Top 4 Charcoal Grill – You Must Have

When buying a high-tech digital device like a smartphone or tablet, you understand the importance of choosing and picking out the slight differences that exist between selected devices. It only makes sense since these small nuances are what set them apart.

With charcoal grills, however, you might be tempted to brush over this process and go with any model that looks like it can get the job done. Sure, any grill can barbecue meat, but unless you’re planning to buy a new grill every other day, there are significant differences between them that set them apart from each other.

You also need to consider what your end goal is when it comes to grilling and if there’s any wiggle room in your budget. Here’s the ultimate charcoal grill buying guide to help you better understand your options.

The Criteria: What to Look for In a Good Charcoal Grill 


It’s true that great charcoal grills don’t have to cost a lot, but there are many high-end models with superb construction and compelling features. For most of us, price is a key element in all purchasing decisions. Whatever your charcoal grill budget may be, I strongly advise getting a model that has an ash removal system, such as Weber’s One-Touch removable ash bucket. Even if it costs a little more, you’ll be glad you shelled out the extra dough for that convenience, which takes away much of the pain in the ash.


Many condo and apartment dwellers want a small grill that fits on their modest patio, but they often encounter restrictions on using charcoal and likely need to look at alternative fuels. Portable charcoal grills for tailgating and camping are popular and effective. But if you want a full-size, backyard family grill, go big. You want enough cook surface to avoid crowding the grill—always leave at least a half inch between foods—and even though it doesn’t take much skill to run a charcoal fire at low temperatures, you still need the ability to create a two-zone setup. This is typically accomplished by piling or corralling your charcoal fuel on one side to create a hot direct cooking zone over the fire and a moderate indirect zone on the opposite side. A two-zone setup helps you avoid charred chicken and exploding sausage, plus it gives you the option to gently roast or sizzle and sear at the same time.

Finally, be sure to get a model with a lid. Lidless charcoal grills may be good for simple grilling, like cooking burgers and shrimp over direct heat, but you need a lid to successfully roast turkeys and smoke ribs.

Construction and Air Control

Gas grills need to be well vented for safety reasons. If the burners are deprived of oxygen, the flame goes out, but the gas fuel keeps coming, building up under the hood and creating a serious fire hazard. The opposite is true of charcoal grills, which function best as sealed systems with solid, tight construction for effective air control. Just as with gas, the charcoal fire needs oxygen to burn, and you can use this oxygen flow to your advantage. Shut down the air dampers to drop the cooking temp or snuff the charcoal out entirely when finished. Open them wide to flood the fire with oxygen and create a rip-roaring, red-hot coal bed.

Flimsy charcoal grills with loose, warped lids and rickety moving parts make temperature control a nightmare. Charcoal grills don’t need to be tanks made of heavy, quarter inch-thick steel, but they shouldn’t be tin cans that lack structural integrity. 

The air control required for charcoal grills actually makes them dang good smokers, too. Unlike smoking on a gas grill, where wood chunks or chips burn up quickly and the small amount of smoke generated blows out the back before your very eyes, charcoal grill vents can be closed down to allow very little air in and out. This gives smoke plenty of time to leisurely caress foods and impart that magic, smoky goodness.

Our top picks for the best charcoal grill

Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press; One-Touch cleaning system provides hassle-free ash cleanup.Removable, aluminum ash catcher
Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill, Black
Holds up to five burgers made with a Weber burger press; Compact and lightweight for grilling on the go
Masterbuilt MB20041220 Gravity Series 1050 Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo, sq. in, Black
Reaches 225°F in 10 minutes or 700°F in 15 minutes; DigitalFan for precise temperature control

Last update on 2023-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best overall: Weber Original Kettle

Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
  • Stay true to the modern version of the kettle that started it...
  • Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • One-Touch cleaning system provides hassle-free ash cleanup.Removable,...
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl Retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Use the lid hook to avoid placing the lid on the ground while grilling

Last update on 2023-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s hard not to love the design of the Weber Original Kettle 22-inch charcoal grill. It’s been around for decades with hardly any changes, and it probably belongs in the Museum of Modern Art.

The simple, circular shape naturally gathers charcoal evenly in the basin and makes for even heat distribution. Top and bottom vents allow heat control for direct and indirect cooking (as well as ash catchment on the bottom), and the basin is deep enough to add a pan of water to keep meats from drying out when you’re cooking low and slow.

It’s also a fairly weatherproof and highly mobile grill. The tripod leg design makes tilting and rolling a cinch (as does the handle), and because it’s such lightweight stainless steel, you can easily pick it up and place it in the bed of a pickup, or store it away for non-grilling season (if such a thing exists).

We also love how effortless cleaning is; the three-blade ash sweeper and removable ash catcher make disposing of ash easy as can be. Save for grills made with painted galvanized steel (which, again, aren’t built to last), you’re not going to find a cheaper grill.

The Weber Original Kettle grill comes in three sizes — 18, 22, and 26 inches in diameter. We like the 22-inch model because it allows you to roast a whole brisket or pork shoulder, but you may want to size up or down depending on your needs. It’s also our pick for those on a budget. Buy a cheaper grill as you like, but the difference of about $20 (give or take) isn’t worth the loss of several, if not more, years of the good use you’ll get out of a Weber.

Important Information:

  • Available sizes: 18″, 22″, 26″
  • Materials: Porcelain-coated stainless steel grill and grate
  • Warranty: 10-year limited on bowl and lid; 5-year limited on One-Touch cleaning system, 5-year limited on plastic; 2-year limited on all remaining parts.


Easy to use, clean, outfit, and repair.


Thin steel, the porcelain-enameled coating can crack easily.

1- Kamado Joe Classic II

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic Joe II 18-inch Charcoal Grill with Cart and Side Shelves, Blaze Red
  • Premium 18″ Ceramic Grill with Cast Iron Cart & Locking Wheels –...
  • 2-Tier Divide & Conquer - Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System...
  • Kontrol Tower Top Vent - Maintains consistent air setting for precise...
  • Air Lift Hinge – The air lift hinge significantly reduces dome...
  • AMP (Advanced Multi-Panel) FireBox – The patent pending six-piece...

Last update on 2023-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As Olunloyo told us, if you have the money, a ceramic kamado grill — a design that originated about 3,000 years ago in Japan — is the best investment you can make in a charcoal grill.

We like the Kamado Joe (KJ) Classic II because it makes few, if any, concessions in quality, but is priced well. Shockingly, you could find yourself paying much more for a grill of similar if not equal construction.

Unlike some of its competitors, the KJ Classic II comes with a robust frame, sturdy (if somewhat small) locking wheels, an adjustable grate, loads of features and multiple grate levels, an ash catchment system, and is virtually weatherproof (still, buy a cover).

Unlike simpler, less-sealed grills, this one will allow you to cook between 225 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit, and maintain a consistent heat, as it’s basically a giant ceramic oven.

This also makes it unbelievably efficient, and you’ll be amazed to use only about half of what you normally would in a stainless-steel kettle grill. When it comes to a Kamado-style grill, you won’t find much competition for the Kamado Joe Classic II, save for the Big Green Egg, which we also like.


Excellent insulation and heat retention, fuel-efficient, doubles as smoker, grates set at different heights, sturdy wheel locks


Heavy, tricky to learn how much charcoal to use (easy to overheat).

2- Weber Smokey Joe

Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill, Black
  • Load up the car and hit the road with your Smokey Joe portable...
  • Holds up to five burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • Compact and lightweight for grilling on the go
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill

Last update on 2023-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re in the market for a portable charcoal grill, the first thing that you need to know is that they’re messy. They’re all liable to leak, spill, and trash the trunk of your car, so don’t set out without a storage bin or a large, heavy-duty sealed bag to contain grease, ash, and grit.

There are tons of portable grills out there, but the most basic and familiar is the miniature version of our top recommendation, Weber’s 14-inch Smokey Joe.

It handles about five (crowded) burgers on the grate, so it’s plenty for a normal carload of people, which we find is just right.

If you’re looking for something highly portable for camping, there are plenty of fancy options out there, and if you want to spend a few hundred dollars on something extra compact, we really like Snow Peak’s. If you’re looking for a fire pit and charcoal grill in one, check out Picnic Time’s X-Grill, which folds and comes with a pouch to contain the mess — I tend to keep this one in my car, and while it’s not the best for cooking, it manages just fine.

Still, if you’re looking for something basic and affordable, the Weber Smokey Joe is as convenient and easy to use as our top pick, and it’s going to last every bit as long.


Lightweight, same design as our top pick.


Not entirely spill-proof, bulky for a portable grill.

3- Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050

Masterbuilt MB20041220 Gravity Series 1050 Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo, sq. in, Black
  • Reaches 225°F in 10 minutes or 700°F in 15 minutes
  • Control temperature and cook time with the digital control panel or...
  • DigitalFan for precise temperature control
  • GravityFed hopper holds 10 lbs. of lump charcoal or 16 lbs. of...
  • Convenient fold out cord storage in back of side shelf to prevent loss...

Last update on 2023-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While charcoal is both notoriously difficult to light and regulate, Masterbuilt makes it easy. Masterbuilt’s Gravity Series charcoal grills work similarly to how an electric-powered pellet grill works, minus the auger that pulverizes the fuel ahead of it hitting the firebox.

You may be wondering, why not just use a pellet grill that regulates heat much better? As much as we at Insider Reviews adore pellet grills and the flavor they offer, they just don’t stack up to good old-fashioned charcoal.

The Gravity grill has a digital, wifi-ready control panel helps monitor and regulate temperature in real time, with a wired thermometer running through the grill box — you can slip inside or tend to guests without having to worry that things might get out of hand. And this grill is built for guests: with 1,050 square inches of cooking area and a three-tier rack system, we easily fed a dozen people off of this towering beast in one fell swoop.

There are downsides to this grill: firstly, it’s a pain to assemble and took two grown humans, many odd contortions, and several hours to properly assemble it. The steel is fairly thin, so it’s not going to retain heat or survive decades of use and weather like a four-figure, quarter-inch stick burner will, but frankly, that’s to be expected for the price.

In the end, the Masterbuilt Series 1050 (as well as the smaller 560 and 800) is charcoal grilling with training wheels. If you like cooking with charcoal but would prefer to forgo the fuss and mess of tending a charcoal fire, this is the best option.


Large capacity, self-feeding, keeps relatively steady temperature.


Only works with briquettes (not hardwood lump), tough to build (took us several hours)

Charcoal grill versus gas

A gas grill uses propane or natural gas to cook, while a charcoal grill is a basin (usually stainless steel, porcelain-coated stainless steel, or ceramic) meant to contain charcoal fires. Charcoal grills have the ability to get much hotter, generally, while propane grills are somewhat quicker to light (by about five minutes, according to grilling author and aficionado Steven Raichlen) and easier to tend. 

Practically speaking, gas grills operate much like a stovetop: you set the heat with a turn of the knob. Charcoal requires more time and hands-on work, and charcoal doesn’t produce a continuous flame. This heat variability makes charcoal grills a great choice for barbecue, since it offers you more flexibility and control. Charcoal also leaves gray ash after the flame consumes it, while propane and gas grills leave no ash at all.


We have a whole guide right here to help you pick the best charcoal grill. Thank you for visiting our website.

Top 4 Charcoal Grill - You Must Have

Nancy Food Vlogger
About the author

Hi, I'm Nancy, a professional blogger, and writer with over 4 years of experience in creating engaging content for readers. I am the owner of, where I share my insights on topics such as marketing, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle.