If you’re in charge of feeding a crowd—and you want that smoky, grilled flavor on your food—there’s no question that a charcoal grill is the way to go.
Charcoal grills offer a distinct, classic BBQ taste that can’t be replicated with a gas or wood pellet grill. As an added benefit, they’re more portable and take up less space in the attic, basement, or garage during the winter.
But with so many options on the market, it can be tough to know which charcoal grill is the best choice for your needs. That’s where we come in. We’ve evaluated and rounded up a range of charcoal grills to find the top options for a large family.
Best Charcoal Grills for a Crowd
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From traditional kettle grills to more modern designs, we’ve got you covered. So fire up the coals and get ready to grill like a pro!
With a cooking area of 508 sq. in. and a stainless steel hinged cooking grate, this grill has everything you need to grill up a wide range of dishes for a crowd.
The Weber Original 26″ Kettle Grill, is our ultimate choice for backyard barbecues and outdoor cooking.
With a primary cooking area of 508 sq. in. and a fuel type of charcoal, this grill is perfect for grilling up a wide range of dishes. The stainless steel hinged cooking grate allows for easy access to the coals, while the rust-resistant aluminum dampers allow you to easily adjust the temperature.
The grill also features durable all-weather wheels, making it easy to move around your backyard or patio. Plus, with two glass-reinforced nylon handles and two tool hooks, you’ll have plenty of space to store your grilling tools.
Overall, the Weber Original 26″ Kettle Grill is a durable, versatile choice for large-crowd grilling, and that’s how it got its rightful place as number one on our list.
This grill is our top pick if you want grilling space because it offers a massive 950 sq. in. total cooking area, making it capable of fitting an impressive 38 burgers at once. Whether you're hosting a backyard barbecue or feeding a crowd at a tailgate, it has the space and the heat to get the job done.
If you’re looking for a grill with plenty of space to accommodate a large crowd, the Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw Charcoal Grill is the way to go.
With a massive 950 sq. in. total cooking area, this grill is capable of fitting an impressive 38 burgers at once. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or feeding a crowd at a tailgate, this offset smoker has you covered.
The cast iron cooking grates and adjustable fire grate make it easy to cook and sear. The bottom shelf and warming rack provide space for tools and ingredients, and the wooden handle makes it easy to move the grill around.
The wheels and front and side shelves with barbecue grill tool storage hooks make it easy to transport and store your grill, while the durable construction ensures that it will last for seasons to come.
And, with a sleek black powder-coated finish and a durable alloy steel construction, the Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw Charcoal Grill is built to last.
A sturdy, durable, and highly affordable option for those looking to invest in a kamado grill. With 689.56 sq. in. of cooking space and the ability to reach a cooking temperature of up to 700°F, this grill is well-suited for a wide range of searing, grilling, smoking, and roasting tasks.
With a whopping 689.56 sq. in. of cooking space, this grill has plenty of room to cook for a large crowd. The grill is capable of reaching a cooking temperature of up to 700°F, allowing you to sear steaks to perfection or smoke ribs low and slow.
The stainless steel cooking grids are durable and easy to clean, and the heat deflector allows for convection-style cooking. The top and bottom dampers allow you to easily control the temperature, and the folding side shelves provide convenient space for tools and ingredients.
How to Select a Charcoal Grill
When shopping for a charcoal grill for a large crowd, there are a few key factors to consider. Let’s go over what features to look for—and which to avoid.
What to Look For
Grill size: You’ll want a grill with plenty of cooking space to accommodate a large number of steaks, burgers, and hot dogs. Look for a grill with at least 500 sq. in. of cooking surface, and consider a model with a warming rack to keep the ready meats warm while the rest of the batch is still cooking.
Ease of use: When cooking for a large crowd, the last thing you want is a grill that’s difficult to operate. Look for a model that’s easy to clean and haul around, and consider one with features like a built-in ash catcher or a hinges on the cooking grate for easy access to the coals.
Durability: A high-quality grill will last for many seasons, so it’s worth investing in a model that’s built to last. Look for grills with heavy-duty construction, with thick, sturdy parts made of stainless steel or with a porcelain-enamel coating to ensure that your grill will stand up to the rigors of frequent use.
Price: Of course, you’ll also want to take your budget into account when shopping for a charcoal grill. Look for a model that offers a good balance of features and value—and keep in mind that you may need to spend more upfront for a grill that will last for years to come.
They say “buy it nice or buy it twice,” and nowhere in barbecuing is this more true than when buying a charcoal grill.
What to Avoid
Limited cooking space: If you’re planning to cook for a large crowd, choose a grill with enough cooking space to accommodate all of your food. Look for a grill with at least 500 sq. in. of cooking surface. On a kettle grill, this usually translates to a grate diameter of 26 in. or greater.
Poor heat control: Being able to regulate the temperature on your charcoal grill is key to grill up meats and vegetables to perfection. If a grill doesn’t have adjustable dampers or vents—and some might say a built-in thermometer—it can be tough to maintain a consistent temperature.
Cheap construction: Grills made with low-quality materials or those constructed poorly can be prone to corrosion, rust, breakage, and other problems. If you want a grill that will last for many seasons, and you do, it’s worth investing in a quality model from a manufacturer whose warranty you can count on.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a Charcoal Grill?
The best time to buy a charcoal grill may vary depending on where you live and what types of grills are popular in your area. That said, we have a few tips for you on when (and how) to buy a grill at a bargain.
Seasonality: In many parts of the country, grilling is a popular summer activity, so you may be able to find good deals on grills in the off-season, such as fall or winter.
Sales and discounts: Retailers offer sales and discounts throughout the year, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for special offers on grills. Some stores may offer discounts on grills as part of holiday promotions, or as part of larger sales events, such as Black Friday or Labor Day.
New product releases: If you don’t mind buying an older model, and few seasoned grillers do, you may be able to find a good deal on a grill when a new version is released. Many retailers will offer discounts on older models to get them off their inventory and make room for the new ones.
By doing your research and shopping around, you should be able to find a good deal on a high-quality grill that meets your needs.
Should You Buy a Charcoal Kettle, Barrel, or Kamado Grill?
Both kettle grills and rectangular charcoal grills can be excellent choices, depending on your needs and preferences. Consider this deciding which of the two is right for you:
Kettle grills: Kettle grills are the “classic” round grills associated with backyard barbecues. They have a circular cooking grate and a dome-shaped lid, which helps to circulate heat and create an even cooking surface.
Kettle grills are often more portable than rectangular grills, making them a good choice for camping or tailgating. They are also generally less expensive than rectangular grills, so they’re a great bet for the backyard griller on a budget.
Rectangular grills: Rectangular grills, also called barrel grills or horizontal smokers, depending on who you talk to and where you look for them, have a long, rectangular cooking chamber and a lid that runs along the grill.
They tend to provide more cooking space than kettle grills, making them a good choice for larger crowds. Rectangular grills are also often more versatile, with improved capabilities for smoking, roasting, and grilling. But they cost more, and are less portable than kettles.
Kamado grills: Kamado grills, also known as ceramic grills or egg-shaped grills, are made from thick, heat-resistant ceramic and have a unique egg-like shape. They are famed for their ability to retain heat and yield tender, juicy meat, making them well-suited for low-and-slow cooking and smoking.
Kamado grills are often more versatile than traditional grills. However, they can be more expensive—especially if you need a kamado grill with plenty of cooking space—and less portable than a charcoal kettle or barrel grill.
So, how to choose?
If you want a portable, affordable grill for your backyard cookouts, a kettle grill may very well be the way for you to go. If you need a larger, more versatile grill for large crowds—or maybe more ambitious cooking projects—a rectangular grill may be the better choice. If you’re feeling hip, get a kamado grill.
Why You Can Trust Us
We spent 32 hours researching and rounding up the best charcoal grills for a crowd so you won’t have to.
We looked at product specs, read assembly guides and product manuals, and read customer reviews to come up with a shortlist of contender grills. We then drew on the decades of combined grilling experience of our team to scrutinize our list of favorites and come up with the final selection of winners, which you can see right before your eyes:
- Our pick: Weber Original 26″ Kettle Grill
Thank you for visiting and we hope you found our buying guide for charcoal grills for cooking for a crowd helpful. If we missed something you want added to this guide, please let us know by leaving a comment below.