Best Charcoal Grills For The Money

best charcoal grills

Last Update: March, 2021

With the warm summer months just around the corner, it’s time to upgrade your grill. Whether you're throwing a backyard party or gathering friends for a sports game, every summer get-together can be improved by a good charcoal grill.

This article will introduce several popular charcoal grills on the market, and highlight the pros and cons so that you can choose a model that fits your needs and price point. It will also explain why you might need a charcoal grill in the first place and what factors to consider during the purchasing process.

We’ll also go through some cleaning tips to ensure your charcoal grill will last through many summers and game seasons.

Charcoal Grill


Weber 741001 Original Kettle Grill

An all-around fantastic charcoal grill with multiple features at a great price point.

Royal Gourmet CC1830F

A grill that comes with large cooking space and additional offset smoker.

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe

A reliable portable grill with an impressive 10-year warranty for your peace of mind.

Char-Griller Patio Pro Grill

A small yet efficient grill for those limited on outdoor space

Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe

A top-of-the-line table-mounted grill with enough features to pack a punch.


  • High quality
  • One-touch cleaning system
  • Easy-to-clean ash catcher


  • Steel grates not as heat retentive as iron

More About The Weber 741001 Original Kettle Grill

The Weber Original Kettle harkens back to the original charcoal grill when the company first began in the 1950s. Weber's mentality is: if it's not broken, don't fix it. That's why the core design of the Weber Original Kettle has stayed the same all these years, with several key enhancements.

The Weber Original Kettle 22-inch has 363 square inches of cooking space, perfect when cooking for three to four people. If you are looking for a different size, it also comes in an 18-inch and 26-inch as well. The 22-inch model not only grills steaks and hot dogs, you can fit larger cuts of meat as well on their plated-steel cooking grate.

You don't just pay for the Weber brand. The Original Kettle is made out of high-quality steel that is coated in porcelain enamel. Its nylon handles and heat shield are also glass-reinforced. The Original Kettle’s air-flow design ensures that hot air is circulating consistently over the entire area.

Despite the steel and porcelain material, the Original Kettle weighs in at only 33 pounds. Construction becomes much easier since you aren’t dealing with excessive weight.

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Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor

Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill

Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill


  • Affordable price point
  • Large cooking area
  • Adjustable charcoal pan


  • Susceptible to chipping and rust

More About The Royal Gourmet CC1830F

The Royal Gourmet grill is easily constructed and comes with an enormous amount of cooking space: 438 square inches in the main chamber, 179 square inches on the warming rack, and 183 square inches at the offset smoker.

The Royal Gourmet grill is quite versatile and appealing to both traditional grill-users with its main chamber. People who want to experiment with classic smoked barbeque in the offset smoker also like this brand.

In terms of the cooking itself, there is an adjustable damper that helps air flow. Its cooking grates are made of porcelain steel which helps maintain the heat better. The large capacity charcoal pan can hold 5 pounds at once, and its height can be adjusted for better heating.

In addition, the steel mesh on the front and bottom shelves helps with cooking and storage. You can set plates on the shelves for transfer, or temporarily take the meat off to check if it is ready. The bottom is used for storage space and helps add stability to the entire frame.

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Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor

Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill

Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill


  • Easy to clean and use
  • Lightweight design
  • Simple to assemble


  • Legs can be unstable

More About The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe

The Weber 10020 grill is the smallest in the Weber family with a 14-inch diameter. But it can still accomplish quite a bit. Thanks to its portability, this grill is great to use while camping, attending tailgates, having beach cookouts, and more.

At only 9.5 pounds, it is lightweight and easy to carry around. The grill itself can cook up to five burgers at a time and sits on an aluminum tripod.

Like the Weber Original Kettle, the Smokey Joe’s porcelain-coated lid and bowl ensure that it will retain heat without rusting or peeling. Its aluminum vents and dampers also help with the cooking process, and the nylon handle means you won’t burn yourself while checking on your food.

Here's the best part: With its 10-year warranty, any manufacturing defects you encounter will be replaced at no charge.

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Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor

Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill

Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill


  • Cast iron grates for quicker heating
  • Ideal for smaller spaces
  • Side shelf


  • No design function to capture grease

More About The ​Char-Griller Patio Pro Grill

This is a great choice for those who have small families or don't have much outdoor space but would love to still make some delicious barbeque. Ideal for small patios or balconies, this grill comes with 250 square inches of cooking space and is made of heavy steel. With its two wheels, you can transfer the grill easily.

Unlike the previous charcoal grills, this grill has cast iron cooking grates. Cast iron heats up better and for a longer period of time than steel, for just a bit more required maintenance.

Thanks to its side shelf, you can quickly transfer prepared or cooked meat to and from from the grill, or keep accessories there. On the other side of the grill is a pull-out drawer where you can add charcoal and remove ash for easy maintenance.

The side vents help control the temperature within the grill to make sure your meat is cooked to perfection. What’s also nice about the vents is that they control how much smoke escapes, so you can make smoked meat on this grill as well.

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Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor

Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill

Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill


  • Gas-powered one-touch ignition
  • Versatile
  • Built-in thermometer


  • Accessories can be expensive

More About The ​Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe

The best of Weber design and performance comes together in the 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill. It has all the features of regular Weber grills, from the 22-inch porcelain enamel bowl and lid to the one-touch cleaning system.

This, combined with the ash catcher, makes the grill easy to clean and maintain. You can cook quite a bit of meat on its 363 square inch area. There's also plenty of table space for working on or keeping utensils.

The Performer Deluxe really raises the bar with its Touch-N-Go gas ignition system. All you need to do is add the charcoal from the built-in charcoal storage bin and turn on the gas burner under the grate. This will quickly heat up the charcoal via propane. To turn it off, all you need to do is turn the ignition.

The grillcomes with an LCD cook timer and built-in thermometer. Now, if you need to leave the grill to go prepare or take care of something else, you can bring the timer with you. Continuously monitoring the cooking process is a thing of the past.

 The grill also features gourmet BBQ cooking grates and steel grates that can be configured as needed. This, combined with Weber’s many accessories, means you can cook a variety of options, from chicken to pizza.

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Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor

Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill

Expert Grill Heavy Duty 24-Inch Charcoal Grill

Kingsford GR1031-014984 Barrel Charcoal Grill

Why Buy a Charcoal Grill?

If you have ever tasted something cooked on a charcoal grill, you know that it is completely different than food cooked on a traditional stove or grill. That taste is an echo of your childhood, when your dad would make hot dogs for the family during the summer, or when you’d have everyone over for sports and steak.

If you like the smoky taste of something cooked on a charcoal grill and enjoy the nostalgia, then you should definitely consider purchasing one for yourself.

Other enticing factors of these grills include their relative affordability and portability, as well as their ability to reach and maintain a higher temperature than gas or electric grills.

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Factors to Consider When Buying a Charcoal Grill

When choosing a charcoal grill, you need to be sure you find the one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Below, you will find several factors to consider when making your decision.


The most important thing to first consider is how well your grill is made. There's no point paying for a cheaper option if you'll have to replace it in a year or two. It needs to not only be durable to the cooking you'll put it through, but also withstand the elements of rain, snow, etc.

For the body, heavy steel is recommended. It will be more difficult to move, but steel survives well against the elements and holds heat in efficiently.

The cooking grate comes mainly in two varieties: cast iron or steel, with the option of porcelain coating. Cast iron gets hot and stays that way for longer, but it does require routine cleaning and is more expensive than steel. The nice thing about steel grates is that they are affordable and have a non-stick surface, so maintenance really only involves running over it with a stiff wire brush.

However, steel is not as durable and can chip and lose temper. Porcelain-coated iron or steel is the middle ground in terms of affordability and durability. Make sure that you don't use metal tools on it, though, as the porcelain can chip off.


There are several types of charcoal grills. They can be categorized into kettle grills, barrel grills and smokers, and ceramic and Kamado grill.

Of these three, the kettle is the most popular type due to its simplicity and affordability. You can recognize them by their round shape and bowl. They are designed to cook food directly over hot coals or wood chips. These grills tend to be a more affordable option and are great for no-nonsense cooks who just want to make burgers and hotdogs.

The round shape helps circulate air and is great for cooking meat with a shorter cooking time. They come in a wide range of sizes and can be customized to suit your needs. The smaller kettle grills are great for those who require portability.

Barrel grills are larger than the kettle grills, and come with a greater number of options. They are characterized by their rounded tops and bottoms.If you want to step up from simple cooking and try your hand at smoking or slow-cooking, the barrel grill is where to do it.

They tend to have either a separate smoke compartment or a large enough space to smoke in the main chamber. Though they are more expensive than a kettle grill, they have a larger cooking space.

The last type is the ceramic or Kamado grill. Recognized by their egg shape, these Japanese grills regulate and hold heat much better than a kettle or barrel grill. This grill is a great all-around option for someone who wants to cook a variety of foods, from meats to breads, to even some desserts.

The meats tend to have better flavor since the smoke is better contained. It is very durable and can stay outdoors all year round. Here's the deal though: all of these great features aren't cheap. The Kamado grill is the most expensive option. However, if you plan on frequent grilling, this is a quality investment.

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Total Cooking Space

Will you be cooking for your family or for a much larger group of people? If you will only be cooking for three to four people, a smaller grill might be a better option. Kettle grills and ceramic grills tend to come on the smaller side. However, if you’re a regular social butterfly and tend to cook for larger groups, a bigger grill with more cooking space is what you’ll need.

Barrel grills are usually on the larger side, so keep an eye out for those. Most grill manufacturing companies tend to advertise their available cooking space by the number of burgers you can fit on its surface.

A larger charcoal grill will hold more options: You can cook vegetables, kebabs, and lamb at the same time. However, if you will be using the grill while traveling - say for camping or tailgating - it's worth trading space for portability.

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How to Maintain Your Charcoal Grill?

To make sure your charcoal grill lasts, it’s a good idea to deep clean it at least once during grilling season. This is so carbon and ash don’t build up in the grill and rust doesn’t develop on the grates. Below are some tips on how to clean your grill.

First Grill of the Season

It’s been a few months, and it’s time to dust off the cob webs. The first thing to do is build a fire so that the heat can bake away slime and kill any bugs that may have taken up residence.

After half an hour, go over the grill first with the scraper side of your grill brush to get rid of larger sections - follow it up with the brush side to clean the surface and grates. Your grill brush should be replaced seasonally to make sure loose bristles don’t end up in your food.

Afterward, take the cooking grate and charcoal grate off and remove any large chunks of charcoal and ash. If the grates are in particularly bad shape, soak them in soapy water for a couple hours.

While the grates are soaking, scrub the inside with soapy water using either a scrubber brush or steel wool sponge. Alternatively, you can do this with aluminum foil, which you can throw away afterward.

Take the grates out of the water and scrub them with a scraper or grill brush before oiling them with animal fat or olive oil. The lubrication will prevent rust and sticking.

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During Grilling Season

Every couple weeks, empty out the cook box and/or ash catcher so that excessive ash doesn’t block up the air vents. If it does, it becomes more difficult to control the temperature of the grill.

The inside of the lid is usually an overlooked area, but it should be regularly cleaned as well.

You don’t want debris to flake off onto your food, right? Cleaning is as easy as wiping it over with a paper towel.

Each Time You Grill

Before you start grilling, make sure to clean the grates with a grill brush or foil to ensure that there's no leftover food or grease from the previous session. In addition, when you clean the cooking grate after cooking, do so while it's still warm so that food and grease doesn't stick and harden.You also need to re-oil the grates and check if you need to refill the charcoal.learn more

After Grilling Season

Before you retire your grill until next season, make sure you remove all the ash and clean the grates and interior. Don’t forget to oil the grates before covering the grill with a weatherproof cover to store until next year.


With this information, you are now ready to pick the perfect charcoal grill that will suit your needs and lifestyle – whether it’s for a simple meal or a huge cookout.learn more

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