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IG Charcoal BBQ Grill Review

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IG Charcoal BBQ Grill

The shiny, stainless steel IG Charcoal BBQ Grill has a simple, cosmetically appealing design. It has a large, 16 inch x 30 inch cooking grate that can be separated into two 16 inch x 15 inch sections as shown here.

Two hands hold two steel cooking grates that are hinged together in the middle.

Large, rectangular cooking surfaces are often useful for the two-zone method of cooking with a hot direct side for searing and a moderate indirect side for roasting. However, since IG has no lid, it is best suited for direct, high temperature grilling. You can pile charcoal on one side and use the opposite as a safe, holding zone, but without a lid, you can’t get the full benefits from a  two-zone set up for large roasts and turkeys. Click here to learn about two-zone cooking.  Shiny steel box on four legs placed on an outdoor patio.

What makes IG’s design unique is the moveable charcoal grate which allows the charcoal bed to be elevated up and down by a small, built-in hand crank on the front of the grill. This is a nice feature for a grill in this price range. Many charcoal grills have adjustable height charcoal trays that can be lifted or lowered via handles on each side. But only a few, higher priced models have a hand crank mechanism.

Shiny steel box with a crank on the front. A hand grasps the crank.

The body, legs, mid-shelf, side-shelves and hand crank are made of stainless steel. Even though IG has a relatively moderate price tag of about $500, the lightweight construction quality was disappointing and not what I expected. IG just doesn’t feel sturdy when you’re cooking on it.

Nonetheless, the body of the grill looks nice and the stainless finish really makes it stand out on your deck. The laser etched brand name on the front of the grill is also a nice touch. The stainless steel side shelves are handy for setting sheet pans, utensils, seasonings or anything else you may need during your cook. Additionally, they fold down, which certainly saves on storage space. There is also a slide out ash tray that can be removed and emptied from the front of the grill. The tray extends the entire length of the charcoal grate which makes ash removal easy.

The adjustable height charcoal grate is made of expanded stainless steel mesh. A cast iron or steel rod grate would have been nice because they will typically last longer and not be as prone to warping under high heat. The mesh grate is connected by four arms (two on each side) that are moved up and down by the hand crank on the front of the grill.

A shiny steel grid in side a steel box.

Direct grilling

As mentioned before, the large cooking surface allows you to cook a lot of food over direct heat, but the lack of a lid makes it difficult to achieve a two-zone set up that is required for thicker cuts of meat. IG is more suitable for foods that cook fast like burgers, flank steaks, wings or kabobs. Though IG worked well in this capacity, I really did not notice a significant temperature difference with the charcoal bed cranked up high right under the food:

Kabobs sizzling on a charcoal grill.

Or down low:

Chicken sizzling on a charcoal grill.

With a full chimney of lit Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquets cranked down to the low position, my Fireboard Digital Thermometer measured the cooking grate temperature as 472°F and 566°F in the high position. There was very little wind and the ambient temperature was at about 60°F.  IG has no dampers for air control as they would be ineffective without a lid. Of course you could experiment with using more or less fuel and/or pile it onto one side for a lidless two-zone experience. Additionally, cranking the fire up or down was clunky. The grate did not travel smoothly and seemed like it was binding when raised or lowered. And after all my cranking, the height adjustment range was only about three inches. Cranked up high the charcoal tray was about 5.5 inches from the cooking grate.

The concept of moving foods toward or away from the fire is similar to Santa Maria or Argentine Grills that have cooking grates which move vertically toward and away from the coal bed, as opposed the IG Grill where the charcoal bed is moved up and down instead. The advantage of the Santa Maria Style Grill over the IG is that when you move the food vertically, away from the fire, it allows ambient air to mix with rising heat from the fire. This, in turn, allows for cooler temperatures when the cooking grate is cranked up high. On the IG, heat can only escape at the cooking grate. That means if you have the charcoal bed up or down, all of the heat must eventually pass up and through the cooking grate. Unfortunately, by lowering the charcoal bed into the closed body of the IG Charcoal BBQ Grill, it prevents any moderating effects of ambient air. I was disappointed, as the adjustable height charcoal bed is one of IG’s key features.

All of that being said, I was still able to sear everything very well over the live fire whether the grate was at the highest or lowest position.

Crank call

The hand crank mechanism also left a lot to be desired. Before firing IG up for the first time, I was cranking the charcoal grate up and down to get a feel for how it operated. When I cranked the grate all the way up to the top, the cranking mechanism threaded out of the nut as shown here.

A large steel bolt going through a steel frame.

There is no stopper to keep this from happening. This was a major disappointment. To make matters worse, it was a huge pain to get the bolt and the nut to line back up and become functional again, and would surely be impossible to do when the grill is hot.

Getting Cranky

And there’s more to be cranky about. The thin flimsy construction became an issue after a couple uses. As the grill heated up, I experienced a fair amount of warping and popping. This led to the charcoal grates not fitting into the grill once the grill was heated up. The thin, nickel-plated, steel rod cooking grates were also warped by the heat of the charcoal in the grill.

The cooking grate handles are made of the same nickel-plated steel rods with a wooden dowel wrapped in thin silicone. The wrap did not stand up to the heat and began to melt and tear away from the wooden handles. At first, I thought perhaps I should have removed the silicone wrap from the handles. However, there is nothing in the very limited instructions that told me to do so. This led me to believe that the silicone was supposed to be heat resistant. I guess not.

A damaged handle on a steel grill grate.

The two grill legs on the right side have casters. The two legs on the left side have no wheels, which means you have to lift the left side to move IG around on the two casters. Unfortunately, the legs with no casters just slide into the grill body and were not held in place by any fasteners. When I moved the grill, I lifted the non-caster side and the legs simply fell out. You can imagine how frustrating this was after some of the other disappointments I’d already encountered.

Packing and assembly

The IG Charcoal BBQ Grill comes well packaged. All parts are packed in bubble wrap and supported by Styrofoam molding in the box to prevent shipping damage. Assembly was very straightforward because of the simple nature of the grill. However the instruction manual was poor and lacked clear direction. While this grill could be assembled fairly easily without any instructions, it would be nice to see a well thought out manual with proper instructions and an accurate parts list. For example, the manual shows IG equipped with four casters, while only two were in the box. Even if they had sent four casters, only the two legs on the right were designed to have casters attached. While researching this review, I ran across pictures of older IG models with four casters. They really should go back to that design.

Likes

  • Large, party-size cook surface for direct grilling.
  • The shiny stainless steel finish is appealing and makes the grill stand out on your patio or deck.
  • The stainless steel side shelves are handy, easy to clean, and fold down when not needed.
  • Removable ash collector works well after the grill cools down.
  • Bottom storage shelf.

Dislikes

  • Poor, lightweight construction overall.
  • Ineffective adjustable-height charcoal tray mechanism. IG works just fine for simple grilling, but the crank and internal hardware are poorly made and goose up the price tag while providing little practical benefit.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, I would not recommend this grill to our readers. The whole grill seems rushed and not very well thought out. The poor build quality, cheap materials and rather serious design flaws garner a “Not Recommended” rating. It may look pretty, but a tried-and-true $150 Weber Kettle will outperform it by miles. At the time of this review, IG Charcoal BBQ writes, “we are working on fixing these issues with our next model.”

Warranty

Also at the time of this review, IG did not have a written warranty. However, they tell us, “We have a verbal warranty with our customers and will add it to our website: 1 year warranty on the grill. We will replace the grill if it doesn’t work for the customer and we will provide customer service to help fix the problems.”

We thank IG Charcoal BBQ for providing us with this grill for testing.

  • Model:
    Charcoal BBQ Grill
  • Item Price:
    $ 500.00
  • Where to buy (buying from this supplier supports this website):
  • Made in USA:
    no
  • Review Method:
    Cooked On It
    We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
  • Primary Function:
    Grill
  • Fuel:
    Charcoal
  • Primary Capacity:
    480 square inches

Published On: 9/11/2019 Last Modified: 2/28/2021

  • John “Spinaker” Bowlsby -

    Spinaker grew up in the BBQ-starved state of Minnesota. People here are more likely to be eating hot dish or lutefisk than brisket and ribs. But he has always been drawn to outdoor cooking.

    “My BBQ journey probably started where many others’ did; on the deck with my father. He loved to cook burgers and steaks [...]


 

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