The 8 Best Charcoal Grills of 2019

Perfectly sear your meats and veggies

Burning charcoal in a grill
Hugh Johnston / EyeEm / Getty Images
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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill at Amazon

"The heavy cast iron retains heat so you won’t need as much coal."

Best Value: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill at Amazon

"The shape is ideal for heat circulation and it has 363 inches of cooking space."

Best Portable: Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill at Amazon

"Perfect for camping, picnics, and small spaces."

Best with Smoker: Kingsford Ranchers Charcoal Grill/Smoker at Home Depot

"Smoke locks ensure that you won’t lose the flavorful smoke while cooking."

Best under $200: Kingsford Barrel Charcoal Grill at Amazon

"Gives you plenty of cooking space despite the modest price."

Best under $500: PK Grills Original Grill & Smoker at Amazon

"The rounded rectangular shape gives you plenty of space for your meat."

Best Kamado: Vision Grills Kamado Charcoal Grill at Home Depot

"Heavy ceramic creates an oven-like interior for roasting and baking."

Best for Steaks: Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill at Amazon

"The multiple cooking adjustments make this grill ideal for searing."

  • 01 of 08

    Best Overall: Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill

    Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill

    Courtesy of Amazon

    Excellent

    As great for travel as it is for back yard cooking, this compact cast iron hibachi-style grill is incredibly durable. The heavy cast iron retains heat, so you’ll need less coal, and it will last a lifetime. The small size is perfect for a couple of steaks or burgers for the family, then it’s easy to move into storage again, using the attached handle.

    For heat regulation, this has a draft door, while coals can be accessed via a flip-down door, so you can add coals during cooking. The grill can be adjusted to two different heights, so you can grill closer or further from the heat source.

    This grill comes pre-seasoned, but the grates will become better seasoned and more nonstick with continued use or with additional seasoning.

  • 02 of 08

    Best Value: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

    Weber Original Kettle 22
    Weber Original Kettle 22. Weber-Stephen Products Company

    Weber has been the name for charcoal kettle grills for generations, for good reason. The shape is ideal for heat circulation, and the 22-inch diameter round grate gives you 363 square inches of cooking space.

    The grate has a hinge, so you can lift a small portion to add coals while cooking, which is great for long, slow cooking sessions over indirect heat. The ash catcher keeps the remains of the burned charcoal contained, so you won’t get a shower of ash with every breeze, but it’s very easy to empty when cooking is done.

    The handles are glass-reinforced nylon and they have heat shields, so the handles won’t get overly hot during cooking. Aluminum dampers let you adjust the heat level, and closing the dampers cuts the supply of oxygen to extinguish the coals when cooking is done. This has sturdy wheels so you can roll the grill into place for grilling, and into storage when grilling season is done. Plus great accessories!

    Weber grills are built in the USA, although component parts may be sourced globally.

  • 03 of 08

    Best Portable: Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

    Compact and lightweight, this grill is perfect for camping, picnics, and for anyone who doesn’t have space for a full-size grill. It has a nickel-plated steel cooking grate that gives you 160 square inches of cooking space, and a glass-reinforced nylon handle that stays cool while you cook so you can lift the lid without needing a mitt. Two dampers help you control the heat during cooking.

    The body of the grill is porcelain enamel coated steel that resists rust and looks attractive. The plated steel legs keep the grill off the table or ground during cooking, then fold up to hold the lid in place when cooking is done, securing any mess inside while you carry the grill home. It’s lightweight enough to carry with one hand and small enough to fit in the trunk of your car.

    Since it’s so light and compact, it’s easy to clean—just wash the grates in the kitchen sink, and tip the grill to empty the ashes or give it a quick wash and scrub with the garden hose.

  • 04 of 08

    Best with Smoker: Kingsford Ranchers Steer Series Charcoal Grill/Smoker

    Kingsford Ranchers Steer Series Charcoal Grill/Smoker

    Courtesy of Home Depot

    When it’s time to take your outdoor cooking to the next level, this charcoal grill will have you smoking your own ribs, chicken, and more. With a whopping 1795 square inches of cooking area, you’ll never run out of space for family dinners or parties.

    The two-lid design means you can check half of the grill without releasing all of the heat, while the smoke locks ensure that you won’t lose the flavorful smoke during long, low-and-slow smoking sessions. The large side box can be used either for wood chips for smoking or as extra cooking space when you’re feeding a crowd.

    Made from heavy gauge steel, this holds heat in during cooking and the integrated thermometer lets you easily check the temperature throughout the cooking time. The grates are pre-seasoned expanded metal, so you can start cooking right way. The front and side tables, as well as the bottom shelf, are also expanded metal.

    Large, 16-inch wagon-style wheels and an extra-large handle make this easy to move into place, despite the heavyweight construction.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Best under $200: Kingsford Barrel Charcoal Grill

    This barrel-style grill gives you plenty of cooking space, despite the modest price. You’ll have 793 square inches of cooking area on the cast iron cooking grates, while the metal side and bottom shelves give you plenty of space for tools, sauces, plates, and more.

    The top chimney and side vents let you adjust the temperature, airflow, and smoke, so you can cook all your favorite recipes, while the integrated thermometer lets you monitor the temperature so you know your adjustments are correct. The charcoal grate is also adjustable, so you can cook closer or further from the direct heat.

    When cooking is done, the ash pan makes it simple to clean the grill, while the large wheels make it easy to roll the grill into place for cooking, or into a storage space when grilling season is over.

  • 06 of 08

    Best under $500: PK Grills Original Grill & Smoker

    This grill is modeled after a 1905’s design, yet it still looks sleek and modern. The rounded rectangular shape gives you enough space for roasts, racks of ribs, or plenty of burgers, steaks, and sausages on the 300 square inch cooking surface. The shape also makes it great as a smoker, simply by arranging the fuel for slow, indirect cooking.

    Two top and two bottom vents let you regulate the cooking temperature, and when cooking is done you simply close the vents to extinguish the coals. Made from cast aluminum, this is lighter in weight than similar steel grills, yet you can leave it outside in any weather without worrying about rust or corrosion.

    When it’s time to move the grill, it’s easy to remove the grill from the cart if you want to toss it into the car trunk, or just lift the cart handle and roll the grill across your deck or lawn with the two sturdy wheels.

  • 07 of 08

    Best Kamado: Vision Grills Kamado Pro Ceramic Charcoal Grill

    Vision Grills Kamado Pro Ceramic Charcoal Grill

    Courtesy of Home Depot

    Kamado grills are a whole different cooking experience, able to do more than standard charcoal grills. The heavy ceramic retains and radiates heat, creating an oven-like interior for roasting and baking, so it’s perfect for your steaks, burgers, roasts, and even for baking bread or cooking pizzas. They’re also great for low-and-slow smoking. This has 604 square inches of cooking space on two tiers.

    For easy cooking, this has an electric starter port, so you’ll have it lit and ready to cook in no time, and when cooking is done, the removable ash drawer makes it easy to clean. Two draft vents let you regulate the heat, and the grates are stainless steel, so they won’t rust or corrode.

    This has two fold-down shelves that give you space for tools and condiments, then they fold down to save space when the grill isn’t in use. The cart has locking wheels, so you can move it into place, then lock the wheels so it won’t move again. A heavy duty vinyl cover is included, so you can keep it clean when not in use.

  • 08 of 08

    Best for Steaks: Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill

    The multiple cooking adjustments make this grill ideal for searing and finishing steaks or chops, and for cooking all your other grill favorites, as well. It has a total of 780 square inches of cooking space, with 490 square inches on the primary grates and 205 inches on the secondary grates.

    There’s no need to lift the lid or move the grates to add charcoal since there’s a front door that lets you add or move the coals while minimizing the loss of cooking heat. The fire pan can be raised and lowered to six different levels, so you can easily cook closer or further from the heat source, for more or less direct heat. Adjustable dampers and a smoker stack offer even more options for controlling the level of heat as well as the heat flow, so it’s simple to start at high heat and finish with low-and-slow, for the perfect result every time, while the integrated thermometer lets you monitor the temperature throughout the cooking time.

    Two side tables give you space for tools, plates, and sauces, then they fold down to save space when the grill isn’t in use. When cooking is done, a large ashtray that spans the entire width of the grill makes it easy to dispose of the ashes.

Products Tested by

How We Tested

We bought a top-rated charcoal grill and our reviewers tested it for five hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this grill, from its size to its special features. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Charcoal Grill

Size When deciding what size grill you want, think about how many people you expect to be serving on a regular basis and how much cooking space you’ll need. Also keep in mind that smaller grills are more portable—whether you’re moving your grill across the yard or to a tailgate party—while larger grills are heavier and harder to transport.

Grill material From enameled steel to stainless steel to ceramic, grills are made from a wide variety of materials, and each has its pros and cons. But that’s not all—grill grates can be made from cast iron, stainless steel, or other material. No choice is wrong; it just depends on how you prefer to cook.

Special features Some grills are equipped with a variety of special features. Certain models double as smokers or have integrated thermometers. Others have side tables or are designed to be especially easy to clean. It’s your grill and your food, so decide what’s most important to you.

Test Results: Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill (Best Overall)

Lodge Sportsman
Courtesy of Amazon
Excellent

What We Like

  • Super durable

  • Perfect size

  • Great performance

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy

  • Handle is small and not sturdy

  • Gets very hot

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill
The Spruce Eats / Deanna mcCormack 
Lodge Pre-Seasoned
The Spruce Eats / Deanna McCormack 
Lodge Pre-Seasoned
The Spruce Eats / Deanna mcCormack 
Lodge Pre-Seasoned
The Spruce Eats / Deanna McCormack 
Lodge Pre-Seasoned
 The Spruce Eats / Deanna McCormack

According to our tester, this grill’s best features were its size, durability, and easy setup. “It was very easy to move around and set up on the go—like at a tailgate,” she said, “and since it’s made of cast iron, it won't damage with transport or tons of cooking.” She also loved its performance: “It retains and radiates heat well so the food we cooked on it was tender,” she said. In terms of negatives, she felt its handle was “small, flimsy, and hard to hold.” She also noted that it was heavy.