With charcoal grills, you have a lot of control over the cooking process, allowing you to create mouthwatering dishes every time. To create several cooking zones, set the coals wherever you’d like in the grill and use as many as you’d like to reach the ideal temperature. If you want a scorched surface, cook directly over the embers; if you prefer a more delicate cooking method and smoky flavor, move the meal to a cooler area. However, keep an eye on the coals because they could need to be topped off before your cooking is finished. And before putting your grill away, don’t forget to extinguish them properly.
Best Charcoal Grills 2023
Since they require a little more skill to use than their gas-powered rivals, charcoal grills can be a little scary at first. But if you master using charcoal as a cooking medium, you’ll fall in love with the smoky flavor and soft texture it produces.
Charcoal grills have a number of additional advantages as well. Generally speaking, they are less expensive than a pellet, propane, and natural gas barbecues. They also burn hotter, giving your meal a gorgeous, crispy crust. Additionally, because charcoal grills often have a simplistic construction, they are less prone to malfunction, and when they do, repairs are typically easy.
In this post, we go on a deep dive search for the best charcoal grills, weighing the combination of features, benefits, and drawbacks, as well as pricing, to identify what we think are the top models to suit various users’ demands.
Following a brief review of our hand-picked top selections for the best overall charcoal grills in a few categories, we discuss the specific considerations you should make when buying a charcoal grill.
Read on to learn about the best charcoal grills to buy in 2023:
Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
- Classic Design
- More Coal Can be Added to Grill Without Removing the Grate
- Enclosed Ash Container
- One-Touch Cleaning System
The gas and charcoal barbecues made by Weber are well known. The Original Kettle is a little older model that we still suggest. The ash collector is where there is the most difference: While the original had an exposed plate, this premium version had a closed container. However, both offer a one-touch cleaning system that removes the ash from the kettle’s bottom. (The ash falls on a grate beneath which the coals are placed.)
The premium grill’s cooking grate features two corners that can be raised to add more coal without lifting the entire thing. Its side handles have tool storage, and its lid has additional heat protection beneath the grip. In addition to its original and premium lines, which are available in a range of sizes, Weber also sells cart-style charcoal grills with additional shelving, premium models with a propane ignition, and small, portable charcoal grills.
Super Pro Black Barrel Charcoal Grill
- Easy to Move Around
- Extra Storage Space
- Easy to Assemble
One of their top sellers is the Char-Griller Super Pro. It’s a sturdy barbecue with shelves for storage that is portable. The warming rack provides more cooking space, which is part of the barrel design. Cast iron cooking grates, a side vent, and a smoke stack allow for the best temperature control. The Super Pro can be used as a Texas-style smoker when purchased with the side fire box adapter.
During testing, we were astonished by how simple it was to assemble this grill: the instructions were very detailed and included helpful images, and all of the parts, including the washers, were simple to identify.
PK Grills Grill and Smoker
- Sturdy Construction
- Good for Grilling and Smoking
- Easy to Move Around
- Four Steam Vents
While it’s difficult to describe a barbecue as “a delight to put together,” this one came really close. Its straightforward design made assembling a breeze, and it felt quite strong once put together. The cooking chamber is comprised of two solid pieces of aluminum that retain heat well and heat up rapidly and uniformly. Four steam vents that provide the best airflow and temperature control are also included. (The majority of charcoal grills feature just two.)
While cooking, the lid’s handle stays cool and swings open so you can see what’s on the grates. The rectangular design provides a generous amount of cooking space and enables fairly level coal distribution. To make it easier to add or arrange coals, the grate hinges. The rubbery wheels can handle a variety of surfaces. In our experiment, both the chicken and the steak were cooked to perfection with lovely sear marks and hardly any flare-ups. Both the side table and the unusual cup holder were useful. The best thing about this grill is that you can use it anywhere you are and still receive high-quality results.
Nexgrill Charcoal Grill
- Charcoal Tray Rack
This charcoal grill in the shape of a cart resembles a gas grill. It is well-built, with a robust handle and a side shelf. The grates don’t require seasoning because they are composed of porcelain enamel-coated cast iron for longevity and heat retention. Additionally, the grill has an adjustable charcoal tray that makes it simple to manipulate the coals with the meal. Another special feature that gives the ash a place to rest is the rack on the charcoal tray.
Dyna-Glo Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill
- Good for Entertaining
- Two Separate Cooking Zones
- Two Adjustable Charcoal Trays
This Dyna-Glo charcoal barbecue is large and powerful, but it also has a retractable divider that may divide the cooking area in half if required. The temperature of the high-gloss, porcelain enameled cast iron grates can be adjusted separately thanks to two movable charcoal trays. The two front doors each provide access to the trays, allowing you to add additional coals as needed or move the trays around during cooking. Under the charcoal trays, it has an ashtray that can be pulled out for cleaning. The smokestack can also be changed for different temperatures and smoke control.
Having a built-in bottle opener on the front of the appliance, as well as two side shelves and a bottom rack for storage, earns this Dyna-Glo amusing bonus points.
Kitchenaid Charcoal Grill
- Easy to Adjust Shelves
- Good for Large Groups
- Adjustable Charcoal Rack
For cooking for large crowds, the KitchenAid Cart Style Charcoal Grill is perfect. It has a warming rack and more than 850 square inches of cooking space. It has two side shelves and a bottom rack for additional storage. The grill includes a three-level adjustable charcoal rack that can be moved with one hand by pulling a lever on the grill’s front. Its lower drawer, which can be easily removed for cleaning, collects ash.
Masterbuilt Digital Charcoal Grill
- Easy to Control and Monitor Temperature
- Digital Temperature Panel
- Temperature Probe
Smokers from Masterbuilt come in a variety of electric and propane types. Thanks to the Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker, you can now grill and smoke all at once. Feed charcoal into the hopper to cook for 12 hours while hot air is circulated inside the grill. Smoking can also be done with wood chips. A digital temperature screen on the grill maintains temperatures between 225°F for low-and-slow smoking and 700°F for searing while it is operating.
Dual-sided cast iron grates on the grill can be used for smoking or grilling. It also includes a probe for measuring meat temperature, which you can use in conjunction with an app to monitor the temperature remotely and make adjustments as needed.
Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Tabletop Charcoal Grill
- Solid Design
- Side Handle Make it Easy to Move
- Small and Sturdy
This grill is ideal for you if you currently have a gas grill but occasionally want the charcoal flavor. It works well in cramped areas and for the occasional griller. Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler has a compact but durable footprint and two big handles that make it simple to move about. You may add more coal as necessary because it comes with a tool for lifting the hot grates while cooking. Additionally, it has an adjustable and removable charcoal tray. In our tests, this grill successfully seared chicken to a crisp and kept the temperature steady. Additionally, cleanup was simple after cooking.
Kamado Joe Classic Charcoal Grill
- Solid Temperature Control
- Cushioned Seal Prevents Slamming
- Good for Smoking
- Easy to Assemble
Like this one from Kamado Joe, cookers in the shape of eggs are beautiful to look at. They can achieve exceptionally high temperatures, which is perfect for dishes like pizza, and they keep warmth extremely well, making them fantastic for smoking. This 18-inch version is already mostly put together; the remaining steps are inserting the additional ceramic walls and attaching the shelves. We like the ones with wheeled bases because they are portable but can either be fixed or built-in. This one weighs about 250 pounds when it is completely assembled.
The diameter of the Kamado grills from Kamado Joe ranges from 13 inches to 24 inches. We appreciate the cushion-like seal that helps keep it from slamming shut as well as the indicated vent that lets you better regulate the grill’s temperature. They include stainless steel grates and a tiered cooking system. Most versions also come with the option to add a pizza tray and rotisserie spit, which distinguishes them from most rivals.
Everdure Cube Grill
- Latch Helps to Keep Everything Well Contained
- Can be Used on Most Surfaces
- Easy to Move Around
The Cube Grill by Everdure by Heston Blumenthal is the ideal portable size. It has two roomy handles that make it simple to carry, and the lid fastens to the body in the front and back. The bamboo lid serves as a chopping board as well. It is perched above a compartment that can be used to store food, cooking tools, ice packs, or even fresh coals. The grill has a metal grate that rests slightly above the bottom to contain the coals and a porcelain enamel firebox. It can be applied to the majority of surfaces.
The best charcoal grills have easy-to-open vents, stable grill racks, and side-hanging hoods. The little things can mean the difference between a smooth and enjoyable grilling session and aggravation or even burned fingers! We have reviewed the best charcoal grills that you can buy right now.
So be sure to seek out a grill with a reputation for intelligent design and use.
How Long Should Charcoal Burn Before Grilling?
Depending on the type and quantity of charcoal you’re using, it can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes for the charcoal to light and become embers. The primary indicator is whether or not a light-gray ash layer is covering the coals. Cooking is appropriate when most of the coals are in this position.
Do I Close the Lid After Lighting the Charcoal?
Keep the lid open while the coals fire if you’re lighting your charcoal in the grill basin. The coals will fire more quickly because of the improved air circulation. Maintain the chimney exposed if you’re using a chimney starter.
When the charcoal is completely lit (and, if using a chimney starter, transferred to the grill basin), cover the grill for roughly 10 minutes to allow the grill to heat up. You are then prepared to begin cooking.
How Do I Calculate How Much Charcoal I Need?
The type and quantity of food you are cooking will determine how much charcoal you should use. A full chimney starter is necessary if, for example, you wish to sear a steak (or a few pounds of coals).
You may get away with using approximately a third of a chimney starter when preparing something delicate, such as a fillet of white-fleshed fish. However, if uncertain, simply fill your chimney starter and arrange the coals as you see fit. You won’t pay too much to be cautious, and ultimately you’ll get an understanding of how many coals you require for the type of cooking you’re doing.