2020’S Best Charcoal Grills: Top 5 Picks For Grilling Enthusiasts

With the ever-growing number of gas and electric grills on the market, it sometimes seem charcoal grilling is dying art.

That’s a shame as many grill enthusiasts will tell you nothing beats that authentic BBQ flavor of a charcoal grill.

We will take a look at some of the best charcoal grills on the market and explain why you should opt for charcoal.

5 Best Charcoal Grills For 2020

Best Overall: Weber 14401001 Charcoal Grill

This latest model of Weber’s iconic grill features a 22-inch diameter porcelain-enameled bowl with a cooking area of 363 square inches.

All Weber kettles include a one-touch cleaning system which removes the charcoal and debris out of the bottom of the grill.

This model adds a high-capacity ash catcher that can be removed for easy cleaning, rather than the usual steel plate.

Assembled, the grill stands 27 inches tall, with a diameter of 22 inches, meaning it can squeeze onto most small patios. With the lid closed, it adds another 13 inches to the height.

It weighs a lightweight 32.3 pounds, and sturdy wheels on the bottom of the grill legs make for easy moving.

Benefits

When you think of charcoal grills, a Weber kettle grill is probably one of the first that springs to mind. These are the grills that launched Weber and have been seen in many backyards and countless movies and TV programs. The simple reason for this is that they are the best.

The large 22-inch grate provides enough space to sear about 12 decent sized steaks or cook up to 18 hamburger patties. You could even use indirect heat to cook a whole turkey.

The circular design when covered creates a convection style heat chamber, with adjustable vents allowing for better temperature control.

Extra vents on the bottom of the grill and in the lid allow this grill to be used as a smoker. And once you’re done, simply close the vents to cut the oxygen and kill the fire.

Drawbacks

The learning curve of using a Weber charcoal grill, especially for indirect heat methods, can be quite steep. Many grill enthusiasts would argue charcoal grilling is more of an art than a scientific task, with practice and trial and error making for perfection.

The major criticism people tend to make about this design, and one which has not been improved since the original, is the legs. The three-leg system may take up less space, but can be unstable, especially when wheeling the grill about.

Plus, being Weber, they tend to be more expensive than other kettle grills on the market. But you are getting a premium grill using quality black enameled steel and that famous 10-year Weber warranty.

Extra Features

  • The steel plated grate has hinged doors for adding more charcoal mid-grilling session.
  • Additional Weber rotisserie kit creates a fabulous spit-roasted chicken.
  • Lid-mounted temperature gauge for checking internal temperature when using as an oven-style grill.

Buying Advice

In my many years of grilling, people have often asked which is the best grill to buy.

Invariably my answer has nearly always been a Weber.

The kettle design of the grill offers more versatility than most other designs, and it can be used as a grill, smoker or outdoor oven. You can even set up a kettle grill to make the best wood-fired pizzas ever.

With a Weber grill you are investing in your grilling future. The extra temperature control of the venting system rivals many gas grills’ level of control. They may cost a little more, but they do offer that 10-year warranty and they’re still made in the USA.

Runner Up: Dyna-Glo DGD381BNC-D Charcoal Grill

Constructed using cold-rolled steel, this charcoal grill from Dyna-Glo is one the heaviest we looked at, despite the compact label.

Looking more like a smoker, the hood of this grill features a smoke stack for adjusting the temperature of the grill, and side doors for refuelling.

Both the body of the grill and hood feature a corrosion-resistant powder coat black finish.

With a height of 51.3 inches and a depth of just 27.36 inches, this will easily fit in smaller backyards. The porcelain-enameled steel grates provide 381 square inches of primary grilling area, with an additional 165 square-inch warming rack.

The trolley design also provides a side table, a shelf underneath the grill box for storing charcoal, and a row of hooks for your utensils. A removable ash pan is easy to clean, with the grates also being dishwasher-safe for extra convenience.

Benefits

This heavy-duty compact charcoal grill is the smallest in the Dyna-Glo range, but don’t let that put you off. With 381 square inches of cooking area, it has a similar, slightly higher capacity than the Weber, and offers a warming shelf for roughly the same price.

A sturdy design features a crankshaft which allows for lowering and raising the coal box for different cooking temperatures. Side compartment doors are featured which allow you to add more coals to the box, and add more oxygen if needed.

An additional chimney on the lid can be adjusted for more temperature control or to add more smokiness to the foods.

Porcelain-enameled grates of cast iron allow for maximum heat transfer and better browning or searing of meats. An integrated thermometer in the hood allows you to keep an eye on the temperature of your meats.

Drawbacks

The Dyna-Glo may offer a slightly larger cooking area and innovative temperature control system, but it just doesn’t seem as well designed as the Weber. Less durable and cheaper materials have been used in the construction of this grill.

Those same, less durable, materials are also very heavy. This is one compact grill which is just going to sit on your patio. The trolley design and wheels are convenient for moving around the patio, but at over 60 pounds, it’s hardly portable.

Extra Features

  • Removable large capacity ash pan runs the whole length of the grill.
  • Additional side table and storage shelf.
  • It’s recommended to get the additional Dyna-Glo premium cover to protect the paintwork of this grill.

Buying Advice

If you are looking for a sturdy but compact charcoal grill for your backyard, the Dyna-Glo Compact Grill DGD381BNC-D seems to tick all the boxes.

With a larger than average cooking area, it can easily handle up to 18 burgers at a time and cope with medium to large sized parties.

When those embers seem to be dying down, you can simply raise them with a crankshaft to be closer to your meats.

Similarly, steel side doors make it easy to add more charcoal when needed. And when you’re done, it’s simple to clean with a large removable ash pan and dishwasher-safe grates.

For the same amount as a Weber kettle, you’re getting a sturdy grill made from heavy-duty steel. If you plan on catering for larger groups, that warming shelf and extra few inches of cooking area will certainly come in handy.

Best Under $100: Folding Portable BBQ by Uten

This basic grill offers an impressive 373 square inches of cooking space which you will struggle to find on any other charcoal grill under $100.

A foldable and portable design uses folding legs and a simple elongated cookbox for a grill which could easily cope with six to 10 people.

The grill stands nearly 27 inches tall with a length of 37.4 inches and a depth of 13 inches, for a small footprint.

Made with 430 rust-resistant stainless steel, this grill is heat resistant and shouldn’t deform too easily.

Benefits

The major selling point of this charcoal grill, apart from the cost, is its simplicity. You will often see similar grills at the side of the street in Asia, selling satays, yakitoris or kebabs.

Why take out an all-dancing, all-singing grill if you just want to prepare a few simple foods? At that tailgate party this would be the ideal grill for hot dogs and burgers.

The simple design is easy to throw in the trunk of your car and light enough if you strap it up to carry on your back. You could even use the inside of the box to carry your utensils without fear of scratching a porcelain surface.

Comfortable carry handles at both ends of the grill make it even easier to move and place at your chosen spot.

Cook-wise, the grill has been designed with air vents at either end of the charcoal box so airflow can be controlled. Heat is evenly distributed through the grill, with a choice of a wire mesh or more traditional grill grate included for cooking.

Drawbacks

Some of you may be looking and thinking this grill is too simple. Surely you could build your own grill like that?

You probably could, but try doing it for less than this price and include the same grill accessories at that price. Plus, is it really worth the bother to save 50 bucks?

It doesn’t have the hood you find on more expensive grills, so it can’t be used for indirect cooking too much. There’s no integrated thermometer or built-in cleaning system, but hey—it’s only $50.

Extra Features

  • Easy to assemble with no additional tools required.
  • Comes complete with a BBQ tong in addition to the mesh grills.
  • The shallow nature of this grill can save how much charcoal you use.

Buying Advice

We’re not talking about a premium top of the line grill here. Instead it’s a cheap and cheerful charcoal grill which is ideal for those camping or hiking trips and the occasional tailgating.

Foods on a skewer like kebabs will cook quickly with the longer design allowing you to cook more simultaneously.

It would be ideal for that next block party where you want to show off your satay skills. And you could put more hot dogs than you can count on this long grill at your next backyard party.

For the incredible bargain price, you will probably get more use out of this grill than many others costing at least twice as much.

Best with Offset Smoker: Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill

This latest model from Royal Gourmet features a large capacity grill with a built-in offset smoker for a similar price to other grills of the same size.

The main cooking chamber offers 438 square inches of cooking space with an extra 180 square-inch chrome warming rack.

Add the extra 183 square inches of the offset smoker and you get an impressive total cooking area of 756 square inches.

The cookbox has a capacity of five pounds of charcoal for those longer grill sessions, with lifting handles adjusting the height. By raising or lowering the charcoal, you can have better control of the temperature as you cook.

Unlike many other smokers, this grill/smoker combo has a smaller footprint which makes it more portable. At 48 inches high by 45 inches long, you will need a pretty large trunk or better still the bed of a pickup. But at just over 57 pounds, it’s manageable.

Benefits

For the money, you’re getting a professional standard smoker which also doubles up as a great freestanding charcoal grill.

The grill is made from a high grade steel with a heat-resistant black process paint that prevents the firebox from flaking. This is one smoker that will stay looking new for longer.

The thermometer built into the main lid is ideal for those low and slow smoking sessions. A simple glance at the easy-to-read dial avoids opening the chamber and losing that valuable smoke.

Porcelain wire cooking grates are designed to retain more heat and lock in more of the juices to keep your meat tender. The grates are rust-resistant, more durable and easy to clean.

The swing-away warming rack also provides a secondary cooking area and adjustable vents allow for a better air flow with yet more heat control.

Drawbacks

Older models of this grill had issues, with many complaints of the paint chipping or flaking. Royal Gourmet seemed to have sorted out this problem with the newer models. So, before purchasing, ensure you’re getting the newer version, the CC1830F.

Construction problems still occasionally raise their ugly head with this grill, wit