Ah, summer. Beer gardens, paddling pools, chasing the sun around the garden, and, of course, a charcoal BBQ. While we can't rely on the weather, the one thing we can definitely count on is that British people will be BBQing, come rain or shine.
Although holidays abroad are back on the horizon, most of us will be living it up in our gardens, which means that there's some work to do. Investing in a patio cleaner, gazebo and some practical garden furniture is a must, along with the ultimate summer cooking appliance - the best charcoal BBQ.
If your old one has seen better days, been left out in the rain all winter (guilty) or you're buying your first charcoal barbecue, we've rounded up the very best-rated products to see you through. You'll also be wanting a chimney starter to get your charcoal lit in the most timely fashion.
Keep reading for our buying advice, plus the must-have accessories to make summer BBQs a breeze.
Best charcoal BBQ UK
Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
This Weber kettle barbecue takes the top spot on our best charcoal BBQs list, due to its plated steel cooking grate, good surface area, and durability. It holds up to 13 burgers, has a built-in lid thermometer, and won't rust, due to the porcelain-enameled lid and bowl.
|Steel-plated cooking grate|
|363 inches of cooking space|
|Aluminised steel one-touch cleaning system|
|High capacity removable ash catcher|
|Porcelain-enamelled lid and bowl|
|Built-in lid thermometer|
|Limited ten-year warranty|
|Dimensions: 100.3 x 57.2 x 68.6cm|
Review: "Shipping was fast and the grill arrived before the expected date. Even though I had minor troubles assembling the three legs of the base, overall I am very satisfied with the product. It works very well, as expected from a Weber product, and in my opinion, it is made of quality materials for a reasonable price. I was able to cook meat and other meals with ease. If you are new to charcoal grills or you are a daily charcoal fan, I really recommend this grill."
CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue
If you like to cook a lot of food or have a large family, this XL grill from CosmoGrill will leave you delighted. It heats up quickly, without the need for masses of charcoal, plus the crank handle allows you to adjust the heat efficiently. The vents are placed in all the right places to allow brilliant airflow, and it has a lid thermometer for ease.
|Portable due to wheels|
|Cool tray with a crank handle|
|Easily removable coal ash tray|
|Easy to clean|
|Dimensions: 124 x 66 x 113cm|
Review: "Really pleased with this, bought it a couple of months ago and have now finally managed to use it a few times. The build was easy, took a while but straightforward enough. The coal tray is great, it's nice to be able to adjust the heat without having to struggle with moving the rack up or down like on different BBQs, and the side trays with plenty of hooks make cooking for large parties easy. There is loads of room for meat, which is awesome, as we always cook too much. Would definitely recommend this grill."
Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal BBQ
Best portable charcoal BBQ
BBQs on the beach are one of life's great luxuries, and this portable grill from Weber is the perfect match. At just 4.4kg, it's super lightweight, so can accompany you on all your adventures. It holds up to five burgers, which is plenty for an impromptu BBQ. The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl help to retain heat, while ensuring no rusting or peeling. This one is a chic navy blue, but you can also get it in black, red, ivory white, smoke grey, and spring green.
|Compact and lightweight|
|Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl|
|Tuck-N-Carry lid lock doubles as a lid holder|
|Dampers for easy temperature control|
|Easy to clean|
|Dimensions: 43 x 41 x 46cm|
Review: "I've used this 4 or 5 times now and I'm really happy with it. There are 3 of us and it's a good size for that. I bought the ivory coloured one and it looks fantastic. Really nice quality, and sturdy. Super easy to use with the briquettes, and easy to clean. I haven't had the occasion to take it outside of the garden yet with the recent lockdown, but it's light enough and a good size to be portable and easy to move. I like the way there's a metal piece that goes over the handle to stop it from opening when it's not in use. I expect I'll take it on days out with me."
George Foreman GFKTBBQ Charcoal BBQ
Best budget-friendly BBQ
This George Foreman grill is a great budget option, which is easy to put together and should serve five people with no issues. You don't get all the bells and whistles of some of the other, more expensive models, but it gets the job done.
|45cm diameter cooking area|
|Rust and dust-resistant|
|Wheels for portability|
|Chrome plated grill|
|Grease collection tray|
|Adjustable lid vent|
|Wire storage rack|
|Dimensions: 60 x 114 x 98cm|
Review: "The bbq was simple to assemble, I think I put it together in 20 minutes. I've used it twice since I bought it, and cooked for 6 of us without any trouble. The only downside is that I think it's not high enough, I'm 6ft and I have to stoop over to cook on it."
DANCOOK Kettle BBQ 1600
Simple in design, the Dancook kettle charcoal BBQ is made from stainless steel and aluminium, making it strong and sturdy. The extra-thick chrome-plated grid is ideal for holding larger cuts of meat. Temperature control is simple via the three air vents, and the ash collection bowl is easy to empty and clean.
|40cm diameter cooking area|
|Stainless steel and aluminium|
|Extra-thick 6mm chrome-plated grid|
|Three air vents|
|Fifteen-year warranty on stainless steel parts, two-year warranty on all other parts|
|Dimensions: 89 x 57 x 60cm|
Review from Amazon: "This is the second Dancook I've bought, I gave the first one to a son when we were downsizing. That was over 8 years ago and it's still in perfect working condition without RUST. Easy to keep clean, after each cook brush the grill to remove any cooked product or fat and place the grill in the dishwasher. My only suggestion to improve the product would be to offer a smaller charcoal hearth as sometimes the lump wood charcoal is in such small pieces that they fall through into the ashtray."
Texas Oil Drum Charcoal BBQ
Best for large gatherings
With an iconic look, this oil drum BBQ from Homebase fits a whopping 20 burgers at a time, so it's ideal for larger gatherings. The steel hood also makes it a great fit for roasting, baking and smoking.
|Porcelain steel wire cooking grill with sliding function|
|Chrome-plated warming rack|
|Wheels for easy moving|
|Dimensions: 93 x 64.5 x 90cm|
|Cooking area dimensions: 71 x 35.3cm|
Argos Home American Style Charcoal BBQ
Best BBQ design
This large BBQ from Argos will help you to feed up to 15 people, and it has that classic BBQ look. The front door makes it easy to add coal, instead of lifting it off the grill. The adjustable charcoal tray is a real godsend, allowing you to stay in control of the temperature at all times. It's well-built, but it will take some time to assemble - make sure you have two people on-hand.
|Crank handle for heat control|
|Dimensions: 113.5 x 102 x 71cm|
|Cooking area dimensions: 42 x 58cm|
Review: "Really beautiful and classy. Definitely worth the price. The only thing to consider is having someone help you assemble the BBQ as it is a two-person job. Unfortunately, the manual is not as clear with the images on some steps so it did take us a couple of hours to assemble it. Overall looks as advertised and definitely unique and plenty of space to put everything from utensils to the food. Love it."
Must-have BBQ accessories
Discovered the BBQ for you? Don't forget to shop for these BBQ essentials to make life easier, as well as ensure your BBQ is kept in good nick.
Instant Light Charcoal 12kg (12 x 1kg bags)
This top-rated bumper pack of instant light charcoal will see you through the summer, whether it's a spontaneous BBQ or a planned one.
Velway Gas Grill Cover Barbecue Cover Heavy Duty BBQ Cover
Best BBQ cover
Keep your BBQ in great quality by covering it up once the summer is over.
GQC 10PCS BBQ Grill Tool Set
Best tool set
Every BBQ needs its own set of tools, and this popular set has everything you need.
HG 138050106 Oven, Grill and Barbecue Cleaner
Best BBQ cleaner
Once you're done, give the grill a once over with this handy cleaning product from HG to keep it looking good for next year.
Charcoal BBQ FAQs
What size charcoal BBQ do I need?
As well as knowing how many people you're cooking for, you should also bear in mind the types of food you'll be cooking, as well as how much storage space you have to prepare and hold food.
According to Argos, these are the general size guidelines:
• Two - four people: 1800cm2 cooking area
• Six people: 2000cm2 cooking area
• Eight people: 2500cm2 cooking area
Charcoal vs gas BBQs
The age-old question - which is better, charcoal or gas?
For a more authentic, traditional BBQ experience, charcoal is the best choice for you. It delivers on unique flavour, is an affordable way to BBQ, plus many prefer cooking on charcoal.
Charcoal can take a little while to heat up, as you wait for the embers to become the correct temperature for cooking on, but patience will give you the succulent burgers you crave.
Gas BBQs are more expensive, but they make up for that with convenience and confidence. You will need to buy a gas canister (propane or butane), but the heat can be controlled more easily and food will be cooked more evenly.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
Check out our pick of the best gas BBQs here.
Jade Moscrop is the Deputy Editor for What's The Best, specialising in lifestyle topics. She also writes for Closer, Heat, and Grazia.
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