The Best Portable Charcoal Grills for 2020

bbq at the beach

Do we have any BBQ purists in the house?

If so, you’ll appreciate the benefits delivered by charcoal grills. The taste and aroma are unsurpassable. As an inbuilt bonus, most charcoal grills are also compact and easy to transport.

So, we’ve curated a list of the perfect portable grills spanning a broad range of sizes and designs. We fully appreciate there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so we have something for everyone today.

Before we fire into our reviews, how can you pick the best grill?

We’ll help you out with that before we get going.

How to Pick the Perfect Portable Charcoal Grill for Your Needs?

Portability vs. Cooking Area

Look for the diameter of the cooking grates and the overall cooking area expressed in square inches.

What counts here is striking the right balance between room enough to cook and a grill that’s small and compact enough to use on the road.

To this end, we’ve included models ranging from 150 square inches through to more than 1000 square inches. We appreciate everyone has differing needs when looking for a portable grill.

Linked to the size, you should also think about the weight.

Weight

If you’re hunting for a portable grill, you need it to be lightweight enough not to become burdensome. You should also think about whether you’ll need to carry the grill far when you’re out camping.

If you like the look of a bulkier grill, all is not lost. Many models come with ways of streamlining transportation.

Wheels or Handle

Some of the larger grills we explore today remain portable thanks to go-anywhere wheels and carrying handles.

Buyers should purchase firmly in line with your needs rather than expecting a boilerplate solution.

Materials

Charcoal grills are made from stainless steel, porcelain-coated ceramic, cast iron, and other materials.

Again, personalize things.

Do you hate cleaning up? Prioritize materials like steel, which is ideal for easy cleaning.

Are you looking for durability above all else? In that case, cast iron is a good choice.

Hinged Grate

A hinged grate gives you easy access to the ember bed without needing to remove the grate altogether. This is a huge time-saver if you’re involved in a lengthy cookout.

Dampers

Dampers regulating airflow are central to efficient fuel burning.

The best charcoal grills have dual dampers, one for exhaust and the other for intake.

Seamless Construction

Regardless of the shape of your grill, look for models seamlessly constructed to minimize the chance of corrosion ruining your grill.

Tight-Sealing, Lockable Lid

A tight-fitting lid is particularly valuable if you intend to use your grill as a smoker.

For anyone looking to transport their grill, make sure there’s a lockable lid to prevent any unwanted spillage.

Adjustable Grates

If you can adjust the grates, you can set up discrete temperature zones, ideal for larger cookouts with a variety of food.

Solid and Stable Base

Since you’ll be cooking with white-hot coals, it’s vital to hunt down a solid, stable grill.

Make sure the frame is robust, and the legs can bear the grill’s weight.

With that framework in place, you should have no snags finding the best portable grill for your needs.

So, without further delay, here are our reviews.

Key Features:

  • Porcelain enamel coating promotes outstanding heat retention
  • 14-inch cooking area ideal for singles, couples, and small families
  • Precise temperature control with onboard dampers

Weber is a grilling industry titan, and the Smokey Joe is a staple grill in their impressive range.

This grill, weighing under 10 pounds, is substantially heavier than the Cuisinart but is still portable. Sitting 17 inches high on aluminum legs, you can use this charcoal-burning gem at home or away.

Temperature control is precise once you master manipulation. There’s a slight learning curve here, so be patient.

Heat retention is the key attractor to this porcelain enamel unit. You’ll also find it simple to get the coals burning, which makes this a beginner-friendly grill.

The lack of handles and the absence of locks on the lid could be remedied, and then you’d be looking at a near-perfect portable grill. As it is, you’ve got the next best thing.

Crowned by a class-leading 10-year warranty, you’ve got no reason not to road-test this grill if you’re looking for top-notch food on a budget. If you transport with care, you can eat great BBQ wherever you are.

Read also our review of best Weber grills models here. 

If your focused on portability another great product is the Red Weber Liquid Propane Grill. More about it here: Best Tabletop Grill Guide!

Key Features:

  • Take this grill anywhere with slimline dimensions and lightweight 2-pound form 
  • Dual venting optimizes temperature control and charcoal management
  • Snug lid locks ideal if you’re using this grill on the go

Cuisinart has a broad and deep bench of affordable cookware. This dinky 14-inch travel grill continues that tradition in a simple style.

The space-saving form factor lets you pop this grill in the trunk without disassembling it. The lid locks securely in place to prevent any mishaps. You’ll be up and running in minutes when you arrive at the campsite.

Despite its small footprint, you get 150 square inches of cooking real estate. As a guideline, this is enough for a handful of burgers and hot dogs. The rack is chrome-plated to minimize clean-up.

The firebox and ash catcher are enamel-plated and encourages a safe environment if you’re cooking outside.

This grill has multiple use cases from camping and RV action to use on a small balcony or in a trailer home.

Along with all this convenience, you’ll get the taste sensation of cooking with charcoal. To ice the cake, this is one of the cheapest portable grills you’ll find, so what’s not to love?

Key Features:

  • Rugged, go-anywhere wheels perfect for rough terrain on the campsite or trail
  • Use dampers to manage charcoal efficiently
  • Lightweight and portable yet based on a sturdy and durable framework

Stepping things up in size slightly, this 18-inch grill from Beau Jardin gives you ample cooking area to rustle up a pile of food. With 255 square inches of space, you can cater for four people with ease.

The wheeled kettle design of this grill makes it the ideal candidate for tailgating, camping, and any other outdoor BBQ. You get clear instructions on the assembly, which takes minutes.

Heat retention is vital with a charcoal grill, and Beau Jardin gets this nailed. You can also fine-tune the temperature without lifting the lid thanks to the air vent damper.

A highly effective ash catcher means you won’t end up creating a mess in the yard.

Customer care is robust if you run into problems. If you need a grill that’s portable enough to wheel around the yard or the campsite but large enough to cook for the whole family, try Beau Jardin.

Key Features:

  • Oversized 353 square inch cooking area
  • Highly precise temperature gauge baked in
  • Wheels enable you to shift this grill around the garden or campsite with absolute ease

A spacious grill that still qualifies as portable, the Megamaster is aptly named. With 353 square inches of chrome-plated steel racks, you can BBQ a bundle of burgers and hot dogs at the same time.

Overall dimensions are compact considering the expansive cooking area. The grill measures up at 26 ½ x 28 x 43 1/3 inches

Silicone handles ensure you won’t scorch your fingers when you’re loading and unloading the grill. The porcelain-coated lid helps ensure the heat stays inside where it belongs.

The hinged grate is a great ergonomic touch that enhances user experience. The removable ash catcher simplifies clean-up.

You can easily assemble and disassemble this unit, so it makes a great portable solution whether you’re camping, hiking, or heading off in the RV.

The only downside that rates a mention is the lack of room between the cooking grate and the brick grate. Aside from this, you’ll get a first-class grill without needing to dig too deep.

Key Features:

  • Spacious cooking grates while still offering portability
  • The hinged lid helps you to monitor proceedings more easily
  • Impressive 10-year guarantee for peace of mind

Another hard-hitting charcoal grill at the upper end of what we view as portable grills, the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared comes in the classic kettle design that works so well.

The porcelain-coated cooking area spans 360 square inches giving you ample leeway if you’re cooking for larger numbers. Designed to make sure the food doesn’t tumble down; you’ll get consistent heat distribution with flare-ups kept to a minimum.

The wire shelf at the bottom adds to rigidity, and you get a stable cook base. You can also wheel this grill around to feel free to take it on your next camping trip or RV journey.

Watching the progress of your food is streamlined with a hinged lid allowing for easy access.

If you needed any further incentive, this grill is covered by a 10-year limited warranty so you can rest easy expecting years of faithful service. Even better, the Char-Broil price is reasonable considering the performance.

Key Features:

  • Cast iron grates help to seal the flavor in wonderfully
  • Adjustable fire grate promotes superior heat control while simplifying clean-up
  • Heat gauge built into the flanged hood so you can stay on top of the cooking

As we reach the midpoint of our portable charcoal grill reviews, we’ve got something much larger. The Char-Griller Outlaw boasts an exceptional 1063 square inches of cooking grates. This gives you adequate space to cook for a large gathering, but why are we calling this grill portable?

Well, with wheels making it possible to shift the grill around and has plenty of onboard storage. You can easily move from the decking to the yard proper without breaking your back.

The fire grate is easy to fine-tune. Choose from hot, warm, or medium. You won’t need to remove the fire grate to add more coals. The ash pan also slides out so you can dump the contents without dirtying yourself.

Large, rounded legs give you plenty of stability when you’re cooking. The overall build is comparably solid. The high-grade stainless steel is powder-coated, giving you a set-up that should last for years.

If you want a charcoal grill, you can move around the yard while providing you with enough space for large cookouts, pop the Outlaw on your shortlist.

Key Features:

  • Foldable for your convenience while stable in operation
  • Grill grates have enough capacity to feed a small family
  • The perfect grill for popping in the trunk or the RV

With 170 square inches of grill space, this pocket-friendly grill proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy top-notch barbecuing. 

Measuring 17 x 10 inches, you can sear up to 8 burgers at once, so don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t cook much.

Weighing in at just over 6 pounds, you can fold the grill up in a few quick movements. This makes it one of the most effective travel grills on our list. The grill feels reassuringly stable when it’s snapped into place.

Heat-resistant to 572F, you can cook up a storm with the TeqHome in complete safety. As with all charcoal grills, what you lose in terms of convenience, you gain with interest when it comes to taste. No other grilling method can rival that unique BBQ flavor. 

While you won’t get any accessories, bells, or whistles, you won’t need to pay much for this grill, either. If you’re looking for the ideal sweet spot between affordability and performance, give this grill a shot.

Key Features:

  • Iconic kamado-style grill ensures all the flavor is locked inside
  • Dampers above and below to regulate temperature
  • Holds heat like a ceramic grill but lighter and more rugged

If you’re a charcoal grill purist, there’s no substitute for a classic kamado grill. Made from triple-walled stainless steel, you’ll get many of the benefits of ceramic with even less weight. 

This grill can cook through a broad range of temperatures spanning from 200F through 700F. With easily adjustable dampers at the top and bottom, you can control the temperature seamlessly.

With a 153 square inch cooking area, you can cater to several guests without too much trouble.

Sized at just 25 inches tall and 21 inches across, you can house this grill on a small balcony or crowded decking. This makes the grill perfect if you want to move it around outside at home. The lack of wheels and design means it’s not ideal for taking out in the car. It makes an excellent fit for an RV, though. You’ll have more room in a larger vehicle to stash the grill.

While this kamado grill is not especially cheap, you’ll get a durable unit built to withstand some serious punishment.

Interested in getting a list of the BEST Kamado brands for sale? Read this page.

Key Features:

  • A winning combination of portability and spacious cooking area for the double-win
  • Lockable lid, so everything stays in one piece when you’re on the move
  • Porcelain enamel for excellent heat retention without any danger of rusting

The name of this Weber grill is more than marketing hype. It is small enough to take just about anywhere.

Made from porcelain enamel-like most of the best charcoal grills, you get unbeatable heat retention without the bugbear of rust that occurs with many sub-par materials.

Despite the scaled-down dimensions, you’ll get a cooking grate offering 160 square inches of space. This much space translates to enough room for perhaps six burgers. The steel grate is designed to keep heat sealed in. It’s easy enough to clean, too.

Fashioned with camping and tailgating in mind, you can rest secure with the lockable lid preventing any mishaps in the trunk. Overall dimensions are 12 x 21 x 14 ½ inches with a weight of just under 15 pounds.

If you need to cook for larger parties, consider one of the other charcoal BBQs we highlight above. If, on the other hand, you want a small grill tailor-made for outdoor use, place your trust in Weber.

Key Features:

  • Hibachi-style cast-iron for unbeatable lifespan
  • Fully seasoned and ready to get even better over time with minimal clean-up required 
  • Impeccable brand heritage with over a century in the business

Last but certainly not least, this classic hibachi-style grill from Lodge comes in pre-seasoned cast iron. This simple BBQ is highly effective and easy to use. What makes it so good, then?

Lodge has been making this type of cookware for 120 years. The company remains family-owned, and you get exceptional attention to detail. Not only does the cast-iron guarantee a long life, but you also get the best possible sear on your meat.

Measuring 19 x 8 ¼ x 10 ¼ inches, you can rack up a hearty meal outdoors without needing to cook in several sessions. That said, you can also benefit from the handle and carry this grill around without undue effort.

When you receive your grill, it’s already seasoned with vegetable oil to keep your food tasting at its best.

If you’re looking for a classic charcoal grill with a twist, you can’t beat Lodge.

Final Verdict: Best Portable Charcoal Grill for Your Money

Our overall pick for the best portable charcoal grill for your money is the Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill (10020). Why did we choose this BBQ?

Measuring 14 inches across, you can easily accommodate enough food for a small family. In return for sacrificing a little cooking area, you’ll get a grill you can pop in the back of the car with relative ease. 

Superlight, you’ll also be able to carry the grill around without straining yourself.

Throw in precise temperature control and excellent heat retention, and all that remains is when you’re going to pick up this portable grill and hit the road.

 

If you need to cook for larger parties and you need to have more features to your Weber grill, consider looking into one of the other great Weber BBQ grills. Click Here