The best charcoal BBQ

Nothing can beat the pull of a charcoal BBQ, so here are the very best to choose from.

Charcoal BBQ with food cooking

by Jade Moscrop |
Updated on

Ah, summer; beer gardens, paddling pools, chasing the sun around the garden, and, of course, the best of all BBQs, 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 cracking out their best BBQs, come rain or shine.

Although we all like to escape to destinations abroad, most of us will be living it up in our gardens throughout the summer, which means that there's some work to do. We've got to make sure the patio is clean, that the gazebo has survived another winter in the shed, and that our garden furniture is thoroughly de-spidered, 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 after spending years using a gas BBQ, 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.

The best charcoal BBQs at a glance:

Best charcoal BBQ: Weber Classic Kettle Charcoal Grill Barbecue - View on Amazon.co.uk
Best hybrid BBQ: CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue Charcoal Portable BBQ - View on Amazon.co.uk
Best portable charcoal BBQ: Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal BBQ - View on Amazon.co.uk

Keep reading for our buying advice, plus the must-have accessories to make summer BBQs a breeze.

Best charcoal BBQ

Weber Classic Kettle Charcoal Grill Barbecue
Price: $404.12

Brace yourself for the barbecue of a lifetime this summer, Weber's classic Kettle Charcoal Grill boasts a great range of aluminium and steel-coated grills, heat-shielded handles and ceramics to truly ensure your delicious food is as close to perfect as possible.

With a design that we're all well and truly familiar with, Weber's classic kettle grill looks the part, and will continue to look the part, summer after summer - so you can keep grilling without hesitating.

Pros

  • Excellent high-quality design
  • Anti-rust coating
  • Simple yet elegant design
  • Built to last

Cons

  • Sizeable, but not large enough for bigger gatherings
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value:
    4.0
Dimensions:64 x 57 x 100 cm
Weight:13kg
Materials:Stainless steel, chrome steel
Additional features:Built-in thermometer, porcelain bowl, aluminium ash catcher, heat shield
  • Customer review: "Absolutely brilliant BBQ, well worth putting the time and effort into."

Best hybrid barbecue

Ever wanted the option to smoke your food as well as grill? Now you can. CosmoGrill's Outdoor XL Smoker and barbecue are simply perfect for the larger family get-together, where the skies are blue, the drinks are cold and the food is out of this world.

This excellent hybrid BBQ can impart a delicious smoky flavour to anything you're cooking, whether it's a thick burger, a protein-packed chicken leg or a mouth-watering vegetable skewer filled with spice and smoky goodness.

This XL-sized grill can feed an army, let alone your relatives, so you'll have plenty of food ready and on the go all throughout the day, no questions asked.

Pros

  • Excellent smoking features
  • Great temperature control
  • Plenty of grill space for optimal cooking

Cons

  • Some users struggled with assembly
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value:
    4.0
Dimensions:124 x 66 x 113.5 cm
Weight:24kg
Materials:Powdered steel/enamelled steel
Additional features:Folding side shelves, chimney and adjustable vents for smoking
  • Customer review: "Great product, easy to build - it’s well made, and easy to use. The adjusting shelf height is ideal, along with the side shelves."

Best portable charcoal BBQ

Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal BBQ
Price: $178.59

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-enamelled lid and bowl help to retain heat while ensuring no rusting or peeling. This one is chic navy blue, but you can also get it in black, red, ivory white, smoke grey, and spring green.

Pros

  • Simple and effective
  • Robust - there's little to break
  • Portable and easy to store

Cons

  • No thermometer
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Dimensions:43 x 41 x 46cm
Weight:4.4kg
Material:Plated steel, enamelled bowl
Additional features:Tuck-n-carry lid, 10-year warranty
  • Customer review: "Very good quality and design, good to have the thermometer and grilling guide, I learnt so much from the guide. Hope I can do much better grilling now."

Best all-rounder BBQ

Simple in design, the Tepro Grillwagen charcoal BBQ is made from alloy steel, making it strong and sturdy. The extra-thick chrome-plated grid is ideal for holding larger cuts of meat. When you consider the cooling tray, ease of assembly, handy side table, and rust-resistant build, this is a super convenient BBQ for those wanting something low-maintenance.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • A bit bulky
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Dimensions:26.4 x 67 x 42.1cm
Weight:26.55kg
Material:Anthracite/stainless steel
Additional features:Rust-resistant, folding side table, warming rack
  • Customer review: "It's better than I hoped it would be looks great, straight forward to build."

Best for large gatherings

With an iconic look, this oil drum BBQ 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.

Plus, it looks like something you'd find on a US ranch. If that's your thing, then look no further.

Pros

  • Huge cooking area
  • Easy to move
  • Iconic Texas-chic design

Cons

  • Too big for small gatherings
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value:
    5.0
Dimensions:93 x 64.5 x 90cm
Weight35 x 71cm
Material:Steel/porcelain
Additional features: Steel wire cooking grill with sliding function, chrome-plated warming rack, wheels for easy moving
  • Customer review: "Half price, fabulous BBQ, will be great to use."

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.

Pros

  • Loads of cooking space
  • Front hatch for adding charcoal
  • Crank to control heat

Cons

  • Hassle to assemble
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value:
    4.0
Dimensions:113 x 102 x 71cm
Cooking dimensions:42 x 58cm
Weight:26kg
Additional features: Ash catcher, warming rack, crank handle for heat control
  • Customer review: "Best buy for me this summer, has been used flat out with fab results. Can’t fault it, best value for money."

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.

Best BBQ charcoal pack

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. For the amount of charcoal you get with this purchase, it's super high value and budget-friendly.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Perfect bulk collection

Cons

  • May be more than you need
  • Customer review: "I was planning to use more than 2 packages for 3kg grill but I think 1 kg was also enough. It was surprisingly easy to use and really powerful."

Best BBQ cover

Keep your BBQ in great quality by covering it up once the summer is over. Regardless of the size and shape of your BBQ, this will keep it from getting damaged by rain, sun, and all types of weather.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Provides protection from all types of weather

Cons

  • Need to be careful to fit it properly for windy days
Dimensions:145 x 61 x 117 cm
Material:polyester Oxford fabric
  • Customer review: "Good quality, heavy duty and water proof indeed."

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. Good maintenance is always important, and luckily this makes it as easy as possible.

Pros

  • Very effective and easy to use
  • Good quantity

Cons

  • May need to use more than once for difficult marks
Size:500ml
  • Customer review: "Had a really filthy oven to clean in the care home I work in this product was the only thing that worked."

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.

If you're stuck between the two, have no fear. You can avoid the debate altogether by opting for a hybrid BBQ. These modern marvels allow you to cook either with gas or charcoal or even both at the same time.

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

Jade Moscrop is an Editor and contributor to What's The Best, specialising in lifestyle topics. She also writes for Closer, Heat, and Grazia.

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