Best Affordable Charcoal Grill – Top 5 Picks 2020

My first charcoal grill wasn’t anything fancy. I was young and I wanted a backyard unit that I could cook the everyday steak on, and grill for my friends when they came to visit. I was very impressed with how durable the grill was and I merit this to it’s construction and grate quality.

The most important things to look for when deciding on the best affordable charcoal grill are:

  • Grill grate quality and construction material for durability.
  • Size of the cooking space.
  • Whether it’s fit for purpose, that is, whether it’s a portable, tabletop, or everyday grill.

Once you’ve decided on the qualities you want, consider the price and make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. We’ve made it simple by highlighting the most affordable, but quality charcoal grills for each grill purpose.

What Is The Best Affordable Charcoal Grill?

The main quality that the best affordable charcoal grill should have is a strong metal construction of both the grill grates, in order to regulate temperature and resist rust, and also the actual unit, so it can withstand hot temperatures without wearing. This will lead to a longlasting unit, which is essential if you want the most for your buck!

You will also want a large enough cooking space for the required amount of people, as well matching the right grill for the right purpose. Lets review the best affordable charcoal grills for each category, with a focus on performance, size, and quality build.

1) Top Pick: Best Affordable Charcoal Grill - Weber 441001 Grill

Features:

Cooking Space: 240 Square Inches
Grill Grates: Plated Steel 
Construction Material: Porcelain-Enamelled Lid and Bowl
Overall: Best Affordable Charcoal Grill 

  • Best value for quality
  • Ten year warranty
  • Great heat circulation and control
  • Smaller ash pan
  • Could be slightly taller

What Matters The Most:

  • Lid hook is surprisingly convenient to hang beside the grill.
  • Large enough for the whole family, comfortably fits 9 burger patties for scale.
  • With such a long warranty it really gives confidence to the quality and make of this grill, as well as all other Weber grills. 
  • Top quality porcelain-enamelled lid and bowl helps with cooking, holding a consistent temperature, and prevents rust and wear.
  • Withstands high temperatures and has a heat control vent to control the temperature. 

Concerns

  • The ash pan is relatively small, and fills with ash easily. It is therefore recommended to clear it regularly, after every use ideally. Luckily, it is easy to clear as the ash is caught on the ash catcher located below the outside of the basin.
  • The height of the grill is 35 inches. If you are a tall person this feels a little short, but is still easily manageable.

Overall

Overall this is the best value for money for the best affordable charcoal grill because you get it all. Quality make and performance, from a quality and reputable brand. There are minor criticisms in regards to the small ash pan, which does need to be changed regularly, and the overall height of the grill. However, the great circulation, heat control, convenience, price, and quality definitely outweigh this.

2) Best Budget Charcoal Grill - Weber Smokey Joe 14-Inch

Features:

Cooking Space: 147 Square Inches
Grill Grates: Plated Steel 
Construction Material: Porcelain-Enamelled Lid and Bowl
Overall: Best Budget Charcoal Grill

  • Amazing value for money
  • Ten year warranty
  • Quality make
  • Small cooking space if using for an everyday grill
  •  

What Matters The Most:

  • The bowl and lid have a 10 year warranty, cleaning system and plastic components have 5 year warranty, and every other part has a 2 year warranty. Amazing for such an affordable grill
  • Same top quality make as the larger Weber charcoal grills. This is, plated steel cooking grates and porcelain-enamelled lid and bowl to retain heat and resist rust. 
  • Ideally suited for smaller families, camping, or as a tabletop grill. 
  • This really is unbeatable as the best budget charcoal grill, it boasts the same quality as larger and more expensive Weber charcoal grills, but at a fraction of the price.

Concerns

  • It doesn’t have the largest cooking space. It can comfortably grill up to five burgers or 3 steaks for reference. Not as suitable for a larger family or for those who want to grill for more than a few people.

Overall

  • The Weber Smokey Joe 14″ is simply the best budget charcoal grill. It boasts the same quality as larger and more expensive Weber charcoal grills, but at a fraction of the price. It does have a much smaller cooking space and therefore is more suitable for a smaller family, or those wanting to grill for 2-4 people, or anyone who is looking for a great quality affordable grill.

3) Best Affordable Charcoal Offset Smoker Grill - Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill With Offset Smoker

Features:

Cooking Space: 800 Square Inches Total, 438 Square Inches In The Main Chamber
Grill Grates: Porcelain Steel 
Construction Material: Heat-Resistant Black Painted Steel
Overall: Best Affordable Charcoal Offset Smoker Grill

  • Versatile, both a grill and a smoker
  • Extremely affordable for an offset smoker grill 
  • Very large cooking space
  • Large, 183 square inch warming rack
  • Must temper the unit before using to prevent paint from peeling
  • Lower quality hood and bowl

What Matters The Most:

  • Very large cooking space. Eight-hundred square inches in total, 438 square inches in the main chamber, 179 as the warming rack, and 183 in the offset smoker.
  • Greatly affordable considering it’s both a large charcoal grill, as well as an offset smoker.
  • Has a quality made easy-to-read temperature thermometer inbuilt in the hood.
  • Adjustable charcoal pan making it easier to keep the desired temperature. You can adjust it depending on how much charcoal you will need to put in for either smoking or grilling.

Concerns

  • It is highly recommended to temper the unit before use to ensure the paint doesn’t peel. To temper, or season, the grill means to apply oil to the grates and heat up the temperature slowly up to around 300°F until the oil begins to smoke. Then, turning down the heat and letting it cool before use. This helps set the paint to prevent it peeling.
  • This is also a tell that the construction material isn’t great quality.

Overall

Although it is almost unbeatable on price for the best affordable charcoal offset smoker grill, the quality of the hood and bowl aren’t top quality. It is highly recommended to temper and season your grill before use, and avoid heating the grill past about 450°F-500°F in order to keep its durability. If you can maintain the quality then this will deliver great results as both a grill or a smoker!

4) Best Affordable Portable Charcoal Grill - Weber Jumbo Joe 18-Inch

Features:

Cooking Space: 240 Square Inches
Grill Grates: Plated Steel 
Construction Material: Porcelain-Enamelled Lid and Bowl
Overall: Best Affordable Portable Charcoal Grill 

  • Very high ratings
  • Large cooking space but lightweight
  • Ten year warranty
  • Smaller ash pan

What Matters The Most:

  • Weber, again with it’s top quality build and performance offers a 10 year warranty, and the Jumbo Joe holds a 4.8/5 rating on amazon with over 1100 reviews.
  • Has the cooking space of a larger everyday grill but as a more compact, portable, and affordable option.
  • Large enough cooking space to grill for 3-5 people comfortably.
  • Perfect for travel due as it has quality construction, lightweight, and has enough room to cook for the whole family. Also a great choice for everyday use for the backyard griller.

Concerns

  • Ash pan could be a bit larger, not a problem as long as you clear it after every use.

Overall

It’s very hard to criticise this grill as an affordable charcoal grill. Although, one downside is the size of the ash pan. However this minor inconvenience of having to clear it after every use is heavily outweighed by it’s design, performance, and price. A very popular and portable grill that packs a punch at a very affordable price.

5) Best Affordable Tabletop Charcoal Grill - Char-Griller E82424 Charcoal Grill

Features:

Cooking Space: 250 Square Inches
Grill Grates: Cast-Iron Grates
Construction Material: Heavy Steel
Overall: Best Affordable Tabletop Charcoal Grill

  • High quality grates
  • Simple but stylish
  • Durable and solid construction
  • Awkward to use a portable grill

What Matters The Most:

  • One of the only grills at this price point to have cast-iron grates. Cast-iron is much more durable and retains and radiates heat much more effectively than steel.
  • Very simple, but effect design. 
  • Large cooking space, enough to cook for 3-5 people comfortably.
  • Solid, heavy steel construction on the hood and bowl. Retains heat well, and withstand hotter temperatures without wearing.

Concerns

  • Quite awkward if used as a portable grill due to its size, shape, and heavy steel.

Overall

Definitely a competitor for the best affordable charcoal grill, but certainly the top performer as a tabletop grill due to its size, construction quality, cast-iron grates, and price. One downside is that it’s quite awkward to travel with as a portable grill due to its size, shape, and weight. Therefore it’s much better suited as a tabletop grill, or as an everyday grill.

What Makes The Best Affordable Charcoal Grill?

Cooking Space

The size of the cooking space is important for any type of grill, whether it be gas, electric, or charcoal. However, Charcoal grills can often be turned into smokers using indirect heat. It’s important to think about what you want to cook, whether it’s steaks or sausages, or brisket or ribs if you want to use it as a smoker as well. Think about how many people you are cooking for too.

For reference, a 200 square inch cooking space will accommodate up to 10 sausages, 4 steaks, or 6 burger patties. Remember, try not crowd the grill, and keep a comfortable distance between the meats to help it cook more evenly, and get a better sear. 

Quality

For a budget charcoal grill, you want it to perform, but also be durable to help it last. It’s important to consider both the material the grates are made from, and also the construction material of the hood and bowl.

Cast-iron grates retain and radiate heat effectively, more so than stainless steel grates. Grates can also be porcelain-enamelled which means applying coating to the steel for both increased non-stick qualities and durability. You may also see the steel is porcelain enamelled. This refers to the coating applied to the steel and is naturally non-stick and rust proof.

The material used to make the actual grill is important too, as charcoal can burn hot and cook at very high heats. It’s important that that hood and bowl be made of high quality steel to resist wear and retain heat.

Once you’ve got yourself a  charcoal grill, be sure to use top quality lump charcoal for grilling with, or briquettes if you prefer, in order to get the best out of it.

Cost

Before making any decisions, make sure to compare the cost and quality. Take note of the cooking space, grates, and construction material. Make your decision to suit what you’ll be using it for and the overall qualities of the grill. If you’re wanting to find the best affordable charcoal grill you’ll want the best quality you can get, but at an affordable price.

Purpose

There are several different best options depending on the purpose of the grill. Will you be using it while travelling or camping? Or will you be using it as an everyday grill in the backyard? 

Different grills are designed to be great for different purposes, with different sizes, weights, and styles. Always try match your purpose with the grills speciality, which has been listed for each option in this guide.

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