Charcoal BBQ Grill Buying Guide

Charcoal BBQ smoker

Nothing beats the taste of grilled meats over an open flamed charcoal BBQ. Whether you’re entertaining friends with low and slow pork ribs or using it year-round to cook up seared steaks. Australians will find many reasons to fire up the barbeque, but it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

With so many different grills and styles available, it’s hard to know which one is the most suitable for you. No worries – Big Dog Spices is here to help you find the right charcoal BBQ for any occasion.

Tip: New to the world of grilling? Read our ultimate guide to charcoal grilling for handy tips and tricks.

What is a Charcoal BBQ?

A charcoal BBQ, or charcoal grill, is a portable outdoor cooking grill that uses charcoal as a fuel source to generate heat for cooking. They come in various sizes, styles and materials and typically consist of a metal grill grate, a lid, a firebox, air vents and an ash catcher.

The result? A smoky, delicious backyard flavour that no other grill can match when enhancing your food.

Cooking with a charcoal BBQ

What are the main types of charcoal?

  • Hardwood lump charcoal – Made from hardwood logs, such as oak and hickory. This versatile wood burns consistently, and faster than other charcoals, leaving minimal ash behind. The intense heat from this charcoal provides a unique flavour to your favourite meats like seared steaks, marinade chicken wings, and even fruits and vegetables, which you can also take even further with our range of vegetable rubs, spices and seasonings.
  • Hardwood briquettes – A combination of scrap woods with a mixture of binders that hold the briquettes together, making them easy to light, produce a lot of heat and burn consistently and typically require a longer cook time than hardwood lump charcoal. If you like to savour the flavour and juices of your meat, such as low and slow BBQ pork or brisket, then briquettes is a great option for you.
  • Charcoal briquettes – Made from compressed sawdust, and other materials, charcoal briquettes are widely available in local supermarkets, Bunnings, Mitre 10, and even convenience stores. Charcoal briquettes burn slower than hardwood, so you need to allow more time for grilling and possibly add more lighter fluid as you cook.

Things to Consider When Buying a Charcoal BBQ

  • Entertaining – The number of people you entertain plays a factor in choosing the right BBQ for you. If you are only cooking for a small amount of people, a portable or tabletop grill will suffice. A larger grill will provide more space for cooking different types of food simultaneously and on multiple areas of the grill if you intend to cook for a crowd.
  • Portability – Will you use your grill only in your backyard? Do you need to take it camping or to your mate’s place? If portability is necessary, consider weight, size, and ease of cleaning.
  • Durability – Charcoal grills can be exposed to the elements, so it’s important to choose one that is made of materials you don’t have to worry about. Steel and cast iron are great choices because they won’t rust or corrode, even in harsh weather conditions.
  • Grill Grates – Consider the size and type of grill grates you want, as well as how much you are willing to spend. It’s also important to take into account the durability of the material you are buying. Coated aluminium is cheaper, but wears out faster whereas stainless steel gives you longevity and the popular cast iron grill provides more durability but requires more maintenance and can crack over time.
  • Cleaning – There is no real “quick” way to clean a grill, but there are some materials that make the job easier. Stainless steel is a safe bet for ease of cleaning. Also, remember that the longer you leave your food and scraps out on the grill after eating, the tougher cleaning job you will have ahead of you.
  • Accessories – Fitting your new grill with the right accessories can transform it into a multipurpose tool, but some items called accessories are better thought of as essentials, such as grilling tongs and a grill cover.

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Types of Charcoal BBQ Grills

From portable grills to built-in outdoor kitchens and smokers, there’s a barbeque for every occasion and budget. The most common charcoal BBQ types in Australia are:

Kettle Grill

Designed to mimic the appearance of a kettle and hence its name, a kettle grill is a classic designed, round-shaped grill that can be used for a wide range of cooking styles, from hot and fast to low and slow. The kettle grill typically consists of a lid, a grilling grate, air vents and an ash compartment. They also have the added benefit of being easily transported and carried by hand or on wheels.

Popular choice: The Weber Kettle Series boasts a range of stylish BBQs at affordable prices and additional features such as fold-down tables and one-touch cleaning systems.

Kettle grills are the most popular grills worldwide.

Barrel Grill

The barrel grill is the ideal cooking apparatus for indirect cooking of larger cuts of meat such as brisket, pork butt, and beef ribs. Unlike kettle grills, which are typically smaller, barrel grills feature a larger body and lid that help distribute heat evenly and create a convection-like cooking environment. They often come with built-in thermometers, hanging rods and other accessories.

Popular choice: Built to last and withstand the elements, Oklahoma Joe’s Judge Charcoal Grill is a high-quality and durable grill, perfect for outdoor barbequing and ensures a delicious, smoky-flavoured meal every time.

BBQ tiger prawns

Ceramic Grill

The ceramic grill, also known as a Kamado grill, is a unique type of charcoal BBQ that maintains its heat like no other. It’s shaped like an egg with a dome-shaped lid and made from a thick ceramic material that can retain heat and moisture, which allows your food to cook evenly and retain its natural juices.

Popular choice: Kamado Joe BBQ grills are gems of Japanese ingenuity, combining the style and convenience of natural charcoal so that you can enjoy delicious wood-smoked flavours with much less fuel and effort required.

Kamado Grill

No matter which BBQ you finally settle on or what fuel source you choose to use, remember that there is no substitute for flavour. See our variety of rubs, spices and seasonings and check out our handy spice pairing guide for that extra taste you crave.


Learn to Cook with Spices

Spice up your cooking game with our free Beginner's Guide to Cooking with Spices