Best Charcoal Grills Under 100 bucks

Best Charcoal Grills Under $100 in 2021 – Great Results with Small Budget

Nothing says summer like a backyard cookout. But why grill over gas when only charcoal creates authentic barbecue taste?

The smoky aroma and complex flavors are irresistible and getting them is simpler than you think. You, too, can barbecue like a pro with one of these charcoal grills that cost you less than 100 bucks.

Our recommendations for Best Charcoal Grills Under $100:

Why Do People Love Charcoal Grills?

More Americans still use gas to grill than charcoal, but the winds are changing. Annual sales of charcoal grills are rising as consumers learn what they’ve been missing. Even you have a gas grill, here’s why you need more charcoal in your life.

Enjoy A Traditional Grilling Experience

Propane grills are undeniably convenient. Working with charcoal takes finesse — it’s a learning process. But the thrill of the grill is about more than just eating. It’s about the primal sense of comfort only a fire can provide.

The time you spend coaxing flavors out of food instead of gulping down another hurry-meal is a traditional way to relax and bond with family and friends. You’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

High Heat Sears in Flavor

Nothing captures the imagination more than a burger seared over an open flame. Juices dripping over hot charcoal release volatile compounds that give grilled food their unmistakable taste. There’s no comparison.

food on on a charcoal grill

Charcoal burns hotter than gas. With a lid on, temperatures can soar above 650 degrees Fahrenheit (340 °C), rivaling the heat of a commercial pizza oven — it’s why kettle grills are tops for making your favorite pie.

It’s also why meats develop their characteristic char-broiled flavor. The Maillard reaction — the chemical reaction that causes caramelization — requires a temperature of at least 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 °C), a level bargain gas grills can struggle to achieve.

No Fuel Tanks — No Problem

Full 20 lb. propane tanks weigh 37 pounds — it’s no small affair to fill, transport, store and install them. And despite their relative safety, there’s still a minor risk of explosion if tanks get too hot.

Bags of charcoal travel risk-free, and you don’t have to drive to a refilling station when you run out. You can buy a back-friendly size bag anywhere from convenience to big-box stores.

Barbecue Like a Pro on a Dime

You get what you pay for when it comes to gas grills — research shows results with bargain brands are predictably bad. You could drop $300 or more for a model worth its salt, but you can make Texas-worthy barbecue on a charcoal grill with a price tag below $100.

What Makes a Good Charcoal Grill?

These features can make or break a charcoal grill:

Sturdy and Durable Construction

The most popular materials for grills are steel and cast iron — both are sturdy and durable, but not all models are created equal. Material thickness plays a role.

Manufacturers balance weight with portability. Thicker gauge steel is less prone to damage but can be heavy, so it’s ideal for home use. Travel models will necessarily be lighter.

Both steel and cast iron are susceptible to rust if left outdoors — keeping them out of the elements is the key to long-lasting performance. Quality exterior paint or porcelain-enameling encourages rain to roll off, offering an extra measure of protection.

Ample Grilling Space

A grill should have enough surface area to make plenty of what you love without overcrowding. Don’t worry about buying a model that’s too large. By positioning the coals, you can focus heat in a limited area or make hot and cool grilling areas to take steaks from searing to cooking temperature. It’s better to size up than down.

charcoal grill with a lot of food

Easy to Clean

Food-encrusted grill grates are a bear to clean. Plated steel is a relatively non-stick, and cast-iron is challenging until it’s seasoned. If easy-clean grates are a priority, look for enameled steel.

Charcoal also leaves behind ash. It can be a sooty mess. Better charcoal grills have an ash catcher or at least an opening at the bottom for sweeping out ash into a container.

Good Airflow and Heat Control

Airflow is the key to controlling the temperature in charcoal grills. Dampers adjust the flow of oxygen, which either feeds or suffocates flames. Open them to ramp up heat for a quick sear — close them to achieve a slow, steady heat. Grills with well-designed adjustable dampers for airflow and temperature control offer the greatest range of cooking options.

Best Charcoal Grills Under $100 Reviewed

You can get a nice charcoal grill even if your budget is small, but it takes some effort to find the real gems amongst the many poor options on the market.

We have done the research and picked the best freestanding, tabletop, and portable charcoal grills you can get for under 100 dollars. We have also included some more specialized options for people whole like making skewers or searing steaks on open-top hibachi-style grills.

If you think you could stretch your budget up a bit, you might also want to check our guide with the best charcoal grills under 200 dollars.

Best Freestanding Option: Weber Original Kettle 18-Inch Charcoal Grill

The Weber name is synonymous with grilling. If you’re not familiar with what this Chicago-based American company offers, let us introduce you to one of the best charcoal grills money can buy.

Weber Original Kettle 18-Inch Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 240
  • Weight: 24 lbs
  • Build Materials: Porcelain-coated steel, plated steel (cooking grates)
  • Dimensions: 23″ x 18.5″ x 36″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 10, 5, or 2 years depending on the part

It begins with a deep 18-inch kettle precisely engineered for optimal heat circulation. A single rust-resistant aluminum damper in the lid lets you control the temperature perfectly. Porcelain-enameled inside and out for superior heat and weather resistance, the bowl and lid are warranted for an unheard of ten years.

Features include Weber’s patented One-Touch cleaning system that funnels ash to a catch tray and preserves unburned charcoal for your next meal. It’s a fuel-saver and one of the few kettle grills you can keep clean without getting your hands dirty.

The Weber’s quality shows in the details, from the rugged, glass-reinforced handles and crack-proof, all-weather wheels to the hook that lets you rest the lid on the side of the grill when it’s not in use.

But the best part about the Weber is its price. At this price range, it’s like driving a Cadillac for the price of a Ford. You won’t be disappointed.

What We Love

  • Excellent overall quality
  • Well-designed dampers for heat control
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable construction
  • Great value for money
  • Lightweight and easy to move around
  • Great warranty and customer service

What We Don’t

  • Tall people have to reach down to tend the food

Best Tabletop Grill: Char-Griller Tabletop Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller’s tabletop grill offers full-sized performance both at home and on the road.

Built from heavy-gauge steel, it sports 250 square inches of cooking area. At almost 21-inches wide, it’s among the few portable grills that can tackle full racks of ribs. The side-mounted damper controls the flow of air and smoke for perfect results every time. It’s ideal for tailgating and as an RV grill for camping and road trips.

Char-Griller Tabletop Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 250
  • Weight: 42 lbs
  • Build Materials: Steel, cast iron (cooking grates)
  • Dimensions: 18″ x 20.9″ x 20.1″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 5-year burn and rust-through warranty

Clean-up is a breeze with the removable ash pan. Cast iron grates retain heat for even searing, but it takes a bit of effort to clean. Cool-touch hood handle prevents burns.

This grill has a dual function as this it can be used as a side fire-box on an existing Char-Griller grill. This allows you to do some Texas Style horizontal smoking and also provides additional grilling space.

The only real caveat with the Char-Griller is its weight. It’s not exactly a grab-and-go grill at 42 pounds, but the trade-off is stability and performance. It’s quality and versatility make it worth the effort.

What We Love

  • Large cooking area
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Has a sliding drawer for easy access to coals and ashes
  • Removable ash pan makes cleaning easier
  • Portable: great for tailgating and camping

What We Don’t

  • Cleaning the cast iron grates takes some effort
  • Quite heavy to move around

Most Portable Option: Weber Go-Anywhere Portable Charcoal Grill

Weber does it again with its ultra-portable Go-Anywhere grill. Weighing in at just 15 pounds, it’s the ultimate in minimalist grilling with features that make you forget its size.

Weber Go-Anywhere Portable Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 160
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • Build Materials: Porcelain-coated steel, plated steel (cooking grates)
  • Dimensions: 12.2″ x 21″ x 14.5″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 10, 5, or 2 years depending on the part

Made of premium-grade steel, this small wonder is sturdy enough for the road yet equally comfortable on your balcony. The base and lid are enameled to withstand corrosion — the finish is baked on and resisting peeling and rust. Dual top-mounted dampers adjust airflow across its adequate 160 square inches of cooking space.

The Weber packs up securely in seconds —the foldable legs keep the lid in place. Slip it in your trunk for a quick afternoon outing. It’ll make lunch for four or more.

Like all Weber products, the Go-Anywhere grill is backed by their legendary customer service and warranty. You won’t go wrong with a Weber.

What We Love

  • Lightweight and ultra-portable
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Top vents allow good temp control
  • Durable plated-steel grill grates
  • Very quick and easy to assemble
  • Weber grills have a great warranty and customer service

What We Don’t

  • Limited cooking space

Best for Kebabs: Party Griller Yakitori Portable Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill

Make restaurant-quality shish-kebabs, skewers, or authentic Japanese yakitori on this portable charcoal grill. It’s uniquely designed so that skewers span the exact width of the 8-inch grill with the grate removed.

Wood skewers don’t burn, and food cooks evenly every time. Enjoy the delicate char-broiled skin on wings and vegetables — there’s no sticking.

Party Griller Yakitori Portable Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 256
  • Weight: 17 lbs
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 32″ x 8″ x 34″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 2 years

Made of heavy-gauge steel, this grill is still portable at 17 pounds. The foldable legs fit neatly in your trunk. It comes with two mid-weight stainless steel grates — a 20-inch × 8-inch and a 12-inch× 8-inch — plus bonus steel seasoning shakers and tongs. It’s a terrific value.

With the grates installed, this versatile yakitori grill can tackle traditional barbecue, but temperature control is challenging without a lid. Vents on both sides control air flow, but unlike the Weber, they have only two positions, fully open or fully closed.

The Party Griller is best for open-air cooking, but if kebabs are your specialty, no grill performs better.

What We Love

  • Made of sturdy and durable stainless steel
  • Large grilling area
  • Portable and versatile
  • Legs can be folded
  • Comes with seasoning shakers and BBQ tongs

What We Don’t

  • Not suitable for slow cooking because there is no lid
  • Cleaning is a bit tedious because there is no removable ash pan

Budget Pick: Cuisinart 14-Inch Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill

Cuisinart’s 14-inch tabletop grill is a budget-friendly solution to your portable grilling needs. It assembles in minutes and is compact enough to take anywhere from the backyard to the beach.

Cuisinart 14-Inch Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 150
  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Build Materials: Painted steel, plated steel (cooking grates)
  • Dimensions: 14.5″ x 14.5″ x 15″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 3 years

The 14-inch diameter chrome-plated grilling surface features 150 square inches of grilling area suitable for three to four people. A single damper controls the temperature for a quick sear or low and slow cooking.

Like the Weber, the steel firebox is enamel-coated and weather-resistant. The kettle sits on a tripod base for stability and features a basic ash collection pan. Three latches keep the lid secure for travel.

Compared to the Weber, the Cuisinart’s features are similar, but the finish is less refined, and the materials don’t feel quite as durable. But for a fraction of the price, the performance is surprising. You won’t be disappointed. It’s proof that good things can come in small packages.

What We Love

  • Very low price
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Compact and lightweight

What We Don’t

  • The grill grate is not very stable and could tip over easily
  • The lid handle can get hot

About the Author

Hi, I’m Joonas!

As soon as I learned to walk, I started to assist my dad and uncles with grilling and smoking. I always loved helping them and later took over the role of the grill master in my family.

My goal is to cook tasty barbecue food, enjoy it with family & friends, and help others do the same!

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