Whether you’re heading out camping, hitting the beach, or setting out on the trail, packing the best portable charcoal grill will make your adventure much more enjoyable.
These compact grills are lightweight, convenient to transport, and make it easy to rustle up some delicious food while you and your companions enjoy the view. Some models are also capable of smoking and roasting, so you can cook a wide variety of dishes without sacrificing precious packing space.
But with so many options to choose from, which portable charcoal grill is best for you?
In this guide, we take a look at the leading models on the market and tell you everything to need to look for to find the perfect portable grill for your next trip.
- 1 Best Portable Charcoal Grills
- 1.1 Weber Go-Anywhere Portable Charcoal Grill
- 1.2 Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill
- 1.3 Weber Jumbo Joe Portable Charcoal Grill
- 1.4 Char-Broil Portable Kettle Charcoal Grill
- 1.5 Raptor Grilling Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker
- 1.6 Kamado Joe Jr.
- 1.7 Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill
- 1.8 Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill
- 2 Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Portable Charcoal Grill
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Portable Charcoal Grills
Can’t wait to fire up the coals and get grilling? We’ve reviewed eight of the best portable charcoal grills on the market, so you can find your ideal match.
Weber Go-Anywhere Portable Charcoal Grill
If you’re looking for a highly-portable grill to take camping, the Weber Go-Anywhere Portable Charcoal Grill is an excellent pick. Compact and lightweight with sturdy side-handles, this feature-packed grill is perfect for off-grid cooking.
This model has a 160 square inch cooking area, so you can cook enough chicken breasts or burgers to serve up to six people. The plated steel cooking grate is highly durable and retains heat so your food cooks evenly, and the fold-out legs have a curved design that keeps this grill stable on uneven ground.
The Weber Go-Anywhere grill is quick to set up and simple to use, so you can get cooking whenever hunger strikes. The bottom grate has a tight mesh design to hold your charcoal, and the upper grate for your food just slots in above – making this model great for beginners.
Once fired up, you can control the heat from the coals by using the built-in dampers in the lid. Open them up to allow more oxygen in and ramp up the temperature, or close them to calm down the heat and prevent flare-ups.
We also like that the lid is porcelain-enameled, so it’s resistant to rust. The weatherproof exterior ensures that it won’t peel or fade over time, no matter how much you use it.
This model also features a removable grease drip tray in the base, so you can pull it out and empty it for simple cleaning. However, this process is a little messy and you’ll need to wait for the grill to cool down completely before you can clear out the ashes and pack it away.
That said, this little grill is a stand-out choice for camping, road trips or days out on the trail or beach. Its compact design is highly portable, and its ease of use makes it great for beginners or seasoned grillers alike.
Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill
Next on our list, we have the Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill. This attractive freestanding grill is specially-designed to be easily transported, so you can enjoy cooking outdoors with family and friends.
Featuring a 150 square inch grill plate, the Cuisinart Portable Grill offers plenty of space to cook for small groups of four to six people. The grill rack is chrome-plated for durability and ensures heat is evenly distributed for perfectly-cooked results.
This model weighs only 2 pounds, so it is lightweight enough to carry to your favorite picnic spot on the trail. It’s also very compact at only 14. 5 x 14. 5 x 15 inches, making it perfect for packing into your car or RV before hitting the road. The three sturdy legs in the base hold the grill off the ground and keep it stable, even if you’re cooking on bumpy surfaces like grass or sand.
The firebox and lid are enamel-coated for durability, so you can be sure that this model will be able to withstand the environmental challenges of outdoor cooking. We also like that the lid can be securely locked down with three clips, to ensure it stays firmly put during transport.
If you like to cook a variety of different foods, being able to control the temperature is key. This model has an effective dual-venting system in the lid, so you can easily tailor the heat to meet your needs and prevent any troublesome flare-ups from occurring. It’s easy to clean, too – thanks to the mess-free ash vent in the base.
The only real drawback to this model is that the top grate doesn’t quite sit flush with the side of the grill. This means smaller pieces of food are at risk of tumbling down onto the coals below if you’re not careful.
Weber Jumbo Joe Portable Charcoal Grill
Another great choice is the Weber Jumbo Joe Portable Charcoal Grill. Coming from a highly-regarded brand, this model has everything you need to cook up delicious meals on your adventures.
Measuring 19.75 x 20.5 x 19.75 inches, this model is compact enough to fit in your car and lightweight for carrying to the beach or lake. Despite its travel-friendly size, the grill rack itself is spacious enough to cook two racks of ribs or up to eight burgers at once – so you can rustle up plenty of food for a small gathering.
The porcelain-enameled bowl and lid is great for retaining heat, so your food cooks quickly and evenly. The steel construction is durable too, it won’t peel or rust, even after several uses.
With three sturdy legs, you can use this portable grill on a tabletop or directly on the ground, although this may sit a little low for comfort. The legs create a wide base for stability, so you can grill on uneven surfaces without any wobbles.
We like that this model has built-in dampers for easy temperature control. The lid sits securely on the body of the grill for smoking and roasting, and there’s also a ‘Tuck-N-Carry’ lid holder on the side, so you don’t have to place the searing hot lid on the ground when not in use. And once you have finished cooking, the ash catcher in the base makes cleanup hassle-free.
Simple yet effective, this portable charcoal grill is a great choice for family camping trips and days out with friends. It’s easy to assemble, but if you get stuck, you can download a free app with 3D assembly instructions to guide you through.
Char-Broil Portable Kettle Charcoal Grill
From another popular manufacturer, we have the Char-Broil Portable Kettle Charcoal Grill. Compact, well-built, and efficient, this charcoal grill is well worth a look.
Great for family trips and camping with friends, the Char-Broil Portable Kettle Charcoal Grill has an 150 square inch cooking area which is large enough to cook 6-8 burgers at once. The grill grates are porcelain-coated for rust-resistance and durability, and they also come pre-seasoned, so you can start using it right out of the box.
Construction quality is key to a good portable grill, and this model is made to withstand the challenges of outdoor cooking. The bowl and lid are made from heavy-gauge steel that’s tough enough to resist damage from knocks and falls, while the powder coating ensures it won’t rust or peel.
Like other models we have seen, this kettle grill features temperature control dampers, so you can adjust the heat level to meet your cooking needs and act quickly to prevent flare-ups from occurring. Open them up to make the coals burn hotter, or close them off to restrict airflow and bring the heat down.
The three legs in the base are splayed wide for good stability on uneven surfaces, so you can choose to use it on the ground or on a camping table for comfortable access.
Another great feature is the front access charcoal door. This is ideal for topping up your coals partway through cooking to keep the heat going, without having to remove the grill grates. There’s also a removable ash catcher drawer in the base, so you can easily empty it out when you’re finished.
All in all, this model is a good choice for off-grid adventures. We like that it has a heavy-duty construction and comes pre-seasoned so you can get cooking in no time. The sturdy carry handle makes it simple to transport to your chosen dinner spot and the front-access door ensures you can keep the party going for as long as you like.
Raptor Grilling Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker
If you need to pack light and hit the trail soon after eating, the Raptor Grilling Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker could be just what you need.
This compact model has a smart, fuel-saving design, so you don’t need to lug bags of charcoal with you on your trip. In fact, Raptor claims that it is so efficient that it can save you as much as $112 in charcoal every year, if you use it every weekend.
It may be compact, but this portable grill has plenty of capacity. It features a generously-sized 230 square inches of cooking space, so you can cook up enough food for up to 16 people – making it great for camping trips with large groups of friends and family.
The rectangular shape and curved legs ensure this camping grill stands firm on uneven ground, so you won’t need to worry about it tipping over while flipping your burgers. Temperature control is made simple, thanks to the built-in vents in the lid, so you can adjust the heat in seconds to meet your needs. The lid has an airtight seal, too, which is great for heat retention and smoking meats or fish.
Perhaps the stand out feature of this model is its rapid cool down technology. Great for tailgating or last minute grill parties, the Raptor has been designed to cool down to room temperature in just one hour. This means you can pack up and hit the road in next to no time, without having to wait hours for your grill to reach a safe temperature.
Another key benefit of this portable grill is its ‘clean hands technology’. This clever design means that you can empty and pack away the grill without having to get your hands and clothes covered in ash or charcoal. The charcoal basket has ‘clean and cool’ handles, as well as a special funnel on one side. This means you can lift it up and pour the ash out without touching it at all for mess-free cleaning.
The only real drawback to this portable grill is the assembly instructions. Many users have complained that the instructions are confusing and that it takes longer than desired to put together.
Overall though, once assembled, this model is tough to beat if you hate the waiting and mess that comes with the cleanup.
Kamado Joe Jr.
If you’re looking for a premium portable charcoal grill – the Kamado Joe Jr. is definitely worth checking out.
Manufactured by one of the leading grill brands, this model is packed to the hilt with features, while still being compact enough to take with you on your adventures.
Offering a 14 inch ceramic grill plate, this model has a generous cooking area of 148 square inches, so you can cook enough food for 6-7 people. The cooking grate is made from 304 stainless steel for ultimate durability in high temperatures, and the ceramic heat deflector works to increase heat retention capacity for fast and even cooking.
The Kamado Joe Jr has a modular design that increases its portability. The ceramic body of the grill slots into a cast iron stand, which holds it securely off the ground for convenient access. The legs are pretty thin, though, so it’s best used on flat surfaces.
Considering its top-quality ceramic build, this model only weighs 68 pounds, so it’s fairly easy to carry to your picnic spot, although it’s not as lightweight as other models on our list.
As this grill can reach high temperatures, we like that it has a gauge built-in to the lid, so you can be certain of the temperature for perfectly cooked results. The charcoal bin is also deep, so you can load it with plenty of charcoal to keep your cookout going for hours and the cast iron air vents in the lid and base make it simple to adjust the heat as desired.
Overall, this model is best for cooking at high temperatures. The deep charcoal bin, ceramic construction and built-in gauge make it easy to ramp up the heat and allow you to cook a wide range of foods quickly. It may be a little heavy compared to other models on our list, but if you’re looking for a high-quality build and cooking versatility, the Kamado Joe Jr is a top pick.
Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill
Next up is the Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill. This heavy-duty model not only looks cool, it also performs incredibly well.
Designed to be used either on a tabletop or on the ground at the beach or campsite, this compact model is tough enough to handle the challenges of outdoor cooking. The steel construction provides excellent durability, and the sturdy legs ensure it stays perfectly stable while cooking.
The 218 square inch grill surface provides plenty of space to cook for up to 6 people, so you and all your companions can enjoy your food at the same time. The thick cast iron grates create an authentic sear on meat or fish, and the charcoal basket can be raised or lowered to three different heights for simple temperature adjustment. This model also features large air dampers for extra control over the heat level – so you can cook almost anything you like.
We also like that this model has a built-in temperature gauge, so you can accurately monitor the temperature for perfectly cooked results. This gauge even has glow in the dark accents – perfect for when the grill party continues after dark.
Once the fun is over, this portable grill is easy to clean – thanks to the front access, removable ash pan that slides out for hassle-free emptying. This pan also catches any grease or drippings from the grill grate above, so you can clear up everything in one go.
As this model is made from steel, at 48 pounds, it is a little weightier than other portable grills we have seen. That said, it’s compact dimensions, sturdy side handles and high level of durability make it a great option that’s sure to last the test of time.
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill
Looking for something simple yet effective? Then the Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill could be the grill for you.
This portable charcoal grill is made from solid cast iron that’s pre-seasoned for convenience. Measuring 19 x 10.25 x 8.25 inches and weighing just 27 pounds, this compact model is a fantastic, no-frills option for day trips, camping, or tailgating.
Due to its basic design, this model is simple to use. The 17 x 9 inch cast iron grill plate can be adjusted to a choice of two heights, so you can choose how close to the coals you want to cook. Because there’s no lip at the sides of the grill plate, you can place your food right up to the edge. This means you can cook up to 8 burgers or 4 steaks at once.
The charcoal bowl has a generous capacity for long cooking durations, so you can grill with your companions for as long as you like. And the front access door can be used both as a temperature control damper and for topping up your charcoal. It does take a little while to initially heat up, though.
There’s no side handles on this model. Instead, it features a thin wire top handle that falls to the side when in use. This is OK for transportation, but it’s not particularly comfortable to hold, so you may find yourself carrying it from beneath instead.
In terms of downsides, there are a few aspects to keep in mind. First, this grill doesn’t have an ash drawer, and it takes a long time to completely cool down. Therefore, you may be hanging around a while before you can start packing up.
Secondly, as it is made from cast iron, this model is vulnerable to rust over time. Lodge recommends that you clean and oil it after every use to extend its lifespan.
Overall, while this model may require a little more maintenance than other portable grills we have seen, there’s no doubt it is a durable, simple-to-use choice that’s great for no-fuss cooking.
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Portable Charcoal Grill
Not sure which is the best portable charcoal grill for you? In this section, we tell you all you need to know to make the right choice.
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Cost is always a key consideration when looking for the best portable charcoal grill. Luckily, there’s a huge range of models on the market, so there’s something to suit every budget.
Basic models can be found for as little as $30. These types of grills usually have moderate durability and a simple design, but they’re more than sufficient for occasional use and can last several seasons if you take good care of them.
At the other end of the scale, premium models can cost as much as $700. These models tend to be made by popular brands, feature high-end materials and a range of useful features.
The right option for you will depend on how and where you intend to use it. If you frequently head out camping or tailgating, then it makes sense to go for the best model you can afford.
On the other hand, if you’re only going to grill up some burgers on the beach a couple of times a year, a more basic model will suit just fine.
Grilling Surface Area
We recommend looking for a grill that has a maximum cooking surface of 300 square inches. Anything above this will significantly reduce portability.
The right size for you depends on how many people you’re likely to be cooking for. For singles or couples, a grilling area of 150 square inches is a good place to start. If you often travel with larger groups, we recommend a minimum cooking area of at least 230 square inches.
Size and Portability Features
The more compact and lightweight the grill, the easier it will be to transport.
Small tabletop models with sturdy handles are often best for hiking and camping off-grid, but slightly larger options are still good choices for trips to the beach or tailgating.
Whatever size of grill you need, you should pay special attention to the portability features.
The most important ones to look for are strong, comfortable handles and snug-fitting lids that are important for easy transportation. Some models also have removable or foldable legs, so they’re easier to pack up and fit in your vehicle.
Construction and Materials
Portable grills are particularly vulnerable to bumps and knocks on their journeys, so it is important that they’re durable enough to stand up to the punishment of travel and bad weather.
The best portable grills are constructed from hard-wearing materials like cast iron, stainless steel and cast aluminum. Pricier models may also have protective treatments such as porcelain enamel or powder coatings to prevent rust and further increase durability.
Grill grates should be made from metals that can resist high temperatures. Look for cast iron, stainless steel, and porcelain-coated options for long-lasting performance.
Temp Control Vents
Things can quickly go wrong if you’re not able to control the temperature on your charcoal grill.
Flare-ups can lead to food that’s burnt on the outside and undercooked in the middle, or your coals could begin to die down too early – leaving you and your companions hungry.
To ensure the best results, you should look for a portable charcoal grill that has dampers to adjust the airflow. The best models will feature dampers in the lid and in the base for ultimate control, but basic models that only have one damper will still work well.
Temperature gauges aren’t a necessity, but they can make cooking on your portable charcoal grill much easier – especially if you’re a beginner.
Gauges are usually found on more expensive models, but it is possible to purchase one separately if a built-in option is out of your budget.
We recommend looking for a model that has a tight-fitting, lockable lid, to ensure the grill stays together during transport.
If you’re planning to roast or smoke foods, you’ll need a lid that has a good seal to prevent heat from escaping. If the lid doesn’t fit well, this will also make it more difficult to control the temperature, as air will still be able to reach the coals.
Any of the models featured in this guide would make excellent choices, but the best portable charcoal grill for you depends on how you plan to use it.
For hiking and lightweight camping, the Weber Go-Anywhere Portable Charcoal Grill or the Raptor Grilling Optimized Portable Charcoal Grill Smoker is your best bet. Both models are very lightweight, compact and simple to use. They each have sturdy side handles for easy transportation, and the Raptor offers a rapid cool-down time so you can hit the trail sooner.
For tailgating or days at the beach, the Kamado Joe Jr. or the Weber Jumbo Joe Portable Charcoal Grill are good choices. The Kamado Joe Jr can reach very high temperatures, has versatile cooking options and has a large enough capacity to cook for several people at once. The Weber is more lightweight, but it still has a sturdy construction and will fit easily in the car for day trips.
If you’re looking for a portable grill to take on family camping vacations, then the Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill, Char-Broil Portable Kettle Charcoal Grill or Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill are all fantastic options. All of these models have enough cooking space for around 6 people or more, strong legs for stability, and a solid construction that’s sure to last the test of time.
Lastly, if you like to get back to raw basics, the Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill is the grill for you. This weighty model takes a charming, “no-frills” approach to outdoor cooking that’s ready to go right out of the box.
Whatever type of grill you’re looking for, you’re sure to find your perfect match in our best portable charcoal grill reviews.