Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
One thing we routinely find in our testing of charcoal grills is that the results—how your food turns out—are largely dependent on the skill of the user, who has to be ready to adjust dampers, monitor cooking temperatures, and handle coals to get outstanding results.
But despite all the oversight, charcoal grill enthusiasts think it’s well worth the effort. “Smoke is a byproduct of combustion, and the smoke from burning gas and charcoal are different,” says Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn, a celebrated grilling expert and judge on the professional barbecue circuit, on his website, Amazingribs.com. “Charcoal makes more smoke than gas, with a broader range of tasty flavor molecules, because it’s burning complex organic molecules.” In other words, the smoke from charcoal makes food taste better.
Below you’ll find