The High End: Top Charcoal Type BBQ Grills and Smokers

We compiled the top charcoal grills on the pricier side to show you which ones are worth spending your hard-earned money on.

The Ultimate Wish List for Grillers by Grillers

The charcoal grill, the classic lawn centerpiece, has been reinvented over and over. Different brands have come up with features and styles that set their models apart. But the market has learned to cope. In fact, avid grillers know better than sticking to one brand and style to satisfy all their grilling and smoking needs. They invest in electric grills, gas grills, hybrid grills, vertical smokers, kettles, kamado, and so on. Amidst this variety, our community of such individuals sees to it that its members do not lose sight of the place the charcoal grill holds in the ultimate grill collection.

Guided by that principle, we wrote this article to share with you our knowledge. We compiled the top charcoal grills to use in competitions, home parties, and even campings. We also considered the money question: if the price wasn't a problem, which device would we include in the list? You might get the feeling that we're leaning toward the high-end ones. Don't worry. We also thought about the more practical question: would we buy this in real life? Actually, some of us already had. And we're happier for it. Why? Our money did not go to waste. We want you to feel that way, too.

Yes, the top spot goes to a kamado style grill. Taking inspiration from the Japanese, this sleek device has everything we desire in a grill, and then some. Vision Grills constructed this bad boy out of stainless steel, which is by far the finest make in town. Then it finished the dual wooden drop-down side shelves with polyurethane, which possesses a quality that withstands rough elements. Meanwhile, the four legs with wheels make for a moveable feast. Without registering many barriers to movement, this kamado grill can be taken to the backyard, the campsite, the beach, or even at the back of the car for tailgating. It allows quick setup and convenient cooking, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy grilling or smoking while also entertaining family and friends.

The fun part actually lies in the ability of the grill to start up without much fuss. Then it continues to the point where the grill requires little babysitting. In the end, it should be able to yield great results, aka delicious, moist, tender, juicy meats. Vision Grills Classic B-Series Kamado Grill achieves all of these. At the same time, its hardware is rather impressive. There are no blemishes on the body. It also allows large cooks through its two grates. Lastly, the cover is melded beautifully with the body. It wins in design, form, and functionality. Plus, the customer service reps also respond with solutions to problems raised by users. The price is also reasonable. All in all, it makes for a good spend.

The 22-inch Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill deserves a spot on our list and in your home. We cannot recommend it enough for its efficiency. For starters, you will need only eight pieces of coal, together with a chunk of hardwood, to run the thing for 2-3 hours without the heat level dwindling. Afterward, you get to take out the result: juicy, flavorful meat. Designed for both pros and beginners, this will not give users unnecessary issues. Instead, it promises smooth setup, operation, and cleanup—the three other important steps that grillers factor in when they assess the performance of a product. Of course, the primary step involves grilling or smoking the food itself. After all, when everything’s been said and done, you will judge its performance using your taste buds.

What we love about this Weber product, or any Weber product for that matter, is that you can buy ‘accessories’ to complement them. For instance, you can buy a chimney from the same company to enhance the operation of this deluxe charcoal grill. As for the cleanup, we recommend the Weber Grill Cleaner Spray, which you can use every other grilling session to wipe off the grease that has accumulated. We know by now that Weber crafts the most durable models in the market. Still, we say that proper care for grills and smokers will spell the difference between extending and reducing their lifespan. So we still have work to do. After all, it takes not only passion but also discipline to become a master griller.

We are down to our top three, and GrillPro's charcoal smoker scores a honorable mention. This vertical smoker is like a refrigerator with plenty of shelves and hooks. And the shelves can be adjusted to make room for hunky meats like, say, a large turkey. If you have this thing lying in your backyard, then it will be such a waste not to cook slabs of baby backs, several pounds of Boston butt, and a dozen of homemade sausages in it. This unit has excellent temp control to begin with, so your food ends up tasting great. You can also alternate between using charcoal and your favorite wood to fire this baby up. On top of everything, this comes with a nifty price tag.

Aside from economic reasons, another selling point of this vertical smoker is its durability. The photo does not lie. GrillPro chose to use 24-gauge welded steel to construct it. The smoker box is made from cast iron while the cooking racks are made of chrome. For the current price, this vertical charcoal smoker is affordable and reasonable to purchase. It also comes with adjustable vents and a thermometer, so you won't have to worry about getting something generic or one from another manufacturer. It requires a few mods after assembly, but these will depend on your preferences and purposes for the smoker. Avid grillers are used to performing mods, making their units work for them. Once you've achieved a few tweaks, you're ready to host a BBQ party in the backyard.

What we like about this Char-Griller Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker is that it doesn't burn up much fuel for it to bring out the charcoal flavor goodness in meats. It is crafted to retain more heat and allow less airflow, making it possible for grillers to get meat that is nice and juicy. Now, if you are new to all this kamado stuff, this is a good starter grill and smoker to have. It can handle birds, fish, pork, beef, fruits, vegetables, and even desserts so you are not limited to the kinds of food you can experiment on. What's better than that? You can also cook several of these at a time because this beast has 306 square inches of cooking capacity.

If you are a certified lover of succulent meats, we recommend that you try this Char-Griller charcoal grill and smoker. It's nice to have it by your side when you suddenly decide to indulge in a staycation. Or brandish it in the backyard when family or friends come to visit. The scent that comes from the cook might also pique the curiosity of your neighbors. And when they see your Char-Griller unit on display, they might turn green with envy. But don't worry, if you got more meat and you aren't trying to be a bad neighbor, you can always invite them over. This grill and smoker will help you prepare great food for a shorter time. The quick turnover also gives you time to toss in burgers, hotdogs, potatoes, mushrooms, pizza, and even cornbreads alternately.

By now, you must have noticed that Weber products consistently place on our list. It is not a mystery, as the brand has been well-known for decades when it comes to delivering excellent grills and smokers. The Smokey Joe is one of the more popular ones from its catalog. Smokey Joe models actually last long, so the people who tend to buy the newer model are merely replacing their old one. Talk about satisfied customers. This portable grill is a good companion during get-togethers. It's also ideal for tailgate parties, car camping, and backyard BBQs. If you are one of those single people, you can also use it to smoke in the apartment, if you are living in one. Just make sure to do it in an open space outside the building or your unit.

Now some Smokey Joe owners might find it difficult to control the heat. If you suddenly cannot make it too hot, one hack is to open the vents to allow air to flow and assist in getting the temp to rise. Other than that, this Weber piece is a good asset. It is easy to move around and bring to campsites. It is also roomy enough to contain food that can feed a small family or group of friends. This bugger can cook small chickens and thick steaks, with some sides thrown in. Of course, the ultimate test is the actual taste of the food. There is really no question as to how amazing they turn out. The Smokey Joe was designed to create happy campers out of its users.

We venture again into the world of pellet grills and smokers. This barrel-style unit, crafted by MoJack, is a tough competitor to beat. And yes, it is the kind that gets shown off in contests. Why? It can do quite a few things, such as grill, bake, and smoke. If you are a professional griller, you'd go for a device that would showcase your talents and skills. You'd definitely go for this. It is a champ when it comes to efficiency and durability. And it boasts of a LED digital temperature control and a center fire box. If you are a serious competitor, the one thing to watch out is the pellet grill itself, as it requires more care during startup than a gas grill.

On the other hand, if you consider yourself an ordinary yet enthusiastic home cook, this MoJack creation will not disappoint. It takes about 30 minutes to assemble. The heat levels to use should vary depending on the type of food. We recommend grilling burgers and sausages at 350 degrees. One trick to keep the temp from falling further from your desired temp is to mind the range for your lows and highs. We'd peg the fluctuations between 20 and 40 degrees. Initially, this wood pellet grill and smoker might look intimidating to non-pros, but give it some time and go through your learning curve. You'd be happy to have it as a companion when you're serving a crowd on a holiday.

The first thing we noticed about this device is its body. This cylindrical, horizontal tabletop charcoal grill by Char-Griller is definitely eye-catching. But wait till you see it finish the job (for it does work like a beast). It packs so much power in such a small size. The level of heat that flows inside this thing is quite impressive; it can actually cook nonstop. Aside from being a portable charcoal grill, it can also act as a side fire box. With just a few tweaks, you can convert it immediately from grill to fire box, or vice-versa. It's versatility allows you to use it for grilling or smoking, depending on your current preference. It also offers enough space for containing either charcoal or wood.

This clever product from Char-Griller also appears on the affordable side. Yet, do not mistake its portability for its inability to please a crowd. Stuff brisket in there, and it will come moist and nice. We have seen it work its magic on fish as well. One important thing to keep in mind is that you can only use it either as a grill or a side fire box, not both. So you will have to set it up according to your preference. Assembly and operation are a breeze, as long as you follow the directions to the letter. Cleanup is not tiresome. Also, it does not occupy much space, so it is a good model to own if you are living in an apartment.

There is something utilitarian about the minimal design of the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #18. But what you actually find after unboxing it is a functional product. First of all, the size is just right. Its reach is up to the knee, which is desirable for activities like camping. You can always look for legs that can be extended if you want to use it in the beach or the backyard. On second thought, the height also works fine without the extensions when you're smoking at home. The most important thing to highlight about this device is its simplicity. It does not pretend to be complicated or dazzle with high-tech features. But it does deliver excellent charcoal flavor, the kind that drives you to pine for old times.

Similar to the other portables on the list, this Old Smokey grill is not meant for gathering huge crowds. But it does produce delicious meats, the usual suspects being burgers, chicken, and ribs. We smoke ham and sausages in this baby from time to time, typically during camping season. It is at its optimal when it's being used to cook low and slow. It can also get super hot, rising to 400 degrees Fahrenheit if you push for it. Though we really favor it for smoking. The consistency it brings to the table trumps the need to prove itself as yet another fancy charcoal grill. At the end of the day, what will matter anyway is its ability to give us the charcoal-flavored meat we cannot stop craving.

Weber rolls out another looker with this one. The Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill looks compact despite its horizontal appearance. Its configured to give space without taking up much space. It can fit up to four medium steaks, six pieces of chicken, or six hamburger patties at a time. Engineered with portability in mind, it can accompany you to small-scale cookouts from your patio to a tailgating party away from the house. Multiple details about this little grill are spot-on. It cools down fast, can weather the elements because of its durable exterior coating, and is easy to operate. So far, this unit proves to be very resistant to rust. Exposed to sand, water, and air, it fires up continuously and yields charcoal-flavored meat at its finest.

This charcoal grill also reminds you how BBQs should be fun, not headache- and stress-inducing. It allows you to relax completely as you wait for your cook to finish. Cleanup and storage won't also be a problem. There are top and bottom vents for to manage the smoke and ashes without much fuss. If there is one thing we'd like Weber to change, it would only be the handle. A wooden one would be cool. Though we aren't really complaining about the glass-reinforced nylon handle. This well-built charcoal grill doesn't seem to have that expiry date we subconsciously associate to outdoor cooking devices like grills and smokers. The porcelain enamel coating really does wonders for a product, both in the practical and the aesthetic sense.

While this may not be flashed in any competition yet, those who want to get their hands on real BBQ should start with this charcoal smoker. It works best for low temp smoking, about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The two-level body can contain 12-14 lbs of turkey, beef, or pork, among others. The charcoal can run up to six hours. You can also put wood on top of the charcoal to boost the flavor. There are many options for the newbie smoker when it comes to this little Meco creation. What makes it it more endearing is the fact that you can convert it into a portable charcoal grill. It's always a good idea to take this one to a beach or camping trip, or just a picnic.

The wooden side and hood handles are not only pleasing to the eye but also purposefully designed. They are actually heat-resistant, so you can carry the Meco vertical charcoal smoker while it's cooking without having to worry about injuring your hands. Its legs are made of reinforced steel, so the device stands strong on a sandy beach or an uneven picnic ground. Not built for the big crowd, this nevertheless is nice for family outings and dinners. It renders the meat juicy and tender. We recommend using apple wood to further enhance the flavor of certain foods, such as pork shoulders and baby back ribs. Among the lot, it also got a more affordable price so it would make for a fantastic Christmas gift to family members or friends.

The sleek design of the Weber Original Kettle seems to be a concept taken right out of a science fiction graphic novel. But it is actually innovative meets traditional, a design philosophy that has reigned in the Weber house. It becomes more impressive as we get down to the details. The bowl and lid are made of porcelain enamel that was subjected to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to ensure that these portions can withstand the heat of many cookings, and remain rust- and burn-resistant. The damper exists to afford users with better control of the temp without having to lift the lid. Meanwhile, the grate is able to hold enough heat, which in turn allows it to leave beautiful sear marks on the meat.

Even as it looks sophisticated, the kettle is powered by good ol' charcoal. High-quality charcoal comes at a price, but fortunately, Weber also provides an airtight grill. This mechanism allows the recycling of the charcoal multiple times. It's a well-built device that caters to the novice as well as the pro. It can also cook hunks of meat in one go. Indeed, the Original Kettle Charcoal Grill was crafted to address the problems that had arisen in earlier versions, or other styles and brands, for that matter. Aside from obvious excellent cooking reasons, using the unit can bring back memories of daddy manning the fort during barbecue weekends.There are as deep as three generations who have been using Weber and kettles. They keep coming back because they have enjoyed the unit.

Weber is a trusted name in the industry. Its kettles have earned a spot in households across the States. With this spin on the trusty charcoal cooker, the company once again proves its dominance. Anyone who has experienced the kettles will find working on this smoker a familiar territory. But don't freak out if you're a complete beginner. The booklet included in the package details out the steps toward successful assembly. It'll be up after around 20 minutes. Then you should season the smoker, which means putting in just the briquettes so you burn away factory residue. Once you're done, you are ready to smoke your first batch of meats. And yes, meats. There are two grill grates that you can fill to your heart's content.

This charcoal smoker has a lot of happy customers, among them are people who join competitions. They do not hesitate to use this Weber model in showcasing their skills and talent. But if you are a serious griller, in the sense that you're passionate about grilling, roasting, and smoking, then this will be a good investment for you. Hosting backyard parties won't be a problem. The two racks can accommodate 5-8 lbs of Boston butts or two pieces of brisket. The charcoal flavor seeps in as the low and slow cooking takes place. The 18-inch smoker is ideal for serving a family of four. The bigger one, at 22 inches, is great for hosting family, friends, and the neighbors who cannot help but wonder what on god's smokey earth have you been up to.

Another portable charcoal grill is under scrutiny. It does look fiery, but this Cuisinart baby is ultralight, as in 2 lbs light. Even kids can carry this thing. It also comes with three secure lid locks that aid in transport. There is no need to worry about driving with this device at the back of your car, or getting the contents to tumble over when moving it around. It can be easily transported from the house to any picnic, tailgating, or camping location. Operating it is a breeze. In our experience, never did its smoke die while we're grilling. The 14-inch grill surface is chrome-plated, and it can fit up to six large patties at a time. Of course, the meats always end up great. Discarding the ashes after the cook is painless.

This is a neat product from Cuisinart. It's something that you'd want to send to your dad, brothers, and in-laws for Christmas. It's a gift from the grillers heaven. Once you've negotiated its nuts and bolts, it gets fully functional. The best part is that you achieve that classic charcoal flavor. It takes only a few pieces of charcoal to make that possible, and they do not burn too fast. We love it also for its compact design. Some of us live in cramped spaces; well, not too cramped but adding a bulky tabletop grill can cause a big difference. This one is just the right size for any living quarters. Of course, as with all charcoal grills, we recommend that you use it outdoors.

Okay, this one does not actually use charcoal for fuel. Instead, it uses food grade wood pellets to sear, grill, smoke, and bake different kinds of food, including pizza. We included it here because it might as well be a part of any version of a griller's wish list. It's not just about its steel construction and copper-finished lids, which make it durable and sturdy. It's not just about its digital control board, which lends precision to cooking. It's greater than the sum of its parts, making it an interesting choice. Looking at this beast from Pit Boss Grills reminds us of how far we've come in the history of grilling and cooking in general. Owning it feels like we're the boss, at least in our own backyard.

It is a statement piece, for sure. But it is also a winner in the most practical sense. It should arrive in a box that bears the slogan 'No fuss'. Just plug it, set the temp, allow it to heat up, and then adjust the temp according to the cooking requirements. There is no need to check on the food or worry that it's going to burn. It's the best thing that happened to game nights, when our favorite teams require our undivided attention and our tummies seek food with uncompromised quality. Fortunately for us, this pellet grill is a champ. It's also super easy to clean. What's not to love? We salute and thank Pit Boss Grills for packing all these conveniences in one creation.

The time has come for portable grills that produce less mess and aren't too hot to handle, literally. The Homping Grill is designed for camping and tailgating. It does not take an hour to cool down. The thing is, it is actually cool enough to be lifted even in the middle of cooking. And it weighs only 8 lbs. Unlike its conventional counterparts, it can dish out delicious food using up 6-8 briquettes within an hour or two. That accounts for very little ash. I swear, it will take you only five minutes to clean up the whole thing afterward. And we're talking about wiping the parts using several sheets of paper towel, not tossing them into the dishwasher. This is indeed a smart grill.

Homping did a great job in having the product release concentrated smoke. It's almost 90% smokeless whenever we used this orange beauty. Speaking of beauty, its award-winning design is a testament to how a brand can balance form and function. It takes about three minutes to fire this one up. Three minutes, and you get the charcoal ready for grilling fish, chicken, pork, beef, and even vegetables. The grill grate is 11 inches wide, so you can place meat that can feed four persons at a time. The results can only be summed up in one word: perfection. Once you're done, you can disassemble its parts as quickly as you assembled them. It's a prize for its price. Truly, it is a masterpiece and it looks the part, too.


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