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The Best Charcoal Grill: A Quick Buying Guide

by Outdoor Cooking Pros July 08, 2021

Weber Premium close up view

How do you grill your burgers PERFECTLY?

Sometimes, it ALL depends on your choice of charcoal grill.

Here's a quick list of the FOUR BEST CHARCOAL GRILLS you can score in the market right now! Our grilling team will also be answering some concerns you might have as a griller AND a buyer.

4 Charcoal Grills You Should Check Out Right Now

1. Weber Original Premium 22-Inch Kettle Charcoal Grill: Best Overall

 Weber Original Premium 22-Inch Kettle Charcoal Grill

Key Features

  • Classic spherical design
  • Enclosed ash collector
  • One-touch cleaning system
  • Lid vents
  • Hinged cooking grate
  • Wheels

Weber's Original Kettle Premium is EASILY one of the best charcoal grills in the market right now.

The reputable brand continuously works on IMPROVING their grills so you can rest easy... the Original Kettle is definitely a premium charcoal grill in every sense of the term.

Let's first talk about the most feature that sets it apart from others:

  • Diameter of 22 inches
  • Cooking Area of 363 square inches
  • Warranty of 10 years
  • Spherical to maximize heat convection
  • Sleek Black color to match its timeless branding

What's GREAT about its spherical shape is how you can HEAT YOUR FOOD EVENLY. Heat is distributed properly throughout the grill.

The grill's lid vents also ensure EXCELLENT AIRFLOW AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL. This means that you can ADJUST THE HEAT by simply closing the vents to kill the fire.

The grill's hinged cooking grate also allows you to adjust OR add more coal without lifting the entire lid. ALL of these features essentially allow you to preserve your coals for the next session!

The Grill is ALSO Easy to Use!

Remember: the Weber Original Kettle comes with TWO WHEELS... it's easily movable!

Whether you're moving it into or out of storage or just choosing a perfect place to station it in your garden, you'll definitely have no problem at all.

Lastly, you have the ease of a ONE-TOUCH CLEANING SYSTEM. Simply trigger the lever and easily SWEEP THE ASH OUT from the bottom of the grill.

Assembly, transport, AND cleaning are all great assurances you're getting from its features.

So... What's the tradeoff?

The balance of your grill depends on ONE STATIONARY LEG and two moving wheels. While positive for ease of transport, setting up might be a problem if you don't have a stable surface.

You may also encounter inaccuracies in its temperature readings because of the thermometer's position. It may be a good idea to use a digital thermometer as an accessory.

Pros

  • Quality build
  • Lots of premium features
  • Intuitive and effective design
  • Easy assembly, transport, and cleaning
  • Affordable 

Cons

  • Balance of the grill
  • Temperature reading

2. PK Grills Original Charcoal Grill & Smoker: Best Value

 

PK Grills Original Charcoal Grill & Smoker

Key Features

  • Capsule-shape design
  • Aluminum finish
  • Two-zone cooking areas
  • Folding grills
  • Wheels
  • Cooking area of 300 square inches

The PK Grills Original Grill may be on the expensive side, but it has PREMIUM FEATURES that make up for its price... This is why it's our best value charcoal grill!

PK Grills has an amazing reputation in the industry of charcoal grills.

Despite the numerous models they have developed through the years, allow us to introduce you to its Original Charcoal Grill & Smoker.

The Original's capsule shape design has an aluminum finish which makes it a GREAT CONDUCTOR.

Couple this with its 300 square inches of cooking surface, and you DEFINITELY have what it takes for an amazing grilling party!

It has TWO UNIQUE features that we especially love:

  • Vents to control the cooking temperature. Simply OPEN ALL the vents for high heat cooking or CLOSE SOME vents for slow grilling.
  • Two-zone cooking areas. You have the option to slow cook steaks on ONE SIDE and finish it over high heat on ANOTHER SIDE.

It's GREAT that you're given a choice to run your burgers and steaks over a fire pit OR just over moderate temperatures!

Another feature that we absolutely love is how the Original Charcoal Grill & Smoker FOLDS DOWN... not only is it EASY TO STORE, but it's a PORTABLE CHARCOAL GRILL as well!

And yes, it has TWO WHEELS in parallel with its stationary legs too.

Last feature that we LOVE? It has a cast iron grill grate that gives access to the ash pans and charcoal basket underneath.

Unfortunately, the Original Grill has a heavy lid. Some tests from users also show how it sometimes does not fit perfectly on the grill itself.

With a total weight of 45 pounds, the lid contributes a great deal in comparison.

Additionally, the grill's ash pans can be difficult to clean at times. It also doesn't help that the bottom vents are hardly accessible during the cooking process.

Pros

  • Plenty of space and zoning areas for cooking
  • Vents for temperature control
  • Easy storage and transportation due to folding

Cons

  • Heavy and not secure lid
  • Inaccessible and hard to clean bottom vents
  • Expensive

3. Nexgrill Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: Best Budget Pick

 

Nexgrill Cart-Style Charcoal Grill

Key Features

  • Simple and sturdy design
  • Side shelf and handles
  • Adjustable charcoal tray
  • Wheels
  • Cooking area of 572 square inches

Do NOT be mistaken... this is NOT a gas grill! The Nexgrill Cart may LOOK like one, but it actually is a charcoal grill!

It's called CART for a reason: it's easily towable, and it's rectangular, just like a cart.

This charcoal grill has a CHARCOAL TRAY that allows you to easily adjust the distance between your food and the charcoal. These cast-iron grates guarantee GREAT durability and heat retention.

It also has a RACK that can serve as your side shelf or side tables... this feature is useful for when:

  • You're setting aside your steaks and burgers as a warming rack
  • You're looking for additional space to leave your tools and equipment (tongs, brushes, bottle opener, etc.) on
  • You're looking for a place to serve as an ash catcher or ash tray

Simply, THIS is the COMPACT GRILL, especially if you're on a budget.

At 572 square inches of cooking space, this is already a LOT of char griller space that comes with its compactness.

You can also easily transport this around due to its built-in wheels.

You may notice that more brands have been releasing CART-STYLE CHARCOAL AND GAS GRILLS... but don't worry because you still have the advantage in WEIGHT and PRICE. You can save on weight without the propane tank from gas grills and save on money also in comparison to most grill designs.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Compact and sturdy design
  • Side shelves for more server and cooking space
  • Easily transportable and lightweight

Cons

  • Competitors with similar designs

4. Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill: Best Charcoal Grill for Smoking

 

Key Features

  • Ceramic shell
  • Hyperbolic smoke chamber
  • Airlift Hinge
  • Wire mesh fiberglass gasket 
  • Wheels
  • Cooking area of 254 square inches

The Kamado Joe Classic III deserves to be on this list because of its RELIABILITY FOR SMOKING YOUR FOOD.

The Joe is STRIKING with its bright red ceramic finish. This material, coupled with its dome shape, allows for great circulation of heat and smoke.

This charcoal grill exposes your food equally for a SMOKIER flavor.

What's even BETTER is how the ceramic material makes you feel like the INSIDE IS NOT HEATING AT ALL! This creates an awesome cooking experience for heat control.

You're also guaranteed the following:

  • Airlift hinge for easy opening and closing of the lid
  • Cooking grates configuration for cooking versatility
  • Top vent for temperature control precision
  • Wire mesh fiberglass gasket for a tight seal to enclose the smoke WITHIN the char griller

These design features further guarantee VERSATILITY. You're not LIMITED to grilling. You can also SMOKE, BAKE, AND ROAST!

It's also LARGE ENOUGH with an 18" diameter... This is enough to serve a party size of 8-10 people.

You may find this charcoal grill to be on the HEAVIER side at around 290 lbs. However, this also guarantees quality and stability!

The wheels also conveniently help in its transportation, despite being heavy[1].

It's also quite expensive... but at least it has some quality and premium features you would expect from its price point.

Pros

  • Intuitive design perfect for smoking
  • Versatility of use
  • Ceramic material to control heat
  • Efficient because of its seal and lid

Cons

  • Heavy for its size
  • Quite expensive

How to Find the Best Charcoal Grill for You

There are THREE factors that we recommend that you keep an eye out for:

Shape

Shape may not be a straightforward factor, but it actually IS important.

The shape of your grill can dictate the evenness of your food's heating AND the capacity at which you can cook!

  • Choose ROUND GRILLS if you're grilling in small amounts. This encourages indirect heating from around the outer areas of your grill.
  • Choose RECTANGULAR GRILLS if you're after versatility in cooking zones. This is similar to how gas grills work as well.

Size

ALWAYS prioritize models that you will only need.

  • Choose SMALL GRILLS (18 inches) if you're after easier management AND smaller parties.
  • Choose LARGE GRILLS (22 inches) if you're after serving large quantities of food at once AND if grilling is part of your family routine.

Purpose

Similar to size, you should once again settle on charcoal grills that will only serve your purpose.

Are you looking to grill simple dinners from time to time only? Then all you need is a BASIC MODEL.

 chicken grilled on Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

Are you after grills that you can bring in camps or travels? Then consider A PORTABLE MODEL.

Are you into smokier flavors? Then you should consider INSULATED MODELS meant for smoking.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Are Weber Charcoal Grills Worth It?

Yes. Weber charcoal grills are among the most in-demand grills in the market.

It also pays to notice that our BEST OVERALL CHARCOAL GRILL is also from Weber! You can easily find models from the brand other than our recommended Original Premium 22-Inch.

What Is the Difference Between Charcoal Briquettes and Lump Charcoal?

Charcoal briquettes burn MORE CONSISTENTLY and SLOWER. These are perfect for the slow cooking of your burgers!

Lump charcoal, on the other hand, burns HOTTER and FASTER. This type is perfect for faster and smokier searing of your steaks!

These differences can be attributed to the materials they are made out of AND the process that they undergo:

  • Briquettes are made from sawdust and burnt-down wood chips. They contain more additives and thus generate more ash while burning.
  • Lump charcoal is made from pure wood, which is why it burns faster. This run-in supply is why you might also needmore lump charcoal than briquettes.

A Recap of the Top 3 Picks

Nexgrill Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: Best Budget Grill

Definitely choose this if you're on a budget but STILL after some quality features. The Nexgrill Cart is COMPACT, DURABLE, SPACIOUS, AND PORTABLE.

PK Grills Original Charcoal Grill & Smoker: Best Value Grill

Choose this if you're willing to pay a little extra for some VALUABLE zoning spaces!

This is an awesome feature to have especially if you're grilling food that requires exposure to different temperatures throughout the process.

Weber Original Premium 22-Inch Charcoal Grill: Best Overall Grill

Choose this if you're after the BEST EXPERIENCE while alsonot straining your wallet. It has ALL of the premium features that you'll look for in a grill with itssleek design, too!

It's important to have an INTUITIVE cleaning and charcoal-control system, and Weber surely delivers everything through its Original Premium 22".

Conclusion

Choosing your charcoal grill may not be as easy as you might think. There are a handful of factors that you should consider!

But for the most part, it's easy to determine the PERFECT one for your specific needs.

Have you tried any of these grills? Perhaps you have other suggestions, as well? Let us know in the comments section below!

Outdoor Cooking Pros
Outdoor Cooking Pros


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