Help me find a new barbeque grill.
May 21, 2009 9:47 AM   Subscribe

So....I need a new barbeque grill. Any recommendations?

The Smokey Joe isn't really cutting it anymore, both in terms of size and versatility.

I like the idea of the offset smoker, but wasn't too impressed with the construction of the one at Home Depot.

I've mostly grilled with charcoal up to this point, and generally prefer it, but would like some propane recommendations too.

I'm willing to go as high as $400, but would prefer to stay around $200 or so, if possible. (Yeah, yeah, the big green egg is awesome and all, but unless you're willing to provide financing it's a nonstarter.) I'm also reasonably handy, and would be willing to buy a grill that needs to be modified.
posted by electroboy to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If Home Depot is anything like Lowe's, the floor models aren't put together right. I have a CharGriller which is also an offset smoker, and the floor model wobbled in exactly the way mine didn't once I had it together. You can keep your Smokey Joe and use it as a base for your chimney starter.

I prefer the CharGriller, having used both it and my friend's CharBroil Silver Smoker. I haven't tried any of the Brinkmann offset smokers and I've never used a bullet-type like the Weber Smoky Mountain, BUT anything I cook gets many compliments, so I feel no need to buy new equipment beyond gadgets.
posted by mkb at 9:51 AM on May 21, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, forgot to mention, I'm not likely to do any actual BBQ-type smoking regularly, but I'd like to have the option to occasionally do a pork shoulder or some ribs. Most of the regular grilling will be chicken, veggies and the occasional steak.
posted by electroboy at 10:08 AM on May 21, 2009

The Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro with Side Fire Box is a very good entry-level offset smoker/grill.
posted by nitsuj at 10:16 AM on May 21, 2009

... and with a few modifications, the Smokin' Pro is even better.
posted by nitsuj at 10:17 AM on May 21, 2009

If you only occasionally do BBQing and are more of a griller, I would get an inexpensive bullet-type smoker for occasional use. I have a Weber gas grill that I use for everyday grilling; it is quick and easy to use and it has lasted me for years. I have also been impressed with their customer service and the availability of replacement parts, so they have made a loyal customer out of me. I have a charcoal grill that I use when I have more time to light a fire and all that, but I won't mention the brand since you already ruled it out. A larger kettle grill is a good option, though. You can even get one with gas ignition for the best of both worlds. I used to have a Char-Griller and liked it, but it rusted though after a few years of heavy use. Your biggest decision is whether to go with charcoal or gas, and your choices will be narrowed considerably from there.
posted by TedW at 10:21 AM on May 21, 2009

Just to clarify a little, I meant get a cheap Brinkman or similar bullet smoker for shoulders and a kettle grill/gas grill for grilling. With a little looking around your should be able to do that for pretty close to $200. I also forgot to add that one nice thing about the CharGriller is its cast iron cooking grates; that was the first thing I added to my gas grill when I got it.
posted by TedW at 10:26 AM on May 21, 2009

I have a barrel smoker, a medium-grade Weber gas grill, and a Weber kettle grill, which is really just a larger, better version of your smokey joe. More and more I'm using the kettle exclusively. It's very simple, with almost no moving parts that can break, and it's extremely versatile.

It can be used as a smoker (lid on, vents open a crack, small amount of charcoal and wood, indirect heat) and does ribs and pulled pork as well as my smoker does with much less effort.

With the lid off, you can grill a steak over hot coals as good as any steak house. There's enough room to do a pizza or a couple beer can chickens with indirect heat.

Slight modification I've made: I drilled a hole in the lid and mounted a thermometer. I think some of the higher-end models have them installed already but they're often marked with "Cool / Medium / Hot" rather than actual temperatures. Temperatures are good.

I also added some stiff wire to hold the grill flaps open so I can easily add coals and wood when I'm slow cooking something.

For your budget you'd be able to get the grill and some accessories like a chimney starter, a few bags of hardwood charcoal and some tools.

Avoid BBQ tool sets. Most of them suck. Buy a good pair (or two) of long stainless steel restaurant type tongs, a silicone BBQ brush, a long spatula from Williams / Sonoma (it has a built in bottle opener, which is awesome), a garden trowel (for moving coals around and other uses), a wire brush, a decent heat-proof glove and a fireplace lighter.
posted by bondcliff at 10:34 AM on May 21, 2009

My advice is: Weber, Weber, Weber! They'll do it all. I have four. I recommend the 22.5" One Touch Gold. This is my go-to grill, and it does it all. I've gooked lots of slow-cooked barbecue on it. You can bank your coals on one side, and cook indirectly with great results. And it's also a hell of a charcoal grill. The Perormer has always intrigued me, but I have great luck with a chimney starter to get my charcoal going, so the gas ignition seems like a little too much. The table would be nice, though. I believe the grill to be basically the same as the one-touch.

I've also got the Weber Smokey Mountain, as recommended by TedW, and I can't say enough good things about it. It's just almost perfect. I cook some great 'que on that thing, and I wouldn't trade it for a Klose.

Webers are solidly built, and do their job brilliantly. The grills are like an oven- the shape is critical to how they work. Which is weird, considering they started life as buoys. For the money, you won't find a better grill. You could pick up a One-Touch and a Smokey Mountain both for probably $250.00 or so (Amazon sometimes has good sales on these- that's where I got my WSM) , and soon become the undisputed BBQ master of your neighborhood.

I don't generally think of myself as the fanboy type, but I guess when it comes to Webers, I am.
posted by Shohn at 10:34 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whatever your choice, make sure it has a cast iron grill.
posted by Muirwylde at 10:41 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just a note, I have more grills and smokers than entirely necessary, but you can't get the bullet type smokers like the Weber Smokey Mountain hot enough to sear meats. It's a great smoker, but the fuel is way to far from the grates to make a burger or sear a steak. If you get a offset smoker, you should be able to put the fuel under the food if you so desire.

If I could only have one, I'd go with a Weber Kettle of some sort, a chimney starter and a hinged grate to make adding more fuel easier. If the meat is small enough and the grill large enough, you can easily smoke food in there.
posted by advicepig at 10:44 AM on May 21, 2009

We just bought the Char-Griller Duo. It has two separate cooking areas, propane and charcoal. You can also add the Side Firebox to turn the charcoal side into an offset smoker temporarily. We couldn't be happier, especially for the price. It's sturdy and cheap (especially right now, I linked to Academy because it has them on sale) and easy to use. We bought it mostly because we're used to grilling on propane but wanted to try out charcoal. I suppose you'd be the opposite.
posted by Night_owl at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2009

Another vote here for the Weber Kettle. I bought my husband one a few years ago, and it is wonderful. We have the larger version (22" I think?) and I paid around $300 for it. It's durable, versatile, easy to clean, and is perfect for anything we've tried cooking on it so far.
posted by tryniti at 11:10 AM on May 21, 2009

I like the basic Char-Broil gas grill I have in the backyard. I use it four or five nights a week to grill up chicken, mostly, and the occasional steak or hamburger patty or brat. I've used it for special occasion kalbi and carne asada. I've made pizza on it. I used it last Christmas to roast the prime rib; it seared the roast fine, but dialing in the low temp for the long slow post-sear roast was tough. We managed.

I went with gas because charcoal is too much of a pain in the ass if one grills as frequently as I do. If I was determined to have a charcoal grill, I'd get a Weber kettle like the one my in-laws stole from me.
posted by notyou at 11:54 AM on May 21, 2009

I actually bought the CharBroil Silver Smoker from Home Depot and it rocks. Put it together right and get a good cover for it and you've got a good piece of equipment for less than $200.

Smoked a pork shoulder the day we assembled it. Awesome.
posted by codswallop at 12:30 PM on May 21, 2009

What Shohn said.
posted by spilon at 12:41 PM on May 21, 2009

Oh, and for gloves? Welding gloves.
posted by mkb at 1:02 PM on May 21, 2009

A buddy of mine has an electric smoker. He has really enjoyed it because it keeps a constant heat and doesn't require lots of tinkering with the charcoal and such.

I know some folks like the tinkering part, so YMMV.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:17 PM on May 21, 2009

I've had a Beefeater Discovery Series gas grill for 5 years and it's performed flawlessly. I use it about three times a week, 8 months of the year.

Manufacturer's website here:

I do supplement its use with a smallish Weber kettle grill for when I want to use charcoal, and I also have a propane smoker for bbq.

I don't think there are any true one-size-fits-all grills.
posted by OilPull at 1:26 PM on May 21, 2009

It's hard to beat either a standard Weber kettle or the Char Griller Super Pro for the money, but if my budget was $400 I'd buy the Weber Performer without so much as a second thought.
posted by jluce50 at 2:33 PM on May 21, 2009

Another recommendation for the Weber One Touch Gold.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:26 PM on May 21, 2009

heres a good list

but save up for the bge its worth it. youll never need another grill.
posted by fumbducker at 8:07 PM on May 21, 2009

oh and i got a ducane from home depot, love it.
posted by fumbducker at 8:09 PM on May 21, 2009

but save up for the bge its worth it. youll never need another grill.

Unless you decide to cook a whole pig. I can only imagine what a 60 inch BGE would cost. I am sure it would still only need a handful of charcoal, though.
posted by TedW at 8:12 PM on May 21, 2009

i got a ducane from home depot, love it.

Ducane was a much loved brand in the southeast. Fortunately it was acquired by another popular brand.
posted by TedW at 8:20 PM on May 21, 2009

@tedw: i got me a caja china for that, hopefully getting put to good use again soon..
posted by fumbducker at 9:56 AM on May 22, 2009

I had never heard of a Caja China before (I use a homeade contraption involving cinderblocks, rebar, and expanded steel) but am intrigued. Definitely the cheapest pig cooker I have seen; looks like it works well.
posted by TedW at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2009

Response by poster: Update! Bought a Weber kettle, the 22 1/2" kind. I really tried to buy a propane grill, but they were uniformly:

1. Huge
2. Expensive, and if not expensive then
3. Poorly made

However, since buying the Weber, I've heard some good things about the Chargriller Red series, and good things in general about the infrared grills. It's possible we may end up with both, as the wife doesn't care for using charcoal.

The only problem I've had with the Weber is that the lump charcoal tends to fall through the bottom grate. I think I'll just cut a piece of expanded metal lath to remedy that, unless someone has a better idea.
posted by electroboy at 2:21 PM on September 14, 2009

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