Portable Charcoal Grills
Review & Buying Guide

How to select the best small, outdoor portable charcoal grill for camping, tailgating, RVing, patio and backyard. Find reviews about Coleman, Weber charcoal grills and other manufacturers. See what grill types are the most popular and which one to select.

What to Consider When Buying a Portable Grill

The greatest advantages of all portable charcoal grills vs. other types, are the compact design, fast cooking, more heat generated and tasty food. The small size makes these grills perfect for a picnic, tailgating, backyard patio, camping, RV users and outdoor lovers. You just need a few pounds of charcoal, depending on how much meat has to be cooked.

Here are some considerations to take into account when shopping for a grill:

Quality of constructions is very important.

When looking for the portable charcoal grill, choose the grill that has a solid construction, and it doesn't rattle or squeak when you shake it gently. Joints should be firmly welded to each other with the welds polished smooth for safety, rather than being held together with nuts and bolts or screws (doesn't apply on cast iron grills).

Quality of material used to build the grill.

Your new charcoal grill should be made of thick and sturdy parts and not thin and flimsy. Check out those made of heavy cast-iron and with a heavy iron grate.

Buy a grill which has a thicker hood and preferable if it is enameled so it protects the metal from discoloring.

Before you buy the grill and right at the store, test several portable charcoal grills; roll the grill on the floor of the showroom (if applicable) and see how it moves. Select the grill which has large wheels so it can turn easily and traverse uneven ground. The area around the handles should have enough space so that your hand will fit through easily and safely. Handle should be made of wood so it won't heat up during the cooking.

Cooking grates should be strong and heavy, preferable made of cast iron, stainless steel or porcelain-coated stainless steel, to resist the rust and is easy to clean. In order to provide enough grilled food for your meal make sure that a grill surface is big enough, which is usually 12" by 16".

Good portable charcoal grill should have an adjustable grate so you can change the height or the distance between the heat source and the food.

Keep in mind that the grill is fueled by natural lum charcoal or briquettes, and pick one with the dip firepan.

Locking lid on grills is what you should aim for. It allows moving your grill around and prevents ashes and coals from spilling.


There are two popular types of portable charcoal grills:

Hibachi Style

Hibachi grillHibachi Grill

Hibachi-type portable charcoal grills are mainly used for quick grilling and small pieces of food, like burgers and kebabs. Usually, they are small and compact, made of heavy cast-iron with a heavy iron grate, making it very durable and resistant to weather conditions.

Food is located directly over the charcoal. Cast iron hibachi grills don't have lids, they are designed open, which allows plenty of air for your fire.

Hibachi grills are usually consisted of a rectangular or oval firebox, with one, two or three metal grates to store even more food. This and multiple position for crates allows Hibachis grills to be used for high-heat cooking.

Hibachi grills are the best portable grills for tailgating and camping as they are portable and very easy to use. This mini charcoal grill cannot be used for barbecue, but it is great to make the grill fast. It is a good choice for grilling outside, and if you don't have enough space in the backyard. One of the drawbacks is the limited amount of food you can cook at one time and the low performance in bad weather.

Charcoal Kettle Grills

Char-Broil Kettle GrillChar-Broil Kettle Grill

Kettle grill type was introduced to the market by Weber-Stephens Co. Kettle grill is round, has a deep grill with the lid, cooking chamber, charcoal chamber, venting and foldable legs. It uses a charcoal or briquettes.

Some kettle grills are equipped with the pan for collecting the ash and wheels for easy transfer. The price can be in a range from $30 for simple one to over a hundred for high quality ones.

Grills with the lid are giving you an option not only for fast grilling, but to grill larger cuts of meat, like beef roast and steaks.

Portable charcoal grills are also available with a stand and wheels, making it great for patios and picnics. Between the grill legs, you can mount an additional shelf for barbecue accessories.

Some of these compact charcoal grills are equipped with the legs that fold away to hold the lid in the position for carrying and storage. Lid can also be used as the windshield.

Charcoal vs. Gas Grills

Cost. Charcoal grills are cheaper, the price is from $30 up, while the gas is around hundred, even more. Portable charcoal grills are less expensive than gas grills, because they have a simpler designed. Portable grills that are using charcoal need only a container to hold charcoal and a rack which is above the charcoal, so it can carry your steak, for example.

Flavor. Food from the charcoal grill taste much better as there is a real smoke flavor (for better flavor you can even add some wood to the fire).

  • Food is cooked faster when using the charcoal as it can produce higher temperatures, for the average grills.

  • Fire on the charcoal grill is hard to start.

  • Coals can take even 20 min. to reach the cooking temperature.

  • Desired temperature or heat is hard to control.

  • Charcoal has to be replenish for longer cooking items.

  • Ash has to be cleaned regularly for good drafting.

  • Depending on the quality of the grill charcoal this kind of grilling is more expensive than using the propane grill.

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