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The 6 Best Charcoal Grills of 2021 [+Buyer’s Guide]

The Best Charcoal Grills

When shopping for one of the best charcoal grills, it’s often difficult to isolate the features that make it stand out from its competitors. After all, a charcoal grill is a fairly low-tech device that doesn’t perform a super complex function. Unlike a smartphone or laptop, which has many intricate moving parts, a charcoal grill is a fairly basic contraption.

However, that’s not to say that all charcoal grills are made equal; quite the contrary. There are some companies such as Weber and Char-Griller which have dominated the market for quite some time with their high quality and high performance grills. They understand and have optimized for more fundamental factors such as the design, build quality and materials in order to deliver a better grilling experience.

Now, the best charcoal grills are quite different from the best gas grills in that they don’t offer the same efficiency or predictability. But if you’re in the market for a charcoal grill then those are probably factors that you’re not overly concerned about anyway. More likely you appreciate the smoky flavors imparted into your food and the visceral satisfaction that comes with cooking over an open flame.

If any of this resonates with you then keep reading as we take a look at some of the best charcoal grills currently on the market.

Editor’s Pick for Best Charcoal Grill: The Original Kettle Premium

There’s an old adage that says if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, and Weber took that to heart with their Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. The Kettle Grill is the gold standard of charcoal grilling, and has come to be known all over the world for its iconic shape and high performance. If you can only have one grill, then this should definitely be your first choice.

The 6 Best Charcoal Grills at a Glance

Best Charcoal GrillsPros, Cons & BBQ Digest Award
Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

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Editor’s Choice

+ Beautiful and iconic design
+ Built by a reputable brand
+ One-Touch cleaning system for easy ash disposal

– Legs are not the sturdiest  
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

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The Best Grill With a Smoker

+ Versatile grill that grills and smokes easily
+ Double-walled insulation for superior heat retention
+ Adjustable dampers for precise heat control

– Have some exposed metal parts which require a cover to protect  
Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill

Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill

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The Best High End Grill

+ Incredibly durable and efficient construction
+ Packed with extremely useful features
+ Double-insulated for greater heat retention and fuel efficiency

– It’s a very expensive grill  
Char-Broil American Gourmet 30-inch Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil American Gourmet 30-inch Charcoal Grill

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The Best Barrel Grill

+ Large primary and secondary cooking surfaces
+ Solid and sturdy construction
+ Adjustable charcoal grate

– Maybe be too large for some backyards  
Dyna-Glo Premium Charcoal Grill

Dyna-Glo Premium Charcoal Grill

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Best Value for Money Grill

+ Massive primary cooking area
+ Front door for easy charcoal access
+ Adjustable charcoal tray

– Not the highest quality construction  
Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

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Best Gas Charcoal Grill Combo

+ Has all of the same features as the original kettle grill
+ Attached cart, work surface and charcoal bin
+ Gas ignition for fast start ups

– Caster wheels are not the sturdiest  

A More Detailed Look At The Best Charcoal Grills

Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill – Editor’s Pick

Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

It’s hard to improve on perfection, and that’s why Weber hasn’t changed much on the design of the Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. The grill looks pretty much exactly the same as some of the first to roll out and take the world by storm. Almost seven decades later, this grill is still arguably the most popular in the world, and used in millions of backyards every summer.

With 363 square inches of grilling space and a 7.5 inch high lid, there’s pretty much nothing that this grill can’t handle short of a whole pig. The cooking grate is made of plated steel in order to prevent food from sticking and sear meat beautifully. It’s also hinged so that you can access the charcoal without removing the entire grate from the grill.

You can control the heat easily thanks to the aluminium dampers built into the lid. A heat shield helps prevent the lid from getting too hot and allows you to handle it regardless of how hot the fire inside is burning. A handy hid hook lets you balance your lid instead of placing it on the ground while you tend to the food.

While this grill doesn’t come with additional prep space, it does have a few hooks attached to the handles for hanging your grilling tools. This allows you to easily access tools when cooking and organize your workspace.

Once you’re finished grilling, you can clean up quickly and easily thanks to the One-Touch cleaning system. Its high-capacity ash catcher can be removed with one swiped, emptied, and then reattached with the same motion.

Features at a glance:

  • 363 square inches of primary cooking space
  • Built-in lid thermometer
  • Rust-resistant aluminum dampers
  • One-Touch cleaning system with high-capacity ash catcher
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl for heat retention and rust prevention
  • Lid hook allows you to hang the lid without placing it on the ground
  • Hinged cooking grate in order to access charcoal while grilling

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill – The Best Charcoal Grill With a Smoker

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

If you want a versatile grill that is high performing without being too expensive, then you may want to check out Char-Griller’s Akorn. This Kamado grill is well-designed, feature heavy and is a pleasure to look at.

With 314 square inches of primary cooking space and a 133 square inch swing away warming rack, this is the perfect-sized grill for medium gatherings. It uses cast iron grates for increased heat retention and for producing sear marks when directly grilling steaks and burgers.

Where this grill shines is in its ability to function as a smoker as well as a griller. By lowering the adjustable coal grate, you can increase the distance between the charcoal and meat for an indirect cooking process. Thanks to the double-walled insulation, you won’t even need to use that much coal either.

A built-in temperature gauge means you’ll always have an accurate reading of how hot the grill is, and an adjustable top and bottom damper allows you precise control of the temperature. Folding side shelves mean you can prep your food right at the grill, and the tubular steel cart and rubber wheels make moving the grill effortless.

Features at a glance:

  • 314 square inches of primary cooking space
  • 133 square inch warming rack
  • Insulated design allows for less charcoal use and heat retention
  • Folding side shelves
  • Cast iron cooking surface
  • Constructed from 22 gauge steel with exterior powder-coated steel finish
  • Cart constructed of tubular steel with rubber wheels
  • Locking lid
  • Easy-dump ash pan
  • Double-wall insulation
  • Built-in temperature gauge

Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill – The Best High-End Charcoal Grill

Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill

If money is no object and you want the biggest grill on the block, then look no further than the Broil King Keg 5000. This Kamado Grill is a veritable tank, designed for durability, longevity and high performance. It’s an exceptional well-built grill that is absolutely packed with features in order to create the best possible grilling experience.

The unique shape of the grill is designed for efficient, thermal, convection-style cooking. It features a double-steeled wall design and over-grade insulation for increased heat and fuel efficiency. This means it can burn exceptionally hot while using less fuel than conventional charcoal grills.

Inside it has 280 square inches of primary cooking space, and a 200 square inch swing-out secondary rack which almost doubles the cooking potential. It uses a cast iron grill for ultimate heat retention and to provide whatever you cook with incredible sear marks. The main grill can be raised or lowered using the accompanying multitool, making this grill perfect searing steaks as well as making low and slow barbecue.

You can easily adjust the temperature thanks to the top cast iron damper and the aluminum lower damper on the ash catcher. Combined with the built-in thermometer, this allows you to easily adjust and regulate the temperature of the fire according to food currently being cooked. 

In terms of construction, the Broil King Keg is built to last. The exterior is finished with powder coating that is both easy to clean and designed to last in almost all weather conditions. It also comes with an integrated bottle opener so that you can crack open a cold one while waiting for that beef brisket to finish.

If you need to move this beat of a grill you can do so easily thanks to the attached mobility cart. There’s even an attachment to secure it to the back of your pickup truck if you really want to blow everyone’s mind at a tailgate party.

We know this grill is expensive, but if you’ve got the cash then it’s an absolute worthwhile endeavor.

Features at a glance:

  • 280 square inches of primary cooking space
  • 200 square inch swing-out secondary warming rack
  • Insulated double-walled steel grill body for ultimate heat and moisture retention
  • Insulated steel design uses significantly less charcoal than other grills
  • Cast iron top damper and aluminium lower damper for increased airflow
  • Removable steel ash catcher for quick and easy clean up
  • Detachable resin side shelves
  • Attached mobility cart
  • Included multi-tool
  • 10 year warranty for ultimate peace of mind

Char-Broil American Gourmet 30-inch Charcoal Grill – The Best Barrel Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil American Gourmet 30-inch Charcoal Grill Grilling Space Opened

If kettle grills aren’t your thing then the Char-Broil American Gourmet 30-inch Charcoal Grill might appeal to you. Looking like a veritable tank, this barrel grill has 568 square inches of primary cooking space, enough for even the most cumbersome cuts of meat. It also comes equipped with a 272 square inch secondary warming rack for keeping food warm before serving.

The grill uses cast iron grates in order to retain heat, prevent food from sticking and give your food beautiful sear marks while grilling. It also allows for really great temperature control thanks to the adjustable charcoal grate which allows you to alter the distance between the coals and the food. Four dampers provide you with even more precision and give you total control of the grill’s internal airflow.

In terms of construction this grill is built to last. It comes equipped with a reinforced lid and 1.5 inch tube legs for enhanced grill stability and long-lasting performance. It also has a side shelf that functions as a large work surface and features integrated tool hooks to neatly arrange all of your grilling accessories.

Features at a glance:

  • 568 square inch primary cooking space
  • 272 square inch warming rack
  • Cast iron grates
  • Adjustable charcoal grate
  • Four dampers allow for increased airflow
  • Large side shelf for additional food prep space
  • Integrated tool hooks for grilling utensils
  • Reinforced lid for a sturdier firebox assembly and cooking chamber lid
  • Cart with 1.5 inch tube legs and braces for stability
  • Two 8-inch wheels for easy mobility

Dyna-Glo Premium Charcoal Grill – Best Value for Money Charcoal Grill

Dyna-Glo Premium Charcoal Grill Outdoors

The Dyna-Glo Premium Charcoal Grill has all of the hallmarks of a truly high performing grill without the massive price tag. To start with – it’s massive. It has 576 square inches of primary cooking space and 240 square inches of secondary cooking space, big enough to cater for gatherings of any size.

Like other grills, it comes standard with porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates for heat retention, easy cleaning, and beautiful searing. It also has a high capacity ash pan which makes cleaning up after grilling an effortless task.

What really sets it apart, however, are the added features not found on other grills in this price range. The adjustable crank, for example, allows you to raise and lower the charcoal tray, altering the distance between food and fire. And if you need to tinker with the fire itself, you can do so easily thanks to the cast iron steel access door.

When it comes to temperature control, Dyna-Glo’s grill uses a stainless steel smoke stack with adjustable flue in order to regulate the heat of the fire. You can then get a precise reading of exactly how hot the interior of the grill is by using the integrated lid-thermometer.

Features at a glance:

  • 576 square inches primary cooking area
  • 240 square inches secondary cooking area
  • Porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates
  • Adjustable crank allows you to easily raise and lower the charcoal tray
  • Cast iron steel access door allows for easy charcoal replenishment
  • Stainless steel smoke stack with adjustable flue for additional temperature control
  • High capacity ash pan for quick and easy clean-up

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill – Best Gas & Charcoal Grill Combo

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill Outdoors

If the original Kettle grill just doesn’t do it for you, then check out the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill. It comes with all the same features as the original including 363 square inches of cooking surface, the One-Touch cleaning system, built in temperature gauge and aluminium dampers.

However, Weber saw what was lacking in that original design and improved upon it greatly. While the original kettle grill itself is a near perfect piece of grilling equipment, it lacked the accoutrements of other grills which elevate the entire grilling experience.

For example, the original kettle grill has no workspace, but the Performer comes with a massive cart and workspace so you can prepare food directly at the grill. It also features an electronic Touch-N-Go propane powered ignition system so you can instantly light fires without getting your hands dirty. They also improved upon the lid-holding system, and now the lid can be secured with one easy sliding movement.

A removable LCD cooking timer lets you easily set timers for preheating as well as grilling sessions so your food never burns again. The grill also comes with a large bin for storing charcoal and keeping it dry, and a number of integrated hooks for storing grilling accessories.

Features at a glance:

  • 363 square inches of primary cooking surface
  • Aluminized steel One-Touch cleaning system with removable, high-capacity, aluminum ash catcher
  • Electronic Touch-N-Go, propane-powered ignition system
  • Removable LCD cook timer
  • Built-in heat gauge
  • Aluminium dampers for precision heat control
  • Lid holder lets you slide the lid into a holding position with one sliding movement
  • Large workspace for food preparation
  • Easy access grilling hooks for hanging your grilling tools

How To Choose The Best Charcoal Grill: A Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to buying one of the best charcoal grills, it may be a little bit hard to sift through all of the jargon and know what specifications to look for. To help you, we’ve put together this little buyer’s guide that will show you a few things to keep an eye out for when browsing through grills.


Perhaps the most basic question when it comes to grilling is: how many people do you expect to be cooking for? The answer to this question will largely inform the size of the grill you intend to buy, and help whittle down your selection.

If you only plan on grilling for a small family or maybe a couple of friends, then you won’t need anything bigger than a portable grill. If you’re having huge backyard barbeques, you’ll probably want a barrel grill. For a happy medium, a kettle grill is ideal for medium sized gatherings.

Temperature Control

Achieving temperature consistency with a charcoal grill can be difficult, but not impossible. But if this is a prerequisite for your grilling experience, make sure that you buy a grill with one or more dampers. These allow you to increase or decrease the airflow into the grill, thus giving you control over the temperature of the coals.

Some grills may come with chimneys and flues. These are also ideal methods of controlling the temperature and airflow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between charcoal grills and gas grills?

Charcoal and gas grills different considerably. To start with, charcoal grills rely on charcoal as the main fuel source whereas gas grills use either natural or liquid propane gas.

Gas grills are quite straightforward to use, and offer way more control and efficiency over the cooking process. They can also be used immediately, whereas charcoal grills require some time for the coals to burn down into usable embers.

What you save in time you lose in heat intensity, however, as gas grills typically can’t reach the same intensity as a charcoal grill. A kettle grill with red-hot coals will easily reach over 700 degrees fahrenheit whereas a gas grill might only make it to 600.

What is the difference between direct and indirect grilling?

Direct grilling refers to the practice of cooking meat directly above an open flame or fire. Generally this technique is for cooking foods such as steaks and hamburgers that really require a high temperature in order to achieve a beautiful sear.

Indirect grilling is a slower cooking technique that requires you to put all of your coals to one side of the barbeque and the meat on the opposite side. This will allow you to cook your food slowly without searing it, and is ideal for foods like fish or chicken which you may want to smoke.

Shop the Best Charcoal Grills by Price and Type

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