Best Charcoal Grills Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Many are perfect for a backyard patio, but there are also portable grills that are great for anyone on the go. But whichever way you go charcoal grilling will make your food taste great once you master the different ways it can allow you to cook.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
There are three different types of grills that you will find when you are shopping. One kind is the kettle grill, followed by the barrel grill, and finally the ceramic grills.
Kettle grills are normally the least expensive option out of the three. They are highly portable so you can move them around your yard or bring them with you if you are planning on tailgating or camping. These units are also an excellent choice for when you are cooking meats that don't have a long cooking time such as hamburgers. The kettle grill is perfect for cooking for a small group and when you need something that is inexpensive.
A barrel grill is a better quality grill than the kettle grill. These units are much larger and are perfect when you need to cook for a larger party of people. Many of these units also double smokers, so you also have the option to cook your food slowing using this type of grill. This makes them into a great option for cooking beef brisket or pork loins. Just because this grill is good at cooking larger food items does not mean it will not still cook the same food that kettle grills do, like hamburgers!
Finally, there are the ceramic grills, which is the highest quality of the three. This grill is shaped to look like an egg. They are based on a Japanese design that uses heat efficiently. They have thick walls and seal perfectly so that heat and smoke do not escape from the cooker. You can cook just about any kind of food in this style of grill due to its design. However, due to this cooker have additional features the other two styles do not have, this grill usually comes at a higher price.
When you are planning to cook outdoors on the grill, you are going to need to think about the size. The size matters because it will determine how much food you can cook and if you will be easily able to transport the grill from one place to another. A larger unit will naturally cook more food than a smaller one. If you are planning on cooking for a larger group of people, then you are going to need a bigger unit. On the other hand, if you only plan on cooking for yourself and doing a lot of traveling, then you are going to want to own a unit that is smaller in size and weighs less.
When you are considering the size, you are going to want to think about the overall cooking surface. The cooking surface is going to determine how much food you can cook at a time. Additionally, the cooking surface is going to matter if you are cooking over indirect heat. Sometimes you want to do this since it will reduce the number of flare-ups that your food will get exposed to while you are cooking. If your cooking surface is small, then you are unlikely to be able to cook your food indirectly.
When you are planning on cooking for large groups of people or need to cook over indirect heat, then you are going to want to have a larger cooking surface. If you need something that is portable and you only plan on cooking for a small group of people, then it's fine to have a smaller cooking surface. Most manufacturers give the cooking surface in square inches which will give you an idea of how much you can cook at a time.
It's not always easy to control your temperatures when you are cooking over coal. Unlike gas, once coals are lit there is no way to increase or decrease the combustion which means you are usually stuck at a temperature that remains constant. Well-designed charcoal grills will provide you with some temperature control options but it is going to take practice in order to get the proper cooking temperatures, regardless of how many features are built into the grill.
One of the first things that you will want to look for if you need temperature control is a temperature gauge that tells you how warm it is inside of the unit. You can't manage what you can't measure so if you don't know how hot it is inside then it's going to be challenging to get the proper cooking temperatures. Many premium units have a thermometer built into the lid. If the grill you decide to purchase does not come with one, there is the option to buy a thermometer separately as well.
In terms of managing the temperature, you are also going to want to look for adjustable grates and vents. Vents open walls on the grill, allowing more oxygen into the cooking area. More oxygen will cause the fire to burn hotter. You can use the vents to control the rate of combustion and ultimately control the temperature. Adjustable grates let you move the food towards or away from the fire. As the food gets closer to the coals, you will expose it to more heat while moving the food away from the coals will take it away from the heat. You should always look for these two features if you require temperature control in your charcoal grill.
Burning coal creates ash which you are going to have to remove every time you use your grill. Additionally, you are going to need to clean the grates between uses in order to remove any grease or leftovers from the food that got stuck on them. The amount of effort that you will need in order to clean up your grill after use will be a factor in deciding what unit you should ultimately purchase. Ideally, you are going to want to look for something that is easy to clean as to waste less time washing the unit after you are done using it.
Removing the ashes can be a chore in some units. A well-designed grill will have an ash basket or a try that is removable so that you can empty it. These are normally located on the bottom of the unit so that all of the ashes fall into it when the coals have fully burned out. Not only should the grill have an ash catching system, but it also needs to be easy to use. You do not want it to be loose and fall out when you move the grill and it also should be easy to remove and empty when you have finished.
The grates are the other piece that needs to get cleaned between uses. Once again, you will want to make sure that they can be removed and cleaned easily. There should not be any complicated locking mechanisms that hold the grates in place and they should not be so heavy that they are difficult to take out. Additionally, the grates should be non-stick so that you only need to wipe them off with a little effort when you go to clean them.
The more that you plan on spending on your grill, the more you will want to insist on quality. The overall quality of the grill can also play a key role in safety. You always want to look for signs of quality when you are shopping for a grill in order to make sure that you get a unit that is well designed and will last a long time.
One of the biggest safety issues is the risk of the grill tipping over when it is lit. If the grill falls over, there is a chance that the burning coals can spill out and cause a fire. For this reason, you need to make sure that the legs are durable. They need to be sturdy and the entire grill should have a low center of gravity so that it does not fall over. If you see legs that are loose or disproportionate, then you should not purchase the grill.
The paint is another common quality issue that many people experience and is worth mentioning. Paint is used to protect the metal parts from corrosion and rust. However, as it is exposed to heat, it can dry out and start to chip. This can lead to paint chips getting into your food which can lead to you eating contaminated food. High-quality units will either not use paint or they will use a paint that is designed to be exposed to high temperatures. This will help to keep harmful paint chips out of your food and also help the grill to last for a longer period of time.
Top 10 Picks
1. PK Smoker Combo
Here is a great option for when you want to add additional smoke flavor to your food. It has a unique shape that offers multiple vents that so that you can cook your food on the high or low heat. This gives you the choice between cooking quickly or just slow cooking your food in a nice smokey chamber over the course of several hours.
The cooking part detaches from the stand easily so that you can take it with you when you are on the go. This makes it a great choice for patio or camping cooking.
Large Cooking Surface
The cooking surface has three hundred square inches so you have more than enough room to lay out your food and cook for an entire party of people or just for yourself.
Cost and Value
This product is sold at a price that is much higher than the average price. The higher price is due to it being a premium product that is long lasting.
2. Weber 14401001
Weber is a name that has long been associated with premium outdoor cooking. This round grill lives up to expectations. It has a large cooking area that allows for you to cook for an entire group of people plus it has been designed to avoid rusting should it get exposed to the rain. You will also love how easy it is to clean.
There is a container located at the bottom where the ashes can fall into which makes it really easy to empty out the ashes when you have finished using it.
The handles are made of fiberglass reinforced nylon that will stay cool while you are cooking allowing you to open the cover without having to worry about burning your hands.
Cost and Value
You will find this item sold at a price that is considered to be average. The average price makes it into an excellent value since you get a great unit without overspending on it.
3. Lodge L410
Sometimes you just need something small that it is easy to carry to a campsite. The Lodge L410 is a great option for meeting such a need since it is small and lightweight at the same time. You can adjust the grates to two different heights so that you can control your temperatures easily and it also has a draft door for temperature control as well.
There is a draft door that you can adjust so that you can control your cooking temperatures. This helps you keep your food from getting burned while you are cooking it.
You can put the grates in two different positions. The higher position will allow for cooler cooking temperatures while the lower position is for cooking at higher temperatures so this lets you control your cooking temperatures.
Cost and Value
You will find the Lodge L410 sold at a price that is much lower than the average price due to the fact that it is a small and portable unit.
4. Weber 15501001
Sometimes it can be a pain to light the coals which is why Weber has your back with this unit. One of the best features is the electronic ignition system that uses electricity to get your coals started. This makes it as convenient to use as a gas grill and is a dream come true for many people who love to cook with coal.
Electronic Touch and Go
The unit has an electronic system that uses electricity to light gas which ignites the coals. This makes it really easy for you to light the coals when you are ready to cook.
LCD Cook Timer
There is a cooking timer that is built into the stand which allows you to set your food on a timer. This makes it really easy to put your food on and check on it later.
Cost and Value
You will notice that the Performer Deluxe is sold at a price that is much higher than the average price due to the fact that it is a premium product.
5. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared
Char-Broil makes a simple unit that turns grilling into a breeze. You will be able to cook for an entire group of people in the large cooking area. There is a thermometer in the lid which helps you monitor and control the temperature. All of the ashes collect in a bowl on the bottom so it's nice and easy to clean up when you are finished.
The lid has a thermometer built into it so that you can watch the internal temperatures of the grill while you are cooking. This helps you cook your food to the proper temperature.
Porcelain Coated Grate
The cooking grates have been coated with porcelain so that food stays on top of them. The grates also help to prevent grill flare-ups that can burn your food.
Cost and Value
You will find this item sold at a price that is slightly below the average price. The lower selling price turns it into an excellent value since you get a great unit without having to spend much.
6. Titan Attachments
This is a replica of the type of grills that you tend to see at public parks. You can mount it directly into the ground and it is heavy duty so you won't need to worry about it rusting in the rain. The cooking unit swivels in all directions which allows you to get the right angle when you are setting it up.
There are four different positions for the grate so that you can get the right cooking temperatures. This lets you cook your food to perfect so that you can have the best taste.
39 Inch Post
The post is 39 inches tall which will put the unit at the proper height for easy cooking. You can also mount the post directly into the ground so that it can't be stolen.
Cost and Value
You will find this product sold at a price that is higher than the average price. The higher price is due to it being made of heavy-duty metal that is durable in the weather.
7. Old Smokey Charcoal #22
You can turn to Old Smokey for when you need something that is portable. This grill is perfect to have at your campsite or even when you just want to cook out on your patio. It resists weather and rain since it is made of steel that has been coated with aluminum so you won't need to worry about it developing rust due to a spring rain.
The entire unit only weighs 22 pounds so you will not have any issues when you need to carry it from one location to another. This makes it great for tailgating.
The fire is low which helps you cook your food at a consistent temperature. This will help keep you from overcooking or even burning your food so it will taste great.
Cost and Value
You will find the Old Smokey sold at a price that is lower than the average price due to the fact that it is a small and portable unit that costs less to make.
8. Char-Griller 2-2424
The Char-Griller is a small and portable unit that you can put on top of a table or you can even use it has a Texas-style smoker. You will love how easy it is to clean when you are done since it has an ash pan that can be removed from the unit. It is also durable and made of heavy duty steel.
You can use it as a grill or you permanently convert it into a firebox on the side so that it can be used as a smoker instead of a grill.
Cast Iron Grates
The cooking grates are made of cast iron. Cast iron distributes heat well and it is long lasting which allows you to cook your food for years at a time.
Cost and Value
You will find the Char-Griller 2-2424 sold at a price that is lower than the average price. The low price is due to the small size of the unit which costs less to make.
9. Char-Griller 2828
This is a great choice for something to use on your patio. The rack on the unit is large and has 580 square inches which let you cook for an entire party of people. You can easily dump out the ashes when you are finished so it's easy to clean up when you have finished cooking your food on it.
The stand is made of tubular metal and has a pair of wheels on it. This makes it easy to roll out the unit when you are ready to start cooking.
There is a thermometer that is built into the lid. You will have no trouble keeping an eye on your temperatures while you are cooking with this grill thanks to the thermometer.
Cost and Value
You will find this item sold at a price that is well below the average price. The lower price turns it into a bargain buy since you won't overspend on it.
10. Kingsford OGD2001901
Sometimes you only need the basics and that is what you will find with this Kettle Grill by Kingsford. It has a large cooking area so that you can cook a large meal for yourself or even cook for a group of people. There is a rack on the bottom where you can store your utensils when you are not using it.
It comes with a warming rack so that you can keep finished food warm while you are cooking the rest of the food. It's also great for toasting buns or bread.
You can use the air vents to control your temperatures. The air vents are a great way to keep your food from getting over cooking since you can keep your temperatures down.
Cost and Value
You will find this item sold at a price that is much lower than the average price. The low price turns it into a bargain buy since you won't have to spend much on it.