The 5 Best Charcoal Grills in 2022

What else we considered



Isabel Fernandez/Insider


Big Green Egg: The Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe are almost identical and stack up neck and neck, with the exception of a few details. The Kamado Joe comes with everything you need, while the Big Green Egg is merely the egg itself, meaning you’ll need to buy the stand and the side tables, so it gets a bit more expensive (and also more complex to set up). The Kamado Joe also has sturdier (if smaller) casters (wheels). In terms of cooking, the Kamado Joe is designed with adjustable grates for cooking at different levels, and also has a counterbalanced lid so that it’s both easier to lift and it doesn’t slam shut on you while your hands are full.

Broil King Keg 5000: A kamado-style grill but made with double-walled stainless steel instead of a ceramic liner, this should function like a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg, but might not last as long. It probably won’t do you wrong, but you may want to save up and invest in a ceramic model down the line. 

Char-Griller Acorn Kamado Kooker: A more affordable take on the kamado (made without a ceramic liner), this grill outperforms our top pick in heat retention, but at more than twice the cost. It’s a fine grill and we wholeheartedly recommend it, but we think the Weber is the better pick for most people and most budgets.

Char-Griller Double-Play: A two-in-one gas-and-charcoal grill, this is a fine option, but it’s not built as well as we’d like, as we noted a few flimsier parts including the wheels, the hardware, and the grate, and the lid doesn’t seal terribly well. You’d do better buying your gas and charcoal grills as separate items.

IG Charcoal Grill: We’re a big fan of this grill, especially considering the price. If you want to cook over a large, open, adjustable bed of coals, this stainless steel grill can take a beating. We’ve left it out in the elements (and a stone’s throw from the Chesapeake Bay) for two years and counting without so much as a spot of rust. Still, we wouldn’t recommend it for most people as it’s oversized and doesn’t come with a lid, so you have no way of trapping heat. Read our full review of the IG Charcoal grill here.

Kudu: If you want a heavy-gauge steel grill that’s going to last ages and make you feel like you’re homesteading across the great divide, look no further. We love this grill and highly recommend it. It also makes for an excellent campfire. But when it comes to cooking, it’s probably a little too involved for most people. That said, if you want to sit beside a grill and enjoy the heat and atmosphere (this thing also excels with wood fires), it’s a wonderful option. Steven Raichlen is a big proponent, too.

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050: Among the only grills of its kind, this “GravityFed” digital charcoal grill is basically a wifi pellet grill built for charcoal. It offers a lot of cooking surface area (1050 square inches), and it will allow you to keep a charcoal fire going for a good, long while, though you do have to light it manually from beneath with a piece of paper or food-safe fire-starter. 

We used Royal Oak Hardwood Lump Charcoal and managed to get it going well, but had a hard time regulating temperature as well as, say, the Spark Grill below. We will try several more charcoals going forward, but if you are looking for a charcoal smoker that makes the job of keeping the fire going a little easier, this is a good choice. Otherwise, it’s a little on the large side, and getting it much hotter than 500 or 600 degrees Fahrenheit has proven difficult, so far.

Napoleon 22″ Pro Charcoal Kettle Grill: About twice the price of our top pick, but roughly the same design, we’ve assembled it and given it a bit of time outside. We like it so far, but we’re looking to see if there’s anything that makes it worth the price jump.

Nexgrill 29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill/Smoker: if you’re on a tight budget or you just want a charcoal grill (and smoker) in a pinch, this is the best you’re going to do, and you will make do. Our hesitation is that this is one of those grills that you could outfit with gaskets to function very well, but the quality of the parts means it’s not destined to survive past a couple of years with moderate use.

Spark Grill: If you like the flavor and general effect of charcoal grilling but aren’t a fan of building a fire, want to avoid the mess, or want to be able to control your cooking temperature to a T without any fuss, the Spark Grill is the best answer we’ve found. The charcoal “Briqs,” while exclusive and unavailable at your local grocery store, are space-savers compared to a bag of charcoal, but the price (shipping is free) breaks down to roughly the same as what you’d pay for any other charcoal. 

Each “Briq” is set to burn within a certain temperature range for a rough given amount of time, so you’ll do best to order across the spectrum (“Low & Slow” burns for 4-6 hours at 250-350 degrees Fahrenheit; “High Heat” burns for 30-45 minutes at between 600 and 900 Fahrenheit). Temperature is controlled through a dial, and the grill lights electronically and with ease. We did find the built-in fan to be on the loud side, and we weren’t thrilled with the cart design on this, as it seems lightweight for the price you’ll pay, but it is sturdy enough.

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