/The 4 best charcoal grills in 2021

The 4 best charcoal grills in 2021

  • A good charcoal grill offers steady heat retention, weather resistance, and years of use.
  • Our favorite charcoal grill is the tried and true Weber Original Kettle Grill.
  • It’s well-built, versatile, and offers just the right space to feed two to six people.

A charcoal grill is, at its core, a simple fire basin. The most basic requirement is that it can withstand the elements of any given climate or season as well as a 500-plus degree fire for hours on end. 

When it comes to charcoal grilling, kettle grills — sphere-shaped models with vents at the and bottom — tend to be the most user-friendly. Kettle grills come in a variety of materials, which can impact durability and cook quality. We spoke with chef Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen and chef-in-residence at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, who told us that if you’re opting for a metal charcoal grill, look for stainless steel models, which often cost a little more.

“Cheaper models tend to be made of galvanized steel that’s painted with heat-resistant paint,” Olunloyo said. “They will work, but they don’t last more than a couple of seasons with normal use and exposure.” Olunloyo also said pricier ceramic grills are a better option for those with room in their budget because they “encapsulate heat very well, allow good airflow, and work almost like a tandoor.”

We also spoke with Steven Raichlen, the television host of “Barbecue University,” and author of dozens of barbecue grilling books, including his forthcoming “How to Grill Vegetables.” Raichlen backed up Olunloyo, adding that if you’re just getting your toes wet with barbecuing, a stainless steel kettle grill is a good starting point, but you can only expect about five years out of them; ceramic grills offer much more durability.

So, apart from size and your favored approach to grilling, your choice really comes down to your budget. As Olunloyo said, “As with anything, if you have the money, you should buy the Mercedes, but you can get the job done with the Toyota.” 

And, if you’re of the do-it-yourself persuasion, you can also build yourself a charcoal grill easily enough, but more on that at the bottom of the page.

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