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meats in a portable charcoal grill

Best Portable Charcoal Grill

Updated On November 3, 2022

Just how serious you are about your grilling will oftentimes determine how much you’d want to spend on a grill. However, there’s one other factor that many people seem to forget about when shopping, and that’s portability. Yes, this one depends on how you’re going to be using your grill, but if you’re someone who takes their grill outside of their home more often than not, a portable option is a better pick for you.

That being said, many people won’t go for anything else except charcoal grills, so if you’re one of them, let’s take a look at some of the best portable charcoal grill models you can get on the market. We’ll also discuss about some of the features that define such grills, so you know which one to go for when you’re shopping.

One thing to note is that all of the options below are excellent in their own regard. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but some are better than others, so you should be honest about what your needs and expectations are, and pick the one that suits you most. 

Short on time? Here's a quick roundup of our top 3 picks and why you need them!
Quick Discription
*Best Overall

Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill , Black


Another great Weber product. Lightweight and  practical to take anywhere.
*Runner Up

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black


Great design with a decent cooking area that just weights 3 pounds!
*Also Great

Mr. Flame Son of Hibachi Portable Vintage Cast Iron Charcoal Grill | Self Cleaning/Self Extinguishing | The Ideal Portable Folding Grill (1980's Model)


Most versatile charcoal grill that lets you achieve perfect temperatures every time! 
Best Overall

There’s no denying that Weber is one of the names that you’ll instantly connect with the charcoal grill, and their Smokey Joe Premium is our top pick for a lot of reasons. While it doesn’t really excel at anything in particular, there are a lot of things that it does rather well, and it performs admirably. 
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area:  14 inches diameter
  • Portability: Excellent
  • Weight: 10 lbs. 

Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill , Black

To begin with, you’re looking at a 14” portable grill that’s very well built. It’s compact and it’s rather lightweight, so carrying it around shouldn’t be any issue. You also have a Tuck-N-Carry lid lock that will hold the lid as well, so you don’t have to put it on the ground. Portability is not an issue, and you’ll also get a handle at the top that will help quite a bit with carrying it around, too.

As far as performance goes, you can make up to five burgers, if you make them with a Weber burger press. It depends on how big they are, honestly, so your mileage may vary. In any case, the goal with the Smokey Joe isn’t to make fifteen burgers at once, but if you set your expectations right, you’ll be able to make a couple of burgers in a run, without much issues.

The lid and bowl are porcelain-enameled, so they’ll retain heat without peeling or rusting, which results in a very well made burger. To make things even better, you’ve got dampers that will let you get a better control over the grill’s temperature. Combining these two things shows you that Weber did put a lot of thought into the design, and you’re looking at a very nice portable charcoal grill.
Last but not least, we also loved the affordability – the Smokey Joe Premium costs a fraction of some more high end options. It’s a great pick! 

While talking about Weber, here are the best grills they have to offer.

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Porcelain-enameled lid
  • Plated steel cooking grate
  • Aluminum ash catcher
  • Small charcoal container
Runner Up
Our runner up is another 14” charcoal grill, but one that’s made by Weber, which isn’t as household of a name as Weber. However, if you don’t mind losing a bit of popularity, it’s another excellent pick that you’ll love. It’s excellent in a lot of ways, and is only a runner up because the Weber option had a few tricks up its sleeve. 
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area:  150 square inches
  • Portability: Excellent
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black

The 14” dimension means the Weber is an excellent balance between portability and “mass production” of burgers. You can easily fit four to five, but you can also grab it by the handle at the top and carry it wherever you need it. It’s definitely a nice balance.

The black porcelain will not rust, and will last you a good while. And to add to that, it’s rather easy to clean. Assembly is also pretty easy, and the entire thing is built really well. You have a rounded lid that will circulate the heat and give you burgers or steaks that are evenly cooked, so one less thing to worry about. Overall, it’s a great alternative if, for some reason, you don’t want the Weber. 

In need for faster and better ways to clean your grill? Here are the best grill brushes that allow you to do so.

  • Adjustable vents
  •  Lightweight & durable
  • Easy-to-clean
  • Difficult to assemble
Best Smoker Option
While most of the other options we spoke about are excellent when it comes to grilling, there’s no denying that their smoking performance could definitely be better. If you’re after the best portable charcoal grill that will give you excellent smoking options, the Son of Hibachi combo is an innovative option that’s just right for you. 
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area:  170 square inches
  • Portability: Good
  • Weight: 17 lbs. 

Mr. Flame Son of Hibachi Portable Vintage Cast Iron Charcoal Grill | Self Cleaning/Self Extinguishing | The Ideal Portable Folding Grill (1980's Model)

We have to kick things off with the design – it’s really creative and extremely portable. Not only does the grill fold to be more compact, but it can also be fitted in a pouch that comes with it, so you can carry it around like a bag, rather easily.
Open it, and you’ve got a grill with a fairly large grate. Well, two of them, but it’s still quite a bit in terms of cooking surface. Unfortunately, the open design means that no heat will recirculate inside, but it also means that you’ve got a smoker on top. This is another well thought out feature, and it’s incredibly easy to use.

If you need a smoker just as much as you need a grill, the Son of Hibachi combo is the one to go for. 
  • Easy to light up
  • Good build quality
  • Decent cooking area
  • Not recommended for beginners
Best Budget Option

While none of the models we spoke about are expensive, sometimes every dollar counts and you want to get the most wallet-friendly option you can. If that sounds like your cup of tea, the Cuisinart CCG-190RB could very well be the one to go for. It costs less than the other options on our list, yet doesn’t compromise on any of the critical aspects. 
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area:  150 square inches
  • Portability: Good
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 

Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch BBQ, 14' x 14' x 15', Portable Charcoal Grill, 14' (Red)

First things first, you’re looking at 150 square inches of cooking surface, which is quite a bit for a 14” charcoal grill. It does fit quite a lot of food. To add to this, there are three secure lid locks that will make sure heat recirculates inside instead of escaping. There is a dual venting system, though, so you can regulate this just right.

The design is pretty portable, and at only 2lbs, this is an extremely lightweight model, too. You’re still looking at a great build quality, especially when you factor in the enamel coated ash catcher and firebox, which is something you don’t see with many other budget options. All things considered, if weight and price are concerns, this 14” Cuisinart charcoal grill is definitely one to look out for. 
  • Lightweight
  • Dual venting system
  • Chrome plated cooking rack
  • Poor assembly instructions
Best Large Option

One of the most popular portables out there this is an easy to move and position charcoal grill
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area:  240 square inches
  • Portability: Good
  • Weight: 40 lbs. 

Char-Broil 20602107-01 Patio Bistro TRU-Infrared Electric Grill, Blue

You’re looking at 240 square inches of cooking surface, which is quite a bit, and it’s still made with handles that allow you to carry it around with you. It’s not all that heavy, and if you need to cook for multiple people, it’s a great pick.

The design is also rather nice, with a lid-mounted temperature gauge that lets you monitor things inside, and dampers that allow for temperature control when necessary. The ash pan is removable, so you can clean things up a bit more easily when you’re done with work. You can also choose between using it with charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, so you do get a bit of choice.

The CB500X is far from the lightest, or most portable option. However, if you’d rather sacrifice a bit of portability for a larger cooking surface, this is the one to go for. 
  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Great build quality
  • Removable ash pan
  • Heavy for traveling
Also Good

Another option by Weber is the Go-Anywhere, which is our second larger option on our list. When you take a look at the design, you’ll immediately know that this is a larger grill, but if you can go for it, you’re looking at quite a decent cooking surface in what is still a reasonably compact option. 
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area: 160 square inches
  • Portability: Good
  • Weight: 14.5 lbs. 

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill, Black

To begin with, this is a grill that gives you a total primary cooking area of 160 square inches. This is quite sufficient if you want to cook for a family of four, as you can easily fit a burger or two per person. The lid and base are both porcelain enameled, and not only will they not rust or peel, but they’ll also retain heat rather well, which does help with cooking.

As far as the design goes, you’ve got lid locks and dampers that will give you some level of control over the temperature inside, which is a nice addition. If you need a guide for achieving best possible results here is an article explaining every temperature. You also have a steel cooking grate that’s easy to clean and retains heat pretty well. Overall, it’s an excellent pick if the circular grills aren’t your cup of tea.
  • Plated Steel Cooking Grate
  • Handle for easy transport
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Charcoal compartment is slightly shallow
Best Compact Option

Last but not least, we’ve got the Masterbuilt Bullet Grill. This is the only bullet smoker on our list but also the best one around.
Quick Summary
  • Cooking Area: 395 square inches
  • Portability: Excellent
  • Weight: 15 lbs. 

Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker, Black

A great little portable smoker from Masterbuilt the cooking area is just enough to be able to use it for most tasks.

The great thing about this smoker is its small size and portability at 15 pounds its very easy to throw in the back of the truck and take anywhere.

Also the cooking surface is amazing for what your getting. 

The materials of this smoker are second to none and you can be sure that it will hold up as long as you need it to.
  • Chrome wire cooking grate
  • Removable ash can
  • Difficult assembely

Buyers' Guide

Now that we’ve got the options out of the way, let’s discuss about how you would choose which one works best. When you’re looking for the best portable charcoal grill, there are two main things to note: portability and capacity.

Portability is what defines just how easy it would be to grab the grill and take it along with you. In this regard, the 14” circular grills, such as our top pick by Weber, are the best. They’re fairly lightweight and compact, and come with carrying handles that allow you to just pick them up and take them with you.
The other thing is the capacity. This is basically how much you can cook at once, and most of the 14” grills that win in terms of portability will only allow you to make four to five burgers at a time. Of course, this might be more than enough for some, but others may need a bit more.

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of compromise and figuring out what matters more to you. If you prefer a more compact grill, you’ll have to compromise a bit on capacity. If, however, you don’t mind struggling a bit when transporting the grill, you’ll be able to make more food at a time.

Which one you go for is a matter of personal choice. However, when in doubt, our top pick (Weber’s Smokey Joe) is always an excellent choice that gives you plenty of cooking area in a well thought out and very portable grill. The reasonable price only makes things better, and you’ll definitely enjoy using it, regardless of whether it’s at home, or at an outdoor barbeque party.

Our Top Pick Again

Best Overall

There’s no denying that Weber is one of the names that you’ll instantly connect with the charcoal grill, and their Smokey Joe Premium is our top pick for a lot of reasons. While it doesn’t really excel at anything in particular, there are a lot of things that it does rather well, and it performs admirably. 

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About the author 

Albert Thompson

Albert hails from Kentucky where grilling is a lifestyle. He brings with him his years of experience in the cooking sector and the product sector, but dont let that fool you, he practices what he preaches and enjoys a big rack of ribs every weekend.