Best Portable Charcoal Grills of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

Willy Smoke is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Finding the best portable charcoal grill might be a daunting task, but if you have an understanding of how they work, then obviously the search won’t be so tough.

It’s great to have a grill on hand that you can take anywhere. Whether it’s at a campground or if you are at a tailgate party outside of the stadium (among other outdoor locations), you can put a portable grill to good use and cook all kinds of great foods that are considered a staple of outdoor barbecues and events.

In this article, we’ve hand-picked a number of grills that we believe are the best on the market. Before we get to the list itself, we’ll talk about when a portable charcoal grill will come in handy and how you can choose one for your own personal use. 

Comparison of the Best Portable Charcoal Grills

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best overall
  • Porcelain-enameled lid
  • Can hold up to six burgers
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Runner up
  • Hibatich style grill for cooking various foods
  • Coated with 100% vegetable oil for superior cooking quality
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best for the money
  • Rack made from rust-proof steel
  • Available in small or medium size
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Designed to hold up to eight burgers
  • Temperature control dampers included
  • Porcelain-enameled lid included for better heat retention
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Wide cooking space
  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Lower rack included for easy storage of cooking materials and coolers
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

When Would a Portable Charcoal Grill Come in Handy?

If you are considering the idea of purchasing a portable charcoal grill and have no clue of when there will be a good time to use it, you are not alone. There are a few times where you can be able to use it for the purpose of cooking some awesome foods like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken. Here are some of the best times to cook with a portable grill:

While Camping

Yes, camping is one of the best places to do your grill cooking, especially when you are putting a portable charcoal grill to good use. Whether you are at a campground surrounded by others or enjoying the outdoors in a remote area, these grills are perfect for such an outdoor setting. Having burgers and hot dogs way out in the wilderness? Where do we sign up?

Grill on the go! 

During a Tailgating Party

Nothing is more exciting than the big game, but the buildup before it is even better. Get to know your fellow sports fanatics over some of your favorite foods and drinks before your favorite team plays four quarters of football. Even better, you can set up your portable grill and clean up after a successful cookout that has all of your fellow fans and new friends raving about the awesome food they’ve had. Great food and a great game, the winning combo.

Out With Family at the Park

There may be a park in your local area that will have grills ready to go for the purpose of cooking. However, some may not have them. Thankfully, you can get the grill going while you are spending time with family outdoors. As long as the park rules allow you to use a portable grill, why not spend time with them with all the delicious food you can cook over an open flame? 

How to Choose a Portable Charcoal Grill

There are a few features and characteristics that will make a portable charcoal grill great compared to others that are subpar in quality and performance. While looking for a grill of your own, it’s important to take a closer look at the following:

Price 

If you are strapped for cash but have just enough of a healthy budget to purchase a grill, then you should try to find the best one that you can afford in terms of quality and performance. You really don’t want to settle for a cheap grill that is poorly constructed and won’t last you in the long run. 

Size

The last thing you want to do is find a grill that will take up a bunch of storage. However, size might be an important factor if you plan on cooking a lot more. Find a grill that will give you plenty of space to cook different kinds of foods without having to risk any kind of “cross-cooking” or overcrowding one type of food with another.

Weight

One of the major things to consider is how much this grill is supposed to weigh. Some will be light in weight while some might be a bit heavier. But regardless, a good carrying weight is what will make the portability a lot easier. On the flip side, sometimes a heavier grill will always equal stability and excellent quality. 

Willy's Top Picks - Best Portable Charcoal Grills

Review of the Best Portable Charcoal Grills

Below is a list of the best portable charcoal grills that we have chosen for review. Let’s begin by taking a look at the “best overall” product on our list: 

Pros

  • Quick setup and tear down
  • Great for camping and picnics
  • Perfect for small scale cookouts
  • Easy to carry from one place to the next
  • Excellent for cooking your staple BBQ foods (burgers, hot dogs, etc.)

Cons

  • Handles may come loose at times
  • Pinching issues with the handling have been reported
  • Space between the coal rack and the surface should be better

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users had nothing but good things to say about this grill. They said that it was at the perfect size for storing and portability. To add, they said that this was perfect for pretty much any kind of outdoor cooking whether it was camping or spending the day at the park. One user said that it was great for cooking out while he was attending his son’s little league tournament. While his cooking was a hit, the grill was perfect for him because of the easy setup and takedown.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere is perfect in a few ways. For one, it’s not too large or small in terms of size, but it’s at a good enough size where you can save a lot of storage. So you won’t have to deal with any clutter or messes. It’s also a really solid grill in terms of quality. Even if it is lightweight, it’s still pretty sturdy all over. 

Who Will Use This Most

This grill will be perfect for anyone who is planning on spending most of the day outdoors. If you are camping and want to cook for the whole family or if you are at the park and inviting anyone and everyone who is hungry to come on over, this grill will definitely handle all of your cooking tasks without sacrificing any kind of quality or performance. 

Bottom Line

The Weber Go-Anywhere grill deserves the best overall spot and for good reason. If you want a grill that will make your cookouts enjoyable no matter the activity, then this might be the best choice. Just set it up, cook, clean, and take it down without breaking a sweat. It’s as simple as you are going to get with a grill like this.

Pros

  • Superior durability
  • Saves a ton of space for storage
  • Perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities
  • Great for cooking burgers, steaks, and even skewers
  • No chemicals or coatings that are harmful to your health

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Cleaning might be difficult at times
  • Some have complained about this cooking unevenly

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users were pretty happy with the sturdiness and stability of the Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill. Not to mention, they were excited with the ability to cook with the great amount of space given to them. They were able to cook all kinds of different foods at the same time so they could save time and give their guests all kinds of food options. One user said that he was able to cook up a bunch of chicken and steaks at his last BBQ and they were all cooked to perfection. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This grill is made from high-quality cast iron. So you won’t have to deal with any handles or legs falling apart on you when you are transporting it from one place to the next. Stability will definitely be a plus if you want a grill that will last you a long time. This hibachi-style grill is one thing that makes your cooking quality stand out. Of course, let’s not forget the grill’s coating of 100% vegetable oil. If your food explodes with flavor, there might be a good reason why right there. Plus, it’s way better than dealing with toxic chemicals and coatings that might end up in the food you cook. 

Who Will Use This Most

This grill is for those who want something that is built to last but will also have the reputation of cooking some really tasty foods in the process. There is no doubt that this grill will be the undisputed “King of the BBQ”, and we won’t be surprised if it ends up taking the “best overall” spot in the future as well. 

Bottom Line

If you want a grill that will really stand out for a long time, the Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s grill might just be what the chef ordered. There are a few interesting features and characteristics that really make this grill stand out much from the rest. All you need to do now is get a hold of this puppy, pick up some charcoal for good lighting, and get cooking. 

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Affordable for many budgets
  • Easy to set up and easy to clean
  • Ample space for cooking various foods
  • Perfect for those who want to save space

Cons

  • May be a bit heavy
  • Paint may flake or melt after awhile
  • Upper grill may bend after short-term use

What Recent Buyers Report

According to most new users, what really made this grill stand out for them was the excellent structural quality and the ability to cook numerous foods at the same time. Of course, they didn’t forget the fact that it was quite affordable for their budget as well. Overall, the ColourTree Portable Folding Grill was a hit for most new users and they were satisfied with the cleanup and space-saving abilities it had. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This grill is not only one of the best choices for those looking for an affordable grill, but also perfect for someone who wants to waste little to no time with things like complicated cleanups, takedowns, or storage. You’ll be able to store it in even the tightest of spaces when it’s not in use. When you deploy it, it will give you a good amount of space to cook whatever is on the menu at your cookout. If you want a solidly constructed grill that won’t take up too much room or cause too much frustration, this could certainly be what you need. 

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for the best grill that a smaller amount of money can buy, this might be the grill for you. The best thing about this grill is you can take it anywhere without having to clear off a ton of space when you load it in your vehicle. Best of all, it’s not too heavy like a grill that should just stay home. 

Bottom Line

If you want a grill that is great for every away from home cookout that won’t be a major burden on your wallet, you may want to consider the ColourTree Portable Folding Grill. This is the perfect option for those who want to cook the best foods they can get their hands and want to store it in a nice, neat space afterward.

Pros

  • Paint won’t chip or melt
  • Easy to carry and store
  • Simple to assemble and disassemble
  • Really sturdy handles that won’t loosen easily
  • Large cooking space for burgers, hot dogs, etc.

Cons

  • Some say the lid may be too shallow
  • May be a bit awkward to carry at times
  • Quality of the charcoal grate could be better

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of new buyers were satisfied with this grill. They said it was pretty simple to use from the set up all the way down to cleaning it up after a cookout. They were able to cook the basics like burgers, chicken, and steaks, among others. One user said that even though it was lightweight, it still sturdy in construction and easy to store away. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

There really isn’t much to be said about the Weber Jumbo Joe, other than the fact that it’s the closest you are going to get to something that is effective, simple to use, and affordable for most budgets. If you just want a portable grill that will take a small pile of charcoal and will be great for camping trips, a day outdoors, or while you are taking a break from hunting or fishing, this will come in handy when you have some food in the cooler that you are dying to cook. 

Who Will Use This Most

This will come quite in handy for the beginner level cook or the cook who knows their way around a grill. Either way, it will be the perfect grill for all the outdoor adventures you find yourself in. Of course, you can cook with this reliable and solidly constructed grill while you’re hanging out with fellow sports fans or if your fellow RVers and campers want to get in on what you are rustling up for grub. As long as you have charcoal and food, this grill should be good to go.

Bottom Line

The Weber Jumbo Joe is always a good option if you just want a simple grill that doesn’t come with all the bells, whistles, and whatnot. It’s simple, straightforward barbecue grilling for yourself, your family, and your guests. Nothing more, nothing less. Plus, it’s an affordable option to consider if you are on a budget as well.

Pros

  • Great for at-home or on the go
  • Easy to set up and disassemble
  • Excellent stability and construction
  • Surprisingly lightweight for a grill its size
  • Provides ample space for all kinds of foods like burgers, chicken, ribs, etc.

Cons

  • May get a little too hot sometimes
  • Some report missing parts upon shipment
  • May rust if exposed to some environmental elements for a long time

What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were quick to say that this was the closest they could get to a large-sized grill that was easy to carry around. One user said that while he was cooking at a recent tailgate party, one of his fellow attendees was in disbelief that a full-sized grill like this was actually portable. He also added that he was able to use this for both in-home uses and for all of his tailgate parties. So far, he’s happy with how much he is able to cook with the ample space provided.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you are looking for a full-sized grill without the heavy propane tank, then you are definitely going to love this one. The beauty of this handy option is that all you need is charcoal, not fuel, in order to power it. That’s what makes the BEAU JARDIN 18 inch Portable Grill stand out as much better than other full-sized alternatives. Who says you have to keep this home? As long as you have plenty of space to tote it from point A to point B, you should be in good shape. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is the perfect full-sized grill for those who are tired of having to carry around heavy propane tanks or dealing with complex assembly or disassembly. Who has time for that? No one. If you’re one of those people who just want a grill that is big enough to handle all kinds of different foods at once, this is it. 

Bottom Line

Full-sized yet portable, the Beau Jardin 18 inch portable grill has got plenty of cooking space while still being storage-friendly. Plus, you won’t leave the house without it if you are tempted to cook something while you are camping, at the stadium, or at the park during a huge town festival. Feed your family, your friends, or the whole darn town. It’s all up to you from there. 

Pros and Cons of Portable Charcoal Grills

We’ll now take a look at the common pros and cons of charcoal grills.

Pros

Here are the main advantages of these models:

No Propane Tanks Ever

Of course, we start off with the most obvious pro. You won’t have to deal with a single propane or gas tank ever. This will save you a ton of money from having to exchange or even replace tanks (which can run anywhere between $20 to $60). Plus, those tanks are heavy to carry when connected to the grill anyways (and make them a complete nightmare to carry).

Better Flavor

If you like adding a little “smoke” to your meats, there’s a good chance that it can be done with a charcoal grill. That kind of flavor will definitely make your meats stand out even better in quality and taste. Believe us when we say that it really enhances the flavor (even compared to gas grills).

Heats Up Faster

It’s no secret that some foods need to be cooked at a much higher level of heat. With charcoal grills, you can cook your foods much faster at the right kind of temperature. Even better, you can reach that temperature more quickly compared to gas grills. 

Cons

Of course, there are some common shortcomings for a charcoal grill:

A Bit Messy

Yes, you are going to deal with a mess once all is said and done. But these days, a good charcoal grill will be easy to clean once you empty and dispose of your used charcoal. Yes, the disposal will be a pain because of the ash. But it’s better to get it done rather than let it sit there and pose a fire hazard. 

Bad Odors May Occur

One of the downfalls of cooking with charcoal is that sometimes it can smell pretty bad. It can get to the point where it can affect the food that you are cooking. This will happen if you don’t give the charcoal sufficient time to burn off.  

How to Use a Portable Charcoal Grill

Using a charcoal grill can be enjoyable, but it’s important to know how to use it properly; you may even be surprised to learn that you might be doing wrong. Let’s take a look at the steps below on how you can properly use a portable charcoal grill without any issues:

  1. Never cook with charcoal indoors. Always do it outside. Burning charcoal in a closed environment will produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (which can be fatal).

  2. In the event of prior use, be sure to clean the grates of any leftover ash that might have been left behind from previous use. 

  3. Determine how much charcoal you need. This will depend on how much you plan on cooking. One layer is good for burgers and steaks. For chicken or bigger portions, use two layers. 

  4. Consider your lighting options. They can include organic fire starters, a chimney starter, or an electric starter. Choose the best option based on your personal preference.

  5. Wait for the coals to heat up. Be sure to spread them around evenly using long tongs once they reach a lighter gray color. 

  6. Prep the grates using cooking oil of your choice. 

  7. Use the vents to help reach your desired temperature. Keep the vents closed until you reach it. To ensure that oxygen is leaving the grill, be sure to keep the bottom vents slightly open. Open the top vents if the temperature is a little too hot. If the temperature needs to be increased, keep the top vents open and open the bottom vents a bit more. 

  8. Once you are finished cooking, close all the vents and clean the grates with a brush while they are still hot. Replace the lid and let the charcoals cool off.

Conclusion

If you are looking for the best portable charcoal grill, your search may be shorter than expected. Take a close look at the excellent options we reviewed above and consider which one will be best for you in the long-term. There is nothing better or more exciting than cooking BBQ favorites the old-fashioned way. If you think anything is better than charcoal cooking, then you don’t know what you are missing.