The Ultimate Charcoal Grill Buying Guide
When buying a high-tech digital device like a smartphone or tablet, you understand the importance of choosing and picking out the slight differences that exist between selected devices. It only makes sense since these small nuances are what set them apart.
With charcoal grills, however, you might be tempted to brush over this process and go with any model that looks like it can get the job done. Sure, any grill can barbecue meat, but unless youre planning to buy a new grill every other day, there are significant differences between them that set them apart from each other.
You also need to consider what your end goal is when it comes to grilling and if theres any wiggle room in your budget. Heres the ultimate charcoal grill buying guide to help you better understand your options.
How Do You Clean A Kamado Grill
To clean the Big Green Egg, you have to use an ash tool to work the coals around the firebox, pushing the dust and ash through the holes at the bottom.
Cleaning the grill grates is easyevery time you use it, brush the grates with a wire brush while theyre still hot. The residual heat helps remove any nasty, burnt-on bits. You should clean the grates every time you grill, but youll also want to clean out the inside of the grill from time to time. Its important to keep the dust and spent ashes from plugging up the air intake holes.
Unfortunately, this process is a bit of a pain. Ash catcher buckets are standard on most charcoal grills, but few kamado grills have this feature. To clean the Big Green Egg, you have to use an ash tool to work the coals around the firebox, pushing the dust and ash through the holes at the bottom. Using the same tool, you can scrape the ashes into a bucket or bowl. If the coals are cool enough, you could also use a shop vaccuum, but dont throw away the whole pieces of lump charcoal; theyre still good for your next cooking session!
If you’re at stoked as we are about these as we are, check out the best kamado grills we’ve tested.
What To Grill On High Heat
Grilling on high heat is the best way to get that perfect sear on the outside while keeping the inside juicy. To increase the temperature, open the vents to let in more oxygen. To decrease the temperature, close the vents but not completely, or the fire will go out.
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How Do You Clean A Charcoal Grill
Upon extinguishing the coal and allowing the grill to cool down, you can;clean the grates;using a scraper or wire grill brush. If needed, you can take the grates off and soak them in soapy water for a few hours to loosen up burnt-on food and grease. Once they’re clean, make sure to oil them using a rag or paper towel to prevent rust.
You’ll also want to wipe down the inside of the lid and bowl using a mild soap. Finally, empty your grill’s ash catcher.
The Ultimate Luxury Pick: Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill
This grill costs almost as much as a car, Raichlen says, And it takes up a lot of real estate. But when you fire it up, you know youve arrived. A monster hybrid that works with any combination of gas, charcoal, and wood, its a power tool that can tackle any kind of cooking you throw at itand it’s built to last.
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Size And Cooking Capacity
Weber grills come in a variety of different sizes and the size of the grate will determine how much food you can cook at any given time. When purchasing a Weber grill, youll want to determine how many people you want to feed and what type of food youll be cooking most often.
If youre feeding a small group, you can get away with a smaller grill. But if youre often feeding a large family or cooking large items such as ribeyes or rib racks, youre better off with a larger grill. When choosing your grill, pay attention to the size of the total cooking area, which is typically measured in square inches.
Webers portable grills are generally about 150-250 square inches, which will feed one or two people. Webers electric grills range from 180 to 280 square inches, which will feed one or two people as well.
Weber charcoal and gas grills tend to be larger and can feed more people at once. A Weber charcoal grill can range in size from 250 to 1100 square inches, comfortably feeding anywhere from two to upwards of five. And a Weber gas grill will be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 square inches with the ability to feed large groups and families.
Choosing A Kamado Grill
The Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe are the most popular kamado grills.
Although the Big Green Egg is the most popular type of kamado grill, its by no means the only option. In looking at kamado grill reviews, theres a lot of debate between Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg. Some kamado grills are even designed to work with Big Green Egg accessories.
So how do you know which model to choose? It comes down to a few factors: shape, price, and whats included with the grill.
Most kamado grills have a similar shape, but a few have oval cooking surfaceslike the Extra Large model of the Primo grill. These oval-shaped kamados give you enough space to move the coals around and create a two-zone fire . With round kamado grills, youll need a ceramic deflector platelike the ConvEGGtor for the Big Green Eggto cook over indirect heat, which may or may not be included in the price of the grill.
Speaking of price: None of these grills come cheap. You can find a few models at the $300 range, but most start at $700. Looking at Big Green Egg reviews, you may notice that some kamado grills arrive barebones: grill only. If you want a side table or a stand, thats extra. Adding these types of accessories can add up pretty quickly. Luckily, the more expensive kamado grills are built to last a long time with proper care and maintenance, and many of them have fantastic warranties. But, theres no denying that buying one certainly requires an up-front investment.
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The Best Gas Grill: Weber Genesis Ii
This is Disbrowe’s top-recommended gas grill, the one she turns to when she wants fast and reliable grilling results at home. Though her first love is cooking over charcoal, there’s no denying the ease and simplicity of a gas grill like the Weber Genesis II, particularly when engaging in some weeknight grilling. “I think this model is perfect for everything from simple chicken breasts to charred corn for a Mexican street corn salador even tortillas, she says. Plus, the side burner is great for keeping a pot of beans warm while I’m firing off chicken, veggies, or skirt steaks for taco night.
How To Build A Charcoal Grill
Charcoal grills can be as elementary as you want them, so yes, you can absolutely build a charcoal grill if you have some time and patience. Pitmasters have cut barbecues out of 55-gallon steel drums for generations, and while that’s a little more involved, it’s not unfeasible.
One of the easiest methods, as told to us by Olunloyo, is a three-walled structure with a fourth side exposed, using cinder blocks and cement, making sure to start on a safe surface:
- The size and shape are entirely up to you, but stack the cinder blocks in a U-shape as high as you’d like, but not so high that the heat from your fire below won’t reach the grate you’ll place on top.
- Once you’ve decided on your dimensions, you can cut or order a grate from any industrial metal supplier that sells fencing or square grates, and ask for 3/16″ or ¼” stainless steel to be cut to size. This will be the costliest portion of the build, but also the most crucial.
- Once you have the grate or flat top, be sure to hone the rough edges for safety, and then place it on the cinder-block structure and wipe or spray it with any cooking oil , saturate it, and get it plenty hot before cooking.
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Faqs & Tips To Choose Your Grill
What type of grill is best for me?
Your cooking preferences and the frequency of use should be the main deciding factors when selecting a model and size of BBQ. Gas BBQs are the most used, as they produce more heat than charcoal and can cook food faster.
However, charcoal grilling is thought to be superior in the flavour it creates. When smoking, food isn’t cooked by direct heat created by a flame, but rather by the smoke produced. All methods of cooking produce a different result.
What is a BTU and how many do I need?
The level of heat generated by a BBQ is measured in BTUs . Generally, it’s best to look for a BBQ with a rating of 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch to ensure enough heat is generated for the size of your grill.
Before using BTUs as your sole deciding factor, remember that BTUs are a measure of heat produced by the burners over the course of an hour and not a measure of the temperature a BBQ can reach. The ability of a BBQ to reach and maintain various cooking temperatures is more important than how much heat it can produce. Check out your BBQs top temperature in the product description if, for example, a good sear is important to you.
How big a BBQ do I need?
When deciding which BBQ to buy, consider the size of the meals you’ll be preparing and the number of people you’ll be feeding. For example, the average eight-ounce steak is roughly 5 by 3.5 in. depending on its thickness, resulting in a 17.5 sq. in. surface.
How Do You Use A Charcoal Grill
Cooking on a charcoal grill is a bit more complicated than using a gas-powered model. First, you’ll need to measure out an appropriate amount of charcoal briquettesthis will depend on the size of your grill, what you’re cooking, and how hot you want the grill to get. Next, you have to light the charcoal using a chimney starter or other tool.
From here, you’ll want to clean and oil your cooking grates and preheat them for several minutes before placing food on the grill. As you cook your food, control the grill’s temperature by using the upper and lower vents. For the hottest fire possible, you’ll want to open both vents all the way, or for a lower temperature, close the upper vent to a half or quarter.
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What Kind Of Grill Should You Buy
Spring is right around the corner, and summers just a few months away. You know what that means, right? Its time to bust out the grill, throw some steaks on it and watch them sizzle away as you take in their delicious mouth-watering aroma.
But, lets face it. No true barbecue lover has the patience to wait for summertime to enjoy flame-grilled meat. Thanks to modern technology, you can have it all year round! All you need is the right grill for the job. Besides, its never too early to start shopping for a new one.
With so many different types of grills to choose from, it can get pretty overwhelming when you have no idea what to get. This guide explores the different types of grills youll come across to help make the decision-making process a little easier. Without further ado, lets jump right in.
Spend Extra On A Grill Cover
Leaving your grill outside? Put a cover on it!
Whether youre spending hundreds or thousands on a grill, you owe it to yourself to spend another $20 on a cover.
If you want to keep your grill outdoors, a cover will keep rain from rusting it out. But covers arent just about keeping out water; they’re useful even if you plan to keep your grill indoors. For instance, spiders frequently build webs inside gas burners, rendering them useless.
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Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill
From tailgating to camping, this lightweight charcoal grill is made to be on the move with a Tuck-N-Carry lid lock and handle that also doubles as a lid holder when youre grilling so that the lid doesnt touch the ground. The cooking area is 147 square inches it fits six burgers at a time and the porcelain-enameled lid and bowl come in six different colors. It’s a mini version of our winning grill, said McManus.
And for those with little ones, theres a matching Smokey Joe toy version for the tiniest of grill masters to enjoy.
Testing Notes: What To Look For In A Charcoal Grill
Materials Matter: Whether youre shopping online or in-person, seek out construction information. Does the listing have two dozen bullets touting all the heavy-gauge stainless steel, cast aluminum and enameled iron ? Thats a good sign. If its not flexing its construction, its more likely to have rust spots, fail at retaining heat and generally come apart earlier than youd want.
Beefy Warranties: Buying a grill thats a few hundred dollars and it has a one-year parts warranty? Dont buy it. Something that costs that much should be guaranteed, in part at least, for three to five years. Some of the grills on this guide come with lifetime part warranties.
Adjustable Grates: Look for a wheel or lever that lets you move the grates or the coal bed up and down preferably both. This allows for more cooking methods. As an added bonus, some companies offer upgraded grates . We prefer stainless steel for ease of cleaning and more balanced heat distribution.
Vents! Vents! Vents!: In the making of a single meal, airflow determines quality more than great grates, coal quality and construction. It allows for you to feed a fire to sear like you want, keep a medium heat to roast a chicken or smoke ribs nice and slow. The more vents to play with, the better.
Delivery and Setup: This is a simple one. Some grills come fully assembled, others take a full day to set up. Look at this before shipping a 500-pound piece of metal to your house.
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Types Of Grills: How To Choose The Best Grill For You
Learn more about the different types of grills available and how they compare to each other.
Jeff FlowersArticle Author
We all know there are different heating and fuel sources that can be used while grilling. Each of these fuel sources have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, with some may possibly alter the overall flavor of the food you cooked. Today, lets take a closer look at some of the different types of grills that utilize each of these fuel sources.
Masterbuilt Mb20040220 Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker
With 45+ years of experience in the grilling industry, MASTERBUILT has won the trust of its customers by providing them innovative and durable products.
Their MASTERBUILT 560 series provides you modern, interactive and user-friendly charcoal grill. Its digital control panel allows you to set the required temp. and maintain it using digital fan of your grill.
- It comes with a large cooking area of 560 sq.in. that can cook food equivalent to 21burgers for the gathering of your friends or family.
- You can instantly cook your food as your grill reaches to 225F in 7minutes and 700F in only 13minutes.
- Due to Built-in temp. gauge, you always remain aware of the real-time temperature of your grill.
- Thanks to its Gravity-fed hopper that allows you to add 10pounds of coal to it. You can power your grill for12-15hrs.
- Enabled with wi-fi and Bluetooth technology, it lets you monitor and control the temperature of your grill directly from your smartphone with the help of MASTERBUILT APP.
- Presence of wheels on its base helps you to move it from one place to another easily.
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Charcoal Grill Fuel Types
Charcoal grills use two different kinds of fuel, charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal.;
- Charcoal briquettes have a familiar, pillowy shape and tend to be uniform in size, which makes them easy to stack and arrange as a smooth bed of hot coals. This also makes it easier for recipes to specify how many briquettes to use.;
- Lump charcoal burns extremely hot and quickly, which makes for effective searing but can require the addition of more fuel over time. It tends to have irregular shapes and sizes. Some types of lump charcoal are made entirely of a single kind of wood, such as mesquite or oak, making them ideal for smoking.;
Tip: A combo or hybrid grill is designed to use both charcoal and natural gas or propane.
Finding Theright Replacement Parts
Right off the bat, there are some features ofyour grill that may need some replacing: the ceramic briquettes, the grates,deteriorated burners or the ignition. There areseveral parts to your grill and while, at first glance, it may seem complex,barbecue repairs are easier than you might think!
The good news is,practically any part of your gas grill can be replaced or restored at anaffordable cost. Parts are manufactured according to the brand and model number. Or simply knowing the dimensions of the part, you can browse our wide range of low-cost grillparts for a variety of brands.
Ceramic briquettes are often used because theyprovide an evenly heated surface and last a long time. Gas grills can also useceramic tiles or lava rocks for heat distribution within the grill.
Or, you may even have charcoal briquettes.These run at a lower cost and give your food a smoky taste.
Gas grills can use any of the above and youare welcome to change out one option for another when doing your repairs.Briquettes usually go for anywhere between $30 and $100.
Grill grates are an important part of yourgrill. It is the surface where your food meets the heat.
Like briquettes, the material is generally determined by what was manufactured in the grill; some options include stainless steel, cast iron, and porcelain, just to name a few. Different types of grill grateswill absorb oil differently.
Burners and Ignitor
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