Best charcoal grill of 2020: Weber, Char-Griller and more

A charcoal grill may lack the complexity and high-tech of a gas model, however the most effective charcoal grills completely compete with regards to taste and worth.

Charcoal grills are simpler to arrange than fuel grills — all you actually need is a bag of charcoal and your favourite substances so as to obtain a fast meal with true smoky taste. 

From kettle-style to cart-style, feature-filled to reveal minimal, we examined eight charcoal grills with steak, hen, and ribs to seek out out that are the most effective wager to your subsequent cookout. 

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Weber’s $109 authentic kettle-style charcoal grill continues to face the take a look at of time. In our high-heat searing checks, Weber delivered the most effective steadiness of seared exterior and medium uncommon inside steak. The Weber gave us tasty hen too, with crispy hen pores and skin. The Weber may also smoke low and gradual at rock-steady temperatures. That translated to noticeably flavorful ribs. 

Easy building means there aren’t too many components to assemble or too many options to deal with whereas cooking. A vent on the lid controls air move and a well-designed ash tray beneath the grill facilitates simple cleanup. 

We examined the 22-inch mannequin in black, however Weber additionally provides an 18-inch model of their authentic kettle design. There are actually fancier and costlier grills to make use of for cooking, however for a steadiness of affordability and high quality, you possibly can’t go improper with this traditional. That is the most effective charcoal grill total.

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If you happen to’d want to seek out the most effective charcoal grill for cooking that’s cart-style, the $99 Nexgrill Cart-Model Charcoal Grill proved a worthy challenger to the Weber in our checks. The cart design means you may get a useful facet tray and somewhat extra cooking floor space, with 390 sq. inches of cooking house in comparison with Weber’s 363 sq. inches. 

Nexgrill positively seared nicely, although the meat inside was a bit too completed for our preferences. In our medium, oblique warmth hen cooking checks, Nexgrill delivered flavorful, juicy meat as an in depth second to Weber. Ribs had been tender, juicy and completed in about 4.5 hours. That mentioned, the Weber had superior temperature management throughout these low and gradual smoking classes.

Cart-style cooking and grilling is not for everybody. It is bulkier with a extra concerned meeting and you will possible want extra gas to maintain the bigger house at a excessive temperature. Nevertheless, our outcomes had been virtually nearly as good because the kettle-style Weber, so if you happen to’re occupied with a cart-style charcoal grill that is your greatest wager. 

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At $279, the Napoleon charcoal grill is dear. Nevertheless, throughout our hen cooking checks, it held its temperature higher than every other charcoal grill. The ensuing hen was tasty, and the grill options very nice forged iron grates throughout its 365 sq. inches of cooking space. The lid homes a temperature gauge and a helpful hinge that makes it simple so as to add charcoal. 

Napoleon delivered glorious cooking leads to our ribs take a look at. It ready a young and juicy rack in simply Four hours, 30 minutes. In our hen take a look at it held a excessive temperature for longer than every other grill within the lineup. The searing take a look at was common, however passable. This grill simply feels rather well constructed. It has three heights to your grates, so you possibly can management simply how a lot direct warmth your meals will get whereas cooking and grilling. If you happen to’re on the lookout for the fanciest kettle grill on the market, this one may simply be it. 

How we take a look at


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Testing charcoal grills means a number of hands-on cooking expertise. Relying on the season, and the way your charcoal grill is ready up, your expertise cooking and grilling will possible be very completely different from ours. For instance, a kettle-style charcoal grill left within the July solar all day will run lots hotter than a grill within the cooler spring months. 

First, a be aware about grill thermometers. Not one of the hood thermometers constructed into these grills mirrored the temperatures recorded by our personal thermocouples and information software program. It isn’t unusual for grill thermometers to learn excessive, so we advocate retaining an oven thermometer or Bluetooth thermometer helpful whilst you’re grilling, both to your meat or for the grill’s temperature itself. 

Excessive-heat searing with steak

To check excessive warmth, we seared two steaks on every grill. Charcoal was measured in a chimney by grams, and in a ratio for that grill’s particular floor space. We lit the charcoal contained in the chimney, letting it burn till the smoke dissipated and the coals started to show grayish white, then put the charcoal into the grill. Let the grill warmth up for 10 minutes, and the steaks are able to hit the grates. 


As soon as the grates had been sizzling, we put two steaks on every grill. 

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We positioned two steaks on every charcoal grill close to the middle and seared for 5 minutes earlier than flipping them over and searing 5 extra minutes. In , dependable grill this provides you with a steak with a seared exterior and medium uncommon to medium heart. After all, in case your style is meat that is extra completed, you possibly can prolong the cooking time or sear and end cooking in an oven. 


Excessive warmth searing was our first grill take a look at. 

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The very best charcoal grill for steak-searing in our lineup was the Weber Traditional Kettle. The steak had good grill marks whereas retaining a medium doneness on the within. The worst was our Tacklife evaluation unit, which did not maintain a lot warmth and did not sear whereas cooking. The steak on that grill wanted an extra 5 minutes to get to a temperature of 135, the minimal for medium uncommon. 

Rooster and oblique, medium warmth

Subsequent, we examined every grill’s medium warmth cooking functionality by roasting entire chickens. The trick right here is to maintain the grills at a sizzling sufficient temperature to cook dinner a hen for upwards of two hours. Every grill received a full chimney of charcoal, and we positioned one six-pound hen on every grill, reverse the coals for oblique warmth. 


Every grill received a chimney of sizzling charcoal. 

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Cooking over charcoal took longer than cooking with a fuel grill, and we did have so as to add extra gas to maintain our grills above 300 levels. Our favourite fowl from this batch was the one cooked on the Weber, although it was a tricky name. The Nexgrill cart-style grill got here in proper behind, an in depth second when it comes to taste and texture.


Rooster was cooked over oblique warmth till it reached an inside temperature of 165 levels. 

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The distinction between the 2 was largely within the crispiness of the pores and skin, with Weber being superior. Meat from the Nexgrill was scrumptious, with only a bit extra taste than the Weber. Between the 2, I would say it largely depends upon your finances and what type of grill you favor for different meats like burgers or steak. Weber actually had the superior sear in that class. 

Low and gradual ribs

Our final take a look at facilities round barbecue ribs, particularly child again pork ribs. This type of cooking requires strict temperature management over a interval of a number of hours. Ideally, a top quality charcoal grill (or any smoker) will preserve its hearth buzzing alongside as near 225 levels F (107.2 C), for so long as potential. 


Stack your charcoal briquettes in two rows of two deep alongside the interior wall of the grill.

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To that finish, we arrange every grill for a low and gradual burn, utilizing the charcoal snake method. Within the case of kettle fashions, we prepare coals in a semicircle across the grill’s interior wall. The charcoal briquettes (Kingsford Blue) type a line two coals extensive and two coals deep. We additionally drop a couple of chunks of smokewood on high of the snake (aka fuse). On cart-style grills, we modify the snake to run in proper angles to match their rectangular-shaped fireboxes. 

Subsequent, we gentle every grill’s snake, at one finish of the chain, with 5 lit briquettes (tumbleweed hearth starters work, too). We set all air vents on every grill (high and backside) to the midway open place. Lastly, we place one rack of ribs on every grill, for oblique cooking (circuitously above the coals)

The traditional Weber Kettle grill handled racks of ribs proper.

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The Weber was the undisputed king on this take a look at. No different grill on this group might match the rock-solid temperature management of this iconic cooker. Readings from our personal thermocouples, plus a digital pit thermometer, confirmed this. All through the Weber’s 6 hour, 32 minute cook dinner time, the grill’s inside warmth ranges by no means wandered past 25 levels of the our goal (225 F). The truth is, more often than not the temperature hovered between 220 and 230 levels (F). Consequently, ribs cooked within the Weber got here out tender, juicy and filled with smoke taste.

Ribs cooked on the Napoleon grill got here out tasty, although with bark that was somewhat dry.

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The Napoleon grill was the second greatest on this take a look at. Inside temperatures had a better swing, leaping as much as 300 levels (F) during times of the cook dinner. Its rack of ribs was prepared in a brief Four hours, 30 minutes too. And whereas its ribs got here tender and juicy total, the outside bark had a couple of burnt spots. 

Ribs cooked on the NexGrill had a lot of bark however had been juicy and tender inside.

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We famous comparable temperature efficiency from the NexGrill, together with comparable rib outcomes. Cooking ribs low and gradual on the the NexGrill required simply Four hours, 30 minutes. Its rack got here out nicely too, although just like the Napoleon, its bark was extra pronounced than what the Weber produced. 

Our rib expertise with a couple of of the opposite grills was removed from splendid. The TackLife was significantly unhealthy. At instances the within of this grill hit temperatures as excessive as 400 levels (F). And sadly, the ribs it produced got here out burned, charred and overdone.

Different grills we have examined

The CNET Sensible Residence editors have been serving up grill information for a couple of years now. Along with the fashions we advocate above, listed here are the opposite charcoal grills we have examined: 

  • KitchenAid Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: KitchenAid’s $249 cart-style charcoal grill has heavy-duty forged iron grates in addition to two foldable facet trays for further workspace. It did not wow us in any of our checks, however wasn’t noticeably unhealthy both. 
  • Char-Griller Super Pro: This $139 cart-style charcoal grill was common in our checks, however it’s appropriate with a facet smoker offered individually, if you happen to’re on the lookout for a charcoal grill with nice versatility. 
  • Cuisinart Kettle Charcoal Grill: This 18-inch kettle type grill prices $100 and contains all the fundamental options you’d anticipate. It could not beat the Weber for traditional kettle cooking, however it’s a strong second selection for an reasonably priced kettle type grill. 
  • Tacklife Oversize Grill (22.5-inch): Tacklife fared the worst in our testing. It prices simply $30, and whereas worth would not all the time replicate efficiency or high quality, on this case it did. 
  • Dyna-Glo Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill: This cart-style mannequin from Dyna-Glo is pricier at $200, and has killer seems however solely truthful efficiency. 

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Molly Price