Charcoal Barbecue Grills Review 2012

Yes there is something about playing with fire and for me, charcoal barbecue grills are my favorite way bar none of cooking outdoors.

What's so great about the humble charcoal BBQ grill? Well it's exactly that, humble. It's is one of the oldest ways known for cooking and it's so simple, generally charcoal grills don't cost the Earth and there's no expensive parts in them to go wrong

The down-side is the preparation time. Lighting a charcoal grill is hardly a spontaneous affair, charcoal takes about 45 minutes from lighting until it is ready to cook on. It's also dirty.

If there's any doubt in your mind about whether you want a charcoal grill the use this page that discusses the relative merits of charcoal or gas.

Yet some of us just love playing with fires, don't we? Below I've reviewed some of my favorite charcoal barbecue grills but note that there is a separate section for ceramic kamado grills.

Fire Magic

The Fire Magic charcoal barbecue grills range isn’t extensive and indeed Fire Magic are more renowned for gas. For the traditional BBQ smoker enthusiast however there is a small range of charcoal fired units.

Despite the range being relatively small, the good news is that it is diverse, providing options for free standing and built in units all made to the highest quality standards that you expect from Fire Magic. The full range is available from giving plenty of opportunity to get a great deal delivered direct to your door.

Fire Magic Charcoal Grills

Fire Magic Charcoal Barbecue Grill

The stainless steel unit is available either as a built in unit or portable and comes in two sizes. It includes a heavy duty stainless steel hood with a built in analogue thermometer and an adjustable fire pan for controlled cooking.

Fire Magic "Firemaster"

The Firemaster is best described as counter top style, again with an adjustable charcoal pan but this one is constructed from powder coated steel. Between the two ranges of charcoal barbecues there are grilling areas between 368 and 540 sq inches.

Fire Magic Firemaster

Fire Magic “Lift A Fire”

The Lift A Fire is essentially the portable grill available in two sizes and features a front loading access for the charcoal. Just like the Firemaster, it has an adjustable fire pan and is constructed of powder coated steel.

Fire Magic Lift A Fire


Fire Magic support their barbecue grills with a full range of accessories including a great rotisserie kit perfect for spit roasting chicken.

Portable Kitchen

Is the PK Grill the ultimate in portable cooking? Here you'll find an extensive PK Grill review together with a summary of my interview with the manufacturer to help you decide.

PK Grill

Maybe to call it a grill is a misnomer because what attracted me to take a closer look was the fact that you can also use it for indirect cooking too. Use it with the lid on and you can try your hand a bit of smoking. Small and beautiful, look how the aluminium shines

Looking at the compact way that it packs together for transport suggests that this could be the ultimate when it comes to camping and tailgating.

It’s claimed that the cast structure ensures good heat reflection so this should mean being able to get up to reasonable temperatures and cook evenly – something that I found difficult to do when I recently cooked on a Weber “Go Anywhere”. How good the heat retention is remains to be seen as this will also have an effect on charcoal consumption, having said that there is a hinged grid to allow for easy re-fuelling without disturbing your food.

In order to use an enclosed cooking process it’s vital to have vents top and bottom and the PK grill has 2 so this should make it easy to control. I haven’t yet had chance to cook on one of these grills but if it lives up to expectations then we could all be in for a treat.

And, it's completely made in the good ole' USA!

Why Buy A PK Grill?

If you’re into camping or tailgating then you need to consider the PK Grill. It’s easy to carry, weighs just 40 pounds (18Kg) and flexible in its cooking capabilities. Its got a rectangular grill space of just over 300 sq inches so more than adequate to feed a family. Of course you can just have it at home and leave it in your back yard – it won’t rust.

Where Can You Buy Your PK Grill?

Click Here to explore

Or shop through you Outdoof Chef's Store.

PK Grill Review - How It Works

I was lucky enough to talk with the manufacturer of these charcoal barbecue grills and here's a summary of what he told me:-

"The heavy cast aluminum construction reflects heat from all surfaces causing food to cook more evenly without constant turning or repositioning on the grill. Adjustable vents in the lid and dampers under the fire allow easy temperature control for direct grilling or slow cooking without flare-ups from dripping fat. Includes complete instructions, including recipes. How the air flows around a PK Grill

Adjustable vents in the lid and dampers under the fire allow easy temperature control for slow cooking without flare-ups from dripping fat. Once the lid is lowered, the food cooks evenly - bathed in smoke for an unforgettable charcoal-fed hickory smoked flavor.

Because of its aluminum construction, the Portable Kitchen® cooker should last for years without rusting.

  • Functions as a grill and independent cooking roaster without flare-ups!
  • Four adjustable vents and dampers (two top and two bottom) control temperature.
  • All aluminum construction will not rust.
  • Oven detaches from carriage for easy cleaning, camping and tailgating.
  • Hinged grid allows easy refueling, without removing food.
  • Made completely in the USA!
  • Side and bottom trays hold food and utensils.

The heavy cast aluminum construction of the Portable Kitchen® cooker reflects heat from all surfaces far better than charcoal barbecue grills made from other materials. This reflected heat cooks food more evenly without constant turning or repositioning on the grill."

Weber Charcoal Barbecue Grills

Go Anywhere

If space is at a premium then the Weber Go Anywhere barbecue grill could be the thing for you. It’s certainly light weight, compact and with foldaway legs, it makes for a neat unit to easily stow. At 13 pounds (6 kg) it’s not difficult to carry.

The Basics

As you’d expect from Weber, it’s black! The rectangular cooking grid provides 160 sq inches of cooking space which is enough for a couple of people but grilling for any more than three would require patience and to eat in shifts.

There are vents top and bottom to control the burn rate of the charcoal so you do have control over your cooking. Because the grill is so close to the coals, set up is all important and I found this to be tricky.

It’s easy to have the coals going so fast and everything cooks to a crisp but that’s not the way I like it. With the lid on you can get reasonable results but you must keep an eye on the coals, it’s easy to loose temperature and then difficult to get it back.

Look how compact it is!

I did however have some great success cooking slices of eggplant indirectly. Coals at one side, eggplant at the other, drizzled with olive oil, lid on and off to the bar. Two hours and a few beers later they were absolutely fantastic.

Why Buy A “Go Anywhere”?

These charcoal barbecue grills not expensive to buy, I’ve cooked on better but not something that was so portable. You buy one of these if you truly want to go anywhere and cook.

If it’s portability for tailgating (and you’ve got a bit more money to spend) then you might find that a Bubba Keg or PK Grill is more to your liking.

Where Can You Get Buy A Weber Go Anywhere Barbecue Grill?

Powered by Amazon, the best price is in your Outdoor Chef's store.

The Performer

These charcoal barbecue grills are for you if you like to grill and also get into that smoky flavor without the hassle or expense of a big smoker grill unit. Having said that, these barbecues come with a few neat ideas that really make life easy.

Weber Performer Grill

First of all there’s an on board gas tank to assist in the lighting of the coals so you can throw away the lighter fluid and all the frustrations that can go with it. There’s also a charcoal bin to keep everything nice and compact all built into a cart with a work surface.

These large kettle barbecues will provide ample cooking area (22.5 inches) so plenty of room if you want to set one up for indirect cooking too.

Ranch Kettle

The Ranch Kettle is the Weber answer for those constantly catering for large groups.

Are you fed up with having to cook for hours on end on a small grill? Complaints from people who have had to wait ages for their food? Well all that is a thing of the past for Weber charcoal barbecue grills have come up with ‘The Ranch’ (which has been described as the Weber kettle on steroids).

These charcoal barbecue grills were originally designed for caterers and country club chefs but they are perfect for anyone who regularly caters to large crowds. The enormous cooking area means that you can cook numerous items at a time. The downside is of course that you need lots and lots of charcoal! Weber says you can put 27 game hens on one at once and that is a fact!

Weber Charcoal Grills – The Ranch Kettle

What I like about these massive grills is that they are so flexible. For example you can put your charcoal to one side with one item on the grate directly over the flame and then you can rotate it on to the next piece – great if you need to pace your food delivery.

You can also build charcoal mounds to either side, place the food in the middle of the grate and smoke indirectly. But best of all you can cook ALL the food in one go and be sitting down with your friends, family or colleagues and eat with them.

So when it comes down to it ‘The Ranch’ from the Weber is, quite simply, the bees knees.

These charcoal barbecue grills are ideal for the largest of gatherings and parties.

Vital Statistics:-

  • Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid prevents rust
  • 1,104 square inches of cooking area
  • Patented tuck-away lid that slides conveniently into its holder.
  • Removable ash catcher
  • Two weather-resistant thermoplastic handles
  • Locking casters
  • 2 crack-proof all-weather wheels
  • Heavy-duty steel cart
  • Triple nickel plated hinged cooking grate

Related Pages:-

Voice Your Opinion On A Barbecue Or Accessory Item
Barbecue Grills Comparisons
Grill Islands
BBQ Smokers
Barbecue Accessories and Cooking Equipment
Patio Furniture

Page Updated May 2012

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