With summer in full swing, you may want to join in on the grilling action if you haven’t already. Of course, it’s not always easy to choose the right grill since there is a plethora of high quality charcoal grills available. If you’re like us, affordability is also a top priority. Fortunately, this blog includes a guide to help you choose the best charcoal grill under $200.
This Weber grill is a great addition to your backyard or patio. Firstly, the grill is made with a porcelain enamel, which helps the grill to retain heat and moisture. This helps cook your food more evenly.
The steel plated cooking grate is durable and helps retain heat for even cooking as well.
Also, the high temperature porcelain enamel won’t crack, peel or rust. Therefore, your grill will last longer and look nice for years to come.
This Weber is equipped with dampers that let you control the heat. The more air you allow to enter, the hotter the grill will be.
Its angle lets you easily hang the lid instead of placing it on the ground. This helps keep your food and hands clean while you cook. Speaking of clean, the ash-catcher, which is rust-resistant, lets you sweep ashes away easily. Simply empty the contents into a waste bin afterwards.
We also liked additional features, which include a heat shielded handle and sturdy wheels that let you roll your grill wherever you’d like.
- Porcelain enamel
- Temperature control
- Lid hanger
- Ash bin
- Wheels included
- Heat shield handle
- Steel grates prone to rust if not maintained
- Assembly required
Up next is a heavy duty compact grill made for limited space. The E1515 measures 44 inches in height and weighs just 50 pounds. We liked that it’s suitable for a small yard or patio. It’s also easy to transport.
This small sized grill also comes with convenient storage items. The bottom rack is an ideal place to store your charcoal bag while the side tray lets you store your food until it’s ready to grill.
Built with the sturdiest of materials, its size doesn’t sacrifice quality. The grill is made with cast iron while the exterior consists of powder coated steel.
Additional features include an ash pan for easy clean up and dampers. There are also wheels for easy mobility.
To top it off, while it’s compact, it still has 250 square inches of cooking space and is on the lower price end.
- Ash catcher included
- Wheels included
- Storage rack
- Side tray
- Cast iron grill
- Very affordable
- Difficult assembly
This next grill is perfect for traveling. It has glass a reinforced nylon handle that lets you pick up the grill easily. Simply place it on a hard surface, and extend the plated steel legs. Then it’s ready to use. We found the mobility quite essential since we enjoy taking our own grill when camping.
The legs also double as lid locks when they are raised to keep the grill from opening during storage and transport.
Both the grill’s base and lid have porcelain coated steel, making the grill resistant to flaking, rusting and peeling. The grate, which covers 160 square inches, is made of plated steel. Furthermore, the two dampers are made with rust-resistant aluminum. This is good if you are an outdoorsy person who might get caught in the rain from time to time.
One concern is that the charcoal bin is quite shallow. This creates little space between the grill grate and the charcoal.
Fortunately, there’s no assembly required.
- Designed for easy transport
- Porcelain enamel
- Durable handles
- Rust-resistant dampers
- Protractible legs
- Shallow charcoal bin
Up next is the spacious Char-Griller 2137 with 1,063 square inches of grilling space. It’s 50 inches tall and weighs 112 pounds. The good news is it’s equipped with wheels to let you easily transport it to a desired location.
Unlike some charcoal grills, the Outlaw has thick steel legs for support. This can improve its longevity and mobility. The grate comes in detachable pieces, which is convenient for adding more fuel without removing the whole grate.
Its cast iron grates are some of the most safe and durable that a grill can offer. Additionally, there’s an adjustable fire grate that lets you control the grill’s temperature.
With such large grill, tilting to empty the ashes can be dangerous. A detachable ash pan makes it easy to clean. Simply remove the bin and empty.
For convenient storage, you can place your charcoal bag on the lower shelf. Also, utensils can be stored on the side shelf while the grill isn’t in use.
- Large cooking area
- Cast iron grate
- Heat adjustable
- Wheels included
- Storage racks included
- Grate made with detachable pieces
- Difficult assembly
Our next top pick echoes old-fashioned quality. If you’re like us and appreciate the effectiveness and safety of cast iron, you might enjoy grilling with this one.
It’s thoroughly made with seasoned cast iron that gets better with each use. The design and material make it an excellent retainer of heat. This helps you grill food evenly and fast. It’s ability to hold heat also means you can use less charcoals over time.
Almost as much as the quality, we appreciate the rugged style of this grill.
One factor to consider is rust. As with all cast iron, if not dried properly, you could have a disaster on your hands. Be sure to clean up spills fast and never leave this grill out in the rain.
- 100 percent cast iron material
- Easy transport
- Excellent heat retention
- Prone to rust
Last but not least is the kamado style grill that gives you ceramic grill quality without the high price. This is due to the excellent insulation. The E06614 has three-layered insulation that’s made of 22-gauge steel. It’s also powder coated on the exterior and porcelain coated on the interior.
This grill can reach temperatures from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. We enjoy being able to cook a wide variety of meals with such a temperature range. Furthermore, the temperature is easy to control with a bottom and top damper.
We also like taking this grill on overnight camping trips. The durable handles make it easy to carry, and the short, stubby legs are strong and durable.
It has a 153 square inch grill space and a cast iron grill rack. So it’s great for searing, smoking and grilling meals for the entering family.
Lastly, you can choose between red or black.
- Great insulation
- Temperature control
- Three-layered steel
- Two color options
- Assembly required
- Grates prone to rust if not maintained
Chances are everyone you know is familiar with using a classic charcoal grill. In most households, these cookers are just as popular as an oven. However, when it comes time for you to purchase your own, with so many options available, the task can seem daunting.
Below are some things to consider when purchasing.
Types Of Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills come in various types of designs. However, most charcoal grills will fit into one of three categories, which include ceramic, kettle and barrel. Each design depends on your cooking preferences.
These grills are small, simple and affordable. The kettle shapes allow the grill to retain and emit heat evenly. They also allow you to grill at a variety of temperatures.
The average size of a kettle grill in around 350 square inches, so they are best for smaller jobs.
A kettle grill consists of a chamber for holding the charcoal and a rack for food placement. The lid helps retain heat and allows heat to distribute evenly.
Furthermore, as the food cooks, the fats drip onto the coals, which hold in their flavor. This, in addition to the smoky flavor from the coals, leaves your taste buds dancing.
Kettle grills, like all charcoal grills, also come with a venting system so that oxygen can feed the flames.
On the more expensive end are ceramic charcoal grills. While they work very similar to other charcoal grills, they retain more heat and moisture. This feature gives them the capability to cook anything that requires evenly distributed heat.
Producing temperatures of up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re perfectly capable of cooking a whole pizza or grilling a few hotdogs.
Barrel grills look like a barrel that has been cut in half, leaving the top half for the lid and grill and the bottom for the fuel. They operate similar to ceramic and kettle grills with a charcoal grid at the bottom and a food grid at the top. Vents on the bottom and top help feed the coals and control the temperature.
Great for smoking, these charcoal grills are large and typically have a grill surface area of over 400 square feet. Therefore, expect to input more maintenance and spend a little more than you would for a kettle grill. They are much less expensive than ceramic grills, however.
Charcoal Grill Added Features
Charcoal grills are worldwide favorites, not just because of their simplicity and affordability. Some users are jumping on board because of cool features that add to their convenience. Also, charcoal grill is a great addition to their backyard for just under $200.
Cast Iron Grids
Anyone who has ever used a cast iron skillet is familiar with the sturdiness of cast iron. They last for what seems to be an eternity. Two of the cast iron pans I use today are handed down from my grandmother.
They’re also easy to clean, especially if they’re seasoned. It just takes a little soap and water and thorough drying to avoid rust. Cast iron users can also appreciate that the material is non-stick.
Another benefit of cast iron is safety. A charcoal grill with cast iron grids is less likely to produce toxic PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PTFE ( polytetrafluoroethylene)fumes that can be given off by non-stick cookware and even some ceramic coating.
Even some stainless steel varieties are capable of leaching chromium and nickel, leading to metal toxicity.
Lastly, using charcoal grids can be an asset for anyone at risk for iron deficiency anemia since cast iron releases iron into the foods.
Most charcoal grills can easily accommodate a grill rack, which adds versatility to your grilling. For instance, some of them can easily fit sets of ribs while others can cook an entire turkey.
Some come with wheels so that you can grill almost anywhere in the perimeters of your yard. The wheels also make it convenient to load and unload your grill if you choose to take it with you on vacation.
You can choose to have your charcoal grill mounted to blend in nicely with your outdoor decor. Many are made with stainless steel exteriors to prevent damage from the elements.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were over 10,000 grill related fires each year between the years 2013 and 2017. Charcoal grills were responsible for about 10 percent of those fires.
The NFPA also mentions that a quarter of all of the fires were caused by improper cleaning. Fortunately, cleaning a charcoal grill isn’t rocket science. Many come with holes underneath through which ashes can be easily emptied. For others, you can simply slide out the bottom and empty its contents into a waste basket.
You should also be sure to clean the grill rack to avoid build up that can also lead to fires and even risk you ingesting rust. For information on how to deep clean your charcoal video, check out this short video.
Charcoal Grill Starter Kit
Once you find a charcoal grill, you’ll also want to make sure you have a few accessories. Below are just a few that can make your grilling experience go as smoothly as possible.
- A cooking thermometer will help you cook your food at the desired temperatures, avoiding overcooking and under cooking.
- Fire starting blocks placed around the charcoals can help you cook your food more evenly.
- Using a grill cover is one of the best ways to protect your grill from natural wear and tear, especially if you keep it outside.
- You might also consider a pair of grill lifters to keep your hands safe and clean.
Best Brands For Charcoal Grills Under 200 & A Little History…
In 1952, George Stephen, who is Weber’s founder, created the first kettle grill. His creation was inspired by the shape of a buoy while working for the Weber Brothers Metal Works company. Now the kettle shape has become the essence of outdoor grilling.
The company has designed and manufactured multiple grills, most of which have the same original buoy design.
A few decades ago, a sister and brother from Georgia launched their barrel designed grill, and today the company carries a wide range of grill designs, such as kamados and kettles. The company specializes in grills and accessories that everyday people can afford.
When should I close my grill’s air vents?
Since charcoals need air to burn, the lower vents should remain open. However, you can choose to close (or partially close) the top vents if you want to lower the temperature or reduce flair ups.
What is the best way to clean cast iron grids?
If they have not accumulated much debris, keep them clean with mild soap and water. Always remember to keep them dry because the main problem associated with cast iron is rust.
If your grates have a lot of rust and debris, we recommend a stainless steel brush along with an all-purpose cleaner. With a bit of elbow grease, they should be clean in no time.
Should I use a food thermometer with my grill?
Most charcoal grills do not come with a thermometer, so it is in your best interest to buy one separately. While it is possible to control the heat with the dampers, you may want to know the exact temperature of your food to avoid mistakes.
What should I do with the used charcoal after grilling
To avoid heat accidents, you should wait at least 48 hours for the charcoals to cool while they are still in the grill. This also allows additional ash to settle. Next, wrap the charcoals in a heat safe container or aluminum foil.
The charcoals can be discarded or used for various purposes, such as fertilizer, deodorizers and plant compost.
How can I make sure heat is distributed evenly?
There are a few ways. First, diffuser plates are used to help heat distribute evenly. They are thin metal plates that can easily be placed on top of the coals to block direct heat.
You can also adjust the dampers to help control heat. For example, if you are cooking at lower temperatures, the dampers would be partially closed to reduce the amount of air fueling the heat. Many charcoal grills are equipped with advanced heat regulation settings to help you control the heat on your grill.
Lastly, you can try fire starting blocks, which can be placed alongside the coals. They are a good way to help you control the distribution of heat.
Each of the grills on our list is packed with exciting features. However, if we had to choose a winner, it would be the Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr.
What makes this grill stand out the most?
First, it has the insulation that accompanies a ceramic grill for a small fraction of the price. With three-layered insulation, it can evenly grill from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
The grid is made of cast iron, which is our favorite metal with fewer health risks and durability. It’s also compact and comes with two color options.
If there’s not enough space, we recommend our second compact option, the Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill. At an even lower price, you could get 250 square inches of grilling space. It also comes with a cast iron grill. However, it doesn’t have the insulation of the Char-Griller E06614.
Have a different top choice? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.