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While tailgating or barbecuing, the right grill can really make or break your meal and your celebration with a bunch of friends. Of course, while tailgating, portability is of utmost importance so that you can conveniently pack your grill up in the back of your pickup truck and take it wherever the next game or concert may be. While a big impressive grilling setup might be suitable in your backyard, for tailgating you will definitely want something a bit smaller and something you can transport easily. For that purpose, we have collected a list of the best portable charcoal grill options for you to try out.

Though all grills can make some tasty foods, there is something about the flavor of charcoal that just cannot be beaten. And for that reason, we have decided to come up with a list of portable charcoal grill options—so that you can bring the taste of charcoal to your tailgate when you are cooking for your friends, loved ones, and maybe even a few strangers.

We know that it may seem hard to choose just one portable charcoal grill when there are so many good options out there, but that is why we have answered some questions about what to look out for when shopping for a portable charcoal grill. We also compare each product for you so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing your portable charcoal grill.

Comparison Table

Product FAQ

What Is Tailgating?

What Is a Portable Charcoal Grill?

What Should I Consider When Buying a Portable Charcoal Grill?

Where Can You Buy a Portable Charcoal Grill?

How We Reviewed

We searched far and wide all over the web to find countless lists of best of lists and user reviews as well as expert recommendations so that we could find the best portable charcoal grill options for you. We maintained an unbiased stance in reviewing these portable charcoal grills, providing the features, pros, cons, and price of each grill so that you could make an informed decision when purchasing your grill. Though all of the grills featured in this article are high quality and perfect for any tailgating needs, we will narrow it down and pick an all-time best for you.

Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)

grilled meat using charcoal

Image via Pexels

The lower price range of these charcoal grills is around $ – $$, while the higher end is around $$-$$$ for a grill.

What We Reviewed

  • Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
  • Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill
  • Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill
  • Cuisinart Grate Lifter
  • Old Smokey Charcoal Grill
  • Masterbuilt 20040111 Elite Kettle Grill
  • Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box
  • Son of Hibachi Combo with Snuff out Pouch
  • Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill, Stainless Steel – By Fox Outfitters
  • Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
  • 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...
  • Durable plated steel cooking grate retains heat and is easy to clean.Primary cooking area...

Features

This go-anywhere grill is great anytime you want that charcoal flavor on the move. It’s small and compact but still maintains 160 square inches of grilling space for you to work with.

PROS

  • Has 160 square inches of grilling surface 
  • The steel legs fold up to keep lid in place while transporting
  • Glass-reinforced nylon handle stays cool for safety
  • Porcelain-enameled coating to prevent rusting

CONS

  • Some said should be deeper for charcoal
  • Some said legs did not fold up properly for safety

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill. Large Charcoal Hibachi-Style Grill...
  • Lodge Logic Sportsmans Grill, 17-1/4" x 9" unit size, 19"L x 10-1/4"W x 8-1/4 H" grill...
  • This rugged, charcoal hibachi-style grill is perfect for picnics, tailgating, camping, or...
  • Cast Iron Grill Grate produces superior results.Door allows for coals to be added.Sliding...
  • Sportsmans Grill Cover is constructed of heavy duty black polyester with PVC backing and...
  • Made in USA.

Features

For any lovers of cast iron, this would be the perfect portable charcoal grill for them. This grill is attractive to look at while still being functional. The hibachi style grill enables you to have a little fun cooking.

PROS

  • Two adjustable heights 
  • Hibachi style for variety
  • Seasoned cookware lends flavor to your meals
  • Durable and will last

CONS

  • Some said packaging in shipment led to them receiving cracked grills

Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill

Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill
  • 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
  • The Tuck-N-Carry lid lock doubles as a lid holder to avoid placing lid on the ground
  • Dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill

Features

This 14-inch portable charcoal grill will work well for anyone who needs a standard, no fuss grill to cook their burgers on. While ideal for smaller groups, you can cook three steaks or five burgers on this grilling surface.

PROS

  • Grill can hold up to five burger patties 
  • Lightweight for transportation
  • Lid lock so lid never has to be placed on ground

CONS

  • Some said vent design does not allow charcoal to cook properly

Cuisinart Grate Lifter

Cuisinart CCG-100 GrateLifter Portable Charcoal Grill
  • Ultra-portable grill featuring unique lift system to access charcoal bed without touching...
  • Precision air flow system allows accurate temperature management; Convenient lid-mounted...
  • 240-square-inch cooking surface; Durable porcelain enamel cover
  • Large ash collection bin for easy cleaning; Sturdy base offers stability while grilling
  • World famous Cuisinart quality; Comes with 3-year warranty

Features

This charcoal grill has a huge grilling surface for you and any event you’re cooking for. With up to 240 square inches of grilling surface, there’s also a unique design for safety to prevent you from burning yourself when opening the grill.

PROS

  • Access to adding charcoal without touching cooking grate 
  • 240 square inch grilling surface
  • Ash collection bin helps you clean up easily
  • Porcelain enamel cover

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Some had issues with grate falling into charcoal

Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #22 (Large)
  • Made of rust-resistant aluminized steel
  • #22 model has two side handles
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Made in USA from domestic and imported parts

Features

This charcoal grill has character and definitely gains some respect. A true Southern creation, this grill smokes your food to perfection. Though users thought the metal felt flimsy, they quickly realized it cooked perfectly, and the metal lasts years.

PROS

  • 22-inch diameter for lots of space 
  • Unique design made of silver
  • Can cook for larger groups
  • Easy to control temperature

CONS

  • Though light, it is very large

Masterbuilt 20040111 Elite Kettle Grill

Masterbuilt 20040111 Elite Kettle Grill, 14"
  • 139 sq. inches of cooking space
  • Chrome wire cooking grate
  • Two adjustable air dampers for improved temperature control
  • Porcelain-coated lid and bottom bowl with removable ash can
  • Extra-sturdy leg design

Features

This kettle grill has a sleek and shiny design that will make people turn to see what you’re cooking. While it comes in larger sizes too, this grill already has 139 square inches of grilling space so that you can feed your whole family at your next tailgate.

PROS

  • Has 139 square inches of grilling surface 
  • Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
  • Sturdy short legs hold grill for safety
  • Lid hanger on side

CONS

  • Some felt this was made of poor quality and broke too easily

Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box

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...
  • 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

Features

This grill is certainly a beautiful Texas grill to look at. It can be used both as a charcoal grill and on its side as a Texas smoker so that you have options with cooking your meat. With a nice cast iron exterior, this grill looks impressive and has a whopping 250 square inches of grilling surface too.

PROS

  • Perfect for Texas-style smoking of food 
  • Can be used on table or horizontally as smoker
  • Heavy cast iron reliable construction
  • Has 250 square inches of grilling space
  • Easy dumping tray and stay cool handle

CONS

  • Some users had issues with paint bubbling and peeling off

Son of Hibachi Combo with Snuff out Pouch

Features

This hibachi grill is a classic, with the original model from the 1980s. You can use this grill to feed a ton of people, with up to ten pieces of chicken fitting on top. As an added bonus, you can also reuse your charcoal and save some more money.

PROS

  • Hibachi style grill for different cooking methods 
  • Can reuse a lot of the charcoal if careful
  • Large grilling surface can grill about ten pieces of chicken at once
  • Snuff out pouch helps you cool grill down faster

Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill, Stainless Steel – By Fox Outfitters

Quick Grill Medium: Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill Made from...
  • Easy to use folding grill set. Folds down for convenient storage and portability....
  • Assembled Size: Approx. 12.5in x 12.5in x 8.6in Folded Size: Approx. 13in x 7.8in x1.9in.
  • Safety & Health: Non toxic, FDA approved, no twist.
  • Unique Humanization Design: Funnel-shaped grill, with excellent wind-resistance, can...
  • Durable & Portable Advantage: Stainless steel material, solid and excellent abrasive...

Features

This easy charcoal grill made of stainless steel folds out for you to have a large grilling surface to work with. The design is easy to work with and the grill cooks everything from meat to vegetables to perfection.

PROS

  • Easy setup and portable 
  • Huge grilling surface for all of your needs
  • Foldable design for transport
  • Comes with carrying bag
  • Stainless steel design

CONS

  • Some users had issues with grate sliding around

Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil Portable CB500X Charcoal Grill
  • Adjustable fire grate:- Control the heat level at the cooking grate by placing your...
  • Charcoal:- Powered by charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal
  • Lid-Mounted Temperature Gauge:- Keep track of pre-heat status and monitor the inside...
  • Damper:- Control the grill temperature by opening and closing the dampers. To burn hotter...
  • Removable Ash Pan:- Convenient pull-out drawer catches ash for simple clean-ups when...

Features

This charcoal grill has plenty of space for your cooking needs, with up to 240 square inches of grilling surface for you to work with. There is a temperature gauge built into the lid so you don’t have to worry about thermometers or not knowing when the grill is ready for your food.

PROS

  • Adjustable fire grate with preset levels for your cooking 
  • Temperature gauge built into lid of grill
  • Removable ash pan for cleaning
  • Has 240 square inches of grilling space

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Some had issues with latches lining up

The Verdict

grilling using charcoal

Image via Pexels

Though all of these portable charcoal grills will ensure you have a tailgate with amazing food, we have reviewed all of the pros and cons and determined that the best portable charcoal grill is the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill. While it’s a little pricier at $80, it is definitely worth every penny. The design holds up and keeps the charcoal perfectly hot so that you can grill or smoke fall-off-the-bone meat. It is also a super large design, so no matter how many mouths you have to feed at your next barbecue event, you will have room to cook for everyone.

We understand that everyone has different grilling needs, so you may find a different pick that suits your grilling needs. The good news is that after this article, we feel confident you’ll be able to make an informed decision on your next portable charcoal grill purchase.


Featured Image via Pixabay

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