The grates themselves are too oversized for sinks and household dishwashers anyways, so hand-washing is the only option. Among the most common materials for grates, stainless steel is durable, impervious to rust, and cleans nicely with regular dish soap without any obvious problem.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for cast iron, which requires delicate washing, thorough drying, and meticulous preservation to maintain its prestige condition. If you don’t want to break out any more elbow grease than you already had during cooking, our advice is to go with stainless steel grates.
On the rare chance that rain or wind gets in the way of your grill fest, don’t cancel the whole thing just yet. Move the party to a new spot with sturdy, all-terrain wheels and casters.
If you happen to go camping, hunting, or fishing on a regular basis, better equip yourself with a compact, portable grill that can whip up a meal without much preparation.
6. Extra Features
Manning the BBQ station is a tough task. To make things easier and more convenient, grillers should find complementary features on a charcoal grill that can maximize their overall performance and comfort. The most common add-ons you can find on charcoal grills are as follows:
- Tool hooks
- Side tables / bottom rack
- Temperature gauge & smokestack
- Easy-swivel casters
Reviews of the Best Charcoal Grills in 2020
If you’re a repeat buyer who just want to know which grill to buy, this list will cut to the chase. These are the best charcoal grills to buy in 2020.
- Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s – Editor’s Best to Buy
- Royal Gourmet CD1824A – Best Value Charcoal Grill
- Weber Jumbo Joe 1211001 – Best Portable Charcoal Grill
- Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro – Best Small Charcoal Grill
- Marsh Allan 30052AMZ Hibachi – Best Tabletop Charcoal Grill
- Dyna-Glo DGB730SNB-D Dual – Best Gas Charcoal Grill Combo
- Royal Gourmet CC1830S – Best Charcoal Grill-Smoker Combo
- Weber Original Kettle Premium – Best Weber Charcoal Grill
- Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual – Best Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill
- Char-Griller E16620 Akorn – Best Char-Griller Charcoal Grill
Here are our picks for the Best Charcoal Grills.
1. Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s – Editor’s Best to Buy
Lodge is better known for its skillets, but that doesn’t devalue the Sportsman’s in any way. It’s a hibachi-style grill that can sit nicely on a table. Despite its size, you’d be taken aback at the grill’s heating capacity.
And did you know that this grill is also featured in our compiled list of best grills to buy this year? Be sure to drop by, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a grill that would better match your needs.
A fine specimen made by Lodge, all parts of this grill are cast iron and are coated with 100% natural vegetable oil, so you can use it as is without having to season the grate first. Although coated cast iron is known for superior heat retention and preventing food sticking, Lodge still recommends applying a thin layer of butter before cooking.
At the front, you can spot the easy-slide coal bed access. Through it, you can add/remove coal and tend to the fire without stopping cooking.
Furthermore, the cooking grate has two adjustable heights, meaning you can sear steaks directly above the flame or cook thick items slow-and-low style.
The Sportsman’s measures 20.7 inches long by 12 inches wide by 10 inches tall. According to many home grillers, the cooking surface offers 142 square inches, enough to cook two or three steaks. Weighing 31 pound, the Sportsman’s is portable and compact.
Since all components are cast iron, you are to wash them all by hand, because dishwashers are definitely a no-no. You can scrub gently using a soft-bristled brush in warm water for three to five minutes. For stubborn stains, you can use dish soap— provided that the solution is mild and in minimal amounts, as instructed by Lodge.
One thing we cannot stress enough is that cast iron rusts when exposed to moisture. Instead of letting the grill air-dry by itself, you have to wipe it with paper towels or lint-free cloth. For the next step, heat up the grill to evaporate all the remaining moisture that escapes.
The final step before storing the Sportsman’s away is applying a thin layer of oil to shield off rust. If the oil coating is compromised, iron can leak into food and impart an uncomfortable flavor. This step is known as seasoning, and it keeps the grill in tip-top condition for years, even decades, to come: food cannot stick to a properly seasoned cast iron grate.
If you’re planning on keeping the grill outside, we suggest using a small, breathable grill cover to protect it from moisture. Otherwise, storing the grill indoors is probably the best bet.
The only blemish in this otherwise well-rounded grill is the glaring lack of insulation: as if the non-existence of side-handles isn’t enough already, the carry handle isn’t well-insulated either. So remember to put on mitts or gloves when approaching the grill for cleaning, because even when the fire’s out, it takes a while for cast iron to cool off completely.
The Lodge Sportsman’s is a well-rounded grill that does the job well. Its toughness and durability are a true testament of the American quality: it is built to last for generations to come, if it’s properly cared for and well-maintained.
2. Royal Gourmet CD1824A — Best Value Charcoal Grill
The Royal Gourmet CD1824A stands out in many ways, all of which are good. For starters, the grate is adjustable, giving pitmaster a wide array of cooking options. Its interior is large enough to cook large chunks of briskets. If that’s not impressive enough, how about the easy-access coal door that makes things easier for everyone?
The adjustable grate is the major deal-sealer for many, since it makes things easier for the grillers. It has six adjustable heights you can pick by the crank handle.
You can raise or lower the grate at will to cook various styles: a low-and-slow— also known as indirect grilling— is perfect for thick items like briskets, birds, and ribs, while grilling directly above the naked flames would complement the sears on steaks with a caramelized texture and golden-brown layer.
To adjust temperatures, the side air vents make it easy to allow or restrict the flow of air inside the grill. Also, there’s a frontal coal door right that lets you tend to the fire or stoke the coal without much hassle. The coal bed can hold 4.5lbs of coal.
And when the coal burns to ash, a draw-out ashtray awaits right below the coal bed and cleanly collects everything for your convenience.
The primary cooking surface measures 393 square inches, and that’s not mentioning the additional 205 square inches from the secondary grate— giving you nearly 600 square inches altogether.
While we’re on the topic, the grill measures 50 inches long by 22 inches wide by 49 inches tall, weighing 57.3lbs. The manufacturer claims it can withstand the maximum temperature of 600°F.
But it’s not just about the numbers: the grill’s overall performance deserves a lot of credit, especially when it comes to indirect grilling prowess and uniformity in food doneness. This is thanks to the porcelain-enameled wire cooking grates and chrome-plated warming rack.
The grill is under warranty up for to one year.
A lid-mounted thermometer monitors how hot it is inside the grill, so there’s no need to open the lid too often. Two side tables offer extra working space where you can place spice bottles. And if that’s not enough, the bottom rack should suffice. There’s also a bottle opener attached to the grill, to boot.
You can move the grill from place to place with the two six-inch wheels. Too bad there aren’t any locks to keep the grill from sliding away, so make sure to park it on a flat and even surface.
If we are pressed to find something to criticize about this grill, though, it’s the lack of tool hooks you’d normally find on the side tables. But it isn’t so much of a drawback but rather a mild inconvenience for most people.
Other than the lack of tool hooks and wheel locks, this otherwise well-rounded grill is a fine choice for many grillers, casual and long-time alike. And for what it’s worth— double entendre— the Royal Gourmet CD1824A is a nice balance of functionality and price.
3. Weber Jumbo Joe 1211001 – Best Portable Charcoal Grill
If camping and picnicking are your favorite pastimes, don’t forget to bring along the Weber Jumbo Joe. It’s a must-have for every BBQ party by the beach or the river.
The Jumbo Joe measures 20.5 inches long by 19.7 inches wide by 19.7 inches tall. Its cooking surface measures 18 inches in diameter, providing 240 square inches of grilling space, which can serve six famished diners, according to Weber. That said, this grill is small enough to fit in the trunk of a car.
The body and lid are porcelain-enameled steel, and are under warranty for up to 10 years. The cooking grate is plated steel, while the charcoal grate is heavy gauge steel. The grate is relatively easy to scrub using a grill brush and dish soap, even though there isn’t any non-stick coating. The Jumbo Joe also has an aluminum ash catcher which is under warranty for up to five years.
It’s a shame that there’s no easy access to the coal bed. If you want to make adjustments, you have to take out the cooking grate first, interrupting the whole thing.
To adjust the temperature, there are two dampers— one on the lid and the other at the bottom of the body. These aluminum vents won’t rust and are easy to use.
The grill comes with a lid lock to prevent the contents from spilling. The glass-reinforced nylon handle on the lid is well-insulated, and it has a heat shield, to boot.
At the bottom of the grill, there’s a rotatable door that will release residues down into the awaiting ash catcher right beneath it.
While we appreciate Weber’s attempt to make things easier to clean the grill, the open ash catcher isn’t a well-designed feature: wind can blow the ash around and if it’s still warm, it can lead to fire and safety hazards.
If the Jumbo Joe feels bulky for you, you may want to take a look at this Weber Go-Anywhere.
The Weber Jumbo Joe is an inexpensive, functional, and reliable grill that has earned the trust from many users. With this grill, every outdoor cook fest will be an unforgettable dining experience. It is a perfect balance between compactness and practicality. This grill is great for picnic trips, camping, trekking, and road trips.
4. Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro – Best Small Charcoal Grill
The Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro is a perfect grill for grillers with a small back yard or patio. It doesn’t take a lot of space compared to other bulky grills. This grill is also great for those who want a simple grill fest without expanding too big, preferably a family of four or five.
If we’re being honest, the Patio Pro doesn’t have much to boast. The interior measures 31 inches long by 21 inches wide by 44 inches tall with the inner cooking chamber offering 250 square inches, which feels average by the common standards.
The grate is cast iron, but we’re unsure whether it has any sort of protective coating. Either way, cleaning cast iron is a challenge by itself due to the material’s delicate nature, so this grill may not be the best fit for everyone.
The body is double-layered heavy-duty steel for heat retention, and features a powder coating finish to shield against the weather. To control the heat, two dampers regulate how much air enters the coal bed. An ash-discarding system— dubbed Easy Dump— features an easy-access pan that collects residues and soot.
It’s quite a shame that the Patio Pro E1515 isn’t the best fit for large items. If anything, it can barely fit a tiny bird, so you might want to change your menu to something else.
One more thing: the lack of a lid-mounted thermometer means there’s no way to check the food other than opening the lid, which lets the heat from within escape.
The 50-lbs grill is light and moveable with the all-terrain wheels, but since they aren’t swivelable, do be careful when making sharp turns around corners.
For such a small grill, it’s somewhat unexpected to find extra working space coming from the side table and the rack underneath the grill. In addition, tool hooks on the side table will keep utensils within your arm’s reach.
The Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro is a nice pick for grillers with a small garden or patio. While this grill isn’t the best choice for large parties, it’s plenty ideal for a small family to enjoy a congenial meal on weekends.
5. Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Hibachi – Best Tabletop Charcoal Grill
If you’re looking for a charcoal grill that can sit nicely on a patio table, the Marsh Allan 30052AMZ fits the description to a tee. The design is rather unconventional, but its performance is decent enough to worth your consideration.
The dual cast iron grates combine for 157 square inches, which is modest by common standards. While large items like birds and ribs are out of the question, at least you can still cook hot dogs, burgers, and kebabs.
It takes a while for cast iron to heat up, but once it does, it can retain heat for hours to come. To further lessen cleaning struggle, apply butter or oil on the surface before preheating to prevent food sticking.
While we’re still on the grates, they have three different heights to choose from. You can go for a sear or cook things low-and-slow style. When searing, the shallow coal bed makes it easier for the flame to reach the food, giving you the desired sear marks and golden-brown outer layer.
As lightweight and compact as it is, you can set the grill on a table or any flat surface, but make sure it’s even.
Since the grates are cast iron, manual cleaning is a must. Make sure to scrub them lightly, wipe with paper towels thoroughly, and apply a coating of oil before storage.
The dual air vents are supposed to adjust airflow coming inside the grill, but according to many users, they aren’t very effective in adjusting the grill’s temperature.
The Marsh Allen isn’t exactly the best charcoal grill per se, but it gets the job done. Though many things can be improved, it’s a serviceable tabletop grill that can come in surprisingly handy when you need to whip up a quick meal.
6. Dyna-Glo DGB730SNB-D Dual – Best Gas Charcoal Grill Combo
Eventually, any griller would have to settle for either charcoal or gas as BBQ fuel. But until that moment arrives, if you haven’t formed a clear-cut preference, why not go for both? It’s advisable to get a hybrid grill; like the Dyna-Glo DGB730SNB-D Dual Fuel, before deciding what you want for yourself. That way, you can get the best of both worlds all in one unit.
As the name suggests, the Dual Fuel features two distinct cooking chambers— one running on propane, the other charcoal or briquette. Each cooking chamber provides 365 square inches, combining for 730 square inches.
But that’s just the primary cooking surface: the secondary cooking area from each cooking chamber adds another 111 square inches to the already ample cooking interior. That brings the final tally to 952 square inches altogether, the largest to be featured in this entry. Additionally, the grill measures 68.5 inches long by 45.7 inches wide by 28.7 inches tall, weighing nearly 50lbs.
Material-wise, the grates are porcelain-enameled cast iron, while the inner cookboxes are aluminized steel. That would explain the grill’s noteworthy indirect grilling prowess, decent temperature range, and uniformity in food doneness.
On the charcoal side, you can use a crank to raise or lower the coal bed. This feature lets you adjust temperatures and make changes to the way you cook— directly above the flame or using convection. To stoke the coal, you can access the coal bed through the front door directly without stopping anything. Above the lid are two dampers to let air in and out of the cook box.
Even though this is a charcoal grill-exclusive entry, we’d do this gas/charcoal hybrid grill a great disservice if we mention the charcoal side only without even mentioning the gas side.
Each stainless steel burner has a 12,000 BTUs capacity, totalling at 24,000 BTUs. This model isn’t designed for the regular gas line but propane or LP tanks instead. The easy-start ignition starts the flame effortlessly, allowing you to fine-tune the temperature to your liking.
Each cook box has its own lid-mounted thermometer, so you can set two distinct heat zones as needed. These temperature gauges also make things easier for grillers to keep track of the food’s progress without opening the lid too many times. Each lid also has a steady stainless steel handle that doesn’t heat up.
There are two collapsible, powder-coated steeled side tables to offer extra working space. You can fold them down to save space, which will come in handy wherever space is scarce. Each can support weight up to 25lbs, according to the manufacturer.
In addition, there’s a towel bar and a bunch of tool hooks to keep utensils within reach. If that’s not enough room to work with, you can always put things inside the double-doored cabinet right under the grill.
If you have yet to decide whether to go with charcoal or gas, go for both with the Dyna-Glo DGB730SNB-D Dual Fuel. This grill is the unique combination of immense cooking prowess and ease of use all in the same unit.
7. Royal Gourmet CC1830S – Best Charcoal Grill-Smoker Combo
A griller’s ultimate dream is a slab of brisket cooked to perfection with a smokey flavor imparted on every bite. To attempt such a feat, one would need a grill big enough with immense cooking prowess and an off-set smoker. Luckily, the Royal Gourmet CC1830S ticks all the boxes.
To start things off, the grill measures 55.1 inches long by 27.2 inches wide by 48.4 inches tall. Inside the cooking chamber, 437 square inches of porcelain-enameled grilling surface is enough to cook even the biggest birds.
But there’s more to come— 179 square inches from the chrome-plated warming rack and 183 square inches inside the smoker box— totalling 800 square inches. The swing-away warming rack is perfect for resting cooked items and reheating sauce pans or sesame buns.
The coal grate has adjustable heights, but there’s a catch. Unlike the grate of the CD1824A we reviewed earlier— which comes from the same brand and features six different options— this one only has two heights to choose from, a major downgrade and a disappointment for many grillers. To make it up, the coal bed is large enough to hold up to 6lbs of coal in one load.
But what really draws BBQ enthusiasts to this grill is the off-set smoker located to the left. Normally these two devices are two separate devices, but now they’re harmoniously blended into one unit, much to every griller’s benefit and joy.
One glaring shortcoming of the CC1830S is there isn’t a convenient way to get to the coal bed, meaning you’ll have a hard time when loading/unloading the briquettes.
Regarding temperature control, the side air vents and smokestack let you further fine-tune the temperature to your liking. In addition, there’s a passageway between the two cooking chambers where heat and smoke travel through via convection. According to the manual, the maximum temperature the grill can withstand is preferably not over 400°F.
The lid-mounted thermometer is keeping things precise and up-to-date, so there’s no need for guesswork. For some reason, the lid handle has a spring, which the manufacturer claims to keep grillers from burning their fingers.
Since the grill is about 55lbs, moving it from place to place isn’t much of a difficulty— thanks to the two all-terrain wheels that can traverse across all surfaces.
Instead of the dual side tables you’d often find on most grills, you’ll find a side table, a frontal shelf, and a bottom rack. There are also a bunch of tool hooks found on the shelves, as well.
In case you’re interested, the Royal Gourmet CC1830F is virtually the same as this grill— thus explaining the nearly identical name. The slight differences are the lack of a size table and tool hooks.
The Royal Gourmet CC1830S here is a complete package of grilling and smoking that gives you the ultimate BBQ results unlike any others. You’d be hard-pressed to find a grill with this much interior space and heating capacity.
8. Weber Original Kettle Premium – Best Weber Charcoal Grill
Weber is among the household names in the grilling industry, so it makes sense for such a powerhouse to have multiple high-quality and well-rounded models. But if we are to pick just one representative of this brand, there’s hardly any competitor that can go against the Original Kettle Premium.
The Original Kettle Premium measures 27 inches long by 22.5 inches wide by 39.5 inches tall with the lid closed. Its cooking surface measures 22 inches in diameter, providing 363 square inches with no warming rack.
Weber claims the grill can fit up to 13 burgers patties, though we feel that estimation is slightly exaggerated.
Construction-wise, the bowl and lid are porcelain-enameled and under warranty for up to 10 years. While the charcoal grate is heavy-gauge steel, the foldable cooking grate is plated steel. In addition, the ash catcher is aluminum and under warranty for up to 5 years. The open ash catcher in other Weber grills has been addressed and modified into an aluminum ash catching bowl.
Dubbed as One-Touch cleaning system, the ash bowl is securely tightened to the bottom of the grill, but you can unlatch it easily when the party’s over. This tight-shut container collects residues like ash, soot, charred bits falling from the grate, so you can dump them all conveniently.
This grill features two all-terrain wheels that can traverse across different surfaces. Too bad there are no wheel locks to keep the whole grill from sliding away.
All handles are glass-reinforced nylon, with an additional heat shield for the lid.
You can find other extra features on the Premium Kettle, including a lid-mounted thermometer that replaces guesswork with precise reading. That way, you won’t have to open the lid too often. But for good measure, it’s well advised to use a grill thermometer when cooking huge items.
In addition, there is an assortment of tool hooks to keep grilling utensils within reach and sanitized.
If you’re seriously considering this grill but still hesitant about the price, the Weber Original Kettle can pique your interest. It’s basically the Premium version sans the ash catching bowl— you’ll get the standard open ash catcher instead— and tool hooks.
It wouldn’t do Weber enough justice if we’re pressed to pick only one product to represent the whole brand. But the Original Kettle Premium is well-rounded, easy to use, and most importantly, it gets the job done. It’s a fine pick no matter what way you look at it, and you can never go wrong with this answer.
9. Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual – Best Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill
Dyna-Glo has a bevy of well-rounded grills of high quality, but if we’re pressed to pick a representative of this brand, it has to be none other than the DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone. The dual coal beds are the most prominent feature, which lets you diversify your menu and so much more.
The grill measures 60.2 inches long by 50.5 inches wide by 28.2 inches tall, while the cooking space offers 816 square inches altogether.
Much like its other Dyna-Glo brothers, the DGN576SNC-D has all the signature properties: a frontal access to the coal bed and an adjustable coal grate using a crank.
Unlike other in-house counterparts, everything is doubled for the Dual Zone. The dual coal beds have separate steel doors and adjustment cranks, meaning you can create two distinct temperature zones— thus explaining its name. All of this is possible thanks to the steel firebox divider.
Material-wise, the grates are hi-gloss porcelain enameled cast iron, while the body is coated steel. Besides the dampers, you can adjust temperatures through the stainless smokestack, which comes with an adjustable flue. In addition, the ash pan is easy to access for cleaning purposes.
The stainless thermometer tells you how hot it is inside so you can make timely changes. There are two side tables to hold condiments, a bottom rack, and a bottle opener, to boot.
Moving the 112-lbs grill around isn’t that much of a problem— even for a lone griller— thanks to the assistance of the swivelable casters, which lock in place once you’ve decided where to set up the party.
The Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D may look the same and sound somewhat identical, but the specs are different upon closer inspection. It has a sole draft door and— for some other reasons— it’s cheaper by over $100.
The Dyna-Glo DFN576SNC-D Dual Zone is nothing short of a proper pick for many BBQ enthusiasts. It has a decent cooking interior and griller-friendly add-ons, which justifies its cost.
10. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn – Best Char-Griller Charcoal Grill
Next on our list is the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Cooker, a kamado-styled, charcoal-fed grill that offers you ample cooking interior, so you can let your culinary creativity run wild.
The Akorn Kamado measures 45 inches long by 31 inches wide by 47 inches tall when fully assembled, with its cooking surface measuring 20 inches in diameter.
While the primary cooking area offers 314 square inches, an additional 133 square inches comes from the warming rack— totalling 447 square inches. It can cook portions enough for 10 diners and it’s perfect for large items like brisket, ribs, and birds of all types.
By common standard, a kamado grill is usually ceramic, a material known for superior heat retention property. The Akorn uses 22-gauge steel with triple-wall construction for the body, with the exterior powder-coated while the interior porcelain-coated. Inside the Akorn, the cast iron grates are pretty standard, with a warming rack added.
But the secret to how the Akorn can dole out immense heat lies in its tight-shut structure. The egg-shaped grill traps all the moisture and inside the food, keeping things from going bone-dry. This design is also perfect for cooking thick, large items; which need time to cook to perfection.
Although there’s no door to the coal bed, the grate has a removable ring in the middle that lets you pick it up with a hook.
The two dampers let you control how much air enters the grill. But there’s one thing to remember: the change is not immediate. It takes a good five to ten minutes for the temperature to change, so be patient and don’t overcompensate by over-adjusting the dampers, which can lead to flare-ups and backdrafts.
The cast iron grates are to be hand-washed, thoroughly dried, and meticulously oiled before storage. While the grates can be time-taking to clean, the ash pan collects soot and residues quite effectively, and it’s removable for your convenience.
What we love about the Akorn is its arsenal: cart with all-terrain wheels, two fold-down side tables— though they aren’t very effective when holding too many ketchup bottles— tool hooks, lid lock, and lid-mounted thermometer.
As mentioned earlier, kamado grills are often subjected to flare-ups and backdrafts. They can injure those standing near the grill. To minimize this, trim the fat before cooking, preheat the grill thoroughly, and burp the grill several times before opening the lid completely.
The Char-Griller Akorn is a good start for those who want to practice and improve their cooking game before committing to a pure ceramic charcoal grill.
Top-Rated Charcoal Grills Comparison Table
|Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s (L410)||142||---||Upon request|
|Royal Gourmet CD1824A||598||Thermometer|
|Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18” 1211001||240||Ash catcher|
|Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro||250||Side table|
|1-year limited warranty|
|Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Hibachi||157||---||1 year|
|Dyna-Glo DGB730SNB-D Dual Fuel||952||Side tables |
|1-year limited warranty|
|Royal Gourmet CC1830S||800||Smoker box|
Thermometer & smokestack
|Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” (14401001)||363||One-Touch cleaning system|
Tool & lid hooks
|Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone||816||Side tables |
Thermometer & smokestack
Cart & casters
|1-year limited warranty|
|Char-Griller Akorn E16620||447||Side tables|
How to Use a Charcoal Grill
1. Ignite the Coal
A single layer of coal should suffice. Another good rule of thumb is 25 to 30 chunks for small & portable grills, somewhere between 50 and 85 for medium-large grills, the most common of which is either a kettle-styled or kamado model.
2. Preheat the Grill
Thoroughly preheated grills will minimize flare-up risks and prevent food from sticking on the grate.
Under normal circumstances, you can tell how hot the grill is using a grill thermometer. Somehow if that isn’t the case: place the palm of your hand four or five inches above the coal, and count how many seconds you can hover it before things get too unbearable. The gist goes as follows:
- 2-4 seconds: 450°F – 550°F
- 5-6 seconds: 350°F – 450°F
- 8-10 seconds: 250°F – 350°F
3. Start Cooking
There are three styles you can pick: direct grilling, indirect grilling, and smoking. Here’s the sum-up table.
|Direct grilling||Indirect grilling (a.k.a a.k.a low-n-slow)||Smoking|
|Method||Cooking above the flame||Using convection||Using convection & smoke|
|How to do it||Stack coals high enough for the flame to reach the grate||Stack coal on one half of the grill, cook food on the empty half||Wet wood pieces & flavored chips, put inside grill|
|Great for||Steaks, |
|Retains moisture & juice||Smoky flavors
4. Monitor the Flame & Coal
Make adjustments by opening air vents— also known as dampers— partially or all the way to feed oxygen to the fire.
Add a tray of water & a few pieces of wood chips inside the grill to simulate a smoker in case there isn’t one. Dampen these chips for better effect.
5. Extinguish the Fire
Upon wrapping things up, shut the dampers completely: the lack of oxygen will slowly snuff the flames out, so you won’t have to lift a finger. Let the grill cool off, and start cleaning the grill.
How to Start a Charcoal Grill
1. Electric Charcoal Starter
It’s a handheld electric device with a head shaped like a ring or loop— which is the heating element. Electricity heats up the hoop which, in turn, ignites the coal via heat conduction.
- Spread a layer of coal across the coal bed. Keep the chunks close to one another.
- Plug the device, and rest the body on a firm & heat-resistant surface
- Place the loop in the center of the coal pile, then unload another layer of coal on top of the loop until it’s fully covered.
- Upon seeing sparks and the coals start developing a gray layer of soot/ash, unplug the device and remove it from the coal pile. By now, the coals can transfer heat from one chunk to another unassisted.
- Always wear heavy-duty gloves for good measure, and let the device rest somewhere that tolerates high heat and away from people, especially children and animals.
Blowtorches are also an interesting option when conventional electric charcoal starters aren’t available.
2. Lighter Fluid
- Pile the coal into a mound or pyramid. This formation helps the fire spread easily from one briquette to the next.
- Spray lighter fluid into the pile from the top down, and don’t forget the sides either. Make sure to wear heat-resistant gloves when using lighter fluids.
- Start a match— only after rinsing your hands thoroughly multiple times— and toss it in the pile.
As the fuel burns, the coal’s outer layer starts turning greyish. When you can spot smoke rising and the coals gradually growing hotter, it means the process is finished. Spread the coal and start cooking.
We cannot stress enough the importance of safety when dealing with flammable substances. You must strictly adhere to the instructions on the label and approach with caution.
Under no circumstance do you squirt lighter fluid into the burning coal— that just begs for problems to take place. You’d be subjecting yourself and everyone in close proximity to countless injuries and hazards.
3. Chimney Charcoal Starter
It’s a cylindrical, oversize mug with a hollow bottom— through which you ignite the papers that; in turn, ignite the coal.
- Fill the chimney with briquettes/charcoal. The amount depends on what’s on the menu and how long you are cooking.
- Lodge a piece of paper— preferably newspapers— and light it in the burning chamber. As the paper burns, flames start to form and begin kindling the charcoal.
- Check whether the coal has burned, and if not, put in another piece of paper and start again. Drowse the paper with cooking oil for better effect.
- Around 10-20 minutes, you’ll spot smoke rising from the chimney, meaning the process is underway nicely. By this point, the coals should be glowing and the fire is flickering.
- Unload the chimney by dumping all the coal into the grill’s coal bed. Spread the briquettes out evenly across the surface until they are covered in a fine layer of grayish soot.
This step ensures enough ventilation between each chunk: exposure to oxygen helps maintain fire, so don’t keep the chunks too packed but not too sparsely spaced either.
Best Charcoal Grill Brands
In this section, we’ll go through a few grill manufacturers and suppliers in the field. Some brands are iconic and instantly recognized, while others are trying to make themselves known. Let’s see how many you can identify.
Weber has been in the grilling field for so long, it feels almost as if the brand is synonymous with BBQ itself.
Go ahead and try searching for a grill online, and the name that first pops up is none other than Weber. It is one of the most prominent names in the grill manufacturing industry.
Founded in 1952 by George Stephen, Weber’s history is long and rich as the history of barbecue itself. This brand has gone through ups and downs, through drastic changes and innovations, but the products’ quality remains top-notch.
That’s probably one of the many reasons why this beloved black-white-red logo is instantly recognized by almost all grill enthusiasts.
Char-Griller is another popular name among BBQ grill manufacturers. Their products include an assortment of grills, smokers, and BBQ-related accessories, all available for purchase at a surprisingly budget-friendly cost.
The E1515 Patio Pro we reviewed above is one of the brand’s most beloved and well-received models. It may lack the glitz and glamour, but it gets the job done, and that’s all that matters.
Founded in 1896 and based in Tennessee, the Lodge family has been making top-quality cast iron cookware and accessories for over a century. Their cast iron cookware is also well-known for superior heat retention and lifetime longevity, as long as proper cleaning and regular upkeep are maintained.
Though you’re probably more familiar with their skillets, the Sportsman charcoal grill is their lone grill made entirely of coated cast iron that deserves its due recognition.
Charcoal grills aren’t exactly the easiest to use, or the most convenient; for that matter— given the emergence of gas-fueled grills and electric ones. But once you’ve mastered all the techniques and methods properly, no grill can ever match such superiority.
We hope our buying guides and reviews for the best charcoal grills have been helpful and informative in one way or another. If you have any question to ask, tips, stories, or experience to share with us, please head straight to the comment section and type away. We can’t wait to hear your input.