Best charcoal grills: make delicious smokey favorites in your own backyard

The best charcoal grills are the ticket to delicious, smokey food, and we've chosen our favorites

Royal Gourmet 24-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill
(Image credit: Royal Gourmet)

The summer months are the best time to dust off that apron and indulge in the mouthwateringly smokey flavor of perfectly grilled food, and the best charcoal grills can help you do this. Ideal for creating that distinctive, authentic taste that we all associate with backyard barbecues, the good news is that there is an amazing choice of charcoal grills on the market today.

The models of this list cater to different needs and budgets, so whether you need a grill that's portable, budget-friendly, or with hybrid features, we've got you covered. Our comprehensive review process takes into account performance, design, and value for money, and we will provide star ratings for the grills we've had hands-on experience with.

As we all probably know, not all grills are created equal, and some are better suited for certain tasks than others. And if you're not set on using charcoal, the best gas grills can also be a great option, especially if you value convenience and control over maximum flavor. Then again, with so many different models available, why limit yourself? Fortunately, our guide to the best grills can help you narrow down your options across charcoal, pellet, and gas grills.

Best charcoal grills: Quick picks

The best charcoal grills in 2024

Livingetc knows design. We spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, bringing only our edit of the very best to you. Find out more about how we review.

Best portable charcoal grill

1. Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Best portable charcoal grill

Specifications

Cooking area: 160 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: Yes
Dimensions: H15 x W19.5 x D11.5in

Reasons to buy

+
Small, lightweight, and portable
+
Adjustable dampers for better temperature control
+
Good quality materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited cooking space
-
Lack of a built-in thermometer
-
Cleaning could be easier

The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is portable, compact, and lightweight, making it perfect for activities like camping, picnics, or tailgating. The adjustable dampers allow for precise temperature control, and the durable construction and quality materials ensure it will last for a long time.

The cooking space is limited compared to larger grills, however, and it lacks certain features you might expect, like a built-in thermometer. Still, it's large enough for about four average-sized steaks and comes fully assembled straight out of the box. Because it's portable, it's easy to transport, and the lockable lid and foldable legs make things more secure.

While testing, we found that the Go-Anywhere would be perfect for those who don't have much space. It was easily assembled and could cook pretty much anything a larger grill could, with a more generous cooking area than many other portable models. It was also easy to clean - though make sure not to scratch the plate by using a scourer!

During our time with the Weber grill, we cooked everything from burgers to chicken wings, and the meat was always succulent and crispy with an incredible taste. Users agree with us, too, as it has been praised for its simplicity and affordability, though some wanted more cooking space.

Livingetc rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Best compact charcoal grill

2. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Fusion Charcoal Grill

Best compact charcoal grill

Specifications

Cooking area: 246 in²
Ash catcher? : No
Portable?: No
Dimensions: H35 x W16 x D29in

Reasons to buy

+
Fast Flame Ignition System for fast lighting
+
Built-in rotisserie system
+
High-quality materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Cooking space limited compared to other grills
-
Expensive
-
Lacks an ash-catcher or built-in thermometer

The Everdure Fusion Charcoal Grill is built with a built-in rotisserie system and quick electronic ignition that makes grilling super simple. It's made from durable materials such as enamel-coated cast iron and stainless steel, and it can reach high temperatures for fast cooking. It is slightly more expensive than some other models, but its style and quality could justify it.

Despite its durability and inclusion of additional features like a built-in rotisserie system, this model lacks cooking space for the price.

Still, when testing, we found the Fusion to be really versatile, offering the convenience of electric controls with the classic experience of cooking with charcoal, and its sturdy design made it ideal for outdoor parties and simple family BBQs. The downsides included uneven heating and a slightly wobbly construction, but we achieved delicious smoky ribs and baby peppers in under 30 minutes. Cleaning was also simple, using mild household detergent and a clean cloth.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Best hybrid grill

3. Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill

Best hybrid grill

Specifications

Cooking area: 540 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: Yes
Dimensions: H47.5 x W52.5 x D24.6in

Reasons to buy

+
Gas and charcoal grilling in one
+
Easy to transition between cooking modes
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Cooking grates could be better quality

The Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill is an outdoor cooking solution that allows you to get the best of both gas and charcoal. There are three gas burners along with the charcoal tray, and the grill has a cooking surface of 540in² with a warming rack for toasting. It also has wheels for easy transportation and a removable grease tray to make cleaning less of a hassle.

The handy arms are great for storing things like plates and utensils, as well as the charcoal tray when it's not being used. Assembly was completed in about two hours with thorough instructions provided, and we were particularly impressed by how quickly and effortlessly the side burner worked.

Considering its price point, the Gas2Coal is even more appealing. It's easy to switch between gas and charcoal modes, too, simply removing the gas burner tents and inserting the charcoal tray underneath the grates.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Best kamado-style grill

4. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Best kamado-style grill

Specifications

Cooking area: 447 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: No
Dimensions: H47 x W31 x D45in

Reasons to buy

+
Kamado design allows for grilling, smoking, and roasting
+
Good temperature control
+
Porcelain-coated interior good for retaining heat
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult assembly
-
Slightly limited cooking area

Whether you want to grill, smoke, bake, or sear, the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill is a solid choice. With 22-gauge steel and a powder-coated finish, this Kamado grill is even fuel-efficient because of its triple-walled insulation keeping heat uniform.

The cast iron cooking grate means it's easy to clean, and the temperature gauge lets you keep track of the cooking temperature. Plus, it comes with fold-down side shelves and a wheeled base for easy maneuverability. We tested the grill and found it perfect for cooking a variety of foods.

The Akorn Kamado has a large cooking surface of 447in², so you can cook big meals, but it doesn't heat up as quickly as other charcoal grills. That said, it's easy to light with a fire starter or lighter fluid, and once the grill is heated, the digital display allows for precise temperature control. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, so you can even control it with your phone. It does require some tricky assembly, and the instructions aren't perfect, but once it's set up, it's easy to use.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A great all-in-one option

A great all-in-one option

Specifications

Cooking area: 1260 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: No
Dimensions: H50 x W60 x D25in

Reasons to buy

+
Gas and charcoal cooking in one
+
Good sized cooking area
+
Solid construction with durable materials
+
Adjustable dampers for better temperature control

Reasons to avoid

-
Time-consuming assembly

The Char-Griller Duo 5050 Gas & Charcoal Grill is a versatile outdoor cooking appliance with a dual-function grill system that allows you to cook with either propane gas or charcoal - perfect for outdoor cooks of all kinds. There is also plenty of space for small or large groups, with a massive 1260in² of cooking surface.

The Char-Griller Duo 5050 Gas and Charcoal Grill comes with a side burner, and the porcelain-coated cast iron grates are protected against the elements by a powder-coated steel construction. It got a little too hot the first time we cooked on the grill, but its barrel shape and steel body were very effective at holding the heat in.

Assembly issues included incomplete screw holes and burrs, but instructions were overall easy to follow. All in all, we found the Char-Griller Duo Combo Grill to be really flexible, allowing us to cook quickly using the gas setting or slowly grill burgers on the charcoal side.

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full Char-Griller Duo Combo Grill review

A slick portable option

6. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal CUBE Charcoal Grill

A slick portable option

Specifications

Surface area: 115 in²
Ash catcher?: No
Portable? : Yes
Dimensions: H9.1 x W16.7 x D13.7in

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and portable design
+
Fast ignition system
+
Ceramic materials good for retaining heat
+
Various colors available

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller cooking area
-
Higher price than other portable charcoal models

Those who want a stylish, high-quality, and portable grill that's easy to use and transport will probably enjoy the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube. We love the sleek, modern steel construction, and the airflow control feature also allows for precise temperature control, so your charcoal can be used efficiently.

The heat protection shield keeps external surfaces cool to the touch, allowing for easy portability, and during testing, we found that the Everdure Cube would be a must-have companion for all of our outdoor activities, such as camping, tailgating, and picnics.

The removable charcoal tray makes cleaning easy post-grilling, and the built-in food-grade storage tray doubles as a preparation surface. While it's admittedly a bit pricey for its size, the grill is built to last and is perfect for small spaces such as balconies, terraces, or tiny patios.

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Best kettle-style charcoal grill

7. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Best kettle-style charcoal grill

Specifications

Cooking area: 363 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: No
Dimensions: H39.5 x W22.5 x D27in

Reasons to buy

+
Iconic design
+
High-quality materials
+
Adjustable dampers for temperature control
+
Good-sized cooking area for kettle design

Reasons to avoid

-
Assembly may be tricky
-
No room for additional features

The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill has an iconic design with a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl that can retain heat and ensure food is perfectly cooked. The plated-steel cooking grates are both durable and easy to clean, and we love the built-in thermometer and one-touch cleaning system.

The hinged cooking grate is good for adding fuel, and you'll get solid, reliable performance whether you're cooking burgers, gourmet steaks, or veggies. There's a spacious cooking area to grill several different foods at the same time, and though assembly could be easier, the end result will please even the fussiest chefs.

A great all-rounder

8. Royal Gourmet 24-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill

A great all-rounder

Specifications

Cooking area: 393 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: No
Dimensions: H47.2 x W49.6 x D24in

Reasons to buy

+
Large cooking area
+
Adjustable charcoal pan
+
Durable materials and steel shelf underneath

Reasons to avoid

-
Time-consuming assembly
-
Not as many features as some high-end grills

With a main cooking area of 393in², when taking into account the primary zone and the warming rack, grillers are unlikely to be disappointed with the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill. The adjustable charcoal tray and porcelain-enameled warming rack with heat-resistant handles add ease to the process as well as convenience, and a bottom shelf is great for storing utensils and other supplies.

The built-in thermometer is super-helpful for monitoring the internal temperature without opening the lid, and customers rate the product's durability and versatility, as well as its ability to maintain consistent temperatures while cooking. For a good all-around charcoal grill, this could be a great choice.

Best smart charcoal grill

9. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal 4K Charcoal Grill

Best smart charcoal grill

Specifications

Cooking area: 430 in²
Ash catcher?: Yes
Portable?: No
Dimensions: H45 x W21 x D27in