Most people picture a small gas tank to go along with a portable grill but barbecue purists will be happy to know that there are plenty of portable charcoal grills to choose from.

The best part is you don’t even need a lot of trunk space or physical strength to take your world-famous charcoal-grilled barbecue recipe to the next tailgating party or camping trip.

Portable charcoal grills come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. We have reviewed the 5 best portable charcoal grills so you don’t have to go through the headache of sifting through endless choices to find the right one.

Comparison Table

Our #1 Choice
Cuisinart CCG-100 Portable, GrateLifter Charcoal Grill

1. Cuisinart CCG-100

The 240 square inches cooking surface is quite spacious on a grill this size and the side handles make it easy to transport – Read Review.
9.6
Close Runner Up
Kamado Joe KJ13RH Joe Jr. Charcoal Grill, 13.5 inch, Blaze Red

2. Kamado Joe KJ13RH

This is a versatile grill for high heat Kamado-style cooking and will make pizzas, is great for direct and indirect cooking and smoking – Read Review.
9.5
Best Budget
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill,Black, 15'H x 19.5'W x 11.5'L

3. Weber 121020

Another great portable grill from Weber perfect for anyone looking for an inexpensive, functional grill – Read Review.
9.3
Best Value
Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill,Black

4. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe

All in all, we would highly recommend this grill for someone looking for a cheap portable charcoal grill for simple grilling – Read Review.
9.1

Cuisinart CCG-100

The grill comes with a porcelain-enameled lid which is durable and great for heat retention. The 240 square inches cooking surface is quite spacious on a grill this size and the side handles make it easy to transport.

  • Cooking Area: 240 sq in
  • Power Source: Charcoal 
  • Weight: 30 pounds

The Cuisinart CCG-100 GrateLifter Portable Charcoal Grill is a solid choice for a portable charcoal grill that comes with many features that you typically see on full-size grills.

This grill has a briefcase-style design and a popping green color that could easily be a talking point.

A major selling point of the grill is the GrateLifter design. You can set up the grill so that the lid lifts along with the cooking grate. This design allows you to load charcoal without having to touch the grate. The design also means you don’t lose heat when you open the grill.

The downside of this unit is the grate lifter can be a little difficult to figure out and might take some time to get right. This is a unique little grill with a good size cooking area and many premium features.

Pros

  • Unique design and color scheme
  • Easy to clean
  • Precision air vents are good for temperature control
  • Good quality build

Cons

  • Grate lifter may be a little difficult to learn

Kamado Joe KJ13RH

This is a versatile grill for high heat Kamado-style cooking and will make pizzas, is great for direct and indirect cooking and smoking.

  • Dimensions: 19.75 x 20.75 x 27 inches
  • Power Source:Characoal
  • Weight: 75.6 Pounds

If you have tried shopping for a Kamado grill, then you know that these grills can easily cost you upwards of $1000. The Kamado Joe KJ13RH Joe Jr Charcoal Grill is a more affordable alternative to the traditional Kamado grill and is portable.

Most Kamado-style grills are made from stainless steel unlike ceramic of authentic Kamados. This Joe Jr. KJ13RH is made from ceramic which has amazing heat retention and locks moisture and flavor in your meat where they should be.

The 304 stainless steel cooking grates distribute heat evenly and are great for searing. The 148.5 square inch cooking surface is enough to cook for a small group. Finally, this grill reaches temperatures of up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit which is almost unheard of in a portable grill.

The ceramic construction is perfect for heat retention but is also prone to cracking. You have to be careful when handling this grill. The unit is also quite expensive.

Pros

  • Amazing heat retention
  • Reaches up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Compact and lightweight for a Kamado grill
  • Built-in temperature gauge

Cons

  • Prone to cracking if not handled carefully

Weber 121020

Another great portable grill from Weber perfect for anyone looking for an inexpensive, functional grill.

  • Cooking Area: 160 sq inches
  • Power Source:Characoal
  • Weight: 14.5 pounds

The Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is yet another great portable grill from Weber. This is a boxy grill that costs less than $50 with several great features.

The 160 square inches primary cooking area will cook for up to 4 people. The grill’s small size also means you don’t need to use a lot of charcoal to cook steaks.

The grills’ sophisticated ventilation system is one of its main selling points. There are two adjustable air dampers on the side and two more on top. The unit comes with instructions on how to control the dampers.

The foldable legs make the grill easy to transport while the plated steel cooking grates do a decent job at grilling. The Weber 121020 is also not difficult to transport at 14.5 pounds.

On the downside, the top plastic handle gets hot so be careful when handling the grill while in use. Overall, this is yet another great portable grill from Weber perfect for anyone looking for an inexpensive, functional grill.

Pros

  • The lightweight grill is portable
  • Sophisticated ventilation system
  • Good quality construction

Cons

  • The top handle gets hot to the touch

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe

All in all, we would highly recommend this grill for someone looking for a cheap portable charcoal grill for simple grilling.

  • Cooking Area: 14 inch diameter
  • Power Source: Charcoal
  • Weight: 9.5 Pounds

The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill is very light at 9.8 pounds so you shouldn’t have a problem loading it into the car. The 153 square inches primary cooking area cooks for a small group. You should be able to grill at least 6 burgers or three large steaks at once on this grill.

If you are familiar with Weber Kettle grills, the 10020 Smokey Joe model is about the same only a lot smaller. You still get the same high-quality grilling results from a tried and tested brand.

The grill is designed simply so assembly should take less than 15 minutes which is perfect to get started quickly. The plated steel cooking grates do a decent job grilling meats and vegetables while the adjustable top dampers give you temperature control.

The main downside of this Weber 10020 Smokey Joe is it doesn’t have side handles which can make the grill difficult to carry while hot. It also doesn’t come with a built-in thermometer which isn’t a surprise considering that the grill costs under $50.

Pros

  • The lightweight grill is a perfect travel companion
  • Good quality construction
  • Adjustable air dampers for temperature control

Cons

  • Lack of side handles makes the grill difficult to carry while hot
  • Doesn’t have a built-in thermometer

Our Verdict

There are some great portable charcoal grills to choose from at any price range. You can now take your grilling skills anywhere you want including tailgating parties and camping trips. Be sure to follow care instructions for your portable grill carefully to extend its life. Also, invest in a good pair of heat resistant BBQ gloves as some of these grills can get hot to the touch while in use. Happy grilling!