What is the best charcoal grill that can give you the edge when looking to prepare a cook-up capturing that irresistible smoky aroma? Things can get a bit tricky here, especially if you are new to the world of grilling.
But even for the seasoned outdoor chef, making the right choice with an endless sea of options at your disposal can be quite overwhelming.
If you are scratching your head over which charcoal grill to go for, worry no more. In this article, we are going to look carefully at how these units work, as well as the things to expect with the different types that are out there.
Come on in and let’s explore the world of these amazing grills.
- The How: Loading the charcoal.
- The Why: Delicious taste.
- The Where: There is a grill for any occasion.
- Features: Many with all sorts of uses.
- Size: This will depend on your personal circumstances.
- Heat Control: Vents tips and tricks.
- Construction: Usually metal sometimes other materials.
- Accessories: There is a wide range of accessories available.
- Warranty: These range from virtually non-existent to a lifetime.
- Cost: Wide-ranging and dependant on the size and features.
- Types: From the simple to the outrageous.
- Final Overview: My overall opinion.
- My Picks: Here is where I name what I believe to be the best.
How does a charcoal grill work?
It’s always better to start by understanding the magic of charcoal grilling by knowing a little about charcoal cooking equipment, whether you want to use it at home or in the woods.
After all, the last thing you want is trying to figure out how to use the grill while you should be enjoying the comfort of family time or making the most of your adventure.
One thing you have to keep in mind about cooking with just about any grill is that the art of grilling takes time and effort to master, and most importantly, attention to detail. But charcoal grills have one thing that stands out, it takes time to cook with these units.
However, the fact that these units are not the perfect option when you want to make treats for your family in short order doesn’t make them any bit less exciting.
Perhaps that’s actually part of their magic after all as they can be a great option for exciting times with the family or at the campsite.
Let’s keep it simple, as the video showed us the whole process is quite straightforward. It takes loading the charcoal, which is the fuel, into the chamber of the grill under the grate.
This will be the fuel you have already lit and started burning or coal straight from the bag into the grill that once you fire up the unit, the charcoal transforms into embers that produce heat.
The best way to cook your food is to arrange the charcoal as shown in the video in different formations that will give you heat zones of different temperature this will allow fast or slow cooking depending upon the amount of coal you have burning in a particular zone.
More or less oxygen into the charcoal also helps increase or reduce the burning process which creates the heat in the unit.
So you will need to adjust the amount of charcoal in the unit as well as ventilation, through vents built into these units usually on top and the bottom that allow oxygen inside that together will provide the required temperature.
This type of cooking produces a delicious smoky flavored food that is hard to get with any other style of cooking.
Why use a charcoal grill?
Charcoal grills take time to cook but have a good number of reasons to love these units despite using charcoal being a quite messy and dirty undertaking.
If you want to lock the flavor in those steaks, then a charcoal grill is the way to go. Using these grills, you just need to give the meat enough time to absorb the smoke aroma, which charcoal lets out, and which penetrates the food.
Aromas can be changed a little by adding different types of wood chips among the coals. Another notable thing is that these units are also easy to maintain, which is another notable reason as to why one would love to try a charcoal grill.
The simple design of these units means they don’t need any complex maintenance. Thankfully, these units only feature a grill grate, a charcoal compartment, and an ash catcher chamber below.
This not only makes the use of this unit easy, but it also proves to be super easy to clean. And of course, there’s the culture that comes with charcoal grilling, which keeps us all coming back for more.
While not everyone feels attached to exploring the magic of charcoal grills, most outdoor lovers just can’t resist the lure of spending a lazy afternoon fine smoking a rack of ribs or juicy steaks.
Where the size comes in
It can’t be stressed enough that cooking on a charcoal grill involves a wide range of factors, and one of the most essential ones has to be the size.
Each grill has its charms, but sometimes the size makes the most difference. Therefore, big or small, you need to go for a unit that offers the best quality for your money by determining a number of factors that you will need to decide on.
Where do you propose using the grill, how many members in your family, and what type of food do you intend cooking on it.
You will also need to consider the amount of space you have around for storing or are you moving it in a vehicle to different locations, all these details will need your answer before you can choose the best for you.
Small and middle-size grills
You will have a fair number of reasons that will all help in your final decision to go for a small, a medium, or a large charcoal grill.
One of these could be the number of people you will be cooking for. Is most of your grilling going to be on the back patio at home and do you have sufficient space on the patio?
Maybe just out in the backyard where space is not a problem this will allow a much larger grill.
If you were heading out on a camping expedition with only your partner, then bringing onboard a huge and heavy grill wouldn’t be necessary.
But if you are heading out as a large group, or if you are bringing along the whole family, then a small one just can’t fit the bill. So if you really want to shed as much weight as possible and go light, then a small and medium-size charcoal grill is the ideal unit for you.
This means small grills won’t take up a lot of space in the car and don’t require much charcoal for fuel, which further means less weight that you have to tote along.
However, don’t let the size of these units fool you; they still pack in what it takes to give you all the grilling experience you would ever ask for in this type of cooking.
Most of these units come with the typical features you would expect to get in a charcoal grill, including the most basic ones as the grate, charcoal compartment, and an ash catcher.
One of the absolute best mid-size charcoal grill options is the Weber 22inch Charcoal Grill click on the link to my review.
Is bigger always better?
When it comes to most camping gear, bigger doesn’t always sound like the best idea, especially when you factor in the need for easy portability.
But does having a big charcoal grill make any difference in transforming your camping trip or evening at the back yard into a full party.
As we’ve mentioned with the small charcoal grills, the number of the people you are cooking for comes across as the most essential thing to factor in when deciding which grill to go for. However, these units might not be the best option if you are looking for an easily portable option.
Keep in mind, however, that some if not most of these units come with wheels that make them easy to move from one part of your backyard to the other.
But what these bigger grills lack in portability, they make up for in a wide range of features that you are sure to love.
And the one thing that best describes a large grill in terms of efficiency is the large cooking surface that these units offer, which lets you prepare enough treats for more people faster.
Besides, the larger cooking surface gives you the flexibility to cook a wide range of items at a go.
Remember, however, that this could come at the expense of using more fuel, but that’s definitely a small price to pay for the efficiency that comes with bigger units.
I have one that is an excellent fit for the back deck or patio, and for an amazing result every time you can’t go past the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker click on the link to my review.
Features and Functions
Deciding the perfect charcoal grill to go for is also about the features that the unit comes with, which could make all the difference as far as performance goes.
It goes to suggest that you need to keep an eye out for several important features, with some of those being a must-have, but first-up take a look at How to Use a Charcoal Grill.
An ash catcher, for instance, is a feature you’ll find in more expensive units and one that allows you to make things easier at getting rid of the ash in your unit.
Besides, you will find an ash catcher to be a great feature if you want a unit that can guarantee easy cleanup.
A one-touch cleaning system really counts if the last thing you want is a grill that takes ages and a lot of work to clean.
With this feature, the unit has three units that move the remaining charcoal and ash right into the ash catcher, taking much of the cleanup work off your hands.
A thermometer also proves to be a much-welcome and handy addition in the list of features you would like to keep your eyes on.
This lets you cook with more confidence as you can know the level of temperature in the grill at any time without necessarily having to open it all the time.
Temperature Controls also add to the efficiency that you can get with a charcoal grill, which could make things easier and more exciting.
By simply closing or opening the vents at the top or bottom of the unit, you can easily, and conveniently, take charge of the amount of temperature in your grill.
Other features as handles with protection shields also bring onboard a much-needed ease in the use of a charcoal grill.
Some grills come with added features such as pizza stones, rotisserie, charcoal baskets, chimney, or smokebox make worthy additions, these let you make the most out of your grill, although these features would cost you a little more in the purchase.
The material a unit is made of always comes across as one of the most crucial things you have to keep your eyes on.
And this goes for just about all outdoor gear and stuff, grills being one of them. As such, when deciding the ideal charcoal grill to go for, the material it’s made of should be among the things you pay attention to.
Thankfully, most of these units out there are made with the necessity of durability in mind, so they are built to last you for years even when used outdoors.
Additional accessories also matter if you are to get a unit that can give you maximum performance, it’s all about what seems to catch your interest, as well as your needs.
Accessories that would be worth having on a grill, include meat claws that help at shedding meat, grid lifters that help keep your hands clean as well as flavor injectors that help add flavor into the food.
You can also consider accessories as sauce mops, magnetic lights for the unit and basting brushes as well as grill rings for onions, artichokes and many more.
Charcoal starters also make a perfect addition to your barbecue experience. You only need to break off fire starters and spot them evenly to get an ideal base heat that offers a fast and safe starting of your grill.
Covers and drawers also go the distance to make handling and using your grill easier and more fun. The covers help in protecting the unit when storing it, as well as keeping it protected from the elements.
Drawers come in handy at offering ideal space for keeping your cooking tools well organized and within reach when you need them.
From grilling to marinating, as well as cleaning tools, you can keep everything that counts as close to the action as possible.
Warranty is often overlooked, but a worthy consideration that would be important to factor in before making the final decision.
It can’t be stressed enough that although these grills can be quite durable, there’s always something special about buying with peace of mind, and a good warranty will make your purchase more satisfying.
How much should a grill cost?
As is the case with any other outdoor equipment, the question about the price is always one of the things you can’t help thinking about when planning to buy a charcoal grill.
Thankfully, these units range widely as far as size and shapes go, and so does the price. Charcoal grills come at different prices, everywhere from $50 and all the way to over $2,000 and anything in between.
So you can always find a grill that fits the budget so set an amount and decide on the size and features you must have and try to stick close to what your research has provided you.
Keep in mind, however, that a charcoal grill doesn’t have to cost insanely high amounts, you can still find an ideal unit for the job at an affordable price, Check out what others are saying in the reviews on sites like Amazon.
Different charcoal grill Designs
Pellet grill — it’s just a bit different but it has its good points, units in this tier come with some pretty exciting features.
This source of fuel is simply compressed wood pellets that you can place in a hopper, and then insert it in the unit’s firebox.
These grills are easy to start as they feature an electric igniter, a feature I find to be very handy, and one you are sure to love as it saves a lot of time and frustration.
Pellets come across as a great option since they turn out to be ideal smokers that release a low-temperature smoke and heat from 90 to 160 degrees F.
This nature also means most pellet grills are also referred to as smokers since they can do both slow smokings as well as a grill at low temperature.
Another great thing about using pellets is that you can choose from different flavors when buying, including maple, apple, oak as well as a variety of others that will bring a different touch of aroma to your meal.
Brazier — It is the other type of these grills, and it comes with its fair share of tricks up its sleeve as well. This type is pretty much like a kettle grill, but an older version, that features a metal pan located under a mesh grate that you can fill with charcoal.
And although these grills became replaced by the Kettle design, they can still be found on the market up to now and they vary in shape and size.
However, they are mostly on the small end of the spectrum with round or square shapes and usually feature no covers.
Square charcoal grills —These make another option you can get for your camping trip, which is basically a combination of the brazier model and the Kettle grill types. Their lid looks much like the one you would find on a kettle grill as far as the design goes.
But there’s more to these grills, as they also come with adjustable vents that help control the temperature with ease for precise grilling results.
Besides, they also feature four legs, which are great at offering sturdy support of the unit to keep it stable during use.
Kettle grills — They are one of the most common types on the market right now, and you might have already seen a good number of those in the backyard barbecues.
They vary in size, so you can always go for the one that best matches your needs. But one thing that remains consistent across the different sizes is the circular design with a rounded lower chamber and a domed lid.
The rounded shape t the lower chamber in these grills fulfill one purpose, which is focusing the heat evenly to ensure even cooking of your meals wherever you have them positioned on the grate.
On its side, the domed top helps capture hot air inside the unit, allowing it to circulate for better heating as well as locking in the flavors.
The other notable feature in this type of grills is wheels that make maneuvering of the unit easy during use or storage.
You will also come to love venting systems on most models here, which enables achieve ultimate control of the temperature level for precise cooking.
And while still at it, these units feature an impressive cooking grate and a charcoal grid, which also remarkable. To make cleanup easier and ensure you can enjoy less messy grilling, some models come with a catcher pan for the ash, a welcome addition as well.
Cart grills — These are quite different from the Kettle grill design, in that they are usually rectangular. These ones are the go-to option if the ease of mobility is of the essence to you since they are very easy to move around.
They also boast a great design with the lids attached to their base by hinges to keep them in place for easy handling once you open the unit while cooking.
These grills also feature wheels that offer an easy, effortless movement since the larger ones can be quite hefty. The other exciting features include storage shelves and side trays, which will prove crucial for keeping your cooking utensils handy and well organized.
Setting the heat level shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to the easy use of these units, which lets you raise or lower the charcoal grid or food grill closer to the charcoal or away from the heat depending on your needs.
An ash catcher at the bottom is also a great addition that makes cleanup easy and simple.
Barrel grills —They make the other type that you can turn to if you want to get the best ease of use possible. These ones usually feature a tough steel material as they are made out of a steel barrel that’s cut in half.
Then they feature hinges for connecting the top as well as the lower half that’s used for adding the charcoal. So you can open or close the unit with ease when placing meat in there.
With vents at the top and bottom, regulating the amount of temperature is never a problem, not to mention that they also feature a chimney on their lid.
Then there are legs that help at lifting the unit off the ground so that you can use it while standing besides ensuring its stability during use.
The design is as simple as it can get, but these grills are the real deal when it comes to durability, and they get the job done as well as any other charcoal grill type out there.
Japanese hibachis —These ones come in as more of a bonus in our list, but if you want a portable grill that you can tote along to a variety of destinations, then this one’s for you.
So, how does Japanese hibachi work? Well, these grills are usually small and are made of cast iron, steel or aluminum metals. These units have 2 small cooking grills that you place over a sheet metal charcoal pan.
And with the grills being adjustable, you can easily move them up or down to meet your preferred temperature level.
However, these small units are usually devoid of such extensive accessories that you might find in most other options. But if you want to go light and fast, and without having to sacrifice a lot of space, then these grills are for you.
What are the best types of charcoal for a charcoal grill?
Deciding the ideal charcoal grill is one thing, but finding the perfect charcoal to use with the unit can be a completely different story altogether.
This doesn’t have to take rocket science; however, it’s all about finding the option that can offer the best grilling experience.
Charcoal briquettes, for instance, are a great option to go for if you are tight on budget. Besides being economical, this type is great at offering a hot, lasting burn.
Then there’s the lump charcoal type, which is better as it starts faster, so you can bet that you will be cooking in next to no time. This type is also perfect at reacting to oxygen, which makes it easy to control the temperature.
And most importantly, it proves unbeatable when it comes to adding great smoke flavor to your food, which is a good thing if getting the best results matters most to you.
In a nutshell
Let’s take a brief look at some of the factors that you can use to find the perfect charcoal grill for your next camping trip. To begin with, the size matters, a whole lot.
Depending on the number of people you will be cooking for and the need for ease of transportation, the aspect of size comes in very handy when deciding which grill to go for.
The different features are also a great thing to keep under the microscope. And fortunately enough, most of the units out there come with a long list of exciting features that are sure to transform your barbecue.
Most importantly, don’t forget that you will also find some with a fair few great accessories that go the distance to make a difference when grilling.
Just as they vary in size, charcoal grills also come with a wide range of prices, so there’s always something for everyone. It all comes down to the unit that best matches your needs, or better put, one that is a perfect fit for your budget.
Similarly, you can also find a wide range of types as far as these units go, and most of them have everything you would ever ask for in a charcoal grill.
Nevertheless, it pays to be a little patient and look closely at each of the options to get the best one for your needs.
I have done in-depth reviews on all my favorites and you can check out the reviews on the links of each grill below.
These are my preferred Charcoal Grills that I have owned, used, and are very familiar with, as you will see I also have an affinity for one major brand.
It has been proven to be the best over many years and using the best rarely disappoints both in functionality and result.
Simply The Best Charcoal Grill: Weber 22 inch Charcoal Grill
Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Weber Smokey Joe Grill
Best Large Patio Charcoal Grill: Weber Deluxe Charcoal Grill
So, which one is that perfect charcoal grill for you? for an amazing range of quality grills, read my article titled Best Charcoal Grills
The answer to that question is a relative one since as you might have found out by now, there’s a long list of factors that you should take into account when deciding just which unit will be the best for you.
Different people have different preferences, thus it makes sense to think that what works best for someone else might not be the ideal pick for you.
Thankfully, with all the options at your disposal, making the ideal choice is all about going for the unit that best fulfills your needs.
We believe that having put bare everything that you need to be keen on when shopping for these units, deciding the ideal one for your grilling doesn’t have to be a challenge anymore.
Now that you know where to start, all you have to do is check out some of the best options on the market and choose the one with all the features you need and falls right within your set budget.
If you have any more questions about what is the best charcoal grill, I’ll be more than happy to answer them in the comments section below.
Remember! Leave it cleaner than you found it, only footprints not rubbish.