Best Charcoal BBQ For Smoked Foods
Only the best charcoal BBQ comes with that impressive food flavour. Regardless of how good other grills are, the charcoal BBQ grill is still the best option for the smoky flavour that impresses both on meats and vegetables.
Many believe charcoal barbecues aren’t made for the best temperature control. But as the best grillers can attest, it’s about your skills more than about the features of the BBQ. The following charcoal BBQ grills have been selected based on the best results and the simplest designs so that they can be used even by those new to the grilling world.
Tepro 1037"Detroit Barrel Grill - Black
Made to resemble a barrel, this robust grill is just what you need for any amount of charcoal. It concentrates the charcoal at the bottom of this half-barrel and it brings the heat and smokes up to your food for the tastiest flavour profile.
Made with 2 chrome-plated grill racks, it allows you to separate your cooked foods depending on the amount of heat they need to grill. You can easily place meats on the lower grill side of the rack and the veggies on the higher side of the grill.
There’s even a storage tray underneath the cooking spaces so that you can keep all of your food nearby for when it goes on the grill. Large transportation wheels and large handlebars ensure you can safely grill your food with the highest amount of smoke without it entering the house or going over to the neighbours.
Designed with 3 level rack adjustments
Included utensils shelf
Heat-resistant up to 600 degrees
Not the best against oxidation
Tepro Grillwagen Toronto Click Charcoal Barbecue
If your budget is a bit higher, you can spend a bit more to get a superior grill in terms of materials. Tepro’s grill is made for those who love to grill long hours and those who might need to cook for their entire family.
This can be seen in its charcoal feeder door. You can open this door easily whenever you need to add more charcoal to the grill to keep the cooking going. This is also where you get the ash out whenever the grilling is over. You open the door to remove the ash-tray within seconds.
There are a grilling shelf and a heating shelf on this grill. But you can also use it with pizza stones and woks which can also be purchase from the manufacturer.
Enameled cooking grate
Removable grid insert
Made with a charcoal feeder door
Only compatible with pizza stones up to 12”
Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ
If you need a charcoal BBQ with a classic design, Weber’s proposition stands out. It comes with a simple no-rust aluminium tray so that you can load all of the charcoal you need to prepare burgers, fish, or vegetables.
A plated steel cooking grate is added on top. It has a fixed height which may seem to limit at first. But then, it teaches you all about the right amount of charcoal you need to keep the grill going.
Furthermore, it adds a heavy-duty steel fuel grate and a large lid with a proper handle so that you can focus on outdoor cooking. We even like there’s 2 versions of this grill. One is 47cm high while the other is 57cm high.
Only made from metal
Includes transportation wheels
Made with a Porcelain-enameled bowl
Limited grill height adjustments
Tepro Toronto Trolley Grill Barbecue
With a cooking surface of 41cm x 27cm, this compact grill is perfect for couples and small groups. It’s made by Tepro which already makes it a must-have for those who value durable charcoal grills.
A large lid with a steel handle dominates its top side. It even comes with a thermometer so that you know not to overcook your food. Enameled charcoal grate is added to the grill. With the help of an adjustable crank, the barbecue is also very easy to use.
But its 90cm height is also helping with grilling ergonomics. Most users don’t need to hunch over the grill to cook the food. But what we like most about this height is that it comes with adjustability. There is 6 height presets that ensure the ultimate comfort regardless of user height.
Designed with a small ash collector
Included hooks for accessories
Not easy to move around
CosmoGrill Outdoor XXL Smoker Barbecue
Benefiting from a large cooking area of 72 x 42cm, this barbecue smoker is another top release from CosmoGrill. We recommend it for those who like to grill a whole chicken as it comes with sufficient space inside for a whole chicken.
As other charcoal grills from the CosmoGrill, it also comes with height adjustments and a practical ash system. You can simply add charcoal to the grill easily by opening the bottom door of the barbecue.
Removable shelves are added to the barbecue. You can use these to keep seasoning nearby. But some prefer to simply use the shelves to hang their cooking utensils from.
It fits a whole chicken
Designed with two 27 x 45cm shelves
Made with 2 large transportation wheels
Thin coal tray
Azuma Rhino BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Grill
With an adjustable charcoal panel, you can use the grill for a wide range of foods. Most users see it as the all in one solution from burgers to tasty chicken or fish. For example, fish takes considerably less cooking time to grill and you can use a higher grill position so that it sits further away from the charcoal.
Designed with a metal lid with a steel handlebar, this grill is very easy to use, especially since it features an included thermometer. With the help of 4 hooks for accessories, this barbecue stands out among the practical options for weekly use.
Designed with ventilation holes
Deep charcoal chamber
Made with 1 storage shelf
Assembly is required
This is why you use a charcoal barbecue
If you’re debating the type of barbecue grill to purchase, you need to learn all about charcoal and how its heating is leveraged. Charcoal grills are among the oldest types of grills replacing wood-based grilling for most of those grilling at home. The following section looks into the benefits and drawbacks of the modern charcoal BBQ.
The flavour is often quoted as the main advantage of choosing a charcoal grill. The added smoke to meats and veggies is what determines most customers to buy, build or improvise their charcoal grill. For most users, it’s about the type of charcoal as it is about the grill itself.
Smoked food seems to taste delicious regardless of the season. Most people prefer smoked foods during the summer as good weather allows them to grill food outdoors. But food used to be smoked as a preservation method for the cold winter months. You can enjoy delicious smoky grills any season if you have one at home.
Fully adjustable cooking
The true limitations of a charcoal grill are not as impossible to overcome for a skilled griller. You can adjust your cooking as you want. These barbecues listed above come with height adjustability to that the charcoal sits closer or further away from the food, just as you need it. The food is in your control.
Versatility for omnivores and vegetarians
Grills aren’t for burgers and sausages only. Tasty smoky vegetables can also be grilled. Given you have a good grill, you can barbecue even the most common foods such as corn or even fruits, depending on your diet.
A charcoal grill that you purchase from a store is portable. If you build one in your backyard, it’s going to stay in the same position for years. But all of the charcoal BBQs listed above are made with at least 2 transportation wheels. You can easily move it to a different section of the yard, depending on where you want to grill.
The portability of the charcoal grill is also seen in small designs. Without large legs, these small portable charcoal grills are made for weekends away. You can load them in your car and have them ready to go, unlike with most already assembled large grills.
The limitations of a charcoal BBQ
As with all types of grills, the charcoal BBQ has its limitations. You need to know them before making a purchase. Some of them might seem obvious but other drawbacks might come as a surprise.
Keeping your charcoal BBQ clean and safe to cook on is a priority. This is also true for all other grills. But charcoal tends to be the messiest of them all. You need to get rid of the as after each barbecue and then you need to clean your grilling area properly.
Even dealing with charcoal might be a messy job. Some people struggle to find a good storage place for charcoal as it can be the main enemy of clean spaces and clean clothes.
Inexact temperature control
While charcoal is very similar to cooking with wood, it also has the same limitations. A gas barbecue or an electronic barbecue typically uses exact temperature control. But you might even struggle to find the same heat during your grilling session as it differs depending on the type of charcoal and on the amount of charcoal you add to your grill.
You have to know grilling to make the most of charcoal. While its flavour is superior compared to the flavour of food cooked on electric grills, charcoal is also very demanding. You need to learn which temperature is right for your type of grill to avoid burned food.
Time to reach grilling heat
Charcoal can be difficult to light up. It might also take at least 20 minutes for the charcoal to reach the right heat for grilling. You need to observe this heat build-up time and you need to plan accordingly. This means choosing to prepare your grill at least half an hour in advance. This is not an issue for a gas grill or an electric grill. On the other hand, it keeps food warm longer.
One of the features that can’t be easily quantified is built quality. Your grill needs to come with solid construction. But what does this mean?
The best charcoal BBQ has to come with a sturdy cast iron frame, sturdy storage doors, and a sturdy lid. This is when you start to notice that your product is of high quality and that it can be easily used for years to come.
Casters also need to be durable. You need to stop using a barbeque that doesn’t feel solid. Even the parts that are removable such as the side shelves discussed above need to feel sturdy when placed on the grill.
Most accidents tend to happen when the user or the grill are not following a set of minimum standards. In the case of the barbeque, there needs to be a set of rules followed for the best overall long-term usability.
Build quality can also be assessed after you start grilling. Since most products come with a warranty, you should ask for parts’ replacements if you notice they’re not up to standard. For example, bent barbecuing grids in the warranty period should be dealt with by the manufacturer or by the seller directly.
Charcoal grills vs gas grills
Another important characteristic to consider is the category of the grill itself. Both charcoal BBQs and gas grills have their place in a home. However, while both grill food they are very different.
Charcoal barbecues are normally associated with better-tasting food which bursts with flavour. Of course, there are options for you to consider if you like the smokiness that comes from charcoal that you can use on gas BBQ.
A gas grill doesn’t come with that charcoal flavour but it comes with superior temperature control. It’s one of the best tools for those who want their food grilled to perfection. You can learn grilling temperatures for some of your favourite recipes in advance and you can simply follow them to have delicious food that always tastes the same every time you grill.
Another good reason to consider gas grills is the number of burners they come with. As seen from the grills above, you can often enjoy up to 6 burners on a single grill. These come with superior temperature control and you can use them to grill burgers in an area and to prepare buns in another area. You can also prepare delicious sausages which don’t need the same grilling temperature and which often burn when prepared on charcoal grills.
The running cost of these 2 types of grills is somewhat similar. On one hand, you pay for the charcoal but on the other hand, you pay for the gas tank. The fuel used in the grilling process is a constant cost on both of these grills.
Prepare your first burger
The classic burger is one of the simplest recipes prepared on a grill. You can buy the burger minced meat and season it yourself before grilling it at home.
As with all types of meats for burgers, we recommend grilling it on both sides at a temperature of at least 150 degrees F (65 degrees Celsius). This prevents your burger from being undercooked. You can add all of the other ingredients next. If you’re after a tasty cheeseburger, we recommend leaving the slices of cheese on your burger for 40 seconds with the lid of the grill closes for it to melt properly. You can also grill onion and the buns before serving the delicious burger. Slow cooking might be a good alternative for burgers as well.
This simple recipe teaches you how to turn the grill on and off. It allows you to learn more about temperature control and it also shows you the importance of the lid which blocks the heat of the grill and which helps your food grill faster and taste better.
How to choose the best charcoal barbecues – Complete buying guide
When you plan to purchase your first charcoal BBQ, there are a few things to consider. Even if heat control is not a feature that grabs attention on these grills, there are other things to consider when making a purchase.
Best time to buy a charcoal BBQ
The best time to buy a charcoal BBQ is at the end of the summer. Since the grilling season is now over, this period is where a lot of inventory goes on sale. Shops need to clear out floor space and it is a time when you can look for a cheap barbecue grill if you’re shopping for a bargain.
Buying the best barbecue during the winter can also be a wise approach. However, most sellers already expect this period to show a slight increase in sales towards springtime and your best bet remains late summer and early fall if you’re looking for the best deal.
Sturdiness and durability
How sturdy is a charcoal barbecue? It needs to be very sturdy as you add both food and charcoal to it. The entire setup still needs to be used on flat surfaces. But one of the main complaints users have with low-quality charcoal grills is with their sturdiness. Simply put, if your charcoal grill wobbles, it feels unsafe and you don’t feel comfortable cooking on it.
A sturdy charcoal grill might also fall under the user’s responsibility. You can choose the type of grill you want to use but you need to assemble it correctly for it to be truly sturdy. Almost no grill comes fully assembled today and you need to put it together yourself.
What barbecue size is best for you? This is a question that only you can answer, considering the types of food you plan to grill. It’s also a characteristic to consider when you have multiple people to cook for.
Singles and couples can use a simple mini grill. If you’re cooking for an entire family, you need to invest in a large grill which has a cooking area of at least 60cm in length. You also want to consider the lid in some grills as it needs to sit high above the grill so that it closes tightly above the food you plan to cook.
Even if you use a charcoal grill, you can still rely on products that come with built-in thermometers. You can’t control the temperature directly but you can know when the grill reaches the right cooking temperature.
The simplest approach is to purchase a grill that comes with a built-in temperature gauge. This gauge is all you need for the basic style of cooking even if you can also use hand-held thermometers to check if your food is ready.
Utensils hooks, transportation wheels, bottle openers, warming racks (which can also be used for indirect cooking), air vents, and other accessories make the grill easier to use. Most of the top designs sold today come with a few extras. We like ergonomic handlebars as we like durable materials on handlebars.
But all users have personal preferences when it comes to grill extras. You can’t add these to your grill later on and it’s worth investing in the right design from the start. For example, some users not charcoal trays can be too thin on some grills. This keeps them from being as durable as many expect.
You might also notice the quality of these small extras makes the different. A durable lid might not be possible with a thin or a single layer of metal. It takes 2 layers on some grills just to make them feel sturdy. All of these extras add up and they help you choose a grill that lasts for years.
The same debate moves over to another accessory situated close to the grill area. Side shelves are some of the simplest accessories which can make the barbeque completely independent. You can use the side shelves to stored cooked or uncooked food. You can also use it to store seasoning so that you have it nearby when grilling. You can also use them to store accessories such as cooking gloves which protect your hands.
But side shelves are mostly used for small prep work. You can chop onions or peppers right on this small shelf. This eliminates all of the other tables and chairs you’d struggle to bring to the grilling area yourself. At the same time, this side shelf is considerably easy to clean than any almost any other wooden table you’d use for food preparation instead.
Side shelves are also added at the end of the assembly process. You may even not add them at all in case you don’t need them. If you struggle with barbeque storage space in the garage, you can either fold or remove these side shelves to make it fit its place a bit easier.
How should cooking grids look? If you’ve been shopping for a new BBQ, you know that cooking grids look different from one model to another. While there are plenty of good products to rely on when it comes to building quality, main fail due to the poor design of the cooking grills.
The key to good cooking grills is their materials and how easy it is to clean them completely after each grill. This is why you need to choose products that don’t require you cleaning the cooking grids from multiple angles for hours. It’s always the grill that is the easiest to clean that’s going to remain the first choice of a household.
We recommend stainless steel grids and some may even come with a porcelain coating. You need to invest in grids that are new in case you see rust on your old grids. Rust remains the most dangerous enemy of the cooking grids which is why you want to pay attention to where you keep your grill and its cleanliness when it goes back into storage.
Cleaning your charcoal grill
Apart from the grill itself, you also need to purchase cleaning tools and cleaning products. These include a grill scraper tool. You should always look for a tool that is not going to scratch your grill. You need cleaning gloves as well if you don’t want the black charcoal or the ash to get on your hands. Soap, water, and a good bucket are needed during the cleaning process as well for the enamelled grill that looks clean and not darkened by smokey cooking.
If you don’t have a place to dispose of the ash, you also need to think about purchasing a metal bucket which can be safer when you carry the ash around the garden. Some people add the ash to their garden plants as trees as it acts as a natural fertilizer.
Cleaning tools might also include stainless steel or specialized griller cleaners. You can buy them online on Amazon and the good news is they last a long time. You should use such a cleaner to have your grill look sparkling clean as least 100 times.
Do you need your grill to sit in the same place or does it need to move around the backyard? If you plan multiple parties or if you simply plan to use your portable barbecue charcoal grill properly, we recommend placing it further away from the house and the guests so that the smoke remains isolated. But you need large transportation wheels on your grill for this.
You want to avoid 4-wheel portable BBQs as they aren’t the best for stability. But those made with 2 wheels and 2 regular legs are the best when it comes to combining stability with easy transportation. All of the charcoal grills listed above can be transported on their built-in wheels by tilting and pulling the dedicated handlebar. A few good examples of barbecues that move easily include those made by Firebox, Kamado, Big Green Egg, Char-Broil, Kettle Grill, Landmann, Rotisserie, Searing, GBS, and Weber.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best charcoal BBQ?
The Tepro 1037″Detroit Barrel Grill is the best charcoal BBQ if you value simplicity. Shaped like half of a barrel, this charcoal BBQ is easy to use. Its rounded base helps direct the heat up a bit better. It also allows you to use the grill area with different heat zones, depending on the amount of charcoal underneath. The more charcoal there’s underneath the food (towards the middle of the barrel), the higher the grill temperature is.
How do you start a charcoal BBQ?
Matches are used to light a charcoal BBQ on a budget. If you can spend a bit more, you can purchase lighter fluid which helps get the fire started immediately. An electric starter can also work if you’re at home and if you have access to electricity. Briquettes are rising in popularity as well.
Do you cover a charcoal BBQ?
A charcoal BBQ can be covered or uncovered. Camping grills tell us that tasty food can be enjoyed even without a lid on the grill. But we also know a lid helps trap the smoke and temperature for faster results and often tastier results. You can use a charcoal barbecue without a lid or with a lid depending on your cooking style as well. Food is not always made using the same methods and your personal preferences also matter.
Can you use any charcoal on a BBQ?
In theory, you can use any type of charcoal on a BBQ. In practice, the best charcoal is often the most expensive. But regardless of your charcoal, you need to learn how to light it up and how to leverage its advantages for grilling. The type of charcoal has reduced significantly in comparison to how you use the cooker.
Are Weber charcoal grills worth the money?
As seen with the Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ, its high quality is what determines its net worth. You can purchase an entry-level alternative but you have no quality guarantees. Weber is already an established brand in the grills industry and you can purchase their products knowing they undergo rigorous testing.