Top 3 Best Charcoal Grills on the Market

Factors to Consider

You might consider yourself an expert for grilling, but do you know a thing or two about purchasing the required equipment? Let’s take a quick look at some of the features that you need to take into account when searching for charcoal barbecue systems:

Large crowds require more cooking surface

If you are barbecuing solely for you and your loved one, about 200 square inches of the grilling area will cover your needs. But if five or six people are often the guests on barbecue Sunday afternoons, you will need to consider grilling area of around 600 square inches.

What is your budget?

Charcoal grills are cheaper than their gas alternatives but don’t expect to get a high-quality product for $20. Your goal should be for the grilling system to offer the highest value for money, so you should look for a balance between quality and price

Extra features

Ask yourself what features you would like in a grill. Do you need a rotisserie to grill an entire chicken? Are you looking for a system that is low maintenance and offers an ash management technique? The extra features might not be a necessary item on your requirement list, but they can make your job easier and grilling experience better.

The issue of hybrid grills 

If you are a grilling traditionalist, you probably don’t want gas anywhere near your product. However, a charcoal barbecue spends a lot of time on heating up the coal. We are living stressful lives these days, and some people would like to save some time when grilling. Hybrid grills utilize both propane and charcoal to maximize the efficiency of the system. Gas is used only to heat up the coal quickly but doesn’t influence the flavor of the food cooked on the product. Aside from that, a hybrid grill can include additional features, such as enhanced temperature control. In the end, it’s all a matter of preference.

If it’s your first time purchasing a grilling system or you are looking for some tips, take a look at our list of the best charcoal grills currently available on the market. We analyzed all the items listed above, as well as all other things we consider, can be vital for you to know.

1. Weber Performer Deluxe – It’s a Weber!

Our rating:

Cooking surface 363 square inches
High-quality components  [usr 5]
Ash management system  [usr 5]

There is one harsh truth that other manufacturers may not like – Weber is the #1 brand when it comes to grills. That’s not to say that others can’t construct a reliable grilling system, but you can’t go wrong with Weber. Each product they make is of the highest quality and presents an excellent value for the price.

They say that the best way to see what consumers think about a product is to check out the reviews they posted online. That is something that cannot trick you into forming the wrong opinion. As for the Weber Performer Deluxe, it received over 100 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is a clear indicator that it one of the best charcoal grills you can get these days.

We talked about hybrid grills, and Weber falls into that category. It’s a huge timesaver when you know that you can ignite the fire by just pressing a button. Thanks to the Touch-N-Go ignition system that uses propane to heat up the coal, your grilling system will be set for cooking in a matter of minutes. That means that you don’t have to burn papers or witness the ash blowing all over the place. The best thing is that this method delivers better results than if you need to ignite the grill yourself.

But let’s start from the beginning. You will receive Performer Deluxe in a beautiful packaging box, but you will have to assemble it yourself. Fortunately, this should be relatively easy as long as you follow the instructions and you can always check out this YouTube video if you get stuck. The dimensions of the grill are 43.5” x 48” x 30” once assembled. It has wheels on the bottom so that you can quickly move it around.

The product comes with a porcelain-coated bowl that has a 22” diameter, which comes up to 363 square inches of grilling surface. That is more than enough to serve a grilling party of up to four people at once. The cooking grates included are from the Weber’s Gourmet BBQ System collection, and they are made of plated steel. The lid of the bowl has a built-in thermometer to secure proper heat control and make the grilling process more comfortable for beginners and those who are new to this product. There is also a cooking clock that is removable, and you can take it with you if you move away from the grill.

The product also includes an ash management system in the form of an ash catcher built of aluminum. The pan is removable, and it has a considerable capacity, so you don’t have to worry about filling it up quickly. The system that puts ash under control is particularly vital if you are living or grilling in a windy area because it’s an excellent way to prevent ashes from flying around.

As for the additional storage space, there is a container where you can keep your coal, as well as the propane cylinder. We should mention that, just like with other Weber’s grills, the gas tank is sold separately. The Performer uses a bottle of 14.1 or 16.4 ounces of capacity. The bin intended for keeping fuel is a part of the bottom shelf, which you can also use as extra space.

The base unit will cost you around $400, but there are also accessories that you can purchase for the extra money. For example, you should consider buying the cover for the grill – the official one costs $50. That way you will keep the product safe from severe weather conditions and extend its durability. The other accessory that users frequently buy together is the Rapidfire Chimney Starter, which secures even quicker heating and even cooking.

Pros

Saying “It is a Weber” should be the only reason you need to purchase this charcoal grill, but let’s list some benefits for those of you who need a bit more convincing. For starters, the manufacturer used high-quality materials which secured sturdy construction. You don’t have to worry that the kids will knock the grill over while playing. The secure ignition system makes it a piece of cake to start the device, and the vast cooking area secures that you can grill all the burgers and steaks you want at once. The ash management system is also among the critical selling points of the system. You can’t neglect the fact that it’s nice to have a pan that collects the ashes that would otherwise be all over the place. Finally, Weber offers a warranty on the product, and their customer support is extremely efficient and kind if you do encounter any problems with the grill.

Cons

If you compare the cooking clock to the rest of the components, its quality is laughable. In fact, it is a 99-minute clock that is completely inefficient if you are cooking for longer. You probably know those egg clocks you can purchase in local stores – that’s the one that comes with this product. Fortunately, it’s a minor accessory, and it doesn’t influence the performance of the grill. On the other hand, we could use a bit more storage space on the bottom shelf, but other components are crowding it.

2. Char-Broil TRU Infrared Kettleman – IR Technology for Tender Food

Our rating:

Cooking surface 360 square inches
Tender and juicy food  [usr 5]
Hinged lid  [usr 4]

We started a bit ambitiously with a product that is somewhat pricey, so let’s take things down a notch. That is, we will decrease the price, but keep the quality of the food that the best charcoal grills can cook. One of the most phenomenal products available on the market is Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman, which is priced at $150, but you can get it for around $100 if you find the right deal.

You think that charcoal grills cause flare-ups? That’s something that just cannot happen with this device. It comes with a cooking grate that has a diameter of 22.5 inches and 360 square inches of cooking surface. You can make burgers (or hot dogs, steaks, sausages, etc.) for a party of four without worrying to see any flame from the charcoals below.

Kettleman uses TRU-Infrared technology and, just like in their gas grills, it turns out to be the right move. The concentrated radiant heat is applied to cook the food on the grilling area while preventing hot spots or flare-ups. That is particularly useful if you want to grill smaller food, such as vegetables, chicken wings, or shrimp. The even heat secured by infrared radiation means that they won’t get burnt by the hotness of the charcoal.

There is one other unusual thing about this Char-Broil grill. The manufacturer placed the grate for coals about three inches under the grilling area. Although that is a lot closer than we are used to seeing in other grills, it’s an excellent way to ensure fuel efficiency. In other words, this grilling system spends less charcoal than other barbecues.

The lid of the Char-Broil Kettleman is hinged, which allows you to use both hands to tend the food and the charcoal. You don’t have to waste time setting the lid aside and putting it back on the grill once you are done the checking. If you are moving the barbecue from one place to another, you might want to use the feature of locking the lid into place,

The cover has a temperature control gauge mounted onto it. If you see that it’s getting too hot inside the grill, you can use the adjustable damper on top to decrease the temperature. It also works the other way around; if you need to increase the lid, just close the damper and watch the magic happen. The grill also comes with an ash management system. You place a pan by sliding it into the bottom of the product. When it finished doing its job of containing and capturing ash, you just slide it out to empty it and place it back again.

The grill weighs 36 pounds, and it comes in excellent packaging. It shouldn’t be a problem to assemble it, and if you get an extra set of helping hands, you can do it in less than half an hour. The dimensions of the product are 25.8” x 25.8 “ x 38.8” once it is assembled. It comes with a 10-year warranty on the kettle, as well as a 2-year warranty on all other components.

Pros

Char-Broil Kettleman is another product that got incredible reviews from users on Amazon with a 4.7 average rating. The fact that it uses the radiant heat solely to cook food has a lot to do with that. That secures incredible tenderness of the food as it enables it to keep moisture and all the juices. On top of that, it manages to achieve those results by using the fuel in an extremely efficient way, thanks to the fact that the coal grate is closer to the grilling area than expected. The hinged lid is extremely convenient as you won’t get annoyed by having to set it aside each time you want to check the food. Controlling the heat is easy thanks to the adjustable damper, and you can never ignore the fact that assembling doesn’t take too much time or effort.

Cons

The weight of 36 pounds might make it easy for moving around, but it also means that you need to be careful because it can get knocked over by children playing or high winds. Also, the cleaning might take a bit more effort than we would have liked. Not all the ash from the coal and cooking grates will fall directly into the steel pan designed to collect waste, but you will have to use a brush to scrape the ash from the sides. The same goes for dripping, which gets stuck in the grates and requires scraping after a while. Fortunately, that doesn’t cause the meat to blacken, and it doesn’t lead to flare-ups.

3. PK Grills the Original PK Grill & Smoker – Just Like Old Times

Our rating:

Cooking surface 306 square inches
Easy temperature control  [usr 5]
Rectangular design  [usr 5]

It’s nice to see a traditional product finding its way to consumers in these modern times. They say that charcoal grilling enthusiasts are traditionalists, which is why this might be the perfect system for you. After all, who wouldn’t want to grill the same way our fathers did in the 1950s?  PK Grills offers an homage and throwback to those times with its Original Portable Kitchen Grill & Smoker.

Let’s start with the features we liked the most. What sets this barbecue aside from others is a flat bottom that provides an easy way to move the coals from one side to the other. If you need an indirect cooking area or you wish to smoke food, you can get everything started quickly. The grill capsule and the cart are made of aluminum, which was a standard material in the 50s, but the product also features stainless steel components. All the parts that are of aluminum include a 10-year warranty, and the capsule is hand-poured in the USA.

The central cooking surface is 306 square inches, and it is rectangular. The thick aluminum construction secures incredible heat retention and distribution, guaranteeing that the product can hold a steady temperature for long. The heat can vary from 180-690F depending on your needs and managing temp is incredibly easy thanks to four-way venting. There are two dampers on top and another couple of them on the bottom part of the grill. If you need to release some heat from the cook box, just slide one or more of them, and you will decrease the temperature swiftly. If you go too far and you want to heat the inside again, just close the damper, and the technology will do its job.

The retro rectangular design does remind of simpler times. However, it also provides an advantage to cook using direct and indirect heat at the same time. It’s hard to count all the accolades that the PK Grills picked up over the years for the quality of their product. The most recent ones were the best buy rewards from the Consumer Digest and the Amazingribs. This premium charcoal grill also provides admirable performance at a professional level. In fact, the champions of the World Championship Steak Cook-off and the Steak Cook-off Association Championships in 2015 and 2016 won the trophy by using PK Original.

Finally, let’s discuss the word “portable” in the name of its product. Before we do that, you should know that the item is 35.5 x 35 x 16” once assembled and that it weighs around 45 pounds. The weight puts it into the category of lightweight products, but it’s the convenient transport that increases its portability. The Original PK Grill & Smoker is delivered with a stand with two wheels. But if you want to pack it for the road, you can detach it from that cart in a matter of seconds. That means that packing it for the drive in your trunk or RV is very convenient as it won’t take up much space. You can use this option to take your grill wherever you go, including camping trips, hunting or fishing cabins, or an RV vacation.

The product costs around $370, but you should consider also getting a cover for $60 to protect it from severe weather.

Pros

Those of you missing simpler times won’t hesitate to purchase this product. Its homage to tradition and retro design offer something entirely different when compared to other grilling systems. However, it’s the quality and performance that place it among the best charcoal grills. The fact that even the championship grillers use this product means that there aren’t many better options for a backyard grilling enthusiast. The cast aluminum components do an incredible job in retaining the heat and are also extremely durable. Temperature control is smooth and the 4-way venting makes it simple to adjust the heat within the cook box. Although the product comes with a cart, the fact that it can be removed in seconds for the convenience of transport makes it ideal for the road.

Cons

We might consider this a retro product, which means that it’s only natural that it will take some effort to clean it. The problem is that embers and ash can fall through the vents on the bottom. However, there is a way around this – just place a pan (aluminum preferred) beneath the vents and let it catch all the waste that drops. Also, although most of the components are extremely durable, one of the first ones that will need a replacement is the grid made of plated steel. After a while, the rust will make it unusable, and once that happens, we recommend you consider purchasing the stainless still grid. It’s the official product designed by PK Grills, and it’s an excellent long-term investment for around $80.

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