The Best Charcoal Grills For Some Seriously Scrumptious Barbecues

Nothing says summer like throwing some steaks, burgers, or vegetables on the grill. And while BBQ grills are certainly convenient, they’ll never match charcoal grills when it comes to taste. Gas grills can’t come close to the smoky flavors that natural wood or charcoal briquettes lend to your food. So, if you want to get results like a true grill master this season, it’s time to buy yourself a good charcoal BBQ grill. But before you go out and buy the first grill you see, there’s something you should think about.

While charcoal grills are pretty simple, the difference between a high-quality and cheap product is huge. If you want your steak, burgers, or chicken grilled to perfection, then you need to understand what sets the hundreds of models out there apart. You need to take things like construction, grill size, head room, temperature control, and cooking method into consideration.

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  • Sturdy cooking grates, bowl, and lid.
  • Easy to clean and remove ash
  • Large grilling area
premium choice rating
  • Double-walled construction
  • Exterior is cool to the touch
  • Very large grilling surface
great value rating
  • Incredibly affordable
  • Perfect size for road trips
  • 160 square inches of grilling space

You want a charcoal grill that’s going to deliver amazing results for years to come. With that in mind, we took a look at some of the best charcoal grills on the market today. We put them to the test and came up with our list of the 9 charcoal grills that smoke the competition.

PictureCharcoal GrillMaterialDimensions Total Cooking Space
Weber 741001 Original KettleWeber 741001 Original Kettle 22inch Charcoal GrillHeavy Duty Steel Frame22.5 x 25 x 38.5 Inches363 square Inches
Broil King 911470 Keg 5000Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Charcoal BarbecueDouble Walled Steel, Cast Iron41 x 27.5 x 47 Inches480 Square Inches
Weber 121020 Go-AnywhereWeber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal GrillTriple Nickel Coated Steel 12.2 x 21 x 14.5 Inches160 Square Inches
Weber 15501001 Performer DeluxeWeber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal GrillHeavy Duty Steel Frame43.5 x 48 x 30 Inches363 square Inches
Lodge L410 Sportsman'sLodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal GrillCast Iron19 x 10.25 x 8.25 Inches17 x 9 Inches
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared KettlemanChar-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal GrillPorcelain Coated 25.8 x 25.8 x 38.8 Inches360 Square Inches
PK Grills The OriginalPK Grills The Original PK Grill & SmokerCast Aluminum35 x 16 x 35.5 Inches 300 Square Inches
Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado KookerChar-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill and SmokerDurable Steel 26.6 x 24.8 x 21.6 Inches447 Square Inches
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual ZoneDyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal GrillDurable Steel, Stainless Steel60.2 x 50.5 x 28.2 Inches816 Square Inches

Portable Charcoal Grill Buying Guide

What to Look for When Buying a Charcoal Grill

There are literally hundreds of different charcoal grills on the market today. While they might all look the same at first glance, they’re not. And what sets models apart can make a world of difference. That’s why it’s so important to purchase the right grill for your yard. While trying to find the best model on the market can get confusing, there are a few things to look for when shopping for your new charcoal grill. If you take these factors into consideration, you’ll be cooking in no time.

Material

The first thing you want to consider is how well a grill is made. There are grills available in every price range. But even if you bought a budget model, do you really want to replace it next year? That’s why the construction and materials used in the BBQ grill are so important. You want to find a durable model that can withstand the heat and the outdoor elements. The two things to consider are the body of the grill and the materials used for the grilling grates.

Weber 741001 Original Kettle

For the body of the grill, you want one that is made from either stainless steel or a similar heavy duty steel. This will ensure that your new charcoal grill retains heat well, can withstand the elements, and last for several years. As far as BBQ grill grates go, you have two options: cast iron or stainless steel. Porcelain-coated cast iron grates are ultra non-stick and retain heat more effectively than steel.

That means better grill marks on your food. The downside to these grates is that they need to be cleaned and seasoned occasionally. Stainless steel grates don’t retain heat as well as cast iron and can cause your food to stick. They also tend to be more expensive than cast iron options.

But they are great for people who don’t want much of a hassle since they only require a quick scraping with a stiff-wire brush and they’re ready to go.

Total Cooking Space

You should also think about how much cooking space you’ll need. How many people do you usually cook for? If you’re only cooking for 3 or 4 people, a smaller charcoal grill is more than up to the task. But if you’re planning on cooking for several people at once, you’re better off buying a large charcoal grill that offers more cooking space. Extra cooking space is also great for some people who might only be cooking for 2 or 3 people but plan on grilling several items at once.

A large BBQ grill will allow you to place burgers, hot dogs, and vegetables on the grill at the same time. The one thing to keep in mind is portability. If you plan on packing up your BBQ grill for camping trips or tailgating parties, it might be a good idea to sacrifice the extra cooking space in favor of a smaller model that’s easier to carry with you.

Grilling or Smoking

Some popular charcoal grills offer basic design, allowing them to only cook your food over hot coals or wood chips. These tend to be smaller bydget charcoal grill models that are perfect for anyone on a budget. But if you want a model that can double as a smoker by cooking meat with indirect heat, you’ll need one that either has a smoker component or is at least large enough for you to smoke meat. This will allow you to cook meat slowly just like the pitmasters you see on the cooking channels.

Temperature Control

Precise temperatures are tough to achieve with charcoal portable kitchen grills. But if you want some control over the heat, make sure that you look for a grill with upper and lower air vents. This will allow you to raise or lower the temperature of the grill more effectively. And for even more control, consider a model that lets you adjust the height of the grilling grate so you can move your food closer or further from the coals.

Ash Removal

When you burn wood or charcoal, you’re going to make ash. Over time, this ash is going to accumulate and need to be emptied out. This can get messy and time consuming if find the grills you can buy with an ash bowl or plate that can spill everywhere. If you want this process to be as clean and easy as possible, look for a model that has a removable ash pan with spill-proof sides.

All this talk about grills probably has you looking up marinade recipes. But before you turn up the heat, it’s time to narrow down your search and find the right BBQ grill! We checked out some of the top pick models out there and compared their design, performance, durability, features, price, and reviews. In the end, we came up with our list of the top charcoal grill machines of 2018.

Whether you’re looking for a combination smoker, a large family BBQ grill, or a portable model to take on your next camping trip, we have a model here that’s perfect for your needs.

View the Best Charcoal Grill for the Money, Below.

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1. Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22inch Charcoal Grill

Weber 741001 Original Kettle

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Weber is a household name when it comes to barbecues and grills and the Weber 741001 Original Charcoal Kettle Grill is a modern version of the classic kettle grill that started it all.

Materials

Weber's Original Kettle 22inch Charcoal Grill is made from durable steel that's coated with porcelain enamel. The enamel is baked on at around 1500 degrees, ensuring that it's rust-resistant, easy to clean, and can withstand years of high heat. Plus, the grill's cooking grates are made from heavy-duty plated steel that make fantastic grill marks. Plus, they're incredibly durable and easy to clean off.

Size

This is a great grill for small cookouts and family functions. The Kettle Grill has a 22" diameter plated-steel cooking grate that offers 363 square inches of cooking space. And with a height of 38 ½", it's the perfect height for anyone, allowing you to stand comfortably over the grill for hours.

Features

This grill was designed with a great damper system that lets you control your cooking temperature without lifting the lid. All you have to do is adjust the damper and you can achieve the low temperatures needed to smoke food or the high heat needed to get a great sear on your steak.

The cooking grates are designed with hinges on both sides, allowing you to access smoldering charcoal or wood chips without having to lift the grate or taking food off the grill. And for simple cleanup, this model features the One-Touch cleaning system. All you need to do is rotate a handle and 3 blades will push ash out of the bowl and into the fully enclosed ash catcher for easy disposal.

Why We Like It

  • Sturdy cooking grates, bowl, and lid.
  • Easy to clean and remove ash
  • Large grilling area
  • Relatively affordable option
  • Damper system helps you adjust heat from low to high

Our Verdict
Editor Rating
premium choice rating

2. Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Charcoal Barbecue

Broil King 911470 Keg 5000

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The Broil King Keg 5000 Charcoal Barbecue is one of the best high-end grills on the market today. It was designed with the popular keg-shaped design, making it great for smoking meat as well as cooking over direct heat.

Materials

This top-of-the-line charcoal grill might be more expensive than most models on our list but it's also incredibly impressive. It's built from double-walled steel with an insulation layer in between. This allows it to retain heat better than other models while leaving the exterior cool to the touch. Its main cooking grate is made from cast iron for those expert sear marks and its secondary cooking grate is built from durable chrome.

Size

At 126 lbs, this is a heavy, sturdy model that will withstand years of frequent use. It offers an impressive 480 square inches of total cooking surface thanks to the 280 square inch primary cooking grate and 200 square inch secondary grate. This gives you plenty of cooking space while letting you cook meats and vegetables at different temperatures.

Features

While it's certainly heavy, the Broil King 5000's base is designed with 2 wheels on one side and a two-legged base on the other side. And thanks to its clever design, it's trailer hitch adaptable. It also features 2 removable side shelves and a smart ash cleanup tray that makes disposing of ash a breeze.

Why We Like It

  • Double-walled construction
  • Exterior is cool to the touch
  • Very large grilling surface
  • Keg-shaped design is good for smoking and direct heat cooking
  • Better heat retention means less charcoal needed

Our Verdict
Editor Rating
great value rating

3. Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere

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Looking for an affordable portable option? Weber's Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is one of the best models in its class and is perfect for camping and tailgate parties.

Materials

Some portable grills are cheap and flimsy but Weber built the Go-Anywhere to last. Its bowl and lid are porcelain coated for durability, rust-resistance, and easy cleaning. And the triple nickel-plated cooking grate is easy to maintain and makes great grill marks. The grill's handle includes a glass-reinforced handle that stays cool to the touch and the sturdy plated steel legs give this model a good, stable feel.

Size

One of the main advantages of this Weber grill is that it really can go anywhere! It measures 12.2" long by 21" wide by 14.5" high. And at just over 14 lbs, it's one of the most portable options out there. But don't let the compact size fool you. It provides a surprising 160 square inches of grilling space which is enough to fit four medium-sized steaks at once.

Features

This model is designed for the road. The steel plated pivoting legs lock the lid in place for added safety during transport. And the rectangular shape allows it to fit nicely in tight spaces. Built-in lid hangers let you place the lid on the side of the grill, eliminating the need to put it on the ground while also allowing it to serve as a pretty effective wind barrier.

And with 2 adjustable dampers with 3 vent holes each, you can lower or raise the temperature depending on your grilling needs.

Why We Like It

  • Incredibly affordable
  • Perfect size for road trips
  • 160 square inches of grilling space
  • Dual dampers for better temperature control
  • Durable construction can withstand years of use

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

4. Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe

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If you're looking for a premium option and have a few hundred dollars to spend, then the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill is sure to get your fired up. While it is more expensive than some of the other models on our list, it comes with the bells and whistles that will make a grill enthusiast happy.

Materials

The Weber Performer Deluxe is built to withstand frequent use and provide years of reliable performance. It features a heavy-duty steel cart frame, hinged steel cooking grate, and painted metal work table. And the porcelain coated lid and bowl are rust-resistant and easy to clean. The charcoal grate is made from heavy-gauge steel and the removable, high-capacity ash catcher is built from aluminum.

Size

The 22" diameter of this grill means you get 363 square inches of cooking surface. And at 43.5" long by 48" high by 30" deep, this is a large kettle-style grill that's perfect for small or medium family cookouts.

Features

When it comes to features, this is where this Weber grill really shines. Its open cart design is great for storage of rolling around. And the electronic Touch-N-Go gas ignition system gets those charcoal briquettes lit with zero hassle.

A built-in lid thermometer swiveled cooking grate, and removable backlit LCD cook timer ensures that your temperatures and cooking time are always under control. And the large cooking table really comes in handy while cooking or doing prep work.

Why We Like It

  • Touch-N-Go gas ignition system
  • Large painted metal cooking table
  • Convenient cart design
  • Durable and fun to use

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

5. Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

Lodge L410 Sportsman's

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If you enjoy using your grill at a picnic or while camping or tailgating, then you don't want a large, bulky model. That's where the Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman's Charcoal Grill comes in. It is well-designed, sturdy, and delivers exactly what you want in a portable model.

Materials

Lodge built this charcoal grill to last. It's designed in a classic hibachi-style and is made from pre-seasoned, durable cast iron. The cast iron makes it sturdy and easy to maintain while allowing it to retain heat remarkably well.

Size

While it might be too small for large cookouts, the L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman's Grill is perfect for cooking a few steaks, burgers, or even a whole fish. Measuring 19" x 10.25" x 8.25", it offers 155 square inches of cooking space. And at just over 30 lbs, it's one of the most portable models out there.

Features

This grill features 2 adjustable cooking heights and a draft door that lets you regulate heat with ease. A flip down door gives you access to coals and a built-in shelf helps you keep track of your cooking utensils. And transporting it is a breeze thanks to the attached carrying handle.

Why We Like It

  • Relatively affordable
  • Very portable
  • Easy to spread coal efficiently
  • Heats up quickly and retains heat well

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

6. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman

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Char-Broil offers an innovative update to the classic kettle-style grill with the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill. It offers all the benefits you'd expect from this popular style of grill but kicks it up a notch thanks to their infrared cooking technology.

Materials

This grill is built with a porcelain-coated lid and bottom that is rust-resistant and easy-to-clean. And the infrared porcelain-coated cooking grate is designed to spread heat evenly, use less charcoal, and eliminate flare-ups.

Size

At 36 lbs, this charcoal grill is easy to roll and its 29.9" height is perfect for anyone. And the 22.5" cooking grate offers an impressive 360 square inches of cooking space, making it perfect for family barbecues and small parties.

Features

Char-Broil designed this model with a convenient hinged lid so your hands are always free and you don't have to put the lid on the ground. A vent on the lid and the adjustable charcoal grate help you regulate temperature and the slide-in ash bowl helps make cleanup simple and mess-free. But where this model really shines is in the design of its cooking grates.

These infrared grates let you use less charcoal, distribute heat easily, and since they provide a barrier between your food and the flames, you never have to worry about flare-ups burning your food. The result is picture perfect, juicy barbecue every time.

Why We Like It

  • Infrared cooking grate makes grilling easier than ever
  • 360 square inches of cooking space
  • Hinged-lid for less hassle

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

7. PK Grills The Original PK Grill & Smoker

PK Grills The Original

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Looking for a stylish, durable model that you can use as a grill or a smoker? Look no further than the PK Grills The Original PK Grill & Smoker. This durable premium charcoal grill is simply one of the best options in its class today.

Materials

PK's cast aluminum grill is hand-poured in the USA, just like it was done in the 1950's. Its thick cast aluminum construction will never rust and retains heat better than many of its competitors. And with a lightweight aluminum carriage and nickel-plated steel cooking grid, it's guaranteed to be a stylish addition to your yard for years to come.

Size

This grill measures 35" long by 16 ½" wide by 35" high. And with a cooking surface of 21.5" x 14", it's capable of cooking a variety of foods at once. Best of all, since the cooking section detaches from the lightweight aluminum carriage, the entire unit can be quickly disassembled if you want to take it with you on a camping trip or picnic.

Features

The PK Original PK Grill& Smoker retains heat very well thanks to its thick cast aluminum design and 4-way venting, keeping steady temperatures from 180-700+ degrees. And since it's durable and lightweight, you can detach it from its stand and take it with you.

Best of all, thanks to its impressive performance in any temperature, you can use this grill whether you are cooking "hot and fast" or "low and slow".

Why We Like It

  • Sturdy aluminum casting
  • Stylish addition to any yard
  • Disassembles easily
  • Capable of cooking on high or low temperatures

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

8. Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill and Smoker

Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker

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Few charcoal grills are as versatile as a kamado-style grill. These egg-shaped models are perfect for grilling or smoking and retain heat remarkably well. While there are several options out there, one of the best values around is the Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado style Kooker Grill and Smoker.

Materials

The Char-Griller 16620 Akorn features durable 22-gauge steel construction with a powder-coated exterior and porcelain-coated interior finish. The cast iron cooking grates are great for retaining heat and delivering a beautiful sear on your steaks. And the triple-walled insulated design means better heat retention and more heat with less charcoal. The cart itself is made from tubular steel with large 8" rubber front wheels and locking casters on the rear.

Size

The Akorn Kamado Kooker Grill and Smoker gives you more than enough room to cook anything you want. The primary cooking grate offers 314 square inches of cooking space and the warming rack offers 133 square inches for a total of 447 square inches of cooking surface.

Features

This is a well-designed, high-quality charcoal grill that can be used to cook practically anything. Adjustable top and bottom dampers are numbered so you can note the position of the damper and precisely control the cooking temperature. And 2 folding black metal shelves give you the extra workspace that you need when grilling.

An easy-dump ash pan makes cleanup a breeze and the locking lid keeps the grill secure when you're moving it around. Best of all, since it can retain temperatures from 150-700+ degrees, you can prepare your meat any way you want, whether it's fast grilling or slow smoking.

Why We Like It

  • Incredibly versatile
  • Provides consistent heat for even cooking
  • Wide temperature range
  • Plenty of uses for the price

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

9. Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill

Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D Dual Zone

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The Dyna-Glo Dual Zone Premium Charcoal Grill is perfect for anyone who wants a large model that's durable and capable of grilling several different types of food at once. Plus, unlike typical kettle or hibachi-style charcoal grills, this cooking dynamo looks and feels a lot like a conventional gas barbecue.

Material

This grill features a durable steel body that wipes clean and can withstand years of use. And its stainless steel lid assembly has a double-walled liner for better heat retention and an easy-to-clean high-gloss enamel coating. And inside, this grill has 4 cast iron porcelain-enameled cooking grates that deliver a great sear to your meats, locking in their natural juices.

Size

If you want a grill that's capable of handling even the biggest occasion, look no further. This Dyna-Glo model offers 816 square inches of total cooking area. This means that you can grill up to 30 burgers at once!

Features

One of the main benefits of this impressive model is the dual charcoal basket adjustment tray system. This feature gives you a staggering amount of flexibility since you can use the removable steel firebox divider to cook two types of food at different temperatures simultaneously. And for easy access to your fuel source, you simply open the dual cast iron and steel charcoal access doors located at the front of the grill.

A removable ash pan helps reduce mess and cleanup. And with the addition of a built-in thermometer and stainless steel bottle opener, Dyna-Glo really might have thought of everything.

Why We Like It

  • Hand-cranked, dual fire boxes let you cook various foods at once
  • Cast iron, porcelain-enameled cooking grates
  • 816 square inches of cooking surface
  • Front doors allow for easy adding of charcoal briquettes

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

Finding the Right Charcoal Grill for Your Next Barbecue

Whether you are grilling burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, or even vegetables, a gas grill simply can’t compete with a good charcoal grill. Popular charcoal grills deliver better, more flavorful results every time. But before going out and buying a charcoal grill, there are a few things that you need to think about. The main thing you need to consider is how large you need your grill to be. Small grills offering up to 200 square inches of cooking space are perfect for small family cookouts.

Plus, they’re great for bringing along with you on camping trips, tailgates, and picnics. Larger grills offering over 350 square inches of cooking area are better for anyone who plans on cooking for more than 4 people at once. Plus, very large models are perfect for cooking several items at different temperatures and can even allow you to cook for meats slow and low. Once you decide how large your portable kitchen grill should be, just decide what style you’re interested in.

With conventional barrel, kettle grill, kamado style, and hibachi-style models out there, there are plenty to choose from. Then consider your ideal price range and choose the model that is built from high-quality materials and offers the extra design features that you desire. With separate heat zones, adjustable shelves, carrying handles, thermometers, and even bottle openers, there are options out there for everyone.

How Often do you Think you will be Using It?

Remember if you are going to be cooking outside every day for a good portion of the year then you’re going to need a robust product that is designed to be hard wearing with little maintenance to boot. Using these items is inherently messy and fats, oil, and other food pieces will inevitably accumulate in every conceivable nook and cranny fast.

We suggest then that you buy one that has a sleek modern design like the Weber kettle 15501001 Performer Deluxe that relinquishes her dirt with a simple wipe of a warm soapy rag (don’t use the wife’s indoor dish dedicated cloth!). In addition units with removable working, surfaces to facilitate fast and a thorough cleaning are better.

Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe

We know if you love outdoor making food this much you-all will make the effort to extend the life of your with regular cleaning. With that in mind, make sure your working surfaces are stainless steel or porcelain enamel to prevent rust and fading.

What Type of Charcoal Should I Use?

Good question and we glad you-all didn’t assume charcoal is charcoal. The burning reality us there are loads of propriety charcoals one can throw under the grid, but this is all you need to know:

Lump Charcoal in layman’s terms is wood that (by means of a smoldering oxygen starved burn) has had all the moisture, sap and other extraneous substances removed. The end result is a pure (irregularly-shaped) carbon that will give you quite a vigorous outdoor food prep experience. Within a quarter of an hour (even less) you-all will have a white hot coal on which to grill.

Given the smorgasbord of woods used in the manufacturing process, your meat can have a variety of smoky flavors but work quickly because lump charcoal drops its heat after half an hour.

Hardwood Charcoal briquettes are charcoal with no additives. Note: They not quite as hot as lump coal and cool pretty quickly once they reach their max. Also, these guys (due to the manufacturing process) have uniform soap-shaped silhouettes.

Kingsford® Briquettes: are very common in the States and make for a great fuel source because the manufacturers have added mineral char to increase the heat temperature and duration. We thought the addition of the ready-to-grill ‘marker’ in the form of a layer of white limestone (forms when the coal is ready to use) to be transcendental!

What’s the Most Efficient easy way to get the Fire Going?

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Use a good quality DRY coals
  • Invest in some premium lighter cubes. Some of these can even be lit when wet. The fuel in the cube is an excellent propellant to help a tentative flame pull through.
  • A chimney starter is a handy tool that supports a small clump of charcoal in a cylindrical frame. When placed of crumpled newsprint or lighter cubes there is an even and concentrated heat distribution that ensures quick and thorough ‘activation’ of all your charcoal.

Expert Tip

If you want juicy, flavorful meat, there’s a secret to cooking with a kettle grill. Set the coals up in the middle of the grill. When you’re ready to start grilling, place your food in the middle of the grill where the heat is the highest. This will give your meats a good sear that will seal in the natural juices. Then move your food to the outer edges of the grill to cook it at a lower temperature that will prevent it from burning.

Resign yourself to the fact that given the content of some of the foods (i.e. high in delicious dripping fats) flare-ups are going to happen. And so they should. How else do you think you’re going to seal in those delicious flavors? The problem arises when these tiny fire explosions are relentless and threaten to burn out your expensive fillet.

If this is your experience don’t hesitate to bring the lid off near at the first signs of a flare up (usually that inexorable display of fat hissing and eruption of blinding smoke). Closing your product with the lid will choke your fire out while allowing you to temporarily move the food to an area of indirect heat. Once you’re flare-up free, simply move the food back.

Did You Know?

The origins of grilling can be traced back to over 500,000 years ago when man first learned how to control fire. But it wasn’t until the late 1940s that backyard grilling became popular in America. Prior to that, grilling was only done at picnic grounds and campsites.

Looking for a more modern way of cooking in the garden? Click here to see our review of the best propane gas grills for your yard.

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