When it comes to searing of steaks or cooking cuts of lamb and beef, charcoal grills are absolutely the best.
What you need to know is that as compared to gas, charcoal attains higher temperatures and this makes charcoal grills to be the perfect choice for the ultimate grilling experience. If you love foods with a smoky flavor, charcoal grills will give you the best bbq.
However, most of the charcoal grills are very large and may not be the best for those who love outdoor parties, especially away from home. This is where portable charcoal grills come in.
What makes portable grills unique is their compact and lightweight design which makes them easy to carry. They are also affordable and easy to use.
Nonetheless, searching for the best portable charcoal grill may not be so easy and if you are not careful, you may end up wasting a lot of money on an overrated product. Have you been searching for a durable, sturdy affordable, and lightweight charcoal grill? You have come to the right place because we are going to reveal the best portable charcoal grills that will give you the value for your money.
But before we reveal the products, here are some key things you need to consider when buying a portable grill. We’ve ranked the products as per the below guide.
- Weight – This is the first factor when you’re looking for a grill that is easy to carry and move.
- Material – This is the 2nd factor on our list, as it directly affects the overall durability.
- Cooking area – You need to consider the number of people that you will need to serve.
- Ease of cleaning – Charcoal grills become messy after cooking. Before buying, check whether it has an ash catcher or a one-touch cleaning system.
- Temperature control – Look for a grill with a built-in thermometer, adjustable damper, and air vents.
You can read more about all of these features in the buying guide, below, after the detailed reviews.
Our Top 8 Picks for Best Portable Charcoal Grills in 2023
If you trust brand value, Weber is the one to buy.
We choose this as our top pick as people trust this brand and its product durability. They have great customer service even if you have some problem after purchasing.
As we are talking grills which are easy to carry for outdoor camping purpose, this grill weighs 37 lbs, which is a little on the heavier side.
Weber has provided 2 big durable wheels with 2 side handle which makes it easy to carry. The 240 square inch cooking area is enough to cook for 4-5 people at once.
Let’s talk about durability!
The grates are made of plated steel to provide equal distribution of heat. For maximum heat retention, we were pleased to find out that it features a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl which also provides consistent temperatures.
Apart from the grates, it uses a one-touch cleaning system for cleaning. It also has a rustproof ash catcher which collects the debris and charcoal ash for easier cleaning. With this unit, you can easily cook using different temperatures.
Unlike other portable charcoal grills which requires you to lift the lid when controlling heat, this one is a bit advanced since you will only need to adjust the dampers.
Additionally, you can easily arrange the charcoal for both direct and indirect grilling. Coals last for a long time for longer cooking foods.
The finish is rustproof and doesn’t peel easily even when grilling at high temperatures. You can easily move it around since it comes with long-lasting wheels that are built to withstand all elements.
You can never go wrong with a Weber!
This is our 2nd pick for a compact portable grill which can easily be used for tailgating or camping purpose, especially considering the 3-point locking lid.
This is an impressively lightweight grill at just 5lbs, making it solidly into the “easily portable” category. Do keep in mind that the exceptionally light weight is due to its much smaller size than some others on this list.
Most of the part of grill are made from porcelain enamel-coated steel which is a good material for durability of any grill. You can trust that this grill will last for years, rust depends on use and how you take care of it.
The lid handle is made from stainless steel which is heat resistant.
The base of the grill is solid and the grill can be placed at any solid surface easily. That said, it really NEEDS to be placed on a tabletop for use, as it is only a 14 inch tall grill.
It has a cooking area of about 150 sq in which is enough for cooking a decent amount. You could definitely cook a few servings for a small family at once. You can cook anything like steaks, chicken breast or burgers as well, it just might take a few rounds to cook it all for a larger crowd.
The dual-venting system makes temp control a breeze.
If you’ve never heard of kamado grills, you’ll want to read our reviews of the best kamado grills to get more familiar with the style of them.
This is one of the smallest options for a kamado style charcoal grill, yet it still weighs in at about 44lbs. While it is only about 2 feet tall, which is surely easily portable in terms of space, the weight of this grill might be a little much for some people to be able to easily transport.
If you’re willing and able to transport a grill like this, you’re bound to get one of the best cooking experiences with this grill. It’s durable ceramic construction offers excellent heat retention and flavor.
Similar to the Cuisinart grill right above this in the list, you’ll likely be bending over fairly low to cook, unless you have a low and sturdy grill table to put it on.
Other excellent features found on this grill that rival full size grills include a built-in temperature gauge, dual purpose as a smoker, and 153 sq in of cooking on cast iron grates. With an easy dump ash pan, you’ll be cleaned up in no time.
This little grill still packs in some nice features for the size and price.
With a locking lid and folding legs, this is truly one of the most compact for transport. It looks small, but it’s a surprising (yet still totally portable) 14.5 lbs.
The lid and base are both porcelain-enameled, which provides great heat retention over a surprisingly large 160 sq in.
The cooking grate is plated steel, which is quite easy to clean up.
This grill has the vents on the lid, and lacks any sort of built-in temperature gauge, so you’ll have to watch what’s cooking a little more closely.
Char-Griller is one of the most popular brands in grills after Weber.
The first thing you will love about it is its robust construction. You will find that it is made of sturdy steel and has a powder coating to boost durability.
Cooking grates are made of a long-lasting cast iron material that enhances the equal distribution of heat. Additionally, it also comes with two adjustable dampers that allow you to control the heat.
One thing we really liked is how easy it is to maintain the temp up 250 degrees for a long time. The lid is sealed completely which makes it good for cooking crispy food and retention of heat.
There is no built in temp gauge provided so you’ll need to buy it separately.
The unit has a total cooking area of 250 square inches and comes with a removable ash pan which makes it easy to clean. That much cooking space, however, weighs in at 41 lbs, making it a fairly heavy option for some.
Apart from that, it comes with sliding drawers which promotes easy accessibility to the coals. The top lid handle is wooden so it is easy to lift the lid at high temp as well and this allows you to move it comfortably.
If you are looking for a high-quality portable barbecue grill and don’t care about looks then you can buy it. You can also use it as a horizontal Texas-style smoker or a tabletop grill.
This is a pretty decent competitor for the Cuisinart above, but it is both larger and heavier, but not by much.
The 18-inch diameter offers a large 240 sq in cooking surface, which Weber says can cook up to 8 burgers at once.
It is constructed from porcelain-enameled steel for the lid and bowl for heat retention. You can expect the finish to remain pretty good for some time.
You can lock the lid on for transport, and the same piece doubles as a lid holder.
Dampers on both the top and bottom allow temperature control, but there is no built-in temp gauge.
The aluminum ash catcher is fixed to the legs, so cleanup can be a little cumbersome compared to removable ash catchers.
We wouldn’t really be doing this list justice if we didn’t include a much larger grill, would we?
This grill definitely weighs more, but not everyone considers a grill to be portable only if it fits in the trunk of a sedan. Some folks consider a grill to be portable so long as it fits in a pickup truck bed, after all.
This grill weighs in at a considerable 112 lbs, but it’s still lighter than many charcoal grills that offer a whopping 1038 square inches of total cooking space. That’s no small grill we’re talking about!
You could instead opt for the slightly smaller version, which offers 635 sq in of total grilling space, and weighs a much lighter 73.5 lbs.
It’s a full size grill made from heavy-duty powder coated steel — this grill is going to continue to hold its own for a number of years.
The easy dump ash pan makes cleanup a piece of cake, and the cart itself offers both storage and shelf space for a true workhorse on the go.
It also features a temperature gauge in the lid for total control. The fire grate is adjustable to make the temperature just right for the warming grate.
Well if this isn’t just about the COOLEST grill we’ve ever seen.
Yeah, I think when it comes to the portability aspect, this grill might absolutely be the winner! With an incredibly unique design, this grill FOLDS nearly flat for transport, which no other grill on this list can do.
Due to its unique and small design, it weighs just about 6 lbs, and offers a considerably 208 sq in of cooking area.
This grill is made of durable stainless steel, with chrome-plated steel cooking grates.
This grill does, unfortunately, lose some points in our book for lack of lid as well as the slightly poor cleanup. There is no ash pan as many other options have, so you’ll have to wait for the grill to cool down before you dump the coals out.
What To Look For With A Portable Charcoal Grill – Buying Guide
We realize that everyone has a unique situation when it comes to shopping for exactly what they want from their charcoal grill. Below, we’ve outlined more information to help you make the best decision to fit your needs, combined with all the detailed review information above.
As we stated above, it’s important to find a portable grill that you can easily lift and carry — you’ll need to get it from home to the car/camper/picnic table/etc. without breaking your back or dropping and damaging the grill.
The grills reviewed above range from as little as 5 lbs to nearly 50 lbs, so there is obviously a huge range in your options. This is a big consideration if you need a grill that’s lighter weight due to physical limitations.
Oftentimes, the weight is fairly proportionate to the available cooking area, so that is another layer of consideration besides just choosing the lightest weight option.
A portable grill can be made from everything from steel to ceramic, which all have their own merits.
You’ll find superior heat and moisture retention from a ceramic charcoal grill, such as the kamado grill above, but at the expense of the weight.
You might also consider that the risk of cracking a ceramic grill, for example, while fairly uncommon is still possible. A really great way to ruin a camping trip is to drop the grill off the back of the truck by accident and smash it.
The steel will be lighter weight, but you’ll likely want to bring extra charcoal along as the trade-off. The durability is quite good, however, in the sense that a drop will likely result in a dent, not total destruction of the unit.
If you’re in the market for a small size portable charcoal grill for couples only, then you’re probably not going to put a massive cooking area at the top of your features list.
Large families or big get-togethers, on the other hand, would likely be better served with just about as large of a cooking surface as you can get on a reasonably portable grill.
Ease of Cleaning
While the food cooks, you’ll get fats dripping down into the coals. Not to mention the ash from the coals themselves.
Many grills have bottom-access ash pans which makes coal cleanup pretty quick and painless. If you’ve got a grill that can only be cleaned after it cools and you can remove the cooking grates, then I hope you’ve got a good amount of time to sit and hang out before you clean the grill.
As to the cooking grates, some are easier to clean than others. Burnt on food will stick to both wire grates and cast iron grates alike. That said, you can much more safely take steel wool to clean the cast iron if needed, whereas you would damage the plated finish on the wire grates.
Another benefit of a more sturdy cooking grate material, such as cast iron grates, is the ability to support the weight of other cooking utensils, such as a small cast iron skillet.
Also be sure to avoid anything with aluminum, as that cannot withstand the charcoal heat.
You’ll want to make sure that the grill you choose to suit your portable grilling needs has sufficient vents and airflow to suit your needs.
Does the grill have any sort of built-in temperature gauge? If not, you may want to bring a separate temp gauge along with you.
A grill with an attached lid or a spot to hang the lid is helpful if you have a need of grilling with the lid off to let some of the heat out.
Final Thoughts on Buying a Portable Charcoal Grill
Those are the best portable charcoal grills that will give you the value for your money. If you ask us, We recommend Weber Original Kettle due to the brand trust and customer service if something goes wrong. The good thing about this unit is that it has sturdy construction to boost durability. The cooking grates are made of plated steel to enhance equal distribution of heat.
We understand that people have different preferences. Therefore, it is not easy to choose from. You will not go wrong by choosing any of our top 6 picks.
To make your work easier, we have included the product links so that you can compare the prices, rating and also check what the customers are saying about the products.