Best Portable Charcoal Grill For Camping and Picnics

There is nothing more fun than the incredible smell and taste of a charcoal barbecue while spending time with your loved ones somewhere away from home. Whether you are camping, picnicking, tailgating, or going for a day at the beach, the best portable charcoal grill can make your outing experience even better.

If you're looking for a great charcoal grill and you don't know where to start, we are here to help. Below you'll find in-depth reviews of the five best portable charcoal grills and a buying guide for enlightening you and helping you choose the best portable grill to match your needs.

Are Portable Charcoal Grills Worth It?

Portable charcoal grills come with an incredible grill style that has become popular over the years for many reasons. These travel-sized grills are known to give a superior taste to the traditional charcoal grilling, although they are lightweight and portable enough to carry it practically anywhere.

Although gas grills and electric grills have gained more popularity in the past years because of their convenience and ease of use, they still are not able to measure up to charcoal grills when it comes to performance and food quality. Furthermore, with adequate care and maintenance, a charcoal grill can withstand the test of time because they have no electrical components.

What is the best portable charcoal grill?

With that being said, the five best portable charcoal grills in the market today are reviewed below.

1. Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch, 14.5" x 14.5" x 15", Portable Charcoal Grill

Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch BBQ, 14" x 14" x 15", Portable Charcoal Grill,...
  • 196-SQUARE-INCH CHROME PLATED GRATE: The 196-square-inch chrome plated cooking rack gives a spacious cooking surface is able accommodate...
  • DUAL VENTING SYSTEM: Features a Dual venting system, giving you the ultimate charcoal management and temperature control.
  • THREE SECURE LID LOCKS: The grill features three secure lid locks for easy and safe transport.
  • COMPACT ENOUGH TO TAKE ANYWHERE: Measures 14 x 14 x 15 inches and weighs only 2 lbs. , making it easy for transport and ideal for decks,...
  • ENAMEL COATED FIREBOX AND ASH CATCHER: Features a durable enamel coated firebox and convenient mess-free ash catcher for safety and ease.

The Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill is not only lightweight but also quite affordable. It comes with a sturdy design that can stand the test of time as the grill is made of durable metal, except for the handles. The firebox has an enamel coating to improve its durability and give it an attractive finish.

With this best grill, you get 150 square inches of cooking surface, which is enough space to accommodate up to six burgers or hot dogs at once. There is also a chrome-plated cooking rack, a lid locking down, and a convenient dual venting system that improves the functionality of this grill.

The ash catchment tray is also enamel coated to ensure it won't break down or rust, even after several years of continuous use. It features black and red colors, so you can always make a color choice that matches your style and needs. So, if you're looking for the best portable charcoal grill that is affordable, efficient, lightweight, and durable, be sure to check out the Cuisinart CCG190RB Charcoal Grill.

  • Pocket-friendly price
  • Incredibly lightweight and compact
  • Reliable three secure lid locks
  • Dual venting system for temperature control
  • Enamel coated and mess-free ash catcher
  • Sturdy construction
  • Easy to clean
  • Some people find the cooking area to be too small

2. Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill, Black
  • Holds up to six burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • Compact and lightweight for grilling on the go
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and base retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • The lid locks for easy portability and dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill
  • Durable plated steel cooking grate retains heat and is easy to clean.Primary cooking area (square inches):160

Weber is a reputable brand that has been around for quite sometime-since 1983. They are widely known for some of the most innovative, efficient and technology-packed grills in the market today. Regardless of the price point, Weber offers a warranty for all their grills, unlike other grills and manufacturers.

The Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is one of the brand's top picks. For only a few more dollars than the Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill, this grill comes with a tuck and carry lid-locking design that is road-ready and very durable. It offers 160 square inches of cooking surface on the rectangular grill box.

Furthermore, the durability of this grill is unmatched. It comes with a porcelain-enameled lid and base, both of which are peel and rust-resistant. The durable plated steel cooking grates ensure easy clean-up and help retain heat. If you're looking for more grilling space but are unwilling to compromise portability and quality, you should get this grill.

  • Easy to set up
  • Fast cool-down
  • Compactly folds for easy storage
  • Distributes heat evenly and retains it
  • Plated steel legs that make transportation easy
  • Great cooking surface
  • Durable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • The cooking grate may sit too close to the grill

3. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill, Black
  • Load up the car and hit the road with your Smokey Joe portable charcoal grill. Its durable, lightweight, compact design is perfect for...
  • Holds up to five burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • Compact and lightweight for grilling on the go
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill

The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill is another impressive grill from the Weber brand. It includes all the amazing features you might be looking for in a charcoal grill. The grill features a porcelain-enameled coating for rust resistance. It also features a triple nickel-plated grate, a glass-reinforced nylon handle, and a top and bottom air vent.

While this is one of the smallest portable models, it can accommodate meals for two to three individuals. However, to conveniently use this grill requires some learning. The temperature gauge may take you a few trials for you to be able to master it fully. Despite this, the Weber Smokey Joe grill makes delicious meals and comes with ten years warranty.

Additionally, this unit is super light and portable, making it super portable despite the lack of handles and a locking mechanism. The grill comes with a porcelain-enameled lid and grill to improve heat distribution and prevent rust. It is also quite affordable and delivers a good value for money.

  • Very lightweight
  • Great value for money
  • Reliable temperature controls
  • Ten-year warranty
  • Easy to clean
  • Quite affordable
  • Durable construction
  • It may require some learning to use it effectively

4. Char-Griller E22424 Table Top Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller E22424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box, Black
  • Removable ash pan for easy coal clean up
  • Offset for Texas style smoking
  • Attaches to all Char-Griller barrel grills (#2123, #2828, #2137 and the #5050 Duo Gas and Charcoal Grill)
  • Use as a table top grill or horizontal Texas style smoker
  • You can go from a grill to a side fire box, once done you cannot go back to the grill

Another small portable charcoal grill is the Char-Griller E22424 Table Top Charcoal Grill which is high quality and comes at an affordable price. It comes with a great design that can be used for different purposes, including fast barbecue grilling, long-haul smoking, and lower cooking temperature. In addition, it provides 250 square inches of cooking or grilling surface that is perfect for smaller spaces.

As one of the reliable and best portable charcoal grills, this grill is made from heavy-duty and durable steel that can withstand all weather conditions. It comes with a removable ash catcher, which makes cleaning easy. The cast-iron cooking grate provides even temperatures across the cooking surface and won't get damaged when exposed to intense heat.

However, the cast-iron grates in this portable grill are too close to the coals, which may affect the durability of the grill grates in the long run. Despite this, it has a height of only 16 inches and comes completely assembled. Its smaller construction comes in handy for limited spaces.

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to assemble
  • Even heating and retains the heat
  • Easy cleaning
  • Great cooking space
  • Requires a small charcoal amount
  • The grates are too close to the coals

5. BEAU JARDIN Portable Charcoal Grill

BEAU JARDIN Premium 18 Inch Charcoal Grill for Outdoor Cooking...
  • PORTABLE CHARCOAL GRILL:Portable charcoal grills with dimension of 18 inch diameter by 24-inch high without lid. Durable 18 inch diameter...
  • PERFECT HEAT CONTROL&RETENTION: Rust-resistant adjustable aluminum air vent damper allows for heat control without hassle to lift the lid....
  • EASY TO USE&CLEAN: The inside lid hanger hook under the lid could be hung on one bowl handle without hassle to lift it or put it on the...
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE&PERFECT GRILLING: This portable charcoal barbecue grill is easy to assemble with step by step instruction. The thick...
  • CUSTOMER CARE: We are dedicated to provide premium products for you and offer impeccable customer care to you. Don’t wait any longer and...

The Beau Jardin Portable Charcoal Grill comes with a new and improved design that features studier and large wheels as well as thicker and more insulated handles. Other upgraded features include a thicker porcelain-enameled bowl and lid that provide a sturdier frame and better heat retention. These upgrades were not only made to improve the efficiency of this grill but also give it an attractive and modern look.

Additionally, this grill also features durable steel charcoal grates and a large cooking surface of 225 square inches. The rust-resistant and adjustable aluminum air vents make it easy to dial in cooking temperatures. It also includes an inside lid hanger hook that is easy to access and a one-touch cleaning system for effectiveness.

To clean the grill, you only need to rotate the dial and watch the coals gather in the catcher. Below the catchment system, there is a wireframe shelf that is perfect for storing the grilling tools or remaining charcoal. With a height of only 28 inches, this grill is not only portable but also durable, road-ready, and for its price, an amazing portable grill.

  • Easy to clean
  • Retains heat well
  • Lightweight construction
  • Made from high quality and durable materials
  • Amazing temperature control
  • Requires reassembling before transportation

Types of Portable Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills come in a variety of styles and shapes to match different needs. Here are some common types;

  • Barrel Grills- They look like a barrel when they are turned on the side, and they are used by many professional BBQ masters. They provide a bigger cooking surface and can hold lots of charcoal for more prolonged cooking.
  • Kettle Grills- These ones have a classic dome shape design and a removable round lid. They are inexpensive and offer basic performance in the preparation of different meals.
  • Hibachi grills- These are uncovered and large open grated grills that provide a large cooking surface.
  • Kamado grills- They are egg-shaped grills with thick walls to distribute heat evenly and retain heat. They are great for burgers, steaks, pizzas, etc.

What Do You Consider Before Purchasing the Best Portable Charcoal Grill?

1. Cooking Area

Since most of the portable grills come with enough grilling space for two to five people, the cooking space or size may not be a very important factor to consider. However, if the number of individuals goes above two, then the cooking diameter is much more critical. Thus, think about the use and how many people you intend to prepare food for.

2. Material

When shopping for a durable grill surface, it is important to check the material, especially for the cooking surface. The material should be easy to clean and durable. In addition, the material should be able to withstand high temperatures, so you should choose a strong material like stainless steel. While aluminum is very lightweight, it might not be able to withstand a lot of heat.

3. Weight

Weight is another crucial factor when it comes to portable charcoal grills. The charcoal grill should be lightweight for easy transportation. However, this depends on the number of people you plan on cooking for. Ideally, the larger the grill, the more it will weigh and also the more the number of people it can accommodate. If you're looking for a great quality grill that is lightweight enough to carry for your camping trips or picnics, we have reviewed some of the best options available in the market today.

4. Heat Control

Heat control means the ability to adjust the charcoal amount and throttle back the airflow. More oxygen means the fire will be hotter, but the charcoal won't be able to last very long. This is why some models will include air dampers that regulate moving in and out of the air for effective charcoal burning. It is advisable to always leave the damper open when starting to grill, then cut it back to lower airflow to ensure the charcoal lasts longer.

5. Other Extra Features

  • Wheels and Handles - For a portable model, the wheels and handles are an important consideration. The wheels will allow easy movement of the grill from one place to another.
  • Legs/Stand- You also need to ensure that the grill comes with sturdy legs for stability. Some folding charcoal grills will come with folding legs to make them easy to transport.
  • Ash catcher/ ash pan- This is a bowl or pot that is found at the bottom. An ash catcher can also be used as a bottom vent.
  • Hinged or Adjustable cooking grates- A charcoal grate is a great addition as it enables easy access without having to remove the gate.
  • Lid and lock- A tight-fitting lid with a lock is a great addition for ease of transportation.
  • Chimney starter or electric ignition- Some portable charcoal grills will come with electric gas ignition to light up the charcoal briquettes faster. Others will come with a chimney starter which is excellent too, and the choice depends on your preference.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Grills

1. How long do you allow the charcoal to burn before cooking?

Before you start cooking your meal on your hot grill, allow the charcoal to burn until they are covered with gray-white ash. This takes about five to ten minutes for the coals to heat up effectively and about 30 minutes to achieve medium heat.

2. Is the smoke from charcoal dangerous?

Burning charcoal emits carbon monoxide, which might be harmful to your health. In fact, any byproduct of combustion is not healthy for human beings. However, there is very little risk as long as you grill outside and stay out of the smoke.