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best charcoal grill

looking to buy a news charcoal grill. love my webber but what something in addition to it that has a larger capacity. stainless steel with side tables would be a plus. even better would be a side burner that operates on gas for cooking sides. maybe i should just design one.

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  1. Put a 23" Weber kettle (gold - with the ash dumper) next to a decent gas grill - best of both worlds!

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v61...

    1. There are so many choices and considerations.

      My priority is great taste + ease of use. After going through a couple models, I ended out with a Big Green Egg:

      http://www.biggreenegg.com/

      Completely love it. It creates moist and flavorful steaks ribs and chicken, and equally importantly, temperature control is a breeze. It is like the Easy Button of charcoal grills.

      The other benefit of interest to chowhounders is you can easily take it to 700 degrees +, and with a pizza stone, 100% lump charcoal, and wood chunks of your choice, you have an ideal pizza oven.

      The ceramic dome very efficiently radiates heat, and it's miserly in its use of lump. Someone on their discussion forums created a spreadsheet to show how the cost savings in charcoal makes up for the extra cost of the Ceramic Egg (to justify getting another to his wife).

      A great resource on ceramic charcoal cooking as well as lump charcoal comparisons is
      http://www.nakedwhiz.com/
      (it's not porn...

      )

      When I first saw it, I thought it was just too unusual, and bought a different model with many design flaws and very difficult to use and keep at a certain temperature. Read more about the egg, got one, and still love it.

      In Alton Brown's Good Eats segment on standing rib roasts, he used a ceramic plant pot above the roast to efficiently radiate the heat and help keep it moist. Bet he'd dig the Egg.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sweet100s

        very interesting. i've being watching the egg phenom. for a while...around 8 years. for some reason i have not been compelled to get one. not sure why, although i think originally it was because of the limited cooking capacity. at that time i decided to go with a off-set smoker/grill with a cooking capacity of over 600 sft. but i must admit i need to take another look at the egg.

      2. Eggs are cool but expensive. My wife got me one of these for Father's Day last year:

        http://bbq.about.com/od/smokerreviews...

        I love it. Just modified it so I can raise and lower the coals, and I'm going to add a rotisserie next.

        1. I had the opportunity to try one of these out last summer. Pretty sweet little setup:

          http://weber.com/bbq/pub/grill/2007/c...

          2 Replies
          1. re: LordOfTheGrill

            I own the performer and use it all the time. It's simply the best grill I've ever owned. Built well, great parts, the propane is cheap as can be, it's not terribly expensive, and it's easy to get going evenly. I don't have a single complaint about it. It probably gets used 3 times a week, even in freezing conditions.

            1. re: jpschust

              yes. i've been looking at the performer. great concept. when my 18.5" weber dies it will be replaced by the performer. my problem is finding a great second grill with high capacity.

          2. I bought a Brinkman dual zone grill from Sam's over the summer and absolutely love it.

            Check out Sam's if you get a chance, as I believe these are on clearance.

            Here's a link to a board where some guy posted pictures of his.

            http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/messa...

            1 Reply
            1. re: GDSinPA

              that looks great. i'm on the search for one now. thanks.

            2. Weber builds a 37 inch "ranch kettle" for about $1000 - 1140 square inches. But out of sight for most home use, I think.

              1. Kamado.

                Not meaning to bash Big Green Egg but the Kamado was my choice when I compared the two.

                I cook on it almost daily. Hopefully, the last grill I will ever own. Definitely the best, especially for barbecue

                www.kamado.com

                3 Replies
                1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                  Jimmy Buffet, why was the Kamado your choice?

                  When I compared them, the top air vent of the Egg seemed to allow much more precise air control and therefore temp control

                  1. re: sweet100s

                    I did a lot of comparison shopping, including checking out the Primo, the BGE and the reason why I went with Kamado is that it had the thickest walls and for what I paid for the Kamado - including shipping - the amount of grill surface area I got for my $$ was a better deal.

                    I got the tiled Kamado # 7 with the 23 inch grid. About $1150 with all stainless steel accesories which was about the same price for a plain finish BGE with comparably sized grid but smaller firebox and painted steel fittings..

                    Like I mentioned, my K is tiled and more expensive than the K with the Big Green Egg type of finish. Very pretty http://www.kamado.com/7HiltonGd2Homep... - and they will tile them any way, any color you wish beyond the four "stock" colors. You can even ship tiles to them and they will appply them for you. I have had people stop their cars in the street to ask me what it is, who made it.

                    Had I gotten an untiled one http://www.kamado.com/images/7TerraCo... which has a surface finish like the Big Green Egg but in a brick red or black color, and Big Green Egg style steel bands instead of stainless steel, it would have been an even better value at around $700.

                    Bear in mind that these prices are a few years old.

                    I really like the grids on the Kamado, as they are stainless steel and each bar is about as thick as a pencil. Don't count on ever replacing them. I bought extra grids to go above and below the main grid (great for cooking things like baked beans in cast iron pots while doing a barbecue) and a meat hanger.

                    Everything is industrial quality on the grill. Even the thermometer.

                    I have never had any temp control issues with the K except that sometimes the threads in the top vent get greasy and it becomes a bit stiff. When that happens I will fire it up to about 700 degrees and just unscrew the damper back and forth a few times to clean the threads. Since the top vent is on a threaded rod, adjustment can be very fine and it never drifts.

                    The other way of controlling the draft is through the ash pit door. One kind of has to figure out the "feel" of adjusting them over the course of a few cooking sessions. Sort of like coordinating the gas and the clutch in a car with a manual transmission. I can't imagine how the Egg could have finer or more precise temp control but then, I have never cooked on one.

                    I bought the optional gas burner for mine but have rarely used it except on a few occasions to light a big pile of charcoal. It slides in on the lower vent door rails. I usually use a charcoal chimney to start fires in the grill. The grill doesn't consume a lot of charcoal either, and when cooking is finished, you can close both dampers and reuse charcoal.

                    Cleanup is easy on the tiled ones. I just spray it with Simple Green on a hot sunny day, use a brush on it, and rinse with the garden hose. I don't know how easy it is to clean the plain finished ones.

                    Cleaning ashes is equally easy. I scoop them out with a plastic flower pot. If I want to get the ash pit really clean I then blow a leaf blower through the ash pit door. I have also used a leaf blower through the ash pit door when the grill is fired up to get a super hot fire going.

                    Due to the design of the firebox, it is easy to "bank" charcoal or lots of wood for slow cooking or smoking.

                    Downsides:

                    1. Having to wait about six months to get it - the tiled units are essentially custom made, with around 1100 tiles glued on by hand. Kamado has since decreased wait times considerably I've been told. A non-tiled unit probably would not have this kind of delay.

                    2. Shipping cost - due to the weight (500 pounds) and size (it took me two days just to uncrate it) it cost $400 to ship it from the west coast to my home in South Carolina, but since then, Kamado has built an Atlanta distribution outlet which should cut shipping costs a lot. Kamado is also trying to build a dealer network but I don't know the status of that.

                    3. When I bought mine, Kamado customer service was incredibly bad, mainly in the area of incomplete orders... it is a mom and pop company run by a gentleman and his two daughters and the backlash got so bad about four years ago that I believe they have increased their staff considerably. I haven't noticed any problems since then.

                    Kamado makes the best charcoal I have ever used, from coconut shells.

                    I absolutely love my Kamado. You wouldn't believe how good chicken and meats are cooked on it. Since the top radiates heat back down onto the meat, you get a kind of cooking eveness without having to rotate the meat. Supposedly, a few restaurants use them but I have never seen one in commercial use.

                    At 500 pounds, nobody will likely steal it very easily. I roll mine in and out of the garage for use.

                    My only regret about getting it is that I didn't buy one sooner. Had had my eye on them for about two years before I finally sprung for it. Life is too short to deeny yourself a few indulgences, especially when it comes to eating.

                    Kamado has an EXCELLENT forum on http://www.kamado.com/cgi-bin/discus/... that addresses most questions and issues. Even if you use a traditional grill, the recipe sections are great and worth a browse.

                    My most useful accesory is one of those wireless thermometers. You just insert the probe in the thermometer hole in the top. There is a company that makes a gizmo that couples a temperature probe in the top with variable speed fans that fit on the ashpit draft door opening but I haven't gone there yet.

                    1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                      Don't buy a Kamado cooker. There is a whole website at http://www.kamadofraudforum.org/ that documents the poor quality, poor customer service, and outright fraud perpetrated by this company.

                       
                       
                2. Hasty-Bake. They don't have "side burners" but they are awesome. There is a HUGE upcharge for theire SS models, not really sure it is worth it -- their power-coated steel one ought to last a really really long time. http://www.hastybake.com/grill_legacy...

                  If you need something to warm up sauces get on of these: http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

                  If want some real power get this:
                  http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-GAS-STOVE-POR...

                  1. Since you brought this up... my big pet peeve, so here goes:

                    I've had a lot of charcoal/wood grills, and I currently run 4 Weber Kettles (see pic). I sometimes do a lot of volume...

                    IMHO, Weber Kettle is clearly the best charcoal grill, specifically because it is engineered such that you can have direct fire, place even fatty chicken over it, open the top and bottom vents, and close the cover and walk away. There is enough air flow to keep the coals lit, but not enough to allow the drippings to burst into a full fire. You don't have to do the "fire-burning-my-food" dance. Don't know of any other unit that is engineered this way. Also, because you can do low and slow BBQ with small side fires, it is the most versatile thing out there.

                    Now, I have been extremely PO'd with the Weber Stephens Company ever since they took the thermo and built-in lid holder OFF the Weber 22.5 One-Touch Gold. They did that when they came out with the Performer, offering those two items only on the new $400 grill. That's simply rude to their loyal owners. They should have called the unit a One-Touch Platinum and charged more for those features, but not taken them away.

                    Why not just get the Performer? Well, I don't want the Performer. IMHO, it sucks and here's why. Look at the pics from other posters: the lid holder is directly opposite the attached table. That means, when the lid is off, it is slid to the side position next to the cook, interfering with your ability to tend to the entire grill surface. If you look at my pic, the left two grills are old, and have the lid holder in the back. When you set the lid off, it is pushed back, and you have full access to work the entire grill surface. That can be a big deal to someone cooking a lot of stuff.

                    There... I made my case, and I feel better. Just get another Weber!

                     
                    1 Reply
                    1. re: woodburner

                      Why sacrifice? For only $12,000 your fuel dilemma is solved.

                      http://www.kalamazoogourmet.com/bb2-d...

                    2. Ok, I'm bring this post back to life. was doing a search on Google & found this forum. Hi all! Any ways gas grills are very popular where I'm from & it very hard to get a nice charcoal grill, I was looking into getting a Char Grill - Super Pro for my first charcoal grill anyone use this item? see link. http://www.chargriller.com/shop/grill...

                      I have looked at the Weber 22.5 In. One-touch Gold Charcoal Grill might be an option but harder for me to find where I'm located, unless I do mail order.

                       
                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Brocolt2

                        I have this grill on my deck(on my avitar), with the side fire box for smoking meat, and I have had nothing but good results from it.

                        I tried a gas grill for a couple of summers, and moved back to charcoal as soon as it was time for a new grill, the gas grill was easy to use, and quick to light, but the quality of the food coming off a gas grill is nowhere near what charcoal, or wood chunks can produce.

                      2. I have mentioned it before but not on this thread - Portable Kitchen. Cast alumnum to last a lifetime, the thick walls are great at retaining heat. Great to have 4 sliding vents - you can control the temp really well. The grate is hinged so you can add charcoal while cooking. Overall a great investment.

                        1. Which grills allow you to raise and lower the cooking grate? Many recipes suggest grilling a lot closer to the charcoal than a Weber will.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Romanmk

                            Take a look at the German Grill...

                            http://germangrill.com/

                            Top quality charcoal grill. The cooking surface is maybe too small, but everything else is right on the money.

                            G.

                            1. re: Romanmk

                              That German Grill does look like a great piece of engineering, and I sure wouldn't kick one out of my back yard. But, there are cheaper options:

                              http://www.bbqgalore.com/charcoal/

                              You can also get even cheaper versions (with charcoal grates you can raise and lower) at Lowe's and Home Depot. But remember, of course, cheaper is not always better. Plan on replacing those cheap models at least two or three times during the lifespan of a German Grill. But then again, moving onto a new grill does liven things up a bit...

                              1. re: Romanmk

                                How close do you need to get ? Closer than 2 inches ? Depending upon how you build your fire in a Weber you can get that close. If you learn how to bank your fire in a Weber you can make your coals do anything you want. I routinely run grill temperatures of over 600 degrees on the hot part of my fire, anything hotter that that pretty much incinerates anything you place over it. You can run higher temperatures, just by using a hair dryer to fan the fire, say if you are doing "Tuscan Steak" where you need a higher sear temperature. A Weber doesn't have all the bells and whistles that some grills do but if you understand it and learn how to use it you can cook anything you want on it.

                                1. re: Grillncook

                                  sorry, but 1000usd for some of these grills and multiple hundreds to ship? thats wack. i have been using a Char-Griller smokin pro BBQ smoker out of georgia for years now and its a mother. 800 sq in., seperate firebox, that i use as a small grill when just doing a few steaks, steel constuction, whats not to like.
                                  best part..179usd. at this price ill replace it every five years and ill be dead before i get to 1000 dollars!

                              2. The Big Green Egg. Hands down the coolest and best cooking tool I have ever owned. I could live with out a lot of things in life but I'm not sure I could ever get by without my BGE.