comprehensive charcoal grills buying guide

Comprehensive Charcoal Grills Buying Guide

Let’s imagine a scenario in which you are looking for the best grill. You have decided that you want a charcoal grill and now you are browsing the models. Before you click on the ‘’order now’’ button please take into account these factors. They are essential for choosing the best grill with all the features you will need and use daily.

Size does matter in this case scenario. You will need a charcoal grill that has a grilling surface that can meet your requirements. These grills do come in all possible sizes but the key element is the cooking area. It is expressed in square inches and it ranges between 100 up to 1000 square inches.

Finding the right size is more complicated than you may believe. On the lower end of the scale, we have grills with 100-200 square inches. They are sufficient for one or two people. For families, a grilling area should be 400-500 square inches. If you are planning to have friends and family, opt for a larger cooking area of 600-800 square inches.

Materials used in construction

A charcoal grill will be exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time so it must be made from materials that can withstand that temperature. Cast iron or cast aluminum is the best option. These grills can withstand literally anything and they can last for a long period of time.


Some say that a charcoal grill is good only as the grates on it. Yes, you can find the best charcoal grills with the best grate if you are looking carefully! The secret is in the material. Steel grates are the most common and the most affordable. They are usually present in low-end or entry-level grills. They offer decent non-stick capabilities at first. However, they may lose their properties if not maintained well or if the overall quality is low. When that happens, you will have to replace them.

Porcelain coated grates are the second option. They offer stunning non-stick capabilities and we can say that they are the best for this purpose. Once again, you will have to maintain them properly in order to ensure the performance. If porcelain coating starts to chip you will need to replace them. Chrome coated grates share the same virtues.

Cast iron grates without any coating are the best choice. They can withstand all the ‘’torture’’ you can throw at them and they can last for decades. But, they don’t have excellent non-stick results. Also, they must be maintained and oiled all the time or they can rust. An interesting addition is that they are not as expensive as you may believe.

comprehensive charcoal grills - grates
comprehensive charcoal grills – grates

Temperature control

Temperature control for gas grills is usually done with a dial and it is the simplest possible choice. But, for charcoal grills, this is more complicated. Make sure that a model you are looking at, has dampers and advanced temperature controlling systems that make this possibility as easy as possible. For the best results, look at a model that comes with a built-in thermometer. They can make things easier, especially if you are a beginner.


You will have to maintain your charcoal grill, period. But, some models are easier than others. To get the best results, you should be focused on an ashtray and grease tray. With these two, all you have to do is to empty them and you will have a clean grill ready for next use. Without them, you will have to do this manually (to collect grease and remove it alongside ash) which makes things more complicated and more annoying.

Side shelves

Here we have one addition that isn’t as common as we would like but truly has a remarkable effect. Side shelves are usually foldable and usually located on both sides of the grill. They can be used for meal preparation or they can be used for keeping the sauces, ingredients and you name it. When looking for this factor, keep into consideration the material and stability. Side shelves should be as stable as possible and they should be made from the same material as the grill, to look great and to remain stable. Size is a factor and it should be taken into consideration.


Almost all charcoal grills do require some form of assembly. So, how you can get the simplest and make sure you can assembly it without any help? The secret is to look in the images of that grill. If it is massive, comes with countless features, you will need around 5-6 hours to connect all the pieces using the user manual of course. If you are getting a small model, it may be pre-assembled. Even if it isn’t, you will be able to assemble it within 2 hours. Choose according to your knowledge and skill levels.

Some models do come with expert assembly. It isn’t very expensive but it isn’t very affordable either. On the other hand, if you don’t have the skills or the knowledge to do it by yourself, use it! Expert assembly guarantees you that you will get charcoal with all the elements, ingredients and all the features operating perfectly.

Storage area

Yes, you can get a storage area in your new charcoal grill. However, this isn’t as common as you think. To get the storage in question, you will need a large model with a stand. It should have storage space under the grilling surface. How much space depends on the size of the grill and the systems included in the unit.

comprehensive charcoal  grills - storage
comprehensive charcoal grills – storage


Handles are an important part of any grill. They should do two things. The first one is to provide a strong grip and the ability to carry or open the grill easily without any effort. Secondly, the handles should be immune to the heat. The best ones are advertised as stay cool or something similar. They are layered with wood or other material and they will obviously remain cold regardless of how long you have been grilling. If your grill doesn’t have this feature, you will need to use gloves while grilling.

Warming rack

If you are a beginner, you probably don’t know anything about warming racks. If you are an expert, you must use grills with this feature only. They are irrelevant things you will find extremely important once you try them. A warming rack is calculated in the total grilling area, so keep that in mind. It is usually 30-50% of the total size.

A warming rack is used for seasoning and for preparing the meat for grilling. It can also keep your meat and food warm for a long period of time. In most cases, you will see warming racks with larger charcoal grills. Smaller ones obviously don’t have room to offer it!

Overall size

In the beginning, we have discussed the size of the grilling area. Now, we are discussing the overall size of a grill. It can range between small dimensions commonly used for compact grills up to massive sizes used for stationary grills. This is precisely the factor we wanted to discuss. If you are looking for a travel-focused grill, you should keep your eyes on the dimensions. Those suitable for transport and traveling are advertised as portable grills and they have a small grate and small dimensions in general.

The goal is to get a large grill as possible. You never know when you will need a more grilling surface and you can get more features with a larger one, better warranty and more possibilities. If you are planning to use it in one location only, get a big unit, you will need it.


Weight is important for several reasons. If you need a travel-based grill, you should keep the weight around 20-30 pounds. If you are not interested in that and you want a massive grill, then the weight is an irrelevant factor. Just bear in mind that modern charcoal grill can reach a weight of 500 pounds.


You do need a warranty when you are looking to find the best charcoal grills. Warranties are generally long and they are a proof that you are getting a premium model. The best warranty should be 10 years or even a limited lifetime warranty. Mid-range models come with 3-5 year warranty which is also decent. Even the entry level unit will offer 2 years of warranty. Models with 6 months of warranty should be avoided.

Customer support

You do need a grill that comes with superb customer support. Live telephone support is the best option. If possible include live chat option as well. Email support is mandatory and it should be present with any model and by any manufacturer.


With these factors, you can be positive that your new grill will be 100% as you wanted. It will have the best features, the best design, and the best possible warranty. You will get the superb choice and you will be happy for many years to come. Without considering these factors, you may don’t like your end choice!

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