In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive look into the world of the best portable charcoal grills.
We are a pack-it-and-go society. Books, toys, music, computing devices, games — it’s all about packing along the things that make life fun.
And from tailgating to bypassing gnarly public grills, there are so many good things about being able to carry along your own grill that you really should consider getting a nice portable one.
Below, we’re going to help you in your search for the right travel charcoal grill, to suit your specific needs and budget.
We’ll consider the desired features of the most suitable models, then take a close look at the components, pros, cons, and experience of previous owners, so you can make the most informed buying decision when it comes to getting your own.
By the article’s end, we expect you’ll be fully outfitted to get your grill for the road.
At a Glance: The Best Portable Charcoal Grills Discussed in our Guide
- Weber Go-Anywhere
- Cuisinart CCG-100 Portable Charcoal Grill
- Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill
- Kamado Joe Jr.
- Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #22 (Large)
- Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box
- Quick Grill Medium: Original Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill
- Char-Broil Portable CB500X
- Lodge Sportsman’s Portable Cast Iron Charcoal
- BioLite FirePit+ Fire Pit and Charcoal Grill Combo
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 Best Portable Charcoal Grill — 10 Top Recommendations
- 1.1 Top Pick: Weber Go Anywhere Charcoal Grill
- 1.2 Runner-Up: Cuisinart CCG-100 GrateLifter Portable Charcoal Grill
- 1.3 Great Value: Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-inch Portable Grill
- 1.4 Premium Pick: Kamado Joe Junior Charcoal Grill
- 1.5 Old Smokey Charcoal Grill 22”
- 1.6 Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box
- 1.7 Quick Grill Original Folding Charcoal BBQ, Stainless Steel
- 1.8 Char-Broil — Model CB500X, Portable Charcoal Grill
- 1.9 Lodge L410 Cast-Iron Sportsman Charcoal Grill
- 1.10 BioLite FirePit+ Dual Fuel, Wood and Charcoal Burning Fire Pit and Grill
- 2 Buying Guide — What to Look for In a Portable Charcoal Grill
- 3 Conclusion
Best Portable Charcoal Grill — 10 Top Recommendations
After extensively looking for the best portable charcoal grill ourselves, these are in our opinion, the top 9 choices on the market as of today.
We’re sure you’ll find the perfect one for your needs within the mini-reviews posted below.
Top Pick: Weber Go Anywhere Charcoal Grill
Foldability comes to mind when thinking portable. Better to collapse than take apart. The Go Anywhere grill makes fold-and-go a reality, featuring plated steel legs which swivel out and up to secure the lid.
A glass-reinforced nylon handle on the lid provides a cool grip for transport. It weighs just under 15 pounds and measures 12.2 × 21 × 14.5 inches, about a breadbox’s size.
The lid features two 3-hole vent dampers close enough to cut off the air completely, smothering coals, and saving them for future grilling sessions.
The grill is coated inside and out with porcelain enamel to protect it from rust and wear. The enamel also helps with heat management by reflecting radiating heat back to the food.
An ash pan is not included, but the unit is small and light enough to turn it over and dump the ashes out simply. Less than 3 inches separate the charcoal grate and cooking grate, making it hard to place a pan to catch drippings.
A simple remedy is to line the grill’s bottom with heavy-duty foil for a quick clean-up of ash and grease.
The 160-square inch plated steel grate allows cooking two large Porterhouse steaks or 6 to 8 pieces of chicken at one time.
One owner transports the grill from car trunk to the cooking site in a 2-wheeled shopping cart; another carries it with a small charcoal bag in a large gym bag. Personally, I bought the official carrying bag to go with it, so I can sling it over my shoulder.
Tall enough for a foil-covered 13” x 9” baking pan to keep warm underneath, it’s base it high enough to be able to stand it on a tabletop, though I would advise against putting it on a plastic one.
Some dislike how the bottom rack sits so close to the charcoal, making it hard to regulate cooking time. But it’s also large enough for two zone cooking negating this gripe.
Some have experienced problems with some of the featured designs:
- Wire legs were hard on one owner’s fingers when attempting to use them to secure the lid. For another, folding the legs down and securely locking them seemed impossible, and they resorted to using small bungee cords to secure the lid because at least one leg popped off when attempting to secure the lid.
- Vents were sometimes hard to manage during the cooking process after getting hot.
I own this BBQ, though, and honestly, I do not struggle at all. Clipping the legs together CAN be a little fiddly, but once you’ve done it a couple of times, it becomes second nature.
And when it comes to moving the vents, they do stick a little when the grill is very hot, but while wearing insulated BBQ gloves, I find they are easy enough to adjust.
- Folds compactly for storage and travel
- easy to set up
- holds and diffuses heat well
- quick cool down
- Cooking grate sits close to the grill
- Securing the lid with the legs may present a challenge to some, causing pinched fingers
This grill’s wire legs may not seem sturdy, but they are more than sufficient, and they fold up to make a nice and easily packable rectangular shape that fits in with other items in your trunk or roof box.
Most owners are highly enthusiastic about this grill. If you like folding things and quickly cooking a lot of food in a little space, bring this small portable charcoal grill home.
Runner-Up: Cuisinart CCG-100 GrateLifter Portable Charcoal Grill
When hearing Cuisinart’s name, thoughts tend to travel to blenders and food processors churning out mousse and other artfully classic foods. But barbecue? Not really. So, imagine a travel grill with the pedigree of one of the most known kitchen appliances in the world.
The Cuisinart CCG-100 is an unusually solid model made from steel and supported by sturdy legs. The lid is covered in attractive green porcelain enamel for durability. A stand can be purchased separately to bring the grill up to standing height.
The GrateLifter is a feature which attaches the cooking grate to five pins set into the lid. When the lid is raised, the entire grate rises, allowing easy access to the charcoal bed.
Cuisinart also touts the airflow system and temperature gauge set into the lid. Grillers will appreciate the large ash collection bin which makes clean-up easier. Cuisinart stands behind the quality of their product with a 3-year warranty.
The grill measures 15.4 x 18.5 x 17.7 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds. Its 240-square inch porcelain-coated grate provides ample space for cooking ten burgers, nine sea bass fillets, or eight steaks or chicken breasts at one time.
One owner found they can use half the charcoal as they would with other grills. They also appreciate it doesn’t get so hot it can’t be handled and is easy to clean.
One owner stores the CCG-100 in their pantry and have taken it along in car trunks, RVs, and even a pontoon. Others have put it to use on their balcony (which may not be legal).
One owner hasn’t seen any signs of rust even though their CCG-100 stays outside during winter months when it’s subjected to snow and ice.
The first time one owner used the grill, he won a prize at a local rib cook off.
- Large cooking surface
- Easy access to charcoal
- Easy to clean
- Easy to use
- Green is the only color it comes in
- Pins used for the grate lift may need tightening
Reviews of the durability, attractiveness, and ease of use of the CCG-100 makes it safe to say this grill lives up to the Cuisinart name.
For its small size, it produces food in quantities equal to larger barbecues. Novice, as well as experienced grillers, find the quick heat up and clean-up appealing.
Great Value: Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-inch Portable Grill
Being a Weber, durability is expected; one owner ‘lamented’ they ‘only’ had theirs for 18 years, haha. Anyhow, for peace of mind, it carries a 10-year limited warranty.
The carrying handle folds down to rest on a side clip, providing a convenient place to hold the lid. The lid has a glass-reinforced nylon handle and a single large 4-hole aluminum vent. The 14½-inch diameter triple nickel-plated grate can easily cook three steaks or six burgers at one time.
Also known as Weber Smokey Joe Gold, the 40020 weighs 9.8 pounds and measures 9 x 15.5 x 15.5 inches. Unlike its near-twin Smokey Joe Silver, it lacks a bottom damper which doubles as an ash catcher. But on the other hand, having the dampers up on the sides eliminates the problem found in the Silver of ash clogging the dampers.
Inside and out, the grill and lid are coated with porcelain enamel to prevent rust and encourage heat distribution. Weber provides cooking tips and recipes in a 31-page owner’s guide.
Personally, as noted in my Weber Smokey Joe review, I’ve found the models with the vent at the bottom — rather than the side — do a better job of roasting and smoking, so I would recommend buying a Gold rather than the Silver I bought.
Besides the usual meat, vegetables, and fish, another owner enjoys cooking skewers of shrimp or squid.
Many users recommend using the Weber mini charcoal chimney along with this grill, for fast lighting and reaching cooking temps quicker.
- Easy assembly
- Side vents improve heat control
- Locking carry handle
- Easy to clean
- Truthfully couldn’t find any
It was enough for most reviewers to say what a great grill this is, and they’re glad to have it. That speaks volumes.
It’s easy to carry, heats fast, has a removable lid, a convenient lid holder, a generous cooking space, and comes with a recipe book.
Premium Pick: Kamado Joe Junior Charcoal Grill
You know how there are always exceptions to the rules? The KJ13RH is the exception to the rule which says a good portable grill should be easy to carry.
But Kamado rolled out their Joe Jr, especially for tailgating and other away-from-home grilling adventures, despite it weighing 68 pounds.
Since its rollout three years ago, grill-to-go enthusiasts aren’t daunted by the weight; Joe Jr’s red is often seen at outdoor events. And it is much lighter than its 208-pound big brother; in comparison, yes, it is portable.
It sports built-in HDPE coated handles which make it easy for two — or one really strong person who likes to show off — to carry. Perhaps wheels would be a nice addition.
The ceramic and steel materials are solid; all ceramic parts have a lifetime warranty. Yeah, I have to say it — that’s huge!
Thick walls lock in moisture and heat, enhancing flavor and making high temperatures and lots of charcoal unnecessary. The ceramic heat deflector plate makes cooking with indirect heat easy and facilitates smoking on a portable charcoal BBQ.
Junior is promoted as self-cleaning, important because an improperly stored grill can become moldy or mildewy. The 30- to 40-minute process runs the grill at 600° F with the bottom vent closed for the last half of time. Plates and grate are also cleaned of unwanted residue during this process.
Joe Jr. measures 16w x 22h x 20.75d and stands 22” high, is given a 5-inch lift by the cast iron stand which also adds four inches to the 16” width. The cooking surface is a generous 148.5 square inches, sufficient for four large steaks, a 6-lb. roast, turkey breast, or ribs.
Junior is accessorized with an ash tool, grate gripper, and heat deflector.
Everybody finds this grill extremely versatile, being able to grill, smoke, bake, and roast, all on the same unit.
Owners report great pizza and beer can chicken. One has slow-smoked a pork butt at 225° F and seared steaks at 650° F. It’s a great all-rounder that can do it all!
- Wide temperature range (225 – 650)
- Built-in thermometer
- 304 stainless steel hinged cooking grate
- Grills, smokes, sears, and bakes
- Deflector simplifies indirect grilling
- Beautiful red ceramic finish
- Lack of wheels
The consistent complaint of Joe Jr is its weight.
Sure it’s hefty. But no one goes to a tailgate party to be alone. Recruit a buddy, haul Joe Jr to the next game, and enjoy kamado style grilling on the go.
Learn more about this neat little grill in my Kamado Joe Jr review, written after a few weeks of use and getting to know it well.
Old Smokey Charcoal Grill 22”
If you like ‘local son makes good’ stories, you’re going to like this grill. Old Smokey is made in the USA by Burkhead Manufacturing and was primarily sold in the South until the advent of Amazon and other online marketplaces.
The 22 stands for the width; there are also 18 and 14-inch models. The 22 measures 22.5 x 22.5 x 13 inches and weighs a hefty 19 pounds.
Made of aluminized steel and featuring chrome hardware, wooden handles, and aluminum grates, and legs, the OS22 can be put together with just a screwdriver in 15 minutes.
As far as looks go, it sort of looks like two washtubs clasped together with metal strips for legs. But looks aren’t everything, and some may find its clunky appearance appealing.
The barrel design holds heat and smoke around food, enhancing the flavor. The tall design also means the grate sits high above the fire, reducing burn risk, and making this one of the few grills in the list on which it’s possible to roast beer-can chicken and grill turkeys.
Because of its ability to hold heat and moisture, the OS22 also does well as a smoker.
It works well for grilling and smoking using the indirect method.
Although the single grill is not adjustable, some owners bring the fire closer to the grate by stacking the charcoal high or putting a brick or two under the charcoal pan.
One owner notes that the grill’s low center of gravity makes it safe and easier to use on windy days.
Another likes to prepare two meals at a time to save on charcoal use. They can cook two hams or shoulders, four Boston butts, or six chickens.
- inexpensive, light
- well-designed top and bottom vents
- Not space efficient
- Temperature gauge not included
Not much on looks but delivers on the important thing — well grilled or smoked foods.
If you’re looking for a grill that travels well and is easy enough to use daily, consider this classic Old Smokey.
Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box
It’s good to have choices, even when you don’t choose to exercise them. The 2424 can attach to various brands of grills as a side firebox. But because of the need to open up holes for fitting it as a firebox, converting this tabletop grill to a firebox is a one-way journey.
As a standalone, portable charcoal BBQ, it is a fair competitor for others with less potential. For this review, we’ll focus on its ability as a pick-up and go wherever grill.
It grills and smokes well, helped by the positioning of the vents — one below the charcoal box and one on the opposite side near the top — which provides great cross-ventilation, ensuring smoke is drawn across the food.
The sliding charcoal drawer, ash pan, and Stay-Cool hood handle make adding and emptying charcoal safe and easy. The grates are cast iron, requiring repeated seasoning along with cleaning for a long and healthy life.
The Char-Griller 2424 measures 18.5” x 17” x 16” inches and, at 40 pounds, it’s one of the heavier models in our review.
It offers 250 square inches of cooking space which can hold a 12-pound turkey, brisket, or ribs. Food for up to 4 people can easily be cooked at one time, and it also appears highly in our search for the best tabletop grill.
A cover can also be purchased separately.
One owner who’d attached this to his large grill as a smoke box found a small fire at +250° F was sufficient to fill the larger cooking chamber with smoke and keep it at stable temps.
Many owners have also praised it as large enough for direct and indirect grilling, essential if you want to cook more than just burgers and hot dogs!
Finally, it’s said that the side vents are easy-to-use, are great for controlling temp and one being high, the other low, is great for fueling the fire and venting AFTER smoke and heat has risen over and enveloped the food.
- Small amount of charcoal required
- Assembly instructions in English and Spanish
- Heats evenly
- Holds heat well
- Grates are close to coals
- Some reports of door sticking shut during cooking (probably user error — grease from prior cooks!)
The lion’s share of reviews found were for the 2024 as a side firebox but those who choose to use it as a standalone grill are happy with its performance.
If you’re good with aftermarket fixes, you can easily add a thermometer or realign hinges and bolts for a more secure fit. And repaint it as it peels, if so inclined.
Quick Grill Original Folding Charcoal BBQ, Stainless Steel
Just how small can a barbecue be? Well, some folding charcoal grills can be compact enough to pack along on a motorcycle or kayak trip, get lost in a Jeep, and have the potential to get overlooked on a shelf full of notebooks. This is one such product.
This medium-sized Quick Grill comes in a nylon bag, folded into a compact 13.5 × 7.25 × 2.25 inches, no bigger than a notebook. Unfolding — it’s too simple to call it assembling — five pieces to its 13 × 13 × 8.5 operational size takes 30 seconds or less.
Made of premium food grade stainless steel, this unit weighs 4.8 pounds, the lightest of our reviewed products.
But light and compact, in this case, is not the same as thin and cheap. It may not hold up a cast iron pan but does fine with something like a Dutch oven — which can be used to carry it to the grilling destination.
It looks more like an inverted colander, but there’s functionality in this shape — the funnel-shaped design along with the reflective metal intensifies heat output.
Quick Grill’s 144 square inch cooking surface can handle at one go 12 hot dogs, 4 or 5 burgers, four chicken breasts, or two big ribeye steaks. It’s also handy for heating water.
One owner was able to cook two steaks followed by six burgers without needing to add charcoal.
Many fixes have been used to address the sliding grate problem, from pocket pliers to vise-grips to metal spring paper clips.
One owner found it fun to use and greatly admired the origami-like folded quality of the grill. Another tosses it into their backpack when heading to the park.
- Folds down compactly
- Ridiculously light and compact
- Roomy storage bag can accommodate grill tools, plates, and other necessities
- Dishwasher safe
- Retains heat well
- Burns hot; requiring close attention when working around it
- Unsecured grate easily slides when turning food
Quick Grill can stay in the car, ever ready for a road trip or impromptu grilled lunch for two.
The problematic sliding grate is easy to fix with a couple of clips. If very light and portable is what you seek, give this a closer look as it truly is a remarkably compact travel charcoal grill.
Char-Broil — Model CB500X, Portable Charcoal Grill
We expect certain things of products under a brand name. Basically, the point of a brand is to tell you what you’re getting. The CB500X grill lives up to the Char-Broil name, looking good while doing well what it does — turning out well-grilled food.
Made of steel and a sporting a cast aluminum charcoal drawer, the CB500X weighs 34 pounds; a challenge to most seniors, those with arthritis, or others with weight carrying limits.
The 15.8 x24 x16 has a 240-square inch cooking surface which can hold eight burgers at one time. Other features include an adjustable pre-seasoned grate, pull out ash drawer, damper, and front charcoal door.
One owner has had great results cooking everything from burgers to beer can chicken to pork butts. They also found the adjustment handles on the firebox a bit tricky to figure out.
Another satisfied owner cited disappointment with the caps on the legs melting from the intense heat, sadly
- Temperature gauge on the lid
- Removable ash pan
- Convenient charcoal refill/access design
- Large cooking surface from what is still a compact and light grill
- One user reports the unnecessary presence of holes for fitting the gas element
- Drippings run down the back legs and can damage the surface it’s sat on
It’s a Char-Broil. If you know the name, you’ll want to take a closer look. If you don’t, this is as good an introduction as any to the brand.
Lodge L410 Cast-Iron Sportsman Charcoal Grill
No frills, simple pleasures can be refreshing. There are so many variables with grills, it’s kind of nice to step back to the basics and simply grill or sear at high temperatures. If you don’t have time or patience for smoking and just want a fast and hot grilling experience, consider the Lodge L410.
The L410 sportsman grill is made of solid cast iron, weighs 9.8 pounds and measures 19 x 10.25 x 8.25 inches. Often described as a cast iron hibachi grill, this product has a lot of fans.
The cast iron grates adjust to two heights. A draft door on the front serves to regulate heat and provide access to the charcoal bed.
Moisture combined with ash creates lye, a corrosive chemical used for several things including soap making. When lye interacts with cast iron, the result is rust. To avoid this outcome, the L410 needs to be cleaned and oiled after each use. Rust can form quickly, so this grill may not be suited to areas prone to a lot of wet weather.
The 14 ¼ by 9 inches cooking grate allows for quick and even cooking of a lot of food at once. Although pre-seasoned, Lodge recommends the use of a cooking spray anyways.
Foods can be placed right up to the edge. It can accommodate eight quarter-pound burgers or 4 to 5 strip steaks at one time. But the ample cooking space is interrupted by a 2-inch logo medallion in the middle, which means some foods will be deprived of those cherished grill marks.
This model is sturdy enough to hold a cast iron pot or other cookware. It’s deep enough to hold 45-60 charcoal pieces. While some may consider using so much charcoal at one time wasteful, the large supply allows extended cooking.
Lodge listened to its customers’ complaints and updated the design of the L410 with a grate with slight ridges on the front and back edges to keep hot dogs from rolling off. Side handles have been made larger with a wire handle that hooks to them, making it easier to move the unit. Time will tell whether the complaint about those lost grill marks will also be addressed.
The L410 takes a good hour to get up to speed, but will then hold heat long enough for the preparation of many meals. It also makes a nice fire pit. This truly s one the best portable charcoal grills.
One owner happily says this is the perfect grill for achieving the authentic flavor of a yakitori restaurant (Japanese for “grilled chicken”, pieces of chicken or meat and vegetables are skewered and cooked over charcoal)
Another owner uses it for foods as diverse as steak, fish, pork belly, chilies poblano, eggplant, garlic bread, and mushrooms. Another used it for cooking bacon, eggs, and pancakes. A third grilled a rack of lamb.
To help heat dissipate from the grill, one owner placed ceramic tile under each foot. Another owner puts the hot grill on paving stones to keep it from damaging the truck lining. Placing it on a metal sheet has also helped.
Before it can fall off when the grill is moved, one owner removes the vent piece and puts it inside along with the coal door when it has to be moved.
- Manages heat well
- Sturdy, durable and built to last
- Fuel efficient by holding heat in its thick cast iron walls for longer than most grills
- Hibachi style grilling for those who love Japanese style BBQ
- Slow to heat
- Body can get VERY hot
- Non-adjustable grate height
- No lid to suffocate charcoal or protect food from the weather
Nice basic grilling is what this model offers. It’s a solid weight but one that is also compact and stores well. If you’re looking for simple high heat grilling, consider the Lodge L410.
BioLite FirePit+ Dual Fuel, Wood and Charcoal Burning Fire Pit and Grill
The traditional campfire has been given a modern makeover owing to BioLite’s new and enhanced FirePit+. This portable fire pit and grill aspires to be a game-changer for outdoor life, particularly for individuals who wander beyond the confines of their own garden.
The BioLite FirePit+ can burn either wood or charcoal, and it comes equipped with a battery-powered blower fan with 51 airjets, Bluetooth connectivity, and the capacity to double as a small grill when not in use as a firepit.
The FirePit+ is a generously sized 27 inches long, 13 inches broad, and over 16 inches tall, yet it weighs a little under 20 pounds despite its large size. It’s built for living on the go, with a set of handles and four folding and locking legs that make it a convenient option for campfires and cooking on the road.
The power pack is at the core of the entire system. This combination device, which is mounted at one end of the burn chamber, has a rechargeable 12,800 mAh battery and a built-in fan. Air is pumped through tubes in the burn chamber using the fan, and 51 airjets direct it towards the flames, aiding with ignition and allowing it to burn cleanly for hours. You may choose from four different speeds, which you can set directly on the machine or via a Bluetooth-connected app on your smartphone.
The forced air from the fan and airjets helps the wood burn more efficiently, igniting small particulates that normally form smoke, resulting in almost no smoke from the fire. So no more trying to sit upwind, or coughing through clouds of smoke while warming by the fire! Additionally, you will not end up with only partially burnt wood, because the constant fanning keeps the flames going until all fuel is used.
In order to improve visibility of the fire from all angles, three sides of the unit are almost completely constructed of “X-Ray Mesh”, allowing you to see the fire inside. Even in broad daylight, you can see right through the perforated, enamel-coated metal surface, and the mesh also allows heat to radiate out from the firepit in all directions. And at night, it appears as if the fire is floating in mid-air, a few inches above the surface of the earth.
BioLite provides a 304 stainless steel grilling rack with the FirePit+, allowing you to use it for grilling up delicious snacks. Simply lift the fuel grate to its highest position and load it with charcoal. Light it up — with the help of the airjets — then set the grill on top and get to cooking. They also sell an additional griddle and grill lid, designed to accommodate the FirePit+ and offer more versatility to your cooking.
Grilling on the FirePit+ is akin to hibachi grilling. The optional lid accessory does allow smoke roasting, but where this grill shines is for hot and fast grilling, and super hot searing helped with the forced air system creating incredibly high heat if desired.
BioLite also incorporated a few nice features that assist with control and versatility in grilling.
First, the fire grate can be lifted and lowered between two levels, allowing you to bring the charcoal closer or further away from your meal for a level of heat control.
Second, the cooking grate may be pushed to the side to shift food away from any flare-ups, gently toast buns, or keep previously cooked food warm away from the direct heat of the flames.
BioLite also sells a skillet and a vented lid that suit the FirePit+ for even more cooking choices, such as softly smoking food, frying small and delicate items that may fall through the grates, or breakfast eggs and pancakes.
- Burns either firewood or charcoal
- Makes a beautiful fire pit and a good small barbecue
- Can recharge your phone or other devices from the power pack
- Incredibly efficient burning; virtually smoke-free and minimal waste
- Highly portable and easy to store thanks to handles and folding legs
- Charcoal grate can be raised and lowered for higher and lower heat
- Charcoal grate can be slid out – partially or wholly – away from the charcoal in case of flare ups, or for lower heat warming
- App isn’t really that useful, given you can adjust the fan manually. But then, what else could such an app do?
- Fan can be noisy at full power
- No option to run on AC power or 12V
The BioLite FirePit+ is a convenient option for campers and picnickers who wish to enjoy campfires and cooking in the great outdoors. But it can also be used in the backyard, being a perfect alternative to typical fire pits because it takes up a fraction of the space. We highly recommend this exciting and one-of-a-kind piece of outdoor equipment.
Interested in learning more? You can read our in-depth, hands-on evaluation of the product here: BioLite FirePit+ hands-on review.
Buying Guide — What to Look for In a Portable Charcoal Grill
Check out the video below by Weber for its Go Anywhere Grill, one of the models featured in our product roundup.
Although promoting their product, the featured points should be considered when shopping for a portable grill.
To truly be satisfied with your purchase, you know it’s not enough to grab something because it’s inexpensive and/or has a brand name you’ve heard about. Consider what will work best for your needs among the following criteria:
A 300-square inch cooking surface is considered the maximum for a portable grill. This is sufficient for preparing food for up to 4 people at one time.
The grill’s overall size should be considered, based on how many serving portions you’ll need — A cozy twosome or a generous party of friends and family.
But also, let’s not forget, we’re looking at PORTABLE grills. So we don’t want a huge 600 square inch cooking surface grill. That’s just not portable, it’s a full-size grill.
Compactness and Ease of Packing Away
Obviously, we want a portable grill to be small and compact, otherwise we’d have gone for a full sized charcoal grill (Such as the ones in our best charcoal grill guide!)
Does it fold down and is easy to pack? Does it require removing legs or handles?
Because we want to travel with it, we want it to be easy to pack up and move around. We want it to be portable. So It shouldn’t require lengthy assembly / disassembly each time we use it or pack it away.
The more compact it is, the better it can travel in car trunks, canoes, backpacks or RVs. It shouldn’t take up a lot of storage space.
Is it Easy to Clean?
Some feel a round design is easier to clean than a rectangular one, but the depth of the charcoal bin, the weight of the grill, and the presence of charcoal or ash drawers can also make a difference when it comes to cleaning.
Design and Features
Dampers, vents, drawers for charcoal, and trays for grease can distinguish one grill from another. Just because it’s a smaller, portable grill, doesn’t mean it should be void of the features you need to be able to cook decently.
Vents or dampers are a must, because only with vents allowing you to control airflow can you dial into different cooking temperatures. Without vents, you are limited to screaming hot grilling only.
Want to cook large pieces of meat or chicken slowly? Maybe do the odd bit of smoking? Then you MUST have vents or dampers.
For detailed advice on using vents and how to control temps, check out my guide on how to use a charcoal grill.
The sturdiness of legs and handles (top and sides) can also impact where it can be used and how easy it is to carry and move around.
If the legs are flimsy then it may fall over, not only ruining the food you’re cooking, but can also be a potential fire hazard. Similarly, you want a sturdy carrying handle, because it’s a portable grill. You don’t want to drop and cause damage if you need to move it.
Solidly built but not a solid weight is ideal. A portable grill doesn’t have to mean a disposable, tin-foil, weakly made and limited use one.
Generally made of cast iron or steel, the grade of material and what it takes to maintain it (cleaning, seasoning, and storage) can spell a long— or short-term relationship with your grill.
How well they stand up to weight — can it hold a Dutch oven or another cooking pan?
The material can vary from stainless steel, to plain cast iron or porcelain enameled to delicately coated aluminum.
How well the grates rest on the grill, allow the addition of charcoal, hold food, and clean up are things to consider. Another important consideration is whether they can be height adjusted, especially during the cooking process.
A Snug Fitting Lid
When cooking indirect, or even smoking on your grill, a tight-fitting lid is essential.
If the lid doesn’t fit snug, then it’s impossible to control airflow, and it’s airflow you control with the vents to set the temperature inside the grill. So you really want a tight-fitting lid to be able to take advantage of different cooking temperatures.
Also, when not in use and being transported, having the ability to lock the lid in place is a real benefit. It makes traveling with the grill so much easier and allows you to store some items inside the cooking chamber, such as fuel, charcoal chimney, and grilling tools.
Ease of Storage
How much space will it take up when not in use? Will it fit on a shelf, in a closet, or garage cabinet?
Also, square or rectangular ones — when packed away and handles and legs are out the way — are easier to pack and travel with in roof boxes, trunks or backpacks, than round ones which do not pack quite so well with other things you need to pack (boxes, cases, etc.)
Accessories or Bonuses
Some manufacturers make available covers, tables or tools at an extra cost, but the generous ones will provide carry bags or recipe/tip books free of charge (or at least, hidden in the cost.)
Many grilling accessories, such as tools, charcoal chimney, heat-resistant BBQ gloves and more are generic and can be used with any grill. But do look for tables and covers specifically designed for the grill you’re considering if you wish to have such things, as 3rd party ones aren’t always as well suited.
Of the nine grills we’ve reviewed, most miss the portability test of weight. Most enthusiasts don’t mind hauling a grill over 20 pounds, but there are some great choices for those who like to travel light.
And here is where your personal needs come into play.
Are you looking for something to toss in the kayak or haul on a motorcycle? Will you be cooking for a few or many? Is there limited space for storage, like an RV or small apartment? Are you looking to simply grill? Or would you like to smoke foods as well?
We like the serious folding ability of the Quick Grill — imagine storing it on the shelf next to your barbecue cookbook! Its stainless-steel body can hold up to a lot of wear, is easy to clean, and carry. It looks kind of cool, too.
There’s a lot to like about Kamado Joe Jr, with its ceramic body that can deliver everything from a fast grill to a low-and-slow smoke. It takes a while to come up to cooking temperature so if you’re aiming to serve at a certain time, you’ll have to factor in the preheat time. And it has a generous cooking surface.
All in all, for durability, ease of use and clean-up, compactness, and spacious cooking area, while we’re tempted by the brilliant green and sturdy base of the Cuisinart CCG-100, our favorite grill of this lot is the Weber Go Anywhere, and it takes spot as our pick for the best portable charcoal grill.
Now that you’ve had a chance to consider all things portable, hopefully you’ll be ready to choose from the grills in our roundup review or use what you’ve learned to go exploring further.
Enjoy your’ grilling on the go’ experience!