Charcoal Grills

SIMPLE Design

Very simple: just a container with a rack above it and a lid. Easy to clean and maintain.

COOKING PERFORMANCE

Great but not easy. You have to know yours to be able to manage the temperature and play with direct and indirect heat.

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FLAMES

  • Wood smoke taste.
  • Unlimited cooking options
  • Starter required, 20 min.
  • Check allowed in camp.

COOKING SURFACE

There´s a good range on sizes to cover your needs: 4 people or 40. Think about where are you using it. 

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Pros and cons of charcoal grills:

Pros

  • Cheap: compared to gas, pellets or electric fuelled grills.
  • Smoke flavor: this is something gas or electric cannot have.
  • Simple: just a container with a rack above it and a lid.
  • No gas or electricity safety precautions needed.
  • Charcoal fuel is cheap.
  • Easy to clean.

Cons

  • Flames, well, in fact this is not an issue but you need to manage them.
  • Lighting charcoal grills takes time, about 20 min till you can cook. This is part of the game, a great moment to have a cold beer.
  • Need practise to control heat, adjusting air vents and adding charcoal.
  • When camping, you need to check that making flames is allowed.

Types of charcoal grills:

Kettle Grills

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The spherical shape of a kettle grill is designed to reflect the heat inside so that the food cooks evenly. They’re pretty easy to clean and maintain, in particular the ones with removable ash receptacles.

Kettle grills are simple and small, with 22 inches in diameter, you can cook 12 to 15 burgers on it. Of course you can find bigger ones if you need them.

Basic models start at around $100, and will allow you from high-temperature grilling to low-temperature cooking and smoking.

Barrel Grills

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Barrel grills are longer and designed to combine grilling and smoking. The coals and/or wood go in the bottom half and the top half forms the lid sometimes with a second warming rack.

They have air vents and a chimney, to control heat and wheels to move it for storage, easy as they are not very heavy.

A barrel grill is big equipment so you need to think about space before goint to buy it. They are usually a bit more expensive than kettler grills, but if you have a good backyard it could be a very good option to have more areas of cooking with more grates.

Ceramic Grills

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You have seen them many times, Big green Egg or Kamado Joe are trend due to a shape and color very popular.

But the concept of ceramic grills have been here for centuries. It is based on the ancient use of clay-oven cooking, originated in Asia, where the ovens evolved to include dampers for better heat control.

They are perfect for low temperature cooking and smoking, and perform pretty good with high heat grilling in a very easy way.

This is very exclusive, (expensive, starting $600) for charcoal fueled grill, but very versatile and will boost your meals to another level.

TOP MASTER TIPS for Charcoal grills

Here you have the oportunity to show that you are a master o cooking with charcoal grills, THE MASTER.

This is not as easy as pressing the ignite button like the gas fueled ones or turning on like the electric and setting the heat you need. With charcoal you make the difference finding the heat and smoke point for an extra flavor.

Let´s list some of the differenciators:

Use a chimney starter

Chimney starters are a must for charcoal grilling. They will light up to 100 charcoal briquets and get them red hot within 20 minutes, using nothing but a match and a single sheet of newspaper. 6-quart models are perfect: easy and cheap. Forget about dangerous lighter liquid that makes diesel taste.

How much charcoal should I use?

This is something you need to try as depends on your grill, the food you want to cook and therefore the heat that you need. Dont´t make a drama, you are a master and will connect with your grill very quickly.

As a reference:

  • Low temperature (200-300F), you will need 1/4 chimney and will be ready for ribs, poultry, roast and smoking.
  • Medium heat (300 to 450 F), will require 1/2 chimney and will be perfect for veggies, fish or chicken.
  • High temperatures (450 to 600 F) will need the full chimney and will make your steaks and beef meat taste fabulous.

Cooking grate in charcoal grills

Once your charcoal is ready make sure that you apply some oil to the cooking grate to avoid your food sticking to the grill.

Then place it over the hot charcoal and wait for 3-4 mins so that it will take temperature as well. As a result you will have a grate absolutely ready for your food. Don´t forget it. This is a Master differenciator.

oiling the grate before grilling to avoid food stiking on it

Why do I have to vent charcoal grills?

Making a combustion needs oxygen and you have the vents that can be opened more or less as required, never closed, to control the temperature.

Again this is something that you will take very quickly but needs practice. If you close the vents, it will reduce the oxigen that boost the grill so as a result you will cool the grill. The other way around, if you open the vents, you are allowing more oxygen to enter so it produces a hotter grill.

Depending on the food you will play with the vents to achieve the right point for each. Remember, this is something that only you know for your grill, is your own heat control button.

vent management is crucial to control the temperature of your grill

Have direct and indirect zones in your grill.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.This is crucial if you are cooking different food in the same grill because it helps you controling the heat in more detail.

As an example, if you are cooking a beef burger, you will probably want to put it over the hot coals but if you have some veggies in the same grill, you will need to use a zone with less direct temperature so less hot coals, or even without coals.

This technique prevents overcooking or burnt food and is part of the game of been on top of the grill for cooking.

direct and indirect heat zones in the grill for improved cooking

Flare-ups? don´t panic, is part of the game.

Flare-ups are caused by meat fat dripping onto the coals. We recommend the easy way, just take the meat to and indirect heat zone in the grill where there´s no option to create flares and wait thill the fat is consumed.

It will take just some seconds and you don´t need to panic using any kind of sprays that will fall in your food and even worse let everyone know that it is not under control. Not for Masters of grilling.

Wood is the key to enhance flavor.

This makes the real difference. You cannot do it with gas or electric grills and in essence is trending due to pellets grills taking advantage of it.

In essence you can add smoke from infinite options and even combine them, as an example:

  • Hickory
  • Mesquite
  • Appletree
  • Cherry
  • Pecan
  • Whiskey

It works for a low temperature grilling or to smoke a high heat steak. You need to usechunks of dried wood, better for smoking, or soaked wood chips on top of the coal for grilling.