Now is a great time to buy the best charcoal BBQ. As lockdown restrictions ease and the prospect of entertaining guests outdoors becomes a reality, lots of us are looking to buy a new barbecue.
Food grilled over charcoal has a wonderful flavour that cannot be matched by a gas grill. Adding to the authentic taste, the best charcoal BBQs are easy to use and cost significantly less than the gas equivalent. There is a real pleasure in cooking over a real fire that can’t be replicated with a push-button ignition & propane canister.
Choosing the Best Charcoal BBQ
Buying the best charcoal barbecue can be tricky. Although there are 100s to choose from, it can be difficult to separate the good from the average. And with everyone looking forward to better weather, they’re selling out – fast.
Clearly, great cooking performance is the top priority. It must also be easy to assemble, use & keep clean. Add these details to build quality, design, features, portability and grill size and you have the winning criteria that differentiate the best charcoal BBQs, from the rest.
To help you choose the right model, we have studied specifications, compared credentials and scrutinised real-world insight to identify the best charcoal BBQs for 2021.
Weber Go-Anywhere BBQ
Best Portable Barbecue
The Weber Go-Anywhere is the best portable barbecue, by some margin. The compact design is easy to store, carry, use and clean. Plus, it’s well built, sturdy and best of all, it performs brilliantly.
The space-saving design makes it perfect for smaller gatherings at home, camping or a trip to the beach. Whatever your plans, this compact Weber BBQ means great food anywhere.
Depending on your appetite, the grilling area (1025cm²) is workable for a family of four. Saying that – we have cooked for double this number on our long term test model.
The new model has a heat shield to protect the handle. This is a welcome addition, although you will still need a glove or similar to adjust the air vents – it’s a BBQ & it gets hot!
The Weber Go-Anywhere is a top-quality model that’s easy to use, performs brilliantly and as the name suggests, can go anywhere. Plus, it’s built to last. For under £100 you get a great charcoal bbq that you’ll be using year after year.
SPECIFICATION: WEIGHT: 6.5Kg | GRILL AREA: 1025cm² | THERMOMETER: No | UPPER & LOWER VENTS: Yes
Weber Go-Anywhere | Verdict Price £80 | Check Best Price on Amazon
Weber Compact 47cm
Affordable Charcoal BBQ
The best budget charcoal bbq is the Weber Compact. Well built, highly rated performance and an affordable price tag make it an all-round best buy.
Easily big enough for the whole family and capable of bigger gatherings, the Weber Compact is a great choice for most households. Stable to use, easy to move and with the certainty of Weber quality and long warranty, this BBQ ticks all the boxes at the affordable end of the market.
The Weber Compact is made from durable steel and aluminium. The steel dome is porcelain enamelled, which means it can handle the heat and prevent corrosion. This is backed up by a 10 year no rust through or burn-through warranty. The plated steel cooking rack is well made. Not only will it last, but the durable finish also makes it easy to clean. To help justify spending a few quid more, there are plenty of Weber BBQs that are still going strong after 10 years of use.
This affordable charcoal BBQ is a great choice for most households. Compact, yet big enough for most occasions and built to last, season after season.
SPECIFICATION: WEIGHT: 6.5Kg | GRILL AREA: 1730cm² | THERMOMETER: No | UPPER & LOWER VENTS: Yes
Weber Compact | Verdict Price £120 | Check Best Price on Amazon
VonHaus Charcoal Barbecue
Best American Style BBQ Grill
This model from VonHaus is a step-up from your basic BBQ. Perfect for everything from grilling sausages to preparing a lavish feast, this grill has all the right refinements and detail.
Beneath the large grill plate, the charcoal tray is height adjustable. This makes it easy to control the heat intensity, as you cook. Then there’s a warming rack. This is great for resting cooked meat or simply to keep food warm.
The thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking, meaning you know exactly when it’s up to temperature. And, the side shelves mean there’s somewhere to put dishes, tools & a beer or two. There’s even a bottle opener!
For cleaning, there’s a pull-out tray to remove the ash. Importantly the grill plate is made from porcelain enamelled, cast iron. This is easier to clean than chromed steel and will last much longer. Also of note, is that the shelves fold down making it easy to store.
There’s everything to like about this VonHaus BBQ. It’s well built, easy to use and perfect for all occasions.
SPECIFICATION: DIMENSIONS: W134 x H109 x D64cm | GRILL AREA: 2320cm² | THERMOMETER: Yes | UPPER & LOWER VENTS: Yes
VonHaus Grill | Verdict Price £160 | Check Best Price on Amazon
Weber Master-Touch Barbecue
Best Charcoal BBQ
The Weber Master-Touch BBQ has a large cooking area and it’s built to last. If you have used a Weber grill before, you’ll be expecting a top-notch barbecue – and this model won’t disappoint.
The new design has numerous refinements compared to budget and older models. These include a temperature gauge, hooks for tools, handle heat shield, insulated turner on the air vents, lid holder and the gourmet BBQ system.
The gourmet BBQ system brings endless possibilities. Choose from a variety of accessories ranging from a pizza stone and poultry roaster to a waffle maker and wok. The simple but effective design enables you to swap in your grate of choice. Whatever you fancy cooking outdoors, this is for you.
This Weber kettle barbecue ticks all the boxes. A high specification, versatility and excellent build quality make the Master-Touch a great choice for everyone.
SPECIFICATION: DIMENSIONS: W65 x H107 x D72cm | GRILL AREA: 2320cm² | THERMOMETER: Yes | UPPER & LOWER VENTS: Yes
Weber Master-Touch | Verdict Price £320 | Check Best Price at B&Q
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Much of the decision in choosing the best BBQ is about size and budget. Trying to cook for lots of people on a tiny grill is hard work and best avoided!
The basic grill must have air vents above and below, plus a lid to control and retain temperature. Open grills have a simplicity to them but are difficult to keep at the right temperature, long enough, to cook food.
Choosing a dome or rectangular grill is largely a personal preference. Although the shelves and warming rack on the American style grill, do add to its appeal. Alternatively, a small table by the kettle BBQ works too.
Whether you’re thinking portable, kettle or rectangular, choose from the recommendations here and you’ll get the best charcoal barbecue for your budget.
Along with the standard tools, there are loads of extras to consider. Moving away from the long list, there are a few ‘must-have’ accessories, that make life a little easier.
- Use a chimney starter to get your BBQ started, quickly and easily. Perfect for red-hot charcoal, without hassle.
- With the British weather, it’s likely that you won’t be cooking outdoors every day! Using a cover will mean that your barbecue lasts much longer. It will save you money in the long run.
- A food thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking meat and fish. Forget dried out chicken or part cooked sausages and instead enjoy the compliments from serving perfectly cooked food, every time.
History of the Kettle BBQ
In the early 1950s, George A. Stephens invented the kettle grill. He did this by cutting a metal buoy in half, adding vents, grate & legs. Essentially, this is the same design we love and use today.
Recommended Charcoal Barbecues
Weber Go-Anywhere | Verdict price £80
See Best Price at Amazon
Weber Compact | Verdict price £120
See Best Price at Amazon
Large American Style Grill
VonHaus | Verdict price £160
See Best Price at Amazon
Best Buy Charcoal BBQ
Weber Master-Touch | Verdict price £320
See Best Price at B&Q
Budget or Premium?
All the recommendations here do the basics well and take the frustration out of charcoal cooking.
Aside from size; spending more brings additional features and refinements. A temperature thermometer is great to have and does take the guesswork out of cooking over charcoal. Shelves, hooks and easy turn vents won’t make your food taste better, but they certainly make cooking outdoors easier.
Whichever recommended model you go for, whether you’re an expert or novice, it will make the British summer much more fun.