Charcoal grills are perfect for an authentic summer barbeque, but sometimes the prices can be too expensive. However, there are a select few charcoal grills out there that are great quality for the fraction of the price.
In this article we will be going over what makes a charcoal grill so great, things to be cautious for when shopping for one, and finally reviewing the best on the budget grills of 2018.
Best Budget Charcoal Grills Comparison Chart
Best Charcoal Grill Under $100
Best Charcoal Grill Under $200
Best Charcoal Grill Under $300
Best Charcoal Grill Under $500
What Makes a Great Charcoal Grill?
When it comes to finding the best Charcoal Grill while still budgeting, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when making your purchase. Here are some of the things that make a great charcoal grill.
One of the key things you want in your charcoal grill is to make sure that it has more than enough space for you to cook.
The best charcoal grills tend to have more than one cooking rack or at the very least have a heating rack to keep your food warm after it’s done cooking.
If you plan on cooking a lot of food then this is an essential factor when making your choice.
The very best material you can find for your charcoal grill is cast-iron grates. Cast-iron is great at retaining heat, searing meat, and locking in juicy flavors.
Other materials like steel might give you trouble with cooking, but with cast-iron you know you’re going to have a great turn out with your meal.
When purchasing your grill you want to make sure it has good air ventilation, heat control, and heat dissemination.
This will all affect how your meat turns out, especially if you want your meat juicy and seared. So be sure to check what vents come with your grill, and what material the bowl and lid are made out of.
Features to be Cautious of When Shopping for a New Charcoal Grill
It’s always easy to be swayed by cheap prices, but there are always a couple of things for you to be cautious for when looking for your budget charcoal grill.
Sometimes cheaper charcoal grills will come without a warranty. You definitely don’t want to purchase a grill without one. Sometimes during shipping your grill can come damaged, and without a warranty you won’t get your money back.
There also may come a time you can get a defected grill or it could get stolen, but without that warranty you’ll have to save up for a new one.
Low prices don’t always equal bad quality, but they don’t mean good quality either. The same can be said for more expensive grills too. Sometimes it’s easy to get swayed by prices, but the biggest thing you have to remember is that the price is just a number. Sometimes the best grills are the cheaper ones.
Always check the reviews before you order a grill online. Unfortunately, grills can get damaged, but luckily with reviews you can tell which manufacturers will make sure your grill gets to your house in one piece, or will give you a full refund.
Review of the Best Budget Charcoal Grills
In this next part of the article we will be breaking down the best charcoal grill choices based on your budget.
1. Best Budget Charcoal Grill: Weber Smokey Joe
There is a reason this is our top charcoal grill choice for when you’re on a budget. This grill is super light-weight, making it easily portable for camping and tailgating. Despite it’s affordable price, it’s perfect for camp-out cooking and gets the job done.
It measures 15.6" x 15.6", giving you plenty of room to cook a variety of different foods. Unfortunately, it’s not very tall and the legs have been reported to be a bit flimsy. The bowl luckily is the same design Weber has used on other, and more expensive grills.
This is basically just a budget version of Weber’s Kettle Grill, but instead of aluminum they used triple wrapped nickel. The nickel doesn’t affect the taste in anyway, so you won’t have to worry about that.
While The Smokey Joe gives more than enough space for cooking, the grates are made out of steel instead of iron-grates which won’t cook food as quickly - just plan accordingly.
The Smokey Joe also has an ash catcher, meaning you won’t have to do much cleanup after. It also has top vent on the grill, but the top vent can sometimes become clogged. Finally, this grill comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
This grill has a lot of room for cooking and a 10-year limited warranty. However, it has steel grates and the bottom vent can often get clogged.
2. Best Charcoal Grill Under $100: Weber Original Kettle
The great thing about this grill is that comes practically assembled for you. All you need to connect is the bowl and the lid and you are ready to get grilling. The grates are hinged and made of steel plates.
The hinged grates will allow you to easily put more charcoal in the grill without lifting the grates, and the steel won’t burn or rust. However, the steel grates aren’t great at retaining heat, they’ll also cause parts of the meat not to cook as well as others.
Luckily this grill comes with a great air ventilation system, so the grates won’t be too much of a problem. The bowl and lid are made out of steel, being perfectly designed for air circulation within your grill.
The grill also comes with a damper system, allowing you to better control the heat inside the bowl. However, if you don’t like having this closed cooking system then you might find this grill a lot harder to cook with.
Finally, this grill provides a lot of space for cooking with 363 square inch cooking area. The wheels attached to the Original Kettle also make it easy to move around.
However, some customers have reported the wheels don’t work very well depending on the environment. Luckily, the grill does come with a limited 10-year warranty.
The Weber 741001 Original Kettle comes with a 10-year warranty, has great ventilation and hinged grates. However, the grates are made out of the steel and if you aren’t comfortable with cooking with the closed system then this grill won’t be a good fit for you.
3. Best Charcoal Grill Under $200: Char-Broil Charcoal Grill
Not only is this Char-Broil Charcoal Grill large and have tons of cooking space, but it also comes with iron grates, which will cook your food faster and conduct more heat.
The Char-Broil grill also comes with a secondary porcelain-coated cooking surface. So you can get all your cooking done in one easy go.
To top it all off this grill comes with a thermometer so you can better control the heat, and an adjustable charcoal tray to get the right smokiness and temperature.
However, one of the downsides of this charcoal grill is you’ll have to assemble it yourself, unless you want to pay a large sum of money for it to come assembled. Many customers report having problems with assembling this product and the directions are not very clear.
This grill does come with a warranty; however, it only applies if the grill comes broken. With that said though, the positives of this grill definitely outweigh the negatives.
This charcoal grills adjustable crank height fire pan allows you to easily heat your food to the perfect temperature, so you can be sure you’re getting that great smoky flavor.
Overall, this grill has tons of cooking space and iron grates perfect for grilling meat. However, the warranty is confusing and it can take hours for you assemble your grill.
4. Best Charcoal Grill Under $300: Dyna-Gio Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill
The Dyan-Glo is a great grill for when you’re on a budget. This grill comes with a charcoal tray adjustment system, so you can have the perfect heat control and cooking flexibility.
It comes with 3 heavy-duty cast-iron porcelain enameled cooking grates, which will retain more heat, sear your food, and allow for tasty natural juices to lock in. This grill also comes with side shelves, a storage basket, and a total of 686 square inches of cooking space.
One of the biggest complaints about this grill seems to be that it takes over an hour to assemble, and it often arrives damaged. Some customers also don’t like how far apart and thin the grates are, making it harder to cook certain foods like hot dogs. The charcoal basket that comes with grill is also a bit flimsy.
Luckily, if you have problems with this grill customer service is quick at responding and fixing any problems you might have. However, it is not clear if this product comes with a warranty.
This grill comes with cast-iron grates, has tons of cooking space, and you can rely on customer service. However, the grates are thin and the grill is hard to assemble yourself.
5. Best Charcoal Grill Under $500: Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker
The Akorn Kamado Kooker is one of the best budget charcoal grills for many reasons. This grill has a total of 447 square inches of cooking space with both the primary cooking space, and the warming rack it comes with.
The grates are cast-iron and the body is made out of 22 gauge steel. The Char-Griller comes with indexed damper that is numbered so you can easily note its position.
However, all these extra features may be a problem when constructing this grill. You can of course get is expertly assembled, but that’s going to add an extra cost to your purchase.
Unfortunately, some customers have reported that after only having their grill for a short time the grates start to give out and break. However, this grill does come with a warranty so long as you keep your receipt and owner’s manual.
Despite all this many customers rave about how well insulated the grill is, making it perfect for slow cooking and quick grilling.
The Akorn Kamado Kooker has tons of cooking space, and has high quality grates and body. However, some customers have reported problems with the grates and it costs extra to have it assembled.
Each one of these charcoal grills are perfect for whatever budget you’re on. All of them will do a great job at giving you the most satisfying meal.
Whether your budget is from $30 - $500 you can sure that one of these grills will fit all of your barbecuing needs.
If you’re on a tight budget and going for simplistic grilling, then we definitely recommend the: Weber 10020 Smokey Joe.
But if you got a bit more money to spend then you’re going to want to make the investment on any of the other grill we listed above.