What kind of barbecue should I get?

After living in a condo for my entire adult life, I’ve finally moved to a house with a big yard. I want to complete my suburban transformation by learning to barbecue, or as Stephen Fry put it, cooking meat in the garden.

Actually, our meat consumption probably is sub-par … a lot of fish and chicken, and sometimes pork and beef, which we chop into pieces and mix with noodles and vegetables … Asian style. I can see grilling up some ribs, or kabobs, but generally we’re not eating multiple pounds of meat at a sitting.

Anyway, should I be looking at charcoal or propane? How much should I spend for something of decent quality that I won’t have to replace in a couple of years? I’ve had one recommendation for The Big Green Egg, which isn’t cheap, but looks cool. (Yes, I’m at the level of expertise where looking cool seems like a major selling point.) It’s also a smoker, but I have no idea if I even want a smoker.

Propane is just so much easier, and controllable. During the non-winter months, I use the gas grill at least 3-4 nights a week, just because it is so convenient, even for just a couple of chicken breasts. If I had to kindle charcoal briquets every time, I would not grill more than twice a month.

For ease of use: get a gas grill. They cook pretty well, they’re easy to use, and require very little expertise beyond “turn it on.” If you’re willing to spend in the $300-$400 range, you can get a really nice grill. They come cheaper, but they don’t cook quite as nice, and you’ll find yourself replacing it in a few years.

If you want to get more into grilling, a standard Weber charcoal grill is cheap ($100-$150 for a basic one, cheaper if you go non-Weber) and cooks great. Charcoal grills have more of a learning curve, though, and take slightly longer to heat up. Also you have to deal with cleaning out ash and all that.

All that said, my Big Green Egg comes in this weekend. :smiley:

I’ll mostly just echo the above.

“Real” barbequers insist on charcoal and they’re legitimately better at transfering flavours to the food with different woods i.e. mesquite, etc.

That said, you can’t beat the ease of a propane or natural gas grill. I’ve had a Weber for years and it’s awesome. I feel guilty reading my barbeque recipe books that all insist on charcoal, but I can’t be bothered with all the prep work involved with charcoal.

It’s kind of an argument of microwaves vs. ovens, but in my experience gas grills are only a little bit worse than charcoal, so I take the convenience.

Also, my buddy has a Green Egg and loves it. He’s a serious BBQer, so I consider that a strong recommendation.

Finally, I spent about $400 (maybe as much as $500) for my Weber about 5 years ago and it’s been problem-free except for having to replace the igniter.

If you go propane, forget the $150 hardware store special, and spend the $400 plus for a Webber. I bought one fourteen years ago, after going through three hardware store models in the previous six years, and it is still going strong. Had to replace the igniter once, and the so-called “flavor bars” once. Otherwise, works like a champ.

Why not both? :smiley:

Yes, gas is quick and easy and if you plan ahead, sizeisn’t a problem.
Still, the BGE can do so much that gas can’t, and it’s great fun to experiment. A little research will show you what a following the Egg has, and the things you can do with it. I never thought I wanted or needed a smoker until I got mine.

About 20 years ago I bought my first propane barbeque for about $200.

About 10 years ago I bought my second propane barbeque for about $350; it’s on its last legs.

In Canada, these are very, very middle-of-the-road barbeques. I use it year round: maybe 3 or 4 nights a week in the summer, and 1 or 2 nights a week in the winter.

You should get 10 years out of a medium-priced unit, in my experience.


BGE was a bit of a disappointment. I really wanted one, but lived in China and it wasn’t practical. So, I bought my brother one instead and used it in the summer. So, I don’t have a lot of experience. That said, the drawback with the Egg is that it is a big event to cook on it. Think charcoal and more because you want to heat that sucker up. The Big Green Egg is cool because you can really get it thin pizza crust hot, or smoker low temperature and all points inbetween. But it really seemed like doing a charcoal grill plus more instead of I want to scorch a couple of hot dogs for the kids

I believe there are competing brands that can also use propane, and I think that would be really good.

Go propane. The ease of use makes all the difference. We use ours at least 3 times a week, which we wouldn’t do if I had to start a batch of charcoal each time. the BGE has its place, but for everyday (or almost everyday) use, propane can’t be beat.

After going through about a half dozen different gas grills, I bought a Weber last year and I’ve never been happier. If you take your time and watch the sales, especially in the fall, you can get a great deal.

I tried propane once, and maybe it was because it wasn’t a top o’ the line unit, but it was hard to clean and didn’t last long. I was bothered by the safety aspect of keeping a bottle of highly compressed, flammable gas in the garage over the winter, and finally discarded it.

Now I just buy a cheap charcoal grill and use it for a few years, then get another. If they don’t last long, why spend the money?

As for the prep time for charcoal, it’s all part of the male mystique, no? In the summer, I’m not in a hurry – my dinner guests can have another drink while the grill is getting ready. I’ll admit I might not feel that way if time was of the essence.

OK, let’s say I went with propane. Amazon has a Weber 4411001 Spirit E-210 Propane Grill for about $400. Would that do it, or is it worth another $300 to get a Genesis? Also, the comments say that the Home Depot version of the Spirit has cast iron grates, while the Amazon one has sheetmetal. Does this make a big difference?

Athena, I love that you could use a big green smiley to punctuate your boast of being about to receive The Big Green Egg. I have to wonder if you have a time machine, and it was known as The Big Purple Egg before your meddling with the space time continuum.

I had midrange Kenmore for years. It was ok at first but it eventually rusted out and didn’t get hot enough. For my next one I splurged and got a Napoleon. It’s awesome. I could probably crank that thing up to 700 degrees. Be sure to get one that puts out a lot of heat.

$400 one sounds fine to me.

Buy a spare tank. It sucks to run out of propane while cooking, and it’s really not a lot of money.

Back when I bought mine (~5-6 years ago), there was a Genesis Silver and a Genesis Gold, the gold being the higher end one. Nowadays it looks like there is no Silver/Gold, just Spirit/Genesis. If the Spirit is the replacement for Genesis Silver, I can say that my Silver has worked great for years. I still plan on keeping it for those days I don’t feel like firing up the Big Green Egg, assuming those days come.

In all fairness, from what I read, the BGE takes only about 10-15 minutes to heat up once you know what you’re doing. I run the propane grill for at least 15 minutes before putting anything on it, so it could end up being a moot point.

Damn! You found me out! :wink:

The 3-burner E-310 is a much better grill than the 2-burner E-210. We’ve found that the 3 burners allow for much more even heating when you’re grilling something large, and much better control of heating zones when you’re grilling multiple disparate items.

We have 2 sets of friends who own the 210 and they all prefer grilling on our 310. (Grilling seems to end up a communal effort in our circles, for some reason).

Both the 210 and the 310 are real pains in the butt to assemble though.

Is that really a safety issue? If it is, there’s a LOT of very unsafe garages up here in da UP in the winter. I think every other person up here has a propane grill. At least in my crowd they’re much more common than charcoal.

I’m about 15 years into a Char-Broil, which I’ve ‘gutted’ twice, replacing the burners, drip bar & grates. Firebox is in top shape & since it’s a big one (3 racks & lots of surface area) I can’t find anything comparable for a decent price.
It’s used non-stop in warm months & regularly during winter. Take care of it & clean it & they will last; of course, YMMV.

One recommendation, spend the $10 or $15 for the veggie tray; I do the entire meal on the grill & nothing falls through the grates.

Charcoal! Charcoal! Charcoal!

Store it indoors when it’s not being used and you might never have to replace it.

This is the one I use. Gas on one side, charcoal on the other (with the optional side firebox for smoking pork shoulders.)