Grilling is one of the great pastimes of outdoor cooking, and one you don’t want to miss out on. Think about all the delicious meals you can whip up, all while basking in the fresh air and spending some time with your family and friends.
It’s time to get with the program and get yourself a grill — a charcoal grill, specifically (we’ll tell you why they’re so great in just a bit). And thankfully, we’re here to help you pick out the perfect one for your outdoor space. You’re welcome.
What to consider
Charcoal grills come in many different forms, which means that you have plenty of options when picking one out for your home — which, let’s be honest, can do more harm than good at times. With more choices, comes more stressing over choosing the wrong one.
Try to stay grounded while you shop, remember one thing: Just because it’s the most expensive, doesn’t mean it’s the best grill for you. It’s all about matching your personal needs and space, and that super pricey grill with all the fun gadgets attached to it might not make you as happy as the budget grill that gets the job done just as well.
What to consider when shopping for your new charcoal grill
Size: Not just the amount of physical space it takes up (which is still important), but also take note of the amount of total cooking space. How much food do you normally cook at once? Are you regularly feeding a whole family? The more food, the more surface area you’ll want.
Shape: Seriously, the shape of your charcoal grill matters. Normally, charcoal grills come in a more rounded shape, which helps center the coals and direct heat to a concentrated point on the grate. But that’s the classic way of doing it — lots of charcoal grills now come in shapes and sizes that more closely mirror their gas-powered counterparts, allowing for more surface area and heat points. There’s also a bit of familiarity with these types of grills for those who are used to using a gas version. Both are good, but are used differently, so consider your cooking skills as well.
Versatility and extra features: This can range anywhere from temperature regulation vents, to side shelves, to warming racks, to built-in rotisseries, to equipment storage, and more. It’ll all come down to what you see as necessary, and what you see as superfluous.
Get those three priorities in check, and you’ve already done most of the work when it comes to finding your forever grill.
Charcoal grills vs. gas grills
The debate over which grill you should buy — either gas or charcoal — is never-ending, and one that has no definitive answer.
The “answer” to that question will depend on where your priorities lie — convenience or flavor? Gas grills are all about the former (as well as helpful features that many charcoal grills just don’t have). You can light them immediately, and they’re normally ready to cook on within minutes. With a charcoal grill, it’s a different story. These generally take 20 to 30 minutes to start up, which can be frustrating if patience isn’t your strong suit.
If you’re willing to wait, you’ll be rewarded. Many pro grillers say that cooking with a charcoal grill helps you retain a smoky flavor, resulting in a better tasting final result. Gas grills usually end up vaporizing a lot of that flavor, even though it gets the job done more quickly.
Gas grills are naturally more versatile and easier to operate, but that’s not to say that charcoal grills don’t have their helpful perks as well. Gas grills allow you to more meticulously control the temperature of your cooking surface with numbered knobs, while charcoal grills employ an adjustable vent that requires a little bit of finesse. You’ll end up paying more for a gas grill, and buying charcoal is a whole lot easier than refilling your propane tank in terms of availability.
You can’t really go wrong, though. Consider your cooking style, budget, and taste preference, then make an informed decision. Don’t stress over it — it’s just food after all — and both will give you the opportunity to be outside and get grilling.
So, what’s the best charcoal grill?
We’re happy to help answer that for you — below are our top picks for the very best charcoal grills you can order online.
BEST WEBER UPGRADE
Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill
If you have a big backyard or are used to feeding a crowd, the Weber Performer Deluxe is a great upgrade to the Original Kettle for its added workspace and premium features.
BEST PORTABLE CHARCOAL GRILL
Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill
Who knows when you’ll have to whip out the grill? The Lodge Sportsman’s grill is effortlessly portable, and is well-suited for beginners and those with limited outdoor space.
BEST CART-STYLE CHARCOAL GRILL
Char-Griller Legacy Charcoal Grill
If you like the cart-style design of most gas grills but the flavor of charcoal, the Char-Griller Legacy will probably be your best bet.
AN EQUALLY GOOD CART-STYLE OPTION
KitchenAid Cart-Style Charcoal Grill
If you’re okay with giving up the features of the Char-Griller in exchange for the durability of the KitchenAid, this cart-style option is another great choice.
BEST ROTISSERIE CHARCOAL GRILL
Everdure Fusion Charcoal Grill
If you have the patience and passion for rotisserie cooking, the Everdure Fusion charcoal grill is worth your consideration.
BEST WALLET-FRIENDLY CHARCOAL GRILL
Nexgrill Cart-Style Charcoal Grill
You won’t be disappointed with the features and performance that Nexgrill offers at such a low price point.