Charcoal cooking gives food a distinctive flavor. It also gives you the option of arranging the coals for hotter or cooler cooking on the grate according to your recipe. Nonetheless, buying a charcoal grill with smoke box feels daunting when you’re looking at dozens of options. By evaluating potential smokers you can avoid purchasing lower quality items. Remember that getting a grill with a smoke box represents an investment. You want a product that meets your needs, grows with your household, and fits the budget. Don’t rush your choice and avoid buying on impulse. Look around and review potential products carefully for functionality and safety.
Look over the manufacturer’s specifications on the product. This tells you about the various features on the grill. Consumer research suggests a grill-smokebox that has minimally 300 square inches for cooking made with stainless steel for longevity. They also recommend a grill with a hinged cooking grate for easy access to both the coals and the smoke box. Locking lids are also a safety feature on portable grills and smoking units.
Look to see if the manufacturer lists any certifying agency such as Intertek or UL. Products certified in this manner offer higher standards for safety and performance.
Grill Set Up
Look at a fully set up grill. How difficult is it to clean? Is there a way for collecting grease easily and protecting against flare-ups? How sturdy is the metal in the smoke box? Because of the heat generated, flimsy grills have short lifespans and pose more safety risks.
Unlike a traditional smoker, your charcoal grill-smoker combination has less space for the aromatic wood. It should fit securely into the grill according to the diagram or instructions provided with the unit and have a simple access point for refilling the wood as needed.
Examine the lid of the system for a tight fit. Keeping smoke inside the grill gives food the desired flavor. If it leaks out heavily, you’re wasting time and money. Two nice features in lids are closeable vents and a thermometer. Both improve your ability to adjust the temperature of the grill, as will a dome lid.
Look at the material in the handles and check to see if the grill comes on wheels. Wood handles don’t get hot like other materials. Wheels, while not a necessity, make moving larger charcoal grill-smoker units far easier.
Look for an ash pan. This feature catches random coals that drop when you open a vent, making it a good safety feature. It also makes cleanup much easier. Another nice feature are removable drip pans. These collect fats and sauces so once the grill cools you can wash them up and be ready for your next cookout. Finally a charcoal grill that has an attached smoker with adjustable air vents lets you control how much smoke your food receives during cooking.
Budget certainly impacts what you choose for a charcoal grill with smoke box. Give yourself a little leeway when shopping. For example, if the unit has free shipping you can spend a little more on a grill that has more of the features you want or a better body type. Include a grill cover in your shopping list to protect your investment for years to come.