If you’re short on time and just want to know what the best portable charcoal grill is, then we recommend the Cuisinart CCG190RB as the best one.
Nothing beats grilling outside on a sunny day. You get to grill some of your favorite dishes with friends and family, which is really fun, especially if you’re on a camping trip.
As much as grilling outside while on the road or at a park is fun, you cannot do it with your regular grill. Charcoal grills are huge and heavy. Even if you have a truck that could easily transport it, you’d still have to deal with the vast amount of effort required to load and unload it. So, that brings us to the next best thing, portable charcoal grills.
Portable charcoal grills are specially made for the outdoors griller who likes to move around. They are small, light, and use very little fuel compared to their bigger counterparts.
Shopping for a portable charcoal grill can be pretty daunting. For that reason, we’ve reviewed five of the best portable charcoal grills on the market. And to top it all off, we’ve also added a few things you’ll need to know to make a perfect choice.
So, without further ado, let’s get right to it.
In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the following portable charcoal grills:
- Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill
- Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
- Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black
- Oklahoma Joe’s 19402088 Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill
- VENYN Original Kettle Premium Portable Charcoal Grill for Outdoor Grilling
Benefits of Using a Portable Charcoal Grill
They are Affordable
One of the most outstanding qualities of portable charcoal grills is their affordability. On average, a portable charcoal grill goes for between $25 and $500. This is much cheaper than you would have to pay for a portable gas grill, which can cost you between $150 and $1,500. They also require considerably less fuel to cook.
They are Portable
As their name suggests, portable charcoal grills are super portable. They are made with small parts and lightweight materials. A portable charcoal grill can even fit in your backpack, making them perfect for hiking and camping trips.
They require Minimal Maintenance
Maintaining a portable charcoal grill is easy. They have very few parts and are rarely exposed to the elements. In retrospect, the only part you’d have to be worried about is the grate, which you have to replace every few years. Other than that, as long as you clean it regularly, you have nothing to worry about.
They Still Give You a Nice, Smoky Taste
One of the biggest reasons behind charcoal grills’ vast popularity is the smokey taste they give to meat. Because let’s face it, the smoky flavor is one of the key ingredients to a great BBQ meal. Portable charcoal grills give your BBQ meal the same great taste that you would get with a regular-sized charcoal grill.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Portable Charcoal Grill
When it comes to size, you have to consider how many people you’ll be cooking for and your storage and transportation options. Portable grills don’t get any larger than 300 square inches of cooking space, which is enough for cooking for at least four people at a time. If you only plan on cooking food for two, you can consider getting a smaller model.
In terms of transportation, even the largest portable charcoal grill can fit in your trunk. However, if you normally go on hiking trips, you should consider getting a smaller model that can fit in your car trunk.
Presence of Easy-to-Adjust Top and Bottom Vents
The combustion rate of charcoal depends on the amount of oxygen you let into the grill. Bottom and top air regulation vents allow you to control the combustion rate of charcoal and the cooking temperature. When both vents are open, the fire burns hotter, and the rate of combustion is very high. On the other hand, when the vents are closed, the combustion rate and temperature drop.
Does it Have an Ash Catcher?
An ash catcher is a bowl or pot-shaped container that latches to the bottom of the grill. It helps “catch” ash residue, thus preventing you from making a mess when cooking.
Some features allow you to cook more comfortably and efficiently. The first feature to consider when buying a portable charcoal grill is its lid. A snug-fitting lid allows you to control airflow. The lid works together with the control vents to give you full control over cooking temperature and, ultimately, the quality of your BBQ.
Other features to look out for include foldable/removable legs, handles, and a carrying bag.
If you are a beginner or have never used a portable charcoal grill before, check out the following video. You’ll get an idea of how a grill works and learn how to use a portable charcoal grill.
Cooking Grate Material
Whichever model you choose, make sure its grate can handle some additional weight. This widens your cooking options by allowing you to put pans and other cooking implements. You should also pay attention to the grill grate material. The best grill grate material to go for is plain cast iron or stainless steel. These materials are durable and are not hard to clean.
Ease of Cleaning
You don’t want a portable charcoal grill that will give you a headache after every cook, do you? When it comes to charcoal grills, the ease of cleaning depends on their design and material.
For example, grills with stainless steel grill grate are easier to clean than those made of cast iron. Likewise, those with shallow charcoal bins are easier to clean than those with deep charcoal bins.
Top Five Portable Charcoal Grills on the Market
Weighing only 2 pounds, this is one of the lightest and space-saving portable grills on the market today.
This portable charcoal grill comes with a 15-inch grill grate that gives you plenty of room to cook your food. For example, you can cook up to six burgers at once, or some chicken breast and a couple of burgers.
It also has a dual (top and bottom) ventilation system that makes temperature regulation and fuel management super easy. Its ease of use and assembly makes it suitable for both beginners and experts.
Although it’s on the low end of the budget, you’d be surprised by its superb build quality. It is made of durable materials and comes equipped with a triple locking lid that locks securely. This lid minimizes the chance of spillage while being transported. It also comes with an ash catcher and a firebox.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 14.5 x 14.5 x 15 inches
Weight: 2 lbs
Cooking surface: 150 sq. inches
- It’s compact
- It’s lightweight
- The grill has a dual ventilation system for optimum fuel and temperature management
- It comes with an integrated ash catcher and firebox
- The construction is a bit flimsy
Take one look at its design, and you’ll know that it’s designed for all tailgaters out there. This portable charcoal grill comes equipped with a pair of sturdy legs that pivot over the top of the lid, thereby snapping it securely in place for transport.
Its construction is made of porcelain enamel steel that is not only sturdy but also rust-resistant. The triple plated nickel grate gives you up to 160 square feet of cooking space. In terms of fuel and temperature regulation, you’ll be impressed to learn that both the top and bottom lids on this grill have dual dampers that regulate airflow efficiently.
At only 14 pounds, measuring only 15” x 12” x 21”, this portable charcoal grill does not have any nuts or bolts. It does not require any further assembly, making it perfect for moving around. Another notable feature of this fact is that, unlike most portable grills, the legs on this grill fold over the top instead of being removed.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 12.2 x 21 x 14.5 inches
Weight: 8.82 lbs
Cooking surface: 160 sq. inches
- It is durable
- It does not require assembly
- Fairly large cooking area
- Great value
- It is quite heavy
When most people hear the name Weber, what comes to mind is quality, durability, and reliability. It’s no surprise that such an old manufacturer has picked up some tricks over the years, much of which is evidenced by this portable charcoal grill.
It weighs a total of 18 pounds and has a 13” cooking surface. Although this model cannot cook an entire turkey at once, it offers plenty of room for cooking hotdogs, steaks, hamburger patties, and any other picnic food.
In terms of assembly, it doesn’t get any easier than this. This grill comes with a straightforward user manual. It only requires a few basic tools like pliers, a crescent wrench, and a screwdriver to assemble. In total, it only takes about fifteen minutes to assemble it.
It has a steel-plated grill grate and rust-resistant aluminum dampers at the top and bottom that ensure efficient fuel and temperature regulation.
Cleaning this grill is also quite easy. It comes equipped with an aluminum dish that serves as an ash catcher. The ash catcher comes in handy as it ensures that you don’t make a mess while cooking. It also directs all grilling waste on one spot, making it easier to get rid of.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 19.75 x 20.5 x 19.75 inches
Weight: 18 lbs
Cooking surface: 240 sq. inches
- Excellent temperature control
- It has a sturdy construction
- It is easy to assemble
- It comes with an ash catcher
- It is portable and lightweight
- Limited space under the lid (lid is shallow in height); hence you can’t cook big (tall) meals
If you love antiques, then you will like this portable charcoal grill’s design. It looks like an old school design on the outside, but it packs some awe-inspiring features on the inside.
It features sturdy heavy-duty steel construction with thick cast-iron grates. It has an adjustable charcoal tray that can be raised or lowered in three-step settings. It also has large air dampers that effectively control airflow and regulate cooking temperatures.
It has 218 square inches worth of cooking space, which is large enough to cook ten burgers at once. The thick cast iron grates also produce a perfect sear on foods like chops and steaks.
Another cool feature of this portable grill is the professional temperature gauge located at the top. It has glow-in-the-dark ascents so that you can read it clearly in the dark without aid. It also comes with a front-access removable ash catcher and sturdy side handles with rubber grips that allow easy transportation.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 19.5 x 26.8 x 21.8 inches
Brand: Oklahoma Joe’s
Weight: 52.8 lbs
Cooking surface: 218 sq. inches
- It has a sturdy construction
- Ample cooking space
- It comes equipped with a temperature gauge.
- Adjustable charcoal tray
- It’s quite heavy
When it comes to portable grills, it doesn’t get any more portable than this. This grill is small, easy to assemble, and can be carried anywhere. It also comes with wheels at the base that enable you to push it around.
The entire construction is made of high-quality steel, which is rust-resistant. The lid is also embedded with porcelain, which helps in efficient heat retention and regulation, enabling you to use less fuel to cook larger meals.
It has a one-touch cleaning system that utilizes an easy-to-clean ash catcher that collects all the ash and other grilling waste for easy disposal and cleaning, all the while not making a mess.
It is suitable for cooking all kinds of camping and picnic meals, including hotdogs, hamburger patties, and even whole chickens. It also comes with a three-month warranty.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 18 x 17.5 x 7.5 inches
Weight: 8.88 lbs
- It’s effortless to assemble
- The base has wheels
- Excellent heat retention
- It’s easy to clean
- Poor construction quality
Portable charcoal grills are among the most popular and useful cooking tools for campers and tailgaters out there. They enable you to cook your favorite meals wherever you are.
In the article, we have reviewed five of the best portable charcoal grills on the market. As our top pick, we chose the Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill due to its super lightweight (only 2 pounds), coupled with its ease of use and assembly, and its excellent heat regulation. It is arguably one of the lightest portable charcoal grills out there, making it perfect for hiking and picnics in remote areas.
Before choosing which portable charcoal grill to buy, make sure you read through the buying guide section of this article. It will enable you to make a good decision and end up with the best grill for your intended use and preference. If you are a beginner, check out the video on how to use a charcoal grill.