Best charcoal grills of 2020: Napoleon, Weber, Char-Griller and more

Charcoal grills aren’t complicated and typically do not have the high-end looks of gas grills, however the very best charcoal grills definitely complete when it concerns taste.

Charcoal grills are much easier to establish than gasgrills All you require is a bag of charcoal, a lighter and your preferred components in order to accomplish a fast meal with real smoky taste. They’re typically more budget-friendly, too, making charcoal grills an excellent alternative for tight budget plans and novice grillers.

From kettle-style to cart-style, feature-filled to bare minimum, we checked 8 charcoal grills with steak, chicken, and ribs to learn which are the very best bet for your next cookout.

Tyler Lizenby/ CNET

Weber’s $109 initial kettle-style charcoal grill continues to stand the test of time. In our high-heat searing tests, Weber provided the very best balance of seared outside and medium unusual interior steak. The Weber offered us delicious chicken too, with crispy chicken skin. The Weber can likewise smoke low and sluggish at rock-steady temperature levels. That equated to seriously tasty ribs.

Simple building implies there aren’t a lot of parts to put together or a lot of functions to manage while cooking. A vent on the cover manages air circulation and a properly designed ash tray underneath the grill assists in simple clean-up.

We checked the 22-inch design in black, however Weber likewise uses an 18-inch variation of their initial kettle style. There are definitely fancier and more pricey grills to utilize for cooking, however for a balance of cost and quality, you can’t fail with this classic. This is the very best charcoal grill in general.

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If you ‘d choose to discover the very best charcoal grill for cooking that is cart-style, the $99 Nexgrill Cart-Style Charcoal Grill showed a deserving opposition to the Weber in our tests. The cart style implies you’ll get a handy side tray and a little more cooking area, with 390 square inches of cooking area compared to Weber’s 363 square inches.

Nexgrill certainly burnt well, though the meat within was a bit too provided for our choices. In our medium, indirect heat chicken cooking tests, Nexgrill provided tasty, juicy meat as a close 2nd toWeber Ribs hurt, juicy and performed in about 4.5 hours. That stated, the Weber had remarkable temperature level control throughout these low and sluggish smoking cigarettes sessions.

Cart- design cooking and barbecuing isn’t for everybody. It’s bulkier with a more included assembly and you’ll likely require more fuel to keep the bigger area at a heat. However, our outcomes were nearly as excellent as the kettle-style Weber, so if you have an interest in a cart-style charcoal grill this is your best choice..

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At $280, the Napoleon charcoal grill is pricey. However, throughout our chicken cooking tests, it held its temperature level much better than any other charcoal grill. The resulting chicken was delicious, and the grill includes actually great cast iron grates throughout its 365 square inches of cooking location. The cover houses a temperature level gauge and an useful hinge that makes it simple to includecharcoal

Napoleon provided exceptional cooking leads to our ribs test. It prepared a tender and juicy rack in simply 4 hours, thirty minutes. In our chicken test it held a heat for longer than any other grill in the lineup. The searing test was typical, however satisfying. This grill simply feels actually well constructed. It has 3 heights for your grates, so you can manage simply just how much direct heat your food gets while cooking and barbecuing. If you’re trying to find the fanciest kettle grill out there, this one may simply be it..

How we test


Tyler Lizenby/ CNET.

Testing charcoal grills implies a lot of hands-on cooking experience. Depending on the season, and how your charcoal grill is established, your experience cooking and barbecuing will likely be extremely various from ours. For example, a kettle-style charcoal grill left in the July sun throughout the day will run a lot hotter than a grill in the cooler spring months.

First, a note about grill thermometers. None of the hood thermometers constructed into these grills mirrored the temperature levels tape-recorded by our own thermocouples and information software application. It’s not unusual for grill thermometers to check out high, so we suggest keeping an oven thermometer or Bluetooth thermometer useful while you’re barbecuing, either for your meat or for the grill’s temperature level itself.

High- heat burning with steak

To test high heat, we burnt 2 steaks on each grill. Charcoal was determined in a chimney by grams, and in a ratio for that grill’s particular area. We lit the charcoal inside the chimney, letting it burn till the smoke dissipated and the coals started to turn grayish white, then put the charcoal into the grill. Let the grill warm up for 10 minutes, and the steaks are all set to strike the grates.


Once the grates were hot, we put 2 steaks on each grill.

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We put 2 steaks on each charcoal grill near the center and burnt for 5 minutes prior to turning them over and burning 5 more minutes. In an excellent, trustworthy grill this will offer you a steak with a burnt exterior and medium unusual to medium center. Of course, if your taste is meat that’s more done, you can extend the cooking time or sear and surface cooking in an oven.


High heat burning was our very first grill test.

Tyler Lizenby/ CNET.

The best charcoal grill for steak-searing in our lineup was theWeber Classic Kettle The steak had great grill marks while keeping a medium doneness on the within. The worst was our Tacklife evaluation system, which didn’t hold much heat and didn’t scorch while cooking. The steak on that grill required an extra 5 minutes to get to a temperature level of 135, the minimum for medium unusual.

Chicken and indirect, medium heat

Next, we checked each grill’s medium heat cooking ability by roasting entire chickens. The technique here is to keep the grills at a hot sufficient temperature level to prepare a chicken for upwards of 2 hours. Each grill got a complete chimney of charcoal, and we put one six-pound chicken on each grill, opposite the coals for indirect heat.


Each grill got a chimney of hotcharcoal

Tyler Lizenby/ CNET.

Cooking over charcoal took longer than cooking with a gas grill, and we did need to include more fuel to keep our grills above 300 degrees. Our preferred bird from this batch was the one prepared on the Weber, though it was a hard call. The Nexgrill cart-style grill can be found in right behind, a close 2nd in terms of taste and texture.


Chicken was prepared over indirect heat till it reached an internal temperature level of 165 degrees.

Tyler Lizenby/ CNET.

The distinction in between the 2 was mainly in the crispiness of the skin, with Weber transcending. Meat from the Nexgrill was tasty, with simply a bit more taste than theWeber Between the 2, I’d state it mainly depends upon your spending plan and what design of grill you choose for other meats like hamburgers or steak. Weber definitely had the remarkable sear because classification.

Low and sluggish ribs

Our last test centers around barbecue ribs, particularly infant back pork ribs. This design of cooking needs rigorous temperature level control over a duration of several hours. Ideally, a quality charcoal grill (or any cigarette smoker) will keep its fire humming along as near to 225 degrees F (107.2 C), for as long as possible.


Stack your charcoal briquettes in 2 rows of 2 deep along the inner wall of the grill.

Tyler Lizenby/ CNET.

To that end, we established each grill for a low and sluggish burn, utilizing thecharcoal snake method In the case of kettle designs, we set up coals in a semicircle around the grill’s inner wall. The charcoal briquettes (Kingsford Blue) form a line 2 coals large and 2 coals deep. We likewise drop a couple of pieces of smokewood on the top of the snake (aka fuse). On cart-style grills, we customize the snake to run in ideal angles to match their rectangular-shaped fireboxes.

Next, we light each grill’s snake, at one end of the chain, with 5 lit briquettes (tumbleweed fire beginners work, too). We set all air vents on each grill (top and bottom) to the midway employment opportunity. Lastly, we position one rack of ribs on each grill, for indirect cooking (not straight above the coals)

The traditional Weber Kettle grill dealt with racks of ribs right.

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The Weber was the undeniable king on this test. No other grill in this group might match the rock-solid temperature level control of this renowned cooker. Readings from our own thermocouples, plus a digital pit thermometer, verified this. Throughout the Weber’s 6 hour, 32 minute cook time, the grill’s internal heat levels never ever roamed beyond 25 degrees of the our target (225 F). In truth, a lot of of the time the temperature level hovered in between 220 and 230 degrees (F). As an outcome, ribs prepared in the Weber came out tender, juicy and complete of smoke taste.

Ribs prepared on the Napoleon grill came out delicious, though with bark that was a little dry.

Brian Bennett/ CNET.

The Napoleon grill was the 2nd best on this test. Interior temperature levels had a higher swing, leaping up to 300 degrees (F) throughout durations of the cook. Its rack of ribs was all set in a brief 4 hours, thirty minutes too. And while its ribs came tender and juicy in general, the outside bark had a couple of scorched areas.

Ribs prepared on the NexGrill had lots of bark however were juicy and tender inside.

Brian Bennett/ CNET.

We kept in mind comparable temperature level efficiency from the NexGrill, in addition to comparable rib outcomes. Cooking ribs low and sluggish on the NexGrill needed simply 4 hours, thirty minutes. Its rack came out well too, though like the Napoleon, its bark was more noticable than what the Weber produced.

Our rib experience with a couple of of the other grills was far from suitable. The TackLife was especially bad. At times the within of this grill struck temperature levels as high as 400 degreesFahrenheit And regretfully, the ribs it produced came out burned, charred and exaggerated.

Other grills we have actually checked

The CNET Smart Home editors have actually been providing grill information for a couple of years now. In addition to the designs we suggest above, here are the other charcoal grills we have actually checked:

  • KitchenAid Cart-Style Charcoal Grill: KitchenAid’s $199 cart-style charcoal grill has durable cast iron grates in addition to 2 collapsible side trays for additional work area. It didn’t wow us in any of our tests, however wasn’t visibly bad either.
  • Char-Griller Super Pro: This $147 cart-style charcoal grill was typical in our tests, however it works with a side cigarette smoker offered independently, if you’re trying to find a charcoal grill with terrific adaptability.
  • Cuisinart Kettle Charcoal Grill: This 18-inch kettle design grill costs $90 and consists of all the fundamental functions you ‘d anticipate. It could not beat the Weber for traditional kettle cooking, however it’s a strong 2nd option for a budget-friendly kettle design grill.
  • Tacklife Oversize Grill (22.5-inch): Tacklife fared the worst in our screening. It costs simply $77, and while rate does not constantly show efficiency or quality, in this case it did.
  • Dyna-Glo Heavy Duty Charcoal Grill: This cart-style design from Dyna-Glo is more expensive at $200, and has killer looks however just reasonable efficiency.
  • Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560: This $500 card-style design from Masterbuilt is costly however distinct. It burns charcoal however manages its fire and heat levels digitally like a pellet cigarette smoker. It carries out well too, though it might be more fuel effective. The Masterbuilt’s hardware isn’t weatherized versus rain either. Read out full review.

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