Which Charcoal Grill is Best for You?
The perfect way to end a weekend day is with some freshly grilled veggies and meats. It’s easy to set up, easy to clean up, and you don’t have to do a lot to get those foods packed with flavor. The right charcoal grill will be essential to getting you a grilling setup that you use often, instead of one that lies unused.
Once you’ve identified the charcoal grill that you’re looking for, make sure to check out our kick ash grill shop, which has all the gear you’ll need to bring your grill game together.
Terms to Think About
Types of Cooking
Barbecuing, grilling, and smoking are not the same thing. When you’re barbecuing you’re doing it with the lid closed, while grilling is done on the hot surface with the lid off. Usually, you’ll be sort of combining both tactics. Barbecuing generally cooks food slower than grilling. You set the temperature a bit lower and then give it time to cook all the way through. Grilling quickly hits one side and then the other, leaving the edges tasty and charred while the middle stays tender.
Smoking is the slowest form of cooking, where you allow the temperature to cook the meat slowly over time. Smoking also allows the smoke to get into the food. It will usually destroy most plant-based foods, so you can only smoke meat. Smoking can take place for about an hour or even over the course of a few weeks! If you’re smoking in your charcoal grill, you probably need something that can retain the smoke and heat properly.
The type of approach to your cooking depends both on the flavors that you’re trying to achieve and the cut of beef that you’re using.
Charcoal, Gas, or Pellet Grill?
Charcoal grills are usually contrasted with gas grills. While gas grills are easier to start and give you more control over the temperature, most people prefer charcoal grills because they give the food a more authentic taste. That grilled taste that you associate with good hot dogs and the tastiest steaks comes from a charcoal grill. Learning the charcoal grill instead of a gas grill gives you more flexibility with your grilling game though.
Another option that has recently become popular is the pellet grill. While it won’t give you the flexibility that a Kamado grill can give, the pellet grill is super easy to use. A container of small wood pellets sits off to the side, and you simply push a button to move pellets through an auger into a flame. The pellets ignite with a simple hot rod and then fans and air vents stir the real wood fire throughout the food. Easy to use, basically like an oven for the outdoors.
If you’re going to be grilling for a huge group of people, then barrell grills will often be the kind of charcoal grill that gives you the most room to be able to cook everything. But if you’re often cooking for a handful of people or for a family, then a kettle grill will provide you with plenty of room for everything that you want to grill. Buying a grill that is often too big for the amount of food that you’re cooking will increase the time that it takes to cook and will be much harder to keep clean over time.
Bigger grills are great for smoking and slower cooking, while grills are better for cooking things hot and fast. There are a couple of considerations when it comes to grilling and the weather. If you’re grilling in the winter, you’ll need to consider whether you’re going to be barbecuing with the top on or grilling with the top down. Barbecuing can help you maintain heat in the winter and cook everything evenly, while grilling lets you really crank the heat and quickly mow through a variety of simply meats and veggies.
Ceramic grills and barrel grills can be super heavy, which is not ideal if you’re going to be doing some kick ash tailgating and want to move your grill around. If you plan on putting your grill down and never moving it, then ceramic grills and barrel grills can be a cool aesthetic that really brings your backyard together.
Photo by Vincent Keiman on Unsplash
Choosing a Grill
Kettle grills are a smaller kind of spherical grill, and are probably the image that comes to your mind when you think of a grill and that tiny black grill sphere pops into your head. The Kettle grill can comfortably handle a group of hamburgers, and they usually have a diameter of around 20-30 inches. The sphere of the grill is designed so that the heat remains consistent all throughout the grill, like a single hot ball that quickly cooks food. Usually, they have a removable ash tray that you can utilize to clean your grill with ease.
Kettle grills are one of the cheaper models. You might be able to get going for only a hundred bucks plus the coals. Kettle grills can handle all different kinds of cooking, but they are mostly made to grill things.
Barrel GrillsBarrel grills are named that because they are a bit longer, and shaped more like a barrel. They are usually designed to accommodate smoking as well as grilling. Plenty of room for coals and a lengthwise lid at the same time. Barrel grills let you play around with a lot more space, and they can cost more money.
Ceramic grills cost a lot more money than a more standard kettle grill. The ceramic allows the heat to stay inside with a lot more effectiveness than some other types of grills, which is really important if you’re going to be doing some technical maneuvers or will be grilling in cold weather. You can get a ceramic grill all the way up to around 600+ degrees without a problem, which you could use to dash down some pizza and get a fire-grilled taste.
Ceramic grills are also known as kamado grills, which is derived from the Japanese word for stove or for the cooking range of a grill.
Since the ceramic grill is so well insulated and seals up nicely, it doesn’t require a lot of air flow to maintain the heat. With the minimal air flow, meats do not dry out like they do on gas or kettle grills.
Popular Grill Choices
The Big Green Egg
Sometimes you don’t need to give something a complicated, confusing name. The name the Big Green Egg is as literal as they come. Finding quality grilling equipment for a Big Green Egg is easy. We’ve got all the Kick Ash Cans and Baskets you need.
Named for the acorn like shape, this kamado grill uses a bigger top than bottom to pool heat and cook with a circular airflow. We’ve got tons of Akorn ready cans and baskets. Find what you need for your kick ash grill!
Broil King Keg
Kick Ash has plenty of grill supplies for the Broil King Keg. It’s a popular choice because it is a kamado grill with a double wall of steel. It holds heat really well, and allows you to cook with a ton of cast iron.
Weber Kettle Grill
Lump Charcoal is a great way to cook at a high heat. The coal is almost pure carbon, and burns fast, letting you get to cooking temperatures in record time. To handle the volume of charcoal easily, you can use a Ring of Fire for easy grilling and charcoal removal. The ring sits under the stock grate of a Weber 22” or a Weber 18”, letting you easily lift things out when you’re done. If you want to separate your grill space, try out the Ring of Fire with divider to separate coals!
Choosing the right grill hangs on the kind of cooking that you’re going to be doing. You can check out more cooking tips, but keep these grilling tips in mind when you’re picking the new grill.
- Save sauce for the end. If you put sauce on your meat too soon it reduces and crystallizes. That sounds like it could be tasty, but it’s not.
- Don’t move it around. You’ve got to let the meat sit there for a while to get the juices flowing. Poking it and moving it around can throw off the cooking cycles.
- Clean everything really well. Ashes and a dirty grate will leave you with food that tastes like the worst parts of the last couple of grilled meals you made.
- Season everything really well. Salt can draw the moisture out of the meat in a good way, while pepper lets everything stew. A bit of rub goes a long way.