7 Top Portable Charcoal Grills for Camping: Your Ultimate Guide for Outdoor Cooking

choosing portable charcoal grills

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Is it really possible to achieve that perfect smoky flavor from a portable charcoal grill while you’re miles away from your home kitchen? We’ve often pondered this as we pack our gear for a weekend in the wilderness. After all, for us camping enthusiasts, outdoor cooking is more than just a means to an end—it’s a ritual that elevates the entire experience.

So, we’ve set out to find the best portable charcoal grills that promise to bring your culinary skills to the great outdoors without the hassle of a full-sized barbecue. In our quest, we’ve encountered a variety of contenders, from the compact and lightweight to the robust and feature-rich.

As we share our findings on these seven top picks, you’ll discover the intricate balance of convenience, performance, and durability that each grill offers, and perhaps you’ll find the perfect match to ignite your next adventure.

King-Griller E1816 Gambler Portable Charcoal Grill

The King-Griller E1816 Gambler Portable Charcoal Grill stands out as an ideal choice for campers who don’t want to compromise on grilling space or quality while exploring the outdoors. With its substantial 320 sq. in. cooking area and easy-to-transport design, this barrel-style grill offers both convenience and performance.

Equipped with a stainless steel thermometer, the King-Griller E1816 allows you to monitor temperatures accurately for precise cooking. The grill features durable cast iron cooking grates that ensure even heating and premium flavor.

In addition to its cooking capabilities, the King-Griller E1816 also offers a practical workstation with BBQ tool storage hooks. This adds convenience to the grilling experience, keeping all your tools within reach.

The grill boasts a foldable construction with a locking leg and lid system, combined with an integrated handle and two wheels. This makes it exceptionally portable, allowing you to easily transport it to your desired location. It’s designed for easy assembly and cleaning, ensuring that it remains an attractive option for both seasoned grillers and novices alike.

Best For: Outdoor enthusiasts and campers seeking a portable charcoal grill that doesn’t skimp on grilling space or features for a premium cooking experience.


  • Large 320 sq. in. cooking surface accommodates ample food portions.
  • Cast iron grates and stainless steel thermometer for even cooking and temperature precision.
  • Foldable design with wheels enhances portability and ease of storage.


  • Some users have reported stability issues with the grill or stand bending after use.

Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black

Ideal for enthusiasts of outdoor cooking in confined spaces, the Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black, boasts a compact design coupled with a generous 250 square inch cooking area. This barrel-style BBQ grill features heavy-duty steel construction with a powder coating finish, ensuring durability and resistance to the elements. It’s specifically tailored for the convenience of small decks, backyards, and patios.

The thick cast iron cooking grates, a bottom storage rack, a side air vent, and a stay cool wood handle are among its notable attributes. The grill is also equipped with wheels for mobility and a side shelf workstation that includes hooks for barbecue tools.

Despite some reports of unclear assembly instructions, users commend the grill for its solid construction, ease of use, and the flavorful results it delivers. It’s important to note that a matching Char-Griller 6060 Patio Pro Grill Cover is available separately to protect the grill when not in use.

Best For: Urban dwellers seeking a compact yet efficient charcoal grill for their limited outdoor space.


  • Compact design with ample 250 square inch cooking area ideal for small outdoor spaces
  • Durable heavy-duty steel construction with powder coating and thick cast iron cooking grates for longevity
  • Includes convenient features such as wheels, storage rack, and side shelf with tool hooks


  • Assembly instructions can be unclear, potentially complicating the setup process

Oklahoma Joes® Rambler Tabletop Charcoal Grill – 19402088

Catering to outdoor enthusiasts who demand versatility, the Oklahoma Joe’s® Rambler Tabletop Charcoal Grill – 19402088 offers a compact cooking solution with its adjustable charcoal tray and cast-iron grates that ensure even cooking. With a 218-square-inch cooking area, it’s capable of grilling up to 6 burgers, 4 steaks, or 12 brats, providing that desirable chargrilled flavor. The grill is fueled by either lump charcoal or briquettes and features a lid-mounted temperature gauge, dampers for temperature control, and a removable ash pan for easy cleanup.

Designed for portability, this grill is ideal for backyard dinners, camping excursions, or tailgating events. Its efficient use of charcoal and ability to maintain temperature with minimal fuel make it a preferred choice for cooking smaller quantities of food. The robust build quality, combined with user-friendly features like cool-to-touch handles and an ash tray, contribute to a positive grilling experience with the potential for many years of use.

Best For: Outdoor cooking aficionados who value portability and enjoy the classic taste of charcoal-grilled foods in various settings, from backyards to campsites.


  • Compact and portable design ideal for outdoor activities.
  • Adjustable charcoal tray and dampers offer precise temperature control.
  • Durable cast-iron grates and robust build quality for long-lasting use.


  • Limited cooking area may not be suitable for large groups.

Royal Gourmet 24 Inch Charcoal Grill with Cover (CD1824AC)

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking a reliable and feature-rich cooking companion, the Royal Gourmet 24 Inch Charcoal Grill with Cover (CD1824AC) offers a durable steel construction and a convenient easy-lift charcoal pan adjustment system, enhancing the camping experience with its versatility and ease of use. This model comes equipped with a heavy-duty lid-mounted temperature gauge, stainless steel handle, and a built-in bottle opener, ensuring that grillers have all the necessary tools for a successful cookout.

The grill features a 393-square-inch cooking grate made of porcelain enamel steel, alongside a 205-square-inch warming rack, providing ample space for preparing a variety of foods. Additionally, the grill includes a pull-out drawer for ash disposal, making clean-up a breeze. With a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, this grill stands as a promising option for campers who value both quality and convenience.

Best For: Outdoor cooking enthusiasts who need a durable, versatile charcoal grill with a built-in temperature gauge and ash management system.


  • Comes with a convenient warming rack to keep food at the perfect temperature after cooking.
  • Features an easy-lift charcoal pan adjustment system for optimal heat control.
  • Includes a pull-out drawer for simple ash disposal, enhancing the post-cookout cleanup process.


  • Some customers report the assembly instructions could be clearer and more user-friendly.

Charbroil® Kettleman TRU-Infrared Charcoal Grill, Blue – 21302145

Outdoor enthusiasts seeking an innovative and efficient grilling experience will appreciate the Charbroil® Kettleman TRU-Infrared Charcoal Grill, Blue – 21302145. This portable charcoal grill offers a TRU-Infrared Cooking System and a generous 360 square inches of cooking area. It is recognized for its superior quality and design, which prevents food from burning and ensures even heat distribution.

The Kettleman Grill features porcelain-coated cooking components that are durable and easy to clean. The oversized damper allows for easy temperature control, while the slide-out ash tray simplifies the cleaning process. The hinged lid provides convenient access to food during cooking.

Users have praised the Kettleman Grill for its ability to cook high-fat content foods without flare-ups. They also appreciate its sturdy build, which is comparable to Weber Kettle Grills. Additionally, the efficient use of charcoal is another advantage of this grill.

In summary, the Charbroil® Kettleman TRU-Infrared Charcoal Grill is a practical and versatile option for outdoor cooking enthusiasts. Its innovative technology, efficient charcoal usage, and durable design make it a top contender in its category.

Best For: Outdoor cooking aficionados who value innovative infrared technology, efficiency in charcoal usage, and a durable design that prevents flare-ups and ensures even cooking.


  • TRU-Infrared Cooking System provides even heat and prevents food from burning.
  • Porcelain-coated cooking components and slide-out ash tray make for easy cleanup and maintenance.
  • Large air damper and hinged lid design offer superior temperature control and convenient access to food.


  • Assembly may require assistance as some parts can be challenging to handle alone.

Weber Master-Touch 22 Charcoal Grill, Smoke

The Weber Master-Touch 22 Charcoal Grill’s Gourmet BBQ System sets it apart as an ideal choice for campers who take their outdoor cooking seriously and seek versatility in their grilling equipment.
The hinged cooking grate isn’t only compatible with the Gourmet BBQ System inserts but also allows for effortless addition of charcoal.
Its One-Touch Cleaning System simplifies the disposal of ash into a high-capacity, removable catcher, enhancing the ease of maintenance.
The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl ensure superior heat retention and durability, resisting rust, peeling, and cracking even at high temperatures.
With capacity for 13 burgers, a warming rack, and Char-Basket fuel holders for precise heat control, the grill also features a convenient Tuck-Away lid holder and tool hooks, making it a top-notch, user-friendly apparatus for the discerning outdoor chef.

Best For: Outdoor cooking enthusiasts who value quality, versatility, and the classic flavor that comes from charcoal grilling.


  • Gourmet BBQ System provides versatility with compatible inserts.
  • One-Touch Cleaning System offers easy ash disposal for hassle-free maintenance.
  • Superior heat retention with a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl for consistent cooking temperatures.


  • Assembly can be challenging, particularly attaching the legs.

Royal Gourmet CD1824M 24-Inch Charcoal Grill with Folding Table

Camping enthusiasts seeking a balance between convenience and ample cooking space will find the Royal Gourmet CD1824M 24-Inch Charcoal Grill with Folding Table an ideal companion for their outdoor culinary adventures. Offering a generous 384 square inches of porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, plus a 106 square inch stainless steel warming rack, this grill provides a total cooking space of 490 square inches, enough to serve up to 10 people.

Its height-adjustable charcoal pan accommodates up to 4.5 pounds of charcoal, while a built-in thermometer and dual air vents offer temperature control. Despite some reports of difficult assembly and heat management issues, many users praise its quality and ease of maintenance. To enhance the smoking experience, it’s recommended to remove the rubber spacers for a tighter lid seal.

This grill isn’t only functional but also described as beautiful by satisfied customers, making it a worthy consideration for outdoor cooking enthusiasts.

Best For: Outdoor cooking aficionados who need a portable grill with ample space and adjustable features for both grilling and smoking.


  • Spacious cooking area with additional warming rack
  • Adjustable charcoal pan for better heat control
  • Folding side table for extra prep space


  • Some users report challenging assembly

Factors to Consider When Choosing Portable Charcoal Grills for Camping

ultimate guide for portable charcoal grills

When we’re picking out a portable charcoal grill for our camping trips, there are several key factors we need to consider.

We’ll look at the grill’s size and weight to ensure it’s manageable, and the cooking surface area to see if it meets our meal prep needs.

Additionally, we’ll examine heat control features, assembly and portability, as well as the durability and materials to make a wise choice.

Grill Size & Weight

Selecting a portable charcoal grill for our camping adventures often boils down to finding the ideal balance between a manageable weight and sufficient cooking space. We look for a compact design that’s easy to carry and won’t take up too much space. A smaller grill usually fits the bill for us, especially when every inch of our packing list counts.

We’ve got to ensure the grill’s weight is something we can comfortably manage during the trek to our campsite. But it’s not just about how light the grill is; we also consider the cooking area. It’s crucial that the grill’s size doesn’t compromise our ability to cook up a decent meal. It’s all about finding that perfect grill that meets our needs without weighing us down.

Cooking Surface Area

Our choice of a portable charcoal grill must consider the cooking surface area to ensure it matches our culinary needs while camping. If we’re planning to feed a large crowd, we’ll need a grill with a larger surface area. It’s all about the number of mouths we’ve to feed and how much food we want to grill at once. For smaller gatherings, a compact grill with less cooking space is more practical and easier to carry.

We’ve got to strike the right balance. A massive grill might cook a feast but could be a hassle to transport. We’re looking for a grill that’s easy to carry yet doesn’t skimp on the cooking area. Let’s find the perfect fit for our next outdoor adventure.

Heat Control Features

Mastering the art of grilling on a portable charcoal grill during camping trips hinges on effective heat control features that allow for the precision cooking of your meals. We’re always on the lookout for grills with adjustable air vents or dampers. These are essential for managing airflow and thus regulating the heat inside the grill.

It’s also handy to have a grill with a height-adjustable charcoal tray. This means we can easily change the distance between the coals and our food, giving us better control over the cooking temperature.

Plus, we can’t overlook the importance of a built-in temperature gauge. It’s a game-changer for monitoring and tweaking the heat as we cook.

And let’s not forget those innovative systems like TRU-Infrared technology, which ensure even heat and prevent pesky flare-ups.

Assembly & Portability

While heat control is crucial for grilling perfection, we also prioritize the assembly and portability of charcoal grills to ensure they complement the ever-changing nature of camping adventures.

We check for folding construction, locking legs and lids, integrated handles, and even wheels to make transportation a breeze. It’s essential to consider both the weight and dimensions; we want our grills to be easy to carry and store.

We look for grills with straightforward assembly to avoid any hassle during campsite setup. Features like a workstation and BBQ tool storage hooks can significantly enhance convenience.

Lastly, we ensure the grill is easy to clean, keeping hygiene and functionality top-notch throughout our trips.

Durability & Materials

How can we ensure our portable charcoal grill withstands the rigors of camping?

We assess the materials and construction for utmost durability. Grills made from high-quality stainless steel, cast iron, or porcelain-enameled steel are our top picks for longevity.

We don’t overlook features that protect against rust and corrosion, as these add to the grill’s resilience.

It’s also crucial to check the sturdiness of the grill’s legs, handles, and other components. A wobbly grill isn’t just a nuisance; it’s a potential hazard.

We look for products with a solid reputation for enduring the wear and tear of frequent transport and use.

That’s how we ensure our chosen grill is a reliable companion for our outdoor adventures.

Cleanup Convenience

Having covered the importance of durability in portable charcoal grills, let’s now focus on the aspect of cleanup convenience, a vital consideration for ensuring a hassle-free camping experience.

We’re looking for features like easy dump or removable ash pans, which make it a breeze to dispose of residue. A grill with an easy-lift charcoal pan adjustment system doesn’t only offer heat control but also aids in quicker cleanup.

We prefer grills with porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates and ash trays that collect ashes and fats, streamlining the post-cookout routine. A removable ash pan and a convenient access door are golden for easy disposal.

Accessory Compatibility

When selecting a portable charcoal grill for camping, it’s essential to consider accessory compatibility to enhance the grilling experience and expand functionality. We’ve got to look for grills that allow us to add handy accessories like grill covers, tool hooks, and warming racks.

It’s also important to choose a grill that can be customized, maybe by adding a seal around the lid or a dedicated drip hole, using high-temp gasket and silicone caulk for those little upgrades that make a big difference.

We should check for grills that come with, or at least accommodate, add-ons such as charcoal baskets and specific fuel holders. It’s all about ensuring that the grill’s design won’t limit us when we’re ready to step up our grilling game with new accessories.


About Jack Thornborn

Jack Thornborn
My name is Jack Thornborn, and I'm an enthusiastic grillmaster with a passion for all things barbecue. I've been grilling and smoking meats for as long as I can remember, and I'm always looking for new ways to elevate my cooking game. What fascinates me most about grilling and smoking is the endless possibilities for creativity and experimentation. From choosing the perfect cuts of meat, to selecting the right wood chips or seasonings, to adjusting cooking times and temperatures, every aspect of the process offers an opportunity to explore and innovate. I love the feeling of being outside by my grill or smoker, surrounded by the savory aromas of cooking meat and the sound of sizzling juices. Whether I'm cooking up classic barbecue dishes like ribs and brisket, or trying out new recipes and flavor combinations, I find the process of grilling and smoking to be deeply satisfying and rewarding.

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