Charcoal Grills Compared

Charcoal grills require a hands-on, primitive, approach to barbecuing. No instant grilling, just pure cave man. Out of all the different types, charcoal fuelled grills offer the greatest range in terms of variety and cost. Before deciding which grill to buy, you'll need to ask yourself some questions first....

Disposable Barbecues
Small disposable charcoal grills are very cheap, only a few dollars, and readily available. They can be used in quite a small area, they're portable and are easy to light. They can be used in quite small areas or for taking to the beach or camping for example. So if you only barbecue once or twice a year when you're on holiday, then they might be a reasonable choice. The major problem with disposable charcoal barbecues is the small area that they have for grilling and the fact that the rack is so close to the charcoal. This means that only relatively small, thin pieces of food, such as burgers and kebabs can be grilled. Larger items of food would blacken on the outside but remain uncooked on the inside. The other drawback is that there is little control with the heat source and no additional features. Free-Standing, Open-Top Barbecues
Next up from disposable barbecues are freestanding, open-top barbecues. Simply open hearths on legs, some with wheels. They range in size from those only large enough for a couple of steaks, up in size to those with a considerable grilling area. Generally even the smallest is larger than a disposable charcoal grill. Depending on their size, these grills can have features such as rotisseries, warming areas and storage areas. A disadvantage is that once assembled, they need somewhere for storage. Covers are available but aren't really suitable for long-term storage. Kettle Barbecues
Kettle barbecues are the most popular of all charcoal fuelled grills. They're effectively large metal balls on legs, they're relatively small and can be portable. They can be freestanding but are also available mounted on trolleys and with a range of features such as ash-catchers, fuel storage systems, built-in thermometers etc. Not only can they be used for traditional direct cooking but also with the lid closed, forming the barbecue into a ball, they can cook indirectly. This allows them to cook, with the lid closed, more like a conventional oven. The heat from the coals being reflected around the inside of the grill, reducing the cooking time, sealing in the flavours and enhancing the smoky barbecue flavour. This method of cooking removes the oxygen from the cooking surface and so preventing flare-ups that are caused when the fatty juices from foods drip onto the hot coals. Some kettle charcoal grills come with a built in propane gas supply that ignites the charcoal and so reducing the time taken for the charcoal to reach the cooking temperature. Hooded Barbecues
Hooded charcoal grills are generally large, rectangular barbecues with hinged lids. They work in the same way as kettle grills but are usually much larger and are available with features such as rotisseries, warming areas, preparation areas, movable grates and side burners etc. Permanent Brick Barbecues
Brick built charcoal grills are permanent and always available and so are ideal for those who barbecue frequently. They're available as do-it-yourself kits, or you can design and make your own. Or you can have a company professionally install one for you. Size, features and price are totally dependent upon your requirements.

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