Grilling’s become more than a way to cook food. It’s become a sport to some people – a lifestyle – and a grill master takes their grill and their food seriously.
There’s a lot of different grills out there on the market, and they all have different features – the pros and cons that decide whether a grill is something to take home or something to leave at the store.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to choose a grill based on what you see at the store. There’s just not enough information available about the different brands. That’s why we’ve taken some of the best grills on the market, sifted through them, and determined the best choices that you could buy today.
Why would I want a charcoal grill?
There’s a lot of reasons that you might want to invest in a charcoal grill.
Charcoal has been a popular method of cooking for ages – particularly for cooking meat, like steaks. A charcoal grilled steak conjures up great memories for lots of western people, and charcoal fans will claim that a charcoal grilled slab of meat tastes better than anything else you could cook.
Why is that, though? What makes a charcoal grill so special?
A charcoal grill has a metal box with a grill in it and a bed underneath where you lay the charcoal. The charcoal is heated up and the heat from the charcoal warms up the grill, which, in turn, heats up the steak. That’s why you get the iconic grill marks on your steaks when you cook on a charcoal grill.
Since you’re using charcoal, some of the smoke rises to cook the steak as well. This is part of the reason that charcoal cooked steak has a different flavor than what you’d find with gas grilled or pan seared steak.
Another reason that people love charcoal grills is that they’re fairly cheap. There are a lot of charcoal grill models that are much less expensive than similarly sized gas grills. Charcoal itself is much less expensive than gas, and it lasts quite a long time.
How are charcoal grills made?
It’s important to know how a charcoal grill’s built so you can understand what features to look for and what to avoid. Most charcoal grills follow a basic formula, so you can expect to find the following things on pretty much any grill that you buy.
That’s basically what you’ll find in any charcoal grill. The important part, and the reason that grills are different priced and appeal to different people is the differences.
To ensure that you get a quality grill, you need to assess what you want out of a grill. Do you want to cook for a lot of people? Do you want to cook your food quickly? Do you want slow-seared steaks and the ability to smoke your food? Figure out what you want, then check out the specs of your grill.
You’ll have to be careful, though – you can’t expect to buy a grill with all the best features and components for under two hundred bucks. This is where you’ll have to balance your budget with what you want.
- 1Temperature control. This is important for people who want to be able to cook and perform other tasks, or people who are extremely concerned with the speed with which they cook.
- 2The quality of the dampers. These are your intake and exhaust vents, and they need to be tightly secured for proper ventilation.
- 3This allows you to lower and raise the grate for different levels of heat and different cooking speeds, by changing the heat from direct to indirect. Adjustable grills tend to be a bit more expensive than non-adjustable ones.
- 42-zone cooking space. A good cook uses the grill to cook food in the main area, and sections off a smaller area to store food that’s cooked to keep it warm. If the grill can’t fit both of these areas, you might want to reconsider – unless you’re cooking for smaller groups.
- 5Ash removal systems. These aren’t really necessary, but they make it a lot easier to clean your grill.
Once you’ve figured out what you need, you can start looking in greater detail at your grill and the specs that it has. Pick out what you want most and prioritize these features above anything else, so you don’t end up paying for a feature you don’t need.
Is there anything I should know before buying a charcoal grill?
Charcoal grills are awesome, but they come with their drawbacks, and it’s important to be safe when you’re using them. Charcoal grills aren’t as clean for the atmosphere as electrical grills. They produce smoke which can be dangerous, especially if they’re used in a ventilated area.
Charcoal grills aren’t as clean for the atmosphere as electrical or gas grills. They produce smoke which can be dangerous, especially if they’re used in a ventilated area.
It’s important to make sure that you take fire caution when you’re using a grill.
- Wear appropriate gear – gloves are recommended, since you’re dealing with flame
- Make sure your utensils are appropriate – you need long brushes and tongs to avoid burning yourself
- Make sure your utensils are well maintained, otherwise bits of brush might break off in your food
- You need to change the charcoal in your grill periodically, otherwise, it loses its efficiency. You don’t want to do this too often, though, otherwise, you’ll run up a bill.
Charcoal grills aren’t as easy to use as gas grills, which allow you to just flip a switch and start grilling. You might get dirty changing the coal, and it takes a bit more physical effort to use a charcoal grill. However, most charcoal grillers will contest that it’s worth it to get that flavor.
How can I pick the best grill?
Once you’ve determined what you’re looking for in a grill, it’s time for you to start sifting through the different grills that are available on the market. There are a lot of things to check for. It can be quite time consuming trying to pick out a good grill in person – often, store employees aren’t specialized in grills and you might end up having to go from store to store.
Another reason it might be difficult to find a cheap charcoal grill is that many stores stock products with the most bells and whistles. You may have to look to a specialty store or find a grill on sale to find one that matches your price range, and you may have to sacrifice a few features.
Fortunately, we’ve rounded up the best overall grills that are available on the market right now. These grills are all under two hundred bucks and maintain the best number of features for their prices.
Top 4 Best Charcoal Grills Under 200
1. Weber’s Original Premium Grill
This is a good, family sized grill that runs you between one and two hundred dollars. It’s stainless steel and circular – a traditional looking grill that you might see at a camp cookout.
This design is what most round grills were based on – Weber pioneered the design in the fifties. This means that a grill from Weber will last you a long time.
The grate has 363 inches of cooking space, so you can fit a couple dozen burgers on it. The lid’s high enough to accommodate turkeys and roasts. The built-in temperature gauge isn’t known for being reliable, though.
2. Volcano Collapsible Stove
This stove is the definition of convenient. It’s great for people who plan to go camping, or who only grill on special occasions and doesn’t want to have a grill taking up tons of space on their property.
This grill also comes dual compatible with propane and wood, so you don’t have to use charcoal as your only fuel source. This makes it extremely versatile – you can fuel it with wood you find in the forest at your campout.
3. Lodge L410 Pre-seasoned Charcoal Grill
This is another great grill for folk who like to take their Barbie out for trips.
The grill has tight grates, so you don’t have to worry about food slipping through. It’s not collapsible but it’s small enough to be easily transported. The grill comes with two separate cooking speeds that can be easily switched between.
4. Dyna-Glo Heavy Duty Grill
This grill certainly doesn’t look like it would come in under two hundred bucks. It’s large, made of solid metal, and is super durable.
It has two cast iron grates that total 568 square inches of cooking space, making it more than sufficient for cooking for large groups of people. You won’t have to worry about these grills breaking or wearing out, either.
Which one’s the best?
The best of the best is probably the tried and true Weber’s original grill.It may not be portable for long distances, but it’s easy enough to roll around your back yard, and people who are looking for a grill to just cook food aren’t necessarily in need of one that collapses. Weber has been making grills for years and is one of the pioneers of the market, so their products are known for their quality.
It may not be portable for long distances, but it’s easy enough to roll around your back yard, and people who are looking for a grill to just cook food aren’t necessarily in need of one that collapses. Weber has been making grills for years and is one of the pioneers of the market, so their products are known for their quality.This grill holds a fair amount of food so it can cook for groups, but it’s small enough to not be considered bulky and unsightly. For the price, this is pretty much as good as a cheap grill can get.
This grill holds a fair amount of food so it can cook for groups, but it’s small enough to not be considered bulky and unsightly. For the price, this is pretty much as good as a cheap grill can get.
Now that you’ve been able to read about some different grills, you’ll be able to make a better decision as to which one you want. Normally, this can be quite the procedure, but hopefully, our research has narrowed down the selection for you. Happy grilling!