The 5 Best Charcoal Grills under $300 of 2021

best charcoal grills for the money

Are you on a tight budget but still want to invest in a quality charcoal grill ? There is a solution for you.

The current market offers a diversity of brands, shapes, and sizes to choose from. You can get durable and versatile charcoal grills at solid mid-range price points. Even being affordable, some of these grills will perform better than the costlier ones.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a grill but don’t want to spend lots of bucks, you’ll find this review of the 5 best charcoal grills under $300 helpful. Read along and get your preferred choice!

At a Glance – Top Charcoal Grills under $300 in 2021

ProductCooking AreaMaterialRatings
Weber 15401001 Performer
(Best Overall)
363 sq in.Pocelain/Steel4.9
Weber Original Kettle Grill
(Best Budget)
363 sq in.Porcelain4.9
Char-Griller E6520 Akorn Kamado
(Best Kamado)
314 sq in.Steel/Cast Iron4.8
PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X
(Best with Smoker)
300 sq in.Steel4.9
Dyna-Glo Signature Series
(Best Heavy-duty)
675 sq in.Stainless Steel4.5

1. Best Overall – Weber 15401001 Performer Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber 15401001 Performer Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber is a world renowned brand when it comes to bbq grills and smokers, and one thing for sure, you just can’t go wrong with Weber products.

There are several outstanding features inherent in the Weber Performer Premium charcoal grill, and one can start off with its cooking space.

With an area of around 363 square inches, it will be enough to fit in a dozen good sized hamburgers, vegetables or several steaks, from the small ones to the large pieces. And I believe that would be enough to feed 4 to 6 people with ease. You can also remove the grate and replace it with a poultry roaster, skillet, or pizza stone.

This Premium kettle also comes with a lid thermometer, but these old-fashioned heat indicators don’t work as well as digital thermometers. Consider buying a digital thermometer and you’ll notice the difference right away.

A useful hinged cooking grate comes with this Premium kettle grill so you can easily refill the coal without removing your food.

Place your seasonings, platters, and other cooking tools like spatulas and tongs on the side table for easy reach. Use the tuck-away lid holder to cradle the lid while preparing your main course. This holder acts as a pair of extra hands and will make your sessions comfortable and convenient.

Once you’ve feasted on your delicious meal, just turn the damper blades in the kettle basin to filter out the charcoal dust into the ash catcher. After that, use the CharBin storage container to store charcoal so that it is by the grill, just where and when you need it.

This grill guarantees long-lasting performance for years to come. From grilling meat for BBQ parties to searing briskets, Weber Performer Premium grill is at your service. And what makes this particular model an exception is the side table that offers plenty of prep space.

However, this model lacks the Electronic Touch-N-Go Gas Ignition System, which helps in light the charcoal with one push of a button and that feature is available on its upgraded version Weber Deluxe charcoal model.

Despite that missing feature, The Weber 15401001 Performer Premium Charcoal Grill makes the process of grilling ever easier, and with the process of cleaning also greatly simplified, it can make for a truly fine addition to your backyard.

Related: Best Charcoal Grills under $500

What we like:

  • Cooking area of 363 sq. in
  • Backlit LCD cook timer
  • High-capacity ash catcher for hassle-free ash cleanup
  • The cooking grate is compatible with GBS inserts
  • It fits up to 13 burgers

What we don’t like:

  • Doesn’t feature Touch-N-Go ignition system
  • It weighs 90+ pounds which can be heavy to move

2. Best Budget – Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

The Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” Charcoal Grill is a classic backyard grill that’s comes in a reasonable price and provides value for money. It is similar to the Weber Performer Premium Charcoal grill, but doesn’t feature the cart.

Anyone can operate the Weber Original Kettle Premium charcoal grill. You only need to arrange charcoal on the fuel grate and go for the indirect or direct grilling, depending on your cooking preferences.

According to Weber, the 363-square-inch cooking area can accommodate a whole chicken or about 10 to 12 hamburgers, depending on how big your patties are. The unit can serve four to six people easily.

This kettle grill comes with hinged cooking grates that helps you load charcoal briquettes even while cooking your favorite meal.

The precision heat control lets you control your grill’s temperature by simply closing the dampers completely to cut the oxygen flow and extinguish coals.

Enjoy the one-touch cleaning system that allows hassle-free debris and charcoal ash cleanup. Swipe the trash into the high-capacity, removable ash catcher, and your grill will remain clean.

Use the angled lid hook to conveniently hang your lid on the grill’s side instead of placing it on the ground. You can as well hang all your grilling tools, like the tongs and spatulas, on the hooks for easy access.

Weber Kettle Grill lets you spark your grilling and cooking passion like never before. With all its upgraded features, this unit performs better than its costlier competitors.

So, why spend lots of money on less-quality grills while you can get this affordable pick and enjoy a smooth grilling experience. I can confidently recommend it to anyone looking for a small griller for camping or tailgating.

What we like:

  • Built-in lid thermometer
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl
  • Rust-resistant aluminum dampers
  • Hinged cooking grate for quickly adding charcoal while grilling
  • High-capacity ash catcher for hassle-free ash cleanup
  • Holds up to 13 hamburgers and a whole chicken

What we don’t like:

  • No written instructions, only visuals

3. Best Kamado – Char-Griller E6520 Akorn Kamado Grill

Char-Griller E6520 Akorn Kamado Grill

Char-Griller E6520 Akorn Kamado Grill is made of triple-walled insulated steel, making it significantly lighter, more durable, and less expensive than traditional ceramic grills.

Enjoy the Kamado style that lets you cook almost everything, from fish to burgers & pizza to ribs. You’ll be at liberty to choose between searing meat with high heat or enjoying a slow roast. The cast-iron cooking grates enhance flavors and heat evenly. Indeed, the best meal you’ll ever prepare on a charcoal grill.

The cart features a generous dimension of 26 x 26″ of prep and serving space. You can place drinks, utensils and use the attached hooks to hang the grilling tools. That is enough to make your cooking experience conveniently easy.

You’ll be happy to know that the Kamado design promotes efficient fuel consumption. The bottom and top adjustable dampers help maintain uniform airflow out and into the grill. And so, you can cook and smoke your food for hours without the worry of using too much charcoal.

So, should you get this one? The answer is resounding Yes.

The Char-Griller E6520 is an elegant pick that makes you feel like a seasoned backyard chef. Constructed with triple-walled 22 gauge steel that easily maintains the cooking temperatures between 200-700° Fahrenheit. This affordable charcoal grill would be the best investment to consider this year.

What we like:

  • It has a cooking space of 314 sq. in.
  • It gives more heat but uses less charcoal
  • Durable steel construction built to last
  • Provides insulated heat for juicier meat
  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Easy dump ash pan

What we don’t like:

  • The bottom ash pan fills with water during heavy rain

4.Best with Smoker – PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Original

PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Original

PK Grill and Smoker boasts a reputable brand name in making grills and smokers for more than 60 years. That is assurance enough that the manufacturer understands to design reliable products.

Get the PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X with confidence, knowing that its cast aluminum charcoal grills are covered against burnout, rust, or breakage for an entire decade. This charcoal grill comes with 100% service satisfaction!

You’ll undoubtedly love the 300 sq. in. cooking surface that comes ready to cook. This unit will handle everything from backyard BBQs to brats to the delicious Thanksgiving turkey. The unique capsule shape and patented 4-point venting system make it easy to grill fast and hot or slow and low. The choice is yours!

Assembly has never been more straightforward – you only need to put together a few bolts and nuts for the frame, and you’ll be good to go – 5 minutes are enough.

The cast aluminum construction is durable and sturdy. It remains rust-proof even when exposed to water or moisture. Even though the unit is built to last, it remains amazingly lightweight, conducting heat 4-times better than steel charcoal grills.

Since the unit detaches easily from any available stand options, transportation is a breeze. You can make it your camping, tailgating, fishing, and hunting cabin companion.

The PK Grill & Smoker delivers the best airflow control, heat retention, and temperature control of any full-size charcoal grill. It is built for competitors and novice grillers alike.

What we like:

  • Cast aluminum construction
  • 300 sq. in. cooking surface
  • A patented 4-point venting system
  • Conducts heat more efficiently
  • Rustproof and durable
  • Easy to grill fast and hot or slow and low

What we don’t like:

  • Screws too long for cap-head bolts

5. Best Heavy-duty – Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel Charcoal Grill

Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel Charcoal Grill

You can now polish your culinary horizons by using the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel Charcoal Grill. This large capacity machine comes ready to introduce you to a whole new world of BBQs.

It is a professional-grade unit suitable for those who are looking for a quality yet affordable grill. The grill is super compatible with the DGSS287CB-D offset smoker box, which is sold separately.

This unit features a collapsible steel front that opens to give more grilling space within a compact area. The included stainless steel temperature gauge displays the temperatures for smoking and grilling.

The machine’s porcelain-enameled grates allow maximum and uniform heat transfer. Grill veggies, sear steaks, and burgers at your next backyard barbecue using this unit, and enjoy plenty of prep space, cooking space, and sufficient serving space.

Grill safely without risking burning your hands using the cool-touch spring handle that provides safer access to food. Also, the side access door helps in efficiently disposing of ashes and adding fuel.

The Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel Charcoal Grill lets you maximize your backdoor cooking experience while allowing minimum storage space. All in all, this unit is well constructed and guarantees you durable and satisfactory service.

What we like:

  • The total cooking area is 675 sq. in.
  • Durable, heavy-gauge steel body construction
  • Porcelain-enameled cook grates
  • Cool-touch spring lid handles
  • Oversized wheels for easy transportation

What we don’t like:

  • Sub-optimal for any large meat that needs smoking for many hours

Buying Guide: How to Choose a Charcoal Grill?

You want a charcoal grill that can withstand any harsh elements, retain heat, but still last long. That could only be so if you go for units with sturdy materials. Steel and aluminum are the most common materials used in constructing charcoal grills.

Those with stainless steel construction come with rust- and weather-resistant powders or paints. They also have a cover that protects them from damage. All these features help to improve the overall durability and longevity.

Cast-iron is the best material for a charcoal grill. It retains heat, sears meat, and locks in the juicy flavors in the meat. While steel is also used, it might cause trouble with cooking.

Cooking Area and Space

Go for a charcoal grill that offers a massive primary and secondary cooking area. Anything with a cooking area above 450 sq. in. will be suitable for large parties. Most units on this list have porcelain-enameled grill grates that retain more heat and provide greater nonstick properties.

The cooking areas are also protected against corrosion and rust, making them durable and easier to clean. Units with sufficient cooking space makes you enjoy plenty of prep space, cooking space, and sufficient serving space. All these features make your grilling an enjoyable experience.

Venting System

Most charcoal grills have vents on the bottom. When you open the vents wide, they’ll allow more air in the grill, therefore, giving you a hotter fire. If you are the kind who enjoys hot fires, go for a grill with a wider vent system. To get a cooler fire, allow less air in by closing the vents partially. Other units even feature dual venting systems, giving you ultimate temperature control and charcoal management.

Electronic Components

Most charcoal grills have an inbuilt temperature control system to accurately display the internal temperature readings. Requisite temperatures can be adjusted with the bottom and top chambers because they allow the flow of heat and air throughout the grilling chamber. For other machines, the lid is mounted with a gauge to measure the temperature.

The newest gen of smart charcoal grills comes with Wi-Fi connectivity options. These are professional-grade BBQ equipment that allows you to control your grill from afar – you can lower or raise the temperature without being anywhere near the machine. If you’re looking for convenience, such will provide better reliability to monitor temps.

Manufacturers are also making Bluetooth-enabled grills that make monitoring grill temps a breeze. Bluetooth lets you check your barbecue temperature on your smartphone through an app.

Warning Signs to Look for When Buying a Charcoal Grill

The market is flooded with hundreds of models of cheap barbecue grills that use charcoal as fuel. Because they don’t use a fuel system such as gas and wood-pellet, some manufacturers feel as though it’s an opportunity to cut corners and not built it as well as other more expensive grills. That’s a big mistake.

Here are a few things you should keep an eye out for when buying a charcoal BBQ grill, especially an inexpensive one.

1. Low-Quality Paint:

A lot of cheaper BBQ grills using charcoal will skimp on the paint. They’ll look nice and shiny at first, but use it once and it begins to bubble and crack. You want to get a grill that has good, heat-resistant paint that can stand up to the heat of repeated cooking. Paint flakes in your food are not a great thing at all.

2. Difficult Cleaning Setup:

Some low-quality charcoal grills will not be very easy to clean. As you probably know, when charcoal is spent it leaves grey dust behind. Better grills will have a tray or system to easily remove and clean the charcoal pan. Cheaper ones will be more difficult or nigh impossible to empty. Go for a grill with an easy-to-clean system.

3. Improper Heat Isolation:

A big issue with charcoal barbecues is the fact that they don’t isolate the cooking heat. Being all-metal, a small grill can become dangerously hot all over, even the lid. The best charcoal-powered portable BBQ grills have excellent isolation, meaning that even when it’s running full blast, it will be safe to touch the handles and lid, and it won’t be as much of a fire hazard.

Kettle Grills vs Kamado Grills – Which one should you pick?

Choosing between kettle grills and kamado grills is a subjective matter! However, there are general rules about these grills that can help you decide the grill to best suit your needs!

Let’s discuss their differences and help you know the best one for you!

Kamado Grill

Kamado grills use wood lump charcoal which leaves the charcoal flavor and tasty smoke associated with grilling. They are costlier than kettle grills because of their unmatched versatility, durability, quality heat control, and effective moisture retention. The grills are more suitable for people who grill regularly.

Kettle Grill

On the other hand, Kettle grills are lighter and smaller than Kamado grills. Unlike Kamado grills, they require less fuel to keep them at high temps. These units have a spherical charcoal grill that derives its name from the spherical shape. The grills do a tremendous job at retaining the moisture of whatever you’re cooking.

Our Recommendation: If you’re on tight budgets, kettle grills are the best options to go for as they are cheaper. And since they are smaller and use lesser fuel, you can rest assured that your monthly bills will reduce significantly.