The best charcoal grills in 2020: Napoleon, Weber, Char-Griller and more

Charcoal grills aren’t advanced and infrequently lack the luxurious seems of gasoline grills, however one of the best charcoal grills completely compete in relation to taste.

Charcoal grills are simpler to arrange than gasoline grills. All you actually need is a bag of charcoal, a lighter and your favourite components with a purpose to obtain a fast meal with true smoky taste. They’re usually extra reasonably priced, too, making charcoal grills a great possibility for tight budgets and newbie grillers.

From kettle-style to cart-style, feature-filled to reveal minimal, we examined eight charcoal grills with steak, hen, and ribs to search out out that are one of the best guess to your subsequent cookout. 

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Weber’s $109 unique kettle-style charcoal grill continues to face the take a look at of time. In our high-heat searing assessments, Weber delivered one of the best stability of seared exterior and medium uncommon inside steak. The Weber gave us tasty hen too, with crispy hen pores and skin. The Weber also can smoke low and sluggish at rock-steady temperatures. That translated to significantly flavorful ribs. 

Easy development means there aren’t too many components to assemble or too many options to deal with whereas cooking. A vent on the lid controls air movement and a well-designed ash tray beneath the grill facilitates simple cleanup. 

We examined the 22-inch mannequin in black, however Weber additionally affords an 18-inch model of their unique kettle design. There are actually fancier and costlier grills to make use of for cooking, however for a stability of affordability and high quality, you possibly can’t go fallacious with this traditional. That is one of the best charcoal grill general.

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Should you’d want to search out one of the best charcoal grill for cooking that’s cart-style, the $99 Nexgrill Cart-Type Charcoal Grill proved a worthy challenger to the Weber in our assessments. The cart design means you may get a useful facet tray and somewhat extra cooking floor space, with 390 sq. inches of cooking house in comparison with Weber’s 363 sq. inches. 

Nexgrill undoubtedly seared nicely, although the meat inside was a bit too performed for our preferences. In our medium, oblique warmth hen cooking assessments, Nexgrill delivered flavorful, juicy meat as an in depth second to Weber. Ribs had been tender, juicy and performed in about four.5 hours. That stated, the Weber had superior temperature management throughout these low and sluggish smoking periods.

Cart-style cooking and grilling is not for everybody. It is bulkier with a extra concerned meeting and you will doubtless want extra gasoline to maintain the bigger house at a excessive temperature. Nevertheless, our outcomes had been virtually pretty much as good because the kettle-style Weber, so for those who’re focused on a cart-style charcoal grill that is your greatest guess. 

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At $280, the Napoleon charcoal grill is dear. Nevertheless, throughout our hen cooking assessments, it held its temperature higher than every other charcoal grill. The ensuing hen was tasty, and the grill options very nice forged iron grates throughout its 365 sq. inches of cooking space. The lid homes a temperature gauge and a useful hinge that makes it simple so as to add charcoal. 

Napoleon delivered glorious cooking ends in our ribs take a look at. It ready a young and juicy rack in simply four hours, 30 minutes. In our hen take a look at it held a excessive temperature for longer than every other grill within the lineup. The searing take a look at was common, however passable. This grill simply feels very well constructed. It has three heights to your grates, so you possibly can management simply how a lot direct warmth your meals will get whereas cooking and grilling. Should you’re on the lookout for the fanciest kettle grill on the market, this one would possibly simply be it. 

How we take a look at


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Testing charcoal grills means loads of hands-on cooking expertise. Relying on the season, and the way your charcoal grill is ready up, your expertise cooking and grilling will doubtless be very totally different from ours. For instance, a kettle-style charcoal grill left within the July solar all day will run loads hotter than a grill within the cooler spring months. 

First, a be aware about grill thermometers. Not one of the hood thermometers constructed into these grills mirrored the temperatures recorded by our personal thermocouples and knowledge software program. It isn’t unusual for grill thermometers to learn excessive, so we suggest retaining an oven thermometer or Bluetooth thermometer useful when you’re grilling, both to your meat or for the grill’s temperature itself. 

Excessive-heat searing with steak

To check excessive warmth, we seared two steaks on every grill. Charcoal was measured in a chimney by grams, and in a ratio for that grill’s particular floor space. We lit the charcoal contained in the chimney, letting it burn till the smoke dissipated and the coals started to show grayish white, then put the charcoal into the grill. Let the grill warmth up for 10 minutes, and the steaks are able to hit the grates. 


As soon as the grates had been sizzling, we put two steaks on every grill. 

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We positioned two steaks on every charcoal grill close to the middle and seared for 5 minutes earlier than flipping them over and searing 5 extra minutes. In a great, dependable grill this gives you a steak with a seared exterior and medium uncommon to medium middle. In fact, in case your style is meat that is extra performed, you possibly can lengthen the cooking time or sear and end cooking in an oven. 


Excessive warmth searing was our first grill take a look at. 

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The most effective charcoal grill for steak-searing in our lineup was the Weber Basic Kettle. The steak had good grill marks whereas retaining a medium doneness on the within. The worst was our Tacklife overview unit, which did not maintain a lot warmth and did not sear whereas cooking. The steak on that grill wanted an extra 5 minutes to get to a temperature of 135, the minimal for medium uncommon. 

Hen and oblique, medium warmth

Subsequent, we examined every grill’s medium warmth cooking functionality by roasting complete chickens. The trick right here is to maintain the grills at a sizzling sufficient temperature to cook dinner a hen for upwards of two hours. Every grill acquired a full chimney of charcoal, and we positioned one six-pound hen on every grill, reverse the coals for oblique warmth. 


Every grill acquired a chimney of sizzling charcoal. 

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Cooking over charcoal took longer than cooking with a gasoline grill, and we did have so as to add extra gasoline to maintain our grills above 300 levels. Our favourite hen from this batch was the one cooked on the Weber, although it was a troublesome name. The Nexgrill cart-style grill got here in proper behind, an in depth second by way of taste and texture.


Hen was cooked over oblique warmth till it reached an inner temperature of 165 levels. 

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The distinction between the 2 was largely within the crispiness of the pores and skin, with Weber being superior. Meat from the Nexgrill was scrumptious, with only a bit extra taste than the Weber. Between the 2, I would say it largely is dependent upon your funds and what model of grill you favor for different meats like burgers or steak. Weber actually had the superior sear in that class. 

Low and sluggish ribs

Our final take a look at facilities round barbecue ribs, particularly child again pork ribs. This model of cooking requires strict temperature management over a interval of a number of hours. Ideally, a high quality charcoal grill (or any smoker) will preserve its hearth buzzing alongside as near 225 levels F (107.2 C), for so long as attainable. 


Stack your charcoal briquettes in two rows of two deep alongside the internal wall of the grill.

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To that finish, we arrange every grill for a low and sluggish burn, utilizing the charcoal snake methodology. Within the case of kettle fashions, we organize coals in a semicircle across the grill’s internal wall. The charcoal briquettes (Kingsford Blue) kind a line two coals extensive and two coals deep. We additionally drop a number of chunks of smokewood on prime of the snake (aka fuse). On cart-style grills, we modify the snake to run in proper angles to match their rectangular-shaped fireboxes. 

Subsequent, we gentle every grill’s snake, at one finish of the chain, with 5 lit briquettes (tumbleweed hearth starters work, too). We set all air vents on every grill (prime and backside) to the midway open place. Lastly, we place one rack of ribs on every grill, for oblique cooking (in a roundabout way above the coals)

The traditional Weber Kettle grill handled racks of ribs proper.

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The Weber was the undisputed king on this take a look at. No different grill on this group might match the rock-solid temperature management of this iconic cooker. Readings from our personal thermocouples, plus a digital pit thermometer, confirmed this. All through the Weber’s 6 hour, 32 minute cook dinner time, the grill’s inner warmth ranges by no means wandered past 25 levels of the our goal (225 F). The truth is, more often than not the temperature hovered between 220 and 230 levels (F). Consequently, ribs cooked within the Weber got here out tender, juicy and stuffed with smoke taste.

Ribs cooked on the Napoleon grill got here out tasty, although with bark that was somewhat dry.

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The Napoleon grill was the second greatest on this take a look at. Inside temperatures had a larger swing, leaping as much as 300 levels (F) during times of the cook dinner. Its rack of ribs was prepared in a brief four hours, 30 minutes too. And whereas its ribs got here tender and juicy general, the outside bark had a number of burnt spots. 

Ribs cooked on the NexGrill had a number of bark however had been juicy and tender inside.

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We famous comparable temperature efficiency from the NexGrill, together with comparable rib outcomes. Cooking ribs low and sluggish on the the NexGrill required simply four hours, 30 minutes. Its rack got here out nicely too, although just like the Napoleon, its bark was extra pronounced than what the Weber produced. 

Our rib expertise with a number of of the opposite grills was removed from preferrred. The TackLife was notably dangerous. At instances the within of this grill hit temperatures as excessive as 400 levels (F). And sadly, the ribs it produced got here out burned, charred and overdone.

Different grills we have examined

The CNET Good House editors have been serving up grill knowledge for a number of years now. Along with the fashions we suggest above, listed here are the opposite charcoal grills we have examined: 

  • KitchenAid Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: KitchenAid’s $199 cart-style charcoal grill has heavy-duty forged iron grates in addition to two foldable facet trays for additional workspace. It did not wow us in any of our assessments, however wasn’t noticeably dangerous both.
  • Char-Griller Super Pro: This $147 cart-style charcoal grill was common in our assessments, however it’s appropriate with a facet smoker bought individually, for those who’re on the lookout for a charcoal grill with nice versatility. 
  • Cuisinart Kettle Charcoal Grill: This 18-inch kettle model grill prices $90 and consists of all the fundamental options you’d anticipate. It could not beat the Weber for traditional kettle cooking, but it surely’s a stable second alternative for an reasonably priced kettle model grill. 
  • Tacklife Oversize Grill (22.5-inch): Tacklife fared the worst in our testing. It prices simply $77, and whereas value does not at all times mirror efficiency or high quality, on this case it did. 
  • Dyna-Glo Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill: This cart-style mannequin from Dyna-Glo is pricier at $200, and has killer seems however solely truthful efficiency.
  • Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560: This $500 card-style mannequin from Masterbuilt is expensive however distinctive. It burns charcoal however controls its hearth and warmth ranges electronically like a pellet smoker. It performs nicely too, although it may very well be extra gasoline environment friendly. The Masterbuilt’s is not weatherized in opposition to rain both. Learn out full overview.   

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