Advice wanted for first charcoal grill

  • I'm trying to decide which direction I should go in terms of my first charcoal cooker. Your advice would be appreciated! I'll try and keep my spiel succinct.

    I recently had the desire to cook skewers over charcoal, so started looking into hibachi grills. However, they can only do one thing. I figured I'd be better off having a lidded charcoal cooker so that I could grill as well as cook low and slow.

    Perhaps I should mention here for context: we have young kids and a mortgage, so I'm trying to avoid spending too much (unless the value argument is justified), and to avoid having multiple pieces that rarely get used. We currently own a Weber Q.

    Then I picked up a Char Griller Deluxe, simple barrel style grill, for free. It's in fair condition and missing grill plates. They're a larger size than average bbq's, so to replace with proper Char Griller ones would be around $50 to $70 depending on how much cooking surface I would want.

    Question: do you think it's worth spending money on a Char Griller Deluxe? It's already a bit rusty. Are they a decent, versatile charcoal cooker?

    Because I've also been reading about kamados. It seems to me that compared to a traditional lidded charcoal bbq (kettle, etc) they have the additional advantage of doing pizzas better, and use less fuel per cook due to their insulation properties.

    In terms of kamados, I've read many of the great posts on this forum, and I've come to the conclusion that a Char Griller Akorn would be the pick of the bunch. For $600 it seems pretty great, especially as a first cooker (if after a few years I was mad about it, then justifying a Kamado Joe or other top tier ceramic would be a different story).

    Would an Akorn be a significantly better cooking experience than the Deluxe (barrel)?

    How would you compare the two for:

    - Hot grilling/searing a small bbq meal (let's say 2 steaks and then half a dozen sausos)

    - Slow cooking/smoking a pork or lamb shoulder

    - Pizza!

    Is it worth paying $750 (w cover and stone) for the Akorn, or should I just pay $70 and use the old Deluxe?

    I know Weber Kettle's are ubiquitous for a reason - but once I look at their price, I feel going that extra for a kamado, the Akorn, would be justified due to it cooking low and slow better thanks to the insulation, less fuel, and better pizza.

    I hope that's enough info, and also not too much!

  • Great question. Most of the things you're looking for could pretty much be done on a Weber go anywhere. It might be a good low cost option as a starting charcoal cooker. I love my one. Your chargriller might be an even better starting point. I wouldn't worry about a bit of surface rust on the outside.

    But it won't work for pizza and my view is that no bbq is all that great for pizza. Kamados are the closest thing, but I'd probably stick to the home oven with a pizza stone.

    Pizza is a big topic. Most of the improvements you can make have to do with mixing your own dough. I'd worry about it later and in the meantime work on learning about dough and the kitchen oven.

    Charcoal cooking is awesome, but there's a learning curve. No matter the BBQ. You need to get your head around the 2 ways of regulating temperature:

    1) control the amount of oxygen (no oxygen = no fire). This can be done with kamados and other BBQ's with seals and air control.

    2) control the amount of fuel. For BBQ's that leak air, such as webers and the chargriller you have.


    If I was in your situation this is what I would do:

    - avoid spending too much money. Spend time testing things out to gain a better idea of what direction you are most keen to go in.

    - $70-100 for a new grill plus some charcoal will get you cooking on the chargriller

    On it you'll be able to test cooking direct (the heat source below the food), and indirect (the food to the side, so that the heat is more evenly spread around the food)

    As you get to the end of your first or second bag of charcoal, reassess.

    Masterbuilt Gravity 800 | Maximus Pizza Oven | GMG - Daniel Boone | Cyprus Grill | Big Steel Keg | Blackstone Griddle | Fire Pit | Weber Genesis |

  • G'day Liam and welcome.

    I'll second what Narm Naleg said about the Go Anywhere, they're super versatile and have a great range of accessories available. They're excellent for skewers/kabobs (the skewer rack from BBQ's galore fits perfectly), low and slow (using an offset plate), charcoal chicken (using a riser and cheap rotisserie kit from Bunnings) and of course, they are perfect for steaks. If you're on FB, there's a dedicated group for them and are super helpful.

    Re the pizza issue, use the Weber Q for that. Put the stone directly on the grate and crank up the heat to pre-heat the stone. Make semolina your friend and you'll be enjoying superb pizzas off the Q in no time.

    Take it easy,

    Steve.

    Primo large oval, GMG Daniel Boone, Weber kettle, Weber Q3200, Weber Go Anywhere.

  • I'm going to give a different answer, and that's one of the things I love about this forum, all opinions are accepted.

    What you described to me shouts komado. The Weber Go Anywhere is a fantastic bit of kit, but I'm not sure I'd low and slow in one? But this also comes down to what you actually want to low and slow. A couple of beef cheeks or a smaller bit of chuck, then yeah you could probably do it, but not a whole brisket for example.

    It also comes down to budget. As Narm pointed out above you can do the majority of what you want in the Char Griller, but the Akorn will do everything you want, and yes I hear the pizza debate.

    So, if you want to dip your toes in the water and try things out, then Char Griller is a great place to do this, if you think you are ready to go and the extra outlay is not an issue, then Akorn. The Akorn should be a 10 year purchase.

    I'm sure you will make either option work.



    Traeger - Weber Family Q - Ziggy Twin Burner - Charcoal Grill - Akorn Kamado - Hark Tri Fire - Jumbuck Pizza Oven - Go Anywhere - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Hibachi Grill - Anova Sous Vide x 2

  • Is it worth paying $750 (w cover and stone) for the Akorn, or should I just pay $70 and use the old Deluxe?

    The Akorn comes with a cover and stone (deflector) so the cost is $600.


    Pizza - have a big think about just how many you will really use the bbq for after the initial excitement and the kids ask you to Uber Eats as they can't be bothered to wait for you to set-up the bbq, make the pizza, cook it etc etc.


    I own a Akorn Kamado and a Kamado Joe. Save some money and buy the Akorn. Use the difference to pay off the mortgage /buy decent meat to bbq. You will enjoy life more.


    Duluxe vs Akorn - comes down to cooking style. That's a person preference.


    The deluxe is a great way to start charcoal bbqing. If you become a bbq addict and have some spare cash, then buy the Akorn to add to the collection. The Kamado is one of the most versatile charcoal bbq.


    Do you already own a gas bbq?

  • Grate ideas and advice from the previous responses.

    I've not used a 'Kamado' style cooker before, but I would like to one day, esp reading the posts about them on this forum.

    Having said that, I suggest a second hand Weber Kettle. They are quite cheap, simple to use, large enough for a family and last a lifetime. The results you can get from them are really good and they have a huge following for a reason. It's not to difficult to use or clean. Parts and accessories are cheap and plentiful. Some smarter people can make their own 'add ons' (eg rotisseries).

    You don't need to spend big to get good results. Start off with a 'good' unit and practice. After a while, you can then spend on more BBQ's once your finances are less stretched.

  • Having said that, I suggest a second hand Weber Kettle.

    Liam adding to this post from dimmy , go for a drive around your patch the next time a council clean up is on. You might get lucky enough to score one that someone has thrown out.

    Primo large oval, GMG Daniel Boone, Weber kettle, Weber Q3200, Weber Go Anywhere.

  • Question: do you think it's worth spending money on a Char Griller Deluxe? It's already a bit rusty. Are they a decent, versatile charcoal cooker?

    Because I've also been reading about kamados.

    My "first" (sort of, mostly, there was briefly a kettle at one point a few years earlier) charcoal bbq is the prosmoke dragon kamado I have now. Basically the same as the metal Akorn, low cost kamado.

    It's been great and I don't regret it at all, but it was in the weather for about 3 years so it's rusted and not long left for this world.

    I'm going to replace it with the pit boss champion barrel from bunnings ($400). I really like hanging stuff over direct heat. I've rigged up an awkward way to do that, but it'll be much easier in a barrel, plus it can do indirect low and slow as well.

    Another option is to grab a Weber kettle from the side of the road, or $50 on marketplace.

  • You’re all giving great advice but I don’t know if Liam even cares.

    weber performer, weber compact with gas conversion, napoleon rodeo, pro q 20", PBC, ziggy portable, ozpig with rotisserie, pro smoke offset, pit boss mini kamado, asmoke portable, master built 560.

  • I did it back to front and started with an expensive pellet grill, mainly because I thought if I had trouble working out how to control the fire in a charcoal bbq, I'd quit. I then got sick of the reliability issues with the pellet smoker, but loved the food, so went down the charcoal road.

    Found a used Weber kettle first, it was pretty good, a bit temperamental for low and slow cooks, but it got the job done, and for the money you pay for a used kettle, they're hard to beat.

    I then upgraded to an Akorn and I absolutely love that thing. Holds temp beautifully once you learn to dial it in. Awesome for low and slow. Also pretty handy for higher temp stuff. It's hard to imagine anyone being unhappy with the purchase of an Akorn.

    The old girl is starting to show her age though and rust holes aren't too far away I reckon. When the time comes, it'll be replaced by another Kamado for sure. Whether it's another Akorn or a Kamado Joe, I'm not yet sure, but I won't be going without a kamado.

    Akorn Kamado, 12Qt &9Qt Spinifex camp ovens, spun steel camp oven, Kings <X battery spit.

  • I did it back to front and started with an expensive pellet grill, mainly because I thought if I had trouble working out how to control the fire in a charcoal bbq, I'd quit. I then got sick of the reliability issues with the pellet smoker, but loved the food, so went down the charcoal road.

    Found a used Weber kettle first, it was pretty good, a bit temperamental for low and slow cooks, but it got the job done, and for the money you pay for a used kettle, they're hard to beat.

    I then upgraded to an Akorn and I absolutely love that thing. Holds temp beautifully once you learn to dial it in. Awesome for low and slow. Also pretty handy for higher temp stuff. It's hard to imagine anyone being unhappy with the purchase of an Akorn.

    The old girl is starting to show her age though and rust holes aren't too far away I reckon. When the time comes, it'll be replaced by another Kamado for sure. Whether it's another Akorn or a Kamado Joe, I'm not yet sure, but I won't be going without a kamado.

    I'm trying to decide whether to buy a Weber 18"/47cm Kettle or a Char-Griller Akorn Jr (standard Akorn is a bit out of my price range). I really like the idea of having to spend less on fuel, but I am concerned that the longevity may be far less than a Weber (although I'm not sure how exactly you'd factor the reduced fuel costs into the value equation). I plan to keep it outside (not under roof/in the open), so I'd buy a cover for it. Do you have any idea regarding the approxmate longevity of the Akorn BBQs?

  • Hi Hentrox

    The two bbqs are quite different in size from memory. Probably worth thinking about your planned use. If you need the extra grill space of the kettle that will be the better choice. It's also likely to last longer than the akorn in the elements, though in my opinion that's likely to lead to the BBQ going unused because when you'll want to use it you'll have to deal with clean ups and potential surprises like spiders having made it home. That's why they are so common in kerbside rubbish collections.

    The akorn is a small bbq and very portable, is there a way you could store inside after cool down?

    Ultimately the choice should be based on what you're planning to cook. For a first charcoal BBQ, a second hand (full size) weber kettle is a great low cost option. You should be able to get one with the ash catcher pretty cheap.

    Masterbuilt Gravity 800 | Maximus Pizza Oven | GMG - Daniel Boone | Cyprus Grill | Big Steel Keg | Blackstone Griddle | Fire Pit | Weber Genesis |

  • Hi Hentrox

    The two bbqs are quite different in size from memory. Probably worth thinking about your planned use. If you need the extra grill space of the kettle that will be the better choice. It's also likely to last longer than the akorn in the elements, though in my opinion that's likely to lead to the BBQ going unused because when you'll want to use it you'll have to deal with clean ups and potential surprises like spiders having made it home. That's why they are so common in kerbside rubbish collections.

    The akorn is a small bbq and very portable, is there a way you could store inside after cool down?

    Ultimately the choice should be based on what you're planning to cook. For a first charcoal BBQ, a second hand (full size) weber kettle is a great low cost option. You should be able to get one with the ash catcher pretty cheap.

    What he said :thumbup: Nothing wrong with a second hand kettle to get going, that's how I got started with charcoal and those kettles are still alive.

    Akorn Kamado, 12Qt &9Qt Spinifex camp ovens, spun steel camp oven, Kings <X battery spit.

  • I would go a second hand Weber over the Akorn Jr just based on size. A second hand Weber can be picked up around the $100 mark & can cook some fantastic low & slow or hot & fast. My second bbq was a Weber which i still have & frequently use.

    20" Reverse flow Offset, Weber GA, Weber kettle

  • With both the Akorn and Weber kettle out in the open with a cover both will get weather damage at the bottom of the cart/ legs. Eg from rain splash.

    Grill size makes a big difference to cooking experience. As a starter would get a Napoleon kettle from Bunnings for $399 which has a 22inch grill.

    Under a cover it will still rust. Oil it with cooking oil to help protect and you will get lots of fun out of it to help you decide your next bbq steps.

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