I left this $300 charcoal grill out in the wind, rain, sleet, snow, and salt for a year - here's how it has held up
- Charcoal grills tend to be cheap, flimsy things we plan to throw away when their time comes, which, sadly, is an average of about two to five years.
- Even sadder, even the cheapest ones aren't all that cheap.
- The IG Charcoal Grill is under $500 - at the time of publishing it's under $300 - stainless steel, and all-weather-proof.
- It'll far outlast any grill at its price, and handle almost any backyard barbecue you might throw at it (it'll hold 15 to 20 burgers at a time), and it's also among our favorite charcoal grills in our complete buying guide.
Every once in a while an exceptional new innovation in the grilling world comes along. This is not that innovation. Instead, the IG Charcoal Grill is a simplistic but sturdy take on a simple, age-old design that, sadly, not a lot of grill manufacturers strive toward these days.
I'm not naming names, but it's been a long time since I've owned a grill that didn't immediately show signs of wear and tear, let alone last a full year (four seasons in the temperate Northeast of the United States) out in the open, pelted with everything from wind (upwards of 60 mph), rain, hail, snow, salt (it lives less than 100 yards from the sea), and merciless summer sunlight. Here's the real shocker, though: It has no cover.
Yep, this grill has been out in the elements through winter, spring, summer, and fall, and I've put it through everything I could possibly think of, save for a two-story drop test, which is a ridiculous thing to put a grill through in the first place. (However, if you disagree, I'm open to talking.)
And while grills can be notoriously difficult and laborious to assemble, this one was pretty straightforward; even this fumbling reporter had it up and running, coals aflare, in under an hour.
Let's talk specs for the IG Charcoal Grill
First of all, at 18 inches (dimensions: 61.5" x 18" x 36.5"), this is a very large grill, but don't let it intimidate you. You don't have to fill it with charcoal, and I actually find that the extra space to move it into and out of the heat can make cooking just about anything far less hectic. If I'm not cooking for, say, a party of eight to 10 (which in my case is rare), then I'll pile my coals on one side and leave the other to warm or slow-cook, if I'm slow-cooking anything.
There's really everything you need here. The side tables are great for prepped food, further prepping, and even mise en place, and the shelf below can handle all your grilling tools while keeping them out of the way. The stainless steel grill grate (which breaks in two) is large, wide, and easy to handle (thanks to two raised synthetic-but-heat-proof-coated wooden handles), which allows you access into the charcoal bed while cooking, should you need to reload or, heaven forbid, recover anything of importance.
The commercial-grade wheels (everything is commercial grade on this grill) also lock in place, naturally (but it's still worth pointing out), so you don't have to worry about your grill rolling away (just make sure you lock them).
The best thing about this grill might be that it's so easy to assemble. It also comes with rudimentary hardware, which means that, should anything break or pop off, you'll be able to fix it with a quick trip to the hardware store, if worst comes to worst. And yes, it does come with a reasonable one-year warranty, under which replacement parts are covered, as are shipping and handling charges.
How to adjust the IG Charcoal Grill's heat
The rotating handle, which allows you to raise and lower the coal bed as needed, makes temperature control a cinch. It doesn't require all that much explanation, but just think of all the times you've overcooked your dinner because your charcoal grill was too hot. This solves it. It's also, dare I say, kind of fun.
Check out the grill's sliding ash-catching tray
All too often, charcoal grills get choked out by ash, and once you've got a fire lit, there's not too much you can do. This tray is nothing revolutionary, but it's something you won't find in most consumer-grade charcoal grills - which, frankly, this is not. You'd be forgiven for letting the price fool you, though.
Here's the grill in action
Okay, so things might have gotten a little too hot (see slight charring above) at one point, but do you see how well it corrected? Thank you, magically adjustable charcoal bed.
We didn't have a lot to cook - maybe two pounds of pork - but the IG Charcoal Grill was still our favored grill of choice this night. (For the record, we have three grills to choose from here, and all of which are charcoal.)
We easily could have used the smallest grill on the patio, which would have barely fit these two boneless country ribs, but we wouldn't have had nearly as much room to move them around or adjust the coal bed level and find the sweet spot with the heat. And, remember, just because you're using this large grill does not mean you have to fill it with charcoal (or food). No dish or fire is too small.
The bottom line
I'll be blunt here, because it feels appropriate, and because this is my time and your time at stake, and I would be beyond remiss to waste it: If it's time for you to look for a new charcoal grill, look no further. Buy this grill. I mean it. It is among my most beloved cooking contraptions, and I can't imagine going back to life without it. It can handle everything, but it is still worth lighting up for relatively nothing (see photo above). The elements do not seem to penetrate it, it's user-friendly, and, hey, it doesn't look all that bad, either...
This grill is a brute, and plain and simply put: It just works.
Pros: Fairly priced, large, (basically) mobile, adjustable coal bed, one-year warranty (replacement parts and shipping included)
Cons: No cover included (but a brand representative assures me they're coming)
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