Portable Charcoal Grills: Pros and Cons

Now that it is starting to get warmer out there we begin to look for ways to beat the heat by getting away to cooler settings.  Whether it is the mountains, beach or just out to the local lake for the evening there is usually the cooking of food involved somehow.  Personally I much prefer to cook with charcoal when outdoors.  There is a distinct difference in the quality of taste between items that have been cooked on gas and items cooked over charcoal.

There are many designs of portable charcoal grills out in the marketplace now.  Most are very well make and are fairly reasonable, although some can get quite pricey.  Price is not a consideration when it comes to a portable charcoal grill because you really do get “what you pay for” and most inexpensive models tend to be cheap in make, breaking or wearing out in one season.  A good medium price range for a well made portable charcoal grill is 50 to 100 US dollars.

On the pro side of using a portable charcoal grill is being able to use charcoal as a fuel which, personally, gives a better finished product.  Most of the portable units are self-contained, pack up neatly and travel well.  They setup, break down easily and are, in general, easy to use.

On the con side of the discussion is the size issue.  In general the amount of grill space is very limited and are big enough for a couple of people but if you have a horde of hungry kids a portable size will not do for you and will turn your get-away into more work than fun.  Another size aspect is these units are not for backpack camping as they are all medium in size.  Clean up is a consideration when you are looking at these units.  You may be camping and not have available water for a proper clean up. You will also have to pack this away and carry in the car back home with you.  Operating the grill itself will be more work as you have to be able to prep the charcoal before cooking with it.  Additional equipment will be needed to deal with the charcoal starting either with a charcoal chimney or some paraffin and sawdust fire starters.

Yes there is more work and equipment you will need for using a portable charcoal grill but I have always been rewarded by much more flavorful items coming off of a charcoal grill rather than a gas.  There are some beautiful portable gas grills on the market at higher prices but less setup time.  I think many of the portable charcoal grills available are good products that work great.  You can cook outdoors almost any item that you can cook indoors with the proper equipment.