Propane is simpler, sure, but the smoky flavors you get from a charcoal grill can’t be matched by its gas-fueled rival. We tested six to find our favorite.
Propane is simpler, sure, but the smoky flavors you get from a charcoal grill can’t be matched by its gas-fueled rival. We tested six to find our favorite
by Steve Mazzucchi
About Our Expert:
Although Adam Perry Lang made his culinary name cooking in chichi Manhattan restaurants such as Le Cirque and Daniel, he fell in love with the grill as a private chef on a New Mexico ranch in the late ’90s. He founded New York barbecue joint Daisy May’s in 2003 and recently published his first cookbook, Serious Barbecue, to give mere amateurs a chance at grilling greatness.
Char-Griller Super Pro
This grill boasts an expansive 580-square-inch cooking surface, a warming rack, and a coal tray that you can shift up or down to adjust temperature. Lang most admired its cast-iron grill grates. “Cast iron transfers powerful heat to create a greater char on beef,” says Lang, who flipped dry-aged steaks on the grills. The downside: Cast iron is prone to rusting, so park it in the garage. [$139; chargriller.com] Rating: 6
Weber One-Touch Gold 26.75
The 26.75 (as in inches in diameter) is Weber’s biggest family-style kettle grill, affording a 508-square-inch cooking surface and enough space below to create different temperature zones by shifting coals. “It’s not super heavy-duty, but it’s universal enough to get good charring on steak while also handling fish,” Lang says. “If you’re into active cooking, this one really is a soldier.”[$349; weber.com] Rating: 8
Portable Kitchen Grill
As the company’s website brags, the Portable Kitchen is big enough to roast a 15-pound turkey, but for direct grilling it falls short. “The grilling surface is inferior to the others’, and I don’t like that the coals are so close to it,” Lang says. “It’s either hot or not. You don’t have much versatility.” He did appreciate the retro styling (the design hasn’t changed much since 1952) and its sturdy, rustproof aluminum construction, but his kudos ended there. [$280; pkgrills.com] Rating: 5
The Grillery Standard
Lang loved how the crank raised and lowered the grate for temperature control and that the V-shaped grill rods funneled grease into a basting tray. Although the Grillery can use charcoal, Lang prepped the day’s most delicious steaks using its preferred fuel: wood. “This thing’s a work of art,” he raves. “It’s for passionate grillers who want to be very involved in the process. I love that.” [$2,475; grillery.com] Rating: 8
Char-Broil Santa Fe
Although comparable to the Char-Griller in size, the Santa Fe lacks its most important feature: a thick cast-iron grilling surface. “With a thinner cut of meat, the inside would be too cooked before you get nice caramelization,” Lang says. “It fares better with more delicate items, such as fish. The salmon came out great.” He wasn’t keen on the Santa Fe’s construction, either. “It feels flimsy.” [$129; charbroil.com] Rating: 4
Big Green Egg
The Egg is green in more than just looks. Its 3/4-inch-thick ceramic body generates long-lasting, high-degree heat with relatively few coals. “It’s so insulated, you could grill on the coldest day with no effect on temp,” Lang says. “The grill surface is really nice — it cooked fish beautifully.” One warning: Before lifting the BGE’s lid, close the bottom damper so the rush of oxygen doesn’t spike the temp. Unless you don’t want eyebrows. [$750; biggreenegg.com] Rating: 9
1. The Towel
Roll up a dish towel, tie it with cotton twine, grab it with tongs, and dip it in a plate of canola oil. Then use the roll to evenly coat the grate to prevent food from sticking.
2. The Herb Brush
Tie rosemary and thyme to the handle of a standard brush and use it to baste steaks and fish. Because of the high heat, the delicious herbs will start to char and impart flavor.
3. The Foil Scraper
For a grill brush, crumple up a piece of aluminum foil, grab it with a pair of tongs, and use that to scrape gunk off the grill grates.
This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Men’s Journal