As an avid camper and hiker myself, a portable grill is an essential tool for my outdoor adventures. I’ve used plenty of different grills in the past and to be honest, nothing beats a solid charcoal grill for cooking up warm, hearty meals.
I find myself craving for that smokey barbeque flavor every time I go camping and that’s why I always bring a portable charcoal grill with me.
If you’re on the lookout for a sturdy, reliable grill, I’ve rounded up six great options to help you pick the best portable charcoal grill.
Weber Jumbo Joe
FOR LARGE MEALS
The Weber Jumbo Joe's size and build quality will not disappoint, especially if you want a grill that can cook large meals.
Rated by Nathan
Overall the Weber 121020 is the best tailgating and camping companion to sizzle up tasty barbeques and burgers.
Rated by Nathan
The Char-Griller 2-2424 is a charcoal grill and a side fire box all in one which makes it very versatile.
Rated by Nathan
Best Charcoal Grill in the Market this 2018
When it comes to charcoal grills, nothing gets better than the Weber 121020. Construction is top-notch and the grill grate heats up nice and evenly.
It offers 160 sq. inches of cooking space and uses a triple-plated nickel cooking grate for added durability and offers a convenient dual-vent system on top of the lid.
I really like the finish of this grill. It's got a porcelain enameled coating that prevents rusting even when exposed to harsh conditions.
The handle is made of glass-nylon and I like how it stays cool to the touch. The Weber 121020 is relatively compact as well, meaning you’ll have no trouble bringing this with you wherever you go.
When you’re done cooking, just fold the pivoting legs and pack it away easily. Overall the Weber 121020 is the best tailgating and camping companion to sizzle up tasty barbeques and burgers.
Texas-style smoking on the go
Coming in at second on my list is the Char-Griller 2-2424. It’s a charcoal grill and a side fire box all in one which makes it very versatile.
It’s got a wide 250 sq. inch cooking space for grilling multiple burgers and meats and uses cast-iron grill grates for an equal heat distribution.
The handle is made of heat-resistant material. One feature that I particularly liked is the heat control. There are two adjustable dampers on the Char-Griller 2-2424’s side to control heat which is a huge plus in my book.
The powder coat finish on this grill is really good and I like how its sturdy and well constructed. Cleaning it is a breeze as well due to the easy access ash pan. Not to mention that you can use it as a side fire box for some Texas-style smoking for added meal variety. You definitely won’t be disappointed when you pick up this charcoal grill.
Grilled barbecue for everyone
If you’re looking to cook up sizeable meals, the Weber 1211001 Jumbo Joe might be right down your alley.
I brought this to a local hiking event and let me tell you, the 18.5 inch diameter cooking surface allowed me to cook a number of kebabs, sausages, and burgers all at the same time.
The cooking grate is steel-plated and the bowl and lid is porcelain enameled which should add to the sturdiness and solid construction of this grill.
You won’t have to worry about burning your hands because it comes with a reinforced nylon handle.
Cleaning it is relatively easy. The aluminum ash catcher collects plenty of ash so it’ll take a while before you clean it. There’s also a lid lock to cook meats faster.
Overall, the Weber 1211001 Jumbo Joe is one of the best portable charcoal grill you can buy. Its size and build quality will not disappoint, especially if you want a grill that can cook large meals.
Jumbo Joe’s little brother
The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch delivers the same quality and performance the Jumbo Joe delivers albeit in a smaller package.
What you’re looking at here is a 14 ½ inch diameter of cooking space that uses a triple plated nickel grill grate. It’s got the same porcelain enamel coating as the Jumbo Joe which helps prevent rusting and corrosion.
It also uses a reinforced nylon handle to keep it warm even when used extensively.
Personally, I find that the size of the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe is more suitable for going to the beach and backyard cookouts. It doesn’t come with a locking lid though so do keep that in mind.
It’s easy to assemble and fairly compact. The smaller size of this portable grill means it will heat up much slower than the Jumbo Joe and you’ll be able to cook less meals but overall it performs the same and is also made of similar, high quality materials.
The Cuisinart CCG-190RB adds a bit of style to its repertoire with its bright colors, especially the red one which looks beautiful in person. It’s not only an eye-candy mind you. The design is well-thought of and it performs well for a portable grill of its size.
The cooking surface measures in at 14 inches in diameter and uses a chrome-plated grill grate.
What I really like about this grill’s design is that it has four sturdy legs and a dual venting system on the lid which acts as a temperature control as well.
For safety, it features three solid lid locks so you won’t have trouble transporting it and keeping your barbecues nice and warm when cooking. The Cuisinart CCG-190RB is perfect for grilling small meals while you’re out tailgating, camping, or hiking.
As basic as it gets
The Char-Broil Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill is a no-frills charcoal grill that will get the job done pretty well. If you’re just looking for a simple grill for cooking small meals, this one is right for you.
It may not match the best portable charcoal grills on the list, but it doesn’t need to because it performs good enough for backyard use.
Despite its size, it features a 190 sq. inch cooking surface while using chrome-plated steel wire grill grates.
The handles are supposedly heat-resistant but it does get warm after long use. It’s got a simple lid with no locking system or any vent controls. For a simple charcoal grill the build quality is above average.
The Char-Broil Portable Tabletop Charcoal grill uses steel materials all throughout and while it may not be super durable, it will last when taken care of properly.
Not all charcoal grills are created equal. There are many factors to consider before buying a grill that will fit your needs and in my experience, it all comes to what you’re looking for in a grill and where you intend to use it.
To help guide you in choosing the best portable grill, here are 3 main factors to consider to make the best out of your purchase decision.
The most important element of a good performing charcoal grill is the build quality. You want a grill that’s capable of withstanding constant use and is built to last for years to come.
Look for heat-resistant handles and durable coating finishes on charcoal grills. What I found is the heavier the grill, the better quality materials used and the more even it heats up. Flimsy, thin charcoal grills should be avoided because these tend to break down fast and the grills will heat up unevenly when cooking.
Are you looking to cook up a large amount of meals for everyone? Or you’re just looking for a compact charcoal grill to cook small meals? Consider a grill’s cooking surface in order to fit your needs.
Some grills are 18 inches wide for grilling multiple burgers, sausages, steaks, and kebabs at the same time while others only have a small grill surface for cooking a few meals at once.
Charcoal grills come with many different features. Others have secure locking lids to help keep the lid in place and others do not. Some offer heat and vent control while others do not. Weighing in a grill’s feature set will impact your decision before buying.
Some are versatile enough to be used as a side fire box for a variety of cooking options. Some have powder-coated finishes while others use a porcelain enameled coating which lasts longer and is more durable. Weighing in a grill’s feature set is very important as it will likely impact your decision before buying.
After going through these six portable grills, the Weber 121020 comes out on top as the best portable charcoal grill. Its combination of solid build materials, simple design, and great performance all warrant a purchase from the avid tailgaters, campers, hikers, and beach goers.
With enough knowledge and information, you are now able to select the best charcoal grill that you can use in any outdoor activity you wish. Just use this list as a reference and you’re on your way to smokey barbecue city in no time!