Spark Grill Review: Can It Replace Your Gas or Charcoal Grill?

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Before I became a Spark Grill person, I was not a Grill Person at all. I grew up in the suburbs with a backyard—but no grill in sight. I was in college by the time my parents bought a little Weber, which sat in the garage and got wheeled out for the occasional burger night. Meanwhile I moved from a college dorm room to a series of airless NYC apartments, where the closest I got to grilling was roasting my ass on some fire escape grates.

Which is all to say, I was not out here looking for a Spark grill, a Bluetooth-enabled “smart grill” that promises the flavor of charcoal with the convenience of gas. If you had asked me to describe “the flavor of charcoal” I would say “burnt,” and I could not tell you what was so convenient about gas. At friends’ houses and Airbnbs, gas canisters seemed to always run out as soon as the food hit the grill—with no backup in sight.

Now I live in a place with a back patio, and since getting a Spark grill last summer, I’ve realized just how much I’ve come to rely on it—and even enjoy cooking on it. It’s gas but with the taste of charcoal; it’s charcoal but with the ease of gas. But mostly I just like that this thing cooks my food well more or less every time, with very little guesswork or room for human error, while I drink a spritz and chill outside. Read on for my full Spark grill review.

Spark Grill Essentials Package

Rating: 8.5/10

Pros

  • Marries the flavor of charcoal with the convenience of gas
  • Very easy to start and end a grill session
  • Extremely chic design
  • App is easy to connect and navigate
  • Grill probes take the guesswork out of cooking to temp
  • Grill kettle comes fully assembled
  • Water and rip-resistant grill cover comes with some packages (or is sold a la carte for $60)

Cons

  • At $1,099 for the basic grill package, this is not a cheap grill
  • Briqs cost around $4 – $8 each and need to be ordered from Spark. Depending on where you live, this could be more expensive than gas or charcoal.
  • Igniter needs to be cleaned fairly often
  • Requires electricity
  • Need to plan your menu in advance to know which Briq to use, otherwise you risk running out of heat or wasting some of a Briq
  • Frame assembly can be cumbersome
  • Massive amount of packaging required to ship

Basics

Spark solves an age-old grilling problem: charcoal produces great-tasting, nicely charred food but is annoying to deal with, while propane gets the job done faster but doesn’t impart the smoky flavor that true Grill Heads crave. How does Spark do it, you ask? The grill kettle (where the food cooks) has a built-in drawer designed to fit Spark’s custom, rectangular, hardwood charcoal Briqs, which come in five varieties—Quick, Everyday, High-Heat, Baking & Roasting, and Low & Slow. From there, the grill lights with an electric ceramic igniter and cooks like a gas grill, but with even more precision. The increased level of control is thanks to a pair of internal convection fans, strategically placed thermometers, and a heat spreader (an adjustable piece of metal that goes above the flame and below the grate to direct the heat evenly). Spark also solves a secondary problem, which is that grills are ugly. With its sleek kettle (choose from black, navy, or gray) and lightweight steel base, Spark is definitely mid-century-modern-inspired millennial bait.

How does the Spark grill work?

I find that using my Spark is stupidly easy 99% of the time. Start by assessing your menu and deciding which Briq to use. If I’m cooking for one or two, I’m almost always going for a Quick Briq (which will maintain a temperature range of 450°-600° for 30-45 mins). If I’m having people over, the Everyday (500°-700° for 60-90 mins) is my guy. The High-Heat Briq is the must-have for Neapolitan-style pizza, and Low & Slow Briqs are the all-day smoking, braising, and roasting hero with a burn time of 6-8 hours. Think brisket, pork butt, and racks of ribs.

The Briq fits snugly into the drawer at the base of the Spark grill’s kettle. Once it’s in, make sure the grill is plugged into electrical power, then turn the knob on the kettle all the way to the right and hold. This sends an electrical signal that sparks the igniter, lighting the Briq, which is coated in a layer of alcohol. Now all you have to do is set the temp on the knob and wait. This is where the “smart” part comes in. Sync the grill with the Spark app on your phone, then go inside, prep your food, make a drink, and the app will tell you when your grill is hot to trot.

The app includes temperature monitoring, timers, and video tutorials. If you use the temperature probes that come with the grill, the app will tell you when your meat is cooked through. Most importantly, you can give your grill a name (mine is Grillzilla, thanks for asking).



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