Discover the Best Charcoal Grill: Ultimate Grill Guide
Serious charcoal grill masters choose to make the extra effort to produce food off of the grill with the taste, texture and appearance that only charcoal grills deliver. Charcoal grills are less expensive to buy than gas or electric grills but require more effort to use. Hard-core charcoal grill masters have definite preferences, and since charcoal grilling is more work, it is a good idea to consider how much effort you want to make and evaluate the device closely before purchase. Charcoal grills can also smoke and do rotisserie cooking as well as basic grilling. It is important to define what you want from your grill before you buy.
Charcoal Grill Comparison Guide and Key
|Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker||4.9||18.5||nickel-plated||19x19x41||$$$|
|Weber 1401001 Performer Silver||4.9||22.5||steel-plated||42x39x28.5||$$$|
|Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #14||4.9||14||nickel-plated||14x14x23||$|
|Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker||4.8||22.5||nickel-plated||23x23x42||$$$|
|Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #22||4.8||22||nickel-plated||22x22x28||$|
|Lodge Logic L410 Pre-Seasoned||4.7||17||cast iron||19x10x8.25||$$|
|Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere||4.7||160 sq.||nickel-plated||14.25x12.25x21||$|
|Weber 1481001 Performer Platinum||4.7||363 sq.||steel-plated||28.5x50.25x40||$$$|
|Weber 1211001 Jumbo Joe Gold||4.7||240 sq.||steel-plated||19.75x20.5x19.75||$|
|Weber 1351001 One-Touch Gold||4.7||22.5||steel-plated||29.5x29.5x20.8||$$$|
|Weber 1411001 Performer||4.7||22.5||steel-plated||40x50.25x28.5||$$$|
|Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #18||4.6||18||nickel-plated||18x18.27||$|
|Brinkmann 852-7080-E Charcoal Gourmet||4.6||17||chrome-plated||17x17x35||$|
|Weber 60020 The Ranch||4.6||1104 sq.||steel-plated||42x37.75x44.75||$$$|
|Char-Griller 16619 Kamado Kooker||4.4||306 sq.||cast iron||$$$|
|Fire Sense Small Yakatori Charcoal Grill||4.4||10||nickel-plated||$|
|Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Gold||4.3||14.5||nickel-plated||$|
|Cuisinart CCG-100 GrateLifter Portable||4.3||240 sq.||porcelain-coated||26x19x18||$$|
|Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill||4.1||250 sq.||cast iron||$|
|Char-Broil Combination||4.1||1006 sq.||porcelain-coated||$$$|
|Char-Broil CB940X Charcoal Grill||4.1||540 sq.||cast iron||$$$|
|Primo 774 Ceramic||4.1||210 sq.||porcelain-coated||24x22x16||$$$|
Included in the matrix are 6 columns:
- Grill brand and name/model – (click to view more details or to purchase)
- Rating (1-5) – The average user rating on Amazon.com. This can be very helpful in deciding if people are satisfied with their purchase.
- Cooking area- measured in either inches in diameter or by square inches
- Grate- the material the cooking grate is made with
- Dimensions- the overall dimensions of the grill
- Price – These are approximate prices on Amazon.com. These change frequently based on availability, special promotions, and more. But generally speaking: $ = under $100, $$ = $101 to $200, $$$ = $201
*Click on any of the columns to sort the data to help make your decision easier
Certain features are important to have on all charcoal grills.
• A grill needs to be durable and easy to use.
• The size should be adequate for tasks. If you will normally cook for a large family, the grill should be large enough for a steak or burger per person. 300 square inches is the minimum acceptable size for any grill. A 22 ½ diameter grill is 363 square inches of cooking space. 500 square inches of cooking space is a minimum for entertaining.
• If the grill is going to be stored outside, it should be made of a heavy gage metal or stainless steel if you expect it to last more than one season. A protective cover is always a good idea.
• Vents should be above and below the cooking grid. Vents that can completely close will extinguish the fire and possibly allow briquettes to be used another time. The ability to extinguish the fire quickly also means the grill takes less time to cool which is safer.
• A cooking grate that has openings large enough to add charcoal or a hinged grate is important especially if you want to slow grill and must add charcoal periodically.
• An ash collection system is important for cleaning. Some grills have slide-out trays making ash removal even easier.
• A portable grill needs a lid that latches to prevent ashes and coals from spilling while being transported.
Five Best Charcoal Grills
Weber 22.5 inch One-Touch Silver Charcoal Grill
Many folks consider the Weber word a synonym for charcoal grill. The Weber Grill has been in production since 1952 but became nationally popular in the late 70s. The kettle design is a proven classic for efficient heating and cleaning. Because the circular design can act as a convection oven, the Weber grill is often used to smoke holiday turkeys saving room in the oven for casseroles and pies. Today, the design is virtually unchanged. Both the upper and lower vents are completely adjustable which allow great heat control and easy ash cleaning. The most common complaint is that the charcoal grid cannot be moved. Many accessories are available, including a rotisserie attachment. This popular item is almost always available for less than 100 dollars. The Weber Silver should be considered the best charcoal grill based on popularity.
Napoleon NK22CK-L 22.5-Inch Charcoal Kettle Grill
Grill masters who have happily used a Weber for many years will consider this grill an upgrade. The Napoleon incorporates a heat diffuser made of stainless steel at the bottom of the kettle. The heat diffuser supports excellent quality slow cooking and is easily removed for cooking with higher temperatures. There is also a temperature gauge and removable ash catcher for easy cleaning. The cast iron grid makes deeper and more defined grill markings. The entire unit is of very heavy gauge steel which produces better heat distribution and contributes to the higher price which is about twice as much as the standard Weber.
Char Broil American Gourmet Charcoal Grill – 600 Series Model 12301567
Okay, so there are some charcoal grill masters who do not care for the kettle style grill. Barrel style grills have many loyal fans that prefer the larger cooking space and secondary cooking surface. Incorporated into the construction of the American Gourmet model grill are a built-in ash pan and a smokestack with adjustable damper on the lid. A side shelf, folding front shelf and bottom storage shelf add to the utility of this model which also includes a temperature gauge. This particular model is the smallest barrel style grill on the market and is comparable in price to the Weber Silver.
The Char-Griller Outlaw is a barrel style grill. Barrel style grills are frequently the choice of professionals and have the ability to grill huge amounts of food. This smaller barrel style grill is one of the larger units you would find in a backyard but it is not too big for the backyard grill master who loves to entertain. The Outlaw model has a 580 square inch grid and many accessories are included. This grill is popular because it is sturdy and powerful. A side firebox must be purchased to use the Outlaw as a smoker. The Char-Griller Outlaw is probably the best charcoal grill for the almost professional grill master.
Big Green Egg
This charcoal cooker is a Kamado style cooker which is the preferred style for those who choose the smoker method of grilling over any other. The Big Green Egg does an excellent job of regular charcoal grilling with very high temperatures but can also hold a low temperature longer than any other known grill. This style is popular with grill masters who like to grill and smoke foods equally. Unlike other grills, Kamado cookers are ceramic construction which is a much better insulator than steel. As a result, Eggs can continue cooking for 17 hours or more. The Big Green Egg comes in 5 sizes and the largest boasts the ability to smoke two turkeys at one time or 12 steaks. Since Kamado grilling is not traditional US barbecue, the Big Green Egg is not seen as often in barbecue settings but it is gaining traction and worth noting. In the Kamado class of grills, the Big Green Egg is the best charcoal grill.