When you think of warm weather, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe trips to the beach, a tasty ice cream cone, or possibly an air-conditioned sunroom. Grilling is also at the top of the list, but without the right equipment, your meals won't be nearly as flavorful as they should be.
When it comes to the best charcoal grill of 2021, one size (or design) does not fit all. For instance, if you don't have a lot of outdoor space to work with, a small portable charcoal grill is likely more practical than a 30-inch-wide grate with shelves on either side. And experienced grillers might favor a gas and charcoal grill combo over plain charcoal since multiple fuel sources provide a greater variety of cooking options.
For those on a budget, this 18-inch charcoal grill from Amazon is less than $60, and according to one reviewer, it's "as good as the ones" they use in their own restaurants. If you're on the hunt for a beautiful stainless-steel appliance to complement your backyard patio, this one by Dyna-Glo, which is available at Lowe's, has a 4.8-star rating, with shoppers writing that it's extremely user-friendly. "My husband and I love the charcoal lever to control heat, and being able to add charcoal or wood with ease makes this a great combo for us!" one satisfied customer commented.
Explore our picks for the best charcoal grills, below. Once you find your ideal appliance, head over to our grilling guide for recipes, tips, and must-have tools.
This smoker has two plated-steel cooking grates and a porcelain-enameled water pan for producing flavorful and tender high-humidity slow-cooks. The lid is equipped with a built-in thermometer for easy monitoring and the large aluminum fuel door makes adding more charcoal a breeze.
Buy It: Weber 18-Inch Smokey Mountain Charcoal Vertical Smoker ($329, Lowe’s)
At less than 13 inches wide, this charcoal grill is compact enough to bring with you, whether you’re going on a camping trip or attending a tailgate. The removable lid features a handle for hassle-free maneuvering and the powder-coated firebox is built to last through years of barbecues.
Buy It: Permasteel 12.5-Inch Square Portable Charcoal Grill ($46, Lowe's)
This double grill features one side that utilizes charcoal and another side that's fueled by liquid propane, allowing you to cook food exactly to your liking using a variety of methods. The stainless-steel appliance features three burners, several porcelain cast-iron grates, two side tables, and a convenient warming rack. Plus, it has wheels so you can move it wherever you like.
Buy It: Royal Gourmet Corp Performance 3-Burner Propane Gas and Charcoal Grill, $400 (originally $450), Wayfair
For less than $60, this charcoal grill offers impressive features, including adjustable air vents, an ash collector, and a heat-resistant handle. With an 18-inch cooking surface, you can easily prepare food for the entire family, and the side wheels come in handy if you need to move the grill.
If your outdoor space is limited, this portable 14.5-inch model lets you grill without taking up too much room. For safety and cleanliness, the small charcoal grill comes with an aluminum ash catcher, so you can enjoy cooking up delicious meals and not worry about making a mess.
Buy It: Weber 14.5-Inch Smokey Joe Portable Charcoal Grill, $35 (originally $40), Wayfair
The fire bowl in the middle of this 4-foot-deep table can hold charcoal or wood, and the pit comes with a grill grate as well as a mesh lid to prevent sparks from escaping. When you’re not cooking, burn some wood in the iron base to create a cozy fire or turn it into a makeshift cooler by filling it with ice.
This stainless-steel grill has a number of features that set it above other models, including a smokestack with an adjustable flue that helps control the temperature inside. The unit also comes with two side shelves, a warming rack, and a cast-iron and steel access door for refilling charcoal.
This heavy-duty appliance’s 30-inch cast-iron cooking grate has room for 21 burgers, 37 sausages, or four racks of ribs. It comes with a smokestack and two adjustable vents for superior temperature control, and the charcoal basket can be raised or lowered depending on the type of food you’re grilling.
This portable charcoal grill can be placed on any tabletop thanks to its removable cork base, which also acts as a lid. The detachable carrying strap makes it easy to transport the unit to the beach or a backyard party, and the adjustable airflow system along the bottom of the fire basket allows for safe and effective grilling.
All it takes to light the charcoal in this grill is the push of a button. The 24-inch porcelain-enameled bowl is attached to a stainless-steel tabletop that can be used to prepare your food, and a wire basket underneath provides storage for items such as tongs and marinating brushes.