Best Charcoal Barbecues (BBQ s) 2017 – The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

As the theme for this site is based around occasions that families gather for, I thought what better occasion than the good old BBQ, barbecue or barbecue (there seems to be numerous spellings). I have 2 daughters and we have a tradition of all getting together to join in the fun on cooking outside with the addition of a glass of vino or two.

My father-in-law introduced me to the joys of spending many an hour outside with a charcoal BBQ. Yes, I know that the gas ones look really cool, but there is nothing quite like sitting out under the stars cooking with charcoal. Not to mention that with charcoal BBQs, you can also burn wood afterwards to keep warm and so extending the evening’s entertainment. Because I am a bit of a traditionalist, I am sticking with charcoal and so have listed what I think are the top ten BBQs currently on the market in 2017. I am also proud to say that I have also owned or used all of the BBQs listed here so can give a personal review for each one.

My father-in-law introduced me to the joys of spending many an hour outside with a charcoal BBQ. Yes, I know that the gas ones look really cool, but there is nothing quite like sitting out under the stars cooking with charcoal. Not to mention that with charcoal BBQs, you can also burn wood afterwards to keep warm and so extending the evening’s entertainment.

Because I am a bit of a traditionalist, I am sticking with charcoal and so have listed what I think are the top ten BBQs currently on the market. I am also proud to say that I have also owned or used all of the BBQs listed here so can give a personal review for each one.

Best Charcoal BBQs 2017

Andrew James Electric Griddle Portable Grill Plate Teppanyaki 2000 Watts and 8 Spatulas
Landmann 43.5cm Kettle Charcoal Barbecue
Landmann 0566 Charcoal Wagon Barbecue
 Cast Iron BBQ  
 Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue  
 Landmann Grill Chef 11543 Oil Drum Barbecue  
 YAKOE 96x35x105 cm BBQ Smoker Grill Charcoal Garden Camping On Wheels – Black  
 Original Garden Fire Pit 57cm  
 BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker Round Grill Heat Indicator Thermometer 3 in 1 – Garden Gift Set  
 Fire Mountain Roma Masonry Barbecue with Stainless Steel 4 Level Grill  

 

1. Andrew James Electric Griddle Portable Grill Plate Teppanyaki 2000 Watts and 8 Spatulas – Amazon Best Seller – Over 900 customer reviews on Amazon

I know I talked about only reviewing charcoal grill BBQs but I thought that this electric portable grill was worth a mention.

In Brief:

  • Cast Iron.
  • Large non-stick grill.
  • Little or no oil required.
  • Eight wooden spatulas included.
  • Fully adjustable thermostat with 6 settings.
  • Easy clean.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • 2 Year Warranty included.
  • Dimensions (cm): 46L x 24.5W.

This BBQ is in the top Amazon Best Seller’s list. This large, non-stick grill is great for cooking meat, fish and vegetables. I either use a griddle on the BBQ or this griddle separately. You will need very little oil with a griddle and if you do go overboard then this portable grill plate comes with a drip tray. Andrew James Electric Griddle Portable Grill Plate Teppanyaki 2000 Watts and 8 Spatulas

We have decided on a healthy eating solution so we use very little oil but sometimes you can get meats that have a lot of fat and getting rid of the fat can be a problem. That’s where the drip tray comes in. This grill also has the benefit of being non-stick so you don’t really need to pile on the oil and so doesn’t encourage lots of smoke.

You get eight spatulas and a large cooking area which allows the whole family, or evening with friends, a chance to join in the fun. This is a perfect way to spend dinner parties.

There is a fully adjustable thermostat that allows you to cook your food to perfection. I don’t like all of my food burnt to a crisp and always try to get the food cooked how you would expect if you were using an oven or your indoor kitchen. The thermostat has 6 settings that you can easily set so that your food is cooked the way you like it.

Because this is not really your basic BBQ set you can cook all sorts of dishes on this from a full English Breakfast, burgers, scones and even pancakes. This is the ultimate multipurpose dining appliance.

When it come to cleaning, the this Teppanyaki grill couldn’t make it easier for you. You just simply wipe it clean or you can use hot soapy water if you prefer. The grill is also very portable and lightweight.

You get a 2 year warranty and they even throw in some delicious recipes in the manual so you can get cooking straight away.

Pros Cons
  • Drip Tray
  • Easy Clean
  • Thermostat setting
  • Wooden Spatulas – I would have preferred metal
  • There are none really apart from it is electric and I like charcoal.

2. Landmann 43.5cm Kettle Charcoal Barbecue – in the top 20 of Amazon Best Seller’s list

For such a basic design we were really pleased with the results. The Landmann Grill-Chef is the classic kettle design. It is compact which is great for taking it to the park or beach. Although check that you are allowed to BBQ before you set it up. Landmann 43.5cm Kettle Charcoal Barbecue

In Brief:

  • Cooking Surface:430 x 430 mm.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Indication light.
  • Side handles.
  • Enamelled lid and fire bowl.
  • Landmann leading name in BBQs.
  • 1 x Landmann 11316 Grill-Chef 43 cm kettle charcoal barbecue.
  • 1 x Manufacturer’s instruction booklet.

The Landmann has a 43cm chrome-plated cooking grill. They say that you can cook for up to four people but we found that the sausages and burgers that we bought from the local butchers were for six people and they were cooked to perfection. We had lamb as well as pork sausages and each were cooked to perfection. I didn’t get the chance to do my normal evening cooking with a nice selection of different meats or fish which would probably restrict the numbers you could cook for to four as stated.

There is a chrome ash collecting tray supplied and we found that it made it very easy to clean after we used it. The weather resistant wheels were great too as during our BBQ we experienced classic English weather with a downpour. The wheels made it easier for us to move the BBQ to a spot where us cooks wouldn’t get too wet.

Pros Cons
  • Drip Tray
  • Quality build
  • Ash collecting tray
  • Can only cook for 4 people – not great if you have a large family or big group of friends.

3. Landmann 0566 Charcoal Wagon Barbecue – in the top 20 of Amazon Best Seller’s list

We have used this charcoal BBQ, I have friends who have one and my Mother-in-Law has one although she doesn’t BBQ any more but spends her time around ours instead.

In Brief:Landmann 0566 Charcoal Wagon Barbecue

  • Enamelled Firebowl.
  • Height adjustable chrome plated cooking grill.
  • Wood side and base shelves.
  • Windshield.
  • Mobile via two wheels.
  • 1 x Landmann 0566 Charcoal Wagon Barbecue.
    1 x Assembly Instructions and User Manual.

This is a classic design when it comes to BBQs. It is versatile and has plenty of room for being able to move food around. I don’t know about you, but I tend to rotate my food when I am cooking it. So I will start with the meat that will take the longest. Normally this involves the sausages first. Over the years I have got a routine going where I start with the longest and leave the food that needs the least cooking till last such as Halloumi.

The Grill Chef by Landmann provides a proven design, is great value for money and the ones I have owned have lasted for ages. It comes with a chrome plated cooking grate, wooden slats for storage and weather resistant wheels that are great for those classic British evenings where you think you are going to get a lovely evening but you get one of those “downpours”.

I have cooked all sorts of food on this little gem and this BBQ can be used with Charcoal Briquettes for best results but Lump Wood Charcoal can also be used.

I have to admit that I have an old one in the garage that we now use as a bit of a fire pit. So after we have finished cooking, it is down the garden with the torches to find fire wood to burn and then we pull out the Landmann and stack it up with wood to burn to keep warm. The back plate also helps in stopping any sparks burning anyone. This is probably not what Landmann would want it to be used for but I just wanted to show how versatile it is.

Pros Cons
  • Height adjustable grill
  • Good for cooking more than just sausages and burgers.
  • Wooden Slats – Anything wood needs to be treated if you want something to last outside.
  • There are none really apart from it is electric and I like charcoal.

11527 Grillchef Porta Go Charcoal Barbecue – Black

Landmann also do a similar design charcoal grill barbecue – 11527 Grillchef Porta Go Charcoal Barbecue – Black. My only concern is that it doesn’t have any wheels which maybe fine for you, but I just like being able to quickly move my BBQ in case the weather suddenly changes. However, check it out.

In Brief:

  • Easy to assemble requires no tools
  • Chrome plated cooking grill
  • Windshield with grill height adjustment
  • Enamelled cooking bowl designed to take the Landmann 0600 Disposable Barbecue [Available Separately]
  • Easy to transport

4. Cast Iron BBQ – 164 5* reviews on Amazon

I haven’t been recently, but we used to go camping with our daughters down in the New Forest. One of the things that camping sites don’t like is campers simply setting light to things especially when you are staying in the New Forest surrounded by trees and forest – obviously!!

This simple little cast iron charcoal barbecue is great for family events such as this, and the camping site was cool with it because it is contained. We spent many a night sitting out under blankets with hot chocolates or something a little stronger.Cast Iron BBQ

In Brief:

  • Cast – iron body and firebowl.
  • Cast – iron cooking grill and Charcoal grid.
  • Height adjustable cooking grill.
  • Wooden carry handles.
  • Air vent for heat control.
  • Assembly Instructions and User Manual.
  • Product Dimensions: 37.2 x 10.8 x 37.2 cm ; 7 Kg
  • Boxed-product Weight: 15 Kg

This is not really a barbecue that you would use for a large family event. It’s cast iron metal painted black is quite heavy and this BBQ doesn’t come with a lid but that doesn’t seem to matter when you are camping. Beware that the handles are a little bit flimsy and the castings don’t fit particularly well and are bit mediocre in quality. An owner found that drilling another hole and using an extra bolt to secure the two halves of the lower body sorted the problem of stability out. With this in mind this little BBQ still did the job.

I wouldn’t try cooking much on this purely because of its size but still rates in our top 10 for being a great portable BBQ that you can put in the back of the caravan or car and take away with you.

Pros Cons
  • Very portable – great for camping
  • Easy to assemble
  • Wooden handles
  • Build quality a little flimsy

5. Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue – Average Amazon rating 4.5 out of 5

This was the very first barbecue that my Father-in-Law introduced me to and is to this day still my favourite.

In Brief:

  • Brick structure
  • Large 67cm/39cm chrome-plated cooking grill
  • Can cook for up to 8 people
  • All items removable

Box Contains:

  • 1 x Chrome-plated cooking grill
  • 1 x Charcoal grid
  • 1 x Ash tray
  • 1 x Manufacturer’s instruction booklet

The design of this Landmann BBQ is slightly different to the rest in as much as you will need to be a little more “hands on” when constructing this as you are building more of an “outdoor area” than just constructing a BBQ.

You will need to build a brick structure first which is not that difficult as it is not like you are building an out house or brick shed. I am not in the least bit of a DIY  person,Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue but I managed to construct this kit and it stayed together for many years. Believe me, it took some hammering. The instructions were pretty easy to follow. Just be aware that you will have to go and get your own bricks, which is not that much of a problem. We got some free from a neighour.

You get a large 67 cm X 39 cm chrome plated cooking grill which can cook enough food for eight people. You also get a handy ash catcher tray and a charcoal grid which you set up so that you can pull it out for easy cleaning.

You can use lump wood charcoal or briquettes to cook by and I think I read you can get a gas model too but I have not seen this.

Because it is based around a brick structure we often used it for burning small wood from the garden to keep warm and also the whole family can stand around this if they are cooking marshmallows or yummy stuff like that.

With the brick structure you can customise this outdoor area. We added metal shelves under the ash tray so that we could store cooking implements and put the bags of coal out of the rain.

I would highly recommend this barbecue and if I was to rate this then I would give it 5 out of 5.

Pros Cons
  • Cook food for up to 8 people
  • All sections can be removed for cleaning or winter storage
  • You can customise the outdoor area
You have to build the brick structure which might put some people off

6. Landmann Grill Chef 11543 Oil Drum Barbecue – Double Drum cooking

The oil drum BBQ is very popular. I have attended many a school fete, summer shows and other outdoor events and have noticed just how many people use this style of barbecue.

In Brief:

  • Two Large 42 x 27 cm Chome Plated Cooking Grids
  • Bottom Mesh Table and Windsheild
  • Cooks For Up To Ten People
  • Mobile via two weatherproof Wheels
  • Product Dimensions: 107 x 56 x 94 cm ; 22 Kg

Box Contains:

  • 1 x Landmann Grill Chef 11543 Oil Drum Barbecue
  • 1 x Assembly Instructions and Manual

This grey Grill Chef is very versatile as you can cook on one or both of the drums depending on the number of people who you have to your BBQ. This is probably why Landmann Grill Chef 11543 Oil Drum Barbecueyou see so many of this style BBQ at shows and fetes. One of the problems with this BBQ though is that the drums holding the charcoal are a bit low in relation to the grill, which means that it can take a while to cook the food properly, although I prefer my food cooked rather than incinerated. I did see on a review recently where they had the same problem and they put a couple of bricks under the drums to raise them up which seemed to work for them.

Rather than a round barbecue, because of its shape, it means that you can park it up against a wall if you are short of space of example. It can be easily moved about as it is on wheels.

 

Pros Cons
  • Cook food for up to 10 people
  • You can use one or both drums depending on the size of your party
  • Can easily be moved if rain arrives
  • I have heard that the wheels are a bit flimsy
  • No lid to keep out the rain

7. YAKOE 96x35x105 cm BBQ Smoker Grill Charcoal Garden Camping On Wheels – Black – “The Beast”

This is a real beast of a BBQ. It looks like it should be put on rails and used to pull goods vehicles, especially with the chimney.

In Brief:

  • All weather powder coated frame ,lid and fire bowl
  • Smoker in top quality, stainless steel Joints
  • Complete with chimney, front shelf and temperature gauge
  • You can easily control temperature with integrated thermometer on the lid.
  • Dimensions: 960mm x 1050mm;self-assembly will be required.

I like this BBQ because it comes with some extras. Be warned though; This barbecue arrives in bits with plenty of nuts and bolts which can be a bit over-whelming at first if you haven’t constructed anything lately – Been to IKEA recently? YAKOE 96x35x105 cm BBQ Smoker Grill Charcoal Garden Camping On Wheels – Black

Once you get started though it becomes more of an easy puzzle rather than a hell of a job, and something you can construct on your own. It is very satisfying for someone like me who is not a DIY person to be able to stand back and appreciate how good it looks.

The BBQ comes with a cooking temperature gauge that allows you to monitor the temperature of the food from within. There is an additional rack shelf which allows you to store extra wood at the bottom. What I like about this BBQ is that you can use the separate fire-box to keep your already cooked food hot. We also found that we could cook the food at low temperatures so that the fish or meat didn’t dry out.

8. Original Garden Fire Pit 57cm Folding Garden Fire Pit, BBQ Fire Pit Bowl, Outdoor Garden Firepit, Patio Fire Pit Heater, INCLUDING Grill, Grate and Poker and Carry Bag

Perhaps not so much of a BBQ but as its name suggests a “fire pit”. We use this for both. Last winter New Year was so mild we decided to celebrate with a BBQ. I filled this up with smokeless coal and let it glow. It can pump out some serious heat. After we had eaten we decided to sit around this fire pit under blankets but it wasn’t long before the blankets had gone and we were toasting in 2016.

In Brief:

  • 2 in 1 FirePit and BBQ with folding legs, portable camping fire pit.
  • Camping bowl Includes safety mesh lid, grate, cooking grill, poker and carry bag.
  • Made from steel and finished in black heat resistant black paint.
  • Easy to assemble with detailed instructions included
  • Dimensions: 57 x 57 x 37 cm (L x W x H)
  • Lightweight but strong portable barbecue.

If you are going to use this fire pit for cooking on then I suggest that it is really only good for a small party who only want simple sausages or burgers. This fire pit is Original Garden Fire Pit 57cm Folding Garden Fire Pit, BBQ Fire Pit Bowl, Outdoor Garden Firepit, Patio Fire Pit Heater, INCLUDING Grill, Grate and Poker and Carry Bag brilliant though for marshmallows. Because it is so small, the family can site around it, staying warm and all getting access to cooking their own marshmallows.

The description does say that this is good for camping. I can understand this because of its folding legs and carry bag but we always take so much stuff with us on camping trips that I wouldn’t get this in the car.

We have been using this in the garden now for some time. The only draw back to this fire pit is that our mesh lid has rusted through. This is after some years but it does mean you have to be more cautious when you pack up to go to bed. The mesh lid was always really good in as much as you could put it on when the coals were still hot and leave it. I don’t feel confident now without the lid.

Pros Cons
  • Portable
  • Gives out great heat as a fire pit
  • Our lid rusted
  • Only good for cooking for small groups

9. BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker Round Grill Heat Indicator Thermometer 3 in 1 – Garden Gift Set

This is some piece of kit. With this BBQ you can barbecue, cook or smoke, it is up to you.

In Brief:

  • With thermometer
  • Chrome plated barbecue griddle and ash griddle
  • With drip pan for indirect barbecuing
  • With ventilation flap at the exhaust pipe
  • Easy assembly
  • with thermometer
  • chrome plated barbecue griddle and ash griddle
  • with drip pan for indirect barbecuing
  • 2 practical side doors
  • regulated air supply
  • large side- and lid handles
  • with ventilation flap at the exhaust pipe
  • stable three pod
  • suitable for charcoal and briquettes

Box Contains:

  • BBQ SMOKER Smoking and Barbecue Oven
  • 2x Griddles
  • 1x Coal Griddle
  • Drip Pan
  • Assembly instructions
  • Measurements: (HxW) 29.5 in x 15.7 in

You are going to like this if you want more than just the family evening barbecue. This bit of kit is really a “3 in 1” as you can cook in 3 different ways.BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker Round Grill Heat Indicator Thermometer 3 in 1 - Garden Gift Set

  1. Without the lid you can cook a straigth forward BBQ. So your sausages, burgers, fish and vegetables can all be cooked in the traditional way.
  2. If you are going to smoke with the lid, say you want to smoke some fish then you would add smoking flour to the charcoal.
  3. If you are going to smoke with the lid on, then you would simply BBQ your steak, roast or poultry.

This BBQ comes with a thermometer to check the temperature and an exhaust pipe. To light the fire you can open the lower door and the door in the middle section can be used for controlling the BBQ food.

I have seen other write ups that say that the built in thermometer doesn’t reflect the correct temperature and that some have bought separate thermometers but I haven’t discovered that fault myself and that the middle section is a bit loose and some were worried about how much smoke would escape. But we found that the release of smoke was acceptable.

By the way; How is your German? Because the instructions come only in German.

Pros Cons
  • Good value against other more expensive Smoke BBQS
  • Can BBQ and smoke
  • Very flexible and offers different cooking styles
  • Thermometer under question
  • Fiddly to construct

10. Fire Mountain Roma Masonry Barbecue with Stainless Steel 4 Level Grill, Prep Shelf and Storage Space for Wood or Charcoal

In Brief:

  • Impressive masonry barbecue for grilling over wood or charcoal
  • Adjustable stainless steel grill to provide four levels of cooking
  • Attractive design and slanted flue to direct smoke away from food and guests
  • Dual-coloured design with a strong form to ensure many years of enjoyment
  • Dimensions: 160cm (H) x 134cm (W) x 58cm (D)
  • Boxed-product Weight: 475 Kg

This is the Rolls Royce of barbecues in my opinion. These types of BBQs remind me of the one you get when you go on holiday in the Mediterranean. The Roma Masonry Barbecue is definately something that you are going to have to decide on whether you want it not. The reason being is that once it is up there is no going back. Portability is not a pro on this model. So mke sure that once you start to construct it you are happy with the location.Fire Mountain Roma Masonry Barbecue with Stainless Steel 4 Level Grill, Prep Shelf and Storage Space for Wood or Charcoal

I have  cooked many a time on these types of BBQs and I really like it. The Roma is sturdy and good looking. It is made from concrete and can withstand very high temperatures. It is definately a party beast as you can gather the clan around the fire to enjoy the heat it puts out and the social side while you are cooking. After you have finished cooking then this animal will allow you to stoke it up with logs or coal to heat your party guests on a cool evening.

The BBQ has a slanted flue which directs the smoke up and out at thee top so that your party guests can gather without having to suffer the smoke that you can get with classic home barbecues. You get four levels in which you can set your grill at so I am a bit of a “short arse” so I can cook at lowish levels where as some of my friends are very tall so this barbecue would suit them too.

You have a great storage area underneath the grill where you can store plates or utensils and then at the bottom you can store you bags of coal or wood. There is also a shelf to the right that I like as I always stack my meats and food in order that I want to cook.

This barbecue come in kit form so it is “DIY” time again. You get heat-resistant glue to stick each section together but you will need to go and get yourself a sealant gun as this doesn’t come with the kit. The company who supply this do state that they can offer extra accessories such as refractory mortar and masonry paint if you want these extras. I am assuming that you can buy these accessories from any good DIY shop.

Pros Cons
  • Great looking
  • Very sociable for parties
  • Very sturdy and hard wearing
  • Not a lot really apart from if you are not a DIY person
  • It is not portable if you like to move around the garden

If  you are looking for some technical specifications then the assembled size is:

Assembled size:
Height – 160cm
Width – 134cm
Depth – 58cm

Grill size:
Width – 52.5cm
Depth – 40cm

Weight: 475kgs

Just a couple of other points you probably want to be aware of:

If the BBQ is going to be built on concrete then you will need to make sure it will be 10cm thick. If however, you are thinking of putting it on your decking then it will need to be able to hold 400lbs per sq. metre. You will need to also leave the barbecue for 3 to 4 days after constructing it. This is to make sure that the adhesive has set.

When you get delivery of this BBQ then it comes on a pallet and needs to be delivered at the kerbside.

So that is my top ten rated BBQs for 2017. I hope you found this useful and I would like to wish you a happy 2017 summer (or autumn or spring if you are keen) barbecuing.

Thinking of camping this year? Check out our review of the the top ten tents for 2017. Click on the image below or click here

Best Tents for 2017

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