Strangely, charcoal grills are massively undervalued entities, when they have the potential to outperform the gas-based options. While gas grills might be easier to identify and procure, a good portable charcoal appliance can readily enhance the BBQ experience.
In addition to running hotter than gas, charcoal grills are also good at imparting the much-anticipated, smoky flavors.
Moreover, as per stats, 49 percent of the grills users in the US prefer charcoal as the substrate, owing to the flavors, quality of the cook, and even the value for money.
Personally, as regular grill users, we prefer portable charcoal devices, courtesy of the ease of usage and the seamless fuel availability.
Besides, while regular charcoal grills are also available in the market, we would shift our focus to the portable grills; consider the following set of benefits:
If you can relate to each of these benefits of a portable charcoal device, read on as we analyze, dissect, and identify the best and the most resourceful grills for you to consider purchasing.
Note: Each of the 10 portable grills mentioned in the subsequent sections was subjected to rigorous testing.
Besides, our experts evaluated the charcoal units on several parameters, including fuel-efficiency, design, ease of usage, cooking evenness, indoor usage results, and even smoke emissions.
Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Our Top Pick
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere
Assuming you believe every word we say, we would immediately ask you to opt for the Weber Go-Anywhere portable charcoal device, provided you seek the best all-round option.
While you do not get a lot of cooking space, as expected with a portable grill, this option trumps others in terms of searing quality, a stable cooking base, and porcelain-coated walls.
Top 10 Portable Charcoal Grills to Choose
1. Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
The Weber Go-Anywhere portable charcoal unit redefines the fold-and-go design and takes it to a different level. To start with, it is the structural brilliance that steals the show, courtesy of the steel-plated legs and secured lid.
If this wasn’t enough, Weber also decided to feature the nylon-handles, which are glass-empowered and aesthetically brilliant.
Coming to the weight, the Go-Anywhere portable charcoal devices furthers the concept of portability by being tagged at 15 pounds. Besides, you also get access to the vent dampeners, which add to the fuel efficiency of the charcoal units, specifically by cutting off the air supply.
As far as the coating is concerned, the inner, porcelain-coated surface is good enough for protecting the charcoal devices against wear and rust.
Heat management is actually close to perfect, as tested by our experts. Moreover, the enamel coating also ensures that the food remains hot even when the grilling isn’t being continued, courtesy of its ability to reflect heat.
While we did miss the inclusion of an ash pan, the omission is justified to keep the weight within permissible standards.
However, we did devise a small hack by adding a heavy-duty aluminum foil underneath the surface for quickly getting rid of the grease and oil.
The cooking surface at 160-square inch, is good enough for cooking at least 6 to even 8 portions of meat at once. Regardless of the complex wire legs and minor setbacks, the quality of cooking hardly gets compromised.
Coming back to wire legs, we expected additional durability but the same is still cost-justified.
Moreover, it wouldn’t be wrong to purchase this compact portable charcoal appliance only for the exceptional portability it exhibits.
Besides, no bump is too strong for this powerful and sturdy grill, as it is perfectly constructed.
However, we weren’t quite impressed with the heat retention quality of the nylon handles as we had to wait for at least 60 minutes after cooking to grip the same, barehanded.
Besides, the lack of height adjustability is a basic gripe, which might be somewhat restrictive to the taller individuals.
Overall, the Weber Go-Anywhere charcoal unit is one of the best portable options in the market, boasting ease of usage and decent cooking capacity.
2. Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Kamado Grill
This Kamado portable grill from Char-Griller isn’t exactly known for the portability quotient. However, the durable build quality and the additional heft allow the charcoal device to pack in some additional features which are otherwise restricted in lieu of portability.
Coming straight to the structure, the 37-pound Charcoal unit needs a heavier vehicle to carry it around, to trips and outdoor excavations.
Once you start using the same, the best cooking experience is guaranteed, courtesy of the air-flow damping controllers and the existing heat gauge.
While the former helps with heat retention, the gauge quite accurately helps identify the exact temperature that the device is working at. As a Kamado grill, even heating isn’t an issue.
However, for the existing weight, we were expecting a sizable cooking surface area and not something that is restricted to 153sq. inches.
We tested the Kamado portable grill for cooking multiple burgers at once and were amazed to see the consistency and the evenness of each cook.
Coming to other essential attributes, the build quality again comes to the fore, courtesy of the triple steel or nickel-plated insulation for retaining heat.
The trapped heat is further bolstered by the temperature controllers, which are bolstered perfectly by the airflow dampers, located right at the bottom and even atop the grill.
As far as cleaning and grease management are concerned, the portable ashtray comes forth as an important inclusion. However, regardless of every other attribute, we were most impressed with the heat control, allowing the grill to reach a temperature close to 700 degrees Fahrenheit with ease.
Despite being a portable inclusion, the grilling space is quite large, making it one of the best portable charcoal modules for tailgating.
Not just that, despite being hard to assemble and that additional heft, carrying the Kamado portable grill is hardly an issue, courtesy of the dual handles.
Moreover, the lid comes equipped with an elevated hinge which is furthered by the inclusion of stable legs and the innovative tripod layout.
Overall, this portable charcoal appliance is meant for experienced travelers or tailgaters who prefer carrying something heavy and resourceful.
3. Weber Jumbo Joe
While it might seem that the Jumbo Joe from Weber isn’t exactly a portable charcoal unit, it is probably one of the more aesthetic options in the market to invest in.
Firstly, it is the intelligent design that comes forth as a standout feature. Most importantly, the layout looks exceedingly portable and justifies the manageable weight of 22 pounds.
This Jumbo Joe Grill can be carried around with significant ease and that too by a single person. Besides, the 18-inch rack for grilling also justifies the potency of this product.
Coming to the performance enhancers, you can subtly rely on the charcoal grate that is further coated with steel for rendering it rust-resistant.
The existing chassis, made of heavy steel gauge, is strong, durable, and absolutely perfect if a high-end grill is one of your priorities. Then again, if you are invested in searing, this is one of the better portable charcoal devices to invest in.
Coming to the other usable feature sets, the Jumbo Joe grill from Weber is easy to carry around, courtesy of the aesthetic handles.
Besides, the griller bowl and even the lid are readily porcelain-enameled, making it one of the best options in the market when heat retention and temperature maintenance are some of your priorities. Adding to the existing layout are the dampers, which are good at controlling the grill temperature for the longer hauls.
Not just that, the temperature control associated with the same is more than exceptional and good for grilling in erratic weather conditions.
As far as the cooking surface is concerned, you can get consistent cooks for a maximum of eight burgers. Moreover, the 18-inch cooking width is more than handy for charcoal grills.
However, if you are planning for an excursion escapade for two, Weber also offers a 14-inch option to rely on.
Besides, this is one of the better grills in the market if you are looking for a good lid locking mechanism. Not just that, the top and bottom dampers associated with the same ensure that the meat portions heat well and many people can eat succulent pieces of meat, at the same time.
Overall, this heavy-duty yet portable BBQ grill comes with plated steel and features as the best option if you want to recommend the same to others as a part of an affiliate advertising program.
4. Cuisinart CCG-100 17.7" L x 18.5" W x 15.4" H
In case you are interested in an innovative, top charcoal appliance, the Cuisinart grate lifter or CCG-100 is one of the better additions. For starters, the lifting feature is one of the major USPs courtesy of the innovative structural design where the grate lifts immediately when the grill is opened.
Therefore, you hardly need to come in contact with the grates while placing the items or portions.
Besides, this innovative charcoal grill also flaunts a dedicated lid, which is porcelain-enameled. This attribute, clubbed with the precision flow of air and the accurate temperature analysis set the stage for the best possible cooking experience.
Coming to the quality of the cooking grates, the porcelain layered unit offers 240sq. inches of area, which is more than adequate for a group of 5 or even more.
However, we were most impressed with the ash catcher tray and the inclusion of the lid-based gauge. When it comes to sturdiness, the folding charcoal device is portable but doesn’t budget when the grill balance is concerned.
Other resourceful attributes, as tested by our experts, include the steel grill and temperature maintaining lid, which readily minimizes the overall heat loss and leakages.
Besides, the stainless steel layered lid handle cools down pretty fast, making it easier to move the same from one point to the other. While the concept of grate lifting is pretty ingenious, this portable folding charcoal grill is also quite easy to use and easy to assemble, courtesy of the reasonable heft of a mere 23 pounds.
Besides, if a large cooking area and exceptional temperature management are your priorities, the Cuisinart Grate Lifter is one of the better options to invest in.
However, if you are looking to get access to some additional square inches of cooking space, the 30-pound variant is also up for grabs from amazon com or other relevant online and offline stores.
Lastly, if you are serious about purchasing this charcoal grill, you need to be prepared to get wowed by the brilliant airflow system for accurate temperature management followed by the exceptional balance.
Then again, we weren’t quite happy with the thinness of the grates, which in turn restricts the weight of the cook.
5. Lodge L410
So finally we get to experience the brilliance of a Hibachi-style grill with the Lodge Sportsman L410 added to the list. At the first glance, we found the rugged charcoal grill to be smaller than our expectations.
However, on closer analysis, we could feel that this is one of the strongest charcoal units on the list, boasting a chassis made of cast-iron. Besides, the pre-seasoned cast-iron grates are equally appealing.
On detailed analysis, we also came across a few innovative attributes other than the cast iron grates like the curated draft door, basically meant for improving the airflow and facilitating better combustion.
Besides, Lodge L410 improves the ease of usage with a dedicated flip door for better coal accessibility. As far as the durability quotient is concerned, the 23-pound portable charcoal grill is immune to minor drops, bumps, or blemishes.
Coming to the feature sets, the Lodge Sportsman charcoal grill offers 150 square inches of cooking area, which is good enough for accommodating 7 burgers.
However, as it is a hibachi-style grill, new-gen users might not relate well to the absence of a dedicated ignition system. Not just that, there is a rustic feel to this charcoal grill, which makes it a great ally for tagging along to tailgates, picnics, and camps.
What works in favor of this grill is the excellent heat retention. Besides, there is also a sliding door added into the mix for helping you control the airflow, whilst enhancing the same for achieving a more seasoned cooking experience. Moreover, this grill also comes equipped with wire-bail handles, which cool down pretty quickly.
However, few of our experts and grill fanatics have been using this appliance for a long time, only to say good things about grease management. Furthermore, cleaning the grill is easier than ever, courtesy of the ash disposal tray, which slides out, efficiently.
Moreover, this grill is also known for the adjustable grates. That said, we would still recommend you to apply some oil to the surface, before introducing the portions.
6. Old Smokey Charcoal Grill
The portable charcoal grill from Old Smokey sets newer standards when cooking space is concerned. While we were amazed to see this grill packing in almost 330sq.in. of cooking space, the lack of heft at 19 pounds was also a startling revelation.
However, the lightness is due to the aluminum-clad chassis, which renders the Smokey Charcoal Grill rust-free, despite being used in diverse environments.
Besides, the cooking space is actually way more than that available with other portable charcoal appliances on the list.
As far as other structural innovations are concerned, the thin steel crucible is worth mentioning. While the balancing is near perfect, the durability leaves a lot to be desired.
When it comes to assembling the same, the charcoal grill from Old Smokey is a pretty straightforward unit. Besides, you also get access to two handles, making it easier to carry around.
The best thing about this variant is that the construction is pretty minimalistic and the durable steel is actually non-responsive to any kind of tear.
However, you must compartmentalize charcoal properly for extending the lifespan of this appliance. Moreover, the temperature management is one of the best, which is perfectly complemented by the smoke clearance zone, inside the charcoal grill.
As far as cooking performances are concerned, the flavoring quality of the Old Smokey is second to none.
However, we were slightly taken aback by the lack of airflow dampers, ash catchers, or other aligned utilities. Last but not least, the two-year warranty on this portable charcoal grill is also worth mentioning.
7. Weber Smokey Joe
When it comes to portability, nothing works better than the Weber Smokey Joe portable charcoal grill.
Firstly, it is the brilliant design that comes to the fore, as this is easily one of the lightest options in the market at 9.8 pounds.
Regardless, we really liked the carrying handle, which dissipates heat, almost immediately after cooking. Moreover, there is a side-clip to keep the handles retracted when the grill is in use.
The glass-clad grill lid brings in the nylon handle followed by the smoke dissipating and flexible aluminum vent. This attribute allows you to retain or disburse the smoke, as per preferences.
The triple-nickel plated cooking grate is sizable enough and capable of managing close to six burgers or even three steaks, at once.
As far as other relevant attributes are concerned, this version of the Smokey Joe comes equipped with side dampers for eliminating issues related to ash clogging.
However, one of our experts was expecting a bottom damper or the convertible ash catcher but the Weber Smokey Joe Gold model doesn’t include the same.
What stands out though is the inclusion of the porcelain-coated inner bowl. This attribute helps retain heat and even prevents rusting.
Based on the personal evaluation, we found this portable charcoal grill to be one of the best options in the market, even for searing meat, squid, and shrimp, on the move.
However, we would still recommend the same as the go-to grill provided you can pair the same with the mini chimney for reaching higher temperature.
8. Flamen Charcoal grill
The Flamen charcoal grill is one of the best 14-inch portable units in the retail space, best known for an innovative specs sheet, led by the rust-proof chassis.
What stands out though is the zinc-coated surface, which ensures even heat distribution. The best thing about the 14-inch surface is the exceptional and uniform heat management that allows you to get the best possible cooks, regardless of the portion or type of the meat.
Coming to the structure, the Flamen Charcoal BBQ grill is one of the lightest charcoal units on the list, at 3 pounds.
While the lightness of the form is one of the better attributes to consider, we were also pleased to see some of the other nifty enhancements, including a dedicated tray for ash collection and the dome-shaped, aesthetically-empowered grill lid.
Firstly, the grill lid helps with air circulation, thereby facilitating proper grilling and cooking performances.
Not just that, the internal, black-enamel coating is good enough for keeping the heat trapped inside the appliance. However, this enhancement also renders the portable grill rust-resistant from the inside.
Besides, the chrome-plated grate is easy to clean and flaunts exceptional levels of grease management. Moreover, the 150sq. inches of surface is more than adequate for a family of four.
If that wasn’t enough, Flamen also introduces adjustable vents for preferential release of smoke. As tested, we were able to impart specific flavors to the cooks, based on the intensity of the air adjustment.
Overall, if you are more inclined towards sleekness, this is the best charcoal grill to invest in, despite it missing out on additional physical attributes and an expansive cooking surface.
9. Char-Broil Portable CB500X
The reliable CB500X lives up to the Char-Broil tag and allows you to experience the best possible cooks, whilst keeping the moisture intact. For starters, this portable grill flaunts a steel-clad chassis, which is certainly on the heavier side at 34 pounds.
However, you should not let the heft fool you as the charcoal grill stacks in a dedicated aluminum drawer that adds to the heft. This attribute allows you to control the intensity of the heat, depending on the requirements.
Coming to the cooking surface, the CB500X table top, top charcoal appliance offers 240 square inches of space, which is good enough for a family of 6. However, bolstering the cooking surface is the air dampers, which allow you to manage the airflow and, therefore, the internal temperature.
What works best for a standard user is the ability of this grill to fit in close to 8 burgers at once, whilst making the best use of a pre-seasoned cooking grate.
Other relevant specs include the relevant ash drawer followed by the charcoal door to control the amount of fuel used to drive the best possible performances.
Most importantly, we tested this charcoal grill for pork butts and burgers and witnessed the most evenly cooked portions. Besides, this is one of the few grills in the market that offers several presets, especially to help to modulate the cooking levels.
Overall, if you are seeking innovation and exceptional control over the cooks, the table top CB500X is the model to consider purchasing.
10. Masterbuilt Kettle Grill
Despite featuring a smallish cooking real-estate of 139sq. inches, the Masterbuilt Kettle Grill is easily one of the better options to invest in, solely due to cooking quality.
Moreover, this analysis came naturally to us as we used the same for each of our several outdoor team meetings. While we had to grill multiple portions, over time, the chrome wire associated with the cooking grate impressed us the most.
As per our seasoned reviewers, the chrome wire ensures that the Masterbuilt Kettle Grill reaches even cooking temperatures, without you having to worry about the rust.
Despite the smallish form factor, you also get access to two air dampers, which can be adjusted for controlling the temperature of the cook. Besides, the Masterbuilt Kettle Grill also brings in a revolutionary, dome-shaped lid, which is rust-resistant and easy to operate.
The porcelain-coated grill lid is perfectly complemented by a removable ash collector and a similarly layered bottom bowl. Not just that, this is one of the best portable grills to carry around, as it weighs a mere 5 pounds.
However, if you are looking for the most durable grate quality, the Masterbuilt Kettle Grill might not be the best appliance to consider.
Then again, despite the minor flaws, the aesthetics are on point as you get access to an extra leg for better balancing. Moreover, this appliance can pair with almost any grilling accessory and can even be used indoors, provided you are planning to cook whilst keeping smoke generation in control.
Things to look for before purchasing a Portable Charcoal Grill
Now that you know which are the best portable charcoal grills in the market, it’s time to get a better idea about the features and make informed decisions based on the same.
Starting from selecting a grill that retains heat to identifying inner bowls with a porcelain enamel coating the same, there are a lot of aspects that you must consider before zeroing in on the perfect grill for putting your hot dogs in.
Size of the Portable Charcoal Grills
Your choice of the grill should take the size or rather cooking space into consideration. For instance, a charcoal grill with 150sq. inches of cooking surface should be selected if you are planning to cook for a family of four.
However, anything close to 300 or higher, should suffice for a family of 6 or even 8, depending on the portions.
If you are a frequent tailgater, we would suggest in favor of a more compact grill i.e. anything that weighs close to 9 pounds or less.
Besides, camping enthusiasts should also consider appliances that fold easily and have cooking grates that lift as a part of the design enhancement.
Ease of Cleaning
If you want a grill that is easy to clean, you must immediately opt for a roundish product instead of a rectangular charcoal grill.
While a rectangular appliance trumps the former in terms of cooking space and positioning of air dampers, the round ones accommodate ash trays and charcoal drawers in a more aesthetic manner, which comes in handy during cleaning.
For some of the more experienced tailgaters and food connoisseurs, it is necessary to rely on high-end portable charcoal grills, which feature several inclusions like the drawers for placing charcoal, vents for air flow management, and even select dampers.
Not just that, if you are very particular about the cook, it is advisable to get something that comes with a temperature gauge, albeit an accurate one.
For a bushman, a rugged charcoal grill, preferably with sturdy handles is the best possible bet. Moreover, if you want to take the grill to some of the more inaccessible terrains, opt for something that boasts of stronger legs.
Not just that, frequent travelers should invest in grills flaunting metal-clad chassis, which make them immune to chipping and rust.
Quality of Cooking Grates
For individuals inclined towards steaks or heavier portions, it is advisable to be particular about the cooking grates and the quality of the same.
As a rule of thumb, it is better to invest in cooking grates that are plated with food grade stainless steel as the cast iron ones might get rusted in due course.
Quality of Lid
Regardless of the grill you purchase, never get one where the lid doesn’t fit in tightly as this might interfere with the air flow and impact the food quality.
In addition to the following aspects, it is necessary to look at the availability of compatible accessories, storage support, and even the smoke outlays before selecting the preferred charcoal grill.
Q1. Why are charcoal grills better for outdoor cooking?
A1. In most cases, a portable charcoal grill is a better choice than a portable gas grill for outdoor cooking, owing to the cost-centric benefits. Besides, these grills are built to last and often offer expansive cooking space for the same price point.
Q2. Which is the best choice of fuel if meat searing is one of your priorities?
A2. Charcoal is easily the best choice of fuel if you are looking for 5 x improvement in the flavor and searing quality. Besides, as per the last updated list, carrying charcoal grills is easier, courtesy of the easy access to the fuel compartment.
Q3. Why are portable charcoal grills more popular as compared to gas and electric grills?
A3. Firstly, charcoal grills cut down on the flares and even help impart a smoky flavor to the portions. Besides, charcoal BBQ grills burn hotter and heat well as compared to a gas grill.
Each of these enlisted charcoal grills is good at specific tasks. However, if you still want to purchase one that offers the best of both worlds, the Go anywhere grill from Weber is a pretty good option.