5 Best Portable Charcoal Grills of 2024

By Ben Isham-Smith

Published:

Looking to break out something that packs in a punch on your next cookout? Here are five of the very best portable charcoal grills to take out while on the move.

small charcoal smoker grill

Portable outdoor grills have undergone something of a makeover over the past few years. Gone are the days of simple steel bowls perched on spindly legs, cooking charred and gray good. Today we have grills that offer excellent heat retention and distribution, ensuring reliable cooking performance, innovative set-ups to allow more variety in cooking (hello, smoking) as well as easily collapsible and interlocking parts to make these truly portable.

We’ve tested seven of the very best of these portable charcoal grills to help you find the perfect grill for you. So, whether you’re gearing up for a camping trip or planning the ultimate tailgate, we’ve got you covered.

Kamado Joe Jr

kamado joe jr red ceramic grill

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Sitting at the higher end of most budgets is the Kamado Joe Jr, although this little cooker does a lot to justify the price tag.

The Joe Jr is a much more compact version of the standard Kamado Joe and goes some way to include some of the same features. Despite space being at more of a premium, it still packs in heat deflectors to allow for indirect cooking (e.g. low and slow smoking) and robust cooking grates to stand up to most of what you can throw at it. It doesn’t have the ‘Divide and Conquer’ system found in the larger Kamado Joe, but that’s to be expected in a smaller grill.

The main benefit of a ceramic grill is consistent temperatures, and the Joe Jr doesn’t disappoint here. Of course, like its bigger brother, it takes a while to get going but once it does, the airflow coming through its top and bottom damper vents stays strong and is made full use of by the Joe Jr’s build.

Key to this is not just its ceramic build, but its vents are perfectly placed for good airflow management, and when tested its temperature gauge was not too far off our own temperature probe (a rare feat!).

What We Liked

  • Temperature Control: Excellent high-quality build and air vent placement mean that temperatures are easy to control and stay consistent
  • High-Quality Build: Made with a ceramic shell and a heat-resistant finish, this grill is built to last

What We Didn’t Like

  • Weight: Although to be expected with a ceramic build, at 75 pounds this is a heavy bit of gear and pushes the limits of what might be passable as ‘portable’
  • Warm-Up Time: Again, very common with ceramic grills, but it can take a while for the grill to warm up to target grilling and smoking temperatures

Everdure CUBE

Everdure CUBE grill

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This sleek-looking grill resembles a cooler more than it does a grill, but this is far more than a gimmick. Perfect for the beach or spontaneous days out, this super lightweight grill is easy to take on the go.

It boasts integrated food-grade storage trays and prep boards, giving you a bit of help where it’s often lacking when you’re on the road. Meanwhile, its porcelain enamel firebox means that this thing is built to last.

The perfect blend of form and function, this stripped-back grill is perfect if you want to keep things effortless, simple, and with a touch of style.

What We Liked

  • Portable & Compact: Small and lightweight, this is as portable as grills get.
  • All-in-One Design: Drawers and food prep trays might not be high on many people’s must-have lists, but don’t dismiss how useful these are when you’re out on the road!

What We Didn’t Like

  • Cooking Space: With only 115 square inches of grilling surface, this mini grill is has space at a premium, although should not be a problem for groups of 4 or 5
  • Limited Functionality: With less grilling space to work with and no damper system built in for airflow, you will be limited to more direct cooking styles

Weber Go Anywhere

weber go anywhere

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‘Go Anywhere’ by name, ‘Go Anywhere’ by nature. This little number from Weber is one of the most portable grills on this list, weighing only 14 pounds despite its respectable cooking grate area size.

Its lightweight design and lockable legs mean this can be broken out at any tailgate or camping trip and easily function as a tabletop grill.

Beyond that, the Go-Anywhere does actually function as a solid grill in its own right. It boasts adjustable sliding air vents on both the front and back, helping it emulate the airflow control of Weber’s larger standard charcoal grills and enabling you to take on indirect barbecue cooking as well as direct searing.

What We Liked

  • Front & Back Dampers: Impressive for a compact grill, the Go-Anywhere features vents to help make temperature control much easier
  • Good Quality Build: Its triple-nickel-coated steel grate is a dream to clean, and the robust porcelain-enameled steel lid and body are built to endure.
  • Solid Grate Area: Despite its compact size, its 160 square inches of cooking space is enough to accommodate a small group

What We Didn’t Like

  • Clean-Up: Without the ash cleanout systems that other charcoal grills tend to have, this can take a bit more work to clean up between uses – although this won’t need to be done every time
  • Heat Distribution: Even heat distribution is not this grill’s strongest characteristic, meaning that it might take some trial and error for you to nail your charcoal setup and placement.

Weber Jumbo Joe

Weber Jumbo Joe

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It’s rare to see functionality pair with portability without one compromising the other, but Weber’s Jumbo Joe manages to toe that line perfectly within its compact design.

On the practical side, its 18-inch cooking area is just right, offering enough space to handle a juicy rack of ribs to several sizzling steaks, while its duel vents positioned at the top and bottom of the chamber provide good airflow, allowing you to have better control over the temperatures in your grill.

Its Tuck-N-Carry lid lock pulls double duty by both securing the lid for portability and also holding the lid as you cook so you don’t need to put the hot lid on the ground as you cook. The grill also gets bonus points for its heat shield found on the handle, stopping you from burning your hands as you cook (trust me, I’ve been there).

Quite often, smaller grills like this aren’t built to last, but the Jumbo Joe is built to last. Its steel chamber is coated in porcelain enamel, so it can withstand regular use without chipping or flaking.

Check out our full Weber Jumbo Joe review

What We Liked

  • Temperature Control: Dual intake and exhaust dampers keep a steady stream of air flowing through the grill, helping you control temperatures efficiently
  • Durable: The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat well and help guard against chipping and wear
  • Easily Portable: The Tuck-N-Carry lid lock makes it easy to take on the go and doubles as a lid holder to keep the lid off the ground

What We Didn’t Like

  • Vent Materials: The damper vents aren’t insulated, meaning you’ll need to open or shut them with gloves or a towel to avoid burning your hands
  • Ash Catcher: The ash catcher underneath the grill sits on a series of wing nuts that can be a bit fiddly to deal with

Cuisinart CCG190RB 14-Inch

Cuisinart CCG190RB 14-Inch grill

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The Cuisinart boasts a substantial 150-square-inch chrome-plated grate, giving you decent enough room to work with, while the ash catcher found underneath the main chamber helps to make the post-cook clean-up much easier.

Let’s talk about temperature control. The Cuisinart has a dual venting system provided by vents placed both at the top and bottom of its grill chamber. This allows good airflow through the cooking area, providing the opportunity for indirect grilling.

In our testing, it delivered even heating across its cooking grates, which is impressive for a grill of this type. 

Weighing just 6 pounds, this makes it one of the lightest grills we’ve tested and certainly makes it one of the most portable. Adding to that, the grill is equipped with three secure locks, so you can easily move it around without the grill spilling open while you’re on the go.

What We Liked

  • Dual Vent System: Intake and exhaust dampers provide good airflow so you be more flexible with your grilling
  • Easily Portable: Weighs only 6lbs and has a secure locking mechanism to make transporting it very easy
  • Excellent Heat Retention: As well as its good airflow performance, its solid chamber build helps the grill retain heat efficiently enough to perform slower cooks

What We Didn’t Like

  • Size: Considering its good temperature and cooking performance, I wish Cuisinart had provided a larger cooking area to work with so we could work with larger cuts of meat
  • Durability: While its enamel-coated firebox should last a good while, I have doubts about the grill’s chrome-plated grates, which don’t tend to last through the long-term effects of exposure to high heat

Why You Should Get a Charcoal Portable Grill

Charcoal grills perfectly embody the essence of outdoor cooking – simplicity and flavor. And nowhere is this most wanted than with portable grilling.

Until recently, the majority of portable grills were gas or electric-fueled. However, this isn’t the case anymore. Thanks to better construction and cleaner lumpwood charcoal becoming easier to buy, fans of campfire or tailgate grilling have more options than they ever have before.

And there are plenty of reasons to go charcoal rather than propane or electric other than just aesthetics or taste. Good lump charcoal burns hotter and longer than other fuel types, making it much more cost-efficient than other fuels. No need to find a power outlet or stock up on propane tanks – charcoal is the way to grill.

And with designs being so simple and stripped back, this makes them all the easier to take on the road. They’re not weighed down by the gas burners, internal electrics, or mechanisms of other types of grills. Instead, they’re lightweight while remaining durable, and offer the exact smoky and charred flavor you want outdoors.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.


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