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Best Kettle Grills & Why We Love Them

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We’ll review some of our favorite kettle grills and explain which ones are the best based on price and design.

The kettle grill is an American icon that resembles more than just backyard barbecues and good times, but it reminds of a different time in America. Dating back to the 1950’s the kettle grill was in the works. By mid 1960s it was a common backyard fixture. The decade between 1965 and the end of the Vietnam War proved to be a great time for Americans to revaluate what was important to them and enjoy family and friends – BBQ begins to take off in America.

For basic backyard cooking there really isn’t a better choice in the market than a kettle style grill. Their shape and airflow will push the heat up for effective flat grilling with the goal of a good char crust and seared meat. Banking coals to the sides lets you take a roasting approach that cooks bigger cuts of meat, fowl or even vegetables thoroughly with great smoky flavors. Banking all your coals on one side lets you cook even lower and slower with indirect heat and smoke. Reasonably priced, there really is not a better device to get started in home outdoor cooking.
Because they are a fairly simplistic device, there is a short list of criteria upon which to base a buying decision.

  • First is the metallurgy. Is the manufacturer using decent enough metals that you will get a good life out of the device?
  • Second is general build quality. Will the pieces stay together?
  • Third is features. Has the manufacturer added components that will improve your cooking experience?

Of course, we also take into account how effective the unit is at actually cooking. That is the overall consideration that we view throughout our process of comparing different devices. Pricing is an issue primarily with the thought of ‘does the device represent good value for the dollars spent’.

PRODUCT NAME & SPEC RATING
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black product image Weber Original

  • Price: $
  • Type: Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
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Cuisinart CCG-290 Kettle Charcoal Grill, 18 inch product Cuisinart CCG-290

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
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Rosle Kettle Grill No.1 F50 Belly black product Rosle Kettle Grill

  • Price: $
  • Type: Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
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Top American Barbecue Kettle Grill Selection

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

The American Barbecue Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Weber has the right to call themselves the ‘original’ It could be accurately stated that they completely changed the landscape of outdoor home cooking with their first kettle grills. Fortunately for we consumers they have maintained a decent build quality over the decades with becoming exorbitantly expensive. We chose the more expensive model with the hinged grill, and the ash cleaning system because it truly does make one aspect of clean up much easier, so we saw the value. If you don’t the more basic grill will still give you years of service. Weber also won us over when it came to our gas grill and electric grill testing.

Features & Specifications

We prefer the 22-inch model because the larger cooking chamber will accommodate everything up to a mid-size turkey. Since one benefit of kettle cooking is the way they impart great flavors from the smoke, having a larger chamber gets better smoke circulation. Basic physics. The exterior is porcelain clad for years of durability between cooking and the elements. Grill components are chromed for heat resistance and to minimize rusting.

Things we liked

The hinged main grate is probably the single best addition over the years. For longer cooks – remember the turkey – you can bank a good set of coals on each side, top them with unlit charcoal and get 3-4 hours of steady heat. Their upper and lower vents give you great temperature control. The cleaning system that scrapes the ash from the bottom surface to the drain holes makes cleaning easy.

What we didn’t like

Getting the ash from the kettle is easy as mentioned. Removing the ash receptacle is easy enough, but putting it back can be a challenge. Better off done when the grill is cold when you can get close enough to align it properly. The three-legged design is effective; however, it can be slightly precarious with uneven ground or if seriously jostled.

Pros

  • Sets the standard for kettle barbecues
  • Exceptional durability
  • Well featured to improve cooking

Cons

  • Returning ash container is awkward
  • Tripod design can be precarious


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Cuisinart CCG-290 Kettle Charcoal Grill, 18″

The American Barbecue Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

We would like it if Cuisinart made a larger version of this grill. They are on the right track with some of their build ideas, and in this size category this is a decent grill. It is offered at a price that reflects the value as well.

Features & Specifications

Enameled steel body and ash collector insure good durability for the long run. They’ve used shaping that directs heat well for flat grilling while still accommodating indirect cooking styles. Hinged grills allow coals to be added during the cooking process. They are also chrome for ease of clean up. The size does make this a decent choice for a compact patio or outdoor area.

Things we liked

The four-wheel design makes this a very solid device. The handles are all oversized for safer handling of the lid, vents and moving the whole unit. The hook to hang the lid from the side of the kettle is also sized well to easily hook on to the edge.

What we didn’t like

The ash catcher is also the bottom vent for the air flow into the cooking chamber. As a result, you must empty it before it is half full. It is also prone to being difficult to reattach after emptying and falling off while in use. You need to be careful with any vent adjustment, the metal is somewhat lightweight and can bend if inadvertently torqued.

Pros

  • Good pricing
  • Overall design is good
  • Large hand grips

Cons

  • Build quality of some components
  • Ash catcher problematic as vent


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Rosle Kettle Grill No.1 F50 Belly black, Ø 50 cm | 20 in.

The American Barbecue Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Rosle is a German company established in 1888, with their focus being solely on kitchen supplies since 1993. Outdoor cooking equipment was introduced in 2012, and they did create a unique take on the classic kettle grill. It is all familiar, but with curved legs and other design features it has a unique look that sets it apart.

Features & Specifications

They use the standard enameled steel exterior and shaped aluminum for legs, ash container, and such. At a 20-inch diameter this grill splits the difference between the domestic sizing of 18 or 22 inches. Most interesting, they hinge the lid which is a pretty high level of added convenience.  The weight is comparable to other kettles, suggesting that the components are well built.

Things we liked

The lid is the glaring advantage of this product. Carrying a plate of food to the pre-heated grill and merely having to tilt the lid open is very easy. The arching design of the legs gives the unit a more stable feeling than you might expect with only three wheels. The ash removal system is the lower air vent, and does pretty well on the dual duty. All the handles are well sized and insulated.

What we didn’t like

The ash canister is small, you will be emptying it regularly. Not horrible, you will want to maintain it which likely means emptying it before every new cooking session. The grate for the coals could use narrower spacing, coals can fall through before they have been fully consumed. There are times the dropped down coals interfere with the air flow.

Pros

  • Hinged lid
  • Solid build quality
  • Decent size

Cons

  • Small ash receptacle
  • Narrow grate for holding charcoal


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