Grilling
The Best Equipment for Charcoal Grills
Including everything from the best grills to the best charcoal grill tool holder.
05-29-2018
America's Test Kitchen

Whether you swear by charcoal or are a lifelong gas griller, there is one thing not up for debate: charcoal grills require more stuff. There’s the chimney starter, of course, but there are also accessories unique to this type of grilling, such as a charcoal storage bag and grill tool holder. Through our testings, we’ve determined which additional pieces of equipment you need and which you don’t. Here’s our list of equipment for charcoal grilling, including the stuff you need and the best choices for the optional stuff you might just want. (And check out this list of grilling equipment you need whether you prefer gas or charcoal.)

  • Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

    Charcoal Grill: The first item you’ll need to grill over charcoal is, of course, a charcoal grill. Our favorite is the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill. It uses a gas ignition system that lights coals with the push of a button—no chimney starter needed—so it’s as convenient as a gas grill but gives you the flavor of charcoal. (If it’s out of your budget, our runner-up, the relatively inexpensive Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, is versatile and well-designed and costs less than half as much.) [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • Weber Smokey Joe Gold

    Portable Charcoal Grill: Whether you grill for two, take your grilling on the road, or just lack the space for a full-size grill, a portable charcoal grill offers the smoky flavors of charcoal grilling in a convenient size. Our favorite, the Weber Smokey Joe Premium, has an ample cooking surface and adjustable vents that give you plenty of control over the fire. For just about $40, it’s a worthwhile purchase. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

    Chimney Starter: Lighter fluid is petroleum- or alcohol-based, so it can impart unpleasant flavors to grilled food. This is why we always use a chimney starter instead to light charcoal. Our favorite, the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter, is comfortable, secure, and easy to load, lift, and pour from in a controlled manner. Even more, it was one of the least expensive models we tested. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • Charcoal Companion Charcoal Storage Bag

    Charcoal Storage Bag: For backyard grillers who don’t have a shed or a garage, the Charcoal Companion Charcoal Storage Bag protected 20 pounds of charcoal over the course of three months that included two major storms, a few snow squalls, and countless rainy days. For less than $20, this charcoal storage bag is an inexpensive accessory that save you from having to buy new charcoal every time it rains. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • KettlePizza Pro 22 Kit

    Pizza Grilling Kit: Most ovens can’t reach the 700 plus–degree temperatures of commercial ovens. Enter KettlePizza kits, which are designed to turn 18.5- and 22.5-inch kettle-style charcoal grills into wood-fired ovens. The higher-end kit, called the KettlePizza Pro 22 Kit, produced pizza with evenly cooked toppings, perfectly charred crusts, and great wood-fired flavor. If you are serious about outdoor pizza, it’s still far cheaper than a backyard wood-fired oven. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • Weber Lighter Cubes

    Charcoal Fire Starter: Charcoal fire starters—flammable tiles, cubes, or nuggets—are advertised as waterproof alternatives to the newspaper used for lighting charcoal briquettes in a chimney starter. We tested a lineup of five products, and the winner was, far and away, the Weber Lighter Cubes. These starter cubes ignited quickly, and because they’re made entirely of paraffin wax, they were the most water-resistant product we tested. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • Barr Brothers Company Grill Grabber Grate Lifter

    Grill Grate Lifter: Replenishing coals is a must for many slow-cooked barbecue recipes, but dealing with a blazing-hot grill can be a dicey task. The Barr Brothers Company Grill Grabber Grate Lifter is designed specifically to do just that. It looks like a skillet handle and measures just under 10 inches from polypropylene grip to stainless steel tip. Its curved, notched prongs securely hooked under the bars of the grate and steadily held its weight (it can support up to five pounds) as we poured more coals into the kettle. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

  • Best Charcoal Grill Tool Holder: If your like us, you love your charcoal kettle grill but often find yourself wishing it had a place to rest your grill tools. Enter the Weber Stainless Steel Charcoal Grill Tool Holder, a simple metal device that clips to the side of any kettle grill. Its solid construction and weight helped it hold tight to the grill, and it stayed cool to the touch even when hot coals were banked right beside the clips. [Buy on Amazon l Read the Full Review]

BOOKSTORE

Best Summer Ever Master of the Grill

With recipes and techniques arranged by skill level—from The Basics to The Easy Upgrades to The Serious Projects—cooks of all stripes can dive in and choose their outdoor cooking adventure.
 

To learn more about charcoal grilling, check out these articles and our hundreds of charcoal-grilled recipes:

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