When it comes to picking the best charcoal bbq Australia has to offer there's often the temptation to choose the cheapest most wallet friendly grill. However you definitely get what you pay for and if you want guaranteed evenly spread heat you really need to purchase something robust and reliable.
Any grill can cook meat but if you want the best cooked meat then you need to know what you're buying, what features are on offer and ultimately how to use the grill properly. Charcoal bbq's are different to gas, which anyone can use.
Best Charcoal BBQ Australia
1. Weber Original Kettle Charcoal BBQ
Think charcoal BBQ, imagine the original Weber Kettle! The sleek domed design nobody can mistake for any other brand.
Fill the base with charcoal, light it up, put the grilling rack on, stack your meats on top and enjoy that outdoor weekend arvo with your friends and family. Savour the flavour of charcoal cooked meats instead of having to add flavour to gas cooked barbeques.
The original charcoal Weber Kettle now features a patented One Touch cleaning system which removes ash and other mess in seconds through rustproof vents in the bottom which open and close with one pull of a lever, as well as a removable aluminium ash catcher.
The two large trolley wheels tilt for easy movement and the heat-resistant steel outer and rubber lid handle keep your meats hot but your hands cool. Control airflow with the vents on the lid and the base to manage the heat and the cooking rate.
The construction from quality stainless steel is durable, built to last for years to come.
The cooking rack measures a large 363 square cms, so it’s great for entertaining.
And if you like style you can’t go past the cool shiny black finish of the bowl and lid which are made from a beautiful porcelain enamel.
The Weber Kettle requires limited assembly and comes with a 12-month warranty.
2. GRILLZ 2in1 Charcoal Smoker BBQ
The 2-in-1 charcoal smoker BBQ from Grillz is a must-have if you love BBQ-ing, grilling and even smoking your outdoor meals. Having that sort of choice available is certainly a luxury and invites experimentation.
The Grillz 2-in-1 is made from a sturdy, durable and stylish chrome-coated steel. It features a very generous cooking chamber with a side firebox for containing the heated charcoal and smoking container.
There is an adjustable vent and easy to read thermometer to enable you to monitor and control the cooking temperature at all times.
You are given a choice of two grill sizes (62 x 31cms or 31 x 30 cms) which makes it perfect for small family meals or entertaining. The wooden platform at the front of the cooking plate gives you a handy spot to put condiments, utensils and plates.
The two large wheels make the BBQ easy to move around to wherever you want it to be on any given day. And the heat-resistant handle protects your hands from scalding when the BBQ is in use.
The design of the 2-in-1 ensures that your meats and vegetables will grill or smoke to perfection, retaining all their flavour and more because of the excellent heat retention and distribution properties. The air outlets provide the ventilation needed for flavour and moisture absorption.
3. Weber Smoky Joe Charcoal BBQ
Wanting something a little smaller for just the two of you to enjoy an impromptu BBQ at home or on a camping trip?
The Smokey Jo Weber is the perfect charcoal BBQ for you. With a small 960cm square cooking grill plate it fits a meal for two including veggies.
Made from heavy-duty and durable stainless steel and aluminium and finished in a lovely black porcelain enamel this is a very stylish portable kettle-style charcoal BBQ.
The Smokey Joe has a heat resistant rubber handle on the lid and the heat resistant heavy-duty steel also protects your hands when the BBQ is in use. Vents allow for easy ventilation to maximise heat control.
The removable aluminium ash catcher and the vents in the bottom allow easy One Touch cleaning of ashes and other debris and mess.
Some assembly is required before use for the first time, and the Smokey joe comes with a 12-month warranty.
Small and compact, this is an excellent choice for everyday use or for going away as it easily fits into any size car boot. Or on an apartment balcony. Enjoy the flavour of a proper charcoal BBQ any time you like and wherever you live with the Smokey Joe.
4. Weber Original Kettle Grill
This is THE ONE! The Premium Weber Kettle Charcoal BBQ Grill that beats the rest. Not that the rest are inferior, but this is the best because it has all the features.
The Premium Weber kettle is made from heat-resistant heavy-duty steel so your food is kept hot but your hands are not. The two side handles are also heat-resistant. It has two large sturdy wheels for ease of movement around the backyard.
The wire rack at the bottom means that the charcoal is kept away from the base and the ash is more easily emptied when cold.
The Premium kettle also has a One Touch cleaning system which features vents in the base which open with a lever to allow ash and other mess to be quickly and easily swept out. It also has a removable ash catcher which can be emptied without mess.
The built-in thermometer gauge means you can monitor the heat inside the cooking chamber for perfect grilling of any type of food to whatever your taste happens to be. The large hinged wire cooking rack, measuring 57cms in diameter, allows for a large amount of food to be cooked at the same time – great for entertaining.
And if looks are important to you, and why not, the Weber Premium is finished in a sleek black porcelain enamel which just looks great and cleans up beautifully.
5. Hark Texas Pro Pit
If you’re in the market for a BBQ and offset smoker then the Hark Texas Pro Pit is well worth a very close look. Able to be fired by wood or charcoal for optimum flavour options, the Pro Pit is truly the hero of offset smokers.
This is not a small appliance by any stretch. It is a serious cooker for a serious outdoor cook, or perhaps we should call you a chef.
You’re not someone who would ever consider cooking with gas because flavour is of the essence. And the flavours of BBQ and smoking are simply a delight to be savoured.
The Hark Texas can reach incredibly high temperatures for searing all kinds of meats. You can expand the capacity by using the chamber and firebox at the same time and removing the baffles (tuning plates) prior to grilling.
Alternatively, you can smoke or slow cook by using heat from the firebox to flow into the cooking chamber for slow indirect heating of your food. Simply regulate the heat by adjusting the air damper and baffles.
The Pro Pit has additional features such as the gasket around the main chamber doors, a handy bottle opener, and extra damper in the firebox for more air control and a fat collection bucket for mess control.
Made from heavy-duty heat-resistant steel, the Pro pit has strong tubular legs and large steel wheels for portability.
It has an impressively large cooking capacity of 7470 square cms in the cooking chamber and an additional 2091 square cms in the firebox.
This is a highly versatile 2-in-1 BBQ Smoker for the connoisseur as well as the novice who appreciate the best.
Why buy a charcoal BBQ over a Gas one?
The main difference between a gas BBQ and a charcoal (or wood) one is pretty simple: flavour.
Gas does not provide any additional flavour to food that it is being used to cook. Charcoal and wood, on the other hand, do give off distinctive flavours as they are heated up and these flavours provide the food with a distinctive flavour, mostly described as ‘smokey’.
Charcoal also provides a much better seared finish than gas due to the more direct infrared heat that charcoal gives off.
Convenience, however, is another issue to be considered. There’s no doubt that gas BBQ’s are much quicker and easier to start and clean than charcoal BBQ’s are.
Charcoal cookers have to be ‘set’, lit with fire-starters, encouraged to heat to a glow and maintained through the cooking process. And then there is the mess of the ash at the end to be cleaned up.
Gas BBQ’s simply need to be turned on and the heat is instantaneous. There is no mess to clean up afterwards. The only maintenance is to ensure that your gas bottle is filled every now and then.
So the answer is one of personal preference but were it not for the inconvenience and mess I suspect that most people would prefer to use charcoal or wood to BBQ their meat.
Are charcoal grills safe?
Charcoal grills are perfectly safe if kept well contained in the BBQ being used. BBQ’s which are well designed will have a bowl (like the Weber variety) or a deep tray to hold the charcoal, with a grill try on top to hold the food being cooked and a lid to go on top while the food is cooking.
While it is possible that sparks and hot coals might escape those features should prevent that happening, and sensible setting of the coal and watchfulness should also be observed.
Charcoal BBQ's should not be used during total fire bans in your area.
As with any situation involving fire and flames, including gas BBQ’s, a fire extinguisher should always be on hand, and children should not be permitted to play with the BBQ or be too near to it.
Be sure to checkout the SA Govt's recommendations on Barbecue safety.
How do you use a charcoal bbq grill?
Using a charcoal BBQ is a very simple skill to learn. You will need a bag of charcoal and, ideally, a box of fire-starters.
The BBQ will generally have a bowl or tray to hold the charcoal. The base will probably have a rack on which you need to lay one to a couple of layers of the charcoal.
Do not lay down too thick a pile of charcoal – you want enough to create a good amount of radiant heat to cook the meal you have. So for steak or burgers, one layer should be enough, for a roast two layers will be needed.
To start the fire the easiest way is to spread some fire-starters through the charcoal and light them. You can use newspaper but it’s not a sure-fire or a quick way to get the charcoal to burn.
Once the charcoal is alight lay the cooking rack down and close the lid, opening the air vent enough to make sure the fire has enough air to feed the flames.
It’s really a question of keeping the fire going now until the charcoal is a nest of glowing coals producing enough radiant heat to cook the food.
And then you’re good to go.
Is too much BBQ bad for you?
There is some debate around the possibility that BBQ’ed food contains carcinogens because meat cooked on BBQ’s tend to be cooked at far higher temperatures and to a much greater degree than on a normal stovetop, leading to higher levels of ‘HCA’s’.
HCA’s are heterocyclic amines, compounds which are created in meats when cooked. As well as HCA’s there is also some who theorise that the smoke from burning fats which rise up from the coals below the meat on a BBQ might also contain carcinogens called PAH’s.
Although there is some research around these theories they are far from being established as facts, and even so, if you are at all concerned there is a theoretical response: precook your BBQ meat in the microwave and finish it off on the BBQ and you should be fine!
Or simply reduce your intake of BBQ’ed foods to say once or twice a week – the studies do indicate the risk is associated with very high intakes of BBQ’ed meats.
There's nothing quite like the taste of food that's been on the charcoal grill and every summer I love to start cooking on the bbq. Gas just doesn't have that same smoky flavour and tastes no different to cooking indoors.
Our top picks for the bets charcoal bbq grill is the Weber brand, they've been around for years and offer the best range of features at an affordable price.
If you're looking for something high end, there's a wide range of other more affordable (or more expensive) options from online stores such as TheBBQStore which sells a range of big smokers, barbecues and kitchens.