18 Best Portable Charcoal Grills [2020 Review]

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the BEST portable charcoal grill is, then we recommend:

If you’re a die-hard charcoal enthusiast, you know that food grilled over a gas fire can never take the place of that authentic wood-fired flavor. But what if you’re looking for a travel-sized grill that can be taken on camping trips or tailgating expeditions? To find out the answer, I decided to conduct a search for the best portable charcoal grill on the market.

In this article, we’re going to review the following portable charcoal grills:

All You Need To Know About Shopping for a Portable Charcoal Grill

Before you begin your search, it helps to learn as much as you can about the ins and outs of the product. Read on for a basic lesson on these handy charcoal-fueled units.

How to Choose the Best Portable Charcoal Grill

First of all, you should decide whether you’re looking for a grill that can sit on a tabletop or truck bed, or a stand-alone unit with wheels. Which one you choose depends on the amount of storage space you have, as well as the configuration of your vehicle. For example, if you’ll be transporting the grill in the trunk of a car, you might want to consider a tabletop model. Conversely, if you have a pickup truck and will be using the grill mainly for tailgating, then a stand-alone unit would probably be best.

Also, consider the amount of grilling space that you’ll need. Will you be entertaining large groups, or cooking for just one or two people? Do you usually grill vegetables and other side dishes as well as the meat course? Your answers will help you decide how big your portable grill should be.

Finally, think about the types of food that you like to grill. If you stick to the usual burgers and hot dogs, then you’ll probably be satisfied with any grill. If you want a grill that can handle a wide range of cooking applications—smoking meats, for example—then you should seek out a more sophisticated model.

Advantages of a Portable Charcoal Grill

Portable grills provide a fantastic opportunity to take your cooking skills on the road. Because they’re small, they can also be a great option for people with limited outdoor living space. Most travel-sized grills weigh between 10 and 50 pounds, but some models might be slightly heavier.

Why choose a charcoal-fueled unit over a gas grill? The short answer: Flavor. With charcoal, you’ll get an authentic smoky taste that’s impossible to replicate when cooking with gas. Charcoal grills also burn hotter than gas models, typically cost less, and require very little maintenance.

Important Features to Look For

All travel grills should be lightweight and portable, with enough cooking space to accommodate your needs. Foldable legs are a plus, but they’re only a necessity if you’ll be packing your grill in a car trunk or cramped backseat. As mentioned above, some of the best portable charcoal grills have very short legs, which allow them to fit easily on a tabletop.

With charcoal grills, you don’t need to worry about variables like temperature control and reliable ignition systems. However, it helps if the firebox is equipped with adequate ventilation. Also, make sure that the grilling grates are positioned at a reasonable distance from the coals. Four to six inches is standard, and recommended especially for grilled and seared meats.

Best Way to Use a Portable Charcoal Grill

Cooking with a small charcoal grill requires a bit of finesse. After you’ve set up your unit, open the bottom vent. Add 15 to 20 briquettes, depending on the size of your grill and how much meat you’re planning to cook. Stack the briquettes in a pyramid and sprinkle them with about two tablespoons of quality lighter fluid. Use a long match to ignite the coals.

When the coals are covered with a thin layer of white ash, you’re ready to start cooking. This should take about 20 minutes. Once the coals are ready, use a pair of tongs to spread them in a single layer. Since you’re using fewer coals than you would with a full-sized grill, keep a close eye on them during cooking and add more as needed.

Bear in mind that these instructions work best with traditional kettle grills and hibachi-style units. If the model features a different design, some adjustments might be required.

When you’re on the road, you’ll want to get your fire going quickly. This is especially true when you’re firing up the grill in the parking lot before the big game. For tips on how to start a charcoal fire in your portable grill, check out this YouTube tutorial:

Safety Precautions

First of all, make sure to set up your grill in an open area, away from any overhanging trees, shrubbery or other structures. The grill should also be kept at least 10 feet away from any buildings.

Make sure the unit is stable before adding and lighting the briquettes. The last thing you want is for the grill to tip over during cooking. Also, clean the grilling grates well after each use to help avoid dangerous flare-ups.

After you’re finished cooking, make sure the fire is completely out before you pack up your portable grill. If possible, clean out the unit and find a place where you can safely dispose of the cooled ashes as well.

The Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Product Review Guide

In this section, we’ll go over the pros and cons of some of the top-rated charcoal grills on the market.

Remember: Only you can decide which one might be the best portable charcoal grill for you. Some of the features we’ve listed will benefit everyone, but other variables, such as grill size, are subjective. Keep your own criteria in mind while reading, and weigh the list against the specifications of each model.

#1 Char-Broil Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill

This flat, rectangular model can be set up on a picnic table or in the back of your pickup truck. Despite its small size—it measures just 17.5 inches wide without the heat-resistant side handles—it’s compatible with lump charcoal, as well as briquettes.

The Char-Broil Portable Tabletop grill offers 190 square inches of cooking space, with a durable steel construction and chrome-plated steel cooking grates. Its design makes it easy to fold and store, and the setup can be done in minutes. The body is outfitted with a high-temperature finish, which helps keep it from rusting. When the grill is set up, it measures 15 inches high. This makes it an excellent choice for camping trips.

This unit is set at a reasonable price point, which should make it especially attractive for bargain shoppers. However, it does have a couple of design flaws. For one, the air vents are configured in a way that makes it impossible to close them. Second, the height is not adjustable, meaning that you’ll have less control over the cooking temperature. Keep these issues in mind when you’re narrowing down your options.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Sturdy construction
  • Packs away easily
  • Drip pan included to help with cleanup

Cons:

  • Air vents are not adjustable and remain open at all times
  • Flimsy grill grate
  • Height is not adjustable

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#2 Char-Griller Box Charcoal Grill

The squat, barrel-shaped design of this tabletop grill makes it a great conversation starter, even before it’s been fired up. Constructed of quality steel with cast-iron cooking grates, it weighs in at 40 pounds, which puts it on the heavy side for a portable grill. Unlike most of the other units on our list, this one can be used as a side firebox for a full-sized Char-Griller barrel grill. That gives it a versatility that helps to offset the higher price tag. Be aware, however, that once the unit has been used as a side smoker, you can’t go back to using it as a grill again.

This unit is outfitted with a removable ash pan, a “Stay Cool” hood handle, and a pair of adjustable dampers for temperature maintenance. The steel body is coated with a powder finish to increase durability. Because of its barrel construction, it imparts a lovely smoke flavor to the food, even when used as a tabletop grill. Speaking of which, the lid fits securely enough to create an oven-like atmosphere. That means it’s possible to use this unit for baking or roasting, as well as smoking and grilling. Just be sure to keep a close eye on the temperature, using the built-in gauge that’s situated in the lid of the grill.

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Good seal on the lid
  • Efficient

Cons:

  • Some shipping issues reported
  • Needs to be seasoned before its first use
  • On the heavy side for a tabletop grill

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#3 Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Red Charcoal Kamado Grill

A Kamado grill is an egg-shaped cooking unit that can be used for smoking and baking as well as grilling. In Japanese, the word “kamado” means “a place for the cauldron,” and is typically used to describe a stove or a cooking range. This particular unit has just 153 square inches of cooking space, so it’s sized for travel.

The AKORN Jr. is part of the Char-Griller Akorn series. It’s constructed of triple-walled 22 gauge steel, with cast iron cooking grates. There are dampers located at the top and bottom of the unit to aid with temperature control, and a removable ash pan makes cleanup that much simpler. Unlike some kamado grills, which typically feature a ceramic construction, this one is lightweight and portable. The hinged lid is equipped with a temperature gauge, superior insulation, and a secure lock to help hold the heat inside. A pair of easy-grip handles make it easy to move the grill from the back of the truck to the parking lot.

What we love most about this unit is the temperature range, which can easily hit 700 degrees Fahrenheit—ideal for searing meats or firing Neapolitan pizzas. Be forewarned, though, that the grill takes quite awhile to cool down again once it’s gotten that hot. You might notice a slight metallic odor (known as “off-gassing”) when unpacking this grill. Fortunately, you can burn off the scent by lighting a simple test fire.

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Able to heat to extremely high temperatures
  • Gives exceptional smoke flavor

Cons:

  • Takes a long time to cool down
  • Some off-gassing reported on delivery
  • Doesn’t always seal well enough to maintain consistent temperatures

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#4 Cuisinart CCG-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill

The CCG-190RB resembles a smaller version of a typical charcoal grill, with a saucer-shaped steel cooking chamber and four metal legs. A chrome-plated grilling grate offers 150 square inches of cooking space. It’s outfitted with a dual venting system to even out the heat distribution, as well as a locking lid to make transportation easier. The disc-shaped ash catcher is technically removable, but we’ve found that it’s somewhat difficult to do so when the unit is fully set up.

Our favorite thing about the CCG-190RB is its weight, which is feather-light at just two pounds. You could easily pack this grill into a canoe for an island camping adventure without fear of overloading. The ungainly design could be an issue, but at least the 14-inch cooking chamber can be used to store the charcoal. Assembly is simple as well, and can typically be performed in less than 10 minutes.

There is a downside to the low weight and ease of assembly, however. The overall construct of the CCG-190RB is not as sturdy as some of the comparable models listed here. The good news? This grill is available at a very affordable price. If you’d like to buy a portable charcoal grill but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then this could be the right unit for you. 

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Lightweight enough to be taken anywhere
  • Assembles in just 10 minutes or less
  • Lid can be clipped shut

Cons:

  • Flimsy construction
  • Unstable grate
  • Legs are not removable

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#5 Kamado Joe “Joe Jr.” Charcoal Grill

The Joe Jr. is part of the Kamado Joe series. It’s an egg-shaped ceramic grill with a flat bottom and an accompanying cast iron frame. Without this frame, the grill can’t stand on its own. The grilling grates are composed of restaurant-grade 304 stainless steel, and the hinged lid comes equipped with a ceramic heat deflector and a built-in thermometer. The single handle is situated at the front of the lid, which is somewhat awkward. On a related note, the unit can only be transported by lifting the cast iron stand—there are no side handles on the body of the grill itself. An ash cleanout tool is also included in the purchase price.

I was surprised to learn that the Joe Jr. offers up 148.5 inches of cooking space. Its design gives it a more compact appearance, but it should be adequate for groups of two to three people. If you’re planning on cooking off a whole chicken, try to find one that weighs between three and four pounds. This will help to ensure that the bird will fit beneath the enclosed lid.

This is an exceptionally heavy travel grill, weighing in at 68 pounds. While the durability of the construction helps to offset this issue, the Joe Jr. is better suited for tailgating than for camping. Better yet, if you’re looking for a small charcoal grill to keep on your patio at home, this could be the answer.

Pros:

  • Very sturdy
  • Attractive design
  • Reliable built-in thermometer
  • Efficient

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Ceramic is prone to cracking
  • Difficult to maintain control of temperature, especially when used as a smoker

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#6 Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill

Lodge has been in business since 1896, and their products have a long reputation for ruggedness and durability. This hibachi-style grill serves as a perfect example of what the company does best. Pre-seasoned with 100 percent vegetable oil, the grill is constructed of heavy cast iron and features a single grilling grate that sits above the coals. A draft door helps to keep the heat regulated, while a flip-down panel allows you to access the coals without disturbing the food on top.

The Sportsman’s Grill offers two height adjustments, which is better than some portable grills can claim. However, since the grill is capable of reaching such high temperatures, it would be nice if the ingredients could be positioned slightly higher. Speaking of which, the cast iron grill grate lies flat on the surface. That makes it easy for the food to roll off during cooking. If you plan on cooking a lot of hot dogs or bratwurst, this grill might not be the best choice.

 With just 142 square inches of cooking space, this grill is best suited for singles or couples. Since it’s constructed entirely of cast iron, it should come as no surprise that it weighs a hefty 30 pounds. What is surprising is the fact that the handle is too flimsy to support this weight. For this reason, I would recommend carrying the Sportsman’s Grill from the bottom instead.

Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Very sturdy
  • Gets hot enough to heat food in saucepans or frying pans

Cons:

  • Food can slide off easily
  • Only two height adjustments available
  • Very heavy
  • Handle is not thick enough to support the grill’s weight

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#7 Megamaster Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

With 353 square inches of cooking space, this is one of the largest units on our list. It’s also fairly cumbersome, with a kettle-shaped porcelain bowl, tripod leg design, and two all-weather casters. This makes it a good choice for backyard grilling and tailgating. If you’re looking for a camping grill, the Megamaster is probably not for you.

The chrome plated cooking grates are easy to clean, and the porcelain lid helps to keep the interior temperature stable over long hours of cooking. All of the handles feature a silicone coating to help protect your hands from the heat. The pot-shaped ash catcher can be easily removed for quick cleaning. There’s also a lower triangular storage rack, but this element is on the flimsy side. The same is true of the handles, although the silicone is undoubtedly a nice touch.

The built-in temperature gauge on the Megamaster is usually accurate, and the grill itself can hold its heat for 10 to 12 hours of cooking. While the wheels and long legs make it difficult to pack—especially in smaller vehicles—it can be moved easily from one side of the lawn to the other. Tailgaters and small families should find plenty to enjoy about this versatile unit.

Pros:

  • Good temperature control
  • Able to hold its heat for long periods of time
  • Easy to use
  • Plenty of grilling space for larger parties

Cons:

  • Chintzy handles and lower shelf
  • Somewhat awkward to transport
  • Heavy lid

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#8 Oklahoma Joe’s “Rambler” Portable Charcoal Grill

The Rambler has an intriguing yet functional half-barrel design, with a broad rectangular base. The built-in side handles make it easy to transport, despite the fact that it weighs in 53 pounds. The squat cooking chamber is constructed of heavy-duty steel, and the cast iron cooking grates allow you to get a good sear on grilled meats and vegetables. Unlike some of the comparable models we’ve listed, the charcoal tray on the Rambler is fully adjustable. That means you can use this unit for smoking and barbecuing as well as grilling.

A built-in thermometer and ample venting system give you a decent amount of control over the internal temperature. The thermometer has an easy-to-read display, with accents that actually glow in the dark. The ash pan sits directly beneath the grilling surface and can be easily removed for fast cleanup. The lid’s handle boasts a rubber coating that makes it easier to grip and keeps it cool to the touch throughout the cooking process.

This grill offers up 218 square inches of cooking space—enough to cook about 10 burgers at once. The two-piece cast iron cooking grates can be removed, allowing you to give the entire unit a thorough cleaning. The Rambler is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but it earns high marks in just about every category.

Pros:

  • Great customer service
  • Versatile
  • Easy to clean
  • Excellent for tailgating

Cons:

  • Steel is fairly thin
  • Air flow vent is prone to sticking
  • Difficult to find replacement parts once warranty runs out

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#9 Shark BBQ Portable Charcoal Grill

This offering from Shark BBQ is one of the most compact and portable tabletop grills on our list. With 190 square inches of cooking space and a foldable hibachi-style design, it’s small enough to fit under the seat of your car when it’s not in use. A sturdy travel bag is included with the purchase.

Both the grill box and the cooking grate on the Shark BBQ Portable grill are constructed of stainless steel. Assembly is fast and simple, with no loose hardware to worry about. No tools are required for the assembly, either, which is incredibly convenient for camping trips. The grill features a set of locking tabs to keep the parts in place during use.

The compact size of the Shark BBQ grill works in its favor, but there are a few issues with the construction. First of all, the unit has a number of sharp edges that can cut you during assembly if you’re not careful. There’s no lid on this unit, so it’s not as versatile as some of the other models listed here. Also, when the grill is in its folded-down position, the pieces have to be arranged in a certain way. Otherwise, the unit won’t fit into its carry case. Finally, the grill grate is configured so that food can easily roll off during cooking.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and portable
  • Comes with its own carrying case (straps included)
  • Easy to assemble
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • Some sharp edges
  • No lid on the grill
  • Food can easily roll off the edges

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#10 Fox Outfitters Quick Grill

Fox Outfitters gets into the portable grilling game with another tabletop unit. This one features a unique trapezoidal design and a “Grill Net” that can be set directly over the coals. All of the components can be folded down and stored in the convenient carrying case. When you’re ready to start cooking, the grill can be assembled in less than a minute.

The grill box is funnel-shaped, with strategic airflow holes and a mortar board to keep the charcoal from burning itself out during use. The entire unit is constructed of stainless steel, including the cooking grates. This gives the grill strength and durability while also making it easier to clean. Note that the unit offers just 144 square inches of cooking space, making it one of the smallest grills on our list. For singles or couples, it should work fine, but larger families might want to explore other options.

This is a nifty little travel grill that won’t take up too much storage space. Personally, I think the grates are positioned a little too close to the fire, but the innovative design helps keep the ashes from coating the food. There’s also no lip around the grilling surface, meaning that the grate is in danger of shifting around during use. It also means that there’s nothing to keep the food from slipping off, so be sure to take care around the edges.

Pros:

  • Comes with its own carrying case
  • Unusual eye-catching design
  • Folding legs
  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Thin, flimsy material
  • No lip around grilling surface
  • Difficult to regulate temperature

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#11 Sougem Portable Charcoal Grill

This diminutive option resembles a black suitcase with a stainless steel grilling grate on top. Setup couldn’t be easier: Simply open the box, place the grate over the top, and the carbon tray will fall into place on its own. You’ll end up with 130 square inches of grilling space, enough to serve one or two people. Once you’re finished cooking, the grill can fit easily in the trunk of your car. The box features a carrying handle to make transportation easier.

While the grill is constructed of stainless steel, it features a heat-resistant nano coating that also leaves it immune to damage from rust. Side vents promote excellent airflow, and the height of the grate can be adjusted during use. This also makes it easier to add more charcoal if necessary. Despite its small size, this grill is remarkably efficient. As with the Fox Outfitters Quick Grill, you won’t have to worry about ashes affecting the quality of your cooking.

The portability of this model makes it easy to recommend, but only if you don’t require a lot of cooking space. As a bonus, Sougem stands behind its products with a 100 percent quality guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with the unit for any reason, the company will accept a return or exchange request, no questions asked. 

Pros:

  • Very compact
  • Easy to store
  • Sets up in seconds
  • Includes a safety lock

Cons:

  • Doesn’t impart much smoke flavor
  • No lid on the grill
  • Only offers 130 square inches of cooking space

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#12 Tacklife 22.5-Inch Charcoal Grill

If you’d like to invest in a portable grill but need a little bit of extra cooking space, then the Tacklife model could be the one for you. While this kettle-style grill is lightweight enough to be transportable, it could easily pull double duty in your home’s outdoor kitchen. The grilling surface measures 22.5 inches in diameter, giving you enough space to cook off a dozen burgers at once. That makes it a good choice for tailgating parties or afternoon cookouts with the neighbors.

This model features a “fire switch” that helps you regulate the temperature. There’s also a built-in thermometer, so you can monitor the grill’s status without lifting the lid. As far as cleanup goes, the Tacklife grill is a mixed bag. The steel grilling grate and porcelain-enameled bowl can withstand temperatures of up to 800 degrees, but it’s easy for food to stick to the cooking surface. The ash pan is accessible enough, but be forewarned that you’ll need to wait until the ashes have cooled completely before you can remove it.

While you’ll need a few tools to assemble the Tacklife unit, it shouldn’t take you that much time to get the grill up and running. The company includes an instructional video to help with the setup process.

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Heats quickly and efficiently
  • Sturdy design

Cons:

  • On the larger side for a travel grill
  • No handles on base plate—must wait for unit to cool before removing the ashes
  • Some simple tools required for assembly

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#13 The Original Po’ Man Charcoal Grill

The Original Po’ Man grill is designed to resemble an old-fashioned garbage can. While its grill grate measures only 18 inches in diameter, it’s configured so that you can use it to smoke large quantities of meat at once. According to the manufacturer, you can hang eight half-chickens while roasting vegetables below at the same time. Because of its design, it’s better suited for smoked foods than for grilling, although it could certainly cook off a few burgers or dogs in a pinch.

Many smokers have a grease pan to help make cleanup easier. This unit features a “flavor lock” drip plate. When the drippings hit the plate, the smoke will flare up and envelop the food, thereby increasing the rich barbecue flavor.

There are two skewers included in the purchase of this unit, so you won’t need to invest in additional equipment. While I personally think that its cumbersome design makes it difficult to transport, it’s a very effective smoker that also serves as an excellent conversation starter. The downside, of course, is that neighbors and passersby might mistake it for an actual trash can and use it to dispose of waste materials. For this reason, it’s probably best to keep the grill stored inside when it’s not in use.

Pros:

  • Nifty, eye-catching design
  • Easy to use
  • Large capacity
  • Sturdy construction
  • Hands-off operation

Cons:

  • Passersby could easily mistake it for a trash receptacle
  • Better for smoking than grilling
  • Not as portable as some of the other models listed

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#14 Weber “Smokey Joe” Series

Weber currently offers two models in this series: the 10020 and the 40020. Both are portable charcoal-burning grills with cooking grates that measure 14 inches in diameter. The main components are kettle-shaped, with bowls and lids made of porcelain-coated steel. The grilling grates are also crafted from heavy-duty steel, and offer superb heat retention. Both lids are outfitted with dampers for efficient temperature control. They’re lightweight enough to be transported easily, but the 10020 is the only one to feature an ash tray component.

The 40020 differs from its earlier counterpart in several other ways as well. First of all, it features a “Tuck-N-Carry” lid lock to keep the unit secure when it’s being transported. The leg design is also slightly different, with a spider-like construction that keeps the grill closer to the ground. Finally, there’s a long wire handle affixed to the sides of the bowl, thereby making the 40020 easier to carry.

Weber grills have a good reputation for consistency and durability. These grills are simply smaller versions of their typical kettle-style models. If you decide to invest in one of them, we’d recommend the 40020, since it’s better suited for travel.

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Easy to use
  • Offer a decent amount of cooking space

Cons:

  • No carry handle on the 10020
  • Ash removal can be messy and difficult with the 40020
  • Legs are on the flimsy side

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#15 Weber Original Kettle 18-Inch Charcoal Grill

With a grill grate that offers 240 square inches of cooking space, the Weber Original is better suited for the patio than for the campground. However, two durable wheels make transportation easier, so you could still use it for tailgating if it fits inside your vehicle.

This grill is constructed of porcelain-enameled steel, with a steel cooking grate with superior heat retention. The dampers on the lid give you a measure of control over the grilling temperature, and a removable ash tray makes cleanup a snap. A lower rack offers additional storage space, giving this model a feature that’s lacking in most travel grills. In our opinion, the triangular shape of the rack is somewhat inconvenient, and the material is on the chintzy side. Still, it’s better than nothing.

While the cooking surface is sufficient for grilling up to nine hamburger patties at once, the lid measures just five inches from the grate. That means that the Weber Original is best equipped to handle simple grilling tasks, like burgers and dogs. This might not be an issue if you’re just looking for a portable grill that can serve a number of people at one time. However, considering its relatively bulky size (and high price point), you might be expecting to get more out of this unit.

Pros:

  • Offers a ton of grilling space
  • Convenient lid hook
  • Heat shield on lid
  • Sturdy construction

Cons:

  • May be too big to be transported easily
  • Lower shelf is insufficient and flimsy
  • Relatively high price point
  • Spring clips on the legs are too long

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#16 Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Though Weber is best known for its distinctive kettle-style grills, they also offer this tabletop model. With a squat, rectangular design and 160 square inches of grilling space, it’s the ideal size for camping, tailgating, or picnics on the beach. The lid even features a lock to make the unit easier to carry and to keep the ashes from spilling out during transport.

The overall construction is porcelain-coated steel, with easy-to-clean plated steel cooking grates. The unit rests on a set of foldable bowl-shaped legs that look flimsy, but are actually quite sturdy. I especially appreciate the fact that there are handles on both the sides and the lid—this helps to keep the grill stable when you’re carrying it.

One of the most efficient features on any Weber grill is the damper design. These strategically positioned holes give you an unprecedented degree of control over the temperature. While you would expect to find this quality in a gas grill or a pellet-burning unit, it’s difficult to come by when you’re cooking with charcoal. In this case, considering the small size of the unit, this feature is all the more impressive.

Weber claims that the grill can hold up to six burgers, but we’ve found that it delivers more consistently if you don’t crowd the surface. Speaking of consistency, while the dampers allow you to control the grill’s temperature, the grate itself is positioned a little too close to the coals. That means the food will burn easily if you’re not careful, so keep a watchful eye on your ingredients when grilling. Finally, note that the unit shouldn’t be set up on anything that isn’t heatproof. It will melt through a plastic tablecloth in seconds.

Pros:

  • Heats quickly and efficiently
  • Simple design
  • Easy to assemble
  • Locking lid

Cons:

  • Offers just 160 square inches of cooking space
  • Bottom isn’t lined, offering surfaces no protection from the heat
  • Grate is configured too close to the coals
  • Some of the hardware used in construction is low-quality

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#17 Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill

Like the Weber Original, this unit measures 18 inches in diameter. However, it’s configured so that it rests lower to the ground, giving it more in common with the models in the Smokey Joe series. A long wire handle wraps around the kettle-style body, giving you a way to transport the grill without shifting the lid. Just in case, however, the “Tuck-N-Carry” lid also features a lock to keep the ashes from tumbling out.

The bowl and lid are constructed of porcelain-coated heavy-duty steel, making it resistant to rust and corrosion. You won’t have to worry about the enamel peeling off due to the heat, either. The cooking grate is composed of plated steel that turns out excellent grill marks. Despite its reliable construction, the grill is light enough to lift easily.

The Jumbo Joe’s design is compact and attractive, offering enough depth and volume to smoke a half-rack of ribs. The grilling space is large enough to fit eight medium-sized hamburger patties without crowding the surface.

It should be noted that while the unit is equipped with Weber’s recognizable damper system, the wheel doesn’t turn as easily as it does on other models. This makes it more difficult to control the internal temperature, thereby leading to disappointment. Also, there’s no way to adjust the grill height. That wouldn’t be a problem if the grate was positioned at a reasonable distance from the coals, but unfortunately, it’s a little too close for comfort. When there are so many other versatile options to choose from (some of them also bearing the Weber name), these flaws make the Jumbo Joe difficult to recommend.

Pros:

  • Solid materials and hardware
  • Lid locks in place for ease of transport
  • Can be used on wood or plastic surfaces
  • Can be used as a smoker

Cons:

  • Vents are difficult to maneuver
  • Grill sits too close to coals
  • Somewhat awkward to transport

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#18 Dyna-Glo Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill and Side Firebox

The Dyna-Glo Portable Tabletop grill is constructed entirely of heavy-gauge steel, with an impressive black finish that gives it a hardy appearance. The legs are stout and sturdy, with a sawhorse chassis design and crossbars for reinforcement. This unit features porcelain-coated steel cooking grates and a total of 287 square inches of cooking space. The charcoal tray boasts a porcelain coating as well, and can be easily removed for quick cleanup. While the Dyna-Glo maintains a compact appearance, it should be adequate for parties of four to six people.

We were apprehensive when we spotted the coiled wire handles on this model. They look like perfect miniature heat conductors, which would make it difficult to lift the lid during the cooking process. Fortunately, however, they remain cool to the touch, in spite of their appearance. At 40 pounds, this unit is on the heavy side for a portable grill, but the side handles are configured to make transportation easier. If you’re looking for a grill that can be taken on simple day trips to the beach, however, this might not be the best choice.

Like the Char-Griller Box Charcoal model, the Dyna-Glo Portable Tabletop grill can also be used as a side firebox for one of the company’s larger units. Don’t forget that if you choose to exercise this option, there’s no going back. Once the unit has been called into action as a firebox, it can’t be used as a portable grill again. Also, while it does a decent job at smoking meats when it’s used in tandem with a larger grill, it’s a little bit too small to act as a smoker on its own.

Pros:

  • Heats quickly
  • Durable, heatproof handles
  • Attractive design
  • Can be used as a side firebox as well as a grill
  • Removable charcoal grate and ash tray

Cons:

  • Relatively high price point
  • Slightly heavy
  • Assembly can be tricky

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Best Portable Charcoal Grill: The Winner

There are a lot of grills out there to choose from, and all of them have specific sets of strengths and weaknesses. The question is, do any of these products stand apart from the rest? And if so, how?

In our opinion, the best portable charcoal grill on this list is the Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill. The company has been turning out quality cast iron products since the 19th century, and this grill is built to withstand decades of use. For a hibachi-style grill, it’s also remarkably efficient. If you’re cooking for just one or two people, this unit should provide you with all the space you need. However, since it’s also capable of heating to high temperatures in a short period of time, it’s easy to overlook its low capacity.

The Sportsman’s Grill also features two height adjustments, giving it a versatility that helps to justify its smaller size. Since the grill grate is made of cast iron, you won’t need to use soap or any other cleaning products. Just scrape off any residue with a wire brush and rinse the grate using hot water.

While some of the other units on this list are lighter and easier to carry, they can’t be expected to last as long as this one will. If you’re looking to buy a grill that you can use for the rest of your life, the Sportsman’s Grill could be just the ticket.

We hope you’ve found our roundup to be both engaging and informative, and that you’ll keep our advice in mind as you continue your search for the best portable charcoal grill. Best of luck, and bon appetit!

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