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Broil King purchase advise please!

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So I've finally broken down and decided to replace my crap old Fiesta with something that will actually cook my food properly :). I've got a budget of $500, and after reading the posts here decided that the Broil King Signet 20 was my best bet. Now I've got two choices:

1) Buy it from Ontario Gas BBQ for $439, which comes with stainless steel cooking grates (3/8", I believe), or;

2) Buy it from another place for $399, which comes with porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates.

From what I've read here, there seems to be a large divide amongst these two cooking surfaces, but half swear by stainless and the other half by iron. So before making my final decision, I thought I'd get some final advice. Has anyone owned the Broil King with either of these surfaces, and what are your thoughts? I don't mind providing a little extra care. I'm more concerned with the results and longevity (ie. anything beyond 3-4 yrs I'd be happy with).

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    1. I once owned a Broil King that served me well for twenty years. That was then.

      Please do some more research before buying a Broil King. I hate to say negative things about a Canadian company in an industry that is rapidly migrating to China, but Broil King has recently built some very bad stuff.

      In a recent Consumer Reports test of gas barbecues, a couple of Broil King models did something unprecedented - they MELTED under circumstances that can easily occur during normal use!

      The company has produced a retrofit heat shield to prevent this, but I personally consider this a really crappy solution. They should be building barbecues that can safely do their job. They obviously took some cost cutting measures that went too far.

      As to your specific questions:

      You can be reasonably confident that OGB will be selling Broil Kings that have been properly retrofitted. This is not guaranteed, but it is very likely. You cannot assume this to be the case with every Broil King dealer. I was shopping for a new barbecue earlier this summer and was astounded by the general lack of awareness of the problem. If you do go with Broil King, be sure the model you are contemplating is a safe one. Then double check with the manufacturer to be sure. The company IS reputable.

      The cooking grate issue is, as you suggest, a personal preference issue. IF you maintain the grilling surface impeccably, stainless and cast iron will both prove durable. If you don't, both will eventually fail. My personal preference is for heavy raw cast iron. I believe it heats more evenly and sears better than stainless. I keep it clean, dry, and seasoned, so it isn't going to rust anytime soon.

      If you can't be bothered, I'd go with stainless. You really should maintain it just as you would cast iron and you still need to oil it - it may not rust, but food will stick if you don't.

      I would not buy the model with porcelain coated cast iron. It lacks the positive cooking qualities of raw cast iron. Once the coating chips, it acquires the negative qualities of cast iron. For $50, the stainless is a no brainer.

      Unfortunately, the only other Canadian made barbecues, from Napoleon, are much more expensive. Their low end Ultra Chef line, made in Barrie, cooks beautifully and won't melt (mine goes to about 800 F at the grilling surface over the regular burners and well over 1000 F over the infrared burner). However, it is too new to assess its long term durability. It cost about $1000. Their higher end Prestige line, while of obviously better construction quality, costs even more and doesn't cook as well!

      I'd suggest you check the Consumer Reports article before choosing. A couple of low end models available in Canada tested surprisingly well, though most are made in China. However, don't buy anything from Vermont Castings. They are in bankruptcy and warranty support is an unknown.

      As a final oddball suggestion, if you will mainly be grilling steaks, burgers, and such, check the website for woodflame.com (made in Quebec). These cook over real wood and produce amazing flavours. However, they are relatively small, single purpose devices. You can't use a Woodflame as an oven and it will incinerate a chicken, but their website claims are mostly true.

      1. dang! i wrote a whole review and it was accidentally erased!

        my quick summary: i use the Broil King. look at buying the same model from Home Depot. in fact, wait 1-2 months. everyone blows out their bbqs in the fall. also, look at Home Hardware. they usually have good sales (and good prices) on their Broil Kings.

        I personally use the iron grates. they sear amazingly well. great for steaks and burgers. perhaps not as great for chicken and fish (although you are supposed to flip the grills over so they are inversed and sear less). i also maintain my bbq relatively well - i scrub it, vacuum it out every 2 years, cover it when i do not use it, and seal the grills pre-heating with canola oil (that's a must).

        the Broil King is an amazing heat machine. gets really hot. great for bbq, not so great for indirect heat cooking, slow cooking or getting good temp control.

        saying that, i made beer chicken on Saturday. had two whole chickens on the Q, cooked it at 325 for 30 min and then had the heat at the lowest setting, which was a 300 degree cook. 2 hrs later, it was succulent and moist. cooked my lambburgers at a slightly higher temp. cooked well. a few flair-ups but it was good.

        i'd stay with the iron grates. stainless steel looks nice, but i am not sold on it. cools down and heats up too quickly.

        7 Replies
        1. re: atomeyes

          "i'd stay with the iron grates. stainless steel looks nice, but i am not sold on it. cools down and heats up too quickly."

          ...admittedly I do not have your personal experience with this grill atomeyes, but this is generally a very good quality for temperature control when cooking, no?

          1. re: Recyclor

            Stainless steel is a relatively poor heat conductor. Cast iron is a very good one.

            This property of stainless steel makes it unsuitable for high quality stovetop cooking pots. Good home use pots are generally sandwiched with aluminum or copper cores and many restaurants cook with aluminum pots (or lined copper if they can afford it).

            Stainless steel is less problematic when used as a grill surface. The most common practice used for grilling is to maintain a high heat and low heat zone and move the food between the zones, rather than to change the temp setting. (With a charcoal grill, you use more coal on one side; with gas you set the burners to different temperatures.)

            When using a gas grill as an oven, it really doesn't matter much. The relative insulating qualities (or lack thereof) of the closed casting have the greatest impact.

            1. re: embee

              Thanks embee, i'll be in the market next summer and i'll keep that in mind...but, one question then, what are the BEST grills made from?

              ...I will be going charcoal, likely a big green egg if I can swing it but if not a Weber kettle.

              1. re: Recyclor

                What's a big green egg go for anyways?

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  The Large, which seems ot be the size to get, is around $1000...most of what I know is from this thread...

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/528786

                  1. re: Recyclor

                    Oh damn...that's a tempting purchase. but $150 vs. $1000. Quite the dilemma.

          2. re: atomeyes

            I've got a cast iron grate broil king as well...one of the last years they were built in Canada, I believe. Not melting problems. Grills sear amazingly

            Atomeyes, I haven't been spraying with oil before each use and there's a bit of a build up. What's the best way to clean?

          3. Thanks for all the info, this is extremely helpful! I did a little more searching around and found the Signet 20 at a Home Hardware store on sale for $399 with the stainless steel. I think I agree with the above - if it were raw cast iron, I'd do it. But I'm not sure I really like the porcelain coating. Remind me of my old Fiesta a little too much :P

            Next few hours... will decide between the two!!

            5 Replies
            1. re: SMOG

              This is a old thread but It still comes up on googlesearches so i will update some information...

              Someone said that Broil King is no longer made in Canada. This is false. There ARE however some lower line models that are made in China, these can be found in some of the Home Depots, Ronas, etc..... Ensure you are buying a "Made in Canada" Broil King." I think it some of the "Broil Mates" (same company) that are made in China.

              The safety tests done before have been corrected, i wouldnt worry to much about this anymore. The tests were also done in very extreme conditions (which you would NOT cook under)

              One of the good things about Broil Kings is the value, out of all the BBQ's out there you are getting the best value for the 400-600 dollar range. The Signet 70 and 90's also come with Rotisserie (kit included) which no other brands carry.

              As for Cast Iron vs. Stainless Steel..... It really depends on your ability to maintain your barbeque. If your the type of person that doesnt want to spend 3-5 minutes after each grill session to clean the grills then SS is the way to go. If you dont mind cleaning & seasoning your grill after every use (and before/after every season) then cast iron is the better option. Between the two Cast Iron holds heat the longest, so it is best for searing steaks. Stainless on the other hand can loose heat quicker, but the trade-off is a naturally non-stick surface. Cast Iron can also rust if you do not coat it with oil after every use and between seasons (best to bring the grate inside during winter). I would avoid porcelain at all costs... this is the 'dollar store' grate.

              Another mentionable about Broil Kings (which i love) is the fact that the warming rack (top rack) is about twice as big as typical barbeques BUT the best part is that it moves OUT OF THE WAY when you open the lid. Most BBQ's have a top grill that does not move, taking away your ability to flip meat under the grill, not the cake with BK.

              1. re: Rapinis

                It's good of you to update this thread. It's been nearly 2 years with my Broil King Signet 20, so here's what I'll share about my experience so far.

                Value wise, I agree that this is probably the best BBQ on the market for the money. The quality is excellent for what you pay and it has so far functioned nearly perfectly. I went with stainless steel grates and am very happy I did so. The porcelain coated ones are cheap feeling and the raw iron is tougher to take care of. When I'm done cooking, I close the lid. Next cooking cycle, I warm it up for a few mins, then brush the grates clean, oil them up a bit and they're perfect! Once in a while, I do a little more cleaning to get all the gunk off that sticks to the bottom.

                So, I generally LOVE this BBQ and am extremely satisfied with it. There are a couple things, however, that I think could be improved. First, the heating is not 100% even - it's about 85% even, which is good enough for me, but this is not perfect. There are a couple hot spots and some that aren't as hot. The difference isn't extreme by any means, but it's noticeable. Second, BBQ run extremely hot. Ok, granted, this is not generally a bad thing. For searing steaks, it's incredible. But if trying to use as a smoker and keep the temp below 250 on a hot summer day, good luck! Even at very slow temp setting, the temp tends to rise up pretty high. If I had to choose between having a very hot running BBQ and one that had trouble getting up there, I would, without a doubt, pick the former.

                These gripes are minor. I'd say this BBQ is probably in the $600 range and I consider it a bargain. I got the made in Canada model that Rapinis mentioned here and you can tell when putting it together that's it top quality.

                1. re: SMOG

                  My 2007 Closeout Sears Kenmore grill (w/ "Grill@Night" handle) has been doing it's job quite well til now. The worse that's happened? The porcelain cast iron grates got kinda rusty, the handle is dead/broken, and the burner deflectors (vaporizers/flavorizers?) are showing their age with blistered and chipped porcelain and rust spots rearing their ugly head (picture shown below). But overall, it all still works great!

                  I've just scrubbed and scoured the grates, re-seasoned them, and they look great again, minus a few spots of rust I can't seem to evict.

                  From what I've read, almost everywhere, about porcelain cast iron grates (and cast iron grates, overall) is that they are the best for retaining heat and producing good grill marks.

                  I was tempted to buy a grill w/ stainless steel grates ($500), but will avoid it now. The extra work taking care of cast iron grates, shows that cooking on your grill is not just a job, it's an enjoyment! And the extra time spent giving your grates and grill some TLC, shows you take real pride in your cooking equipment.

                  I'm thinking of trying to make a few "improvements" to my Kenmore, but I think it's time to start off fresh with a Weber this time.

                  I've read that some Webers are made in China (Spirit series and below?), but some are actually made in the USA (Genesis and above?). I think waiting a little longer to afford a USA-built Weber would really be worthwhile. I'm soooo tired of everything being "Made in China".

                   
                  1. re: SMOG

                    Thanks for sharing. I actually have a Signet 70 on the way from Amazon!

                    1. re: Chris B.

                      Glad to see a discussion on this already. I'm in the market for a new BBQ with a natural gas connection. It has to be made in Canada or the US. Looking to spend about $450, so far it looks like the BK Signet (which seems to have some positive reviews here and on other sites is the one) what about the Ultra Chef by Napoleon?

              2. I'm bumping this thread so I can get an update on these bbqs. There's a sale at my work for the Broil King Signet 20 (liquid propane), MRSP $550, Sale Price $335.

                Is this bbq still good and do you think that's a good deal?

                1 Reply
                1. re: sasgirl

                  sasgirl - where do you work - we are looking at that model now. That is a great price!