Best Charcoal Grills Under $200 in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

Ok, so you have decided to get an affordable new charcoal grill and are looking for the best option. Then you have come to the right place!

Are you looking for a large grill or a portable one? Maybe a kamado-style grill? Well, it doesnít matter, you can find all of them here.

In this article, we’ve picked and reviewed 6 of the best charcoal grills you can get under 200 dollars.

Our recommendations for Best Charcoal Grills Under $200:

Why Charcoal Grills Rock

The Traditional Grill Flavor
You know that smell. It wafts over the gate from your neighbor’s house on a summer night, and it reminds you that it might be time to fire up the barbecue. It’s more than just the smell of food cooking, it’s the smell of food cooking on charcoal that really ignites your taste buds. If you’re lucky enough to have a sample, the charcoal-infused flavor is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Speaking of traditional, check out this Weber commercial from way back:

They Get Hot Enough For That All-Important Sear
Have you ever heard of the Maillard Reaction? It’s the more scientific name for that gorgeous exterior crust or “sear” of certain cuts of meats. It’s why steaks and lamb chops can be crisp on the outside while remaining pink in the middle. And that’s because the grill gets hot enough to perform this action. All gas grills don’t get hot enough for this to occur unless they have infrared burners.

Charcoal Is An Affordable Option
Because of the simplicity in design and the reduced amount of metal parts, charcoal grills are generally on the cheaper end of the spectrum. This means you can get a high-quality product without breaking the bank. The smaller you go, the less you’ll spend.

You Can Control The Heat With Some Practice
Many rookies in the charcoal world think that a detriment is the lack of temperature control with charcoal. Not so! By using grill tongs (longer and more heat-resistant) and moving the coals around the grill, you can easily reduce the heat or concentrate it on certain areas of the unit. Another key for precise temperature control is to reduce or increase the airflow inside your grill. All good charcoal grills have air vents for this purpose.

food on on a charcoal grill
Charcoal grills are great for searing steaks

Charcoal Grills Are More Portable
Since they are generally more lightweight and don’t require an exterior gas tank, charcoal grills are more portable overall. Set your new grill in the back of your truck for the next picnic in the park!

Best Charcoal Grills Under $200 Reviewed

Here are reviews of the best charcoal grills in the price class:

Best Overall: Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

When it comes to charcoal grilling, Weber is hands-down the most popular and iconic brand, and for a good reason. These grills are durable, user-friendly, and highly portable.

Some cheap rudimentary charcoal grills are basically just a metal cover with a grid and a lid, but this grill is so much more than that! The Original Kettle is loaded with nice features that make grilling more enjoyable.

Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 363
  • Weight: 37 lbs
  • Build Materials: Porcelain-coated steel, stainless steel (cooking grates)
  • Dimensions: 27″ x 22.5″ x 39.5″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 10, 5, or 2 years depending on the part (click the link above to see details at BBQGuys)

Why the Original Kettle Premium is Our Number One Pick?

Ease of Use

The cooking grate on this grill has a convenient hinge on it so that you can easily slide some more charcoal in even while you have food cooking. It’s super slick!

You can control the heat level with adjustable dampers on the lid. When youíre done grilling, just close them completely to extinguish the coals. Unfortunately, the grilling grate is stationary, so you canít move it up or down to adjust the heat.

Design and Build Quality

The body and lid are porcelain-enameled so that they will retain heat but not rust or peel with time and use. The lid also comes with a built-in thermometer and there is a hook for hanging it during cooking.

The unit is mobile and has a handy catcher for the burned-out ashes that makes cleaning up a lot easier. It has two wheels so you can conveniently move it around on an even surface.

Despite being compact and portable this grill has 363 square inches of grilling space. You can fit in up to 13 burgers made with Weber burger press.

Extra Features

In addition to the excellent overall design, there are a couple more little things that we really like. The lid handle has a heat shield that prevents it from getting too hot. There are also hooks for hanging your grilling tools when they are not in use.

Warranty

Weber is known for backing up all of their products with their legendary customer service and warranty. It’s good to know that if you have any problems or questions, you won’t be left alone.

Conclusion

If youíre looking for a great charcoal grill, Iím sure youíll be more than satisfied with your new Weber Original Kettle. And whatís great is that your investment won’t break the bank!

What We Love

  • Great value for money
  • Large grilling area
  • Durable
  • Compact and portable
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Loaded with nice features
  • Weber has a great warranty and customer service

What We Don’t

  • Canít move the grilling grate to adjust the heat

Best Kamado Style Grill: Char-Griller AKORN Jr 

Well well, look at this little grill! It sure is a bright and funky looking piece of equipment. 

Some might even say that it looks like a small UFO, but that’s because it’s modeled in the kamado-style to promote even heating and enhanced flavor.

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 153
  • Weight: 37 lbs
  • Build Materials: Powder-coated steel, porcelain-coated steel, and cast iron
  • Dimensions: 20.5″ x 21.5″ x 25″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

This grill has a handy ash collector that’s built right in. Another perk is that although this grill has a fair amount of exterior metal, it’s extremely lightweight making it ideal for taking on the road to picnics, tailgating parties, and camping.

One of the best things about the Akorn Jr. is that it has triple wall steel construction for added insulation. This makes sure that the heat doesnít escape and makes this a great unit for slow smoking. Also, controlling the temperature is easy with the top and bottom air dampers.

The only real downside of this unit is that it only has 153 square inches of grilling space. It Ďs also a short model so you can’t really comfortably stand and tend the grill.

This is definitely one of my favorite charcoal grills in its price class. Itís smaller than the Weber model but on the other hand, itís more portable.

Also, the Akorn Jr. is great for smoking all kinds of meats as long as you can fit them in. If the bright red color is too much for you, it’s also available in black.

What We Love

  • Versatile: good for smoking and grilling
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Excellent heat retention

What We Don’t

  • Cleaning the cast iron grates takes some effort
  • The grill is low: you need a chair or elevated platform if you don’t want crouch down

Best Budget Option: Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

This grill was made for traveling and taking on-the-go to the ballgame or the campgrounds with ease. The lid locks down to make carrying it a smooth and simple process.

This little guy holds six burgers so it could be ideal for small gatherings or meals.

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 (click the link above to see details at BBQGuys)

Weber Go-Anywhere is a simple grill and using it is very easy and straightforward. It has everything you need without any extra gimmicks. The dampers allow easy temperature control. 

Its porcelain-enameled lid and main base will not rust or peel even with the high heats of grilling. The cooking grates are made of durable plated stainless steel. 

The grilling surface is 160 square inches, not as large as many other grills in this category. So keep that in mind if you’re having to grill for large parties.

Overall, this is an excellent budget option if youíre looking for a small portable charcoal grill to take along on camping adventures, road trips, and picnics.

What We Love

  • Lightweight and super-portable
  • Easy to assemble, use, and clean
  • Top vents allow good temp control
  • Durable plated-steel grill grates
  • Great warranty and customer service

What We Don’t

  • Relatively small grilling space

Largest Option: The Original Po’ Man Charcoal Grill

This is a playful take on an old makeshift neighborhood trash can fire. The base is made black and cylindrical to resemble a garbage can. Except this one is made from durable metal.

The Original Po' Man Charcoal Grill

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): about 160
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Build Materials: Steel
  • Dimensions: 16″ x 16″ x 21″ (L x W x H)

Thereís an internal metal frame that contains a grill grate, drip pan, coal box, and metal skewers for hanging meat. It also has a handy starter cup that makes lighting the charcoal easier.

This grill can serve for a large gathering as you could kick in an entire turkey with a few racks of ribs and a roast. It’s a jumbo-sized unit made for big quantities of food!

You can easily assemble this unit with even a basic tool kit. The grill is made from highly durable rolled steel and stainless metals with a high-temperature solid black paint.

This unit isnít really set up for regular grilling where you stand next to it and flip steaks and burgers. The design works best for smoking larger cuts of meat and entire birds. In addition, its style, although unique and fun, doesnít fit everywhere since it is shaped like a trash can.

The Original Po’ Man Charcoal Grill could be a great option if you like the design and are looking to slow cook big chunks of meat.

With this rig in your backyard, youíre definitely not going to run out of cooking space. Youíll also have something to show off and talk about at the barbecue parties!

What We Love

  • Original design
  • Simple and efficient
  • Huge cooking capacity
  • Great for smoking big chunks of meat

What We Don’t

  • Not so good for regular grilling

Most Portable: Grillerette Pro

Now this is a fascinating take on grill portability, and it uses a battery-powered fan to help you with lighting the charcoal and keeping it hot.

TableTop Chefs Grillerette Pro

Specifications:

  • Grilling Area (sq.in): about 130
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Build Materials: Metal and plastic
  • Dimensions: 14.5″ x 14.5″ x 6.5″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

The innovative cooktop blocks the grease from spilling onto the charcoal which means 90% less smoke while grilling.

This is more of a side grill and wouldn’t really serve as the main one in a house. It doesnít have a lid so itís only good for cooking with direct heat. On the other hand, you can make excellent steaks and burgers with it!

The Grillerette Pro is extremely lightweight and portable and is just begging to go on your next road trip or picnic. It comes with a handy carrying case and weighs less than 7 pounds. 

What We Love

  • Smart and convenient design
  • Very affordable
  • Less smoke
  • Easy to carry around
  • Comes with a travel bag

What We Don’t

  • No lid: not good for slow cooking
  • Small cooking area

Most Durable: Giantex Cast Iron Charcoal Hibachi Grill

This is a rugged Hibachi-style cast iron grill that sits on four small legs. Itís a simple yet sturdy unit that retains heat especially well so it will save on charcoal in the long run.

Itís very easy to grab this grill along because it’s compact and weighs only 20 pounds.

Specifications:

  • Total Cooking Area: 106 (sq.in)
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Build Materials: Cast iron
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ x 10.5″ x 7″ (L x W x H)

There’s a small sliding mechanism on the grill that allows you to control airflow and the level of heat. The grill area is not very large and can fit about 6 burgers at once.

The front of the grill has a small door that you can open to add more charcoal during the cooking process.

This sturdy cast iron grill is super durable. The cooking surface is also cast iron making it ideal for all types of food and especially great for searing.

Itís a short, squat unit so it needs to be on a table or other elevated platform if you want to stand up while grilling. You can also place it on the ground and sit on a chair.

The Giantex has no lid so you will need to adjust cooking times accordingly. This grill is built to last and you can easily take it along for camping trips, picnic, or tailgating.

What We Love

  • Very sturdy and durable
  • Compact and portable
  • Simple design that is easy to use
  • Cast iron is great for searing steaks and burgers

What We Don’t

  • Has no lid

What Can You Get With 200 Bucks or Less?

Obviously, we all know that if you’re willing to spend an unlimited amount of money, you can get every feature under the sun. But what if you want to spend less than 200 dollars?

You might not be able to afford absolutely every cutting-edge development on the market with that price. However, there are definitely a few key features that you’d be wise not to overlook. This way you can get a magnificent grill unit and stay on the budget.

Be sure to get a grill that has the following:

Sturdy Construction, Preferably With Stainless or Porcelain Elements
The metal body of the grill needs to be able to stand up to high temperatures, as well as large temperature swings as the grill rapidly heats and cools. Stainless steel or porcelain enameling are marvelous material options here. Keep your eyes open for things like double-welded seams, which keep things connected for even longer. Don’t scrimp on metal quality or durability.

Ample Size For Your Regular Crowd
When you grill, who are you usually cooking for? Yourself? Your family? For the whole neighborhood? Keep this in mind when sizing your new unit. Many people want to go for a massive grill top area for show, but then they only cook for 2-3 people and never really entertain. This type of grilling could mean even more unnecessary spending of money when buying the charcoal or briquettes.

Sturdy Lid and Handle
You want a domed, heavy-duty lid made from a good metal. The handle should ideally have some insulation on it so it won’t heat up as quickly. Also, a bonus perk on many grills is a built-in lid hook on the rim, so you don’t need to set the scorching hot lid on the ground while flipping your food. This is definitely worth it!

Ash Catcher
The one main drawback of owning a charcoal grill is the disposal and cleaning of the ashes. If you have a simple grate underneath the grill, ashes can fly everywhere when transporting them to the garbage. Therefore, keep your eyes peeled for nifty little cages or containers for the ashes to fall into, making clean-up a breeze.

4 Tips for Charcoal Grilling

Don’t use lighter fluid: Try to avoid using lighter fluid when starting your charcoal grill. It may contain harmful chemicals that will end up on the food that is being grilled. Use a chimney starter, an electric charcoal starter, or some other method instead. If you need more information, read this comprehensive guide for lighting charcoal without lighter fluid.

Learn to create heat zones: You can move the charcoal on the other side of the grill to create separate heat zones. This way you can sear steaks and burgers on the hot zone directly above the charcoal and cook some other food items (e.g. chicken legs) that take more time on the indirect heat.

Use a thermometer: Use a digital meat thermometer to avoid under or overcooking your food. This allows you to grill your steaks to the desired doneness every time and avoid serving raw chicken legs to your guests. Use the thermometer together with this meat temperature guide and you can’t go wrong!

Make sure the charcoal is cool before discarding: When you’re done grilling always make sure that you discard the charcoal safely. Even after many hours the coals can still be hot inside and cause a fire hazard. Put them in a metal bucket and let them cool down thoroughly. You can also pour some water over them to speed up the process.

Charcoal Grill FAQ

You should always season your new grill properly before using it unless it’s a pre-seasoned grill. The process is quite simple: Just rinse the grill grates with water and dry them, then use heat resistant vegetable oil (e.g. canola oil) to season the grates, lid, and pit of the grill. Finally, preheat the grill without putting the grates on for about 15 minutes, then place the grates in and keep the grill hot for about an hour.

Yes, you can definitely find good charcoal grills in this price range. There are many great options such as the Weber Original Kettle Premium and the kamado-style Char-Griller Akorn Jr.

The first thing that affects the heat level is how much charcoal you put in the grill. If the heat level is too low you can add more charcoal in the middle grilling. You should also learn how to use the air vents on your grill. Open them up for more intense heat and close them halfway or more to lower the heat and make the charcoal burn slower.

Let’s Get Those Steaks on the Grill!

So as we can see, there are many great charcoal grills that you can bring home without spending too much.

Our top pick is the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. It’s a quality product that is convenient to use and you can easily bring it along on with you. While being portable, it still offers enough grilling space to host a small get together on your backyard.

If you think 200 bucks is too much, check out our guide with the best charcoal grills that cost less than 100 dollars.

I hope you found a grill that matches your budget and needs. Now, let’s make the grill hot and get a few cold ones from the ref, it’s barbecue time!

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