Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665 review: a recipe for smoky success?

Find out whether this classic charcoal grill set our world on fire

The Char-Broil grill, fully assembled in our reviewer's yard.
(Image: © Pete Wise)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

For good, old-fashioned charcoal cooking, the Charcoal M grill proved to be a great choice of grill. With no auto-ignition feature, it's down to the user to get their coals glowing – but you'll be rewarded with beautifully cooked food, useful storage features, and a price that's lower than the cost of a Wagyu steak.

Pros

  • +

    Performed very well during test cook sessions

  • +

    High-quality components

  • +

    Excellent storage options

  • +

    Adjustable charcoal grate

Cons

  • -

    Temperature gauge is… temperamental

  • -

    Not enough cooking space for large parties

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A charcoal grill can be a barbecue blessing or a culinary curse—it depends on whether it is practical for cooking. 

With its reasonable price tag and classic design, the Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665 is a tempting option for folks who crave the uniquely smoky flavors of charcoal cooking. I proudly belong to that category of person, so I was keen to test out the 665’s cooking capabilities in my yard. 

Designed to accommodate four to six people, the 665 is ideal for cozy get-togethers and family cookouts. It’s also small enough to cook for one or two people without burning a wasteful quantity of coals. 

This charcoal grill promises desirable features – including a chimney, integrated temperature gauge, and multiple heat settings – in a straightforward design that’s easy to master.   

Be aware: there’s no auto-ignition, so cooking with the 665 will come with a test of your fire-lighting skills. If you don’t want to put in the time to learn how to set your charcoal alight, you should probably be looking at one of the best gas grills instead – or a fancy charcoal grill with automatic ignition

I tested Char-Broil's equivalent grill for the UK market: the Char-Broil Charcoal M. In all the ways that matter, the grills are the same – so whether you're on one side of the pond or the other, this review is for you. The Charcoal M has only minor differences from the 665, including a slightly different charcoal grate and a more traditional-looking logo. 

Read on to learn how well Char-Broil's grill performed in my hands-on (and ultimately, ketchup-on) testing. 

Reviewed by
Pete Wise headshot
Reviewed by
Pete Wise

Freelance journalist, Pete Wise, has reviewed hundreds of products for titles including TopTenReviews, Ideal Home and the London Evening Standard, as well as writing articles on diverse topics for other publications such as The Guardian and BBC Good Food. Pete loves spending time in his yard, where he tested Char-Broil's charcoal grill during the spring of 2024. 

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: key specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Header Cell - Column 1
Model nameC-Line Charcoal Grill 665 (US) / Charcoal M (US)
Assembly required?Yes
Fuel typeCharcoal
IgnitionManual
Cooking grate materialCast iron
Lid materialStainless steel
Cooking area556 square inches

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: price & availability

You can't beat the C-Line Charcoal Grill 665 on value-for-money. At $159.99 (RRP), this grill offers excellent build quality and cooking capabilities for a digestible price. Stockists include Wayfair, Blain's Farm & Fleet, and the Char-Broil online store

The UK variant of the 665, the Charcoal M, has a slightly steeper list price of £239.99. Brits can buy barbecue from Amazon UK and Robert Dyas retailers.

Score: 5/5

All of the grill's components arrive flat-packed and individually wrapped.

(Image credit: Pete Wise)

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: First impressions

The 665 arrives flat-packed, so you’ll need to unpack its components and assemble them before using them. 

It comes in a surprisingly small box, but don’t let that fool you: the grill is heavy, weighing around 75 lbs. As a young-ish guy in basically okay shape, I found it strenuous to lift on my own. 

So, it's a good idea to move the box around with help from another person – or using a lifting trolley, if you have one. If you don’t have help, rolling the box is a good way to move it. There aren't any handles to help you pick it up. 

The grill’s components are packed incredibly efficiently inside the box. Someone on Team Char-Broil is a flat-packing genius. 

It's clear right away that most of the components are of high quality, right down to the fixings, which feel strong and chunky. Even the legs have a nice, textured finish. The only minor negative I noted was that the storage rack (underneath the grill) arrived a little warped.

All of the grill’s components arrive individually packaged, which certainly seems to help preserve their condition during transportation. However, that does mean you’ll spend a lot of time removing cardboard and plastic packaging—which should, of course, be recycled.

I recommend you handle the 665’s parts carefully because they're quite vulnerable to scratching if you place them on hard ground. Consider laying out an old rug prior to assembly. 

There are two ways to learn how to assemble the 665. You can take the traditional approach and follow the printed diagrams in the instruction booklet, or you can scan a QR code on the booklet to see a step-by-step guide with photos online. Both are clear, so which one to use depends on personal preference.

You need two hand tools to assemble the barbecue: a cross-head screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. Because some of the unassembled parts of the grill have pretty sharp edges, you might want to wear work gloves while assembling them. There are some heavy components to handle, so ideally, you’ll have two people working together on assembly.

Some of the components look very similar but have important, subtle differences. For instance, two of the four support legs have caps and are intended to stand on the ground, while the other two are made to attach to the wheels on one side of the grill. Take time to identify each component before you start fixing things together accurately—it could save you a lot of effort in the long run. 

Char-Broil has used a really helpful, simple way of packaging the fixings for this grill. The various fixings are packaged in separate compartments within a single blister pack, labeled with a code letter for each fixing type on the reverse. When fixing is referenced in the assembly instructions, you open the relevant compartment and remove the required fixing(s). It sure beats digging around in a plastic baggie filled with nuts and bolts. 

Undoubtedly, some steps towards assembling the 665 would benefit from two people working together. Working alone, you’ll need to precariously balance parts against each other at times before fixing them together with a nut and bolt.

Even so, assembling the 665 on my own took me over 90 minutes—honestly, I enjoyed it. A few fiddly tasks are involved, but you should get by fine if you follow Char-Broil’s instructions to the letter.

Score: 4/5

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: Design

As you can see, the 665 is a fine-looking barbecue, capped off with a very smart lid featuring a thermometer, coil handle, and the Char-Broil logo (in different variants for US and UK markets). Its charcoal finish is the perfect match for your cooking fuel. 

Some super-important features help with temperature control: an adjustable chimney and a damper (a grid on the side of the grill that can be opened or closed to adjust airflow). These components should be closed for low-and-slow cooking or opened to raise the cooking temperature. 

This damper helps you control airflow to the charcoal during cooking.

This damper helps you control airflow to the charcoal during cooking. (Image credit: Pete Wise)

For controlled cooking, there’s an adjustable charcoal grate that allows you to set the coals at multiple heights relative to the porcelain enameled cast iron grills. The grate must be adjusted using a grate lifter tool, as it’ll be too hot to handle during cooking. Thankfully, the handle on the lid is safe to touch, thanks to a coil design that ensures your hand grips a cool surface when you open the grill’s lid. 

The charcoal grate can be raised or lowered with a tool to fine-tune cooking performance.

The charcoal grate can be raised or lowered with a tool to fine-tune cooking performance. (Image credit: Pete Wise)

I was particularly impressed with this grill’s selection of storage features. A wire shelf sits at the bottom of the 665, providing a convenient place to store things like burger buns and oven gloves – or other large, light items you need to keep handy. 

The little shelf to the left of the grill (from the user’s perspective) provides a useful platform for resting plates and condiments. It has three pegs from which you can hang accessories, such as the grate lifter tool and your all-important burger spatula. You can also keep items in the front grill basket.

Char-Broil gets bonus points for this integrated bottle opener.

Char-Broil gets bonus points for this integrated bottle opener. (Image credit: Pete Wise)

Two of the grill’s support legs have casters, which prove helpful for moving the grill around (although there is no obvious handle or grip to help you do this).

You get an integrated bottle opener on one of the grill’s front legs as a nice little extra. This was a crowd-pleaser when I invited friends to help me test the barbecue. 

Score: 4.5/5

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: Performance

Compared to other charcoal grills I've used over the years, the 665 is quite convenient to light, with a fairly high success rate (considering that lighting a charcoal grill always takes some practice and patience). It took me a long time to get the charcoal up to cooking temperature, although some experienced users will be able to get their coals glowing quickly. 

You load your charcoal onto the adjustable charcoal grate. By design, the grate helps you identify the right amount of charcoal to use – pour on too many coals, and they’ll just spill over the edges. My one minor criticism of this design feature is that coal spillage can happen too easily. The day after use, it's worth digging around underneath the safely cooled grate to find intact pieces of unburned charcoal that can be burned the next time you grill.

With the 665’s lid open, fire seems to catch pretty well. You’ll need to monitor the progress of the coals by eye, as the barbecue’s lid-integrated temperature gauge is useless for measuring the temperature with the lid open. 

Heating up charcoal on the Char-Broil grill

Mowing at the Black + Decker lawn mower's maximum cutting height. (Image credit: Pete Wise)

The barbecue cooks food beautifully, from thin slices of pepper and eggplant to thick meats such as chicken wings and whole fish. To thoroughly test its cooking capabilities, I used the 665 to grill a whole bream, which came out thoroughly cooked with a crisp, golden skin.

During my testing sessions, sausages got good griddle marks on the sides, creating a deliciously crunchy skin around the well-cooked sausage meat. When cooking some skinny chipolata sausages, I found too much charring – so I lowered the adjustable charcoal grate using the grate lifter tool provided, which successfully reduced charring to an appetizing level. Corn on the cob came out nicely browned and cooked while retaining some juiciness.

Provided your coals are properly heated and glowing, closing the lid of the 665 has a marked effect on cooking performance. It helps items cook right through and ramps up the smoky flavor. 

Score: 4.5/5

Cooking thick items like whole fish and corn was no problem for Char-Broil's grill

Cooking thick items like whole fish and corn was no problem for Char-Broil's grill.  (Image credit: Pete Wise)

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: Cleaning and maintenance

Post-BBQ, the 665 should be cleaned to ensure safe cooking the next time you use it. The most important task is to remove and wash the iron grill grates, which can usually be cleaned effectively using washing liquid, a sponge, and a stiff-bristled brush. 

You’ll also need to remove any spent coals from the firebox. These can be brushed down into the ash trap – a small drawer that slides out easily from the underside of the grill. Ensure it has cooled down fully before you empty it because you may need to use a hand to support the ash trap from underneath. 

The cast iron grill racks produced lovely griddle marks on sausages and eggplant slices.

The cast iron grill racks produced lovely griddle marks on sausages and eggplant slices. (Image credit: Pete Wise)

If possible, I recommend storing the 665 inside a garage or shed to avoid weather damage to the grill. Thankfully, the grill's relatively small footprint will help many users find a suitable space—especially if you uninstall the storage shelf on one side of the 665. 

Remember to remove spent coals from the ash trap after using your grill.

Remember to remove spent coals from the ash trap after using your grill. (Image credit: Pete Wise)

Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665: User reviews

This is a great grill for the money you pay. So, we were unsurprised to find that online customer reviews of the 665 are consistently excellent.

At Char-Broil, customers rated the 665 at an average of 4.8 stars. One buyer hailed the barbecue as "the best charcoal grill ever" and remarked on its easy assembly and the smoky flavors it produced.

Should you buy the Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665?

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Score card
AttributeNotesScore
Price & availabilitySuperb value-for-money, with good availability across multiple online retailers.★★★★★
DesignA simple, straightforward, classic charcoal grill, with some nice extra features including a storage shelf and bottle opener.★★★★
PerformanceCooks food beautifully, if you're happy to work to get your properly lit.★★★★½
SetupAssembling the flat-packed parts is easy (and maybe even fun!)★★★★½

Buy it if...

Smoky flavor is your priority

Charcoal grills like the 665 are inevitably more difficult to use than gas-fuelled models. However, their smoky flavors are incomparable.

You're on a modest budget

The reasonable pricing of the 665 proves that you don't need to pull off a bank heist to afford a good-quality grill. Naturally, you won't get all the fanciest features. 

Cooking space for four is enough

665 inches sounds like a lot of room, and the 665's cooking area provides ample cooking space for a family feast. For bigger groups, look for a larger grill.

Don't buy it if...

Lighting charcoal is your idea of Hell

It takes patience and practice to get light charcoal ready for cooking. If you want to save time and effort, try an auto-igniting or gas-fuelled model instead. 

Self-assembly is a no-go

Because this grill arrives flat-packed, you'll need to assemble the parts yourself. Working with a partner, you should be able to do this quickly, but self-assembly is not for everyone. 

You're throwing a big barbecue party

With enough cooking space for about four people, the 665 is not the ideal grill for inviting the in-laws over. 

How does the Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665 compare?

The obvious comparison is between the 665 and the larger Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 840. In addition to providing a larger cooking surface, the 840 also features additional storage shelves on the front and right-hand side, so the design is better suited to higher-volume cooking all around. Of course, this means it comes at a higher price and can consume charcoal at a steeper rate. 

If you’re looking for a charcoal grill that’s more advanced than the 665 (which comes at about ten times the price), you might consider the Kamodo Joe Konnected Joe, which features automatic charcoal ignition and digital temperature control. Or, for lower budgets and smaller group sizes, the Napoleon NK14 Portable Charcoal Kettle Grill might be just the ticket.  

How I tested the Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665

  • Used rigorously for several cooking sessions
  • Multiple charcoal grate heights and lid positions (open/closed) were used 

On multiple occasions, I tested the Char-Broil C-Line Charcoal Grill 665 to cook various popular barbecue foods, including sausages, fish, sliced vegetables, and foil-wrapped bananas. 

To assess the grill’s full range of cooking capabilities, I tried grilling with the adjustable charcoal grate at all three available heights and compared the results when cooking with the grill’s lid open and closed. Read more about how we test.

Pete Wise
Freelance Writer

Pete has reviewed hundreds of gardening products for titles including TopTenReviews, Ideal Home and the London Evening Standard, as well as writing articles on diverse topics for other publications such as The Guardian and BBC Good Food. Pete loves spending time in his yard – although, having just read The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, he is regarding his plants with a newfound suspicion.