Jayden Lawson
Published by Jayden Lawson
Last Updated On: September 15, 2022

When it comes to traditional BBQing, nothing beats cooking over an open flame, powered by some good old-fashioned charcoal. When you pair that with a portable model, you can take your cooking anywhere; whether that be on your camping trips or to the beach.

Finding a good quality grill for an affordable price can be difficult, especially with all the brands and models available. That’s why we have tested seven grills to figure out which is the best portable charcoal grill, going over their pros, cons, and standout features.

Editor's Choice
Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
Weber
Price
5.0
Material
5.0
Quality
5.0
Capacity
4.5
Overall Score
4.9
Click For Best Price
#2nd Best Choice
Char-Griller E82424 Side Fire Box Charcoal Grill
Char-Griller
Price
4.5
Material
5.0
Quality
4.5
Capacity
4.5
Overall Score
4.6
Check Current Price
#3rd Best Choice
Cuisinart CCG-100 Portable Charcoal Grill
Cuisinart
Price
4.0
Material
4.5
Quality
4.0
Capacity
4.5
Overall Score
4.3
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7 Best Portable Charcoal Grills

1

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill

First on our list is the Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill, offering customers a generous 240 square inch cooking surface, enough to hold up to eight burgers at once.

This portable charcoal grill comes with a plated-steel cooking grate and a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, which is ideal for retaining heat and durability.

The dampers on this portable charcoal grill make it easy to control the temperature, should you need to decrease or increase accordingly.

We like that this grill comes with a handy tuck-n-carry lid lock, which also doubles as a lid holder. This is essential for safety with any portable unit.

Pros
  • Ideal for portability as it only weighs 22 pounds
  • The lid and bowl are made from porcelain-enamel, which is excellent for retaining heat
  • The enameled surface won't peel or rust easily
  • The aluminum ash catcher makes it easy to clean
Cons
  • Instructions can be a little difficult to follow
2

Char-Griller E82424 Side Fire Box Charcoal Grill

Next on the list is this portable charcoal grill from Char-Griller. This grill offers a decent cooking area of 250 square inches, able to hold 12 burgers over thick cast-iron cooking grates.

This unit is ideal for charcoal grilling, as it is made from heavy-gauge powder-coated steel. This allows for maximum durability and heat retention when both grilling and smoking.

The unique part of this charcoal grill is that it attaches to most Char-Griller outdoor smokers, doubling as a side firebox.

We like that this charcoal grill has two dampers that make it easy to control airflow and contain the smoke.

Pros
  • Heavy-duty steel construction
  • Ash catch pan can be easily removed
  • Can be attached to existing models
Cons
  • Weighs around 38lbs
3

Cuisinart CCG-100 Portable Charcoal Grill

This portable charcoal grill from Cuisinart is made from solid steel, supported by a pair of sturdy plated steel legs.

The lid is made from an attractive green porcelain enamel, which is ideal for durability and heat retention.

The lid also comes with a mounted temperature gauge, making it easy to monitor the temperature of the grill.

The Cuisinart portable grill offers customers 240 square inches of cooking surface and a large ash collection bin. This unit weighs only 23 pounds and features two side carrying handles for maximum portability.

What we like about this charcoal grill is that the cooking grate can be set to lift when the lid opens, giving us easy access to the coal bed without touching the hot grates.

Pros
  • Weighs only 23lbs
  • Sturdy legs and base
  • Easy to assemble and clean
Cons
  • The lower grates gap is quite big, causing coal to fall through
4

Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Charcoal Grill

This next portable charcoal grill is another model from Weber, offering 147 square inches of cooking surface; enough to hold 6 burgers at once.

This Weber Smokey Joe is made with a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl, ideal for retaining heat and durability.

The dampers make it easy to control the temperature of the grill, and the durable plated stainless steel cooking grate retains heat and is easy to clean.

The tuck-n-carry lid lock doubles as a lid holder, which is ideal as the lid can be placed there instead of on the ground.

What we like most about this grill is how lightweight and portable it is, along with the many colors available.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tuck-n-carry lid lock doubles as a lid holder
  • The temperature is easy to control thanks to the dampers
Cons
  • The cooking area is quite small
5

Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill

Next on the list is this portable charcoal grill from Weber, offering customers 160 square inches of cooking space.

The plated stainless steel cooking grates can hold up to six burgers at once and is durable and ideal for retaining heat.

This charcoal grill is around the same size as a standard toolbox, measuring 12 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and 15 inches deep. This is the perfect size when it comes to a portable grill.

The folding legs also help with the portability aspect, as well as the lid locking device.

We like how easy this grill is to set up and use, especially with the adjustable dampers.

Pros
  • Easy to carry with the two side handles and lightweight body
  • Steady base made from plated stainless steel
  • The lid comes attached, therefore there is no reason to lay it on the ground
Cons
  • The rectangular shape of the grill makes it harder to clean
6

Char-Broil Portable CB500X

This portable charcoal grill offers customers a generous 240 square inches of cooking space. The cast-iron grates come pre-seasoned and are big enough to hold eight burgers at once.

This cast-iron grill comes with a front charcoal door which allows easy access to the fire bed.

The Char-Broil CB500X also comes with a built-in thermometer, a removable ash-catcher tray, and two adjustable dampers which help control the airflow inside the portable charcoal BBQ.

The only downside we found to this tabletop grill is the weight, which is around 40lbs, which is not an ideal weight if you're looking for the perfect grill.

Pros
  • 240 square inch cooking area
  • Comes with a built-in temperature gauge
  • The front door makes it easy to add charcoal
Cons
  • Weighs 40lbs
7

Kamado Grill – Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr

Last but not least is this Kamado Grill, featuring a 155 square inch charcoal grate.

This portable grill allows the user to monitor the temperature easily due to the temperature gauge placed on top of the lid.

The charcoal bin on this model is rather deep, allowing the user to add a significant amount of charcoal which allows the unit to reach high temperatures. This grill is made from a thick-walled ceramic body, making for great heat retention.

While the grill is relatively portable due to the ridged hinges, weighing a whopping 70lbs we personally found it far too heavy to carry around.

Pros
  • Wide temperature range of 225 – 655
  • Comes with a built-in temperature gauge
  • Can grill, smoke, sear, and bake
Cons
  • Very heavy

Quick Facts:

  • Price : 3.5
  • Product material : 4
  • Product quality : 4
  • Cooking capacity : 3.5

The Best Portable Charcoal Grills - Buyers Guide

Wallet on top of a grill

When searching for portable charcoal grills, there are a few things you need to take into consideration to ensure you get the perfect model for you.

1. Type

Portable charcoal grills come in many styles and shapes, and the right one for you all depends on how you plan to use them. Here is what is on offer when it comes to charcoal portable grills: 

  • Kamado Grills - The charcoal grills are perhaps the latest and arguably greatest when it comes to charcoal grilling. The kamado grill is egg-shaped and features thick walls, typically made from ceramic, which distribute heat evenly and retain temperature very well. Another great feature of kamado grills is the fact they are usually quite deep, allowing the user to fill the barrel with plenty of charcoal. The downside, however, is these units typically run quite heavy.
  • Kettle Grills - Kettle-style grills are made with the classic dome shape, featuring a round and removable lid. These grills are typically inexpensive due to being basic and made from cheaper materials. They are usually the best when it comes to portability, and typically can be used on a tabletop.
  • Barrel Grills - When these grills are turned on their side, they look very similar to a barrel; hence the name. You may actually come across a handful of barrel grills made from actual barrels, especially from BBQ masters. These grills offer a good amount of cooking space, and they can hold lots of charcoal which is ideal for long smoking sessions. The only downside to these types of grills is they are typically heavy.
  • Hibachi Grills - These grills originate from Japan, and are designed to sit on the tabletop. These days, a lot of hibachi grills are not actually true to the traditional model, resembling a simple flat-top griddle that is easy to transport. A true hibachi is made from heavy gauge steel, and typically features a large cooking surface [1].

2. Size and Weight

Cooking on a grill outdoors

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of a portable grill is the size and weight.

Purchasing a grill that is too big or too heavy will make it impossible to move around unless you only plan to do outdoor cooking in your backyard.

When it comes to size, you need to consider how many people you usually cook for and what you are planning to cook.

If you’re only looking to cook a few hot dogs, burgers, and other small items, you’ll be fine with a small portable charcoal grill.

“Charcoal or gas. Both give excellent results, so choose the one that best suits your style of cooking.”
- Bobby Flay, Chef

If you have a big party or plan on cooking or smoking larger cuts, you’ll need to go for a unit with enough grilling space.

Regardless, you will ultimately have to consider if your chosen unit is compact enough to fit into your vehicle. If you have a small car, you will want a grill no larger than 25 inches wide and tall.

When it comes to weight, you will find that grills made from cheaper materials, such as stainless steel, will weigh less.

You may even find the charcoal to weigh more than your unit. While this is great for portability, you may find your grill to not last very long.

A grill with better materials, such as porcelain enameled steel or plain cast iron, might weigh around 25-30 pounds, which is ideal for both sturdy construction and portability.

Kamado grills are the heaviest, as they are typically made with heavy gauge steel. While lugging around 75 pounds isn’t ideal, it definitely makes the cooking experience a whole lot better [2].

3. Portability

A smoking grill

Since you will be carrying your grill around often, you want to make sure that the job is as easy as can be.

Finding a grill that has handles, preferably ones that fold in, will make things easier.

It is also important that you find a grill that has a lock on the lid; this way everything will stay in place as the grill is being transported.

Charcoal grills that come fitted with legs are also helpful; otherwise, you may have to purchase something extra to place your grill on to give it stability while you cook. This feature is even better when the legs are foldable.

4. Grates

When looking at the material of the grates you have to consider whether they will stand the weight of whatever you are planning on cooking. Cooking pans and dutch ovens can easily bend or break grates if they’re not the right material.

Material such as cast iron grates may be heavy, but they will also make your unit last far longer than any cheap materials.

Stainless steel is typically a good option to go with; it is fairly light, lasts many seasons, and also makes for a quick and easy cleanup [3].

Other things to consider are:

  • How the grates hold the food
  • How well they sit on the grill
  • How easy they are to move/allow the addition of charcoal
  • Whether the height can be adjusted

5. Heat Control

A charcoal grill with high flame

Controlling the heat on charcoal grills can be a tricky job. That’s why it is important you find a grill that has adjustable air dampers or air vents.

These allow the user to control the amount of air entering and escaping the grill. The larger the grill, the more vents the unit will need in order to hold a steady temperature.

“The key to good grilling is to recognize that you are setting yourself up to cook in a whole new environment. This is actually one of the main purposes of grilling - to get yourself outside.”
- Barton Seaver, Chef

Air vents are also essential if you’re looking to do some smoking on your grill, as this controls the smoky flavor.

6. Tight-Fitting Lid

Tightly close lid

When cooking indirectly or smoking on a grill, you need to have a lid that fits snugly.

If it doesn’t fit well, you will have problems with the airflow, in turn making temperature control difficult.

7. Warranty

When spending money on anything, you want to make sure the purchase is backed up by a solid warranty. Typically, a portable charcoal grill will have a three to five-year warranty.

This gives users the peace of mind that they will get at least three years out of their unit, or the option to return the grill if any problems occur.

8. Ash Pan

The ash drawer or catcher is basically a container that fits inside or at the bottom of your grill. This collects all the ash, resulting in an easier clean-up. This also acts as a bottom vent for your unit.

9. Chimney Starter or Electric Ignition

Some grills may come with an electric gas ignition that allows the charcoal bed to ignite quicker. Others may feature a chimney starter. Both are great features to look out for when burning charcoal [4].

FAQs

How Often Should You Clean a Charcoal Grill?

You should clean your charcoal grill every time you’re finished with it. This will stop stubborn oils and fats from sticking to your grill, resulting in unwanted flavors and a much harder cleanup further down the line. Simply use a grill brush to scrub the grates of the grill and wipe down the exterior.

Does Charcoal Add Flavor to the Food?

Yes, charcoal adds a lot of smoky flavor when you use it to cook. As the food heats up on the grill, the oils drip onto the coals below. This then creates vapors which in turn, infuse the food with a smoky flavor.

How Much Charcoal Do You Need for a Portable Grill?

Most portable charcoal grills will use about 30 charcoal briquettes. Of course, you need to consider the side of your grill. The larger it is the more charcoal it will take.

What Size Cooking Area Do I Need for a Portable Charcoal Grill?

A good-sized portable grill will have at least 180 square inches of cooking space. This will allow for a small family or party.

The Best Portable Charocal Grill - Our Winner

All of the grills listed here today are worthy competitors. That being said, the winner has to go to the Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill, purely for its cooking temperature control, quality of materials, and it being an all-around portable package.

This grill offers plenty of space, but weighs only 22 pounds, making it ideal for use on the go. The lid and bowl are made from heavy-duty porcelain enamel, which not only retains heat well but withstands the test of time.

The dual venting system makes controlling the grill straightforward, and the lid-locking mechanism ensures everything stays in one place.

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Ideal for portability as it only weighs 22 pounds
  • The lid and bowl are made from porcelain-enamel, which is excellent for retaining heat
  • The enameled surface won't peel or rust easily
  • The aluminum ash catcher makes it easy to clean
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of September

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