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For most UK families, grilling is a crucial part of the summer. Whether you love eating slightly burned burgers with the kids, or you have a unique grilling technique that you adore showing off – there’s nothing like a barbecue on a sunny afternoon. However, to get the most amazing summer experience, you need one crucial piece of cooking equipment, the best charcoal BBQ.
Although electric and gas barbecues are excellent tools for some garden chefs, there are few things that can deliver the same smoky flavour as a charcoal grill. With the option to add flavoured woodchips into the mix, you can create a taste like nothing else with a charcoal BBQ and a little bit of time.
Of course, since charcoal grilling is so popular, there’s also plenty of different barbecues out there to choose from, all from varied brands claiming to be the best that the UK has to offer. The good news is that we’ve done all the hard work for you. By grilling up some tasty treats, and scouring through scores of charcoal BBQ reviews, we’ve found some of the hottest models on the market. Here are our preferred picks.
Best Charcoal BBQ Reviews – Top 8 Picks
If you’re searching for a cheap charcoal BBQ that offers you delicious flavour every time, then this CosmoGrill could be the answer you’ve been looking for.
It has a heating rack included inside of the hood so you can keep your food warm when you’re finished cooking. There’s also a handy stainless steel handle for lifting your grill up and down so that you can maintain the ideal cooking temperature for a range of different foods.
This BBQ grill has plenty of space to cook a meal for the whole family. It can take up to as much as 2.7 kg of charcoal briskets for a single sitting. Additionally, the system comes equipped with a smoking feature so that you can get a deliciously flavoured rack of ribs, steak, or chicken, depending on your preference.
The biggest issue with this BBQ is how complicated it is to put together. Even if you figure out the instructions, the side panels might not line up completely, which means that a lot of smoke escapes into your garden.
- Portable and reliable outdoor barbecue with lid
- Heating rack included
- Stainless steel handle for temperature control
- Plenty of capacity for the whole family
- Easy to use
- Smoker feature
- Difficult to put together
- Side panels don’t line up very well
- Hard to clean the ash out of the charcoal tray after cooking
When you love spending your spare time grilling in the yard, you need more than just an amazing barbecue with plenty of temperature control features. You also need a space where you can prepare your food, keep your utensils handy, and more. The XXL Charcoal BBQ from Callow Retail is the best for that purpose.
It is great when you have a lot of prep work to do before cooking as there are two side tables included. These tables give you more space for condiments, seasoning, and anything else you might need as you cook. They also come with utensil hooks included,
Underneath the grill, you’ll find plenty of space for all your plates and extras. You can even store your charcoal there when you’re not using the grill. Of course, this BBQ isn’t just about storage. There are plenty of cooking capabilities to rave about too. This includes the option to adjust the cooking temperature of your food. There’s also special air vents built-in, to allow for better circulation.
The XXL also comes with a built-in flue for smoking food so it’s the best option for chefs who are all about that authentic BBQ flavour. The only gripe that people have with this barbecue is how difficult it is to put together. You’re going to need help if you don’t want to lose your head.
- Extra-large for the whole family
- Heating rack to maintain prepared food
- Easy to use
- The flue for smoking food
- Plenty of storage options, side tables, and bottle opener
- Difficult to put together
- The lid doesn’t always shut easily
- Takes up a lot of space
The Landmann Grill-Chef Kettle BBQ is based on the classic kettle design and has enough space to cook food for up to four people. It is our pick for the best kettle BBQ.
Sometimes, you don’t need a long list of add-ons to create the perfect grilling experience in your backyard. All you need is a reliable and straightforward kettle barbecue that you can trust to cook your food to perfection. That’s what you get with this fantastic model.
The Landmann copes well with basic foods like sausages and burgers, but it can also handle cooking more adventurous menu items like fruit and seafood. You’ll have a range of options available to you when you cook with this grille, including the decision to use charcoal or lump wood briquettes.
There’s nothing particularly complicated about this BBQ, which makes it the best choice for beginners. However, you can’t adjust the grill height, and the instructions aren’t very good. Still, you shouldn’t have too much trouble putting it together.
- Easy to use
- Classic kettle design with lid
- Cooking area big enough for four people
- Works with a range of foods and fuels
- Not as strong as some BBQs
- Can’t adjust the grill height
- Instructions aren’t helpful at all
It might not look like much at first glance, but the Azuma Rhino Grill is one of the most popular, and well-renowned charcoal BBQs on the market.
An impressive piece of cooking equipment designed to help you create the perfect menu for your summer, this charcoal BBQ is made from durable steel sure to look incredible in your garden.
Some of its best aspects include a temperature gauge, a built-in side table, and even a bottle opener so you can chill while you bbq. When it comes to finding the best charcoal barbecue, this model has everything you need to transform your summer parties in an instant. You can even use the handle to move the charcoal panel as you cook, adjusting the temperature for different foods.
The little door at the front of the bbq also makes it easier to stir your coals and distribute heat. The only issue is that you can’t close the lid for heating food when you’ve finished cooking it. The charcoal is likely to continue preparing your meals rather than just keeping them warm, even if you move the grills as high up as possible. Additionally, you might scrape your patio when moving the barbecue, as there isn’t any rubber on the front legs.
- Strong steel construction
- Easy to use
- Bottle opener, removable ash-tray, and wheels built-in
- Complete temperature control
- With lid and attached side-table with hooks for your utensils
- Not big enough for huge groups
- No rubber stoppers on the legs, which means you can easily scrape your patio
- Too hot for heating food after cooking
If you’re craving for the delicious flavours of Southern-fried foods and Texas-smoked meats, then you can’t go wrong with this Tepro Toronto barbecue which is our choice for the best American style charcoal BBQ.
Whether you’re cooking juicy sausages, succulent steaks, or a pile of healthy vegetables, the Toronto comes with an adjustable crank grill which ensures that you can choose the right temperature for your food every time. The two-tier design also means that you can close the bbq area to keep your food safe while it’s cooking.
Similar to a convection oven, the closed lid helps your food to cook evenly on all sides at the same time. There’s also a helpful side-table included, with hanging hooks for your utensils, and a thermometer built in so you can track your temperatures.
This bbq also comes with two wheels so you can roll it to safety after use. Unfortunately, it can take quite a while to put this piece of equipment together. Be prepared to ask for help from your friends and family while cooking.
- Durable grill surface
- Easy to use
- Two-tier design so you can close your lid while grilling
- Adjustable crank to manage the temperature
- Built-in side table, thermometer, and utensil hooks
- Difficult to manoeuvre even with the wheels
- Very complicated to put together
- Instructions aren’t very straight-forward
The Landmann 31421 Taurus is an excellent big charcoal BBQ, designed for larger parties. If you’re the kind of person who loves entertaining friends and family on summer evenings, then you’re going to need a BBQ that can serve plenty of people at once. After all, you don’t want to be sweating over a bbq while everyone else is enjoying their food.
The design is very attractive, with a barrel shape that makes it easier to close the lid and keep your food safe while you’re cooking. There’s also an in-built thermometer so you can track the temperature of your food, and a large heating rack to keep your side dishes ready to eat.
One particularly compelling feature of this Landmann model is how easy it is to maintain. You can quickly remove the ashtray and clean out the charcoal without much trouble. There are even 3 separate grills for cooking, so you can use one while you clean another. Unfortunately, the wheels are a bit flimsy, and the whole thing is fiddly to put together. You’ll love the food when you’re done though.
- Large capacity for the whole family
- Easy to maintain and clean
- 3 grills to use
- Sturdy and durable construction
- With lid and removable side table
- Tricky to put together
- Flimsy wheels
- Can be prone to rust if left out in the rain
If you’re the kind of person who likes to travel a lot or go on hikes with the family, then the best charcoal BBQ for you will be one that you can pack up and take on the road. There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal when you’re camping under the stars to make for a fantastic weekend vacation. This Uten Barbecue is specifically designed for people who love the adventurous cooking lifecycle.
Both portable and foldable, the bbq can go wherever you go. It’s even light enough to take with you on some more complex hikes. Just follow the instructions when you arrive at your destination and set up the grill for a premium-quality meal in no time. The Uten group even offer a 1-year money-back guarantee to give you peace of mind too.
If you’re looking for something simple and reliable for your next camping trip, this is an amazing choice, lightweight, shiny and ready to go. Just remember that it can be a bit complicated to put together at first, and it’s not nearly as durable as some BBQs designed to be permanent garden accessories.
- Excellent portable BBQ
- Easy to use
- High-quality design and lightweight materials
- Plenty of room to cook food for the family
- Offers 1-year guarantee
- Very basic design – no lid, extra features or temperature control
- Comes wrapped in plastic that’s difficult to remove
- Flimsier than other non-portable BBQs
The Landmann Tennessee Broiler is the ultimate piece of outdoor barbecue equipment when you’re looking to give your family that perfect American-style cooking.
Although this unique grill allows you to roast and grill we think it excels most in smoking. An adjustable charcoal grate means that managing your temperatures is easy. It even has an “indirect grill” to give you a wider range of meal options and flavours. There’s also a door where you can access the firebox during cooking to ensure the even distribution of heat.
With a cast-iron cooking grate, you can rest assured that this BBQ will stand the test of time. What’s more, the stainless steel lined lid is particularly durable too. Whether you’re just cooking for the family, or you’re throwing a party for the entire street, there’s plenty of space to cook and experiment on this grill.
As with some other larger barbecues, the biggest issue you’ll face with this is the complication of putting it together. There’s also no handle for moving the BBQ when you’re done with it which is a bit of a pain as you’ll need to grab the body of the barbecue to move it into storage.
- Adjustable grill temperatures
- Lid thermometer and smoker vent
- Stainless steel and cast iron construction
- The firebox door to maintain even heat distribution while cooking
- Challenging to move when you’re not using it
- Frustrating to put together
- Heating rack doesn’t seem to fit the lid perfectly
How to Choose the Best Charcoal BBQ
There are many types of outdoor grilling equipment you can choose from. Examples of these are gas BBQs, BBQ smokers, chimineas and charcoal grills. A charcoal grill is the best choice if you are into that delicious smoky flavour but buying the right one can be a difficult process.
Some people with years of grilling history seem to go into the experience knowing exactly which features they need, and what they can’t live without. On the other hand, if your experiences with BBQs tend to happen only once or twice a year, as with most people in the UK, you might struggle.
How do you know what size of grill you’re looking for, or whether you need a vent for smoking purposes? Here are some of the things you can consider when choosing the best coal BBQ for your garden.
1. Look at the Design
There are a lot of different things that go into the design of a charcoal grill.
a. Check the Grill Size
The most obvious thing that you’ll need to assess when you want to buy a grill is how big the barbecue is. When it comes to size, you’ll need to think about how many people you’re going to be cooking for at any given moment. If you like to throw a lot of garden parties, then barrel grills are often the bigger, more robust option. However, they’re quite difficult to move around, and you need a lot of space for them in your backyard.
On the other hand, if you’re just cooking for your family, then you might be able to get by with a kettle grill instead. These are some of the smallest options on the market, but they’re also highly convenient as they’ll fit in basically any yard. On the other hand, if you’re planning on cooking food on the go, you’re going to need a portable grill that can be easily packed up and moved when you need to use it.
b. See If the Cooking Surface Is Enough
Don’t confuse the size of the grill with the size of the cooking surface. On most product descriptions, you’ll be able to get an idea of how many people you can cook for at any given moment. If you want to buy a grill that has a lot of added features for cooking, like separate smoker stations or side tables, then it might look large, but has a smaller grill surface.
c. Choose the Material That Best Suits Your Needs
Another thing to think about is what the products are made of. Full-steel construction is often the better option for charcoal grilling, as it means that it is likely to last longer. Cast iron grilling plates can also be very durable and help you to maintain an even cooking temperature on meats and vegetables.
2. Consider Your Cooking Uses
Did you know that cooking with charcoal can be excellent for your health? Of course, that all depends on what you’re going to be cooking. If you’re planning on using your barbecue for smoking the basic staples of an outdoor party like hot dogs and burgers, then you don’t need any special features on your bbq. Most BBQs will be able to handle these items.
If you’re going to be experimenting with different recipes in your backyard, then keep that in mind when you’re looking for the right model. There are some ceramic grills you can buy that are designed to give you better flavour and variety, while there are certain steel grills that can offer a range of options when it comes to smoking, roasting, and more.
When you’re checking out the reviews and product descriptions, keep an eye out for any hints on the kinds of food that work well on the bbq that you’re considering. You don’t want to ruin your new purchase by trying to do too much with it.
3. Check Your Temperature Control Options
While charcoal grilling offers you a much more authentic flavour than a gas option, it’s much harder to control your temperatures. You can just adjust your gas burner when you don’t want to expose something to a high level of heat but not with coals.
Most coal BBQs address this problem by giving you a handle that you can use to move the grills closer, or further away from the burning charcoal. You might be able to set different grills at different heights too so that you can cook multiple foods at once. The lid of your BBQ can also play a role in temperature control, as well as any vents or aeration options that are available throughout the body of the model.
Some charcoal grills also come with a little door that you can open to access the coal pit while you’re cooking. This will allow you to move and stir the coals around to ensure more even temperature distribution. If you want to buy a BBQ that will also keep your prepared food ready to eat after you’re finished roasting or grilling it, look for something that comes packaged with a warming rack.
4. How Easy Is It to Use
Another common downside to choosing charcoal over other options like gas BBQ is that it generally takes more work to clean and maintain your grill. It’s also a little bit more challenging to use a charcoal grill than a gas option.
Any charcoal grill is going to take more work to get your heat started and ensure that the temperature is right when you’re starting to cook. That means you should be prepared to spend some extra time getting used to your bbq. You might find that you end up with a few burned burgers and sausages before you get things perfect.
5. How Much Maintenance Will It Take
Maintenance is important when considering buying any outdoor and garden equipment. Just like a gas bbq, when it comes to the easy cleaning and upkeep of your grill, a hinged door that allows you to quickly remove coals and sweep out any residue is always helpful. If your coal grate is fixed, then you’re going to need some extra help when dumping out the ash and cleaning up.
Also, avoid investing in a BBQ that’s likely easy to rust. You should be able to get an idea of how prone any model is to rust by looking at the reviews left by other customers.
6. Think About the Safety of Your Family and Home
There are a lot of essential things to think about when you’re choosing an amazing bbq. However, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to find out whether the item you want to buy is safe to use.
Whether charcoal, electric or gas, from a safety perspective, one thing that you can do is read the reviews from other customers. Find out how comfortable other people felt using their new purchase and how easy the instructions are to follow. Your BBQ experience is likely to be easy and go a lot more smoothly if you don’t have to worry about the model falling apart when you’re in the middle of using it.
Additionally, remember to look for a sturdy barbecue. Flimsy legs are no good on a charcoal BBQ. You want to feel confident that it’s not going to be easy to tip over or pose a serious safety hazard if the weather suddenly changes and the wind starts blowing.
7. Inspect and Test for Durability
A BBQ is an investment. You should think about the products in your shortlist. Can they stand the test of time? First of all, consider that some charcoal grills, when properly maintained, can last for several years at a time. That should mean you can get quite a few great barbecues out of them.
Sometimes, however, if you want to buy a barbecue with excellent durability, you also need to be willing to spend a little more on a model that features high-quality materials and construction. Additionally, an excellent warranty period offers some peace of mind if you’re not sure whether your new bbq is built to last.
Enjoy Your Summer BBQs
There’s nothing quite like a delicious meal made on a charcoal barbecue to let you know that summer has finally arrived. However, finding the best charcoal BBQ isn’t always easy. Ultimately, you’ll need to make the decision based on what you need most from your cooking equipment. The ideal grill for someone who wants to take their BBQ with them on every camping trip won’t be the same as the perfect choice for someone looking to make gourmet meals in their yard.
Our favourite choice today is the CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Portable Smoker. It features a versatile design, with easily adjustable grilling heights and storage space, including hooks, to store and hang your barbecuing utensils. What’s more, this model is equipped with a smoking feature, as well as a heating rack and a built-in thermometer so that you can keep track of the BBQ’s temperature and make sure all your food stays hot.
Do you have an incredible charcoal BBQ that we haven’t talked about here? Or do you prefer a gas bbq? Let us know in the comments below, and happy grilling!