The best Char-Broil grill
Char-Broil is one of the best-known names in grilling, smoking, and barbecuing. They have a terrific model range that provides solutions for every outdoor cook -- from those who love camping, to those who like feeding the whole neighborhood. Our buying guide takes a close look at the benefits Char-Broil offers and makes several model recommendations. Our favorite, the Char-Broil Gas2Coal Grill, offers plenty of grilling and serving space and gives you the option of cooking with either charcoal or gas.
Considerations when choosing Char-Broil grills
The two most important decisions when looking at Char-Broil grills are grill size and preferred cooking method or fuel type. We'll also look at heat output, durability and a few other features.
As a rough guide, experts suggest you look for around 70 to 80 square inches of cooking space per person. That's about the size of a dinner plate. We're not suggesting you're going to grill each person a big plate full of food, but you need a bit of space around your burgers, ribs, and steaks so they cook properly. It also makes the food easier to manage.
As for fuel source, charcoal cooking has been around probably since the Stone Age, and for some it's the only way to cook outdoors. It does impart a unique flavor, but the downsides are that it can be difficult to light, tricky to regulate, and messy to clean up.
Propane gas, on the other hand, ignites at the press of a button, it's more controllable than charcoal, and there's no ash to clean up after. However, purists would argue that the food's flavor quality isn't as high.
Char-Broil actually offers several best-of-both-worlds solutions -- hybrid grills that can be switched from one fuel source to the other, whenever you like.
Electric grills aren't common, but since some places don't allow cooking with an open flame, Char-Broil offers this solution. Infrared is the most recent development in grilling. It can use electricity but is mostly found on gas models. Basically, it adds convection heating, meaning it heats the air, not just the food, so it cooks faster and helps retain more of the food's juices.
Natural gas is an option for those who have a gas plumbing line supplied to their homes. It cooks very similarly to propane, but without the hassle of constantly replacing tanks. However, natural gas is not widespread.
BTU (British Thermal Units) is a measure of heat performance that applies to gas grills. Figures can look impressive -- a modest grill can easily top 10,000 BTU -- but BTU really just means the grill will cook more or less quickly.
Exteriors are painted, which provides reasonable protection, but a cover is a sensible investment. High-quality grates are cast iron with a ceramic coating, which is good at retaining heat and easy to clean but heavy and the ceramic can chip. Stainless steel is a cheaper alternative, still easy to clean, and shouldn't rust.
Instant ignition is very useful. On Char-Broil gas grills it's Piezo-electric -- which is a self-contained unit that doesn't need batteries or a power supply. Many Char-Broil grills have a temperature gauge built into the lid, which is an important feature. Finally, removable side tables are another bonus, providing extra preparation and serving space.
Char-Broil grill prices
The cheapest Char-Broil models are tabletop charcoal grills at around $25. There's a propane version for another $10. Larger charcoal grills run from $130 to almost $300 (Char-Broil's electric grill is about $200), and gas/charcoal hybrids run from $250 to $550. Gas grills go anywhere from $90 to $500, with infrared starting at $300 and topping out about $750.
Q. Do I need to preheat my Chair-Broil grill?
A. It is recommended for two reasons. First, a 10- to 15-minute preheat ensures you've got an even cooking temperature right across the grill. Second, you'll get enough heat built up for a proper sear. If it's cool out, you might want to give it another five minutes.
Q. Can I use wood chips on a gas or infrared grill?
A. Absolutely. A number of Char-Broil grills have that option built in. Even if yours doesn't, you can wrap some water-soaked wood chips in foil, put the packet on the grill, and poke a few holes to let the smoke out.
Char-Broil grills we recommend
Best of the best: Char-Broil Gas2Coal Three-Burner Hybrid Grill
Our take: Large, split-surface grill lets you cook with charcoal or gas.
What we like: Great to have choice of grilling style. Lots of space. Easy ignition and control. Quality finishes. Has 420-square-inch main cooking area at 40,000 BTU, 120-square-inch side burner at 12,000 BTU.
What we dislike: Charcoal is too close to the racks for some, making control difficult. Poor assembly instructions.
Best bang for your buck: Char-Broil Classic 280 Gas Grill
Our take: High-quality, family-size grill offers every convenience.
What we like: Stainless-steel burners offer good control. Porcelain coating resists rust. Has 280-square-inch cooking area at 20,000 BTU. Useful shelves. Wheels provide easy mobility.
What we dislike: Poor (or nonexistent) instructions.
Our take: Go-anywhere gas grilling for couples or young families.
What we like: Cast aluminum keeps weight to under 20 pounds. TRU-infrared ensures even grilling. Has 200-square-inch cooking area at 9,500 BTU. Stainless-steel grate.
What we dislike: No heat control, so you can only cook with it open, making temperature gauge pointless.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.