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The 6 Best Portable Charcoal Grills in 2021

best portable charcoal grills

Are you so excited by the prospect of grilling over an open fire that you have to bring a charcoal grill with you everywhere you go? Whether it’s an overnight hike, camping trip, day at the beach or tailgate party, sometimes even the best charcoal grills aren’t convenient if they aren’t portable. It’s for that reason that we’ve put together this article of the best portable charcoal grills currently on the market.

Basic, functional and exceedingly easy to use, the charcoal grill is the exemplification of the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Of course, the grills you get today look slightly different from ones available during the 50s, but the modus operandi hasn’t changed at all. All you need is a grill, a grate, some charcoal and a lighter, and you’re ready to cook an incredible meal no matter where you are.

Now, of course, these portable grills aren’t going to be able to handle huge roasts, whole chickens or low and slow barbeque. If that’s what you’re after, check out our articles that detail larger, more expensive charcoal grills. But all that being said, these small grills are still perfectly capable of handling hamburgers, hot dogs, veggies and even beautifully-seared steaks.

Are you salivating yet and ready to chuck your grill in the back of your car for your next adventure? Fantastic, then keep reading as we delve deep into the best portable charcoal grills.


Editor’s Pick for Best Portable Charcoal Grill: The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

If you can only have one, then Weber’s Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill has to be it. Featuring all of the hallmarks of a well-designed Weber grill but in miniature, the Go-Anywhere is high-performing, lightweight and efficient. Conveniently shaped to stack easily, the Go-Anywhere is designed to, well, go anywhere.



The Best Portable Charcoal Grills: Ranking Table

Best Portable Charcoal GrillsPros, Cons & BBQ Digest Award
Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

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Editor’s Choice


+ 160 square inches of cooking space
+ Porcelain-enameled lid and body for superior heat retention
+ Square shape for easy storage and transport

Handle can get very hot during operation 
A Green Cuisinart CCG-100 Portable Charcoal Grill

Cuisinart CCG-100

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Second Best


+ Relatively large grilling area
+ Grate lifting system allows for coal management without touching the grate
+ Precision air flow system allows for easy temperature management

Not as portable as other grills on this list
Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill

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Best Value for Money

+ Extremely portable Porcelain-enameled steel construction for heat retention and damage prevention
+ Built-in dampers allow for easy temperature control

Doesn’t have an ash catcher and so ash has to be disposed of manually
A red Kamodo Joe Jr. Portable Charcoal Grill

Kamodo Joe Jr.

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Best Premium Portable Grill

+ Ceramic construction for superior insulation and heat retention
+ Can easily switch between grilling, smoking baking and BBQ
+ Easily adjustable airflow for precise temperature control

Quite heavy for a portable grill
Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

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Best Basic Grill

+ Stripped back, no frills portable grill
+ Made of rust-resistant aluminized steel
+ Comes with 21 inch diameter grill

Doesn’t have any extra features such as airflow control or temperature gauge
Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill

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Best Feature-Heavy Portable Grill

+ Lid-mounted temperature gauge
+ Adjustable charcoal tray
+ Damper for easy airflow and temperature adjustment

Gets really hot (sometimes too hot)

A Detailed Look At The Best Portable Charcoal Grills

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill Outdoors in Grass

Weber has a reputation for making the highest quality grills out there, and their Go-Anywhere model proves that this applies to their portable range too. Featuring a porcelain-enameled base and lid, this little grill is able to retain heat superbly while also resisting rust and other damage from the elements.

Its square design allows for an impressive 160 square inches of primary cooking area, enough to grill up to six burgers at any given time. It comes with a durable plated steel cooking grate that retains heat, produces great sear marks but is also easy to clean.

If you want to control or alter the temperature you can thanks to the iconic dual dampers built into the lid. Simply open the dampers to increase the airflow and temperature, or close them in order to starve the fire of oxygen.

No matter how hot your grill gets, you can keep it from damaging the surroundings thanks to the plated steel legs which elevate it off the ground. Once you’re ready to move on, the legs fold away for easier storage, and the lid locks to prevent your grill from banging about during transport.

Overall, the Weber Go-Anywhere is a delightfully functional grill that elevates the grilling experience. Compact, light weight and high performing, it’s the ideal accompaniment to any outdoor experience or adventure.

Features at a glance:

  • 160 square inches of primary cooking area
  • Lockable lid for easy portability
  • Rectangular shape fits perfectly in the back of most cars
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and base for superior heat retention and rust resistance
  • Dual dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill
  • Durable plated steel cooking grate retains heat and is easy to clean
  • Plated steel legs elevate the grill off the ground

Cuisinart CCG-100 – Second Best

Grilling meats and vegetables on the uisinart CCG-100 Charcoal Grill

The Cusiniart CCG-100 is quite a unique portable charcoal grill in the sense that it comes standard with a few features not found on other models. Most prominent is the unique cooking grate lifting system that allows access to the charcoal bed without touching the cooking grate. This allows you to start the fire, replenish the charcoal, or brush excess ash away without ever having to touch the grate.

In addition to this (which on its own is really useful), the CCG-100 is able to cater to entire families thanks to its 240 square inch cooking surface. The porcelain-coated steel cooking grate ensures even heat distribution and beautiful sear marks every time you grill. Controlling the temperature within the grill is also easy thanks to the precision air flow system and lid-mounted temperature gauge.

The CCG-100 is also solidly built. The Durable enamel-coated steel grill lid prevents heat from escaping while also protecting the grill from rusting and deterioration. A sturdy base also keeps the grill stable, meaning you can grill on any surface without fear of having your steaks tumble into the dirt.

Features at a glance:

  • 240-square-inch cooking surface
  • Unique lift system allows access to charcoal bed without touching cooking grate
  • Precision air flow system allows accurate temperature management
  • Lid-mounted temperature gauge
  • Durable enamel-coated steel grill lid
  • Large ash collection bin for easy cleaning
  • Sturdy base offers stability while grilling
  • Heat-resistant 201 stainless steel lid handle

Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill

Meat and vegetables being grilled on the Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill

If you’re a die-hard kettle grill fan and won’t settle for anything less even in a portable format, then the Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill is for you. Imagine if some fantastical scientists took a kettle grill, stripped away the legs and blasted the entire thing with a shrink ray. The Smokey Joe is what you would end up with.

With a 14 inch diameter, the Smokey Joe isn’t going to be roasting any whole pigs any time soon. However, it is big enough to handle six hamburgers at a time, and it’s slight frame makes it ridiculously easy to transport. And despite its small size, controlling and maintaining the temperature is easy thanks to the dampers in the lid.

Like a lot of Weber products, it’s also solidly built. The lid and bowl are constructed of porcelain-enameled steel both to retain heat and to prevent rust and damage from the elements. The grill comes with a Tuck-N-Carry lid lock that doubles as a lid holder so you don’t ever have to put the lid on the ground while tending to your food.

One downside to this little grill is that it doesn’t come with an ash catcher like other Weber models. In order to dispose of the ash, you have to wait until the fire is completely dead and cool and then dump them manually into the trash or some other receptacle.

Features at a glance:

  • 14 inches of grilling space
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl for heat retention and rust prevention
  • Tuck-N-Carry lid lock doubles as a lid holder to avoid placing lid on the ground
  • Dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill

Kamodo Joe Jr. – Best Premium Portable Grill

Smoke coming out of a red Kamodo Joe Jr Charcoal Grill

If you loved the Kamado Joe so much that you’re not willing to part with it even for a second, then you’ll love the Kamodo Joe Jr. The baby brother of the much-loved original, the Kamodo Joe Jr offers the same high quality grilling, slow barbecuing and smoking capabilities as its larger counterpart.

Constructed from ceramic and with a cast iron stand, the Kamodo Joe Jr is wonderfully insulated. This means you use less fuel throughout the grilling process while simultaneously locking in moisture and ensuring that food emerges juicy and tender. The grill also uses a 304 stainless steel cooking grate in order to help distribute heat evenly and prevent food from sticking.

The Kamado Joe Jr is a truly versatile portable grill that allows you to switch between smoking, baking, roasting, and barbequing simply by modifying the airflow and using direct or indirect heat. Unlike other portable grills, this grill also has a large temperature variance, with a cooking range as low as 179F to over 750F.

Features at a glance:

  • Ceramic grill with cast iron stand
  • Thick-walled, heat-resistant shell that locks in smoke and moisture at any temperature
  • Cast-iron air vent for temperature control
  • 304 stainless steel cooking grate
  • Built-in temperature gauge
  • Felt gasket creates an air-tight seal for unrivaled smoking capabilities

Old Smokey Charcoal Grill – Best Basic Grill

A Simple, clear metal, Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

Sometimes simple is best, and nothing portable charcoal grill is more simple than the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill. Consisting of nothing more than a firebox, grill, lid, stand and handles, the Old Smokey is about as back-to-basics as charcoal grills get.

This doesn’t make it any less effective, however. Once the fire gets going, there’s pretty much nothing that can’t be cooked across the 21 inch diameter cooking surface of this grill. The entire grill is made from rust-resistant aluminized steel, meaning that come rain or shine this grill won’t let you down.

With two side handles and a steel stand, this grill is also really easy to set up and move around without burning your hands or the ground below it.

Features at a glance:

  • Made of rust-resistant aluminized steel
  • 21 inch diameter cooking surface
  • Two side handles
  • Easy to assemble

Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill – Best Feature-Heavy Grill

Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill Opened

Char-Broil are known for the quality of their grills, and this is evident in their portable model, the Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill. It has a lot of the same features that are hallmarks of other Char-Broil charcoal grills such as the rectangular shape, adjustable charcoal tray, and wooden, heat-resistant handles. With these and other features which we’ll discuss below, Char-Broil has developed a grill that is lightweight, easy to use and great for on-the-go adventures.

Other noteworthy features include the adjustable dampers which allow you to easily control the temperature within the grill. If you want to turn up the heat, simply open the dampers all the way, and if you want a more sedate flame, then restrict the opening and airflow. You can easily monitor the temperature changes thanks to the lid-mounted temperature gauge.

Once you’re done grilling, you can dispose of the ashes easily thanks to the removable ash pan. This is actually a really useful feature which many portable grills don’t have generally due to the lack of space, or desire for keeping weight to a minimum. Somehow, Char-Broil has managed to integrate this while still maintaining a grill that is compact and easy to transport.

Features at a glance:

  • Adjustable fire grate
  • Lid-mounted temperature gauge
  • Adjustable dampers for easy temperature control
  • Removable ash pan

How to Choose the Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Our Buyer’s Guide

If you know you want one of the best portable charcoal grills but are a little intimidated by the actual shopping process, don’t stress. We’ve put together this little buyers guide to help you know what to look for when in the process of purchasing one of the best portable charcoal grills.

Size

When buying a portable grill, it’s generally known that you’re not going to use this to cook for your entire neighborhood. Portable grills tend to be on the smaller side, with an upper limit of cooking space at around 300 square inches, which is enough to grill for four people comfortably. You should consider how many people you expect to cook for, and then purchase a grill of corresponding size.

Ease of Use

As we can see from the grills listed above, some portable charcoal grills are really basic, and some are fairly complicated. Consider how technical you want the grilling process to be, especially while you’re out in nature or on the road. You also need to consider how easy the grill is to set up for use or pack away when you’re ready to leave.

Design and Features

Do you want a portable grill with all the bells and whistles? Or are you happy with a basic firebox and cooking grate? The number of features you want on a grill depends entirely on your inclinations, but here are some that you might be interested in:

  • Dampers and airflow control
  • Handles to avoid burning your hands
  • Adjustable charcoal tray
  • Lid-mounted temperature thermometer
  • Removable ash pan

Cleaning

Some grills are definitely easier to clean than others. This is important to note, because cleaning a grill regularly is key to maintaining it and ensuring that it lasts for more than one season. Things to keep in mind are that round designs are easier to clean than angular ones, and grills with ash pans make disposing of ashes effortless.


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