QOTM: What Charcoal Grill Should I Buy?

Charcoal GrillYep, there are two questions for this month--I've not sent one out for awhile, and now there are two.  I'm looking for a new charcoal grill.  I currently have a Char-Griller Duo 5050 model, which has a gas chamber, charcoal chamber, and a side firebox.  It's been fun to grill on over the past 5 years, but it's time for something new.

I've got another post going on asking what gas grill I should buy--this post is for gathering information from my community about their recommendations for the charcoal grill I should buy.

I've decided I don't want a duo type grill anymore--not even sure if anyone other than Char-Griller makes one, but I'm going to buy two separate ones.

I have loved having the side firebox, even though there are some issues.  I'm not quite sure what I'll replace that with right now, but have some ideas that I'll be working on.

I have some thoughts about what I'd like for a charcoal grill, but thought I would ask for recommendations first and capture those here.

What Charcoal Grill Should I Buy?

Here are my questions:

  • What features should I be considering in a charcoal grill?
  • What charcoal grill brand and model do you currently have?
  • What do you like about your current charcoal grill?
  • What do you not like about your current charcoal grill?
  • What charcoal grill do you recommend, based your experience?

Please add your answers to the comments below.  Like the gas grill, after a bit, I'll use the feedback I've received and then decide which to buy.  I'll let you know what I picked and keep you up-to-date with my impressions and likes/dislikes.

Thanks for your help!


P.S. If you haven't seen the post on buying a gas grill, and can provide feedback, I'd love to hear your thoughts there as well.


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    • Howard on September 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply

    We cook competition, so I have 6 grills and or smokers. Each has a distinct advantage.

    1. Our team has a pull behind commercial smoker, large enough to cook a whole Hog, or for competition 1/2 dozen Butts, 6 slabs of ribs and two Wagyu Briskets. We cook the 24 – 36 chicken thighs on an Egg. The reason for so much meat is to get a minimum 6 perfect servings for turn in to the judges. The competition today is brutal… but fun!

    At home:

    2. Big Green Egg. The standard go to for most low and slow, although it does get warm enough for steak. It also cooks incredible pizza. Expensive, but a lifetime of excellent cooking. A bit slower, so I reserve it for weekends and company.

    3. Trager Pellet cooker: Perfect for a quick weeknight. Turn to smoke, 5 minutes later, set anywhere from 120 to 500 deg. Fast, easy and with the variety of wood pellets, great for anything from delicate fish to competition style ribs. It’s the convenience of gas, but far superior cooking. I use it the most, and BGE second. Not my choice for burgers or steak, as I prefer much higher heat.

    4. Off Set Cajun Cooker: When we have a “Steak Out” with 30 + people, this is perfect, as we can raise the charcoal level to the meat, and can cook about 30 NY Strips at a time. When just the two of us, I fire up the side burner with much less charcoal, and the intense heat perfectly sears (I use reverse sear method) the steak, for a full flavor profile, from rare center all the way to an great outside char.

    5 Weber kettle. Perfect for chicken indirect, burgers and steak. Bank the charcoal on the sides, put in one or two two whole chickens, and run errands for a couple of hours. The fire is out, and the birds are perfect every time. Since the Weber was my first serious grill, I tend to be a bit nostalgic and just can’t let it go.

    6. $40.00 Walmart kettle: This is for the travel trailer. I can cook a whole chicken indirect, hamburgers, steaks and Salmon. Lightweight and versatile. Figure it will last about 4 – 5 years, not bad.

    Except in the travel trailer, I always use lump charcoal. Golden Oak makes BGE, and sells at about 1/2 the price. Burns hotter than compressed charcoal, and to me better flavor. For the trailer, Kingsford Competition briquettes is convenient and works fine.

    So many choice, so much fun!

    “Keep your flame hot and your meat slow.”

    1. Howard, thanks for your detailed response! Sounds like you have quite the collection. I’d love to add a pellet smoker to my list, but it will have to wait. Thanks for the tip on the Golden Oak lump charcoal.

    • Joe on September 19, 2015 at 5:09 pm
    • Reply

    I have a Chargriller Pro with a side firebox used mostly for direct and indirect grilling. A Chargriller Acorn Kamado that is used for smoking. A Meco water smoker I got for free and don’t use much and a Volcano grill that I use for Dutch Oven cooking. Kingsford briquettes started with a chimney starter for all but the Acorn I use Royal Oak Lump for this.
    I would like to try the Pit Barrel Cooker as the reviews and videos look impressive.
    I like all the grills/smokers I have and they serve their purposes well. I would like something that would require a little less attention every now and then like a good pellet stove. Yoder 480 pellet cooker comes to mind.

    1. Joe–second time someone has mentioned Volcanos in these comments. Thanks for your comments on the Chargrillers. I’ll check those particular models out.

  1. Ray, sent me an email commenting on buying a charcoal grill:
    The charcoal/ wood grill is home made. It is a 18” piece of casing pipe they use down hole in a oil well. This piece was damaged and never was used. My grill is 18″across by 30″ long . I believe the pipe is about 3/8 thick. It has a piece of grating about the half way point. Yes it is heavy. I have looked at the new ones and they all look cheap and thin material. If something happened to my grill, I would build another one out of pipe. You can’t go wrong doing it this way.

    I have used Charcoal before, But my favorite is Mesquite wood. If you lived close by I could supply you with plenty of it. I have grubbed 3 acres of Mesquite laying in my pasture. When I do use Charcoal I think the brand is Kingsford.

    I hope this helps.

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