1. Weber 14401001- Original 22” Kettle- $159 Charcoal-Lit Grill
For a charcoal grill under $200 and sized for a family, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this lasting indefinitely, and it can cook pretty much anything you throw at it.
The original is not far off from today’s design, and it scores far higher in popularity than any other backyard grill on the market. Since it’s a low priced Kettle, it comes unembellished and basic, but it’s a cooking tool that’s perfectly fine.
One Touch Gold vs Premium- What Weber Updated
If the Weber One-Touch Gold 22.5” Charcoal Grill hadn’t been discontinued by the manufacturer, it probably would have been our best pick for a charcoal grill. Is it great? Still is, and as of early July 2015 there were still third-party sellers on Amazon offering it. The price of a One-Touch Gold shouldn’t be different from the Original Kettle Premium, and if you find it available for under $150, jump on it. There’s almost no difference in features between it and Weber’s newer kettle premium.
A few tweaks were made to the Weber 14401001 in 2015 including the name change to Original Kettle Premium 22” from the previous One-Touch Gold (Silver) 22.5”.
Weber maintains that what hasn’t changed is the actual size of the grill, and the cooking surface of the grate still provides a surface of 363 square inches.
➡ One thing you can’t frown at is a new handle on the lid of the Original Kettle Premium. It’s made with nylon and serves as a protective shield against the heat between the lid and your fingers, which wasn’t yet integrated on the previous kettle.
➡ The legs were previously just inserted into brackets. Now spring loaded pins help secure the legs to the body, which also makes removing them easy.
There’s a lever tucked under the bowl that initiates a set of vent holes to sweep through ash under the Kettle grill in the bottom where you’ll find an aluminum pan to catch them. Cooking of all types- from smoking ribs to searing steaks- is excellent with this Weber grill.
Foods like turkey and roasts aren’t too much for the arched lid to accommodate within its large proportions, but the heat indicator built in can be disregarded (it can be way inaccurate!). Instead, bank on a digital thermometer of quality.
Compared to most other backyard-oriented gas grills, the Weber Kettles put them to shame. Look into updating your Weber with a Smokenator, turning it into a real good smoker for pork, ribs, fish and brisket. USA made.
2. Napoleon NK22CK-L – $189 Kettle Charcoal Grill
A Weber kettle is hard to top, but Napoleon brings their own Frankenstein with the addition of several intriguing features to the NK22CK-L, like a steel heat diffuser (convex and removable) that sits within the coal grate, taking heat and distributing it away from the cooking grate’s center area. This smooths out the temperature of the round cook surface.
A fourth leg is thrown in for a more stable Napoleon frame. With steel rod, hinged grates it’s similar to Weber so your coal can be replenished without removing your grub and a bottom-positioned damper with a removable ash catcher connected to it.
3. Portable Kitchen PK 99740 (PK Grill)- Asking $369
The Portable Kitchen Grill is another elegant, basic model that was first brought public when the Weber Kettles were introduced (1952). The years brought change in ownership, and production was temporarily postponed, but after they recently came back they kept the construction and design mostly unchanged.
You’ll still get the original body of thick cast aluminum which efficiently radiates and retains heat. These PK grills won’t rust easily if at all, and previous models often pop up in garage sales or folks passing them along to future generations.
4. Char-Broil CB940X- $399 Grill
It’s true this model may not be the greatest in terms of construction, and a set of cast iron uncoated grates prone to rust (future maintenance required) with a warranty that’s very weak. But if all you need is a charcoal grill with large capacity (fitting around 26 burgers) that will get you through a couple grilling seasons, the CB940X should be one your first picks.
➡ The Char-Broil has a couple of features I like: A charcoal tray adjusts to bring the coal close below the cook surface, allowing quick searing, and for slow roasting the tray is able to drop down to the bottom.
For 2-zone cooking, choose one side to isolate the coals and lower it for smoking. Since the front door is large, it allows simple access to restock coal, clear out ash with a tray that slides out, and plenty of work space is provided by two wooden large side shelves.
5. Dancook 1900- $450 Grill Made in Denmark
This Flying Saucer Grill looks sharp, and its size is near identical to the proportions of a 22.5” Weber Kettle. Rather than Weber’s charcoal grate within a single wall bowl, Dancook uses a double wall instead. A “liner” of stainless steel floats inside the aluminum bowl (coated with gray powder). The inner liner is removed after cooking to remove the ash.
The production of Dancook grills has been ongoing in Denmark since the early ‘90s.
Cooking outdoors is loved by Danes and they’ve taken a passion for embracing American BBQ. Actually, per capita Denmark is the top export market for Weber.
Dancook was bought by Char-Broil in 2011 and placed their Saber division to look after their care. Dancook’s great performance, durable construction, and a fit and finish that are quite appealing is a heavenly combination for Saber’s line of premium grills.
Yes, these grills are still Denmark made.
6. Weber Performer 22” Deluxe– $500 USA Made Charcoal Grill
The kettle you get with the Weber Performer Series compared to the cart-mounted Original 22” Kettle Premium is one and the same, and great ones at that. Deluxe is the most sophisticated and biggest Performer, incorporating a cart large enough that provides a surface of adequate size to work on, an LCD removable timer and lower shelf.
The timer’s a decent extra, but a digital thermometer should be used as opposed to a clock to check the internal temperature of food for doneness.
Some changes were made by Weber in 2015 to their charcoal-heated classic kettle line.
The Gourmet Barbecue System (name Weber appointed to the hinged grate that allows inserts like pizza stones and woks) became a standard feature in all Performers.
➡ See Also: Older Platinum vs Weber Performer Deluxe
The charcoal grate over a small propane-powered burner allows the Deluxe to be fired up with almost as much ease as getting a gas grill to start.
7. Meadow Creek PR36- USA Made Grill for $755
With excellent design and a construction that’s superb, Meadow Creek Smokers and Grills have been made by the hands of Amish craftsmen in New Holland, PA dating back to 1980. These bad boys will last you a lifetime, a grill that’s solidly built with steel of heavy gauge. Competitive BBQ teams favor Meadow Creek for its reasonable price and high standard of quality.
Meadow Creek makes a variety of smokers mounted in big trailers, borrowing from some of the pro model’s features you’ll find in this backyard grill. A PR36 provides plenty of surface to cook on with a grate measuring 525 square inches of stainless steel. You can also double the capacity with a second grate that comes with it (positioned over the main grate).