If you want to infuse traditional charcoal flavor in your grilled meat, you should opt for a charcoal grill. You can find all kinds of portable charcoal grills, including kettle-style and cart-style, in the following best charcoal grill reviews by Consumer Reports.
Charcoal grills come in a large variety based on the affordability, cooking area, and hopper capacity. Moreover, you can select medium or small charcoal grills with wheels to facilitate transportation.
You can also opt for propane or electricity-powered charcoal grills to save yourself from the hassle of preheating the charcoal. By the way, you can create different cooking zones for direct and indirect heating in charcoal grills.
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- The 5 Best Charcoal Grills for 2021 Reviewed by Consumer Reports
- #1. Best Overall: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch
- #2. Best High-End: Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Touch-N-Go gas ignition system
- #3. Best Budget: Weber Original Kettle, 18 Inch
- #4. Best Kamado: Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch
- #5. Best Charcoal Grill & Smoker Combo: Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker
- How To Choose a Charcoal Grill?
- How To Use a Charcoal Grill?
The 5 Best Charcoal Grills for 2021 Reviewed by Consumer Reports
Read along to learn about the features and functionality of the best charcoal grills available in the market.
#1. Best Overall: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch
The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, features a porcelain-enameled lid with a built-in thermometer. It comes with a one-touch cleaning system featuring an ash catcher to ensure convenient cleaning. Weber has been designing kettle grills since the early 1950s to facilitate users to grill burgers, hotdogs, and steaks.
The Weber original kettle comes with a durable porcelain-enameled lid and bowl, which can withstand rust or corrosion. In addition to that, the built-in thermometer on the cover allows you to monitor the grill’s temperature to keep you well-informed regarding the cooking progress.
The removable ash catcher allows you to remove the ash without creating a mess on your patio. Moreover, this portable grill comes with two all-weather wheels allowing you to reallocate it conveniently.
The box comes with 26 pieces, including a plastic wrench to attach the handle to the lid. You can easily set the grill in under 15 minutes with the help of a hammer and a Phillips-head screwdriver.
However, you need to be extra careful regarding leg positioning. It’s because the leg on which the kettle sits is different from the rest of the two.
This compact grill measures around 39.5 x 22.5 x 27 inches to take up minimal space, offering a cooking area of 363 square inches. You can easily grill up to 13 burgers depending upon the size of the patties.
Additionally, you can find a heat shield beneath the heat-resistant glass-reinforced nylon lid handle to protect your hands from burning.
- Accommodates 13 burgers simultaneously
- Built-in thermometer
- Aluminum dampers
- One-touch cleaning system
- Porcelain-enameled lid
- Hinged cooking grate
- 10-year warranty
- Difficult assemble for beginners
- Smaller wheels
#2. Best High-End: Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Touch-N-Go gas ignition system
As the name suggests, the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Touch-N-Go gas ignition system comes with an electronic Touch-N-Go mechanism to automate the preheating. It also comes with an aluminized steel one-touch cleaning system featuring removable, high-capacity, and ash catcher.
The Weber Performer Deluxe features a large table, a propane-powered charcoal ignition, a digital timer, and a Gourmet BBQ system cooking grate. It’s essentially a table-mounted version allowing you to place your other utensils as well.
The gas ignition mechanism allows you to feed a burner with a propane bottle. The burner is mounted near the grill’s center underneath the coal grate.
You only need to place the charcoal, turn on the gas, and push the ignition button. In this way, your charcoal grill will be ready in less than 10 minutes.
This smart charcoal grill comes with a steel-plated, hinged grate with a removable center section. It weighs only 91 pounds, with total dimensions measuring around 43.5 x 48 x 30 inches.
The removable ash-catcher features a high-capacity unit made of strong aluminum. In this way, it can hold a large amount of ash, which you can dispose of after the cooking cycle.
On the downside, the digital cooking timer comes with an electronic 99-minute egg timer only. That’s why the timer isn’t helpful for long cooking sessions.
- Electronic Touch-N-Go mechanism
- Propane-powered ignition system
- 22-inch diameter porcelain-enameled bowl
- 363 square inches cooking area
- Removable LCD cook timer
- Built-in lid thermometer
- 10-year warranty
- No hook inside the lid
- Lesser storage on the bottom shelf
#3. Best Budget: Weber Original Kettle, 18 Inch
The Weber Original Kettle, 18 Inch offers a durable plated steel cooking grate to retain heat and distribute it evenly. It also comes with a damper to control the temperature inside the grill.
This small-sized grill measures 18.5 x 23 x 35 inches and weighs only 27 pounds, making it an ideal choice for small families. Furthermore, the cooking grate consists of 18 inches of plated-steel, resistant to rust and corrosion. It features a cooking area of 240 square inches allowing you to cook multiple burger patties and hotdogs simultaneously.
These cooking grates can withstand high temperatures and facilitate both direct or indirect grilling. Additionally, these easy-to-clean steel grates can retain heat for consistent grilling.
The porcelain-enameled bowl and lid come with glass-reinforced nylon handles. In this way, the coating prevents cracking, peeling, and rusting. Moreover, the handle prevents your hands from burning while opening the lid.
The damper also helps in controlling the grill temperature without lifting the lid. You can cut the oxygen flow after closing the damper to extinguish coals.
Courtesy of the angled lid hook, you can hang the lid on the side of the grill instead of placing it on the ground.
The one-touch cleaning technology guarantees simple cleaning with minimal manual effort. All you need to do is to swipe the ash into the ash catcher and empty it afterward.
The sturdy wheels allow you to transport the grill around your backyard or patio.
- Accommodates nine burgers
- One-Touch cleaning system
- Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl
- Includes a lid hook
- Durable plated steel cooking grate
- 3D interactive assembly instructions
- 10-year warranty
- Difficult to assemble parts
- The handle may get hot
#4. Best Kamado: Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch
The Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch features a cast iron cart and locking wheels. It comes with a two-tier divide-and-conquer flexible cooking system to facilitate multi-level cooking. The patented air lift hinge reduces the dome weight by 96 percent.
This robust charcoal grill is made of 1.25 inches thick ceramic to retain heat. Moreover, the patented Kontrol Tower top vent facilitates a consistent airflow inside the grill. In this way, the inside temperature remains controlled while preventing the moisture from entering the grill.
The Kamado Joe Classic II features two split heat deflectors to facilitate both direct and indirect heating. Not only that, but the deflectors create a perfect cooking atmosphere for baking in addition to grilling. A porous ceramic interior keeps the moisture intact in meats during grilling.
The multi-level grates allow you to grill meals at different temperatures simultaneously. The interior provides a cooking area of 254 square inches, ample enough to grill larger meat pieces. A temperature meter allows you to regulate and monitor the temperature to maximize the burning efficiency.
The good news is that the limited lifetime warranty covers the ceramic parts and other material defects. Moreover, it also covers the gaskets and thermometer for one year; however, gaskets and thermometer enjoy an extended coverage of three years. Lastly, the metal parts come with a warranty for five years.
- Cast iron cart with locking wheels
- Two-tier divide and conquer cooking mechanism
- Kontrol Tower top vent
- Patented air-lift hinge
- Advanced Multi-Panel Firebox (AMP)
- Heavy lid
- Limited cooking surface
#5. Best Charcoal Grill & Smoker Combo: Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker is a high-performing multi-functional grill that can reach 225F degrees in seven minutes. Not only that, but it can attain a high temperature of 700F degrees in 13 minutes.
The Gravity Series 560 comes with thermostatic control, which you can connect to your smart device via Bluetooth or WIFI. In this way, you can monitor the temperature remotely from anywhere in your home. By the way, this remote monitoring feature is available only on this grill, unlike the previously reviewed charcoal grills.
This featureful smoker comes with a sealed, gravity led charcoal hopper available on the right side. You can add briquette charcoal through the top access door and light them from the lower access door.
After that, you can set the cooking temperature on the digital control screen and close the door. A variable-speed fan feeds oxygen to the coal until the desired temperature is set. Once you attain the set temperature, the fa slows down and then stops until you add more coals again.
You can access the removable charcoal grate through the lower door of the charcoal hopper. Moreover, the two parallel support bars, available at the bottom of the grate, hold the firestarter. It’s up to you to use a twisted wad of paper, food-safe starter block, or paper towels.
- Digital control panel
- Smart device control with WIFI or Bluetooth
- Built-in temperature gauge
- 10 pounds Gravity hopper
- Reversible smoke and sear cast-iron grates
- Two porcelain-coated warming/smoking tacks
- 560 square inches of cooking area
- The interior of the firebox may rust
- Requires electricity
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How To Choose a Charcoal Grill?
A Charcoal grill ensures diverse cooking functionality serving as an outdoor stove to smoke, grill, and barbeque. Essentially, a charcoal grill works on the principle of radiation. Coal serves as the primary fuel to emit radiations, which further converts into heat to cook the food.
If you are considering buying a charcoal grill, keep in mind the following features to make a well-informed decision:
- Controlled heating – A charcoal grill should give you full control over the temperature to ensure cooking at the desired temperature. A good-quality charcoal grill comes with tight-fitting slides to prevent heat from escaping to minimize temperature variation.
- Adjustable height – You can also control the direct heat transmission by pushing the charcoal tray up or down.
- Temperature reading – Modern charcoal grills come with a digital display so that you can read the temperature accurately.
- Charcoal chamber area – A spacious charcoal chamber provides enough room for charcoal fuel and air circulation. Moreover, it allows you to shift and shuffle embers conveniently to control the heat areas accordingly.
- Charcoal adding system – It should consist of a sliding or hinged opening so that you can easily remove or add the charcoal. You obviously don’t want to burn your hands while struggling to open it.
How To Use a Charcoal Grill?
It’s an interesting section because charcoal is a difficult fuel. That’s why you should learn the basics of grilling with charcoal.
You can preheat the charcoal in a chimney starter, a hollow metal cylinder with holes at both ends. In this way, it evenly heats the charcoal with minimal manual effort.
You can also place crumple newspaper at the top and bottom of the chimney. All you need to do is to light the paper and let the chimney do the work.
The coal will be hot and covered with grey ash in 10 to 15 minutes. Now, you can feed the charcoal into the grill and spread them evenly.
Finally, close the grill lid to attain a high temperature to start grilling. By the way, a charcoal grill takes 20 to 30 minutes to warm up properly.
Furthermore, you can also create cooking zones on a charcoal grill for searing, cooking, keeping the food warm. It means you can create a hot zone for direct heating by concentrating more coal under half of the grill.
You can use the hot zone to create beautiful hatch-marks on steaks; while, an indirect heat zone keeps the food warm. Moreover, you can grill a large slice of large meat such as lamb leg over indirect heat with the closed lid.
Charcoal is a relatively cheaper fuel source that gives a smoky flavor to your grilled food, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pulled pork. Another advantage of using a charcoal grill is the easy setup and convenient cleaning.
Furthermore, it features a compact design with wheels to facilitate portability. In this way, you can easily carry it for a picnic or camping.
After reading the above reviews, you can select the best charcoal grill that meets your household requirements.