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

A charcoal grill may lack the complexity and costly appears of a gas model, however the very best charcoal grills completely compete with regards to taste.

Charcoal grills are simpler to arrange than fuel grills. All you really want is a bag of charcoal, a lighter and your favourite substances with the intention to obtain a fast meal with true smoky taste. They’re usually extra reasonably priced, too, making charcoal grills a great possibility for tight budgets and newbie grillers.

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 very best guess in your subsequent cookout. 

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

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

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

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

Chris Monroe/PJDM

Should you’d favor to seek out the very best charcoal grill for cooking that’s cart-style, the $99 Nexgrill Cart-Fashion Charcoal Grill proved a worthy challenger to the Weber in our assessments. The cart design means you will get a useful facet tray and somewhat extra cooking floor space, with 390 sq. inches of cooking area in comparison with Weber’s 363 sq. inches. 

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

Cart-style cooking and grilling is not for everybody. It is bulkier with a extra concerned meeting and you will seemingly want extra gas to maintain the bigger area at a excessive temperature. Nonetheless, our outcomes have been nearly pretty much as good because the kettle-style Weber, so should you’re focused on a cart-style charcoal grill that is your greatest guess. 

Chris Monroe/PJDM

At $279, the Napoleon charcoal grill is pricey. Nonetheless, throughout our hen cooking assessments, it held its temperature higher than another 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 straightforward so as to add charcoal. 

Napoleon delivered wonderful cooking ends in 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 another grill within the lineup. The searing take a look at was common, however passable. This grill simply feels very well constructed. It has three heights in your grates, so you possibly can management simply how a lot direct warmth your meals will get whereas cooking and grilling. Should you’re in search of the fanciest kettle grill on the market, this one may simply be it. 

How we take a look at


Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

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

First, a observe about grill thermometers. Not one of the hood thermometers constructed into these grills mirrored the temperatures recorded by our personal thermocouples and knowledge software program. It isn’t unusual for grill thermometers to learn excessive, so we suggest retaining an oven thermometer or Bluetooth thermometer helpful whilst you’re grilling, both in 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 have been sizzling, we put two steaks on every grill. 

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

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 a great, dependable grill this gives you a steak with a seared exterior and medium uncommon to medium heart. In fact, in case your style is meat that is extra executed, 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. 

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

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

Hen and oblique, medium warmth

Subsequent, we examined every grill’s medium warmth cooking functionality by roasting complete chickens. The trick right here is to maintain the grills at a sizzling sufficient temperature to prepare 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. 

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

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 chook 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.


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

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

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 relies on your funds and what model of grill you like for different meats like burgers or steak. Weber definitely had the superior sear in that class. 

Low and sluggish ribs

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


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

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

To that finish, we arrange every grill for a low and sluggish burn, utilizing the charcoal snake method. Within the case of kettle fashions, we organize coals in a semicircle across the grill’s inside wall. The charcoal briquettes (Kingsford Blue) type a line two coals broad and two coals deep. We additionally drop a number of chunks of smokewood on prime 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 mild 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 (prime and backside) to the midway open place. Lastly, we place one rack of ribs on every grill, for oblique cooking (indirectly above the coals)

The traditional Weber Kettle grill handled racks of ribs proper.

Brian Bennett/PJDM

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 prepare 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 stuffed with smoke taste.

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

Brian Bennett/PJDM

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 prepare 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 number of burnt spots. 

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

Brian Bennett/PJDM

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

Our rib expertise with a number of of the opposite grills was removed from ultimate. The TackLife was significantly dangerous. 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 PJDM Good Residence editors have been serving up grill knowledge for a number of years now. Along with the fashions we suggest above, listed below 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 assessments, however wasn’t noticeably dangerous both.
  • Char-Griller Super Pro: This $139 cart-style charcoal grill was common in our assessments, however it’s appropriate with a facet smoker offered individually, should you’re in search of a charcoal grill with nice versatility. 
  • Cuisinart Kettle Charcoal Grill: This 18-inch kettle model grill prices $100 and consists of all the essential options you’d anticipate. It could not beat the Weber for traditional kettle cooking, but it surely’s a strong second selection for an reasonably priced kettle model grill. 
  • Tacklife Oversize Grill (22.5-inch): Tacklife fared the worst in our testing. It prices simply $30, and whereas worth would not at all times 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 appears however solely truthful efficiency. 

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Molly Price