Here’s a hot take: Gas grills don’t give your food the flavor it deserves. For that smoky, charbroiled, Bourdain-praise-worthy flavor that you expect when cooking outside, you need a charcoal grill. There is no shortage of options, and the right charcoal grill for you comes down to how frequently you plan to use it, what you’re going to cook, and whether it will spend it’s entire useful lifetime in one place.
Why Choose a Charcoal Grill Over Gas
Charcoal grills offer a distinct smoky flavor that cannot be replicated by gas grills. The Weber Original Kettle, for example, specifically holds and vents smoke to obtain that flavor without you having to sacrifice a large cooking surface area. What you may sacrifice in specific temperature control (just buy a meat thermometer) you gain 10-fold in enhanced taste, and cleanup is a breeze with the ash catcher.
Does the Type of Charcoal Used Affect the Grilling Process?
The choice of charcoal can impact your grilling experience. Lump charcoal burns hotter and faster, while briquettes provide consistent and longer-lasting heat. Experimenting with different types can help you find the flavor profile you prefer, with hardwood charcoal adding a distinct smoky taste.
How Can You Ensure Safety While Using Charcoal Grills?
To ensure safety while using charcoal grills, it is important to follow these guidelines: grill in a well-ventilated outdoor area, keep children and pets away from the grill, use long-handled tools to prevent burns, allow the grill to cool before disposing of ashes, and always have a fire extinguisher or water source nearby in case things get out of hand.
How Hot Do Charcoal Grills Get?
Charcoal grills can reach temperatures of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, offering high heat for searing steaks and creating a charred crust. They also allow for lower temperatures suitable for slow cooking and smoking. With proper air vent control and adjustable charcoal trays on some models, heat management is excellent.
How Much Should I Spend on a Charcoal Grill?
When it comes to investing in a charcoal grill, the cost can vary widely. While you can find budget options starting at around $20, a good quality and durable charcoal grill typically falls within the range of $150 to $300 (though high-end options cost in the thousands).
How Many Years Does a Charcoal Grill Last?
The lifespan of a charcoal grill depends on its quality and maintenance. With regular cleaning and proper storage, a well-maintained grill can last five to 10 years or more. Investing in a high-quality grill can also contribute to better durability and longevity. Keep an eye on signs of wear and tear, and replace parts as needed.
How to Maintain and Increase the Lifespan of Your Charcoal Grill
To keep your charcoal grill in top shape, clean the charcoal grate regularly to prevent ash buildup. Remove residue from the cooking grate using a grill brush. Store the grill in a dry place to prevent rusting and replace worn-out parts as needed. Use a cover to protect it from the elements when it’s not in use.
The Best Charcoal Grills
Amazon has the best selection of anywhere online. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s typically have several charcoal grills on offer, as do smaller hardware stores. You can also consider buying grills direct from the brands.
Best Budget Option: Weber Smokey Joe 14″ Portable Grill
The Weber Smokey Joe 14″ Portable Grill is an excellent choice for those seeking a compact and portable charcoal grilling option (and for those who simply don’t want to spend a lot on a grill). With its 14-inch cooking surface, it’s perfect for small gatherings, picnics, or camping trips. The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl provide exceptional heat retention, allowing for efficient and even cooking. Cleaning up is a breeze thanks to the convenient ash catcher. This durable grill is built to last, and with Weber’s reputation for quality, you can trust that it will serve you well for years to come. Whether you’re grilling up burgers, hot dogs, or chicken legs, the Weber Smokey Joe makes it easy to enjoy the flavors of charcoal grilling anywhere you go.
Best for Most Grillers: Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
The Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-Inch Charcoal Grill is a favorite choice among grill enthusiasts. With its 363-square-inch cooking surface area, you can easily grill a variety of foods to perfection. Cleanup is a breeze thanks to the convenient ash catcher, while the adjustable charcoal tray allows for precise temperature control, ensuring your food is cooked just the way you like it. This durable grill is built to last. Its stainless steel construction and cast iron grill grate add to its durability and quality.
Best for Group Barbecues: Char-Griller Classic Charcoal Grill
The Char-Griller Classic Charcoal Grill offers 580 square inches of cooking space, making it great for group barbecues. The cast-iron cooking grate not only retains heat for superior grilling but also creates beautiful grill marks on your food. The side shelves offer extra workspace for food preparation, making it easier to organize your grilling accessories. One of the standout features of this grill is its adjustable charcoal tray, which allows for easy heat control whether you want to sear steaks over high heat or slow-cook ribs using indirect heat.
Best to Impress: Nuke Delta 40-Inch Gaucho Grill
The Nuke Delta 40-Inch Gaucho Grill is a versatile charcoal grill with a unique design–it looks more like high-end kitchenware than something you keep on the porch. Its rotisserie system ensures even cooking and juicy results, while the adjustable height cooking grate allows for precise temperature control. With its ceramic grills, this grill retains heat efficiently, making it perfect for slow cooking. Whether you’re grilling steaks or slow-roasting a pork butt, the Nuke Delta Gaucho Grill delivers exceptional flavor and tenderness. The stainless steel construction adds durability and a sleek look to the grill. It also features a warming rack, ashtray, and access door for easy maintenance.
Best Kamado-style: Big Green Egg
The Big Green Egg is a multifunctional charcoal grill, smoker, and outdoor oven.There are many options available from MiniMax to XLarge, and you have a number of different choices for a stand to hold it in (known, appropriately, as its nest). Its high-quality ceramic construction ensures superior heat retention and control. With a large cooking area, you have the flexibility to use various cooking methods and prepare a wide range of dishes. The adjustable air vents allow you to achieve precise temperature control, whether you’re searing a steak or slow-cooking ribs. Durability is a hallmark of the Big Green Egg, making it a reliable choice for backyard grilling enthusiasts.