From Weber to Napoleon, we’ve tested gas grills that cost less than $100 up to grills that cost more than a used car. Our R&D department develops high-quality, portable bbq fairly priced grilling equipment. The thick wire handle of the ash catcher can be a little hard to move at first, but it does loosen up with use.
If you prefer meat that’s more well done, you can extend the cooking time, or sear and finish cooking in an oven. They’re bulkier, the assembly is more involved and you’ll likely need more fuel to keep the larger space at a high temperature. Our results, however, were almost as good as with the kettle-style Weber, so if you’re interested in a cart-style charcoal BBQ, this is your best bet. In our medium, indirect-heat chicken tests, the Nexgrill delivered flavorful, juicy meat as a close second to the Weber. And this updated model, when we used the charcoal snake method, demonstrated temperature control almost as good as the Weber.
The fuel door is removable so that adding charcoal and wood is easy, and the dampers allow you to be in control of the heat for tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. Toast to the authenticity of charcoal grilling, classic design, and taste loved around the world—the Original Kettle. Its ultra-durable, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, while the dampers can be easily adjusted for precise temperature control. The premium version of the original kettle measures 22 inches wide and comes in three colors. The premium version also includes Weber’s One-Touch cleaning system, meaning that it comes with a large enclosed ash pan for easy cleanup, and it also boasts a built-in thermometer and lid hook.
The main cooking grate is actually three separate pieces that can be lifted off of the grill for access to the charcoal tray—which has holes big enough to brush ash through. Below, a slide-out ash tray/shelf/drawer runs the entire width of the grill. Due to their comparably simple construction, they tend to cost less than a similarly sized gas or pellet grill.
The worst was our Tacklife review unit, which didn’t hold much heat and didn’t sear while cooking. The steak on that grill needed an additional five minutes to get to a temperature of 135 F, the minimum for medium rare. The 22-inch Napoleon Rodeo Charcoal Kettle Grill (model number NK22CK-L) is considered one of the better Weber clones available (the pros at AmazingRibs.com, among others, rate it highly). In our cooking tests it performed well, though not quite as well as the Weber. In particular, we didn’t find its unique heat-diffusing plate—a shallow metal dome that sits in the middle of the coal bed—to be as effective as we would have liked. However, at 34 inches at the grates, it’s nearly counter height, and a full 7 inches taller than the Weber, so it was less tiring to work on.
This arrangement is better than the Santa Maria-style grill where the food moves up and down and the coals are stationary because the head room above the food isn’t reduced. If the burners are deprived of oxygen, the flame goes out, but the gas fuel keeps coming, building up under the hood and creating a serious fire hazard. The opposite is true of charcoal grills, which function best as sealed systems with solid, tight construction for effective air control. Just as with gas, the charcoal fire needs oxygen to burn, and you can use this oxygen flow to your advantage. Shut down the air dampers to drop the cooking temp or snuff the charcoal out entirely when finished. Open them wide to flood the fire with oxygen and create a rip-roaring, red-hot coal bed.
Certain models double as smokers or have integrated thermometers. Others have side tables or are designed to be especially easy to clean. It’s your grill and your food, portable bbq so decide what’s most important to you. Grilling cooks food quickly using high heat, while smoking uses indirect heat and lower temperatures to cook food slowly.