The Best Charcoal Grill to Buy in 2024, According to Our Test Kitchen

Updated: May 17, 2024

There's no comparison to the smoky flavor of meat cooked over charcoal. If you love to cook outdoors, it's time to invest in one of the best charcoal grills.

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Charcoals GrillsTASTE OF HOME

In the grilling world, there are two camps of people: Charcoal vs. gas. Some folks like the convenience of gas grills, but others can’t live without the delicious smoky flavor of a charcoal grill. If you’re in the latter group, chances are you’re willing to put in the extra effort to cook your food over charcoal. According to fans of the best charcoal grills, there’s no other way to get the same moist, flavorful results.

These days, you’re not limited to boring, flimsy charcoal grills without any special features. In fact, there are so many different charcoal grills available now, from classic kettle grills from time-honored brands to ones boasting fun colors, thermometers, smokestacks and elevated grate shelves. That said, some folks prefer a more basic model that’s good at getting crispy, crunchy edges on steaks and chicken wings.

Grilling expert Catherine Ward, who heads up the Taste of Home prep kitchen, tried eight different charcoal grill brands and gathered over 320 data points to determine which is truly the best charcoal grill for every yard. When looking for a charcoal grill, she suggests looking at your family’s needs and doing some research. “Before shopping for a grill—or any big purchase—I do my homework,” she says. “After first setting my budget, I want to read the reviews, good and bad, because one person’s drawback is another’s positive.”

One of her biggest personal considerations? Wheels. “Will it glide easily if I need to store it in an area different from where I will be grilling? That’s a big consideration,” she says. “I also consider my space—the overall footprint is important. Be mindful of the size of your yard and whether you really need something heavy-duty, or if something smaller will suffice,” she adds.

When it comes time to purchase a new grill for your home, there are many considerations. But no matter your needs, you’ll find your match in one of these dependable charcoal grills.


  • Intuitive to use
  • Sturdy design
  • Four easy-to-move wheels
  • Large, sturdy folding side table
  • Convenient lid cradle
  • Three tool hooks


  • No char baskets for indirect cooking included

Backed by one of the most trusted names in the barbecue industry, the Weber Performer offers more features than the brand’s classic option and consistently impressive performance. Given how well it tackled everything from sticky barbecue chicken to juicy racks of ribs in our grill tests, it’s unsurprising that it made our top pick as one of the best charcoal grills available.

There is no need to sweat a small cooking area. The sprawling 363 square-inch cooking surface offers room for up to 13 burgers — enough for a whole family! Three tool hooks hold your Weber accessories, making switching between tongs and spatulas easy when cooking for a crowd. Locking wheels offer additional sturdiness for windy days, and the addition of a lid cradle eliminates the stress of propping it up while attending to the fire and flipping food. As a surprise bonus, we also found it easier to assemble than the classic option, so there’s no need to worry about fighting with poor instructions.


In addition to the sturdy cart structure around the central kettle, a generously sized fold-down shelf and convenient lower rack offer ample space for chopping, serving and storage. According to Catherine, the center of the grate can be removed, making indirect cooking on the perimeter with coals in the center a cinch. While it comes with more bells and whistles than the classic kettle grill, it still offers an intuitive setup and simple operation, making it ideal for both beginners and barbecue pros alike.

Cooking Area: 363 square inches | Dimensions: 43.5″H x 42″W x 29″D | Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid; 5 years on one-touch cleaning system, plastic components; 2 years for all remaining parts

Best Budget Charcoal Grill

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill


  • Very easy and intuitive use
  • Simple, straightforward design
  • Performed very well with all cook times and temperatures
  • Holds a steady temperature
  • 363 sq. in. cooking area that fits 10-15 burgers at a time
  • Affordable price point


  • No side table
  • Ash collector a bit clumsy to reattach

Our pick for the best budget charcoal grill is none other than this classic Weber grill. Weber is one of the most trusted names in the grill industry, and its Original Kettle Charcoal Grill is a worthwhile investment. The circular grill has a convenient cleaning system that lets you sweep ash into the catcher below for easy disposal, and it features a heat shield that prevents the handle from getting too hot. There’s a large damper on the lid to control airflow, and the grill is mounted on two large wheels for increased portability.

“I have tried less expensive brands over the years. I’ve never had the same quality of heating or longevity that I get from a Weber,” says Catherine, who owns four of these amazing charcoal grills. One of her favorite features is the hook inside the lid so that the lid can rest on the lip of the kettle. She notes that in addition to the convenience factor while adding grilled items, flipping, checking the temperature and removing food from the grill, hooking the lid on the lip of the kettle blocks a bit of the wind when starting a chimney with coal.

Weber Og

Catherine also mentions that this model offers some of the simplest temperature controls—but in a good way. Slightly opening the lower vents and opening the upper vents about a quarter of the way offered just enough heat for foods that require a medium temperature, like barbecue chicken. Using this method, she easily maintained the right temperature for two and a half hours of cooking before having to add a few more coals. It’s also easy to clean, though the ash bucket takes some finagling to fit back into place.

Those who enjoy grilling throughout the summertime but don’t have the funds for a high-tech splurge will love this classic option’s simplicity and sear.

Cooking Area: 363 square inches | Dimensions: 39.5″H x 22.5″W x 27″D | Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid; 5 years on one-touch cleaning system, plastic components; 2 years for all remaining parts


  • Attractive grill with four legs
  • Very sturdy
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to attain desired temperature
  • Smoke stack chimney protects from gusts


  • Heavy duty grates difficult to move
  • No side table
  • Confusing setup

Smoke stack chimney? Check! Deep, thick grill marks? Check! With the Napoleon Pro charcoal kettle grill, those who enjoy an expertly seared steak or a sturdy option for gusty days get both. A sleek and stylish shiny black shell looks great on the patio, and the silver metal ring showcases the different positions for the grill grate. While built with the same quality as the Weber options we tested, adding a heavy-duty grate that holds tons of heat and three grilling positions offers additional flexibility for the budding BBQer.

While the heavy-duty grate may be a bonus for some who prefer crunchy charred bits, others—like Catherine—found it a bit burdensome. “There are notches in the grate that have to be lined up with tabs to lower the grate onto the grill and to choose a position,” she says. “It’s especially hard to maneuver over hot coals when positioning the grate. On the ribs, the bottom got more charred from the hot, heavy grate.”


Despite having a difficult time adjusting the grates, Catherine noticed that they held heat much better than the other options she tested. It took about two hours of grilling before she had to add additional coals. This is definitely a good option for those who prefer a “hands-off” approach to grilling since there’s less temperature maintenance required. While not as good of a value as the Weber models, the mid-range price point feels fair, and a 10-year limited warranty sweetens the deal.

Cooking Area: 363 square inches | Dimensions: 28.5″D x 23″W x 42″H | Warranty: 10 years limited


Best Splurge Charcoal Grill

Slow ‘n Sear Charcoal Kettle Grill


  • Two-zone cooking accessories included
  • Four sturdy legs
  • Convenient, sturdy side table
  • Holds temperature for hours
  • Sleek, luxe look


  • Thermometer may be inaccurate

Barbecue kings and queens deserve a charcoal grill that checks all the boxes and then some—which is exactly what you get with the Slow ‘n Sear Charcoal Kettle Grill. This splurge-worthy addition to any grilling arsenal boasts several enhancements compared to competitors: A heavy-duty coal holder simplifies cooking with indirect heat, and a narrow liquid channel keeps moisture in meats during long cooks. In addition, a “Spin Grate” spins freely with tongs to move food closer or further from heat, allowing chefs to add as much (or as little) char as they desire. It also doesn’t skimp on style, boasting a sleek look, four sturdy legs and a convenient side table.

According to Catherine, the grill easily held the temperature during the chicken’s entire one-hour cooking time. A two-zone cooking addition comes with the unit right out of the box, dividing the coals into two sides. One side is cooler and thus works better for imparting smoky flavor, while the other offers a substantial, sizzling sear. The coal bin used for indirect heat burned slowly and steadily throughout the tests. A nice, deep ash bin holds more than enough for a family meal and is also easy to empty.

Sns Grill

Unfortunately, one area where we had trouble was the built-in thermometer. Catherine notes that the needle never moved during the quick sear cook on the steak. While it did move for our slow and low rib cook, the temperature was inaccurate by more than 100 degrees. After doing some research, it seems like we ran into a one-off malfunction. Luckily, the generous 10-year warranty covers issues like this should something similar happen to you.

Cooking Area: 484 square inches | Dimensions: 23″D x 30.63″W x 41.66″H | Warranty:10 years on bowl and lid; 5 years on one-touch cleaning system, plastic components; 2 years for all remaining parts

Most Customizable Charcoal Grill

Weber Master Touch Charcoal Grill


  • Performs well with all proteins
  • Maintains cooking temperature
  • Easy to use
  • Color options available
  • Char baskets and warming rack included
  • Tight-fitting lid


  • No side table

Those looking for a grill that doubles as a backyard feature, listen up! This pretty kettle grill offers more than just a luxe look. While it seems at first glance like a fairly basic model Weber, the Weber Master Touch Charcoal Grill‘s shiny black shell actually comes in an assortment of shades. Options include spring green, ivory, burnt orange and deep ocean blue. It’s not just worth snagging for the pretty, eye-catching colors, either. It also holds its own against competitors with a tight-fitting lid and heavy-duty grates.

Catherine comments on the differences between this Weber model and the others, noting that the wheels are larger than the base model and the top vent has a black handle that can be adjusted without grill gloves. “It also includes a semi-circle elevated rack for warming or cooking more delicate items—a nice feature that I’m surprised doesn’t come with the pricier Performer,” she says. Two included char baskets can be positioned together or separately. Similarly to the Performer, the grate does have a removable center portion to accommodate indirect grilling on the perimeter or accessories sold separately like the Weber vortex.


While you’ll need to bring your own table to cut and serve your meals since there’s no attached side table, rest assured that it’s worth forgoing this feature for robust performance. The grill holds high temperatures for long periods, only requiring a single top-up with coals during a three-hour low and slow rib roast. Because it’s a Weber model, it works well with the brand’s add-ons including the kettle pizza attachment. That means there’s no need to splurge on pricey pizza ovens — bonus!

Cooking Area: 443 square inches | Dimensions: 42″H x 24″W x 29.5″D | Warranty:10 years on bowl and lid; 5 years on one-touch cleaning system, plastic components; 2 years for all remaining parts


Best Charcoal Grill/Smoker Combo

Oklahoma Joe’s Black Jack Kettle Charcoal Grill


  • Attractive, smoker-style look
  • Holds temp very well without burning away the charcoal
  • Very sturdy and heavy duty
  • Convenient, sturdy side table
  • Hinged lid is very stable
  • Extremely simple setup


  • Side table doesn't fold down
  • Temperature decrease takes a little bit of finessing

While not advertised as a smoker, Oklahoma Joe’s Black Jack kettle grill holds heat so well for extended periods that according to Catherine, it’s “appealing for long, slow cooks.” Despite the heavy-duty parts (with emphasis on the “heavy”), assembly is simple enough that it doesn’t require studying the assembly guide in order to get it set up. Getting started is very intuitive, and the parts feel very high quality. As we mentioned, the parts are a bit heavy, but considering the small number we consider it well worth the labor.

It’s not just the setup that impresses, though. The high heat easily caramelizes barbecue sauces in mere minutes, and the smoker-like construction makes it easy enough to hack it into a smoker grill combo. A sturdy side table offers enough space for serving or chopping, and the porcelain exterior comes coated in what appears to be cast iron, lending to its impeccable heat retention.

Ok Joe

While the heavy-duty parts help the unit heat up right away, it does require some finessing when lowering the temp. The smokestack vent and bottom vents work well, but the grill material is so thick and solid that it really holds the heat. “At points where I would normally just close the vents, I needed to open the lid to let it cool down for a bit,” notes Catherine. That said, she considers this a pro rather than a con, especially since it was simple enough to regulate once she got the hang of it.

Cooking Area: 382 square inches | Dimensions: 41″H x 39″W x 28″D | Warranty: 2 years limited

What to Look for When Buying the Best Charcoal Grills

There are so many of the best charcoal grills that it can be overwhelming to pick just one! As you narrow down your choices, use these important features to guide your decision:

  • Shape: Charcoal grills come in various shapes, including kettle, barrel and kamado grills, which are shaped like eggs. “Instead of a standard round grill, go for a rectangular shape, similar to a gas grill,” recommends Taste of Home food stylist Josh Rink. “Many charcoal grills of this type have adjustable racks which allow you to move the charcoal embers closer or further away from the food smoker, giving the cook more control over the intensity of the heat.”
  • Cooking area: Another key feature to take into account is a grill’s cooking area, which is usually measured in square inches. This will give you an idea of how many servings of food can be cooked at one time. Barrel-shaped grills usually provide the most cooking space, whereas kamado grills often have small cooking surfaces.
  • Charcoal placement: “I look for models that feature a grate for the charcoal to rest on, which creates airflow around charcoal,” says Josh. “If the charcoal rests directly on the bottom of the grill, this can affect how well the charcoal burns.” You may also want to assess how easy it is adding more charcoal to the grill while in use. Some newer models have access doors that let you add more fuel without disturbing your food.
  • Air vents: When cooking with charcoal, air vents will help you control the temperature of the flames by allowing more or less airflow into the grill. A good charcoal grill should have at least one or two easily adjustable vents.
  • Clean-up: One of the downsides of charcoal grills is that clean-up is a little more labor-intensive, as you have to remove the charcoal ash. You’ll want to look for a model that makes clean-up easy with a removable ash drawer or bucket.
  • Additional features: In general, charcoal grills don’t have as many bells and whistles as their gas counterparts, but some units come with features like adjustable-height grates and built-in thermometers.

If you’re new to the smoky, fall-off-the-bone cooking method, check out our guides on how to use and start a charcoal grill.

Why You Should Trust Us

As Taste of Home’s food and beverage expert, I have ample experience testing and reviewing everything from cookware to meal kits. The Taste of Home team dedicates itself to vetting and testing the products we recommend, from big purchases like the best food processors to smaller splurges like the best hop water. Our Product Testing Team has more than 25 combined years of experience in professional product selection and testing, and the Test Kitchen Team brings even more experience to the table.

A lifelong foodie, charcoal grill tester Catherine Ward heads up the Taste of Home prep kitchen. She also lends her expertise to articles about cooking and baking techniques and kitchen tools. Her areas of expertise include grilling and smoking. Catherine has worked in the hospitality industry for most of her career, catering and teaching cooking classes. She is happiest when cooking for a table full of friends and family.

How We Found the Best Charcoal Grills

In order to find the best charcoal grills, we first looked at bestsellers and top-rated finds from the most popular brands. From there, we narrowed our list to include only classic charcoal kettle grills — no kamado grills (also called “ceramic grills”) or barrel grills. After that, we brought our top eight choices into the Test Kitchen, where our grilling expert cooked a broken-down chicken, steak and ribs on each option, recording how each pick performed. Once the grills cooled, we scrubbed each grill with a grill brush and removed any ash, noting the ease with which the grill cleaned up.

We tested each grill using the following proteins and methods:

  • Steak (1 ½” thick): We used high heat (450 degrees) for a good sear on each side. The total cooking time was six minutes. We performed a one-minute sear on each side, covering for four minutes between sears.
  • Whole cut-up chicken (with barbecue sauce): We used medium heat (350 degrees). The total cooking time was one hour.
  • One rack of baby back ribs: We cooked these low and slow (275 degrees), and each rack took three hours to cook.

After all is said and done, we gathered approximately 320 data points across the following categories:

  • Setup
  • Grill Features
  • Aesthetics
  • Ease of Use
  • Starting the Grill
  • Temperature Control
  • Surface Area
  • Searing/Browning/Crisping
  • Cleaning


Which brand is best for charcoal grills?

According to testing conducted by our resident grilling expert Catherine Ward, Weber is the overall best charcoal grill brand. We tested eight different charcoal grills, and Weber grills topped the list in three of our five winning categories. Other brands that impressed Catherine include SnS Grill and Oklahoma Joe’s. We recommend opting for one of those if you decide not to go with the classic Weber.

What is the best charcoal to buy for BBQ?

There’s two kinds of charcoal available for charcoal grills: traditional charcoal and starter charcoal. According to professional chef Lindsay D. Mattison in our piece on the best types of charcoal, “Catherine Ward, our prep kitchen manager, always uses Kingsford briquettes when smoking. They provide a consistent, slow burn that makes it easier to turn your grill into a smoker.”

Additionally, consider air cleanliness and grill clean-up. “The vast majority of our Test Kitchen team prefers cooking over hardwood coal because of its cleaner flavor. Josh Rink, our food stylist and test cook, likes how it lights quicker and burns hotter than briquettes,” says Lindsay. “And because it doesn’t contain any by-products or additives, hardwood charcoal produces fewer ashes, so you won’t need to clean out the grill as frequently.”

Why are Weber charcoal grills so expensive?

Weber charcoal grills are some of the best in the grilling biz, so they’re often available at a higher price than other brands. The Weber name is a trusted brand in barbecue, and they also offer a generous warranty on their grills. This makes them appealing for those who want to secure a grill that lasts throughout years of use.