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What is the best home barbecue grill?

d
dtm323 Jul 5, 2012 07:49 PM

I'm going to buy a new grill. I've always owned Webers - kettles, Smokey Joes, gas grills. But what do YOU think I should buy? I'm not looking for a big Cadillac competition grill, just something I can put some hardwood lump charcoal in, or maybe some wood, and fire it up, and cook a great steak or some fish on a weeknight. Or grill up a lamb leg or a whole chicken or a bunch of burgers on the weekend. Really versatile, not horribly expensive, something that will last a while. So... what should I buy?

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  1. p
    Philly Ray Jul 5, 2012 08:02 PM

    I say stick with Weber. If you haven't seen their product line lately, they have really added a lot of features to the charcoal kettle grills.

    1. r
      ricepad Jul 6, 2012 10:11 AM

      If you've had good luck with Webers and have been satisfied with them, look into a Weber Smokey Mountain. WSM aficionados are almost as rabid as In-N-Out fans!

      1 Reply
      1. re: ricepad
        1POINT21GW Jul 6, 2012 06:39 PM

        ricepad is right. For a smoker, a Weber Smokey Mountain is a fantastic smoker at a fantastic price.

      2. BiscuitBoy Jul 6, 2012 10:19 AM

        Best non-gas? Big Green Egg...Not horribly expensive, the classic Weber kettle

        1. John E. Jul 6, 2012 02:28 PM

          The beauty of the Weber Kettle Grill is that you actually CAN both grill and BBQ on them. I'd stick with the Weber if I were you.

          1. k
            kengk Jul 6, 2012 02:34 PM

            I like my Weber kettle. Have not seen anything that I have wanted to replace it with. As mentioned, it is very versatile and you can easily find new grates and accessories for it.

            I'm on my second one now, got the first one about 1979-1980.

            I highly recommend the one with an ash bucket underneath as opposed to the shallow tray.

            1. d
              dtm323 Jul 6, 2012 03:53 PM

              THANKS! Only ... after ricepad and BiscuitBoy's replies, I've spent the afternoon researching smokers and now I'm all hooked on that and I have to buy TWO new toys!

              1 Reply
              1. re: dtm323
                r
                ricepad Jul 6, 2012 04:29 PM

                Yeah, well, if you ask me, you can't have too many cookers! (Mrs. ricepad may disagree.)

              2. dcrb Jul 6, 2012 04:41 PM

                I would stick with the Weber. I have their older 27 in kettle which I understand they have re-introduced. I also own several other outdoor cookers but if I was limited to just one, I would keep the Weber (and hide my Lodge sportsman grill inside).

                6 Replies
                1. re: dcrb
                  t
                  Tom34 Jul 6, 2012 06:04 PM

                  I saw an older Weber kettle the other day that must have been 4 feet in diameter or more. My god it was big. Looked like something from "Lost in Space".

                  1. re: Tom34
                    b
                    bbqJohn Jul 6, 2012 07:05 PM

                    Probably a Ranch Kettle. They are nice for large cook outs but for everyday family use I prefer the Performer.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tTTBJ...

                    1. re: Tom34
                      dcrb Jul 6, 2012 07:28 PM

                      Tom34,
                      That would be the Ranch Kettle. Runs about $1000.00

                      1. re: dcrb
                        b
                        bbqJohn Jul 6, 2012 09:06 PM

                        Usually can be found used for about $400-$500. I lucked out and bought two for $250 total from a party rental business.

                        1. re: bbqJohn
                          dcrb Jul 6, 2012 10:49 PM

                          bbqJohn,

                          "Smokin" deal.

                        2. re: dcrb
                          t
                          Tom34 Jul 7, 2012 05:00 AM

                          I guess thats why it was stored in the back porch and not outside under a tarp.

                    2. c
                      Chowrin Jul 6, 2012 04:51 PM

                      Just buy a Cobb, and you get both at once...
                      (might not fit the whole leg of lamb though)

                      1. t
                        Tom34 Jul 6, 2012 05:59 PM

                        Bought a Large Big Green Egg about 8 yrs ago and love it. It can sear a steak at over 1000 degrees and do an unattended 18 hr. overnight smoke on one load of charcoal in the dead of winter holding 250 degrees all night even with a 20 degree ambient temp drop. The only down side is the approximately $900.00 price tag but I would have another one within a week if something happened to mine thats how pleased we are with it. .

                        If money is a concern, a Weber Kettle is hard to beat. I have seen mint condition older ones,
                        which many say are better for a song on Craigslist.

                        If you have access, Restaurant Depot has 17 lb bags of Royal Oak Lump charcoal for just under $10.00. From what I have seen thats a pretty good deal.

                        35 Replies
                        1. re: Tom34
                          1POINT21GW Jul 6, 2012 06:38 PM

                          What the heck takes 18 hours to smoke?

                          1. re: 1POINT21GW
                            dcrb Jul 6, 2012 07:35 PM

                            Tom34,

                            I have a Cook Shack Amerique. Electric. The last butt I smoked took nearly 16 hours. I set the temp control at 225 degrees and programmed the smoker to stop when the butt reached an internal temp of 190 degrees with a temp probe inserted into the meat. I used only a 2 ounce piece of hickory and had smokey goodness throughout the butt. The actual smoke lasted about 45 to 50 minutes; the rest of the time was essentially slow cooking.

                            1. re: dcrb
                              b
                              bbqJohn Jul 6, 2012 09:16 PM

                              The pork can be cooked low and slow at 225 or much higher around 275-325 for a much shorter time period. Search high heat pork and you will get some info on high heat cooking.

                              For example:

                              http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sho...

                              1. re: bbqJohn
                                dcrb Jul 6, 2012 10:46 PM

                                bbqJohn,
                                Great site. Thanks for the link. Before the cookshack, I smoked using a barrel smoker with a side mounted fired box and kept the temp around 275 to 300.Of course the temp gauge was at the far end of the smoker so it was hotter toward the fire box. A lot of meat moving around to ensure good results. Before that,I used the Weber kettle with good results. I am going to prowl around the site looking for ideas as you suggested. Never too old to learn; just too old to remember. Thanks.

                              2. re: dcrb
                                t
                                Tom34 Jul 7, 2012 05:36 AM

                                A friend who owns a catering business gave me an electric smoker he got from Cabelas. It was about the size of an apartment refrigerator / freezer. I didn't need the capacity and have the BGE so I gave it to a friend who loves it. I think he puts it away during the dead of winter though.

                                1. re: Tom34
                                  dcrb Jul 7, 2012 08:13 AM

                                  Tom34,

                                  That is about the size of what I have. It is insulated to hold in heat. I have been reading great things about the BGE. I first heard of it here on Chowhounds. It does have a following and no negative reviews of any consequence.

                                  1. re: dcrb
                                    t
                                    Tom34 Jul 7, 2012 11:25 AM

                                    The thick ceramics really hold in the heat like a kiln which reduces the amount heat you have to generate and pass over the food which helps keep the food moist & reduces the amount of fuel burned which allows for long cooks on 1 load of charcoal. For the same reasons, the ceramics are also very good at holding temps even during the winter where we get pretty sharp night time ambient temp drops which allows for set it & forget it overnight cooks.

                                    The "Naked Wiz" has a very comprehensive web site covering ceramic cookers and has measured temps over 1200 degrees at the grate. I have never measured the max temps but regularly sear steaks and the temps are frightening. Most people have told me my steaks are much better than the steakhouses they have been to.

                                    The 2 biggest downsides are the cost & limited capacity, neither of which are a concern to me but may well be for others. Some complain about the weight but I don't move mine.

                                    Very few negative reviews because most people who bought one are very satisfied. Most of the negative comments come from people who never used one and trash them every time they see a post discussing them...... then there are some people who just like to argue and fight about everything who are probably very lonely at night.

                                    1. re: Tom34
                                      dcrb Jul 7, 2012 01:17 PM

                                      Tom34,

                                      I couldn't agree with you more on the negative comment issue. Not to wander too far but bring up "waterless cookware" and watch the negativity from folks who have never used it. The stuff works as any pan should and is no more expensive than some other well know brands. It is the presentation and salesmanship and claims that enflame people. But in the end, it works like most cookware; the same as a BGE from what I have read. It is versatile and can smoke as well as grill. And you pay for this capability. Still, there are detractors like you said.

                                      1. re: dcrb
                                        t
                                        Tom34 Jul 7, 2012 02:52 PM

                                        Every once in a while I have come across tools that were cheaply made and inexpensive to purchase that worked well and lasted a long time. A good example would be a toilet plunger. Having said that, I have generally found that performance and longevity parallel price UP TO A CERTAIN POINT. I have seen electric smokers selling for 1/3 the price of a Cookshack but they are non insulated & made from very cheap thin sheet metal. I seriously doubt they perform as well as a Cookshack, especially in a colder climate. I do not think they would last as long either and would not be worth repairing.

                                        1. re: Tom34
                                          dcrb Jul 7, 2012 06:43 PM

                                          Well said.

                                2. re: dcrb
                                  s
                                  SpringRam Jul 7, 2012 10:59 AM

                                  My Cookshack Model 55 is over 12 years old and is still going strong. Cannot beat it. My son has a BGE and it is super since it can be used as a grill or a smoker.

                                  1. re: SpringRam
                                    dcrb Jul 7, 2012 01:09 PM

                                    SpringRam,

                                    I am enjoying my Cookshack. No fussing with it. My only worry was the reliability and durability of the digital controller. But so far so good.

                                3. re: 1POINT21GW
                                  John E. Jul 6, 2012 07:49 PM

                                  It would have to be a pretty high latitude to be an 18 hour night as well, maybe Fairbanks? I wonder how a big green egg performs at 38 below?

                                  1. re: John E.
                                    t
                                    Tom34 Jul 7, 2012 04:54 AM

                                    Probably better than a sheet metal smoker.

                                  2. re: 1POINT21GW
                                    t
                                    Tom34 Jul 7, 2012 05:14 AM

                                    The only thing that ever took that long was a whole fresh ham that somebody gave me at X-Mas time. The thing was gigantic and I had never cooked one and had no Idea what to do with it so I jammed it in the egg. Even with the sharp nighttime temp drop the egg held steady but it took about 18 hrs. and there was still charcoal left. It was actually very good but I was told after the fact that it should have been cooked at roasting temps.

                                    1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                      r
                                      rasputina Jul 8, 2012 05:26 AM

                                      real bbq

                                      1. re: rasputina
                                        1POINT21GW Jul 8, 2012 11:40 AM

                                        Care to expound?

                                        Longer is not necessarily better with barbecue. After a certain point it becomes a diminishing return then, eventually, a negative return.

                                        1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                          dcrb Jul 8, 2012 01:00 PM

                                          1POINT21GW,

                                          I agree. Also, too much smoke can render the meat unpalatable. I know, I messed up some nice baby back ribs. Black and nearly dry like jerky and a very bitter smokey flavor (if it can be called a flavor).

                                          1. re: dcrb
                                            k
                                            kengk Jul 8, 2012 01:17 PM

                                            Agreed. I learned to smoke a pork shoulder before the internet was invented; figured out, by trial and error, how to make bbq that suits me. Since I don't enter competitions nor do I own a restaurant that is all that matters.

                                            I tend to cook hotter and faster than most would hold with. Don't want too much smoke and like the meat to still have some bite to it.

                                            I can cook you a pork shoulder that you could suck through a straw if you wanted, it's just not what I prefer.

                                            1. re: kengk
                                              1POINT21GW Jul 8, 2012 01:39 PM

                                              Your tastes are closer to what barbecue judges look for rather than the way overused "fall off the bone" cliche. If rib meat falls of the bone at a competition, we're docked points on texture.

                                            2. re: dcrb
                                              t
                                              Tom34 Jul 8, 2012 02:51 PM

                                              My family actually prefers doing ribs with dry rub & just Royal Oak Lump Charcoal on the BGE. It really lets the pork flavor come through. With pork butt they like the smoke.

                                              1. re: Tom34
                                                dcrb Jul 8, 2012 04:15 PM

                                                I do a dry rub as well. With the Cookshack, I use only 2 to 4 ounces of wood, depending upon the quantity of meat being smoked. You can still taste the pork, but there is a subtle smokiness to it. With the old wood burner, I used a lot of lemp charcoal and was feeding the fire box wet wood chips about every hour or so, and adding charcoal every couple of hours just to maintain the temperature. A lot of "man fun" when I was younger, but now, electric has made smoking less of a chore and the results are just as good. But I still have the old smoker; just cannot part with it. And I fire up the Weber kettle once in a while for taste that I cannot duplicate with a gas grill.

                                                1. re: dcrb
                                                  t
                                                  Tom34 Jul 8, 2012 04:51 PM

                                                  IMHO, good well marbled ribs don't need a lot. I have friends who paste them up near the end but thats not for me. I hear you on the Charcoal. I have both gas & the BGE but the gas is only used once and a while for hot dogs and such. One thing you don't see much here in the Philly area are smoked beef ribs. I was late getting into them and still have a lot of learning to do but OMG are they good. They are so rich I can only eat a few in one sitting. Just picked up 2 cryovaced packages of them from Restaurant Depot Yesterday. They are choice grade from Excel Beef and looked great.

                                            3. re: 1POINT21GW
                                              tommy Jul 8, 2012 01:24 PM

                                              14 lb briskets can certainly take 18 hours. This isn't out of the ordinary.

                                              1. re: tommy
                                                1POINT21GW Jul 8, 2012 01:37 PM

                                                14-pound briskets can take 18 hours. 14-pound briskets can also take 5 hours yielding the same or better results.

                                                1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                  tommy Jul 8, 2012 01:46 PM

                                                  So you *have* heard of 18 hour cook times. That's good to know.

                                                  1. re: tommy
                                                    1POINT21GW Jul 8, 2012 01:51 PM

                                                    Anything can take an unnecessarily long time to cook, but why cook something for that long when you can cook it much faster with better results?

                                                    Again, what the heck takes (as in can't be done in less) 18 hours to smoke?

                                                    I can't think of anything that will fit on any of the smokers we're talking about that requires 18 hours of smoking.

                                                    1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                      t
                                                      Tom34 Jul 8, 2012 02:32 PM

                                                      I suspect virtually anything cooked in a sheet metal smoker in Fairbanks at 38 below!

                                                      1. re: Tom34
                                                        k
                                                        kengk Jul 8, 2012 03:10 PM

                                                        I can well remember struggling to get a bullet style smoker hot enough to do anything on a cold windy December day in Georgia.

                                                        Can also remember the same smoker's built in thermometer reading "optimal" when it was set next to a Southwest facing brick wall and patio in July, without a fire in it.

                                                        1. re: kengk
                                                          b
                                                          bbqJohn Jul 8, 2012 06:15 PM

                                                          kengk you might not be using it right. by regulating air control I can go anywhere from low 200s to high 300s. I'm sure at 38 below it will not work as well as a Ceramic smoker so that point is conceded. If you need to smoke at those temps then a Ceramic is the way to go.

                                                          There are insulating blankets that can help maintain heat. A Ceramic is better at maintaining heat, no doubt about it... but a Weber (sheetmetal) cookers can hold their own as well and many winning teams use them. In fact a WSM combined with an automatic temperature controller makes the playing field more closer to a Ceramic.

                                                          I have a back yard party in a couple of weeks and will use my Ranch Kettle because I will need to cook a few whole chickens, whole salmon, veggies, and garlic bread all on one grill and I want to time the finish so all is done about the same time. No way I can do that with just a standard kettle, WSM (or Egg).

                                                          Whatever helps a person cook better and enjoy it in the process is what's it's all about.

                                                          1. re: bbqJohn
                                                            t
                                                            Tom34 Jul 8, 2012 07:43 PM

                                                            Your absolutely right BBQ John....... You probably forgot more about BBQ than I know. The 38 degrees below was referring to several comments prior that were about as far from the main stream as Barry Goldwater. Given the knowledge, experience & determination just about any cooker will do under normal circumstances. The BGE just makes it easier IMHO.

                                                      2. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                        m
                                                        Mayor of Melonville Jul 8, 2012 04:20 PM

                                                        1POINT, Buddy Halsell, the proprietor of the legendary Dixie Pig BBQ in Blytheville, MO (and inventor of the BBQ chopped salad) used to cook his butts as fast as possible, never more than 3-4 hours or so. He later used that method at LC's in Heber Springs, AR. In fact, he used to make fun of his brother, who had a BBQ shack near Little Rock for taking 12-16 hours to smoke pork.

                                                      3. re: tommy
                                                        John E. Jul 8, 2012 08:58 PM

                                                        I just thought of a time when I needed 18 hours. Years ago my father had a concrete block 'oven' in his backyard. I volunteered to cook a whole roast hog for a client of mine using said oven. I had cooked several whole hogs (200# dressed) before this occasion but what was different this time was the wind factor.

                                                        This oven was made of concrete blocks but did not use mortar so there were cracks between the blocks. My hometown was out on the Minnesota prairie and the wind must have been blowing a steady 25 mph all night. We never checked the temperature back in those days, we just added the charcoal as needed. After 8 hours the hog was still white. I took a galvanized trash can, put about 100 pounds of charcoal in it and a gallon of gas. I used an old broom to light it. There was a mushroom cloud, but I quickly got the temperature back up to cooking temperature. This was supposed to be a roasting operation as much as a smoking thing going on, 225 degrees really isn't the goal here. We had to delay the open house free whole hog feed by a couple of hours, but it turned out ok.

                                            4. re: Tom34
                                              ladooShoppe Jul 9, 2012 08:55 AM

                                              +1 on the Big Green Egg. My husband bought one a few years ago and I'm sure that if I didn't exist it would be on "my side" of the bed.
                                              I was opposed to it at first, mainly because of the price tag, but it is worth its weight in gold. Shh, don't tell him I said that.

                                              1. re: ladooShoppe
                                                t
                                                Tom34 Jul 9, 2012 11:45 AM

                                                Yes they are expensive but mine has seen very regular use for 8 or 9 years now & has been sitting outside uncovered and there are no signs of wear to any of the critical parts. I have replaced a gasket and the charcoal grate, both of which were very inexpensive. I also replaced the firebox (no cost, lifetime warranty).

                                                Add to the longevity factor the versatility (extremely high temp grilling & very steady low temp smoking) it really is worth the extra $$ IMHO.

                                            5. b
                                              bbqJohn Jul 6, 2012 06:37 PM

                                              You are already familiar with Webers. I have the following Webers: Ranch Kettle, 22 and 18 WSMs, Stainless-Red Performer, 18.5 Kettle, and a Smokey Joe Mini WSM. In addition I have a Traeger Little Tex pellet smoker.

                                              For general home use if had to keep one, I would keep the Performer (or get a Weber One Touch Gold) with a Cajun Bandit kit to convert to a smoker/indirect heat. The Weber Kettle/Cajun Bandit kit is a very versatile combo that will allow you to go low and slow, high heat indirect or direct grilling.

                                              At this link are photos of the Cajun Bandit kit which is due to hit markets soon.

                                              http://tvwbb.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/9040039023/m/5771085936

                                              I have no interest in the Cajun Bandit kit but will be ordering one as soon as they are available from C&C Grillin Co. http://cajunbandit.com

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: bbqJohn
                                                r
                                                ricepad Jul 6, 2012 11:07 PM

                                                What's a "Smokey Joe Mini WSM"? Sounds intriguing!

                                                1. re: ricepad
                                                  b
                                                  bbqJohn Jul 7, 2012 07:12 PM

                                                  It is a Weber Smokey Joe converted to a Smoker with a Tamale pot mid section.

                                                  http://tvwbb.com/eve/forums/a/frm/f/3...

                                                2. re: bbqJohn
                                                  dcrb Jul 7, 2012 11:03 PM

                                                  bbqJohn,

                                                  Any experience or knowledge regarding the Smokinator? Seems interesting!

                                                  http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_techn...

                                                  1. re: dcrb
                                                    b
                                                    bbqJohn Jul 8, 2012 06:00 PM

                                                    dcrb, I have not used a Smokinator but I am very familiar with the concept of building a fire on one side and meat on the other. That is how I got started smoking (barbecuing) meat in 1993.

                                                    Prior to that time, all I knew to do was grilling. Pre-internet when people cut recipes out of magazines, Sunset magazine published an story called "Where There's Smoke, There's Texas Barbecue" (link below). That article brought my outdoor cooking to a new level.

                                                    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1216/is_n2_v191/ai_14323573/

                                                    I cook a lot differntly now including temperatures in the 275-325 range but that article got me started.

                                                    Anyways-you can dulpicate the Smokinator by using something like Expanded Metal or Fire Bricks to hold coals to one side. It is described at this link which I participated in. "A longer burn process for kettles"
                                                    http://tvwbb.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/9040039023/m/6750042994?r=6750042994#6750042994

                                                    The downsides to this way is that you can only use 1/2 to 2/3 of the grill space and the grill area nearest the coals is going to be hotter.

                                                    The Cajun Bandit Stacker kit allows the entire grill space to be used with more even heat-because the heat comes from below like a WSM.
                                                    http://cajunbandit.com/

                                                    Despite what folks (cough-Eggheads) say, Webers (sheetmetal) can put out a good product and are popular with competition teams throughout the country. Just yesterday, at the Bay Area Barbecue Championship, a WSM team (Butcher's Daughter) took home Grand Champion-beating out a few Egghead teams in the process and probably the most impressive feat is Slap Your Daddy's accomplishments of competing with only one WSM very successfully.

                                                    1. re: bbqJohn
                                                      dcrb Jul 8, 2012 06:10 PM

                                                      bbqJohn, I have used the charcoal rails in the Weber kettle on many occasions to include doing a large turkey for family in Hawaii back in 1977. (bad gravy tho). I also used a single rail to smoke with and had decent results. I'm not sure why I decided to get a dedicated smoker; maybe I thought it would produce better food, maybe it was ego. I have gotten good results with the old smoker and now with the electric. Better? Maybe. Less hassle? Yes.

                                                      I am not surprised that someone could pull off a win with the humble Weber. It is a good product that produces good results if the cook does his/her homework.

                                                      Thanks for the link. Dave

                                                      1. re: dcrb
                                                        b
                                                        bbqJohn Jul 8, 2012 06:25 PM

                                                        The Cookshack is sweet for convenience. I'm not familiar with them mostly because they cannot be used in KCBS comps.

                                                        With the exception of the Cookshack's insulation, a WSM with a controller like a Stoker (or BBQ guru) will get performance almost like a Cookshack.

                                                        https://www.rocksbarbque.com/

                                                        1. re: bbqJohn
                                                          dcrb Jul 8, 2012 07:47 PM

                                                          bbqJohn,

                                                          I have heard that about the BBQ guru although not on a Weber but on a smoker from SmokinTex. Somewhere on their forum there is a discussion on this as well as photos. Seems like folks like it real well.

                                                          I've read great things here and elsewhere regarding the BGE, WSM. Thanks for the link.

                                                3. k
                                                  kseiverd Jul 6, 2012 07:53 PM

                                                  Maybe not the BEST, but works really well. Two summers ago, discovered that "tree rats" (squirrels) had gnawed thru the gas lines on my inexpensive gas grill. Coulda bought replacement parts for over HALF of what the thing cost?? Being Scottish/frugal... I made do! Ripped out all the gas "guts", put a patio brink inside to block some of the holes and converted to charcoal. Admit that I do like gas... fast and hot... but my Rube Goldberg grill works just fine. BUT a winning LOTTERY ticket would get me a total outdoor kitchen!

                                                  1. s
                                                    sarge Jul 8, 2012 07:24 PM

                                                    A grill investment is only as good as the availability of replacement parts. Buy a Weber. You can always get parts

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: sarge
                                                      b
                                                      bbqJohn Jul 9, 2012 06:55 AM

                                                      Good point you can still get dampers, handles, etc. for kettles that are 40+ years old. I suspect the same will be for the BGE's as well since they have such a solid following.

                                                      One of my kettles still in use was given to me as a house warming gift about 30 years ago.

                                                      A view of Webers from the past:

                                                      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/839805/Weber/1964.pdf

                                                      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/839805/Weber/1972.pdf

                                                      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/839805...er/F...

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