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    Best Charcoal Grills of 2024

    These highly rated barrel- and kettle-style charcoal grills cook evenly and give you plenty of control

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    Red hot coals underneath a grill
    While charcoal grills take more time to start up than gas grills, they give you greater control of the heat because of the size of the fire you build.
    Eric Schnakenberg

    Charcoal imparts a unique taste to food while offering the utmost control when you use it in your charcoal grill.

    With charcoal, the more you add, the hotter the fire. If you know what you’re doing, you can control the cooking surface to masterfully grill anything from a quickly seared steak to a slow-smoked pork shoulder. (If you’re really serious about grilling and smoking, you might consider trading up to a kamado-style grill, which combines charcoal with an airtight design to give you even more control.)

    Today, charcoal grills are the second most popular type of grill after gas grills, far outpacing the sales of pellet grills or kamado grills. Not sure where to start? Check our grill buying guide for a rundown of all your options.

    More on Grills

    On a charcoal grill, everything from evenness to temperature range is largely controlled by the charcoal itself. That led us to heavily weigh design and convenience in our testing protocol. “The differences between charcoal grills are less pronounced than with gas grills, and far more depends upon how the user cooks with the grill,” says Cindy Fisher, CR’s lead grill test engineer.

    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between models. Features like multiple air vents and adjustable grates play an important role in turning out great food because they help you control the heat.

    Below, we’ve compiled a list of the very best charcoal grills, based on our latest tests. CR members can read on for those selections, in both barrel- and kettle-style grills, or jump right to our charcoal grill ratings.

    Best Barrel-Style Charcoal Grills

    Barrel-style charcoal grills are rectangular; many have helpful features, such as adjustable cooking grates and a door to add charcoal. Most also have a removable ashpan. These grills hold more food than other grills but they’ll use more charcoal, so expect to add lots of coals while cooking.

    Best Kettle-Style Charcoal Grills

    Kettle-style charcoal grills are smaller than most barrel grills, so they take up less space. The tapered shape lets you build a deeper bed of coals than you can with a barrel grill, so you can sear or cook for a longer time without adding coals. But they hold less food.

    Paul Hope

    Paul Hope is a senior multimedia content creator at Consumer Reports and a trained chef. He covers ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens, as well as grills, drills, outdoor power tools, decking, and wood stains. Before joining CR in 2016, he tested kitchen products at Good Housekeeping and covered tools and remodeling for This Old House magazine. You’ll typically find him in his old fixer-upper, engrossed in a DIY project or trying out a new recipe.