When people think of charcoal grills that are smaller than full-size models, they often think of them to be of lesser quality. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The best small charcoal grills are not only easy to set-up and take from one place to another, but they’re also easier to use. And another thing that’s often overlooked by many people is that they consume less charcoal than larger grills. Why set up a full-size grill when you’re only cooking a few burgers, chops, or hot dogs? There’s no reason to, and that’s why these grills have soared in popularity over the last few years. Let’s take a look at some of the models that we feel are the best and that will have just about anyone grilling in no time flat.

Best Small Charcoal Grill

4Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Black Grill

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Yes, we know that many people think that small charcoal grills are not as tough or as well-built as larger size grills. They think that they’re made of thinner metal and aren’t very sturdy. Well, for people who have that mistaken belief, the Oklahoma Joe Rambler is here to shatter their entire world view. This is not only a well-built grill made from quality materials, but it might just be one of the best grills that we’ve ever reviewed—not only among small grills, but also full-size ones as well. It’s a tough, built-to-last charcoal grill that deserves its props.

This grill is approximately 19.5-inches by 26.8-inches by 21.8-inches in size, is made using a heavy-duty steel construction, and even has cast-iron grates that allow the consumer to put a beautiful sear on their steaks, chops, or burgers. This model also features sturdy legs that give the consumer the stable surface they always want out of their grill.

Now, some of you might be saying to yourself “Sure, it’s tough, but does it do a good job of cooking BBQ.” And to that question, we have to give a resounding yes! This product features a 218-square inch cooking surface that’s large enough for 10-burgers; a height-adjustable charcoal tray that allows the consumer to cook low and slow, or to sear their steaks; a professional temperature gauge built into the lid; and large air dampers that allow the consumer to control airflow. Additional features found on this model include a removable ash pan, sturdy side handles, and a stay-cool lid handle that makes checking on the food easy as pie. All of these features make this one of the best small charcoal grills we’ve seen.

3Char-Grill Akorn Kamado BBQ Grill

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For grill and BBQ enthusiasts who are looking for a grill that’s somewhere between a portable grill and a full-size one, there’s this model from Char-Griller. This product is the Akorn Kamado Kooker, a product that’s well-built, cooks well, and is just the right size for most people. It’s a grill that can be used on the porch, patio of the fire escape and it is a model that allows consumers to cook their food to perfection. Let’s examine some of the grill’s features and see what makes it stand out from some of the other small charcoal grills on the market nowadays.

This product is approximately 47-inches high, 45-inches long, and is 31-inches wide when it’s fully assembled. It has a cooking space that’s approximately 314 square-inches and it has a warming rack that gives the consumer an additional 133 square inches of space. For those adverse to doing the math, that means that this product has a total of 447 square inches available for cooking or holding cooked food. We feel that’s more than enough for average size families or people who are just cooking for one or two friends.

Because this model is made using triple-walled insulation, it holds in heat exceptionally well, and it’s made using a steel construction that should allow this grill to hold up for many, many seasons of grilling. Other features that we liked about this model was its cast-iron cooking grates, it’s easy to empty ash pan and its large 8-inch front wheels. This is a small grill that’s going to be perfect for a lot of different people.

2Char-Griller Patio-Pro Grill

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Another small charcoal grill that caught our attention was this one from Char-Griller. This model is called the Patio Pro, which we feel is the perfect name for a grill that’s great for using on the patio. It’s a model that’s not as small as portable models but is not as large as full-size grills. This makes it the perfect combination of size and performance. This model is approximately 31x21x44-inches in size and only weighs about 50-pounds, so it’s easy to move from one place to another—especially since it has two wheels that can be installed on it.

Even though we didn’t particularly enjoy this model’s instructions, and thought that they could’ve been better written, this product was nonetheless easy to put together. Once assembled, it provided everything that we needed a small charcoal grill to provide. It has a cooking area of 250 square-inches, cast-iron grates for creating that perfect sear, and a wooden side shelf that can be used to store uncooked food or even cooking utensils.

This model also had a pull-out charcoal grill that makes it easy for the consumer to start a fire and even easier to dump out the ashes after the afternoon grilling is all done. We also liked that this product had a storage shelf underneath the grill that allows the consumer to keep a small bag of charcoal or anything else they want to keep close to their grill while they’re cooking. And it’s all of these features that prompted us to add this great small grill to our list.

1Fire Sense 14-Inch Camping Grill

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The last charcoal grill that we’d like to talk about is this one from Fire Sense. Although this grill could’ve been placed in our reviews of the best portable charcoal grills, we thought that this model was just a little bit larger than what we would want a portable grill to be. It’s approximately 17.53-inches by 11.82-inches by 14.18-inches in size, and in our minds, that places it squarely in the small charcoal grill category. With that having been said, let’s examine some of this model’s features to see what makes this a great model for use on the patio, or for taking to a campsite or tailgate.

One of the first things we’d like to mention about this grill is that it can be folded up. That allows the consumer to take it anywhere—from the RV to the campgrounds. It’s also made out of durable heat-resistant painted steel that allows it to hold up to even the heaviest grilling. It also features a stainless-steel grate that’s easy to use and provides the consumer with about 228 square inches of grilling space. This is a grill that can be quickly opened, filled with charcoal, and then fired up so consumers can get their cooking done quickly and efficiently.

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A Guide On Using A Small Charcoal Grill

Normally, after we reviewed whatever grill we were reviewing, we would write a buying guide on what to look for when buying one of the grills we just reviewed. That guide would explain to the reader what features are the most important for that particular category of grills, and what features can be safely overlooked. With this guide, however, we wanted to do something different.

We had already written a pretty good guide on how to purchase a portable charcoal grill, and we feel that guide would work well for buying a small one as well. It gave the reader some good tips for buying the grill that suits their needs the best. So, we struck out to create a different sort of guide—a guide that explains to our readers what they need to consider when using a small charcoal grill. Small charcoal grills might look like full-size ones, but they don’t exactly operate like them, so it’s important for the consumer to think of these grills as being truly unique.

What’s The Difference Between A Small And Full-Size Grill?

Before we officially begin this guide, let’s talk about the difference between small charcoal grills and full-size ones. While it’s extremely easy to sear steaks, burgers, and chops over a direct flame in a large grill, it becomes somewhat more of a challenge in a smaller grill. Although the grate might be the same distance from the charcoal as it would be with a full-size grill, there’s less space for the cook to arrange the food so that it doesn’t become overcooked. That’s why the home cook should be extra careful when using a small charcoal grill. Below are some tips that will make using these grills a lot easier to use.

Firing Up A Small Charcoal Grill

Firing up a small charcoal grill isn’t difficult, but the consumer does need to think about it a little bit before beginning. Below are the tips for getting the charcoal grill started.

Step One: Make A Space For The Grill

One of the first mistakes that home cooks make when they use a smaller grill is to try to use it in locations that aren’t appropriate. While it might be easy to set these grills up under trees or under a patio umbrella, those aren’t appropriate locations for using these grills. Even though they are smaller than other grills, the grill master still needs to keep it away from covered locations, indoor location, or overhanging trees.

Step Two: Set Up The Grill

The next step is to get the grill ready for grilling. The first thing that the consumer should do is to open the bottom vent. Once that’s been done, they should then open the grill’s lid and remove the grilling rack. As they would with a full-size grill, they should place the charcoal briquettes in a pyramid. The cook should use approximately 25-30 briquettes for every pound of food being cooked. However, they have to be sure that they don’t overload the grill. With these grills, the consumer is cooking less food at a time, so it’s important not to go overboard.

Step Three: Light The Charcoal

The next thing the consumer is going to want to do is to add lighter fluid to the briquettes. It will generally take about 2-3 ounces of lighter fluid for small grills. Just make sure to use enough to coat the briquettes thoroughly, but not so much that the grill flares-up. Now, add a lighted match to the charcoal and allow the charcoal to ash over. Make sure to keep the lid open during this process.

Step Four: Wait!

It’s important for the fire to establish itself before the consumer can begin cooking. It takes about 20-minutes for charcoal to ash over, and when it does have a good amount of ash on it, the consumer knows it’s ready to great.

Step Five: Begin Grilling

Once the charcoal has ashed over, spread out the coals as needed. Some people like to spread the coals evenly over the entire floor of the grill so that the whole grate gets heat, but other people like to keep the coals on one side, so they can use the other side for indirect heat. We prefer the latter, especially if the grill doesn’t have a warming rack, because we feel it’s easy for controlling the temperature zones on a smaller grill.

Some Final Cleanup Tips

Hopefully, the above tips helped all of our readers better use their small grill. Now let’s turn our attention to cleaning up the grill once all of the cooking has been done. Although most small charcoal is easy to clean, there are a few things that the consumer is going to want to keep in mind. With that said, below are some tips that will make cleanup even easier.

  • Close the grill’s vents and allow it to cool for 48-hours.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the grill’s surface thoroughly.
  • Dump out the coals.
  • Don’t throw the charcoal in the trash—instead, bury them or place them in a bucket of sand.
  • Sweep out the bottom of the grill.