Best Authentic Charcoal Barbecues to Buy
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Best Authentic Charcoal Barbecues to Buy

Is it ever too early to start thinking about those mouthwatering summer cookouts? A BBQ fuelled by charcoal is the key ingredient when it comes to authentic outback barbecuing, especially if you’re looking to produce food with a smoky flavour and a beautifully charred texture. Keep reading if you want to cook on a high-quality stainless steel or ceramic grill this summer, we’ll recommend the best charcoal grills with specialist features or premium smoker barbecues that pack your food with flavour and cook to perfection.

Contents

Types of charcoal barbecues
What should you look for in a charcoal barbecue?
Which are the best charcoal BBQs in 2024?
How much should you pay for a premium charcoal grill?
Which are the best barbecue brands?  
How did we test these best grills in class?

Types of charcoal barbecues

Do you know that there are several different types of charcoal barbecue for you to choose from? We think it is important for you to understand the pros and cons of the different styles of barbecues so you can choose the best one for your cooking needs.

  1. Classic barbecues - This timeless style of barbecue is often the cheapest option, these hardy BBQs consist of a stand, grill and air damper control. There are various sizes and shapes to choose from, plus some come with storage shelves and incorporate wheels so they can easily be moved around your garden.
  2. Oil drum - These large barbecues come with a generous cooking surface, they are ideal for groups of people, outdoor events and gatherings. Choose between a half-barrel or a full oil drum, both are great options for cooking large joints and thanks to the lid you can smoke food too.
  3. Charcoal smokers - If you’ve watched the American BBQ showdown on Netflix the contestants will often use smoker barbecues for delicious beef briskets, pulled pork and sizzling ribs. Slow-burning charcoal barbecue that cooks your food with indirect heat helps to smoke your food to perfection.
  4. Kettle - These circular barbecues come with a hood that sits neatly on top of the grill. The hood lets you roast and bake provided the coals don’t sit directly underneath your food. Some have temperature gauges and vents for controlling temperature.
  5. Kamado grills - Around 3,000 years ago, the Chinese developed a ceramic cooking device called a Kamado. Popular models like the Kamado Joe are egg-shaped and usually require lump wood charcoal for fuelling your cooking. The beauty of a modern Kamado grill is it allows you to cook on multiple levels for different styles of cooking.
  6. Asado grills - Bring the barbecuing traditions of South America home with an Asado BBQ grill. An Asado BBQ often comes equipped with a rotisserie and fully adjustable, wheeled grill so that you can cook hot and low, or high and slow.
  7. Portable & camping BBQs - Unlike disposable barbecues, you can cook on a portable BBQ or camping gas stove as many times as you like, they are much better for the environment. Plus, don’t be fooled by the compact size, they'll often have enough cooking space for multiple people, especially if you can master the art of cooking your food in batches.
  8. Plancha grill - Also known as a flat-top griddle, a plancha is often used for Spanish cooking, they combine incredibly high-temperature searing with only a small amount of smoking. Often the plancha plate has a concave design to angle the fat inwards to the fire and this is why chefs say cooking on a plancha is the healthy choice.
Portable Charcoal BarbecuesPortable Charcoal Barbecues
Portable Charcoal Barbecues
Kamado Joe BarbecuesKamado Joe Barbecues
Kamado Joe Barbecues

What should you look for in a charcoal barbecue?

When it comes to selecting a charcoal barbecue for your patio or garden, the materials that are used and the build quality are some of the most important factors. Look for barbecues made from ceramic or stainless steel, grills like Kamado Joe & Everdure will resist heat and corrosion and come with an extensive warranty for peace of mind.
Except for open or flame grilling, you will want to keep the lid or hood of your grill closed as often as possible to not risk letting out the heat and smoke, look for an inbuilt temperature gauge so you can best manage your summer cookout.

Another important factor to think about is safety. Visit a BBQ showroom and check to see if the BBQ is sturdy on its feet or wheels. Test whether the lid feels solid and if the air vents on the grill are easy to operate too. Finally, if you’re looking for a long-lasting charcoal barbecue you may also want specialist features like auto-lighting or a grill that allows you to cook at different levels for direct heat or searing.

Which are the best charcoal BBQs in 2024?

If you want a barbecue to last it is worth buying a premium model that will cater for all of your cooking needs, it’s worth taking time to think through what you'll be cooking, where, how often and for whom. This way you’ll choose the right size barbecue that comes with all the features you need to fit your style of cooking and entertaining.

How much should you pay for a premium charcoal grill?

This question can certainly depend on how much you can afford but often the more expensive barbecues are more durable and built to last. Cheaper barbecues often have very similar features to more expensive ones, but many compromise on construction and build quality. As a starting point, a good quality barbecue fuelled by charcoal will cost around £400, but some of the best ones can set you back well over the £1000 especially if you want a show-stopper model or one with specialist functions. As a rule, we find that if you spend more on a barbecue, you can expect to see features such as easy-to-clean grills, extra storage space and strong caster wheels for ease of movement. Of course, spending more on a barbecue won't necessarily guarantee you better performance so do your research or pick from our selection of our best charcoal BBQs.

Which are the best barbecue brands?

It can be difficult to find a reliable barbecue brand that customers are happiest with. Here you’ll find some of the most well-known and reputable barbecue manufacturers that you can trust.

Regardless of barbecue type, you don’t want to run into the everyday problems of unreliable barbecues, excessive rust, poor quality grills and uncontrollable temperatures are some of the most common problems. It's important to read our barbecue reviews before you purchase to ensure you buy from a barbecue brand that performs.

Some of our most well-reviewed outdoor cooking appliances come from the likes of Everdure, Kamado Joe, Masterbuilt and Char-Griller. You’ll find out just how reliable these barbecues are once you get them home.

Masterbuilt BBQsMasterbuilt BBQs
Masterbuilt BBQs
Charcoal BarbecuesCharcoal Barbecues
Charcoal Barbecues

How did we test these best barbecues in class?

All the barbecues that we have included in our edit have been tried and tested by a member of our team. We’re fortunate to have a showroom in West Yorkshire and we visit our brand partners each year to test their new charcoal barbecues. We selected grills that are sure to satisfy everyone from first-time grillers to committed pit masters and each barbecue was scored against the same criteria below.

  • Are you getting your money’s worth? Buying a premium barbecue can be expensive but it is a purchase that can bring years of enjoyment and bring together families during the summer months. All of our ‘best buy’ charcoal BBQs are worth the price tag in our opinion.
  • Was the BBQ easy to use? We tested whether the controls were straightforward to use including the air sliders, adjustable grill heights and dome lids. We wanted to ensure each of the premium barbecues we selected was intuitive to use and suitable for all levels of BBQ experiences.
  • Is the BBQ easy to clean? Cleaning a BBQ after use is never a pleasant job but we wanted to ensure that the manufacturer guidelines were provided to assist with cleaning. Bonus points were given if the grills or other parts of the barbecue were dishwasher-friendly.
  • What were the cooking results? This is possibly the most important factor when choosing a charcoal BBQ. We considered the evenness of the cook and the taste and texture of the food.
  • Is the barbecue robust? When buying a premium charcoal grill you want it to feel like it's built to last. We have selected barbecues that are well-made and attractive and come with cast iron warranties.

We hope our expert guide will help you on your way to picking the perfect charcoal barbecue that suits your needs, preferences and budget.

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