Top 6 Best Cast Iron Hibachi Grills and Why
If you have made it to this site, you have most likely arrived here seeking advice on which grill to purchase for this unique backyard grilling experience. This article will lay out the top five best options, and even go into the “vintage market” for some of the no longer in productions grills that can be found out there ITW (in the wild) at garage sales, thrift stores, discarded street side or even with friends and family who may no longer want the one they have.
With vintage the challenge and fun is in the hunt, keep your eyes open during the hunt and the options on cast iron hibachi grilling become almost limitless.
If you are tired of buying a new grill every couple of years from the big box hardware store then you’ve come to the right conclusion, steel grills don’t last and they actually want you to buy a new one every couple of years. Stop playing their game by their rules. Cast iron grill hibachis are hands down the best way to meet your grilling needs.
Under each grill type there has been an example video to show the grill in use. A picture says a thousand words and a video says 1,000,000. Take a look and it will help you decide which grill fits your needs most.
What are Cast Iron Hibachi Grill Strengths?
- Efficiency of coal use – These grills are coal misers. In fact, at times you will can struggle to keep it from getting too hot. Once you have gained the skills and know your grill you will find that your spend on coals will go way down.
- Ease to go from cold grill to cooking and time saved
- Selecting the right size grill to the cooking needs for your household – There is no point in firing up a Weber full sized kettle and all the coals it burns when you are cooking for a family of 5 or less.
- Coal heating media selection is unlimited – Lump, briquette, wood options are wide open. Cycle threw any of these coal/heating options depending on what you have on hand; flavor or time you want to spend cooking. Every option works great in these cast iron grills
- Durability – What more can we say, it’s CAST IRON! Check out our maintenance advice section and this grill can become a family generational heirloom if taken care of. That’s one of the reasons we mention “vintage grills” in our recommendations. They can last for a hundred+ years.
- Great sear and wood grilling flavor – Cooking on cast iron offers its unique characteristics associated with cast iron heat retention and imparting into the meat or vegetable surfaces. Everyone likes the look, smell and flavor of great grill marks.
- Preseasoned – All of these grills come preseasoned and do not require any additional effort other than some requiring minor assemble. Fresh out of the box they are ready to use, maintenance is however up to you from that point forward. Maintenance is discussed in another section of this web page.
Have you figured out what is important to you in a grill decision?
- Portability – Some of these grills have the ability to pack up and go. Other grills take a medium amount of effort. Some just plain are going anywhere once you set them up. If you want to be able to take the grill on the family camping trip that is something that you need to consider and look for first.
- Durability – Let’s face it, Chinese sourced castings aren’t of the same quality as those made historically or currently in other parts of the world. Probably the best value for the price at this point is the Lodge manufacturing process. If you are really looking for that homerun on durability, consider the vintage market. Rust is your enemy, but with a little strategy and care rust can be busted as a worry.
- Cooking Surface Area – Thank about this before you make the plunge. Some grill surface areas are great for a couple of burgers or a few kabob skewers and that is it. Others would require multiple rounds of loading the grill to feed a dozen campers sitting in the camp site or hanging out on the back deck with you.
- Versatility – Some grills are only designed to support a steak, hot dog or similar weight for cooking. Some style of cast iron grills can take the full weight of a pot full of 20 ears of corn boiling in water. Decide what suits your needs best. Are accessories and versatility in uses important? If you want to be able to cycle from a fish fry one meal to a steak, with skillet fried vegetables, you need to make an appropriate selection for that.
- Quality of Casting – Take a look at the durability section, not all casting is created equal. Some of the surfaces are grittier than others. All of them are manageable, just know that you get what you pay for when it comes to casting.
- Ease of Use – Your skills will improve with use. Even if you’re brand new to the fire pit or count yourself as a seasoned veteran, you will enjoy gaining the skills and learning your grill. Some do require more skill in keeping that fire from getting away from you and turning your filet cuts into carbon hockey pucks. As with most things though, the fun and sense of accomplishment is in the learning.
- Cost/Value – You get what you pay for. We’ve found that generally the price break is around $80-100+. In that price range your start to get into a quality product that is manufactured to last. Below that, you are getting a product that may work but isn’t going to last you more than a couple of years and you’re to find yourself frustrated and having to replace the grill every couple of years.
Skills you will acquire:
- Heat Management – As you would expect, this is the most critical element of learning to cook on a cast iron hibachi grill. If you enter into your learning curve knowing that it is much easier to start low and add heat you will be doing yourself a favor. If you build too much heat it is difficult to take it the heat away before you’ve lost control.
- Maintenance of Grill – Some people live a care free lift and just let their grill go native and live free in the wild. Some like the order and appearance of a well-cared for grill with a deep black luster finish that is enviable to all who appreciate a fine cast iron seasoned surface. That’s up to you to decide. We’ve ended up somewhere between the two and it works for us. There is a maintenance section in the website that will help you decide what works for you.
- Storage – Again, this will need to be a decision by you based on what your conditions are. There are accessories that make storage easier, but location can sometimes be an issue. Your storage strategy needs to be considered.
- Type of coals – Not all coals or heat sources are created equal. Enjoy experimenting what works best for what types of meat or cooking you are doing. We’ve come to realize that it is actually best to keep three options on hand. When considering time available, heat required, flavor desired, length of cook and cooking types we keep briquettes, lump and chunks of oak/hickory around for any scenario we end up for that day.
Lodge Sportsman Grill – LSG
Arguably the king of medium sized cast iron hibachi grills. You will find it readily available through many retail outlets. This is the grill that is easiest to recommend by far.
There is a detailed review of the Lodge Sportsmans Grill on this website. Of all the grills discussed in this article it is the one that rises to the top. However, it may not fit those items we discussed at the beginning of the article. You should weigh the options and your requirements when considering each of these grills. However, if you are quick to purchase… no need to even read further. It isn’t a mistake to buy this grill.
Bruntmor Cast Iron Grill
I think everybody knows this is a knock-off of the Lodge Sportsmans Grill. This is a straight up Chinese copy. If you want to save a buck or two and you are willing to sacrifice some of the quality assured by Lodge, this could be a grill for you. Just know before hand, you get what you pay for.
Bruntmor has a thicker handle which does make it a little easier on the hand when carrying it. These grills are in fact made of cast iron and the wire handle of the LSG can weigh a bit on the fingers when you are carrying it.
Cajun Classic Round
This is an interesting round shaped grill that gives an even temperature cooking surface vs the oval shaped LSG. This shape does not necessarily give you the flexibility to do the skillet or other forms of cooking that the pill shape does, but the simple meat cooking may fit your strategy.
Marsh Allen 30052
This is a straight classic hibachi grill with the variable height cooking surface. The grills are split in two which provides the ability to cook at different heights and temperatures. For example, one side steak and the other side oil vegetables cooked at a higher height.
Barebones All-in-One Grill
This traveling combo grill does not necessarily fit the traditional features of a hibachi cast iron grill. Some may worry about the trap of “everything squeezed into one package” and although it does have many options it doesn’t do any of them as well as a stand alone feature option. That worry is valid in this case. However, as far as having one convenient package in the back of the truck for a camping trip that fits that bill in spades. In this package you not only get the hibachi you also are getting an open fire grill, wok, skillet and griddle. There is something for everybody…
Vintage options are as varied and the leaves in the forest. You can find what characteristics you think are most important to you in about a dozen different hibachi grill platforms. You can find these gems in garage yard sales, thrift stores, antique stores, facebook sales sites, craigslist and even setting up an online search in ebay. Your limit on what you can find is only as restricted as your passion to find it. In fact, that is one of the best things about searching out vintage cast iron grills… the hunt and score.
These are typically collectors items. As with most things that are collectible, you are going to pay for it. It isn’t unreasonable to pay upwards of $250 for one of these grills. While that may sound like a lot think about what you will pay for a new gas grill every 5 or 6 years when they rot out from under you…
Some of these vintage grills have amazing features to choose from that you just won’t be able to find in anything being massed produced today.
If you are conducting your own online search for a vintage hibachi grill here are a few key words that you can use to search for cast iron grills. BSR cast iron grill, Birmingham Stove & Range cast iron grill, Griswold cast iron grill, Atlanta Stove Works, Q Grill, Barbecue Kitchen,
There are several other options to be found in a true table top Japanese hibachi grill that come in several various small forms for indoor cooking directly on the table you are eating from. At this time, we are not reviewing these grills since they fit into another category of cast iron grill not really related to the typical outdoor steak and burger backyard grills. These small Japanese tabletop grills are in fact designed to run on alcohol gel and are more like an ambiance type of grill for reheating skewered meat directly on the table where you are eating. It is kind of like a fondue set up.
At some point in the future we will conduct a review of this category of grills and let you know what those options are.
We hope this review has given you some things to think about and given you the information you need to make a decision.
It is probably fairly apparent that we are recommending the Lodge Sportsman’s Grill for all the reason discussed throughout the website. You won’t go wrong picking on of them up. If you are looking for a more consistently cheaper version of this grill you can go with the Bruntmore.
Happy grilling and please review our recipes and videos for more great advice and cooking.