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Best Small Charcoal Grills in 2020 – Reviewed

The problem with grilling or barbecuing is that sometimes a person doesn’t have the space they need to do it properly. Most grills are large and bulky, and this makes them ill-suited for use on small patios, balconies, or fire escapes. Although many people with small outdoor areas for grilling might feel like they’re left out in the cold, that doesn’t have to be the case. Quite a few companies that make grills now make models that are small enough to be used in small outdoor spaces. How do we know? We know because we’ve reviewed some of the best small charcoal grills these companies have produced. And we’re proud to introduce them to all of our readers right now.

Quick Summary of Best Small Charcoal Grills

 Editor’s Choice 
Char-Griller Jr.Kamado Orange Charcoal Grill  (review)
 Also Recommended 
Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Charcoal Grill  (review)
 Also Consider 
Char-Griller Patio-Pro Charcoal Grill  (review)

Reviews

Editor’s Choice: Char-Griller Jr.Kamado Orange Charcoal Grill

One of our favorite small charcoal grills of all time is this Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado grill. This is a small portable grill that is made using triple-wall steel for added durability and is available in a variety of colors including bright orange, red, sapphire blue, ash, or even traditional black. Sure, it’s a grill that costs a little more than some of the others we’ve reviewed, but we think that most of our readers will see why it has to have a higher price-tag.

This product is called Kamado—a Japanese term that means stove. It’s a model that’s compact yet powerful and is specifically designed to be used in tight outdoor locations. As we said previously, this model is made using triple-wall steel for the main body of the unit and that creates great insulation for the grill that allows it to do a grand job of grilling food.

It also has a cast-iron cooking grate that provides up to 153 square inches of cooking space. That’s more than enough cooking space for 1-2 people to use on their patio, fire escape, porch, or deck. This model is approximately 20.5-inches by 21.5-inches by 25.3-inches and weighs just under 40-pounds. That makes it a little heavier than other small grills but once a person sees how it’s constructed, they’ll know why it weighs a little more.

Another thing that we liked about this unit was that it had a built-in thermometer in its lid that helps to keep the user informed of the grill’s internal temperature. Other features that we liked include dual dampers for smoke and air control, two handles on the side for carrying the grill from one place to another, sturdy legs for added stability, and a stay-cool handle to open the lid. Taking all of its features into mind, as well as its sturdy construction and excellent performance, we think it should be easy for most of our readers to see why we chose this as the best small charcoal grill available.

PROS:

  • It has 153 square-inches of cooking surface space.
  • It’s made with triple-wall steel for added durability.
  • Is easy-to-use and even easier to cleanup.
CONS:

  • This grill costs more than some other small charcoal grills.

Also Recommended: Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch Charcoal Grill

The next small charcoal grill that we’d like to review is this model from a familiar company, Weber. This model isn’t as durable as the first entry on this list, but it’s also only a fraction of the cost, so we decided to run it through its paces and see how it handled itself. And we do have to say that we were quite impressed with this little unit.

This model is approximately 17-inches high, 14.2-inches wide, and 14.5-inches deep with its lid closed. Its made with a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid that should hold up to regular use and is rust-resistant. Although we didn’t like the fact that it didn’t have side handles on it—which could make it difficult to move while it’s still hot so that ashes can be dumped out of it—it did have a handy dandy stay-cool handle on the lid that allowed us to check on the status of our food. Oh, speaking of the lid, this model’s lid also has a damper on it that allows the consumer to control smoke.

Inside of the grill, the consumer will notice that this has a chrome cooking grid that provides them with about 147 square-inches of cooking surface. That’s enough space to hold about five burgers—if they’re the right size. What’s the right size? The burgers made using the Weber burger press are the right size to fit five of them at a time on this grill. If the consumer makes their burgers a bit larger, then they’ll probably only end up being able to fit three or four.

They’ll also notice the inside of the grill’s dome is porcelain-coated to act as a sort of insulation. This grill also has aluminum legs that give it added stability, and an aluminum ash catcher that makes it easier to use. All things considered, we think that this is a pretty good portable charcoal grill that our readers should take a look at.

PROS:

  • This is an inexpensive small charcoal grill.
  • It’s lightweight and has a small footprint.
  • It provides 147 square-inches of cooking surface.
CONS:

  • It doesn’t have side handles on it.

Also Consider: Char-Griller Patio-Pro Charcoal Grill

The last small charcoal grill on our list is this model from Char-Griller. This grill looks like a standard BBQ grill, but it’s much, much smaller. This model is approximately 31-inches by 21-inches by 44-inches and weighs about 50-pounds. Small enough to be used in tight spaces, but big enough to grill the amount of food a couple might need to make for them and their friends.

This model has a shelf underneath it that can hold small items, it has a stay-cool handle on its lid, and it has a little side table attached to it that can be used to hold things. It also has two wheels that can be used to move it around, although we did find the wheels to be a bit wobbly and not as well constructed as the rest of the grill.

Overall, we thought that this was a well-built product (except for the wheels) that should provide the consumer with many grilling sessions of faithful service. Inside, the grill offers up 250 square inches of cooking space and has cast-iron cooking grates. This grill also has a pull-out ash-tray that makes cleanup quick and easy.

All things considered, we think that this is a great little grill that our readers might want to check out. It seemed to be durable, had a powder-coated finish to protect it from rust, and it does an amazing job of holding heat. This is a grill that might be too large for some people who happen to be looking for a more portable model, but for us, we felt it was a perfect size.

PROS:

  • This grill provides 250 square-inches of cooking space.
  • This is actually a durable and well-designed grill.
  • It does a great job grilling steaks, chops, or wings.
CONS:

  • The wheels don’t seem very durable on this model.

A Guide To Buying Small Charcoal Grills

We honestly hope that our readers enjoy our list of the best small charcoal grills available, but we do understand that some of our readers might be wondering exactly how we decided to choose those grills. In other words, what were the metrics or specifications we used to sort the great grills from the not-so-great ones and emerge with a list of only three grills out of dozens that are currently being made? 

Well, there are a few metrics we used to sort the better models from the rest of the pack, and this guide is going to detail some of them so all of our readers can find the small charcoal grill that works best for their needs. Now, let’s get started. 

Why Purchase A Charcoal Instead Of A Gas Grill?

Before we go on with a list of some of the features the consumer should be on the lookout for, we first wanted to answer a question that we receive all of the time. And this question is: Why choose a charcoal grill over a gas one? And we think that’s an important question to answer because small grills do come in both charcoal and gas-powered varieties, so its’ only natural for people to wonder about the differences between the two. 

Let’s start with gas grills. These models allow the consumer to better control their cooking temperature, don’t have to use dirty charcoal, and are generally easier to use. The biggest problem with gas grills is that they require propane tanks to function. For small gas grills, those are likely to be 1-pound propane tanks found in the camping section of a big store. 

Small charcoal grills do require the consumer to keep charcoal on hand, they can be messy, and they can be somewhat imperfect with their cooking temperature. With all of these drawbacks, many people will begin to wonder why even choose a charcoal grill over a gas one. To that question, we only have one answer: it tastes so much better.

Let’s face the facts here folks. Food cooked over charcoal simply tastes better. It has a smoky flavor that can’t be matched by any gas grill—even if the BBQ cook uses wood chips in their gas grill. Charcoal is the way to go for a BBQ or for grilling. And that’s why people might want to choose it over gas or electric grills. 

Choose The Right Grill Size

The first thing that the consumer is going to want to think about is the size of the grill. They’re not only going to want to make sure that the grill is small enough to fit in the location where they’re going to need to use it, as well as have a large enough cooking area to fit their needs.

For most consumers, 14-inch grills offer the best combination of portability and cooking size. Most 14-inch grills will fit in small areas such as patios, decks, or fire escapes, These size grills also usually have enough cooking space for anywhere from 1-2 people or 2-3 people—depending on the actual size of the grill. Look for grills with at least 150 square-inches of cooking space but no more than 250 square-inches of cooking space. 

Consider The Grill’s Construction

The next thing that the consumer might want to think about is how the grill is constructed. There are plenty of small cheap charcoal grills that are very cheap but won’t last a full season of grilling. Therefore, the consumer should make sure that they choose a model that is well built. This means looking for small charcoal grills that use thick steel, are coated with enamel or powder-coating to make them rust-resistant, and have either steel or aluminum frames. Those are the models that will hold up the best to regular use.

Consider Your Budget

Of course, it doesn’t matter if the consumer manages to find the best small charcoal grill on the planet if they can’t afford to buy it. Therefore, it’s important for the consumer to also keep their budget in mind when choosing a new small charcoal grill. 

Think About Features That Might Be Needed

It’s also important for the consumer to think about the features that they might need their small charcoal grill to have. Some features are designed to make the grill easier to use, while others are designed to make it easier for them to clean up. Below are some of the features that the consumer might want to think about before they purchase their next small gas grill. 

  • Built-In Thermometer
  • Adjustable Air Damper
  • Removable Ash-Tray
  • Wheels For Moving The Grill
  • Handles For Carrying The Grill
  • Cast-Iron Cooking Grates

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