Don’t you sometimes feel like levelling up your weekend getaways? Ever wish you also had one of those grill parties on your camping trips?
Food also tastes better when it’s cooked outside, especially if you’re enjoying it in an unfamiliar place. Conversations around a fire pit become more memorable. And it’s for these reasons that the summer outdoor experience is unmatched by any other.
With portable charcoal grills for camping, you get to take these precious moments with you. They fit right inside your car’s trunk and are also easy to carry if you’re planning to go hiking.
Why You Should Use Portable Charcoal Grills
One of the biggest rewards of using portable charcoal outdoor grills is that they’re compact. You can take them with you anywhere.
They’re also perfect for small servings of up to ten people, depending on your grill size. They may be small, but you still get an authentic BBQ experience outside the bounds of your backyard.
Since these charcoal grills are portable, they’re also easier to assemble. The fewer parts of a portable charcoal grill are also easier to maintain and clean. It also wouldn’t need an outlet to connect to since it uses charcoal.
Charcoal grills are the most affordable type of grill. And portable charcoal grills are even cheaper since they come in smaller sizes.
Portable Charcoal Grills vs. Portable Gas Grills
Charcoal grills and gas grills both have their strong and weak points. Since portability is already a given strength, let’s look into other aspects that may help you decide which is better for you.
First off, charcoal grills can give you a more authentic BBQ experience. You might be wondering, why is cooking with charcoal good for portable grills? The straight answer is that food cooked in charcoal grills has that distinct smoky flavor that a gas grill may not be able to give you.
Charcoal grills allow you to reach high temperatures for dishes that need searing. They also work for low and slow cooking.
You can also have different heat zones with a charcoal grill. Just put more charcoal where you want the grill to be hotter and less where you want it to be cooler. This allows you to multi-task and cook different dishes simultaneously. Basically, you have more control over a charcoal grill than a gas grill.
Flare-ups do happen in both charcoal and gas grills. But they’re less likely in charcoal grills. They vaporize grease and drippings from your food instead of burning them. Food also comes out juicier on a charcoal grill than on a gas grill.
Gas fuel is cheaper than charcoal, though. And that’s an important point to consider since the costs eventually add up. A small gas tank could already last you a long time. But with charcoal, you’d have to keep buying them since they get used up pretty fast.
But another strong point of charcoal grills is that charcoal is easier to carry around than a gas tank. It’s also much lighter. Charcoal is readily available in supermarkets, too. With a gas tank, you’d still have to look for a gas station that could refill your propane tank.
Charcoal grills are easier to manage. They only take assembling the parts, putting the charcoal in, and you’re good to go. For gas grills, you’d have to assemble the parts and connect the hoses first to get your grill to work. It could be more complicated to set up for some people.
Even though charcoal is expensive, portable charcoal grills give you more value for your money. Plus, they’re the purest form of outdoor grilling. There’s a sense of pride that comes with being able to cook delicious food with a charcoal grill.
8 Best Portable Charcoal Grills for Grilling (Almost) Anywhere
Cuisinart Portable BBQ Charcoal Grill
This is one of the best portable charcoal grills you can get on the market. It has 150 square inches of a chrome-plated grate, giving you enough cooking area for about six burgers. It also has a dual-venting system that allows you to manage the temperature better.
This compact 14-inch grill only weighs 2 pounds, making it more convenient and easier to carry. You can choose between their red and black variations.
Weber Original Kettle 18-Inch Charcoal Grill
Weber is a trusted grill brand known for always delivering quality products. This 18-inch charcoal grill from Weber also lives up to the same high-quality standard.
It has 240 square inches of cooking area, allowing you to cook about nine burgers simultaneously. It also has a durable plated steel grate that retains heat well and is easy to clean.
The Weber Original Kettle also has an efficient ash catcher. It has a one-touch system to help you dispose of the ashes more easily.
This portable grill has two wheels to make transport more convenient. It has another leg at the front that keeps the grill steady. Having only three legs instead of four makes it a little wobbly, though.
It might be a little pricey, but it’s worth the investment, especially for a group of ten people.
Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill
The Everdure CUBE is a modern portable charcoal grill that serves both form and function. It has a sleek minimalist design that makes it perfect even for “glamping” trips. You can choose from matte black, graphite, khaki, orange, and stone for the colors.
It has an integrated storage tray that’s perfect for either utensils or food. The bamboo lid on top also works as a cutting board. It’s perfect for your food preparation needs. There are two latches—front and rear—that secure all these in place. The CUBE’s handles are also cool to touch even while you’re grilling.
If you’re all for that Instagram-worthy setup for your trips, you might as well go all out with this one.
JJ JUJIN Portable Charcoal Grill
This BBQ charcoal grill is perfect for a group of 3–5 people. It has around 140 square inches of grilling area and it weighs about 8 pounds.
It’s made from durable steel. The grill rack is made from stainless steel, making it non-stick and resistant to high temperatures.
The JJ JUJIN grill has a wooden handle for portability. It also has a latch to keep the grill secure while you’re on the road.
The thermometer helps you measure the temperature, although it might not be that accurate. The portable grill also has air vents on both sides to help control the airflow more easily.
It’s fairly easy to assemble, but you’d need a screwdriver to attach the legs, smokestack, and handle.
This grill would be worth the purchase if you’re into unique and sleek portable charcoal grills.
Ep-Flechazo Portable Charcoal Grill Set
The BBQ charcoal grill comes with grilling accessories including oil brushes, tongs, and a fork. It also comes with reusable stainless steel skewers. You even get tinfoil, disposable bamboo sticks, and gloves.
This Ep-Flechazo grill is perfect for tabletop grilling. It only weighs about 3.5 pounds. It also has foldable legs that make it more compact. It’s just like bringing a briefcase with you.
This all-in-one grill set is enough to get you started on a portable barbecue.
Raptor Grilling – Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker
The Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker from Raptor Grilling is another value-for-money grill. It has 230 square inches of cooking area, allowing you to cook up to 16 burgers at once. It weighs 16 pounds since the body is made from thick steel coated with porcelain enamel.
It also has stainless steel legs and air valves. The fuel basket and cooking grates are also chrome-plated. This grill is surely built to last.
The grill also cools down quickly, making it easier to store. It could cool down to room temperature in only about an hour.
The handles are also designed to make grilling easier for you. Raptor Grilling uses a clean-hands technology for this grill which also keeps the mess to a minimum. The lid handle even doubles as a stand so that you can put some utensils or food in it when not in use.
This toolbox-like portable grill comes in a crimson and black rush color. Getting the black one is more advisable since the red paint might eventually chip or peel off.
Fuukou Portable Charcoal Grill
The Fuukou Portable Charcoal Grill is another affordable choice. It comes in an olive green color.
The Fuukou grill has air vents that manage the temperature and airflow. It also has a wire mesh grate that’s easy to clean.
The whole grill is easy to assemble and doesn’t need any tools. You just fold and unfold the legs and the side trays and you’re done. It also has a handle for more portability.
The best thing about this portable grill is that it has two foldable side trays. You can use them as extra preparation space while grilling. The whole grill is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the food or utensils you might place on the side trays.
WeCooper Portable Charcoal Grill
Another portable grill with a modern design is this Portable Charcoal Grill from WeCooper. It comes in silver or black.
It has 132 square inches of grilling space and only weighs 6.45 pounds. It’s also easy to assemble and store. The stainless steel body is sturdy enough and easy to clean. The whole grill is heat-resistant up to 1100℉.
The product includes one charcoal rack, one grill rack, one rack handle, and tongs. It also has 12 holes for optimal ventilation. It doesn’t have a handle. But considering how compact this notebook grill is, it’s almost just like bringing a file case with you.
How to Choose the Best Portable Charcoal Grill
When choosing a portable charcoal grill, look for key features like grill racks, charcoal drawers, and grease trays.
Good-quality grill racks are important because that’s where you’ll be grilling your food. Charcoal drawers or racks are where you’ll place the charcoal for grilling. It’s a plus if the grill has an ash catcher to make cleanup easier. Grease trays are the ones that collect the drippings from your food and make sure they don’t get to the charcoal and cause a flare-up.
A hinged grate is also a good feature to have on a grill. It allows you to add charcoal or move the pieces without having to remove the grill rack.
Vents are also one of the most important features of a portable grill. These allow you to control the temperature of your grill so that you can make both slow-cooking and searing dishes.
Another thing to consider is the size of your grill. How big do you need your grill to be? How many people are you planning to serve food to at a time? Will you be cooking different dishes at once?
These are the questions you should ask yourself when choosing a portable grill. Getting one that’s just right for your needs helps you be more efficient. It could save you a lot of money upon purchase and storage space when you travel.
The grill you end up buying should be sturdy enough to stand on most surfaces. It’s easy to choose a tabletop grill since you’ll be placing it on a flat surface. But what if there’s no table and you’d have to place your grill on the ground?
Go for the grill that has strong legs to withstand the weight even after you’ve put big meats on the grill. Also, it has to be sturdy even on uneven surfaces.
Material and Durability
Portable charcoal grills are made to last. But you should still keep an eye out for the material of the grill you’ll be buying. Do you prefer stainless steel or iron-cast grills? Is a porcelain or enamel coating better for you?
Also, is the grill really rust-resistant? Will the paint stay on and not bubble up after some time? Always go for the portable grill that promises specific things like these so that you know exactly what you’re getting from it.
Cleaning a grill could be a hassle if you don’t buy the right one. Look for non-stick and coated grill racks so that you won’t use up your precious time scrubbing it clean.
An ash catcher is also a good feature to look out for. It collects the ashes and debris from the charcoal so that you can easily sweep it off or dispose of it in a garbage bag.
Storage is also important when choosing portable charcoal grills. Look for the ones that don’t need tools for assembly. It’s also better to go for a foldable grill so that you won’t have to detach anything.
If there are many parts to a grill, at least go for the ones that come in a bag. This makes storage easier and more convenient.
Also, grills that have a quick cool-down technology are a big plus. You shouldn’t spend a lot of time waiting for a grill to cool down before you can store it.
The price can also be a deciding factor when choosing portable charcoal grills. You should be getting the most out of what you pay for.
Don’t just think about the “now.” Consider the long-term effects and costs of a grill before buying it. You might have to pay a lot now, but with a high-quality grill, it would be worth it. If you opt for the cheapest option, you might encounter problems along the way. Charcoal grill repairs, although fairly cheap, could end up costing you more.
The Bottom Line
Portable charcoal grills are perfect for achieving that authentic BBQ experience on your next trip. You’d get to have delicious smoke-flavored food and you won’t have to pay a lot for it.
There are a lot of portable charcoal grills available on the market nowadays. There is no single perfect choice for a grill. It still depends on your needs and preferences. Make sure to consider all your options before putting your foot down on one.
To recap, here are some of the best portable charcoal grills:
Best Value-for-Money: Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch Portable BBQ Charcoal Grill
Best Large-Capacity Portable Grill: Weber Original Kettle 18-Inch Charcoal Grill
Best Modern and Minimalist Grill: Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill
Best Heating System: JJ JUJIN Portable Charcoal Grill
Best All-in-One Grill: Ep-Flechazo Portable Folding Stainless Steel Barbecue Charcoal Grill Set
Best Charcoal Efficiency: Raptor Grilling – Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker
Best Tabletop Grill: Fuukou Portable Charcoal Grill
Most Compact Grill: WeCooper Portable Charcoal Grill
I love sharing my passion for BBQ with people who are new to cooking outdoors. We’re a family of foodies with a passion for grilling, BBQ and all things meat. We love what we do and we look forward to showing you.