Best Charcoal Grills: Perfectly Portable to Huge

updated Jun 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Grilling is one of the great joys of summer. If you live in an apartment with an especially small outdoor space — or none at all — you may be worried that this particular joy is denied to you, but never fear. Below you will find our absolutely biggest roundup – 17! – of grills big and small, portable and iconic, but ALL charcoal (or wood). Enjoy and tell us your faves.


This is our reader favorite. The classic smallest grill from Weber, the Smokey Joe is your standard and tough to beat if you don’t care about any extra flash and want to be super portable.

A super cute red ball that will cook up a storm and fit in the back of your car, this guy is the same diameter as the Smokey Joe (above), is powder coated metal and comes with clips to hold the top on during transport.

The 14.5″ Backyard Grill is a more budget-friendly option from the folks over at Walmart. It comes in four colors and has removable legs that fold away, allowing it to sit flush to the ground.

Love a hibachi. This is old school with a wonderful dual handle lift to give you much more control over your grilling. 10″ by 18″, cast iron with wood handles.

This amazing design compresses right up to allow you to grill outside in many ways. Cook over charcoal, cook over a fire, or hang and cook. Comes with its own carry bag. Includes: Teflon-coated grill, three leg props, two grill grates, and three sections to build the grill.

Previous Lists:

  • Best Outdoor Charcoal Grills 2015
  • Get Ready to Grill: Outdoor Cooking Essentials
  • Best Portable Grills 2011


The X Grill is a genius design that folds completely and drops into a custom tote bag so that it can easily go anywhere with you.

From the other Danish company, Bodum, they’ve been putting out awesome versions of the Fyrkat for years. This one is a bit bigger and comes in a lovely silver or black.

  • Sleek powder-coasted matte finish steel body with chrome-plated steel legs for added strength and durability
  • Silicone handle stays cool to the touch and is also used to adjust air flow into the grill while in use
  • Silicone clips lock lid into place for easy and safe transport

This extremely sleek wonder is not big, but it sure is clean and portable. “Business maven by day and seasoned barbe-cutie by night, you swoop into the cookout with the black briefcase exterior, mess-free ash catcher, essential tongs, and sturdy base of this versatile wonder. Culinary powers, activate!”

This goes beyond just being a grill and will allow you to smoke, bake, barbecue and even make pizza. With the top on it will reach 500 degrees and cook for three hours, then you can put the whole thing in the dishwasher.

A colorful little solution in four colors, this powerhouse from Urban has a mid-century retro feel. Aluminum and steel.

This is a great find! The only BBQ that you can hook onto your balcony railing and cook outside, 30 floors up! Great for small spaces, roofs or even the side of a boat.

$99 is perhaps all you’ll ever have to pay to grill beautifully while standing in the great outdoors and schmoozing your guests, I’ve had a number of these and love them (aside from the fact that I find the legs fall off when I roll it too far). Coming in a standard black, but available in a few other custom colors if you dig. The Sweethome also gave this highest marks, but they prefer the Gold model with an ash catcher cleaning system. I’m not sure it’s worth it!

Good Web Resources:

  • The Best Charcoal Grills Under $500 – Serious Eats
  • The Best Charcoal Grill – The Sweet Home
  • 2015 Top 10 Best Value Charcoal Grills – Amazing Ribs
  • – Cook’s Illustrated


Made of fireproof porcelain, the Eva Solo is a stunning Danish design tabletop grill that sits on a wood base and is easily picked up by it’s long handle. Comes in black and white.

What if you want to bump your Weber up a big notch and give it some landing space and easy start features? This would be your solution. On sale right now at Crate and Barrel’s custom blue color, if you’re a real neatnick and don’t need to get all outdoor woodsman this is a really nice thing to have. This makes it a lot easier: “Features include a spacious cooking surface, convenient hinged cooking grate, painted metal work table, Tuck-Away ™ lid holder, removable LCD cook timer and built-in thermometer. Electronic gas ignition system lights charcoal briquettes with the push of a button (coals will be ready in 20 minutes).”

I have two friends who swear by these high end Kamodo style cookers, which allow you to cook very hot on the grill or very slowly at high heat with an oven effect. Both a grill, oven and a smoker, the Green Egg is designed to contain its heat when you want to or simply just grill in the open position: “The shape of the Big Green Egg is designed to contain the heat with only a small vent at the top to create a draft to keep the fire going. Today’s Big Green Egg is manufactured from high fiber ceramics developed for the Space Shuttle program designed to reflect heat and this allows temperatures of up to 650 °C (1,202 °F) to be reached. The external surface has a high gloss ceramic glaze applied to provide crack and weather resistance.”

This is what I graduated to about four years ago, the Ranch Kettle is like having a big nine burner commercial stove for a charcoal grill. The huge surface allows you to cook at many different temperatures and to slow cook around the outside while high heat takes up the middle. You can even warm plates on the edge of this thing. It’s a joy to cook on, even for a dinner for four.

If you want to go to the top of the line, here you go: Grillworks, founded over 30 years ago in an effort to capture the deliciousness of open air grilling in Europe and South America, makes many models; this one, the 20″, is the standard bearer. With countless special features, including a cast aluminum wheel crank that allows you to lower and raise the grill on demand and a slanted, channeled grill that captures juices and avoids flare ups, this baby is the most serious thing I’ve seen and would be FUN to use. The bigger version, The Inferno (below), was designed for Dan Barber’s Stone Barns restaurant near New York City and is awesome to behold.