Small Grill, Big Flavor: The Best Small Charcoal Grills in

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Are you looking for an inexpensive, no frills charcoal grill to get started on your grilling adventures? We have the perfect solution! Today, we’re here to chat about some of the best small charcoal grills available on the market.

Whether you’re a backyard chef, a family who just wants something simple and effective or even a pro when it comes to getting that authentic smoky flavor in your food- these compact and easy to use charcoal grills will give you a great result every time.

So grab your tongs and fire up that coals, because these are some serious contenders in the small charcoal grill world.

close up photo of black metal charcoal grill
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Best Small Charcoal Grills

Don’t have time to read? I get it, so for those of you in a hurry, these are the best small charcoal grills:

What to Look For When Choosing a Small Charcoal Grill


I suppose this is obvious, but hear me out. When it comes to size, there are a few different things to consider when choosing a small charcoal grill.

First, consider the overall size of the grill itself. Small charcoal grills are typically designed to be portable and lightweight, so they don’t take up much space and can be easily moved around.

However, you’ll want to make sure that the grill you choose will fit comfortably in the space where you plan to use it. This includes not only the footprint of the grill, but also the height of the grill and any additional features, such as a side table or a built-in thermometer.

Another aspect of size to consider is the cooking surface of the grill. This is typically measured in square inches, and for a small charcoal grill, it ranges around 150-300 square inches. This will give you a good idea of how much cooking space you’ll have available.

Consider the number of people you’ll typically be cooking for as well. If you usually only cook for one or two people, then a smaller cooking surface may be sufficient.

However, if you frequently entertain or cook for larger groups, you may want to consider a grill with a larger cooking surface.

Finally, you should also consider the size of the food you’ll be cooking on the grill. If you plan to mostly cook small items such as burgers, hotdogs or kabobs, then a smaller cooking surface may be sufficient.

But if you plan to cook larger items such as steaks, chicken or fish, you’ll want to look for a grill with a larger cooking surface.

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Cooking Surface

The cooking surface of a charcoal grill is the area on which you place your food to cook. It’s typically measured in square inches, and for a small charcoal grill, it ranges around 150-300 square inches.

When choosing a grill, it’s important to consider how much cooking space you’ll need for your typical meals. For example, if you typically cook for one or two people, then a smaller cooking surface of around 150-200 square inches may be sufficient.

However, if you frequently entertain or cook for larger groups, you may want to consider a grill with a larger cooking surface of 250-300 square inches or more.

Another factor to consider is the shape of the cooking surface. Some grills have round or oval cooking surfaces, while others have rectangular or square surfaces.

The shape of the cooking surface can affect how much space you have for cooking and how much food you can fit on the grill at one time.

You also want to consider the material the cooking surface is made of. Stainless steel and porcelain-coated cast iron are popular options because they are durable, easy to clean and they distribute heat evenly.

Cast iron is particularly good at retaining heat, so it can be great for high heat cooking like searing. However, they can be heavy and they rust if not properly seasoned or stored.

Another important aspect is how well it’s constructed, is it well-made, sturdy and well-designed. You want to make sure that the cooking grate is securely attached and that the grill is easy to assemble and disassemble for cleaning.


When it comes to choosing a small charcoal grill, durability is a key factor to consider. Not only does a durable grill have a longer lifespan and withstand regular use, it also maintains its performance over time.

Investing in a more durable grill can ultimately save money in the long run, as it will likely need to be replaced less frequently.

Two great options for durable small charcoal grills are NOMAD and PK Grills. Both companies make their grills from thick 100% aluminum, which means they will never rust. Additionally, Weber Smokey Joe has ceramic paint coating which not only improve the look but also a good protection to the grill and makes it last longer.

This makes both NOMAD and PK Grills, as well as Weber Smokey Joe, a great choice when picking a small charcoal grill.

person grilling meat
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Venting matters when using a charcoal grill because it allows you to control the airflow and temperature inside the grill. The vents, usually located at the bottom and on the lid, enable you to regulate the amount of oxygen that reaches the charcoal.

By adjusting the vents, you can increase or decrease the heat inside the grill, allowing you to cook at a wide range of temperatures. This is important for cooking different types of food, such as slow-cooking a brisket or grilling a steak at high heat.

Additionally, proper venting also allows you to control the amount of smoke inside the grill, which can affect the flavor of the food. By adjusting the vents, you can reduce the amount of smoke for a milder flavor or increase it for a smokier taste.

Proper venting also help with the fuel efficiency, too much or too little airflow can cause the charcoal to burn too hot or too low, causing the food to burn or undercook.

Ease of use

Ease of use is an important consideration when picking a small charcoal grill because it can greatly impact the overall grilling experience.

A grill that is easy to use will make setting up, lighting, and maintaining the fire simple and straightforward. This allows you to spend less time on the logistics of grilling and more time enjoying the food and company.

Look for a grill with an easy-to-use design, such as a hinged cooking grate that makes it easy to add charcoal or a removable ash pan that makes cleaning up a breeze.


Small charcoal grills can range in price from less than $20 to several hundred dollars. Consider how much you’re willing to spend and what features are most important to you.

Price can be an important factor to consider when buying a small charcoal grill, as it can impact the overall value of the purchase.

A lower-priced grill may be more budget-friendly, but it may not have the same features or build quality as a higher-priced model. It could also have a shorter lifespan or require more maintenance. On the other hand, a higher-priced grill may have more advanced features or be made with higher-quality materials, which can lead to a longer lifespan, better performance, and overall better value over time.

When making a decision based on price, it’s important to consider the cost over time, not only the initial purchase price. A grill that is cheaper but needs to be replaced or has a short lifespan may end up costing more in the long run. In contrast, a more expensive grill that lasts longer and requires less maintenance can be more cost-effective in the long run.

Additionally, you should also consider the value of the grill comparing to the features it offers. A high price does not always mean it’s better, also a low price does not always mean it’s bad.

small grill in snow

Brand Reputation

Brand reputation can play a significant role when buying a small charcoal grill because it can provide insight into the quality and performance of the product.

A reputable brand that has a history of producing high-quality grills is more likely to offer a product that is well-designed, made with durable materials, and performs well. They also usually provide good customer service and have a good after sale policy.

A brand’s reputation can also give you an idea of what to expect from a grill in terms of features and capabilities.

A reputable brand is likely to produce grills with advanced features, such as built-in thermometers or ash removal systems, that can make grilling more convenient and efficient.

Also, looking at the reviews and ratings of a particular brand or product can also provide a good idea of what to expect from the grill.

Users who have had experience with the product can give their honest opinion of its performance, quality, and features, which can help you make a more informed decision.


Some small charcoal grills come with additional features, such as built-in thermometers, side tables, or wheels for easy movement. Consider whether any of these features would be useful to you.

Some important features to consider include:

  • Size and weight: A grill that is easy to move and store is ideal.
  • Assembly: Look for a grill that can be easily assembled and disassembled for cleaning and storage.
  • Fuel loading: A grill that is easy to load and unload with fuel is important for a smooth grilling experience.
  • Ash removal: Grills with ash pans or ash removal systems make cleaning up the grill much easier.
  • Airflow control: Grills with adjustable vents that are easy to use will give you more control over the cooking temperature and allow you to cook different types of food.
  • Temperature gauge: A built-in thermometer can help you to monitor and control the temperature of the grill, making cooking more accurate.
  • Cooking surface: A grill with a large cooking surface will give you more space to cook a variety of foods.
  • Lid: A grill with a lid can give you more control over the heat and allow you to cook different types of food.
  • Accessories: Some grills come with additional accessories, like a thermometer, a side table, a charcoal tray and others, that can enhance the performance, usability and make your grilling experience better.

Availability of Replacement Parts

It’s important to consider if replacement parts for the grill will be readily available if something breaks or need replacement in the future.

Availability of replacement parts is an important factor to consider when buying a small charcoal grill because it can affect the grill’s lifespan and overall value.

A grill with readily available replacement parts is more likely to have a longer lifespan, as you can easily replace worn or broken components, rather than having to replace the entire grill.

It also means that you can keep the grill running smoothly and to its full performance.

It’s also worth noting that grills with readily available replacement parts tend to be from reputable brands and companies, which is another advantage.

Final Word

There are a lot of charcoal grills on the market, but hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your choices. We’ve also included our top picks for small charcoal grills that have been tested and loved by our team. No matter which grill you choose, following the tips in this article will help you get closer to finding the perfect fit for your needs. Thanks for reading!