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Summer and grilling are like peanut butter and jelly, or grilled cheese and tomato soup; they just go together. So whether you’re planning a camping trip or a cookout in the park or at the beach, one thing you’ll definitely want to pack with you is a portable grill. What’s better than being able to cook a delicious meal for a get together with family and friends? Or grilling up something delicious to enjoy as you watch the sunset from the comfort of your campsite?
Portable grills can either be powered by electricity, gas or charcoal, though we recommend the latter. The best charcoal grills are generally cheaper, easier to use and transport no matter where you’re planning on using it. But most importantly, they produce the most delicious results. This is due to the fact that they can burn a lot hotter than their gas or electric counterparts. Even if the external part of your meat is on the crispier side, the center remains tender and full of flavor.
What Makes a Good Charcoal Grill?
We looked at the following criteria when compiling our list of the best portable charcoal grills.
Composition: First and foremost, you want your grill to be worth the investment, so make sure to do some research and see what your potential grill is made out of. Stainless steel is considered the best of the best when it comes to grills, due to its high resistance and durability. Not to mention, it’s easier to clean. An added bonus is that stainless steel grills tend to last a lot longer; if taken care of properly, these grills can be kept anywhere from five to 15 years before having to be replaced.
We also recommend selecting a portable grill that is outfitted with legs. Otherwise, you may have to purchase something to set it down on and give it extra stability while you cook. Handles and wheels also come in handy when you’re looking to easily transport your grill from one place to the next.
Size: Though we are discussing portable grills, they can come in all shapes and sizes. Ultimately, you want to select a grill that is comparable to what you’re looking to use it for. One that may be perfect for a solo camping trip may not be the best at accommodating guests for a cookout. Make sure to evaluate your potential grill’s cooking grate diameter when making your selection.
Versatility: Can your grill smoke, bake and/or roast? If not, you may want to reassess your choice. The best units can grill burgers just as effectively as they can smoke a ham or roast a chicken. What’s better than having options at a cookout?
Extra features: Your portable grill should be all about offering convenience, which means cutting down on supplementary materials you need to cook. The best grills come with a temperature gauge or thermometer so you can ensure your meat is cooked throughly. Even better is when they have an ashtray, so that clean up isn’t a huge headache.
The Best Portable Charcoal Grills
Here, we review some of the best portable charcoal grills to pick up online. These are all suitable for backyard grilling or to take on the go, for a smoke-out at the park, beach or campground.
1. Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Premium Portable Grill
Whether you’re grilling burgers or skewering squid, this grill promises premium results. The 14.5-inch diameter triple nickel-plated grate can accommodate up to three steaks, so you won’t have to worry about space while you’re cooking. Its lightweight design makes it perfect for small tailgates or solo camping trips; you can get from point A to point B without any stress thanks to the lid lock and nylon handle. There’s even interactive assembly instructions via the free BILT app, and it comes with a host of cooking tips and recipes in the 31-page owner’s guide, making it perfect for beginners or those who are still learning the ins and outs of charcoal grilling.
2. Cuisinart CCC-190RB Portable Charcoal Grill
If you’re looking for something ultra-lightweight that still packs a punch, you can’t go wrong with Cuisinart’s portable grill. This 15 x 15-inch unit weighs only two pounds and has three secure lid locks, making it easy to transport and perfect for a variety of activities, from small picnics, to camping trips or tailgates. This an extremely versatile grill for one or two, but don’t let its small size fool you. The 150-square-inch chrome-plated cooking rack can accommodate three burgers and three hot dogs, or four to six burgers at a time. Regardless of what you’re cooking, the will heat be evenly distributed thanks to a dual venting system. There’s even an enamel coated ash catcher for additional clean up convenience.
3. Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
After taking a look at the plethora of features, it’s easy to see why this is called the “Go-Anywhere” grill. Thanks to the lockable lid and compact, rectangular shape, this is perfect for packing in the back of your car, while the carrying handles provide added ease.
But just because you can take this grill anywhere doesn’t mean it can’t handle a lot. On the contrary, the 160-square-inch plated steel grate can accommodate a pair of large steaks or several burgers, whether you’re cooking for you or a few friends. The porcelain enamel interior and exterior promise that this grill is built to last, resisting rusting and peeling. Additionally, the enamel allows the heat to radiate and reflect to whatever you’re cooking, ensuring a delicious and thoroughly cooked meal. Clean up is also a breeze; while an ashtray isn’t included, this grill is light enough to turn it over and dump out the ashes. You could even line the bottom with aluminum foil to ensure you catch droppings.
4. ISUMER Portable Charcoal Grill
Having a large get together in your backyard or an outing at the park? Look no further than ISUMER’s portable grill. Boasting a large grilling area (measuring at 28.7 x 12.8 x 26.8 inches) this grill is great for large group activities. There are even two additional baskets to store seasonings or additional food should you need it. The high-quality stainless steel is easy to clean, and will protect against rusting over an extended period of time.
The larger size of this grill may give you the idea that it might be more difficult to transport, though we’re extremely pleased to report that couldn’t be further from the truth. The foldable and detachable design means assembly and disassembly is a breeze, while the anti-slip rubber feet promise added stability, wherever you happen to be grilling.