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Best Portable Charcoal Grills in 2020 – Reviewed

When it comes to grilling with charcoal, there are two fields of thought. Some people believe that it’s best to have the largest charcoal grill available so they can do all of the cooking in one shot. Other people, however, believe that a portable charcoal grill is the way to go because it allows the cook to grill up tasting burgers, ribs, or steaks no matter where they are.

Even though we have no problem with large grills, the article you’re currently reading is going to be concerned with the portable grill. So let’s get right into things with some reviews of some of the best portable charcoal grills and then a discussion on how to select a grill that’s right for your needs.

Quick Summary of Best Portable Charcoal Grills

 Editor’s Choice 
Weber Jumbo Joe 18-Inch Charcoal Grill  (review)
 Also Recommended 
Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Grill  (review)
 Also Consider 
Samdray Portable Tabletop Charcoal BBQ Grill  (review)

Reviews

Editor’s Choice: Weber Jumbo Joe 18-Inch Charcoal Grill

Since everyone is familiar with the Weber brand, this review isn’t going to concern itself with giving its readers a history of the company. Instead, we’ll focus on the product that’s immediately before you, the Weber Joe 18-Inch Charcoal Grill. In our opinion, this grill is one of the best portable charcoal grills available and does an amazing job of blending performance with convenience. It’s made with a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid that holds in the smoke but is also equipped with a damper that allows the consumer to release smoke or adjust oxygen levels within the grill.

The next thing that we’re going to discuss is how easy it is for the consumer to put together. Like similar grills, this model comes unassembled, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have to do a lot of work to put it together. It actually only requires a few screws to attach the carrying handle, the bottom legs, and the other parts that need to be assembled. And to make it even easier, they even provide consumers with a free App called BILT that gives instructions on how to assemble it.

Although all of the above features are nice, the real test of any grill is how well it cooks and we have to say that this one does do a marvelous job. It has a plated steel cooking grate that’s durable and doesn’t end up getting food stuck to it during the grilling process. This grill also features a tuck-and-carry lid-lock that makes packing this product up and moving it to a different location a lot easier. And on top of all of that, this grill also has an aluminum ash catcher that prevents the grill from leaving a hot mess of ashes that could damage outdoor tables. Taken all of these features into consideration, along with its cooking performance, it’s easy to see why this product is right at the top of our reviews.

PROS:

  • This is an inexpensive unit.
  • It’s easy to use and very portable.
  • It seems to be extremely well made.
CONS:

  • None.

Also Recommended: Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Grill

It was quite the challenge for us to decide between placing this grill, the Oklahoma Joe Rambler, in the top position of our list or the Weber Joe. In the end, we went with the Weber Joe because it was lighter than this one and about half the price. However, having said that, we can see this model as being the number one grill on this list. That’s because it’s so well-built, that some people might consider it to be overbuilt. We’ll get into its construction in a moment, but what we wanted to illustrate is that this grill isn’t in the number two position because we think it’s an inferior product, it’s only there because it was the most expensive grills that we reviewed.

Now, let’s talk about how this grill is made. This product is made with steel construction that’s extremely durable and is sure to last. It features thick cast-iron grates and an adjustable charcoal tray that allows the cook to grill with either low and slow heat or a quick sear. And it has a removable ashtray that makes cleanup a cinch. Everything a person could want out of a quality grill.

This model also provides the consumer with 218 square inches of cooking surface—more than enough to meet the needs of most people. It also has side handles that allow it to be carried quite easily. Unfortunately, this grill is quite heavy, so those handles do come in handy. Finally, we’d like to take a moment to talk about the large dampers that give the grill cook an exceptional amount of control over the temperature inside the grill. Despite its price, this product is a great grill and one of the better ones on the market. We just wish it was a little cheaper and a little easier to take from one place to another.

PROS:

  • This is a well-built grill.
  • This product will last a long time.
CONS:

  • It costs more than other portable models.

Also Consider: Samdray Portable Tabletop Charcoal BBQ Grill

This portable charcoal grill might not be the best one we’ve reviewed, but it does have quite a few features that make it deserving of a second look. This model is made from stainless steel, a material that makes it rust-resistant and durable, but not as durable as cast iron. Because it’s made from stainless steel instead of iron, however, it’s noticeably lighter though. It’s only 17.6×11.6×5.5-inches and weighs under 5-pounds. It’s able to be so light because its legs are kind of wiry. They’re not the sturdy legs that you would find on some other portable grills. Although we didn’t have any problem with it, we can easily see how the legs might be a weak point for this grill.

The frame of this grill should be fine for regular use, however, because it seems well made and stainless-steel is heat-resistant. Another plus of using stainless steel for the body is that this metal is also rust-resistant, so consumers aren’t going to have to worry about it rusting if it’s accidentally left out in the rain. This grill is also light enough to be taken virtually anywhere including camping, traveling in a recreational vehicle, or even to the park. That makes it a truly portable grill.

Now let’s turn our attention to some of the features found on this grill. This model comes with handles that make it easy to take anywhere from tailgate parties to backpacking trips, and it has air vents that allow the charcoal to get the oxygen it needs to burn efficiently and effectively. Taking off of this grill’s features into consideration, it’s easy for us to say that this is a pretty good grill. Although it’s not completely without its flaws, its lightweight size and more than reasonable price tag make it a model that some people are for sure going to want to check out.

PROS:

  • It was quite lightweight and portable.
  • It doesn’t cost very much.
CONS:

  • It’s not as sturdy as we would’ve liked.

An Extensive Guide To Portable Charcoal Grills

Over the past few years, it seems like electric and propane grills have been overshadowing charcoal grills—especially in the portable grill category. And we find that to be quite unfortunate because nothing test better than food grilled on a real charcoal grill. The meat and the smoke combine to make something truly tasty and very special. And that’s why we wanted to shift our attention away from the portable gas and electric grills and refocus on the charcoal grills.

We think that some people might have turned away from portable charcoal grills because they felt that these grills were too big to carry along with them, especially when you factor in the fact that charcoal and lighter fluid also has to be taken along, too. However, some of the newer portable charcoal grills are smaller than the ones of the past, so we think it’s a good time for people to revisit them. 

Since we wanted to raise the profile of these grills high enough that they’d catch the eyes of consumers again, we thought that we’d not only review the best portable charcoal grills available but that we’d write a guide advising people on what to look for when they buy one of these models. This guide is the product of this work and we hope that it helps all of our readers not only rediscover these great grills but also help them buy the ones that are best for them. 

Choosing The Best Portable Charcoal Grill

Okay, let’s not waste anymore of your valuable time, but instead get right into some of the things that consumers should think about before purchasing their next portable grill.

Construction

One of the first things that the consumer is going to want to think about is what the portable grill is made from. These grills are usually constructed from one of three different metals: steel, stainless steel, and cast-iron. Let’s take a look at each of these types of metal and see their pros and cons.

Steel

Steel is a material that’s common for portable grills. That’s because it’s lightweight and fairly durable. Unfortunately, regular steel has a tendency to rust if it’s not kept out of the weather, so that’s certainly something the consumer should think about first. 

Stainless-Steel

Stainless steel is a more durable form of steel that won’t rust if the grill is accidentally left in the rain. This product is also extremely heat-resistant so that it won’t deform under high-heat conditions. And because it’s so lightweight, it’s perfect for portable grills.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is another material that is used to make some portable charcoal grills. Cast iron is extremely tough, but it does have its drawbacks. This material is prone to rust (unless it’s coated) and it can be quite heavy. That makes it less than an ideal choice for a portable grill. 

Air Vents And Dampers

Before purchasing a new portable charcoal grill, the consumer should also take note of the number of dampers and vents. Dampers and vents allow the consumer to control the circulation of air inside the grill which can help them raise or lower the temperature as needed. A grill with none or only one damper is going to be harder to control as far as temperature is concerned, then one with several of them located in strategic positions. 

Handles

Since the entire purpose of a portable grill is to take it to other places, the consumer might want to think about the grill’s handles. Are the handles flimsy wire handles that snap into grooves, or are they heavy-duty handles welded onto the grill itself? The quality and durability of the handles are going to play an important role in how easy it is to use, so the consumer should be sure to purchase one with quality handles. 

Taking Care Of Your Portable Charcoal Grill

Now that we’ve gone over some of the things that consumers should think about before purchasing a new portable grill, we want to go over some of the tips that consumers should follow to keep that grill in good working condition for as long as possible. 

Regularly Clean The Grill

One of the first things that consumers should do to ensure a long-lasting grill is to clean the grates and clear the ashes every single time it’s used. Moisture and ash can combine to create an acid that will eat away at the grill’s metal before you can say BBQ sauce. 

Put The Grill Away In Winter

When the grilling season is done, put it away and don’t allow it out in the weather all winter long. That will keep it in good condition for as long as possible. 

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