The 10 Best Charcoal Grills | Ultimate 2021 Guide

I love all grilling but the taste of charcoal has a special place in my heart.

It is what a grew up on and my dad swears by it. He would never be caught firing up a gas grill.

Every family holiday he piles up the briquets, lays on some lighter fluid, and ignites those bad boys.

Whether it is tri-tip, pork loin, shish kabob or burgers the taste is miles above a gas grill.

Final Sear

The Final Sear: The Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill is my favorite grill in this category. Packing 22-inch diameter porcelain-enameled bowl and lid with a cooking area of 363 square inches of cooking area, this thing is a beast. This more versatile version of the kettle classic is hard to beat.

Charcoal grills also last forever, my dad grills on the same Weber kettle he’s owned for decades. If you are willing to do a little extra work with a charcoal grill is well worth it. Slow life down a bit and build your bed of coals.

The 10 Best Charcoal Grills in 2021

  • PK Grills Original Outdoor Charcoal Grill & Smoker
    Product Name
  • 4.7Rating
  • 300 sq. inCooking Area
  • 35 x 16.5 x 35 inDimensions
  • $$Price
  • Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill
    Product Name
  • 4.6Rating
  • 363 sq. in.Cooking Area
  • 43.5 x 48 x 30 inDimensions
  • $$Price
  • Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker
    Product Name
  • 3.8Rating
  • 447 sq. inCooking Area
  • 26.6 x 24.8 x 21.6 inDimensions
  • $$Price

1. Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, 22-inch, Black

What is better than a pile of steaks on the grill? Those same steaks on THIS charcoal grill. Weber is a staple in the top 3 spots on the gas grill lists on our site, but not surprisingly, they also deliver the top charcoal option.

If you grew up with the space-ship looking-Weber grill as a staple in your backyard, this will look a little familiar. Weber kept the rounded classic charcoal grill shape but added a bunch of storage and prep space.

The 363 square inch cooking surface on the Performer Deluxe is spacious enough for you to show off your grilling expertise and grill for a crowd, without dominating your backyard space. A removable backlit LCD timer takes all of the guesswork out of pre-heating, while the built-in thermometer on the lid helps you to maintain the perfect grilling temperature. The extended side table provides the perfect amount of space to prep food beforehand, or to stockpile plates for when it’s dishing up time.

With the extended table and convenient Charbin charcoal storage container, everything needed for a great grilling session is tidily encompassed in the grill itself, no add-ons required. This 43.5-inch by 48-inch powerhouse can be assembled in less than hour and is stable and strong enough to roll around even when lit.

A simple, yet effective One-Touch cleaning system makes for hassle-free clean up and prevents ash and burning embers from being carried away by the wind. There’s no need to lift the lid to keep the temperature regulated, you can simply adjust the dampers to increase or lessen airflow to the coals. Closing the dampers completely will help to extinguish the coals quickly and safely when you’re all finished.

Starting the Weber is also significantly easier than you’ll remember from the old school charcoal grills, Weber has incorporated a one-touch ignition system, much like what you’ll find on their line up of gas grills. I really love the convenience of this.

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature that Weber offers is that this grill was built with durability and quality in mind so you won’t have to look for a replacement for YEARS. Weber is a brand known for quality and while the price point is inevitably a bit higher, the long-term value is really worth the extra initial splurge.

2. PK Grills Original Outdoor Charcoal Grill & Smoker

Calling all serious charcoal-grilling enthusiasts! This one is for you. We have found a grill that is strong and sturdy, mobile enough to roll around on the deck or over the lawn and versatile enough to satisfy every grilling whim.

Welcome to the PK Original! It’s well made and compact with an added smoker if you’re feeling wild. It can easily be packed up and taken along on a road trip or tailgating event with the cooking section easily detachable from the aluminium frame, making assembly quick and hassle-free. No more settling for a hopeless campsite grill.

The lightweight aluminium material conducts heat evenly and efficiently, thanks to its pod-like shape. It is also especially precise, allowing you to really dial in the cook on a pile of steaks. Four vents enable you to grill hot and fast or low and leisurely.

You can also play around with the indirect heat and infuse your meat with fragrant smoke if you’re into using the smoker feature. The 4-point venting system allows for dual-zone cooking. The PK also stays hot for a decent amount of time, which makes it great when grilling for a horde of hungry tummies.

When you are done grilling, simply close all of the vents and dampers, and leave it to cool down. Any unburned lumps of coal can easily be re-used, making it super cost effective.

The lower cart shelf is a nice addition for storing tools and dining accessories while you’re churning out the goods and the slim side shelf provides just enough space to do a little prep or finishing work. Because of its more compact size, especially tall grillers might find the slightly lower height a bit of an annoyance but this is more of an edge case situation. I’m about 6’0’’ and see no issue with it.

3. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker

A match made in heaven for any meat master, this Kamado-style grill allows you to beautifully sear your meat at a mega high heat and then gently slow roast it to juicy perfection.

Top and bottom adjustable dampers provide and maintain an even airflow while cooking or smoking.  You can alternate between using the top or bottom dampers to achieve just the right amount heat and beautifully flavoured smoke.

Although the insulation allows you to comfortably hold your hand above the grill, always practise caution when opening or closing the dampers because the built up heat is no joke.

The walls of the grill are triple insulated 22 gauge steel and will easily maintain temperatures ranging from 200 -700 degrees Fahrenheit.  A huge 314 square inch cast iron cooking grate adds to the solid steel construction, and also gives your meat those professional grill lines.

For larger groups, the 133 square inch, removable warming rack will keep meat warm even in the chilliest of weather situations.

The folding side shelf with utensil hooks allows you to store utensils or prep food while you’re cooking.  When not in use, the table conveniently folds out of the way.  A dump pan makes it super easy to clean up ash and keep floating embers at bay.

The grill itself is heavy duty and the stand offers two large, 8-inch wheels that lock tightly to prevent your grill from rolling away on you.

Thanks to its unique encapsulated ‘acorn’ shape, insulation is optimized, though keep in mind reducing temperatures takes a little longer because it is so well designed to maintain a stable heat level. This means you’re burning through less charcoal and enjoying a higher level of efficiency.

On top of all that, it gives you the convenience of a convection oven, so not only can you smoke some serious brisket in there, you can also cook up a nice pizza or tasty cobbler.

4. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Hands down the most user-friendly charcoal grill around, if you’re new to charcoal, the Weber Kettle is the classic standard for weekend warriors.

It is the perfect housewarming gift for a first time apartment or starter home or a perfect pick for first time buyers.  Although this grill now boasts a few newer features, it is still a straight forward, no mess no fuss charcoal grill.

The One-Touch cleaning system allows you to sweep the debris into a large, removable ash bin which makes for quick clean up.  You can also control the temperature of the grill without lifting the lid and losing valuable heat, just adjust the dampers to find a temperature that suits your grilling needs and when you’re done, simply close them completely to extinguish the coals.

A hinged cooking grate allows you to add more charcoal while grilling and is easy to clean.  The durable wheels make it easy to move this light weight grill to your favourite spot and the angled lid hook holds your lid, leaving both hands free to flip or turn your meat. The lid also has a heat shield to prevent it from getting too hot to handle.

If you are thinking of turning to Weber for all of your grilling needs, this would be the perfect grill to start with.  No bells and whistles, just good old fashioned grilling made easy.

5. Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker

Royal Gourmet is one of our favorite affordable brands in the gas grill category and they offer a great larger charcoal option for those of you looking for some extra space.

The RG is easy to assemble and lightweight, with two wheels for easy transport around the yard or patio.  The two storage racks provide ample storage space for grilling tools or extra charcoal.   A combination of an off-set smoker and charcoal grill allows amateur grillers the chance to experience the best of both worlds without being overwhelmed by too many fancy features. It is also roomy, offering up about 800 square inches.

The lid includes an easy-to-read thermometer to help you control the grill temperature. This is a great feature to help newbies gain more confidence around the grill.  An adjustable vent allows for better air flow and heat control.

An added bonus feature is the adjustable charcoal pan which allows you to lower or lift your cooking grate to the desired height.  This is an excellent inexpensive grill to figure out your grill likes and dislikes before eventually upgrading to a more expensive luxury model.

6. KamadoJoe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Once the charcoal is lit on this fiery red grill, nothing short of a tornado will put it out.

Kamado-style grills are known for high, even and consistent heat and this little powerhouse definitely lives up to that hype. Use the adjustable dampers to find your preferred temperature and you’re ready to grill.  It’s that straightforward.

The slide in drawer can hold a full load of ash and makes clean up quick and easy.  Slide the drawer out, dump the ashes and slide it back into the grill

The Divide and Conquer system allows you to cook everything on one level or to split the levels into an upper and lower half.  This system will allow you to use either direct and indirect heat when grilling or searing meat.

The lid has a built in thermometer to help you keep a close eye on the temperature and two sturdy side tables provide you with place for utensils and tools while grilling.  This grill is slightly heavier than most so you might want to think about how mobile you need your grill to be.  Heaviness equals sturdiness and this is a solid and durable beast of a grill. We suggest enlisting a buddy to assist you with the initial assembly.

7. Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

If it is simplicity you are after, this kettle grill is a classic. With a main cooking area of 363 square inches, you will still have the same amount of grilling space as with the Original Kettle Grill, but this model does not come with a built in thermometer or hinged cooking grates.

Weber sells a variety of accessories which you can add to this grill or any other Weber product.  Don’t underestimate this charcoal grill because of the lack of special features; it was designed to suit all of your grilling needs while being kind to your wallet.

This grill is made for the griller who doesn’t need any bells or whistles to produce juicy, tender meat.   The One-Touch cleaning system makes ash clean-up quick and easy and the porcelain-enamelled lid and bowl will not rust or peel.

An excellent sized grill for a family of two, it can still easily feed up to eight hungry people.  Hands down an affordable and durable grill option.

8. Royal Gourmet CD1824A Charcoal Grill

Most of the charcoal grills on our list are pretty compact and don’t have the build or feel of a propane style grill. This model from Royal Gourmet is a little different and a great mid-size option.

This grill is roomy and designed for convenience. Instead of the traditional saucer shape, it looks a little more like a smoker and has a front door hatch for easy loading of charcoal and an equally convenient pull out drawer for collecting ash.

The overall size is 598 square inches, with 393 square inches of primary cooking area –  the rest is warming rack. An easily accessed charcoal pan adjusts for heat control and flexibility of the cook, designed to enhance airflow and use less charcoal while still maintaining consistent heat.

Additional features include porcelain-coated stainless steel cooking grates, fixed side tables for prep, a lower cart shelf for additional storage and a lid mounted thermometer for monitoring internal temps.

This is a nice larger charcoal grill that is a solid fit if you’re looking for a little more of a gas grill style set-up.

9. Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill

This little grill from Char-Griller is such a fun backyard addition for nights when you want to give the propane a rest and have something a little smokier. The shape is a fun twist and is reminiscent of bigger smoker-style grills.

The Patio Pro is compact, offering 250 square inches of cooking space with cast iron grill grates, a stay-cool wood handle, easy-dump ash pan, and double-steel bottom and side air vents.

Charcoal is side-loading and super convenient, with it’s own door and tray.

Char-Griller also added in a nice little wood side shelf for prep along with tool hooks, and a lower rack for storing essentials. This grill is perfect for smaller spaces and will fit easily onto a patio or deck.

10. Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw 1063 Square Inch Charcoal Grill / Smoker

The biggest charcoal grill on this list, the Outlaw is a beast in terms of space and is a versatile pick too with smoking capability for some added flexibility to satisfy those who like the option to smoke.

Total cooking space, inclusive of the warming rack is an impressive 1063 square inches. Cast iron cooking grates conduct the heat evenly across the surface and an adjustable fire grate allows for quick clean up and a great deal of control over cooking temps and heat conduction. Coals can easily be added without removing the entire grate for an easy cooking experience.

Temperature control ranges from warm to medium to hot and a lid-mounted thermometer helps pinpoint heat levels so you can make adjustments as needed.

The overall design features a lower cart rack for storage and a single side shelf for prep and holding essential tools.

This is a good pick if you need the biggest charcoal grill possible and have a low to mid-range budget.

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About the Author Craig Rinde

I am a grill freak! It's hard to pick my favorite thing to grill, but if I had to choose... it is still a tie between pork ribs and a juicy beef burger. I am currently grilling on a Weber S210(I live in a small space) but my dream grill is definitely a summit. Those things are bad ass. Anyways I would love to hear from you, leave a comment or question below!

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