Best charcoal BBQs 2022 | BBC Gardeners World Magazine

Kamado Joe Big Joe III - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

Though gas barbecues are quicker, cleaner and easier to control, they cost a lot more, and require unwieldy tanks of propane.
The best charcoal barbecues cook food just as well as gas, but give food a woody, smoky flavour that simply can’t be matched.
We teamed up with our colleagues at BBC Good Food to put a range of charcoal barbecues through their paces. With their exceptional gastronomic knowledge and our expertise in all things gardening, we’ve selected seven of the best charcoal barbecues that will cater to a wide range of gardens.

Those featured in this list earned their place based on their performance during rigorous, impartial product testing. Included is a selection of new releases and firm favourites that continuously hold their position against new brand models. We will only ever feature charcoal BBQs that prove to be good value for money. Each review has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to assembly, ease of cooking, cooking results and value for money. Only the stand out barbecues have made our list, so you can buy with confidence.

Getting ready to grill? Check out our tests of the best gas BBQs, and our guides to barbecue accessories and fire pits. We’ve also investigated the best pizza ovens, in collaboration with BBC Good Food. If you’re getting ready to entertain, you can also take a look at our tests of the best solar lights, or our guide to parasols.

Keep your barbecue in tip top condition – our experts have put the best pressure washers through their paces, so you can buy with confidence.

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Best Buy charcoal BBQs at a glance

How to choose a charcoal BBQ


Bigger isn’t always better – if you’re only entertaining a few, a small kettle barbecue is all you need. Make sure your barbecue fits comfortably in your garden, away from fire hazards.

Special features

Some of the best charcoal barbecues come with extras as standard – look out for warming racks that will keep food hot until you’re all ready to eat, thermometers to gauge cooking times precisely and heat vents to help control the temperature when you’re cooking. Side tables for keeping plates and sauces close at hand and tool racks are also very handy.

look out for warming racks that will keep food hot until you’re all ready to eat

Special functions

If you’re a keen cook or just fancy giving something new a go, keep an eye out for charcoal barbecues with multiple functions. Lots of the best charcoal barbecues can also be used as smokers, ovens and even tandoors.

The best charcoal BBQs to buy in 2022

Best buys


Kamado Joe Series III

RRP: £2,699

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

Kamado Joe Big Joe III


  • Very high quality
  • Very versatile
  • Good looking
  • Great fun to cook with
  • If smoking and low, slow cooking are your forte then this is perfect
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty


  • Heavy to move – 130kg
  • Expensive
  • Needs a little getting used to

A BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award-winner for a premium charcoal BBQ, this is a huge (130kg) egg-shaped ceramic charcoal grill with a hood. It has a thermometer and a system of vents to easily control airflow and temperature, making it easy to achieve a scorching 400°C (752°F). It’s incredibly efficient; with the lid on it can maintain heat for hours, and can be used to slow cook. It has a unique smoker – the Slōroller – which circulates smoke around the inside of the grill, with delicious results. It can even be used to roast a Christmas turkey and you can buy a rotisserie attachment as well. It’s very versatile for all sorts of cooking, scoring near-perfect marks in our cooking tests. This is a very high end barbecue, and all of its parts – even hinges – are heavy duty and of the highest quality. However, at £1899, this is a lifetime investment for serious barbecuers.


  • Dimensions: 148.336 x 136.398 x 90.932cm
  • Grill size: 61cm

Read the full Kamado Joe Series III review.


Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 Charcoal Barbecue

RRP: £359

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 Charcoal Barbecue

Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 Charcoal BBQ


  • Very easy to assemble
  • Large grilling area
  • Distinct hot and cool areas for precision cooking
  • Large ash catcher
  • Easy to move around


  • On the expensive side
  • Exterior gets very hot
  • Handle is hard to hold

The Weber-Master Touch E-5755 is a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy-winner for the best kettle charcoal barbecue. This generously sized charcoal barbecue is not only designed for traditional grilling but can also smoke, and Weber offers additional accessories including a pizza stone, wok, poultry smoker and more, making this one of the more versatile barbecues we’ve tested. It was the easiest barbecue to assemble, thanks to the App Bilt which gives you a 3D step-by-step guide to the building process. Grilling is a joy on the Master-Touch GBS E-5755. It quickly reaches searing temperatures in the middle of the barbecue that are perfect for burgers, while also offering a cooler ring of indirect heat around the edge, for sides like corn on the cob that need slower, more controlled cooking. It’s a fabulous all-rounder that’s ideal for entertaining, but bear in mind it’s a little more expensive than other barbecues. We also didn’t like the wedge-shaped handle, but this is a minor criticism.


  • Dimensions: 118cm H x 65cm W x 76cm D
  • Grill area: 2,342 cm²


Lotus Grill G340

RRP: £165

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

LotusGrill review BBC Gardeners' World magazine

Lotus Grill


  • Very easy to use
  • Super quick to light
  • Smoke free
  • Parts can be cleaned in the dishwasher
  • Simple design that stays cool to touch


  • Needs batteries, lighting gel and charcoal chips
  • Grill size limited, although larger models are available

A BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award-winner for a portable charcoal barbecue, the Lotus Grill is unlike any other we tested. As it’s a charcoal barbecue assisted by an electric fan, it takes only a few minutes to get up to cooking temperature. It’s simple and well thought out, offering easy, fuss free cooking. It takes up hardly any space, produces no smoke and can even sit on top of the table; great for small gardens and courtyards. It’s perhaps not for barbecue aficionados but is ideal for anyone new to charcoal grilling. The safe, cool sides also make it great for introducing teens and older kids to barbecuing.


  • Dimensions: 23.4 x 35 x 35cm
  • Grill area: 35 x 35 cm

Read the full LotusGrill review.


Weber Classic Kettle E-5710

RRP: £249

Our rating: 4.3 out of 5

Weber Classic E5710 Kettle Barbecue review BBC Gardeners World Magazine

Weber Classic E5710 Kettle Barbecue


  • Good, well thought out features
  • Easy to use
  • Temperature gauge
  • Handy lid hook
  • Great accompanying handbook


  • Takes up room in storage
  • Lacks tool hooks

A BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy winner for best budget kettle barbecue this classic kettle charcoal grill is sturdy with a simple intuitive design and is ideal for new users and anyone who wants tasty results easily. Big enough to feed up to six people, it’s easy to move in and out of storage and has handy features including easy cleaning, ash collection and a hook on the hood for tucking it out of the way whilst you’re turning the burgers. The helpful handbook ensures great cooking results.


  • Dimensions: 100.3 x 57.2 x 63.5cm
  • Grill area: 48 x 48cm

Read the full Weber Classic E5710 review.


Vonhaus Barrel Charcoal BBQ

RRP: £109.99

Our rating: 4.3 out of 5

Vonhaus Barrel Charcoal Barbecue - BBC Gardeners' World

Vonhaus Barrel Charcoal Barbecue


  • Very high quality
  • Cooked very well
  • Big cooking surface
  • Perfect height


This barbecue was awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine award for the best barrel BBQ. Offering an efficient cooking surface that’s just right for catering to large crowds, its big grill delivers delicious and quick results – we thoroughly cooked an entire spatchcock chicken in just 15 minutes. This was charred and crispy but not dry, remaining juicy throughout. This barbecue was easy to load and quick to heat up, reaching cooking temperature in just 20 minutes. Its cooking surface is 79cm off the ground, which suits most users. It has a handy warming rack, and its carry handle can double as a rest for barbecue tongs. Its lid is weighty but not heavy, with a very smooth opening action, and fits snugly over the grill to seal in heat. There’s also a thermometer on the front of the lid, which makes it easy to see the temperature. The only drawbacks are its large size and the low-quality wheels, but these are minor issues.


  • Dimensions 96 x 89 x 90cm
  • Grill area 73 x 39cm

Read the full Vonhaus Barrel barbecue review.


Kamado Joe Kettle Joe charcoal barbecue

RRP: £599
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

_Kamado Joe Kettle Joe Charcoal BBQ

Kamado Joe Kettle Joe Charcoal BBQ


  • High-quality, sturdy components that felt safe
  • Cooks well
  • Efficient heat and cooking


  • Sits low for cooking
  • Tricky to assemble

Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award for best large, affordable ceramic barbecue, this generously-sized barbecue offers more than simple grilling. We love its striking red exterior and design, which makes it a statement crowd-pleaser that cooks and smokes large quantities well. Building it is a two-person job and the ceramic interior panels are hefty sections to piece together, but on the plus side, they hold and release heat very efficiently to give you plenty of cooking time. Given that this BBQ isn’t very tall, it was a bit uncomfortable to stoop over for long cooking stints, and you also have to lean across the hottest parts. However, it cooks well and you get a lot of cooking options for your money.

Dimensions: 122 cm x 111 cm x 74 cm
Grill area: 56cm⌀

Read our full Kamado Joe Kettle Joe charcoal barbecue review.


Napoleon 22″ charcoal kettle grill barbecue

RRP: £249.99
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

Napoleon 22 Charcoal BBQ

Napoleon 22″ Charcoal BBQ


  • Compact and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Nifty hook to hang lid whilst cooking
  • Hinged grill
  • 10-year warranty


  • Fiddly to assemble
  • Exterior gets hot

The Napoleon 22″ charcoal kettle grill barbecue earned a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award for its user-friendly features. This is a simple, well-designed kettle-style barbecue, ideal for newbies or those who appreciate a hassle-free cooking experience. It offers plenty of practical features, such as an integral hook so you can hang the lid off the side of the BBQ when you’re checking food, chunky wheels for good manoeuvrability, hinged grills for topping up fuel, removable ash catcher and a temperature gauge on the lid with helpful temperature zones. It distributes heat evenly, which makes cooking easy. The outside of this grill is cool, offering useful indirect heat so you can cook food slowly, or keep it warm. Courgettes and potatoes cooked well with nicely defined grill lines. Thanks to being able to control the temperature, the kebabs were well-cooked, and the buns were nicely crisped and charred, but not burned. It also comes with a cover and a reassuringly generous 10-year warranty. However, it’s fiddly to assemble and the exterior gets hot.


Dimensions: 112 x 59 x 70cm
Grill area: 57cm⌀

Best of the rest:

Although some models didn’t quite achieve a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award, they still have features that make them worth recommending. Browse our pick of the best of the rest on test.


Boss Grill The Egg XS

RRP: £149.97
Our rating: 3.75 out of 5

Boss Gril lXS Charcoal BBQ

Boss Grill XS Charcoal BBQ


  • Easy to assemble
  • Reasonably priced
  • Small, table-top size
  • Temperature gauge


  • Heat-proof handles gets hot
  • Hard to control heat and grill gets very hot

This barbecue promises to be an eye-catching addition to the garden yet there’s more to this model than good looks, as it also offers great value and plenty of versatility. Capable of grilling, roasting, baking, smoking and even cooking pizza, the Boss Grill Egg XS is easy to build and use, taking just 20 minutes to get up to temperature. The materials are good quality, it feels solid and sturdy once it’s on its stand, and the hood is spring-loaded and closes firmly. The Boss Grill Egg XS is an ideal size for a small family, allowing you to cook four burgers at a time. However, we found that its excellent heat-retention means that it gets so hot it scorches food. On test, the courgettes and kebabs cooked well with clear grill lines, but the potato slices burnt before they cooked through, and the buns toasted unevenly, as there are a few cool spots above the ceramic tiles. Unlike other models we tested, it doesn’t have lots of features, but does include a temperature gauge and thick, sturdy wooden handles. Designed to be a table-top BBQ, it doesn’t have wheels and needs to be placed on a heat-proof surface. Though small, this is a heavy barbecue, so it’s not the obvious choice if you’re looking for a truly portable option, and the handles get quite hot, despite being heat-proof. It comes with a one-year warranty, which is disappointingly short, but does come with a cover and a pizza stone.


Dimensions: 62cm x 55cm x 54cm
Grill area: 47.5cm⌀


Vonhaus Compact charcoal barbecue

RRP: £149.99
Our rating: 3.75 out of 5

Vonhaus Compact Charcoal BBQ

Vonhaus Compact Charcoal BBQ


  • Adjustable smoke / temperature control
  • Lots of features


  • Small grill area
  • Poorly defined grill lines

This cheap but cheerful charcoal barbecue and smoker is packed with plenty of features for the price. It comes with a thermometer, two side tables, inbuilt storage, a bottle opener and handy wheels for moving around. The most notable feature is an adjustable firebox, so you can choose the height of your charcoal or smoking wood and adjust the temperature. It also has a front door, so you can easily add more wood while smoking. It offers a surprising number of features for a BBQ of this price and compact size. It’s great if you’ve got a little garden or courtyard, but beware if you’ll be catering to a crowd – this BBQ had an even smaller grill area than a camping BBQ that we had to hand as we tested.
As with many of the parts of this BBQ, the grills were poorly machined, and didn’t quite fit. The grill also has wide gaps, so smaller ingredients like halloumi fell onto the coals. This also meant that grill lines were poorly defined. Though it’s simple to assemble, it’s very fiddly. All the parts need to be screwed into each other, so assembly took us about an hour. While it’s a great price, it feels wobbly and cheap. We think this BBQ suits couples and small families on a budget – you could comfortably stretch it to four people, but not more.

Dimensions: 108cm x 36cm x 96cm
Grill area: 45 x 32cm

Charcoal barbecue fuel and lighting

  • Look for the FSC logo of the Forest Stewardship Council, the global certification scheme of wood products, on the pack to ensure charcoal is sourced from properly managed forests.
  • Sustainable charcoal is becoming more widely available, and while it can be more expensive, you should need less of it because it burns more slowly, and gives out better heat, which will offset some of the cost.
  • Briquettes and self-lighting charcoal that contain chemicals and give off strong odours are best avoided as they’ll affect the flavour of your food.
  • Never use petrol, chemicals or firelighters intended for coal fires to light your barbecue, instead look for natural firelighters, which are now widely available.

How we test charcoal BBQs

Together with our colleagues at BBC Good Food, we tested a range of charcoal barbecues. Each barbecue was unpacked, assembled, used to cook a variety of dishes and then assessed according to specific criteria. BBC Good Food put particular emphasis on how well each barbecue cooked but at BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine we assessed the barbecues with emphasis on their garden context, including how easy they are to assemble, move around and store.

They were assessed according to the following points with equal marks attributed to each:

  • Assembly. Looked at the ease of assembly, clarity of instructions, warmup time and how easy the barbecue is to store.
  • Ease of cooking. Focused on comfort and ease of use, adjustment, how easy it is to move around the garden, and how easy it is to start the fire and cook.
  • Cooking results. We cooked a variety of common barbecue dishes to assess the non-stick ability of each grill, its grid-cooking capabilities, and how well it chars, softens, and seals food. We also checked for defined lines, even cooking, sticking and hot spots. Above all, we tested how long it took to cook each dish and how well each dish tasted.
  • Value for Money. Considered all of the above as well as quality, design, warranty and price.

For more information on our testing process see How We Review.

This review was last updated in August 2022. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.