I’m a charcoal snob. It’s one of the reasons why I really only deal with the higher end gas grills, because an infra-red sear burner is the only way to get the same sort of awesome heat that comes pre-loaded with a bag of charcoal. It begs the question, why don’t we see more outdoor kitchens with built-in charcoal grills?
When designing an outdoor kitchen, the challenge with the superiority of charcoal over other forms of heat is that there aren’t a lot of budget built-in charcoal grills out there. Whereas the entry point for what I would consider an ok-quality gas built-in grill is $1800-2200, stainless steel charcoal built-ins are a bit more. I carry a Fire Magic Aurora A830i Gas and Charcoal Combo Grill. It’s pretty great, and the charcoal is lit by the gas burner for ease of lighting, but at a list price of $4,690 it can be a chunk of the budget.
If you’re less concerned about the stainless steel look you have more options. Any of the “ceramic egg” smoker/cookers can also be used as a charcoal grill in the open position. It may seem a little big for that purpose but it certainly gets the job done. I want one of these in the worst possible way, because not only have I discovered smoked meats and cheeses – I’ve discovered smoked cocktails and infusions. mmmm. One that I offer is by Saffire, and the price point is pretty great. A freestanding Saffire smoker starts at about $1100, and one designed to sit in a kitchen island is a bit less.
(One of my former neighbors had a Big Green Egg and someone swiped it from his backyard. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone standing in his driveway, screaming “who would take a man’s egg? WHO?!?!? I WILL FIND YOUUUUUUUUUUU!!!”)
You can also click here to read my post on how to build an outdoor kitchen around a freestanding grill – we did it with a gas grill, but charcoal could also work.
It’s a pretty well known fact that I fall victim to the rabbit hole of the internet pretty easily. There’s a bright side to this, though. It means I discovered the Concrete Exchange, an online shop for products by Fu-Tung Cheng. He’s a pretty amazing designer with a contemporary bent to his styling, and he designed a lightweight concrete surround for your basic, everyday $100 Weber kettle grill. Aesthetically, maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but if you like modern and concrete it’s pretty neat. And functional, too.
So can a built-in charcoal grill be installed in an outdoor kitchen? Sure, but they can be a little tougher to find and may demand a little modification of your cabinetry. In my opinion, though, it’s totally worth it.
If you’re planning your outdoor kitchen or any other landscape project, I’d love to help you. Contact me to discuss next steps!
I just read your article because I was thinking the same thing… Where are the charcoal outdoor kitchens!? I have a Char-Griller (see link) and its a combo gas/charcoal/smoker. I was thinking if it was possible to build around it? Have you seen someone use a grill like this in an outdoor setup? I’m thinking I just might have to use it as a standalone next to some counter space and a bar. Your wisdom would be appreciated. Thank you for any time and ideas you can provide.
~Joaquin in NorCal
Hey Joaquin, most people just don’t get the awesomeness of charcoal grilling. Not including the ceramic eggs, I have maybe two built-in charcoal grill options available from all the manufacturers I offer. I feel your pain!
You may want to check out this post, also on my site (I need to link these, clearly): https://www.revolutionarygardens.com/can-i-use-my-freestanding-grill-as-a-built-in-grill/ The most important piece of advice, obviously, is to make sure that you’re not getting too close to combustible materials. Good luck!