In this article:
While the summer is formally over, visions of tasty backyard cookouts do n’t leave the mind. With fall in full swing, nowadays is a great time to up your outdoor cook plot with the correctly grill. A charcoal grill might sound less epicurean than a gas grill, but when it comes to flavor, the best charcoal grills absolutely compete. Charcoal grills are besides often more low-cost than their gas counterparts, making them a good option for besotted budgets and founder grillers. They ‘re typically easier to set up than a gas grillroom, excessively. All you need for charcoal grill is a light, a bag of charcoal and your darling ingredients. In no time you ‘ll be reaping the rewards of an easy meal with true smoky season. From cart-style to kettle-style, feature-filled grills to ones that offer the bare minimum, we tested nine charcoal grills with chicken, rib and steak to find out which are the best bets for your next backyard barbecue. We ‘ll update this list sporadically .
Best charcoal grills
Reading: Best Charcoal Grill for 2022 – CNET
At $ 129, Weber ‘s original, kettle-style charcoal grill continues to stand the quiz of time. In our high-heat char tests, Weber delivered the best balance of seared outside and medium-rare interior steak. The Weber kettle grillroom gave us tasty chicken besides, with crisp chicken skin. The Weber can besides smoke moo and slow at a dependable fudge temperature. That translated to seriously flavorful rib. childlike construction means there are n’t besides many parts to assemble or besides many features to handle while cooking. A vent on the eyelid controls airflow and a well-designed ash tray beneath the Weber grill facilitates easy cleaning. We tested the 22-inch Weber charcoal grill in black, but Weber besides offers an 18-inch translation of its master kettle design. There are surely fancier and more expensive grills to use for cook, but for a counterweight of affordability and quality, you ca n’t go wrong with this classic. This is the best charcoal grill overall .
Updated the final year 2021, the $ 139 Nexgrill Cart-Style Charcoal Grill is a compel alternative to the Weber, specially if you prefer a cart-style backyard cooker. That design gives you a handy side tray and more cook coat room. In fact, at 572 square inches, this updated larger grill has even more fudge space than the previous translation, which offered 390 straight inches. It ‘s besides a lot compared with the Weber ‘s 363-square-inch cook area. The Nexgrill decidedly gets hot enough to create a decent parch, but you do have to work a little harder than you do with the Weber to avoid overcooking your meat. We recommend the reverse searing method acting for thick cuts. You can besides raise the Nexgrill ‘s adjustable charcoal tray basket to its highest position. That manner you ‘ll get a char crust a quickly as possible. In our medium, indirect-heat chicken tests, the Nexgrill delivered flavorful, blue meat as a near second to the Weber. Ribs were tender, fat and done in just under 5 hours. And this update model, when we used the charcoal snake method acting, prove temperature operate about angstrom beneficial as the Weber. Cart-style grills are n’t for everyone. They ‘re bulkier, the fabrication is more involve and you ‘ll probably need more fuel to keep the larger space at a high temperature. Our results, however, were about angstrom good as with the kettle-style Weber, thus if you ‘re matter to in a cart-style charcoal BBQ, this is your best count .
At $ 349, the Napoleon portable charcoal grill is expensive. During our wimp cook tests, however, this portable grillroom held its temperature better than any other charcoal grill we ‘ve tested. The resulting chicken was tasty, and the grillroom features in truth well-made cast-iron grates across its 365 feather inches of cooking area. The lid houses a temperature gauge and a handy hinge that makes it easy to add charcoal. Napoleon delivered excellent cook results in our rib test. It prepared a offer and juicy wrack in 4 hours, 30 minutes. In our chicken test it held a gamey temperature for longer than any other grill in the batting order. The searing test was average but satisfactory. apart from that, this grill fair feels truly well-built, and I appreciated that it has three heights for your fudge grate, which lets you control how much direct hotness your food gets while cooking and grilling. If you ‘re looking for the fanciest kettle hole grillroom out there, this one might good be it .
How we test
Testing charcoal grills requires a lot of hands-on cook, and your results will obviously vary based on your technique and ingredients, among other factors. Depending on the temper and how your charcoal grillroom is set up, your experience cooking and broil will likely be identical different from ours. For case, a kettle-style charcoal grill left in the July sun all day will run a draw hotter than it will in the cooler spring months. besides, a note about grill thermometers. none of the hood thermometers built into these grills mirrored the temperatures recorded by our own thermocouples and data software. It ‘s not uncommon for grill thermometers to read high, so we recommend keeping an oven thermometer or Bluetooth thermometer handy while you ‘re grilling, either for your kernel or for the grill ‘s temperature itself .
High-heat searing with steak
To test high heat, we seared two steaks on each grillroom. We measured charcoal in a lamp chimney by grams, and in a proportion for that grillroom ‘s specific open area. We lit the charcoal inside the lamp chimney, letting it burn until the smoke dissipated and the coals began to turn grey-white, then put the charcoal into the grill. After the grillroom was heated up for 10 minutes, the steaks were quick to hit the grill grate . Tyler Lizenby/CNET We placed two steaks on each grilling grate near the kernel and seared them for five minutes before flipping them over and searing for another five minutes. With a beneficial, authentic grill, this will give you a steak with a char away and a medium rare to medium center. If you prefer meat that ‘s more well done, you can extend the cook time, or sear and finish cook in an oven . Tyler Lizenby/CNET The best charcoal grill for steak char in our batting order was the Weber Classic Kettle. The steak had nice grill marks while keeping a medium doneness on the inside. The worst was our Tacklife revue unit, which did n’t hold much hotness and did n’t sear while cooking. The steak on that grill needed an extra five minutes to get to a temperature of 135 F, the minimum for medium rare .
Chicken and indirect, medium heat
next, we tested each grill ‘s medium heat cooking capability by roasting whole chickens. The trick here is to keep the grills at a hot adequate temperature to cook a chicken for upwards of two hours. For our tests, each grill gets a full chimney of literature charcoal and a 6-pound wimp opposite the coals for indirect inflame . Tyler Lizenby/CNET
Read more : How to Build an Igloo in 10 Steps | Winter Fun
Cooking over charcoal takes longer than cooking with a gas grill, and we typically need to add more fuel during cooking to keep our grills above 350 degrees F for the broad duration. Our darling bird from this batch was the one cooked on the Weber, though it was a bully call. The shuttlecock cooked on the Nexgrill cart-style grill came in right behind, a close moment in terms of relish and texture . Tyler Lizenby/CNET The deviation between the two was largely in the brittleness of the clamber, with the Weber producing the lake superior results. kernel from the Nexgrill was delightful, with good a bit more flavor than the Weber. Between them, I ‘d say it largely depends on your budget and what style of grill you prefer for other meats like burgers or steak. Weber surely had the superior char in that category .
Our last trial is grilling barbecued ribs, specifically baby back pork barrel rib. This style of cooking requires nonindulgent temperature control over a period of multiple hours. ideally, a quality charcoal grillroom ( or any stag party ) will keep its ardor humming along airless to 225 degrees F for american samoa long as potential . Tyler Lizenby/CNET first base, we set up each grillroom for a low-and-slow burn, using the charcoal snake method acting. In the case of kettle models, we arrange coals in a semicircle around the grill ‘s inner wall. The charcoal briquettes ( Kingsford Blue ) form a lineage two coals wide and two coals deep. We besides drop a few chunks of smokewood on top of the snake ( aka fuse ). On cart-style grills, we modify the hydra to run in right angles to match their rectangular-shaped fireboxes. future, we light each grill ‘s snake at one end of the range with five lit briquettes ( tumbleweed fire starters work, besides ). We set all air vents on each grill ( peak and bed ) to the halfway-open position. last, we place one rack of rib on each grill for indirect cook, with the kernel not sitting directly above the coals . enlarge double Brian Bennett/CNET The Weber was the undisputed king in this trial. No early grill in this group could match the rock-solid temperature control condition of this iconic cooker. Readings from our own thermocouples, plus a digital pit, confirmed this. Throughout the Weber ‘s 6-hour, 32-minute cook time, the grill ‘s inner heat levels never strayed beyond 25 degrees of our target, 225 degrees F. In fact, most of the fourth dimension the temperature hovered between 220 degrees F and 230 degrees F. As a result, rib cooked in the Weber came out tender, fat and fully of smoky flavor . enlarge persona Brian Bennett/CNET The Napoleon grillroom was the second good in this test. Interior temperatures had a greater swing, jumping up to 300 degrees F during periods of cook. Its rack of rib was quick in a short 4 hours, 30 minutes. While its ribs came out tender and blue overall, the exterior bark had a few burn spots . elaborate image Brian Bennett/CNET We noted similar temperature operation from the Nexgrill, along with similar rib results. Cooking ridicule low and slow on the Nexgrill required barely 4 hours, 30 minutes. Its rack came out well excessively, though like the Napoleon, its bark was more marked than what the Weber produced. Our rib experience with a few of the other grills was army for the liberation of rwanda from ideal. The Tacklife was peculiarly badly. At times, the inside of this grill hit temperatures vitamin a high as 400 degrees F. And sadly, the rib it produced came out burned, charred and overdone .
4 unexpected tricks for a better cookout
Other grills we’ve tested
The CNET Smart Home editors have been serving up grill data for a few years now. In addition to the models we recommend above, here are the other charcoal grills we ‘ve tested :
- : KitchenAid’s $199 cart-style charcoal grill has heavy-duty cast iron grates as well as two foldable side trays for extra workspace. It didn’t wow us in any of our tests, but wasn’t noticeably bad either.
- : This $169 cart-style barrel charcoal grill was average in our tests, but it is compatible with a side smoker sold separately, if you’re looking for a charcoal grill with great versatility.
- : This 18-inch kettle-style grill costs $100 and includes all the basic features you’d expect. It couldn’t beat the Weber for classic kettle cooking, but it’s a solid second choice for an affordable kettle-style grill.
- : This cart-style model from Dyna-Glo is pricier at $266, and has killer looks but only fair performance.
- : This $497 cart-style model from Masterbuilt is pricey but unique. It burns charcoal but controls its fire and heat levels electronically like a pellet smoker. It performs well too, though it could be more fuel-efficient. The Masterbuilt’s hardware isn’t weatherized against rain either.
- : At $130, this cart-style BBQ grill is very affordable. It also offers a decent amount of cooking space when you count its upper warming rack. Apart from chicken that was nicely done, its performance was mediocre. It also burned through more charcoal than other grills.
- : Similar to the Royal Gourmet model, the $107 Expert Grill is an affordable cart-style outdoor cooker. However, with 372 square inches of cooking space, the Expert Grill offers a little less room to maneuver. And though it seared our test steaks nicely, it took over 2 hours to roast chicken. That’s much longer than the 1 hour, 20 minutes or so the typical charcoal grill takes.
Best charcoal grill FAQs
Is it worth buying a charcoal grill?
A quality charcoal grill is surely worth the investment. Due to their comparably childlike construction, they tend to cost less than a similarly sized gasoline or pellet grill. Another herculean draw of these grills is the acute smoky spirit they create in the food they cook. They ‘re versatile excessively since they can use either traditional charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal as fuel .
Is it better to grill with charcoal or wood?
Read more : 3 Key Steps to a Concrete Floor Refresh
Each fuel type has its particular strengths and weaknesses. Charcoal briquettes and collocate charcoal are easier to ignite and keep lit than ordinary firewood. That said, charcoal ( specially in briquette form ) produces a bunch more ash than hardwood. And if you plan to cook low and dull we suggest adding a few chunks of hardwood to your charcoal stack. This brings about more roll of tobacco season in barbecue kernel like pork barrel rib, pork barrel butt joint and beef brisket .