Prefer Charcoal over Gas? Our Top 3 Portable Charcoal Grills for Camping

As an avid camper and foodie, I understand the significance of having the right camping grills to enhance the overall experience. When it comes to grilling, there’s a timeless debate between charcoal and gas grills. While both have their merits, I am here to share my passion for charcoal grilling and present you with the top portable charcoal grills and my personal fav chimney starter that will enhance your grilling experience and meals.


There’s something undeniably magical about cooking food over an open flame, and charcoal grills offer an authentic and distinct flavor that gas grills simply can’t replicate. The smoky essence infused into the food is a delight for the taste buds, creating an unrivaled culinary experience.  The only time I choose gas over charcoal is when I am camping with a large group of friends and family.  It’s simply harder to cook large meals with charcoal and I would prefer spending time in nature with family and friends than trying to finagle a dinner cooked over coals.  Cooking with Camping Stoves is another experience and a good option for some occasions.  

Understanding the Appeal of Charcoal Grills

The Traditional Charcoal Flavor

One of the primary reasons enthusiasts like myself prefer charcoal grills is the exceptional flavor they impart. The burning charcoal produces aromatic smoke that infuses the food with a unique taste, adding depth and complexity to every bite. Whether it’s burgers, steaks, or vegetables, the charcoal flavor elevates the overall enjoyment of the meal.

Versatility in Cooking

Charcoal grills offer unparalleled versatility when it comes to cooking. With precise temperature control, you can achieve both high heat for searing steaks and low heat for slow-cooking ribs or roasts. The ability to adjust the charcoal placement and airflow allow you to have complete control over the cooking process, so you can experiment with different techniques and flavors.

Portability and Convenience

For camping and outdoor adventures, portability is paramount. Charcoal grills are often more compact and lightweight compared to their gas counterparts, making them an ideal choice for on-the-go grilling. Additionally, charcoal grills don’t require a direct connection to a fuel source, offering flexibility in choosing your cooking location, whether it’s a campsite, beach, or backyard.

The Top Portable Charcoal Grills

Now that we’ve explored the advantages of charcoal grills, let’s dive into our top recommendations for portable models that will make your outdoor cooking experiences truly remarkable.

Grill 1: Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill, Black

  • Key Features:
    • Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation
    • Durable porcelain-enameled steel construction
    • Adjustable airflow for temperature control
  • Pros:
    • Excellent Portability: The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is specifically designed for on-the-go grilling, making it an ideal choice for camping and picnics.
    • Even Heat Distribution: Users appreciate the grill’s ability to distribute heat evenly, resulting in consistent cooking results.
    • Durability: The porcelain-enameled steel construction ensures longevity, allowing for long-term use in various outdoor settings.
  • Cons:
    • Limited Cooking Space: Some users have mentioned that the cooking area of the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is relatively small, suitable for small gatherings or individuals.

The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is a compact and lightweight option designed for on-the-go grilling. Its durable porcelain-enameled steel construction ensures longevity, and the adjustable airflow feature allows for precise temperature control. While it may have a smaller cooking area, this grill is highly portable and delivers even heat distribution for consistent cooking results.

Grill 2: Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch BBQ, Portable Charcoal Grill, 14″ (Red)

  • Key Features:
    • Compact and portable design for easy transportation`Compact and portable design for easy transportation
    • Durable enamel-coated steel construction
    • Dual venting system for temperature control
  • Pros:
    • Portable and Lightweight: The Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill is designed for easy transport, making it ideal for camping, picnics, and tailgating.
    • Even Heat Distribution: Users appreciate the grill’s ability to distribute heat evenly, resulting in consistent cooking results.
    • Convenient Temperature Control: The dual venting system allows for precise temperature control, ensuring optimal grilling conditions.
  • Cons:
    • Limited Cooking Space: Some users have mentioned that the cooking area of the Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill is relatively small, suitable for smaller gatherings or individuals.
    • Assembly Time: A few users have mentioned that the assembly process for this grill may take some time.

The Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill offers a compact and lightweight design, allowing for easy transportation and making it an excellent choice for outdoor cooking on the go. Its durable construction ensures long-lasting use, and the dual venting system provides precise temperature control for optimal grilling results. Though it may have a smaller cooking area, the Cuisinart CCG190RB Portable Charcoal Grill is a reliable option for those seeking portability and convenience in their outdoor grilling experience.

Grill 3: Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Grill, 19.38 inches, Black

  • Key Features:
    • Pre-seasoned cast iron construction for excellent heat retention
    • Adjustable cooking grate for versatile cooking options
    • Draft door for temperature control
  • Pros:
    • Superior Heat Retention: The Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill is highly regarded for its exceptional heat retention capabilities, allowing for efficient and even cooking.
    • Versatile Cooking: Users appreciate the grill’s adjustable cooking grate, enabling them to customize the cooking experience for different types of food.
    • Durability: The cast iron construction ensures long-lasting durability, making the grill suitable for outdoor use in various environments.
  • Cons:
    • Heavy Weight: Some users have mentioned that the Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill can be relatively heavy compared to other portable grills, which may affect its portability.

The Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Grill is a versatile and durable option for outdoor grilling. Its pre-seasoned cast iron construction provides exceptional heat retention, and the adjustable cooking grate allows for customized cooking options. With a draft door for temperature control, this grill offers versatility and longevity. Although it may be relatively heavy, it ensures efficient and even cooking results, making it suitable for various outdoor environments.


The above three portable charcoal grills have received positive reviews for their performance, durability, and portability. They are highly recommended choices for enthusiasts seeking a reliable grill for their comfort camping experiences. However, if you’re planning a gathering with family or friends during your camping trips, I have one more recommended portable Charcoal Grill to consider which is the outstanding choice for larger gatherings.

Grill 4: WILLBBQ Commercial Quality Portable Charcoal Grill

  • Key Features:
    • Adjustable height for versatile cooking options
    • Large cooking area for accommodating meals
    • Removable ash catcher for easy cleanup
    • Side tables for convenient food preparation
  • Pros:
    • Versatile Cooking Experience: The WILLBBQ Commercial Quality Portable Charcoal Grill offers adjustable height settings, allowing for versatile cooking techniques and a customizable grilling experience.
    • Spacious Cooking Area: With a large cooking surface, this grill provides ample space for preparing meals for gatherings or larger groups.
    • Easy Cleanup: The removable ash catcher simplifies the cleaning process, making maintenance a breeze.
    • Convenient Food Preparation: The side tables offer additional space for food preparation, adding convenience to your outdoor cooking sessions.
  • Cons:
    • Size and Weight: Due to its larger size, the WILLBBQ Commercial Quality Portable Charcoal Grill may require more storage space and can be relatively heavy compared to smaller portable grills.
    • Assembly Time: Some users may find that this grill takes a bit longer to assemble compared to more compact models.

The WILLBBQ Commercial Quality Portable Charcoal Grill is a versatile and reliable option for outdoor cooking enthusiasts. With adjustable height settings and a large cooking area, it offers flexibility for various grilling techniques and can accommodate meals for gatherings. The removable ash catcher and table below enhance convenience, while its size and weight may require additional storage space. Despite a longer assembly time, this grill delivers a satisfying grilling experience for memorable outdoor feasts.

Small Chimney Starters: The Perfect Companion

To complement your portable charcoal grill, investing in a small chimney starter is a wise decision. Chimney starters offer a quick and efficient way to ignite your charcoal, eliminating the need for lighter fluid and ensuring a clean and chemical-free grilling experience.

Benefits of Small Chimney Starters

1. Rapid and uniform charcoal ignition: Small chimney starters allow for fast and even charcoal ignition, ensuring that your grill is ready to cook in no time.

2. Healthier cooking: By avoiding the use of lighter fluid, you eliminate the risk of chemical flavors tainting your food, resulting in healthier and more natural flavors.

3. Environmental friendliness: Small chimney starters reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding the use of potentially harmful chemicals found in lighter fluid.

Recommended Chimney Starter: Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter with Quick Release Trigger, 12-Inch

When it comes to small chimney starters, Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter with Quick Release Trigger, 12-Inch is my top recommendation. Its compact size makes it easy to store and carry, while the heat-resistant handle ensures safe handling during the charcoal ignition process. I’ve found Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter to be exceptionally efficient in quickly igniting charcoal, saving valuable time and effort. With its portability and reliable performance, Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter is the perfect companion for your portable charcoal grill.

  • Key Features:
    • Extra-large capacity for charcoal briquettes
    • Heat-resistant handle for safe handling
    • Ventilated design for efficient airflow
  • Pros:
    • High Charcoal Capacity: The Char-Griller Charcoal Chimney Starter’s extra-large capacity allows for igniting a substantial amount of charcoal at once, ideal for larger grilling needs.
    • Enhanced Safety Features: Users appreciate the heat-resistant handle, which ensures safe handling even when the chimney starter is hot.
    • Efficient Airflow: The ventilated design of the chimney starter promotes efficient airflow, leading to faster and more consistent charcoal ignition.
  • Cons:
    • Bulkier Design: Some users have mentioned that the Char-Griller Charcoal Chimney Starter’s larger capacity comes with a bulkier design, which may impact its portability.  However, I chose this exactly because it’s bigger and I don’t want to have to start two batches of briquettes just to get dinner going.  


Choosing charcoal over gas grilling offers a unique and flavorful experience that can elevate your outdoor cooking adventures. The distinct smoky taste, versatility in cooking, and portability of charcoal grills make them a preferred choice for many camping enthusiasts. By selecting one of the top portable charcoal grills and complementing it with a small chimney starter, you’ll unlock a world of culinary possibilities on your comfort camping trips.


1. Can charcoal grills be used indoors?

  • It is generally not recommended to use charcoal grills indoors due to the potential release of carbon monoxide and smoke. It’s best to use them in well-ventilated outdoor spaces.

2. How long does it take for charcoal grills to heat up?

  • The heating time varies depending on factors such as the grill size and the amount of charcoal used. On average, it takes around 15-30 minutes for the coals to reach the desired cooking temperature.

3. Are charcoal grills more expensive than gas grills?

  • Charcoal grills are generally more affordable than gas grills. However, the cost of fuel (charcoal) should be considered in the long run.

4. Is it difficult to clean a charcoal grill?

  • Cleaning a charcoal grill can be relatively easy with the right tools and techniques. Regular maintenance, such as brushing off excess ash and cleaning the grates, ensures optimal performance and longevity.

5. Can I use different types of charcoal in my grill?

  • Yes, you can experiment with different types of charcoal, such as briquettes or lump charcoal, to achieve different flavors and cooking results. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific grill model.
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Kelley Brakstad

Kelley, the voice behind Comfort Camping Insider, hails from the stunning landscapes of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. She passionately shares her tips, tricks, and insider knowledge to enhance your camping adventures, fostering a love for the outdoors with the comforts of home. Join her in discovering the art of comfortable camping.

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