The best charcoal BBQs

It’s almost summer, so get a griddle on with our pick of the best charcoal BBQs from traditional kamado and kettle options to multi-talented firepits

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It’s beginning to look a lot like summer, and we all know what that means: it’s time to invest in the best barbecue even the tightest of budgets can buy. But if your sizzling station could do with an upgrade, why not take a rain check on running out for that family-sized pack of bangers and check out our pick of the best charcoal BBQs?

An open grill is a classic option, but for maximum mileage, a closed-top kettle-style barbecue is the way to go. Our best charcoal barbecue is the Big Green Egg MiniMax, which mimics the traditional Japanese kamado stove with its ceramic body and closed top, allowing heat to circulate and making more varied cooking styles possible.

That said, we know it’s not for everyone, and nor is spending upwards of £500 on a barbecue. With that in mind, we’ve put together a range of options for everyone from the most adventurous outdoor cooks to those with the tightest budgets to help you find your grilling groove.

The best charcoal BBQ

1. Big Green Egg MiniMax

A little-big barbecue for two, with convection capabilities and juicy results

Best for: Adventurers
Material: Ceramic, metal
Grill size: 33cm
Weight: 40kg
Reasons to buy
+ Really easy to use 

'Mini' is obviously a relative term, because this 40 kilogram barbecue takes two to carry and can handle a surprising amount of meat. Basically, anything short of an entire hog roast and you’re good to go, but its cooking prowess is no laughing matter, and reviewers love it for the great results it delivers. The in-lid thermometer makes timing easy peasy, and users found it amazingly fuel-efficient and sturdily built, as well as easy to hold at temperature. For the occasional barbecue, the price might be a bit steep, but for more frequent grillers, it’s hard to fault. 

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal BBQ

2. Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal BBQ

Become king of the grill with this easy-to-use barbecue

Best for: Cooking station
Material: Stainless steel, porcelain
Grill size: 57cm
Weight: 43.5kg
Reasons to buy
+ Interchangeable cooking grates 

If you’re relatively new to the world of grilling, you might want to turn your attention to the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal BBQ, as it boasts a range of features that make sizzling a cinch. Oven-like, it has an on-board digital timer to make multi-tasking easier and an interchangeable ‘GBS’ cooking grate giving the option for multiple modes of cooking, and scope for you to cook on everything from a sear grate to a pizza stone. The tool holders come in pretty handy too, making sure you’re not left without tongs at that crucial moment between artisan-charred and inedible. 

Napoleon Charcoal Kettle BBQ

3. Napoleon Charcoal Kettle BBQ

Fancy a moveable feast? This well-built portable BBQ can help

Best for: Sturdy portable model
Material: Steel, iron, porcelain
Grill size: 57cm
Weight: 18.1kg
Reasons to buy
+ Easy to manoeuvre 

This kettle BBQ is the ideal meeting between a properly portable barbecue (ideal for camping but not quite enough for family get-togethers) and an enormous kamado grill (capacious but back-breakingly heavy) thanks to its nifty wheels. As well as being easy to move around, the Napoleon Charcoal Kettle BBQ is versatile on the cooking front, offering the options for direct grilling, indirect grilling, and with the addition of chips, smoking. Reviewers found heat management a doddle, and loved the little things like the offset hinged lid that allows you to get at the whole grill. 

Kamado Joe Junior BBQ

4. Kamado Joe Junior BBQ

With included heat deflector and nifty stand, this is stiff competition for the Big Green Egg

Best for: Cheaper kamado
Material: Ceramic
Grill size: 35cm
Weight: 36kg
Reasons to buy
+ Includes heat deflector stone 

The Kamado Joe Junior might look like the over-ripe cousin of the Big Green Egg, and admittedly they do share some resemblance, but its charms are all its own. For starters, while the grill area is the same size on the Joe Junior as on Big Green Egg’s MiniMax, it’s a little easier to cart around if need be, thanks to its neat handled cast iron stand and lighter-by-a-whisker weight. It’s also more cost-effective, despite offering a great range of uses thanks to the included heat deflector stone that allows you to hot smoke, roast, and bake as well as grill which, on the Big Green Egg, will cost you extra. 

Halo CoolTouch Barbecue

5. Halo CoolTouch Barbecue

Hot to trot, but cool to the touch, this is an excellent family barbecue

Best for: Families
Material: Stainless steel, aluminium
Grill size: 52.5cm
Weight: 12.9kg
Reasons to buy
+ Outside remains cool while in use 

The Halo CoolTouch is undoubtedly among the more space-age barbecues we’ve seen, and its features are pretty forward-thinking too. With its wavy legs, cool grey colourway and marine-grade stainless steel body that keeps the BBQ from rusting, it looks and feels high-end. Importantly though, it doesn’t feel hot thanks to double-wall insulation, so small, overly adventurous hands won’t get burnt in return for their curiosity. It’s not the deepest, so if you’re looking to cook great hunks of meat you could consider the Napoleon Charcoal Kettle BBQ as an alternative. 

OFYR Classic 100-100 Firepit

6. OFYR Classic 100-100 Firepit

Chill, grill and even sear with this fully functional fire pit

Best for: Gatherings
Material: Steel
Grill size: 50cm
Weight: 122kg
Reasons to buy
+ Looks fantastic 

It might not look like your average barbecue, but this fire pit meets frying pan meets garden sculpture does a great job of feeding guests in probably the most impressive way possible. While the highest temperatures are reached with wood, you can choose to use charcoal with this firepit for a more traditional BBQ vibe. Whatever you choose, the wide flat rim acts as a cooking surface, a bit like a teppanyaki grill, that’s said to provide ample room to feed 50 and be easy to clean after the fact. When you’ve finished, you can use it as a heat source and focal point – much more glamorous than sitting around a barbecue. 

Landmann Tripod Charcoal Barbecue

7. Landmann Tripod Charcoal Barbecue

Ready in a jiffy, this swingin’ barbecue is great for impromptu parties

Best for: Camping
Material: Chrome, aluminium
Grill size: 50cm
Weight: 6.5kg
Reasons to buy
+ Incredibly inexpensive 

While you can’t reasonably expect the same functionality out of this Landmann barbecue as our pricier picks, it does a jolly good job of performing at social gatherings. At under £35, it’s a student- and budget-friendly option, although the fact that the business parts sit low to the ground and have the habit of moving about means it’s not best suited to houses with small children. Of course, there’s not a huge amount in the way of customising, but the grill can be lowered or raised for different amounts of heat, and the whole thing can be packed away when it starts to rain, which should be any minute now...

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