best charcoal grill

Best Charcoal Grill: (Our Top 10 Picks and Overall Favorite)

Grilling is one of those classic American summer hobbies. Everyone loves a good cookout whether you are vegan or not. Have you ever had grilled corn on the cob? Using a charcoal grill is the best way to cook corn on the cob! There are many things to consider when it comes to grilling, especially when using a charcoal or kamado grill to cook within your cooking space. In this article, we will explore the best charcoal grill options and how to make the most of them.

The Ten Best Charcoal Grill Choices on the Market Today

In the chart below, you will find our top 10 rated charcoal grill options. For a more in-depth review of each model, please click on "Read Review."

Product Image

Product Name

Rating

Review

Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill

4.3 out of 5

Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill​​​

4.7 out of 5

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

3.5 out of 5

Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill

4.0 out of 5

Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill

3.6 out of 5

Miady Foldable Charcoal Barbecue Grill

4.4 out of 5

Blackstone 3-in-1 Charcoal Grill

3.5 out of 5

Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill

3.8 out of 5

Smoke Hollow Gas-Charcoal-Smoker Combination Grill with Side Burner

3.4 out of 5

Kingsford Barrel Charcoal Grill

4.0 out of 5

Top Ten Rated Charcoal Grill Choices of 2018

  1.  Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill
  2. Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill
  3. Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
  4. Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill
  5. Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill
  6. Miady Foldable Charcoal Barbecue Grill
  7. Blackstone 3-in- 1 Charcoal Grill
  8. Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill
  9.  Smoke Hollow Gas-Charcoal- Smoker Combination Grill with Side Burner
  10. Kingsford Barrel Charcoal Grill

How to Choose a Charcoal Grill

First, you need to know whether or not you have an appropriate cooking area or cooking space to grill. Consider the square inches and footage of the area where you will be doing your grilling. Even if you have the right amount of square inches, cooking and grilling on a wooden deck or lawn might not be the best option since the high heat from hot ashes can spread easily and start a fire around your cooking area. If you are planning on grilling on the balcony of your high-rise apartment, you might want to reconsider because of high heat temperatures and small square inch and footage area. The ideal place to grill is on a large concrete or stone patio area. It all boils down to common sense. You are cooking with an open fire and hot coals in your cooking space. It is not as simple as shutting off the gas supply and leaving the grill when you are finished. If you have never used a charcoal grill or smoker before, the grill gets HOT. And it stays hot. After California has just experienced one of the worst wildfires in their state’s history, you can never be too safe or stress how important it is to be aware of your surroundings. Fire danger is much higher when using a charcoal grill to cook food.

The Ceramic Grill

You will need to consider the different styles of portable charcoal grills available. First, there is the ceramic or kamado grill. The ceramic grills unique design keeps in heat and moisture much better than other styles on the market. Ceramic grills and smokers can reach extremely hot temperatures of around 750 degrees. They are equipped with a vent at the top and bottom to control the temperature so you will need to pay close attention to this type of grill. A ceramic grill can be used to cook anything that can fit on the grate with the lid closed. The ceramic distributes perfect heat distribution.

The Barrel Grill

Secondly, another type of grill for barbecuing is the barrel grill. The barrel grill is the most common grill you will find at stores that sell barbecues or other online sites. A barrel grill is typically a more portable grill used to cook than other types available today. The barrel grill is shaped exactly like it is named: a barrel. The grill is cut in half lengthwise and both halves are hinged. When the lid is closed, the temperature can be gauged by using an air vent that distributes the heat and cooking temperature necessary to cook food on your grill.  Food is cooked on a metal grate inside the barrel of the grill. The vent is typically located on top of the lid.

The Kettle Grill

Lastly, is the kettle grill. This is a smaller, more compact, portable grill. When using a kettle grill there are a lid, a cooking grid, a charcoal grid, a ventilation system, and legs. Other models can also include wheels and an ash catcher. The kettle grill is designed to distribute heat and temperatures evenly throughout the grill. With the hood down, it is easier to control flames caused by cooking grease by controlling oxygen levels which allow the heat to circulate around meat or other food when cooking with a kettle grill. ​​​​

Lump Charcoal vs. Charcoal Briquettes and Which One Is Best

You will hear a lot of arguments from different people about which kind of charcoal is best. You might not consider that there would be such differences of opinions, but there are. The differences, however, are minimal.

Lump charcoal is easier to light and does not produce as much ash as charcoal briquettes do. It is also more sensitive to oxygen which makes it easier to control the temperature. Lump charcoal is basically charcoal in its most natural form which means there are no additional chemicals or cheap fillers added to the charcoal. Lump charcoal produces a longer and cleaner burn than charcoal briquettes. Because lump charcoal is purer than charcoal briquettes, it also gives your food a smokier flavor as the food is cooked in your designated cooking area.

Charcoal briquettes are usually cheaper but have added chemicals to help it to light easier and burn longer. Some of those chemicals, though, can be dangerous to your health in the early stages of burning. When using charcoal briquettes it is very important to make sure no food is placed on the grill until you see ash on the briquettes.

Lighting a Charcoal Grill

Method One: The Chimney 

This easy device uses paper, like a newspaper, for example, to light the coals, which are held within the metal cylinder. The coals sit above the flames, so the edges light quickly and help ignite neighboring coals.

The first step is to fill the chimney with your charcoal. The common chimney holds about one hundred briquettes, but you might not need that many depending on the size of your charcoal grill.

Second, add one or two sheets of newspaper to the chimney. Light the newspaper in several spots. As the newspaper burns in the chamber below, the flames light the edges of the charcoal. Using the vents on the grill, check to see if the coals are burning and whether or not the edges of the coals have turned gray. If the coals have not started, burn another piece of newspaper using the same process. After about ten minutes, you will see the coals starting to shine through the vents and flames starting to burn up over the top layer of coals.

Third, pour the coals into a pile and wait until they are mostly covered in ash. Then spread the coals throughout the grill. The entire process takes approximately fifteen minutes.

Method Two: Lighter Fluid

To begin, you will need to arrange the charcoal into a neat pile. Piling charcoal together in a mound or pyramid helps to produce heat by using coal to coal contact which allows the flames to spread more quickly.

Second, squirt lighter fluid on the top and the sides of the mound. You will have to light the charcoal immediately after squirting the lighter fluid so it will not dry out. Pay attention to the next tip: NEVER squirt lighter fluid on an open flame. This is common sense but many people forget! Lighter fluid is very flammable, obviously, and can inflict serious damage to your body if you are not careful. So BE CAREFUL and use common sense!

Third, wait until the fluid burns off before cooking your food. Once the charcoal turns gray and ashy, it is time to begin cooking. As I said earlier, if you are using charcoal briquettes, it is crucial to not grill until after you see the ashy charcoal.

Method Three: Lighter Fluid Infused Charcoal

There are a few major brands of charcoal that offer lighter fluid infused charcoal. To begin, you will need to arrange the charcoal in a mound or a pyramid. It is very important that you do not skip this step. Arranging the coals into a mound or a pyramid creates coal to coal contact and allows the flame to spread quickly and even. This method is probably the most time-saving method since the work has been basically been finished for you. This method will take about ten minutes and grill time from start to finish in your cooking area will be quicker than using other methods.

Easy Maintenance 

Charcoal grills are very easy to maintain due to their simple design and are a fun addition to your cooking area. There is a grill grate, a chamber where charcoal is placed, and a chamber below the grill that collects ash. Ash can be easily removed with a shop vacuum or the ash can be dumped after it has cooled. Place coals into a plastic bag or other container and discard. The grill grate can be scraped clean using specially made barbeque tools and VIOLA! The job is finished and all that is left is to enjoy your company!

Temperature Control

Grill temperatures can be controlled by adjusting the air vent on the top and bottom of the grill. Heat temperatures range from 225 degrees to over 500! I would advise the use of a meat thermometer to check internal temperatures when cooking meat. They are simple and easy to use. Know the cooking temperature needed for food that is being cooked. Undercooked poultry and pork can be extremely dangerous and cause dangerous side effects to your body! You also need to be careful not to overcook your meat. You want to taste the meat, not the heat!

Pros

  • plus
    Less expensive than a gas grill 
  • plus
    Produces a deep, smokey flavor
  • plus
    Creates a hotter flame, which is better for searing food

Cons

  • close
    Charcoals can be tricky to light
  • close
    Charcoals must be replenished after an hour or so
  • close
    Heat can be challenging to control

Ease of Portability

Many charcoal grills come equipped with wheels or carts when purchased and can easily be lifted by two people for transporting the grill to different locations. Toss in a bag of charcoal along with your grill and you are ready to tailgate or go wherever your next exciting adventure takes you!

Handy Charcoal Grilling Accessories

Expansion Rack 

An expansion rack is a secondary rack that sits on top of and above the primary grill rack. I would not recommend cooking on the secondary rack because the rack does not get direct heat from the charcoal and will not properly cook your food, but can be very useful as a heating rack for keeping food warm while other food is cooking.

Charcoal Rake

A charcoal rake is a handy tool perfect for arranging lit charcoals. Charcoal rakes come in many different lengths so use your best judgment when deciding which rake is the right one for you.

Grill Cover
Protect your grill from weather elements with an all-weather cover. Make sure it is water and UV resistant so that it does not rust.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Grill 

Think about why you want to buy a charcoal grill before purchasing one by asking yourself these questions:

Do I have an area available where I can grill safely?

As mentioned before, if you plan on grilling on the balcony of your third-floor apartment, you might want to reconsider due to possible fire danger and not enough square footage available.

Which grill is best for me?

Where will I be doing most of my grilling? How much on average will I be grilling each time? Do I need something more portable? Will I be taking my grill camping? Take some time to seriously consider the different kinds of grills covered in this article. Calculate how much room you have to grill and what your budget is. There are plenty of options available when the time is right for you to purchase your own charcoal grill. Only consider options that best suit your needs and do not settle for anything less.

Do I have what it takes to man a charcoal grill?

Grilling with charcoal is an art. It takes time to figure out how to regulate the temperature and is not something that will you will learn overnight. It requires a lot of attention to detail and is not a "set it and forget it" way to grill.

best charcoal grill

Recommended Best Sellers

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Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal...
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Conclusion

Grilling is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. There is nothing better than having a cooler full of cold drinks, putting some burgers on the grill, and eating with friends and family. Food is, after all, the great equalizer. If you can master a grill, you can master a tailgate, a camping trip, or a graduation party.

I covered many things to consider in the article when buying a charcoal grill. Take your time and carefully weigh your options and what exactly what you are looking for when deciding which charcoal grill is best for you. Good luck and happy grilling!