Are you looking for the best charcoal grills under $500? Typically, grilling season kicks off Memorial Day and peaks steadily through July 4th until Labor Day. Regardless of holidays though, if you have a grill, every weekend can be an adventure through mouthwatering delicacies – grilled and smoked.
Remember that you don’t have shell out a steep amount to buy a quality grill.
In this post, we have listed some of the best charcoal grills that are up for grabs under $500.
Some of the grills listed here are some of the most versatile grills on the market as you can use most of them both as charcoal grills or as a smoker.
This Original Portable Kitchen (aka PK) Grill and Smoker is well-known for its robust rust-proof cast aluminum build and its ability to do flawless grilling for long periods of time.
The grill has 300 sq. in. of cooking space and is ideal for using both as a grill and smoker.
Its light weight and portability also make this grill perfect for camping.
Excellent heat retention, airflow, and temperature control of this grill can match up with any full-size grill. This grill has a flat bottom which can make it easier for direct and indirect cooking by keeping charcoal in place.
The 4 point venting system controls the temperature precisely and can maintain between 180-700°F for a long period.
The brand is the winner of “2017 Consumer Digest Best Buy Award of Excellence,” Amazingribs.com's “Amazingribs Best Value Gold Medal” from 2015-17, “2015 World Championship Steak Cookoff,” and “Steak Cook-off Association Championships” from 2015-16.
The grill comes with a 10-year limited warranty on cast aluminum parts.
Long lasting cooking chamber
Robust grill and grates
Equally good for searing and smoking foods
Easy to carry and set up
Great value for the money
Smaller in size and not ideal for large cut of meats
Lid handle is awkwardly placed
No ashtray, so ashes gather on the surface makes cleaning an issue
Weber Performance Deluxe is another version of the original Kettle 22. The grill has an electric touch-n-go ignition system that lets users light charcoal easily with a small burner placed under the coal grate.
The grill comes with a cooking area of 363 sq. in. which is good enough to make 15-17 burgers at once.
Also, there is a porcelain-enameled bowl, lid, built-in lid thermometer, and a removable LCD cook timer.
Those who are worried about cleaning, it has a one-touch cleaning system in aluminized steel, along with an ash catcher, making cleaning hassle-free.
The two char-baskets help easily move charcoal under the grate to get hot direct and cooler indirect zones.
Also, other useful features are rust-resistant aluminum vent and a nylon lid handle to provide protection from heating while using.
Buyers can choose from three colors – black, copper, and green.
A wild-card entry is the Weber Performer Grill 22". This grill is the same as the Deluxe in that it has the same cooking space, durable built, rust-resistant aluminum damper, and one-touch cleaning system coupled with an ash catcher. It, however, does not include the electronic touch-n-go ignition system, removable LCD cook timer, or fuel bin.
Good look and quality built
Easy to set up
Large cooking surface
Easy to control temperature
Heavier than the kettle version
Fuel bin has no lid
This is another quality charcoal grill that we had to pick for its high popularity as an outdoor grill and ability to cook some delicious food.
Char-griller has 314 sq. in cooking space and a warming rack of 133 sq. in. Cooking surface is built in cast iron, and the body is robust with 22 gauge steel.
The grill’s exterior finish has powder coated steel and interior has porcelain coated steel coating.
Also, the triple-walled insulated design of this grill and the top and bottom adjustable dampers help maintain even airflow, which leads to juicy meat.
This grill is fuel efficient, has a high temperature cooking capacity, as well as low and slow cooking ability, with a temperature range between 200-700°F.
Other key features are two-folding black metal shelves, locking lid, ash pan for easy cleaning, and a three leg stand on wheeled cart.
This grill is available in various colors such as black, brown, and red.
Value for the money
Both high (700°F) and low temperature (200°F) cooking capacity
Light weight compared with other ceramic grills
Easy to clean
Uncoated cast iron cooking grates looks fragile and need more care
Paint and porcelain can burn off at high temperatures
Lid mounted temperature gauge is not accurate
Dyna-Glo is an important addition to this list for its durability, heat retention, cooking flexibility, and a significant cooking space 816 sq. in., good enough to grill nearly 30 hamburgers at once.
The grill has strong iron porcelain enameled cooking grates that keep the heat and sears foods perfectly and taste delicious.
Resin wheels, along with locking casters, provide the flexibility to maneuver the grill. Also, there is a large charcoal basket tray and side shelves which makes operating and space management easier.
And the best part about this grill - there’s a bottle opener already attached! Cheers! 🍻
Other key features are a warming rack, adjustable front crank arm, dual chamber, stainless steel smoke stack, and front ash tray system for easy cleaning.
A built-in thermometer helps control temperature accurately and an easy-to-read gauge helps cook foods perfectly.
It comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty.
Controlling temperature and cooking are easy
Lid does not fit well
Too many air leaks
Grill gets too hot to use as a smoker
Traeger is a well-known name in the grilling and pellet smoking industry. In fact, somewhere around 85 percent of pellet smokers in the U.S are from Traeger. One good example of their prowess is the Junior Elite Grill.
Junior Elite is an upgraded version of the previous Junior grill, particularly in terms of a better digital thermostat controller.
This pellet smoker has 300 sq. in. cooking surface that can easily grill 4 chickens, 3 rib racks, 18 hot dogs, and 12 burgers.
It’s also perfect for traveling, tailgating, and for small families.
Accurate temperature control keeps the heat inside of the cooking chamber and ensures a consistent and accurate temperature throughout the cooking time.
Using hardwood pellets in a pellet grill/smoker creates a great flavor and each meal will be delicious.
On top of that, the auto shutdown feature reduces the amount of ash in the firebox and grill bottom.
The grill comes with a 3-year warranty that covers any damage or malfunctions to grill parts and pieces during that period.
Best for trips, tailgating, and small households
Decent cooking space
Accurate temperature control sears food really well and tastes delicious
It can be difficult to remove unused pellets because of the grate over the pellet box
Can develop rust despite proper maintenance
There are many features and accessories to accompany your new charcoal grill, so here are a few things to consider when looking for the best grill for under $500.
If heat is not distributed properly across the grill, the food will cook unevenly or not finish cooking at the same time.
Each grill is different. With trial and error, you can learn your grill and adjust the heat accordingly, but more even distribution of heat will make grilling easier from the start.
Grills can come with a number of different amenities. The more amenities added, the more the cost. Some grill amenities can include:
The more amenities your grill has, the higher the cost can be. So, determining which, if any, you need, can help narrow down your list.
Cooking surface area can be a big deciding factor. If you will be grilling for five or more people regularly, you may want to go for a larger grill.
You can definitely cook enough for 1-4 people with the smaller grills or if grilling occasionally for larger groups you could grill in batches.
Another thing to consider is how and/or where you want to use your grill.
Will it be stationary on your patio? Or do you plan to take it with you car camping, tailgating, etc.?
In that case weight factors into the decision, as well as ease of transport. Does the lid secure? Do the legs fold up?
Knowing the answers to these questions before you begin your research can help narrow down your search.
There are many factors that can go into choosing the best grill for your needs, but out of the 5 grills we reviewed here, our winner is the Weber Performer Deluxe 22".
With Weber’s reputation for quality build and customer service, along with the easy set-up, easy temperature control, and the large cooking surface, this is definitely a great grill.
Now, the PK Grill & Smoker was in a very close second. Due to its sturdy build, easy to transport, and decent cooking surface size, it’s also a great grill.
But depending on what your needs are, any of these can be a good grill for you.
Now that we’ve given you the best charcoal grills under $500, which do you like? Do you own one of these or another great grill you’d like to share with us.
Comment below and let us know your experiences with one of these grills or what other grill(s) you would recommend to other readers.