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There’s something profoundly satisfying about cooking on a charcoal grill. Sure, it’s much easier to ignite a gas or electric grill, but there’s no substitute for the robust, earthy flavor that comes off of charcoal.
Simply put, properly cooked food from charcoal grills beats the flavor from food from other types of grills any day of the week.
So, if you’re like me and love the methodical process of getting that perfect heat off of the coals, a charcoal grill is the way to go. These grills come in many different types and price ranges, but the truth is you can get one for a very reasonable price.
In this post, we’ll go over our picks for the best charcoal grills under $200. For a couple hundred bucks, you can be well on your way to grilling delicious food.
Why Grill With Charcoal?
We already touched on this a little bit, but the flavors you can create off of a charcoal grill is second to none. The white-hot heat of charcoal will perfectly sear meats like steak quickly, leaving that ideal caramelized, crispy exterior.
Additionally, when your meat cooks it will drip fat, oils, and sugars all over the piping hot coals. When this happens, the drippings vaporize and rise back up as smoke to coat and absorb in the meat.
It’s a beautiful process that adds depth of flavor to your food. The flavor profile gains earthy and smoky notes that take most cuts of meat to the next level.
Best Charcoal Grills Under $200 – Our Reviews
Here’s the thing: most charcoal grills are somewhat basic in design. There are of course exceptions to this rule but for the most part, if you buy a grill with a proper shape and optimal air flow you’ll be in business.
And to be honest, many of us don’t have the budget to drop a few thousand dollars on a premium charcoal grill.
So with that in mind, we felt like $200 was a nice threshold where you can get a solid grill while remaining just under that price point. Let’s get into our choices!
One of the best affordable charcoal grills is without a doubt the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, for a plethora of reasons. With 363 square inches of cooking space, every single feature of this unit is designed to maximize your ability to grill perfect meats.
Most notably, the Weber Kettle comes with an incredibly easy to use one touch cleaning system. Often times, the biggest hassle with charcoal grills is cleaning up the ashes after you are done. There’s no problem with that here. A high-capacity ash catcher is built in that collects and makes disposing ashes super simple.
For temperature control, there’s a built-in lid thermometer and the lid itself is porcelain enamored. This means that the lit will help quite a bit to retain the heat generated by your coals. There are also adjustable dampers to control oxygen flow and temperature.
Additionally, the cooking surface grate has a hinge which allows you to easily add charcoal while grilling. This is a huge convenience and lets you have complete control over your grill.
You can easily move the unit around on a pair of durable wheels, and also store a couple of utilities on built in hooks for easy access and organization of your cooking space.
- Adjustable dampers for oxygen flow allow for maximum control
- Hinging grate lets you add coals during your cook
- Ash catcher and 1 touch cleaning system
- Built in lid thermometer
- Hooks help with storage and organization
- Lacks premium features, but that is to be expected at this price point
The Weber Original Kettle is very similar to their 22-inch premium charcoal grill, with a few less features. The tradeoff though, is that this model comes at a significantly discounted price.
What’s the difference between the Original Kettle 22 Inch Charcoal Grill and the Original Kettle Premium? There are three major differences. First, the non-premium model does not have a hinging grate for easily adding coals after your cook has already begun. You can still add them, it’s just not quite as easy.
Second, the ash collection tray isn’t quite as nice on the non-premium iteration. The tray is basically just an open bowl. It gets the job done for sure, but it’s not ideal for a windy day where gusts could blow ashes over your porch or patio.
Finally, there aren’t any utility hooks on this model.
Aside from those minor differences, this unit is every bit as good as Weber’s premium charcoal grill. You can still control oxygen flow with adjustable dampers, and the lid is designed for heat retention. This grill is designed to get smoking hot and give you ultimate control over how you cook your food.
- Adjustable dampers for oxygen flow allow for maximum control
- Ash catcher and 1 touch cleaning system
- Built in lid thermometer
- Wheels make transporting the grill super easy
- Weighs only 33 pounds
- Ash catching system could be better
- No utility hooks
You may have heard of kamado grills before – Big Green Egg is one of the most common household names in the world of grilling. What you may not have known is that kamado grills are fueled by charcoal!
This specialty type of grill tends to be very heavy and quite expensive, mostly due to the high quality ceramic material that’s used to construct the egg shape of the cooking chamber.
However, not all kamado style grills are made of ceramic. Some are made of materials like stainless steel or cast aluminum.
In the case of the Char-Griller Akorn Jr., the shell of the grill is made of powder coated steel and the circular cooking grate is made of cast iron.
The egg shaped design functions very similarly to the top brands of kamado grills, and at only 33 pounds, the Akorn Jr. can easily be taken on-the-go.
On the cooking surface front, there is enough space to cook 8 medium sized burgers at once, so even though this is a portable grill, it can be reasonably used on a nightly basis for regular at home grilled dinners!
- Egg shaped cooker does an excellent job of trapping smoke and moisture
- Can fit up to 8 burgers at once
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver around
- Powder coated steel shell and cast iron grate
- Has difficulty maintaining the scorching hot (500ºF+) temperatures ceramic kamados can maintain
It’s easy to assume that you’re going to have to settle for a bare bones grill when shopping at the lower end of the price spectrum. That’s definitely not the case when it comes to the Royal Gourmet BBQ Offset Smoker. This charcoal grill can handle all of your basic grilling needs and has the versatility to be a dual style barbecue.
It’s also a great option if you are the type of master griller who cooks for big groups of people or parties. There’s a whopping 800 square inches of total cooking surface. 438 of those are the main cooking area, 183 are comprised of the side box, and finally there’s a swing away warming rack with 179.
This is a perfect unit for slow cook BBQ brisket, chicken, and ribs. The large main chamber lets you load up the coals and wood chips for the best flavoring. When it’s time to clean up, there are built in ash pans that allow you to dump ashes in the trash easily.
At only 4 feet tall, and considering all of the cooking surface, the Royal Gourmet is a great option for camping or tailgating. The unit itself weighs about 55 pounds so you might need some help lugging it around if you can’t roll it.
- Generous amount of cooking surface area
- Offset smoker adds versatility as a combination grill/smoker
- Temperature gauge and scald-proof handle built in
- Excellent price point considering all of the included features
- Great for camping and tailgating
- Some customers have complained that their units don’t hold temperature well. This is likely a faulty parts issue that should be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. If this happens it’s a hassle to deal with.
If you’re looking for a charcoal grill under $200 that can fit into a tight space, the Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro is really hard to beat. As the namesake suggests, it can fit into a tight patio space and is a nice option for apartments or small spaces.
The tradeoff is that there’s only 250 square inches of cooking space. That’s not as much as some of the other grills on this list, but it’s plenty of space to handle the needs of 4-6 people. For reference, you could fit 6 to 8 regular sized burgers on a space that big.
One side of the grill is a drawer that slides out for your coals. It’s a super convenient and easy way to manage your fuel. The other side of the grill has a shelf to help you organize during your cook.
Adjustable dampers allow you to control oxygen flow and by extension, how hot your coals get. The ash pan is removable so it’s super easy to clean up after you’re done.
- The placement of shelves and drawers are extremely intuitive
- Ash catcher works great and makes cleanup easy
- Adjustable dampers for airflow management
- Perfect for small decks or patios
- Built in wheels are durable and easy to use
- Small cooking surface
If you aren’t necessarily in need of a full-sized grill, the Char Griller Table Top is an incredibly versatile option and worthy of a place on our list. Even though it weighs about 40 pounds, it’s actually quite easy to transport relative to that weight. Mostly because the dimensions of the entire grill are 18.5″ x 17″ x 16″.
This unit will actually attach to other Char-Griller units to serve as a horizontal Texas style smoker, but it works great as a stand-alone table top grill.
It features 250 square inches of primary cooking area, which is plenty of room to cook for about 6 people. You really can get just about anything done with this small profile tabletop grill.
As you’d expect from quality charcoal grills, there’s a removable ash tray for easy clean up. A sliding drawer makes coal management a breeze too.
- Small profile makes it very easy to transport
- Versatile; great for camping and works as a compliment to larger grills.
- Sliding drawer for easy coal management
- Cast iron cooking grates and heavy-duty steel construction
- Removable ash pan for easy cleanup
- Only 250 square inches of cooking surface area
If you’re looking specifically for a portable grill that uses charcoal, the Weber Go Anywhere is a great choice to take your BBQ on the go.
Whether it’s a camping trip or a tailgate, the Go Anywhere is easy to pack up in the back of your car at only 15 pounds. Provided you’ve cleaned your grill out properly, it couldn’t be easier to move this thing around.
It comes with 160 sq. in. of cooking surface area, which admittedly isn’t particularly large, but it’s enough to fit 4 to 6 burgers at a time for a tasty on the go meal.
The shell of the grill is made of Weber’s signature porcelain enameled lid and base, which do an excellent job of retaining heat and distributing heat evenly throughout the grill.
- At only 15 lbs, it is the ultimate on-the-go charcoal grill
- Easy to clean
- Lid and base are made with durable porcelain enameled material
- Ideal for camping and adventuring
- Excellent price point
- The smallest cooking surface area of any grill on this list
Choosing Charcoal Grills Under $200
At Own The Grill, we believe that well cooked food brings people together like nothing else. We take the buying process for grills seriously, and we believe everybody else should too! Here are a few things to keep in mind while you shop
Quality of Build
If you’re searching for a grill under $200, that means you’re on a budget. Just like anything else, it’s easy to get wide eyed at all of the features of super expensive grills. But at the end of the day, you can make outstanding food on a budget friendly grill.
Most importantly, the build quality needs to be high. That means a design that retains heat, allows for simple charcoal management, and bonus points for a solid ash removal system. If the grill you purchase has those things, you’re going to be in business.
Cooking Area and Grill Size
Cooking area frankly is an important factor for any type of grill. How many people are you grilling for? Which cuts of meat are you going to try to cook?
250 square inches of cooking area will get the job done for a family of four 99% of the time. If you plan on cooking for larger groups of people, make sure you get something that has enough grill grate area.
On a similar note, consider how much space you have for your grill. Also think about the setting you plan to grill in. Are you buying for a small patio? A large outdoor kitchen? Or do you need something transportable for camping trips and tailgating?
For beginners, we always recommend grills that have as many temperature control features as possible to make things easier. Even for intermediate to advanced grill masters, these features can help you a tremendous amount.
Things like built in temperature gauges, sliding charcoal trays, and adjustable dampers for oxygen flow management can be the difference in taming the flame or losing control of your cook.
Ease of Use
Grilling to us is part art and part science. To unlock the mastery within, you don’t want to have to devote focus and time to things that aren’t that important. That’s why it’s important to think about the ease of use of your grill. Is it intuitively designed? Will the storage features and trays help you stay organized?
Cleaning and Upkeep
It goes without saying, but one of the least appealing components of charcoal grilling is process of putting out your coals and cleaning up. All of the coal and wood that loads up your food with flavor eventually turns to ash, and it’s irresponsible to not clean it out of the bottom of your grill.
While it’s no fun, the process can be made much easier if the grill has been designed properly. Most grills under $200 will have some form of easy clean features. At a minimum, there should be a removable ash tray.
Typically speaking, affordable charcoal grills tend to be quite portable since they aren’t huge hunking pieces of equipment.
Either way, you should consider whether or not you need a portable grill, or if you’d prefer something that is designed to remain in place for an extended period of time.
Most of the time, you should be looking for 30 pounds or less if you plan to bring your grill with you when you travel. Any more than that starts to become a hassle to transport.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers of cheap grills out there don’t back their products with warranties.
With that being said, it’s definitely possible to find a grill under the $200 price point that has a reasonable warranty coverage period.
Well respected brands like Weber will have a warranty of 3 or more years – that way you’re covered if you happen to get shipped a grill that has some issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to choosing a grill, there are countless questions to be asked! We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most common questions about charcoal grills here.
What’s the Best Kamado Grill Under $200
Kamado charcoal grills utilize centuries old technology are highly recommended for outdoor cooking. These grills are very flexible, and cooks in nearly every manner that one could want.
It’s often an expensive product that costs more than $1,000 – but this does not mean you can buy good quality kamado for a couple hundred bucks.
For our taste, the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. is the way to go when it comes to affordable kamado grills. You get that wonderful smokey flavor on your food in a quality cooker that will last you for years.
What Is Charcoal?
Charcoal is a substance that is created by burning wood at extremely high temperatures. This process removes moisture and harsh components from the wood.
After the charcoal is created, it’s relatively lightweight and able to be used to start fires and for our purposes, heating your grill grate!
There are two main types of charcoal used for grilling – lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes. Generally speaking, briquettes are more affordable and the most popular type of coal. Lump charcoal is created using more natural processes and is more expensive and a little harder to come by.
Are Charcoal Grills Easy To Use?
Compared to gas grills, charcoal grills require a little bit more work to operate.
The reason mainly comes down to managing your charcoal fire. First, you need to light your coals! After that, you need to monitor your grill to make sure it holds it’s temperature.
Most people get the hang of maintaining their grill’s temperature after a handful of cooks, so that part is pretty easy with some experience.
Also, tools like a charcoal chimney starter make lighting your fire easy as well. With the right equipment and a little bit of experience, charcoal grills are not difficult to use.
How Hot Do Charcoal Grills Get?
The answer to this question is going to depend quite a bit on which particular grill you end up with.
Most grill manufacturers will let you now how low and how high of a temperature your grill can hold. Any good charcoal grill should be able to reach 400-450ºF at least on the high end.
That’s enough temperature to sear a steak or get a nice crust on some burgers, but ideally a grill should be able to get to 500ºF for optimal searing performance.
For reference, some of the ceramic kamado grills we discussed earlier can reach scorching temperatures up to 900ºF – which is enough heat to bake pizza Neapolitan style.
Do I Need To Cover My Grill?
We think it’s a good idea to cover your grill, no matter which type of grill you have on your back patio.
But when it comes to charcoal grilling, it’s especially important. This is because airflow is so important for a charcoal fire, and the condition of the grill itself affects the way air can properly flow through your cooker.
For example, you need your vents and dampers to be in good shape for air to efficiently access your coals and create smoke to flow through the grill.
Most covers you can find are inexpensive and worth the investment in the long run, especially if you’re placing your grill in a place where it can be exposed to elements like wind, rain, or snow.
Are Charcoal Grills Better Than Gas?
Better is a relative term, but it’s pretty widely agreed upon that charcoal grills produce more robust, classic flavors than gas grills.
So if we are purely looking at flavors produced, most would agree that charcoal grills are better than gas grills.
With that being said, charcoal grills don’t come without downsides. As mentioned before, you have to build and maintain a fire each time you cook, which may not be ideal if you plan to grill multiple times per week after work.
Also, the ongoing cost of a charcoal grill is more expensive than a gas grill – it’s cheaper to use natural gas or refill a propane tank than it is to constantly buy new bags of charcoal.
At the end of the day, the charcoal vs gas debate comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the flavors and methodical nature of charcoal grilling, and others prefer the convenience of cooking with gas.
I hope this resource has been helpful to you in your search for the perfect grill! At the end of the day, great food doesn’t have to be expensive.
Charcoal grilling is a tried and true method of cooking food – and it’s not going away anytime soon. Even with a cheap grill and some technique, you can be well on your way to outstanding grilling.