Charcoal grills are second to none when it comes to providing that smoky meaty flavor that everyone loves. And while no tailgating grill is without its flaws, charcoal grills provide numerous benefits over propane ones that may just make you take another look at what type of cheap grill for tailgating you want to buy.
First and foremost, charcoal grills are cheap. Some of the propane grills can run upwards of $500 (ignoring the “mega grills” for the hardcore tailgaters). You can spend less than 50 bucks on an economy model (like the Weber 121020). Or if you want something reasonable but specifically designed with all of the conveniences of modern tailgating you can try the Weber 616002 Char Q Portable Charcoal Grill which has all the amenities for tailgating: light-weight nylon grill frame with aluminum body, dual dampers to control cooking temps, cast iron grill to keep the heat even, and only weights around 40 pounds.
Because the charcoal grills are smaller and lighter, they’re much easier to pack up and transport. You don’t have to worry about folding parts and finding the room to fit them in the back of the vehicle. You take along tote bags to carry any necessary utensils. It’s real easy to dump the ashes (responsibly of course) and throw it on top of, or in, the cooler.
You did empty the cooler right?
Another great thing about charcoal tailgating grills is that you never have to worry about running out of fuel. Not that it’s a big deal to carry an extra propane bottle…until you forget it or run that one out. With charcoal, once you get it burning nice and good you can grill for several hours – plenty of time to get set up and drink a few cold ones.
The number one reason anyone uses charcoal is for the flavor. Charcoal can produce that beautiful flavor that grill enthusiasts love. Not to be a grilling snob, but you can totally tell the difference of even a regular burger or hotdog when it’s grilled on a charcoal grill and when it’s not. Some people have mentioned that the texture of the meat is different, and to some extent I think it’s true. You can even throw in a few wood chips…some mesquite or cherry… for something extra to spice up the standard tailgating recipes.
Things to look out for when buying a charcoal tailgate grill online
The biggest drawback of using a charcoal grill while tailgating is that it takes a while to heat up and cool off. So if you get to the game early enough and get set up, no big deal; however, if you need to set up and grill right off the bat then you’re going to be better off with a gas grill. This applies to cooling off and packing up as well. With charcoal you get a nice long burn and if you just let it burn out on it’s own you’re going to be waiting for some time. Sure, you could leave it outside while you’re at the game but you of course run the risk of it being knocked over or stolen.
One other important thing to mention is that some stadiums (and even parks) won’t allow charcoal grills. Something about them being too messy and dangerous and there’s probably been enough jerks that just dump the charcoal and ashes right in the parking lot. I may or may not be guilty of doing that once or twice.