Cooking outdoors is a unique experience where you can try new recipes, cook authentic BBQ, and entertain friends and family. Every home needs a quality grill but finding the right one can be more difficult than it sounds. A grill needs to be made from high quality materials, it should have the features that allow you to cook the food that you love, and any new grill should be able to last for many seasons.
When it comes to grills you will have electric, gas, and charcoal options. Gas is the most popular but it’s not necessarily the best. Charcoal grilling is the most traditional form of outdoor cooking, and it allows for a unique flavor that is simply not possible with gas or electric powered grills.
If you want to start cooking with charcoal, then you don’t need to spend a lot of money. There are several compelling options, even when you are shopping for the best charcoal grill under $200.
There’s no real ‘best’ grill for everyone, instead, there are a few different options that could be best depending on your unique needs. To help you find the perfect solution for your home, we’ve put together some of the best charcoal grills under $200, along with some bonus gas grills that will extend your options.
A Low-Priced Alternative That Cooks with Gas
We start this list with one of the most affordable grills in this price range. Not only could this be the best grill under $200 for you, but it’s also the lowest priced, often coming in at around $100 depending on sales and discounts.
The catch? This is a gas grill rather than charcoal; however, you may be interested based on the price alone.
As the most affordable option, you might expect to deal with quite a few compromises when you choose this grill. Although it has been designed with low cost in mind, it’s not a grill that would disappoint you in terms of quality.
The materials are important to a grill at any price range, and for around $100 you might expect to get low quality options. This is not the case with the Char-Broil Classic 280 2 Burner Grill. It uses steel in the construction, which has been coated with porcelain enamel to help keep it looking great for many seasons to come.
The design itself is basic which cuts down on materials and therefore cost. You won’t find an enclosed cabinet. Instead, this grill uses a tubular frame stand with two wheels for portability, your gas bottle can be hung from the frame of the grill, but there is no tray for storage. The design means that the grill doesn’t look or feel overly premium, however, it still has sufficient quality considering the price point. If your budget matters more than looks, then you’ll find this to be the best grill under $200 for your needs.
There are two burners on this grill with 280 square inches of cooking surface. It is a hooded grill, which gives you some options if you want to cook a small BBQ cut, or a smaller turkey or regular sized chicken. One thing that will surprise you is the addition of a side burner, which isn’t always an option on a grill of this price. It helps to make the grill more versatile and reinforces the point that you are getting a real bargain for your money. There is even an additional side shelf to help with prep and cooking.
If you want the most affordable grill that doesn’t feel flimsy and disposable, then the Char-Broil Classic 280 is the one for you. If you can step up in price, then you can consider some of the best charcoal grills.
Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill
We’ve shown you what you could get if you choose to go with a budget gas grill. With the Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill you will see that with a small jump in price, you can get an authentic charcoal cooking experience and all of the smoky charcoal flavor that BBQ purists love so much.
The first thing to note about the Kamado Kooker is that it’s a small grill intended for family use. If size is not a major concern, then this won’t be a problem. If you need something bigger, then you’ll find options elsewhere on this list.
The Akorn Jr. is based on a traditional Kamado design. It uses both charcoal heating and air convection to cook food inside. Although you can grill with the lid open, most people will be using this grill closed to cook chicken, burgers, steak, and smaller BBQ cuts.
The surface area of this grill is 153 square inches, which is perfect for a family of 2 – 4 people. You can still use this grill to cook for larger groups, just as long as you are prepared for a long cooking session to get everything done.
The advantage of having a smaller grill like this is that it will be more efficient when you are only cooking small meals or a few different ingredients. This grill uses a double insulated steel design which helps it to reach temperatures of 700°F from just a charcoal fuel source. It’s one of the hottest grills that you’ll find in this price range, which easily makes it one of the best charcoal grills under $200.
When size doesn’t matter, and you want a simple cooker for your family, the Kamado will be more than capable. It’s also a great picnic grill or camping grill, and if you ever feel like you need something larger then there are bigger Kamado models available from Char-Griller.
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
The first grill we looked at was an affordable alternative to the best charcoal grills under $200. With this model, you can step up in price while getting pure charcoal cooking on a large surface.
The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is a classic kettle grill with a simple design that is suited for outdoor cooking at any home. The round grill helps to maximize the cooking surface size, without sacrificing convenience or portability.
The surface is 22 inches in diameter, which allows for small family cooking as well as large group cooking. Even if you are entertaining guests on a holiday or sports night, you will find that the Char-Broil provides plenty of space for all your ingredients and favorite BBQ recipes.
The Charcoal chamber is easy to access, and there is a removable ash bowl which makes it easy to clean this grill after you’re done cooking. Char-Broil has specifically designed this grill to be easy to clean, which will be appreciated by anybody who uses a grill often. The lid is hinged, which makes it more convenient than a traditional kettle grill, and there is a temperature gauge incorporated into the top, making it simple to maintain the ideal temperature.
This grill could be considered the best charcoal grill under $200 because of one very special feature; it uses Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrared technology to deliver searing heat that will reduce cooking times and improve the quality of your food. The infrared system helps to raise overall temperatures and increase the radiant heat inside of the grill. It’s particularly useful when you want to sear steaks, burgers, and other meat, and it functions passively as you are cooking. The higher you have your coal fire, the higher the TRU-Infrared temperature will be. The system helps to maximize the usage that you get from your charcoal, so you’ll actually end up using less than you would on similar kettle grills.
Being a charcoal grill, you can easily add smoker chips right on the grilling surface, allowing you to infuse your food with authentic smoke flavor.
If you love the classic aesthetic of a kettle grill, but want something more modern and convenient, then the Char-Broil Kettleman is the best option for you.
Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill
We’ve so far looked at a highly affordable gas grill, a portable but highly capable charcoal grill, and a more traditional charcoal kettle grill in the form of the Char-Broil Kettleman. Now it’s time to take a look at a large charcoal grill, which would be perfect if you love smoking and grilling and want to be able to cook for large groups at home.
Is the Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill the best charcoal grill under $200? If you have extensive cooking needs, then it could be!
This is a large grill with 580 square inches of cooking space. That’s more than the average family would ever need, and it allows necessary space when you are cooking for guests. The large size also makes this an excellent charcoal smoker, and it could be used for cooking whole turkeys and large BBQ cuts like loin or even pork butt.
The grill features a barrel design with a tubular steel frame. It’s basic and functional, but it also has a unique aesthetic which implies that this grill means business. While not as fancy as some premium grills, it is still impressive to look at, and it wouldn’t be out of place outside any modern home. You may even prefer this look over a more modern aesthetic.
Construction materials are high quality with powder coated steel used on most parts. There are also some wooden accents on the lid handle and the side tray.
The large surface area of this grill is one of its biggest advantages. The large and long cooking area means that you can have separate coal fires burning to give you control over two temperature zones. You could cook burgers and steaks on one side, while cooking vegetables or even fish on the other side at a slightly lower temperature. The large size also means that this is great for smoking, and you will be able to load your favorite cuts of meat, sausages, or vegetables for a low and slow session. You can add wood chips and wood pellets directly onto this grill, or, you could use a smoker tray if you want a slower burning smoking experience.
Based on functionality alone, this grill is easily one of the best charcoal grills under $200.
A Final Gas Option if You’re Still Not Convinced
Charcoal cooking is not for everyone. You could have the best charcoal grill under $200 and it would be a waste if you didn’t feel inclined to use it. Sometimes you need to just quickly fire up a gas burner and get your cooking done in the shortest possible time. We looked at a lower budget option in the form of the Char-Broil Classic 280, and now we will quickly cover the Char-Griller 3001 Grillin’ Pro.
This is a gas grill made from steel with a tubular frame and two side shelves. It includes a side burner and three main gas burners. Total heat rating is 40,800 BTU, and the total grilling surface is 438 square inches. It’s a quality grill for family cooking and it provides enough grilling space for entertaining.
In the context of the best charcoal grill under $200, you might be wondering why you should consider this option. If your preference is charcoal, then your decision would already be made with one of the previous three models. However, if you’re somewhere in the middle then this model offers a design feature that could make it worthwhile.
It has a large hood with a smokestack design which would make it possible to use woodchips for authentic smoke flavor. Although it’s still not quite a charcoal grill, this model could give you similar results with the convenience of LP Gas.
The Choice is Ultimately Up to You
We’ve presented three compelling charcoal options along with two gas alternatives that might be more suitable for you, depending on your needs.
If you insist on charcoal for flavor, or if gas is simply not convenient for you, then the Akorn, Kettleman, or Pro Deluxe will be the best choices. Each is under the $200 price point, and the models cover small, medium, and large, so that you can pick the one that best suits your needs.