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Spark Grill review

Combining a simplistic and appealing design with stellar function, the Spark Grill should be near the top of every would-be grillers wishlist.

Image shows the Spark Grill.
(Image: © Mike Larson.)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

The Spark Grill is a fantastic grill that really does it all. The only downsides? A hefty price tag and proprietary charcoal.

Pros

  • +

    Very versatile

  • +

    Impressive range of temperatures

  • +

    Great design

  • +

    Brilliant customer service

Cons

  • -

    Proprietary charcoal

  • -

    The app's range isn't great

Imagine the smokey taste of meat grilled over wood, but with the warm up speed, precision and control of a gas grill. That’s what the Spark Grill, a versatile product that uses different kinds of charcoal bricks to match whatever cooking you’re doing, promises. 

Spark Grill: Key specs

Primary cooking space: 386 sq. in.

Dimensions: W 45” x D 23.5” x H 42.5” 

Weight: 77 lbs for the kettle + 28 lbs for the cart

Warranty: 3-year warranty, 100-day risk-free trial

From low and slow barbecue to pizzas that cook at upwards of 900 degrees and everything in between, Colorado-based Spark says its grill can do it all. We put those promises to the test, grilling and barbecuing a variety of foods chosen to challenge the grills spectrum of abilities.

Using it to cook baby back ribs, burgers, steaks and even a few pizzas, we put the grill through a gauntlet of work with varied, but ultimately solid results. While the grill burns charcoal, it still has an electric fan powered temperature control, so an electrical outlet nearby is a must.

Spark also makes an app that gives users the capability of controlling the grill’s internal temperature through their phones. From unboxing to setup to cooking and cleaning, we put the Spark Grill through its paces. It’s an expensive, but extremely capable grill and could ultimately be a catch-all replacement for many outdoor cooks. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the Spark Grill and why you should (or should not) buy it.

The Spark Grill can be purchased from Spark Grills' website. You can choose between the Essentials package, the Prime package, and the Chef's package, which comes with a pizza grilling pack.

Spark Grill: Design

Currently, Spark only offers one model of its signature grill, but it’s a beauty. It features a large double-walled porcelain enamelled and insulated kettle (that comes in black, navy or gray matte finishes) that sits on a sturdy wheeled aluminum cart. In addition to the kettle, the cart also has a large work surface that accommodates a wooden cutting board, which can be used food preparation. 

The cart helps with the mobility of the Spark Grill, but with a kettle that weighs upwards of 80 pounds, this isn’t a super portable unit. The grill also needs to be plugged into a standard electrical socket to use its electric temperature control system, so it’s smart to be thoughtful about the grill’s placement.

Inside the kettle are two heavy-duty cast iron grates, a big upgrade to the thinner plated steel grates that come standard in most charcoal grills.

Image shows the Spark Grill.

(Image credit: Mike Larson.)

Spark Grill: Features

The Spark Grill’s large cooking area puts it on par with most gas grills, featuring nearly 400 square inches on those cast iron grates. 

As fuel, the Spark Grill uses proprietary charcoal “Briqs” that can be purchased from Spark. Each Briq comes individually sealed and packaged, and they should be left that way until you’re ready to cook. Each Briq is coated in a plant-based lighter fluid, so if they are taken out of the packaging too soon before being used, the lighter fluid can evaporate, making it more difficult to get the fire started.

You do not have to use the charcoal Briqs, however. You can use regular charcoal briquets, but if you go down that route, you won’t be able to regulate the temperature as well as with the Briqs.

The grill also features a charcoal drawer with a removable cast iron holder. While other charcoal grills have to be emptied of ash by removing a gravity fed tray or by dumping the entire kettle, Spark Grill users only have to pull out the holder and dump out the ashes. While it has to be done after every cook, because only one Briq is used, there isn’t much ash to deal with than with standard charcoal grills.

We liked the Spark’s electric ignition system as well. Once the Briq is loaded, just a click of the dial gets it lit and burning in a matter of minutes. The dial also is used to set the temperature, anywhere from 200 to 900 degrees. One of the more tech-savvy features of the grill is Spark’s inclusion of an app that allows users to control the temperature of the grill. 

The Spark comes in three different packages: Essentials, Prime or Chef’s. The Essentials package includes the grill, three Briqs, two temperature probes, a cutting board and a 15-ft power cord. The Prime package includes the same as the Essentials package, but also includes five extra Briqs and a grill cover. The Chef’s package has everything the Prime package has, but also includes an apron and the Pizza Pack, which has a pizza stone that sits right in the grill, as well as a pizza peel.

Image shows the Spark Grill.

(Image credit: Mike Larson.)

Spark Grill: Setup and assembly

Most of Spark’s business right now is direct to consumer, so if you get a Spark Grill, it’s likely going to be delivered to you in several cardboard boxes. While we were quite intimidated by a product that showed up in more than three boxes, the setup of the Spark Grill was pretty easy. Before opening the boxes, it’s advisable to move them to where you are hoping to have the grill once it's assembled because as stated before, it’s not extremely portable.

Spark excels at both simplicity and clarity; assembly instructions were easy to follow and straight to the point. One of the things we appreciated most was the inclusion of a small, ratcheting screwdriver with interchangeable bits to fit all of the screws included- any time we don’t have to go rooting through our own toolbox is a win on our end.

The grill can be assembled by one person, however, don’t underestimate the difficulty of lifting a nearly 80-pound grill kettle onto a cart. In other words, tackle the cart on your own, but maybe have a helper when it’s time to hoist up that kettle.

Image shows the Spark Grill.

(Image credit: Mike Larson.)

Spark Grill: Performance

With a retail price that even for the most basic model creeps over $1,000, we had extremely high expectations for the Spark Grill. For that kind of money, it better do what it says it will - and we’re pleased to report that it does. 

We were skeptical about a charcoal grill that claims it can reach 800-900 degrees in about 15 minutes, but the Spark can. At those temperatures, we were able to sear steaks like a restaurant does and cook some really tasty pizzas.

What the experts say:

"An at-home grill that can get up to 800 degrees is kind of game changer for home cooks. When searing meats, those are the magic temps, and it’s not easy to get a charcoal, or even a gas grill to get that hot." - Nick Elswick, sous-chef at Seldon Standard, Detroit

The Spark also easily handles burgers, brats and hot dogs without a problem. The only hitch we had was with the lower temperatures. The low and slow Briq says it will maintain temps around 225 to 250 degrees - a zone that barbecue aficionados know as a prime range for smoking most meats. In our first try, we struggled to keep the grill in that temperature range; it just kept creeping up, ultimately overcooking our baby back ribs.

However, in our second try, we were able to regulate the temperature a little bit by introducing air into the kettle and by pulling the charcoal drawer out partly. The Spark Grill is by no means a “set it and forget it” grill when it comes to lower temperatures. There’s still an element of babysitting the grill, which is pretty standard for low temperature barbecuing on a traditional kettle grill. On this second attempt, the ribs came out nearly perfect.

Spark Grill: Care and maintenance

Because the Spark Grill burns charcoal, it should only be used outside, and because of its size, most people will probably store it outside as well. Like anything that lives outdoors, precautions should be taken to protect the grill from the elements. Spark sells a grill cover that fits over the kettle perfectly, but even an aftermarket gas grill cover would likely fit over it to protect from any inclement weather.

Cleaning the Spark Grill is relatively easy, with most effort spent on the removable cast iron grates (the inside of the kettle reaches such high temperatures, most food remnants are simply incinerated). The grates can be easily cleaned with a stiff brush and some warm water. Many companies make liquid products for cleaning cast iron, but we prefer a spritz of white vinegar. The grill grates should be cleaned after every other use. The outside of the Spark Grill is also easily cleaned using just a wet rag. 

Spark’s 3-year warranty covers defects and workmanship issues.

Image shows the Spark Grill.

(Image credit: Mike Larson.)

Spark Grill: Price and availability

  • $1,099 - $1,399 depending on the package selected (Essential, Prime, Chef)

The Spark Grill runs at the high end of the pricing scale for a charcoal grill. All of the Spark Grill’s features and accessories surely justify the higher price, however, a charcoal grill that runs over $1,000 is definitely going to be a tough sell for some potential buyers. While charcoal grills can have a huge range of prices, it's tough to find one that is really comparable to the Spark, due to the technology and proprietary fuel it uses.

The Spark Grill can be purchased through the Spark Grills (opens in new tab) website.

Spark Grill: User reviews

The Spark Grill has an overall rating of five stars, with 93% of reviewers on the Spark website giving the grill a five-star rating.

One positive review reads: “The grill is unparalleled. One of the best-engineered products I have ever had. What is even better is the customer service.” 

However, some users didn't find the low and slow function unsatisfactory, with one customer stating: “I gave the Spark a 2-month trial and the long-short is that I returned it. In detail: it’s a great concept - I love the ease of the Briqs, the temp knob and the simple, clean design. Items cooked in the mid-range (400-600) were excellent. And as promised, clean-up and Bluetooth management made grilling a breeze! The trouble was that the low/slow Briqs did not burn as hoped (would not maintain under 350 without constant babysitting).” 

Should you buy the Spark Grill?

While we know the hefty price tag and proprietary charcoal will be a turnoff to a lot of consumers, we think this product is worth the money. It’s well designed and pleasing to the eye, and it cooks wonderfully at a variety of different temperatures. 

For people who want a charcoal grill that heats up quickly and can achieve high cooking temperatures, this is one of the only products on the market that is available. Its versatility is nearly unmatched and for those reasons, we recommend this grill.

The Spark Grill can be purchased from Spark Grills' website. You can choose between the Essentials package, the Prime package, and the Chef's package, which comes with a pizza grilling pack.

Freelance reviewer