Best Portable Charcoal BBQ: reviewed on value and quality [Summer 2020]
Portable Charcoal BBQ
With summer right on our doorstep and a stay distanced theme for Summer 2020, there is always something at the forefront of many a Brits minds: a good old barbecue. It’s time to whip out the burgers, sausages, steaks, and a few drinkies of course, and hope that the weather holds up.
And hope is all we can do in the UK as we have notoriously temperamental weather shifts at the blink of an eye. Your basking in the sunshine one minute, then running for cover from the rain, hail, and falling cows (ok maybe not the last one but I wouldn’t be surprised!).
So you stand there, looking on as your big, beautiful barbecue sits there getting a soaking, along with your lunch because it is just to large to move quickly.
There is a solution to this problem though, and that is a portable charcoal barbecue or a portable gas barbecue, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just talk about the charcoal variants here today.
The best portable charcoal barbecues are small, lightweight, and can be set up or packed away in very little time. They also offer the owner a freedom of where they can have their barbecues, such as relaxing on the beach or camping near lake or river.
Experiences like that just can’t be beat, and as good as having a big BBQ party in your garden is, it just doesn’t compare to grilling some burgers for the wife and kids out in the open spaces.
Portable charcoal barbecues take a little more skill to get the heat just right, but they do produce more heat than a gas barbecue, and of course nothing beats a smokey flavour on a piece of meat.
Below you find our reviews of the best portable charcoal barbecues available at the present time. This has been somewhat limited by the covid-19 outbreak but there still good deals to be had online and we believe we have found them for you based on price, safety, durability, design, and that all important ability to cook meat to a charred smokey perfection!
Table of Contents
Best Portable Charcoal BBQ
We’ll start our best portable charcoal barbecue reviews with the largest of featured products. It is portable in the fact that it has wheels and fold-away parts so you can move it around easily, but it isn’t as compact and portable as our other reviews.
1. UTTORA Barbecue Grill, Portable Folding Charcoal Barbecue
Portable charcoal grills have to be lightweight, and they don’t come much lighter than this.
The Uttora portable barbecue grill would barely register if you put it on some bathroom scales as it weighs just 1.6 kilograms. This makes it perfect as a barbecue you can just throw in the boot of your car and head on down to a nice quiet spot for a bit of lunch.
Despite its lack of weight, it actually stands very stable on its wide, L-shaped metal legs that also give enough ground clearance so that you don’t damage the foliage or surface underneath. Just make sure that you position the BBQ on a very flat surface to avoid wobbling or tipping, but this is a common problem with most portable models.
For ease of transportation and storage, these legs handily fold away neatly under the main frame, and the bottom trough, barbecue grill, and carbon grill can all be easily removed for the same purposes. This also makes this portable charcoal grill incredibly easy to clean after you’re done whipping up a feast.
Its 15.35”x11.41”x2.95” grilling area easily gives the user enough space to cook for three people, and could probably quite feasibly handle enough food for a group of five if needed, but much will depend on what was being cooked. Still, for a super lightweight portable BBQ, it is very practical when it comes to the cooking area size.
Made from iron and 430 stainless steel, it has been designed to fight off rust and also not deform from the intense heats that charcoal barbecues can produce. The makers have made sure that there are no toxic fumes coming from the paint, chrome plated mesh, or any other part of the BBQ too.
To ensure even heat distribution throughout the grill, there are 12 small air vents in the sides that allow a good flow of air from all directions, and this makes cooking multiple pieces of meat evenly a lot easier than with some other portable grills out there.
Easy to carry, quick to set up, and cooks well, this is a good option for campers, fishing enthusiasts, hikers, or anyone who wants a compact portable charcoal barbecue they can keep in the boot just in case they fancy a quick cook up.
2. BBQ-Toro - Cast Iron Barbecue with Cooking Grate
From a super lightweight portable charcoal barbecue in the Uttora model, to this substantially heavier, but far sturdier model from BBQ Toro. It is also a bit pricier but the quality of the two portable charcoal barbecues can’t really be compared fairly.
The BBQ-Torro is a heavy duty, cast iron barbecue grill that feels so solid, it’d probably survive world war 3, let alone a few hard summer’s worth of grilling. The makers have kindly put it through a treatment process prior to selling too, so you can use this to cook on as soon as it’s set up.
Getting this awesome barbecue assembled is a doddle and only takes a couple of screws and bolts to be tightened up and your ready to cook. The whole process took about 5 minutes.
One thing to consider is the same problem with all cast iron products, and that is that they are prone to rusting if left out in the rain too often, but with this being portable, and having a good sized handle to get a grip off, you should have no problems whisking it to a dry spot until the rain subsides. Yes, it is a little bit heavy at 12kg but any able-bodied adult can easily lift it.
This Hibachi style grill looks wonderful and somehow seems to look traditional, rustic, and slightly modern all at the same time. The curved sides and oval shaped grill giving it a nice overall aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye.
At 50cm (W) x 25cm (D) x 23cm (H) cm this BBQ-Torro grill is quite large for a portable charcoal barbecue and you’ll be able to feed a group of 4-5 people. The only problem I found with the raised, oval cooking grid is that it doesn’t have any sides and so I had to be careful when rolling my sausages so that they didn’t fall off.
the cooking performance of this model is really good, it heats up to high temperatures very quickly, and the heat is distributed very evenly all across the cooking platform. There is a ventilation rail found on the front that you can use to regulate the air flow, and you can also flip the grate to adjust the height and get nearer to the hot embers..
Above the ventilation rail, is a good sized shutter and this makes it possible to add or remove charcoal without the need to remove the grill or any other of the components. This keeps things nice and simple, just the way I like them.
So, if you are looking for a strong and sturdy portable charcoal barbecue with excellent cooking performance, and you don’t mind a little extra weight, I would strongly suggest taking a closer look at this wonderful little product.
3. CosmoGrill Outdoor Smoker Barbecue Charcoal Portable BBQ Grill Garden
If you are looking for a barbecue that gives the right mix of being easy to get in and out of the garage and to move around the garden, but with a good sized coal capacity and sturdiness, the Cosmogrill portable charcoal barbecue might be right up your street. We actually reviewed the CosmoGrill Portable BBQ as the best charcoal barbecue as well.
With dimensions of 124 x 66 x 113.5 cm, it is quite a bit larger than our other reviews, but with the extra size comes some benefits. For example, you can stand upright while cooking without needing to place it on top of a table or other surface, and the extra width comes from two side shelves that come in very handy for storing plates, utensils, and other things on.
These shelves are strong and sturdy but fold away neatly when it’s time to pack up giving you a more streamlined unit to make storing it away easier.
The large metal hood has a warming rack built into it and a thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature, and a chimney for when you’re using this portable charcoal barbecue as a bbq smoker. There is also a large stainless steel handle which is both practical and adds to the overall aesthetic of this portable charcoal barbecue.
A great feature of the CosmoGrill portable charcoal barbecue is the adjustable coal tray that lets you raise or lower it via a crank handle to give you better control of the heat. There is also an easily removable ash tray to help with cleaning up. This tray isn’t the deepest though so you’ll need to make sure you empty it after each cooking session.
With a little bit of practice, you can use this portable charcoal grill as a smoker to cook deliciously tender meat, such as racks of ribs or a nice piece of brisket. Just the thought of it is making my mouth water. It’s fairly easy to do, and this model has some features that make it even easier like the fact that the grill rack is in two parts so you can remove one of them and push the coals to one side, then replace the rack and cook meat on it. This way you can slow cook as it’s not over the direct heat.
The cooking grill is a decent size and you can simultaneously cook a fair bit of food on it. The coal tray doesn’t sit under all of the grill however, but this is a purposeful design feature that gives you a 2 inch space at the front to cook things that need less heat.
Putting the CosmoGrill together wasn’t the easiest thing as there are quite a few parts, but you should still get it up and ready in about an hour or so. Once it’s assembled, you won’t have to take it apart again, so it’s worth spending an extra bit of time getting everything just right and all the bolts and nuts tightened properly. Properly put together this is a very sturdy portable charcoal grill.
CosmoGrill™ Outdoor Smoker Barbecue Charcoal Portable BBQ Review
Best CosmoGrill™ Outdoor Smoker Barbecue Charcoal Portable BBQ Features
What needs work on the CosmoGrill™ Outdoor Smoker Barbecue Charcoal Portable BBQ
|Produces good heat||Only really portable around the home|
|Barbecue grill and Smoker in one||Takes a while to assemble|
|Good sized fold away shelves|
|Fitted with wheels|
|Can be used standing upright|
|Built in thermometer and warming rack|
|Crank operated height adjustable coal tray|
|Removable ash tray|
|Good sized grill rack|
|Strong and sturdy|
|Very well priced for what’s on offer|
If you’re in the market for something much smaller, say for having a picnic for two or something similar, then our next best portable charcoal barbecue review might be just the thing you are looking for.
4. Notebook Folding Portable Grill
It’s called the notebook folding grill for a reason- that’s exactly what this portable charcoal grill resembles once it’s fully folded away, a computer notebook or laptop to most of us.
Its clever design means that it folds up to only 3cm thick with a nice integrated handle to carry like a small briefcase and is easily as convenient as any gas bbq. Actually for my mind, it’s probably the best charcoal bbq design of all.
At only 3 kilograms in weight, this certainly deserves to be called a portable charcoal barbecue, and it can easily transported anywhere you like and by pretty much any kind if transportation. You could simply slip it in your back pack if you wish. You’d have to make sure it had cooled down properly before putting it back in there, mind, or the journey home could be a little more eventful than originally planned!
Once fully opened, it actually has a surprisingly large cooking area of 45cm x 30cm, certainly enough to get a pack of sausages and a few burgers on there at once.
It is also sturdier than expected and I think that’s because of the way legs are shaped, having a large contact area with the ground.
This portable charcoal barbecue has 2 chrome plated steel grills, a smaller one that you place the coals on and the larger one that sits on top for cooking.
It is ideal for taking down to the park or local beach or lake for a picnic, as long as there aren’t too many people or you might get a few hungry (or hangry) looks. For 2-4 people though, it is big enough to keep enough food on the go to keep everyone happy.
The notebook folding grill stands only 30cm tall, so you’ll probably have to lie down to do the cooking, or sit it on top of a bench or something to make it more comfortable.
As this model is so compact, there are no shelves or anywhere to put plates or sauce bottles or anything like that, it is just a portable charcoal grill. It does come with tongs though that are used for lifting the metal grills when hot and obviously also for handling the food while it’s cooking.
A great thing about this portable charcoal barbecue is that it can be easily cleaned in a dishwasher or sink once you’ve emptied out the coal. It’s a very convenient feature.
The notebook folding grill is a steel construction that has been powder coated with heat resistant paint. For such a low price you can’t expect titanium level toughness but this little portable charcoal barbecue isn’t at all flimsy.
The paint on the other hand isn’t the best and started to wear off in the parts with the most heat. It’s not going to affect how the grill works but it would have been nice for the makers to have made it a bit more long lasting.
Notebook Folding Portable Grill Review
Best Notebook Folding Portable Grill Features
What needs work on the Notebook Folding Portable Grill
|Folds up into a 3cm thick ‘notebook’ shape||Powder coated paint could be better|
|Super portable and can be taken anywhere||Not suitable for feeding larger groups than 4 people|
|Only weighs 3 kilograms|
|Surprisingly large cooking area of 45cm x 30cm|
|Perfect for picnics|
|Large legs to keep it stable|
|Free tongs supplied|
|Very fast to set up and pack away|
|Can be cleaned in a dishwasher|
Next in line in our best portable charcoal barbecue reviews is the Uten stainless steel barbecue.
5. Uten Barbecue Grill Portable Folding BBQ
The first thing that struck me about this portable charcoal grill from Uten was the way it looks. The stainless steel design looks fantastic, especially when the sun hits it.
However, the stainless steel is not just for looks, it also serves the dual purpose of being anti-rust and heat resistant, which will reduce the chance of the metal warping at high temperatures. It’s long foldable legs mean that you get the benefit of being able to cook standing up and still be able to pack it up and take it camping with you.
Also, because the steel isn’t painted, you don’t have to worry about any potentially toxic fumes that may occur if it burns.
One of the main selling points of this portable charcoal grill, is the length of the folding legs. Once they are unfolded, the barbecue stands 76cm tall which is a much more comfortable height than having to stoop down or sit on a low ledge like with a lot of portable barbecues.
The legs have rubber feet on the ends to give you a little more traction and there is a support bar halfway up the leg to aid in stabilising the unit. This is a good thing because, while I wouldn’t say the legs are flimsy, they do seem a little thin when you think about the size of the grill they support so I’d recommend only using this on a flat surface or maybe doing something to add more support to the legs if not.
The grill itself measures 28.7 inches by 13 inches, so you can cook a ton of food on there, and thanks to air vents on each side, the heat gets well distributed across the whole grill. These same ventilation holes also come in handy when cleaning this portable charcoal barbecue as they let water drain out.
Despite its large cooking space and long legs, this model is still only very lightweight at only 4.6 kilograms and once the legs are folded under it can be carried with ease.
There are two mesh grills that come with this portable charcoal barbecue, a small one and a large one. Being mesh, the grills allow you to cook smaller portions of food on them without the fear of it dropping through the bars, but on the other hand it does make them a little more difficult to clean, but a good hose or pressure washer will make that much easier.
Assembly of the Uten stainless steel barbecue is very straightforward as it comes with the legs already attached, so all you really need to do is fit in the grill.
One thing I didn’t like though was that it arrives with a lot of that thin blue plastic film covering it that needs to be peeled off and this takes a while initially. Luckily my kids loved pulling it all off and it kept them quiet for a while so it was a win-win for me.
Uten Barbecue Grill Portable Folding BBQ Review
Best Uten Barbecue Grill Portable Folding BBQ Features
What needs work on the Uten Barbecue Grill Portable Folding BBQ
|Large cooking area can feed larger groups||Needs to be placed on a flat surface|
|Long legs give you a good cooking height||Comes covered in a lot of blue plastic film|
|Legs fold away neatly under the grill unit|
|Rust resistant stainless steel construction|
|Rubber feet to aid with traction|
|Air vents for heat distribution|
|Easy to clean|
|Easy to set up|
Our last review is a portable fire pit and barbecue in one and is a perfect addition to any camping trip you may have planned.
6. La Hacienda 58106 Camping Firebowl with Grill
The La Hacienda fire pit and portable charcoal grill is a very handy thing to take with you when you are sleeping out. Whether it be on a fishing trip by the lake or on the local beach, this mobile, multi-purpose product will make the night a lot more comfortable.
Used as a fire pit, it will help to warm you and the family when the all too familiar night chill kicks in after a nice day of activities, and the mesh cover helps to keep wind from affecting the flames while still letting the smoke drift out and away.
When you put the grill rack on, you have a good sized circular cooking platform to cook your bacon and sausages on, or boil the kettle for a nice cup of tea. The La Hacienda portable charcoal grill measures 56cm in diameter so you can quite feasibly do both at the same time.
The unit is delivered without the legs attached so you will have to spend a few minutes bolting them on but it’s very straightforward and easy. Once the legs are on, this compact barbecue is actually very stable on them and they can be folded away for easy transportation and storage after you’re done.
The steel construction of this portable charcoal barbecue is good quality and it all feels very durable so you should get a decent amount of use out of it.
Of course there are always negatives and with this model, it is the fact that because it sits quite low, it will scorch your grass if you stand it on it.
Also the grill rack moves around a bit too much if you’re not careful with it, but if you have a little bit of DIY savvy you could easily secure it better.
The La Hacienda Portable charcoal grill comes with a free carry bag but I personally found the material a bit thin, and it is not really needed to carry this barbecue around anyway. Still, it’s free so I’d be silly to grumble about that.
La Hacienda 58106 Camping Firebowl with Grill Review
Best La Hacienda 58106 Camping Firebowl with Grill Features
What needs work on the La Hacienda 58106 Camping Firebowl with Grill
|Two in one fire pit and portable barbecue||Grill racks could be better secured|
|Easy to set up and pack away||Will scorch your grass if placed on top of it|
|Large cooking surface|
|Stands sturdy on its legs|
|Nice modern design|
|Lightweight and easily portable|
Buyers guide to the best portable charcoal bbq
Summer wouldn’t be summer without having a barbecue or two. The problem with the UK though is that you can never be sure how long the good weather will last but what better way than to have a portable charcoal bbq that’ll give you all the flexibility to have one wherever and at anytime.
I’m sure we’ve all been there- you spend ages getting the barbecue out of the garage and setting it all up, only for the weather to change at the last minute. Then you have the difficult choice of either leaving it out in the rain and hoping it’s just a shower, or packing it all back up again.
Portable barbecues are often a good alternative to larger traditional models for customers in the UK because they are designed to be set up and packed away much faster.
They also give you the lovely option of sticking it in the boot of your car and driving to where the sun is making an appearance.
Portable barbecues are either fuelled by gas or charcoal. Portable gas bbq’s are probably the easiest to set up and operate, but for the most part are slightly less popular than the portable charcoal barbecues. This is because gas models can’t give your food that amazing, natural, smokey smell and taste that portable charcoal barbecues provide, similar to that of a food smoker.
Portable charcoal barbecues tend to be cheaper than gas ones, and charcoal produces a higher heat too. Although you don’t get variable heat control at the twist if a knob like with portable gas barbecues, with a little bit of practice you can develop the skills to have different parts of the grill with different heats, allowing you to sear your steaks on one part and then leave them to cook slowly through on the cooler parts. Controlling the heat like this also gives me a better sense of achievement, but that might not be for everyone.
One of the most important things to look out for when buying any charcoal bbq, or gas bbq for that matter is build quality. That’s why we decided to review the UTTORA Barbecue Grill. That beautiful cast iron design looks like it would last through the ages – and it does. It’s obviously heavy, but as they say, heavy is reliable. You wouldn’t want to drop it from 10ft, but apart from that, the thing is bullet proof and easily one of the best choices for portable charcoal bbq going.
One of the best things about portable charcoal bbq options is the price. For as little as a fiver you can get a disposable, but for something of quality build you are looking at less than a hundred quid. These are absolute bargains at both ends of the pricing spectrum.
Disposable vs portable?
Personally, I like to go for the long lasting option but there are merits to a disposable bbq – you simply don’t need to lug it around with you. Just finish your bbq, pour on water, and then dispose once its completely. Always pay super attention to safety when disposing of a bbq. Follow the gov.uk guidelines at all times for bbq in public areas such as parks.
There you have our top 6 picks for the best portable charcoal barbecues UK. We hope that we have helped you to find the right product for your needs and invite you to check out our other pages where we have reviewed a wide range of products for you. If you didn’t find what you’re looking for here then I could recommend a look at our best bbq main page too.
This page and all our others will be updated regularly when new products enter the UK market that we deem to be worth featuring, so come back and visit us again.