Do you like having friends and family over for a cookout, or do you think you would at least? Or do you want to be able to cook your own meat and vegetables on a charcoal grill with your own seasonings and sauces? You can, of course, do both of these things and more, but if you want to save some money doing so, you should keep reading.
Grills can be expensive, depending on the kind you want to purchase. If you’re on a budget, that may seem like terrible news, but don’t give up on your barbequing dreams just yet!
We’ve researched several charcoal grills that should suit your needs while also not breaking your budget. If you’re interested in the best charcoal grills under $300, read on! Don’t forget to check out our buying guide section, as well, and see the frequently asked questions on the best charcoal grills.
Our Top 8 Best Charcoal Grills Under $300
The following table includes our top picks for the best charcoal grills under $300. If you’re in a hurry and just want to see where each grill ranks or what it’s best for, take a look! We’ve ranked these grills based on several features, including materials, cooking space, grates, temperature control, and other unique features.
If you’re not in too much of a rush, though, we definitely suggest that you continue on and read our reviews, buying guide, and FAQ sections. This will help you make sure that you’re getting the best possible charcoal grill at less than $300 for all of your cooking and recreational needs.
- Cooking Surface Area: 363 square inches
- Weight: 66.2 pounds
- Grate Material: Chrome-plated stainless steel
- Grill Body Material: Porcelain-enameled steel
- Unique Feature: Features a One-Touch cleaning system, built-in thermometer
Weber makes a wide range of high-quality, reliable grills for every type of grill master and chef. This Performer model happens to be the best of the best quality charcoal grills under $300.
This grill weighs in at a little over 66 pounds but comes with 8-inch wheels to make maneuvering it around your yard or patio a breeze. The porcelain-enameled steel retains heat well and ensures even cooking of your meats and vegetables. It features a unique One-Touch cleaning system that makes cleaning up spent charcoal, ash, and dripped debris a breeze after you’re done cooking.
It also features a folding side table. However, some users had problems with the quality of the table that can be chalked up to quality control issues before shipping, including missing fixtures or a bent table. This is easily remedied by contacting customer support through the manufacturer’s phone number or website.
While the grill does come with free expert assembly, customers that chose to assemble it themselves found that they had difficulty in doing so, citing long assembly times or missing parts.
- This grill comes with a built-in thermometer on the lid that displays the internal temperature of the grill
- The grill’s handle has a heat shield, preventing the handle from getting too hot and therefore preventing burns
- Comes standard with a foldable side table for all of your tools within reach
- The One-Touch cleaning system deposits all as and debris into a removable ash catcher
- The porcelain coating helps to prevent rusting, cracking and peeling while also retaining cooking heat better.
- There may be some quality control issues with parts, particularly the side table, arrive bent or do not hold up properly
- Some had difficulty assembling the grill, though it does come with an option for free expert assembly
- Cooking Surface Area: 314 square inches + a 133-square-inch warming rack = 447 square inches
- Weight: 90 pounds
- Grate Material: Cast iron
- Grill Body Material: Coated 22-gauge steel
- Unique Feature: Insulated design, warming rack, foldable side tables, temperature gauge
The AKORN grill by Char-Griller is the best Kamado charcoal grill under $300. It comes in a colored finish of black, blue, or red so you have some aesthetic options to choose from.
The AKORN is a Kamado-style grill but without the ceramic. Instead, it uses coated 22-gauge steel that’s triple-layered and properly insulated to trap heat. It also features a cast iron cooking grate, which not only improves the quality and taste of your food when properly-maintained but also helps to evenly distribute the heat. Because of the Kamado design and the way the grill distributes heat, you’ll use less charcoal and be able to cook with a wider range of temperatures from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
But you should be aware that Kamado grills do not use charcoal briquettes as most other grills do. Instead, they use lump charcoal, which burns hotter and more quickly but is perfect for heating up a Kamado grill. With its unique egg shape, it distributes the heat and retains it better, so you aren’t using as many lumps to achieve the optimal result.
With that being said, if you’re unused to cooking with a Kamado grill or this is your first time using one, you should pay extra attention to the temperature gauge while cooking. The temperatures can climb quickly in this grill and may accidentally sear food you wanted to be cooked differently.
- Grill and smoker combo
- Features two convenient folding side shelves with utensil hooks
- Comes with a removable warming rack
- Uses an adjustable top and bottom damper for regulating airflow and heat control
- Has an easy-dump ash pan for a quick, easy cleanup
- Kamado grill design is ideal for fuel efficiency when cooking as it uses less charcoal and airflow thanks to the insulated design
- Kamado grills primarily use lump hardwood charcoal rather than briquettes and don’t work as well with the latter option
- A common problem seems to be that the grill top or lid arrived dented, this is likely due to a shipping problem
- Temperatures can climb quickly and if this is your first Kamado grill it may be difficult to adjust to
- Cooking Surface Area: 576 square inches + 240 square inches of rack = 816 square inches
- Weight: 112 pounds
- Grate Material: Cast iron
- Grill Body Material: Double-walled steel
- Unique Feature: Removable firebox divider, 2 charcoal trays, temperature gauge
You can’t have a backyard barbeque with all of your friends and family members without this grill. It’s got a massive cooking surface area to work with, making it perfect for parties, events, and more.
This Dyna-Glo grill has a whopping 816 total square inches of cooking space when you opt to use the 576 square inches of primary cooking space as well as the 240 square inches of secondary space. With cast-iron grates and double-walled steel construction, the heat generated in this grill will spread evenly and will retain fairly well.
The grates are cast iron, and as a result, they will need to be properly seasoned and maintained to work as intended. Heat the grill and apply some oil until the grates darken in color to season it, and you’ll be good to go. They will require light cleaning and a small amount of oiling after every use as well, so keep that in mind.
One thing to look out for with this пrill is that it may leak smoke while operating. If it does this, it means that it is not sealed properly and that there may be gaps along the seams or where the grill is meant to open and close. Not everyone noted this as an issue, but if your grill does this, there are ways to fix it.
- The double-walled steel construction retains heat well and prolongs the life and use of your charcoal over your cooking time
- Has a massive cooking surface area
- Has an attractive and functional chimney stack along with dual vents on the sides
- Uses a high-capacity ash pan for a quick, easy cleanup
- The firebox has a removable divider for single or dual cooking zones
- The grates will need to be seasoned properly with oil before being used
- Some had issues with the grill leaking smoke during operation, indicating that it isn’t sealed as well as it could be
- Hard to assemble
- Cooking Surface Area: 420 square inches + 120 (warming rack) = 540 square inches
- Weight: 115 pounds
- Grate Material: Porcelain-coated cast iron
- Grill Body Material: Stainless steel
- Unique Feature: 3 burners (40,000 BTU), side burner (12,000 BTU), temperature gauge
One of the downsides of charcoal grilling is that you don’t necessarily always want to grill or smoke using charcoal. Sometimes you want the quick, easy start a propane grill offers. Well, this Char-Broil modern wonder can do both!
This grill is constructed from durable, reliable stainless steel that’s great for resisting rust and corrosion. The cooking grates offer a total of 540 square inches of cooking space, which means you’ll have plenty of room to cook for your friends and family for any occasion. It features an electronic ignition system that activates the stainless-steel burners easily and with a guaranteed spark. The lid-mounted temperature gauge will accurately tell you the internal temperature of the grill every time you use it.
If you plan to use charcoal with this grill, you need to have a thorough understanding of the placement and be ready to intervene or do some indirect cooking. The charcoal tray sits very close underneath the primary cooking grate. The height cannot be adjusted, so it’s something to keep in mind.
Additionally, while lighting the charcoal with electronic ignition is a fantastic idea, in theory, it tends to work a little less effective than a traditional chimney system. Also, there’s no removable tray for cleaning out the catch cup, which is something we see on most other modern grill systems.
- Comes with a comprehensive warranty on the burners, lid, firebox, and other parts
- Uses high-quality stainless-steel burners and an electronic ignition system
- Features a lid-mounted temperature gauge for accurate temperature monitoring
- Has both a charcoal tray and a storage area for propane tanks
- Has a fold-away side burner that can be used for cooking or as additional prep space
- The charcoal tray within the grill sits very close to the cooking grate
- No removable tray for cleaning the catch cup or grease overflow
- Using the gas burners to light the charcoal is a great idea in theory but doesn’t work as well as using a chimney and spreading the coals
- Cooking Surface Area: 255 square inches (griddle), 219 square inches grill
- Weight: 82 pounds
- Grate Material: Steel
- Grill Body Material: Steel
- Unique Feature: Patent-pending rear grease management system, 12.000-BTU griddle
The Blackstone grill is highly versatile and can be used for griddle-style cooking as well as traditional grilling.
We recommend seasoning the grill and griddle to get better flavor and more evenly-distributed heat while cooking your meals. This grill features a total cooking surface area of 474 square inches, so you’ll have plenty of space to cook a variety of food items if you can utilize both surfaces appropriately. The grill uses charcoal while the griddle uses propane as a fuel source. It’s easy to assemble upon arrival.
One thing to keep in mind is that your cooking location with this grill is particularly important. This is because the unit, oddly enough, doesn’t come with a hard-top hood of any kind. This means that it will be exposed to any wind that happens to blow through, so if you’re not positioned in the right place when this happens you can easily lose your flame.
Additionally, you can’t actually purchase a hood for this unit. Not a proper one, at least, as the manufacturer simply doesn’t make them.
- The grill can be seasoned to make it easier to clean and more effective at cooking
- The grill grate is adjustable
- Uses both a griddle surface and a grill grate for different cooking types and uses
- Easy to assemble
- The griddle side of this grill uses propane
- The grill and griddle are open and exposed to wind, which can make it difficult to cook depending on location
- There are no hoods available from the manufacturer to fit the grill side of this unit
- Cooking Surface Area: 443 square inches + 287 square inches (offset) = 730
- Weight: 123.2 pounds
- Grate Material: Porcelain-enameled steel
- Grill Body Material: Heavy-gauge porcelain-coated steel
- Unique Feature: Cool-touch spring lid handle, temperature gauge
If you’re looking for a barrel-style charcoal grill under $300, you can’t go wrong with this Dyna-Glo model.
This grill can also be used as a smoker, and it comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect at this price point. It comes with a temperature gauge, solidly-built wheels, a cool-touch spring handle, and more. The temperature gauge is analog, but it’s also labeled. Whether you want to smoke meat for a prolonged time at a low temperature or sear steaks, this grill is equipped to tell you what temperature to do so at and let you know when you’ve achieved it.
However, the temperature gauge may lose accuracy over time. So before you commit to using it, be sure that you check it’s accuracy in the beginning with a temperature gun or an electronic probe and proceed from there. You may also want to have a meat thermometer on hand to be sure everything is cooked thoroughly and properly.
You may want to have a friend available to help you assemble this grill, as some people have expressed that it’s difficult to assemble. Additionally, the weld that holds the lid of this grill together may come loose easily, and the door to the main cooking area is fairly small for some cuts of meat.
- Can use charcoal or wood as a fuel type
- Have a removable offset charcoal grate and ash pan
- Offset smoker box is great for smoking meats at low temperatures over time
- Has an analog temperature gauge with “grill zone” and “smoke zone” indicators
- The cool-touch handle allows you to have safe access to your grill at any time
- The temperature gauge may be off or may lose accuracy over time, so be sure to use an electric probe or another thermometer for accurate readings
- Varied assembly times have been noted with this grill
- The lid weld seems to be a little insecure and may be frail or otherwise easy to break off
- Cooking Surface Area: 256 square inches
- Weight: 66.8 pounds (shipping weight)
- Grate Material: Plated steel
- Grill Body Material: Plated steel
- Unique Feature: Park-style grill design that can be used with a tailgate post, 4 cooking levels
This grill has a classic park-style aesthetic with the durability and functionality to match.
This Pilot Rock grill is constructed with heavy-duty materials that will last just as well over the years as grills you actively find around parks and recreational areas. It’s sized small enough to not take up a lot of space, but large enough to feed a handful of people at a small party or social gathering. It also comes with some anti-theft features, despite being heavy and difficult to move once it’s installed.
It works well with tailgating posts, too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with one. You’ll have to purchase it separately.
It should also be noted that this is a perfect match for an actual grill that you see installed in recreational areas at parks. That means, simply, that it doesn’t come with a hardtop or any kind of lid or closure. This means that any wind that blows by may very well put out your flame, so keep that in mind.
- Built with heavy-duty material and designed to last a long time
- Adequately-sized for medium or small gatherings of family and friends
- Installation is relatively simple, but be ready to dig and pour concrete
- Aesthetically cool and unique, making it a great talking point at gatherings
- Heavy and difficult to move once installed, but it comes with anti-theft features just in case
- Works well with a tailgate post, but it is sold separately
- There’s no closure or lid, so the flame will be exposed to the wind and other elements while in use
- Cooking Surface Area: 372 square inches + 201 square inches (rack) = 573
- Weight: 75 pounds (shipping weight)
- Grate Material: Cast iron
- Grill Body Material: Powder-coated steel
- Unique Feature: Adjustable charcoal pan, foldable side shelf, warming rack, bottle opener, temperature gauge, foldable side table
If you’re looking for the charcoal grill with the best value, this is the grill for you. It should meet all of your needs without breaking the bank!
With a cast iron grate, an overall construction made of powder-coated steel, and a hooded design for consistent, top-down cooking, this grill has all the basics that most people look for in a charcoal grill. It also has some nifty additional features such as a bottle opener, an adjustable charcoal pan, a warming rack, and a folding side shelf for prep!
Some downsides of this grill can be chalked up to difficult assembly instructions, and the assembly itself, especially if you’re trying to put it together yourself. Assembly can also be time-consuming even with a friend helping, so be ready to spend some time piecing it together when it arrives.
Additionally, regarding assembly, some of the screws that arrive with the unit may be defective in some way, from being stripped out to just not being a proper fit. If you find this to be the case, you can usually find compatible screws at a local hardware store.
- Has a hooded design to allow for top-down cooking
- Uses a front-loading charcoal door and a charcoal collection pan for a simple clean up
- Features a folding side shelf for convenience, allowing for preparation or storage
- Side vents on the hood allow for easy, controllable airflow
- Comes with a two-year limited manufacturer warranty
- Some had a lot of difficulties understanding the instructions for assembly
- Some grills came with defective screws that may need to be replaced
When you decide to start shopping for the perfect charcoal grill under $300 for your home or activities, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration before committing to a selection, including the following.
Being able to control the temperature of your charcoal grill is one of the most important aspects of the grill because it helps you cook the food, you intend to consume, properly and safely. While many grills come with a temperature gauge of some sort, you still want to have a thermometer available to double-check the internal temperatures of any meats you happen to be grilling or smoking.
On charcoal grills, controlling the temperature may be a simple task depending on how the manufacturer designed the grill. For the most part, you can control the grill internal temperature by adjusting the dampers.
To decrease the temperature you’re cooking at, open the top dampers of the grill. To increase the temperature, open the bottom dampers. Grills like the Char-Broil Gas2Coal have temperature gauges that will tell you the temperature inside.
Additionally, the way that you arrange your charcoal can have an effect on the temperature and heat distribution. For longer-lasting heat, arrange your charcoal in a thick layer. To cook over direct heat, spread the coal evenly under the length of the grate after lighting. For indirect cooking or smoking, arrange the lit charcoal to one side of the grate and leave the other empty.
Cooking Space and Surface Area
The cooking surface area or your grill, whether on a grate or a griddle, is something that you should pay attention to while making your selection of a new charcoal grill. You should also look for grates that come with or can benefit from attached tables or carts to give you additional space for food preparation, utensil holding, and more.
You need the cooking surface area to be large enough to cook for you, your family, and your friends as necessary or for whatever gatherings or events you hope to host in the future. The surface area for grills is measured in square inches, which doesn’t really help you determine what size grill you need. But, for example, a grill with a surface area of about 160 square inches is large enough to grill six or so chicken breasts, four or five burgers, or four thick steaks.
Your charcoal grill may come with multiple grates for cooking, as well as additional warming racks. The more surfaces, the more you can cook, and warming racks will allow you to keep food warm while other items finish cooking or smoking without worrying about drying the food out. If you need a particularly large grill, the Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D is a great choice!
How Easy it is to Clean
You don’t want to spend an entire day cleaning your grill before your next big cookout just because you neglected to do so after your last one. We understand. But this is why it’s important to get a charcoal grill that is easy to clean.
The easier a grill is to clean, the quicker you can get it done, and the faster you can grill again. Things like removable ashtrays like you see on the Char-Griller E16620 AKORN, grease catchers, and seasonable grill grates will make cleaning up a quick, pain-free process overall. Other grills may have components that are dishwasher safe. Keep an eye out for grills that have reviews stating they’re easy to clean.
While this list includes some of the more budget-friendly options available, that doesn’t mean you should overlook the quality of the warranty that the manufacturer should offer with these products or those on any other charcoal grill that you may be looking at.
Typically, the longer the warranty, the better the company feels about its product, and the more likely you are to get a quality grill. This isn’t always the case, of course, but it does seem to be a trend worth looking into.
Some grills don’t specify a warranty online, so you may have to contact the seller or manufacturer. Some, however, come with impressive warranties that span a decade following the purchase. You want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth, so do some research on the different warranties on a product before committing to a purchase.
Charcoal grills are absolutely safe to use, and most are pretty intuitive with a generous and forgiving learning curve. Make sure that you follow your user manual the first few times if you’re uncertain or if it’s your first time using a charcoal grill.
Additionally, remember that you cannot just start cooking right away on your grill. Once you’ve got the charcoal lit, you need to let it burn for 10 to 20 minutes. The outside of the charcoal should be white and each briquette or lump should be glowing, indicating that it’s ready for use in cooking.
Make sure that you use the appropriate utensils and take proper precautions before operating your charcoal grill. Use tongs, thermometers, temperature gauges, oven mitts, and whatever else you need to ensure the safe operation of your charcoal grill.
Many people incorrectly assume that because you’re using a charcoal grill, it has to be loaded up with coal right from the beginning for you to cook properly on it. This is not the case. You should actually start with less charcoal than you think you’ll need for your entire grilling experience.
Using less charcoal in the beginning typically makes it easier to ignite. Additionally, the burning coals will more easily light any additional coals that you add later if necessary. More charcoal means more heat, so you’ll have to monitor the temperature, coals, and food to maintain proper cooking parameters. This is especially true while smoking meat.
A major part of owning a charcoal grill is making sure that you keep it clean and ready to use again! But this is a step that many people easily overlook. They’ve cooked the food and, since the grill is often still hot when they’re thinking about it, they go and eat, and eventually forget to clean the grill.
This is bad, though. Cleaning your grill may be tedious, but it’s also necessary. Some manufacturers will add features to the grill to make it easier to clean, thankfully. But you still need to know how to clean your grill, and in a way that doesn’t damage it. To do so, follow these steps:
- After you finish cooking, while the grill is still warm but not hot, clean the grates before the meat, fat, or debris becomes hard.
- Used a long-handled coil brush, not a bristle wire brush, to clean the grill before and after use. Alternatively, you can use a wadded ball of aluminum foil held by tongs to clean the grates.
- Apply some oil to a paper towel or rag. Use either to coat the grates in oil, and this will help prevent food from sticking to the grate.
- Remove the charcoal tray and dump the ash and burned-out charcoal briquettes or lumps out.
- Use a brush soaked in dish soap to thoroughly clean the inside of the grill.
- Return the charcoal tray to its original position.
- Use soapy water or a spray made for grill cleaning to clean the exterior surface of the grill.
- Make sure that both the inside and outside of the grill have been rinsed and dried thoroughly to prevent rust.
- Cover the grill to protect it from weather, natural elements, rust, and other types of damage.
- Check your grill brush for any damage and replace if, and when, necessary.
When you want to grill some food for lunch, dinner, an event, or recreation, you need the best charcoal grill for the job. Finding the best charcoal grill under $300 is an added bonus, as that’s help save money you can put toward new utensils, meats, and seasonings. Our top choice is the Weber 15301001 Performer, which has an amazing One-Touch cleaning system, a heat shield for added safety, and is made of durable, coated steel. If you’re a fan of barbeque, though, any of the grills on this review list will be a great investment!