Garden & Lawn

5 Best Kettle BBQs – Charcoal Flavour and Grill Marks

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If you fall on the charcoal side of the debate as to whether gas or charcoal BBQs produce the better tasting foods, kettle BBQs will provide you with the flavour you crave. I review the Best Kettle BBQs which all look remarkably alike.

However, there are differences, which I list under their pros, cons and features before we give my recommendations. My Buyer’s Guide lists the 5 things you should look for when you select the best kettle BBQ for your outdoor cooking style.

Testing the Weber premium kettle BBQ

Weber dominates the best kettle BBQ ratings. We’ve included a few of these models and then branched out with other well-reviewed kettle BBQs to give you some brand choices.

Best Pick

Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch
This premium Weber kettle BBQ has several features that most of the other black, domed, enamelled porcelain BBQs don’t have. This kettle BBQ is a great choice for a family with a large appetite or for a dinner with friends - the 53cm grilling rack holds 13 beef burgers at once. And if you need to add more coals or to stir the ones already heating, just shuffle the food to one side, lift the hinged part of the cooking rack and attend to the fire. There’s a built-in thermometer in the lid and that’s where the air damper is for you to adjust the flow of air (more airflow, hotter coals). There’s a larger than usual ash collection pan, and this one is enclosed so the ashes don’t go everywhere. The Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, is a great choice for families and dinner parties.

Runner-up

Weber 1321004 57cm Compact Charcoal BBQ
This purchase is really a kettle BBQ kit. You receive a well-reviewed Weber BBQ and a black 100% woven polyester, waterproof cover to keep it all safe from the weather. The BBQ is in the style of most other Weber BBQs. It has an external ash pan to easily collect the burned coals and the lid hangs from the bowl when not in use. However, the manufacturer says that this particular BBQ is designed for lid-on grilling. You need to get your own thermometer as there's not one built-in. You can also buy the BBQ by itself or in combination with other BBQ accessories. This is a good choice for those just starting out on their BBQ adventure.

5 Best Kettle BBQs Reviews

1. Weber 14402001 Original 22-Inch Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Best Pick

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Copper

The Weber 14402001 Original 22-Inch Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is a high-quality Weber product. The main part of the unit is the familiar black porcelain, enamelled spherical shape that retains heat and won’t rust. However, underneath is a larger ash catcher than usual. You won’t have to empty out the ashes very often.

Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Copper

This BBQ is charcoal powered, and the charcoal coals or bricks go on a mesh grid at the bottom of the bowl. Place the chrome-plated heavy steel cooking grate above them and you’re ready to start. You do need to worry about the lid a bit when you’re grilling as it’s not hinged, but there’s a hook on the bowl for you to hang it out of the way.

This model has some extras over another popular Weber model in this review, the Weber 741001 Silver OneTouch. This Weber 14402001 model has a built-in thermometer in the lid so you can see the temperature in that part of the unit. (See our Buyer’s Guide for a short discussion as to how effective this is.)

Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Copper

We also like that the cooking grill has a section that flips up. This is to let you poke the burning coals into action or put on more coals without having to remove all the food and lift off the cooking grill rack entirely. The adjustable air vent in the lid is how you control the air flow to encourage the coals to become hotter.

Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Copper

This model also has Weber’s One Touch cleaning system. Just use a handle to move the ashes into the large external aluminium ash pan and then remove it to clean it.

This model is also available in a Copper colour.

Pros

  • Black kettle BBQ with large ash pan underneath.
  • Charcoal fuelled.
  • One-Touch cleaning system in which you just remove the ash pan.
  • Lid and bowl are enamelled porcelain.
  • Hinged cooking grate to easily lift to add more charcoal.
  • Lid hook holds lid instead of placing it on the ground while cooking.
  • Has a built-in thermometer in the lid.
  • Damper is rust-resistant and lets you adjust air flow.
  • Wheels are all-weather.
  • Lid handle has heat-shield and stays cool.
  • Steel shelf at bottom for storage and stability.
  • Warranty is 10-years but limited.
  • Dimensions: 56cm (diameter); holds 13 burgers.

Cons

  • Poor assembly instructions – just pictures.
  • Parts don’t easily line up when assembling.

Our recommendation

The Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, is a family-sized kettle BBQ. It has all the features of other Weber kettle grills plus a few more. There’s a in-built lid thermometer if you don’t yet have the experience or knack of judging how hot the coals are. Plus the over-size ash pan is useful if you BBQ a lot and don’t want to clean out the ash trap too often. We also like the hinged part of the cooking grate that lets you just push food aside to get to the coals below.

The Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, is my choice for Best Pick of the kettle BBQs in my review.

Read next: Best smoker BBQ’s


2. Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ – 57cm

Runner-up

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ, 57cm, Black & Amazon Basics Kettle Grill Cover

The Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ, 57cm, Black & Amazon Basics Charcoal Kettle Grill Cover – Black, is a kettle BBQ kit. The model in our review is a combination of a Weber kettle BBQ and an Amazon BBQ cover. Why not look after your BBQ investment with a 100% polyester waterproof cover that protects it in all weathers?

This Weber kettle BBQ is the by now familiar slightly flattened black dome of enamelled porcelain and stainless steel. The handle on the lid is heat shielded for safety from the hot dome and the two handles on the bowl are cool touch. You’re safe with this BBQ.

As with most kettle BBQs, the lid is separate from the bowl and hangs on a hook on the side of the bowl when you need to access the food on the grill. This keeps it out of the way. However, the manufacturer states that this BBQ is designed for lid-on grilling, so you may find yourself lifting the lid up regularly to check how your meal is coming along. There’s no built-in thermometer to let you know how hot the coals and food are.

Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ, 57cm, Black & Amazon Basics Kettle Grill Cover

The aluminium rust-proof ash pan is externally situated under the bowl. It’s a simple matter of using a handle to release the ashes from the coals into the pan for removal and clean-up.

This model is also available in a smaller, 47cm diameter, unit, also with a BBQ cover.

Other combinations for purchase include the grill and a grill brush, the grill and a chimney starter, and just the grill.

Pros

  • Black kettle BBQ with removable ash pan.
  • Fuelled by charcoal.
  • Comes with a black, full, 100% woven polyester BBQ cover.
  • Lid handle has a heat shield to keep it cool.
  • Lid hangs on the bowl when it’s not in use.
  • Bowl and lid and porcelain that’s been enamelled.
  • Charcoal grate is heavy-duty steel.
  • Easy release of ash into the ash pan.
  • Wire shelf at bottom for storage and stability.
  • Durable wheels for hot and cold weather.
  • Dimensions: 57cm (diameter).

Cons

  • No built-in thermometer.
  • Not easy to assemble.

Our recommendation

If you’re buying your first BBQ or you want to renew more than just the grilling unit, the Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ, 57cm, Black & Amazon Basics Charcoal Kettle Grill Cover – Black is a good choice. You receive a well-reviewed Weber kettle BBQ along with a cover to keep it in good condition. Or choose one of the other options to start to build up your BBQ accessory tool kit.

This is the Runner-up kettle BBQ in my review.


3. George Foreman GFKTBBQ1801B Portable Round Kettle Charcoal BBQ

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George Foreman GFKTBBQ1801B Portable Round Kettle Charcoal BBQ, Adjustable Vent, 2 Wheels & Chrome Grill

The  George Foreman GFKTBBQ1801B Portable Round Kettle is from another famous name in the realm of grills. This kettle BBQ is charcoal powered and looks like the usual black enamelled porcelain round dome with a removable ash pan beneath it.

However, open the dome and you immediately notice two differences between this model and most of the others in our review. Firstly, you can open the lid with just one hand, as it’s hinged to the bowl. This is convenient as you don’t have to worry about where to put the lid down or hang it on the side of the bowl. It’s out of the way at the back of the unit and even serves as a wind break.

Secondly, there’s a second level grill rack in this model. It’s a partial rack that sits above the main grilling rack. Use this for the more delicate foods that don’t need the higher heat of the lower rack (such as soft vegetables) or put cooked food there to keep warm.

The rest of this George Foreman kettle BBQ is pretty standard. The lid contains the adjustable air vent, though there’s no built-in thermometer on the unit. add your own thermometer to know how much air to circulate in the unit.

The lid and bow handles are cool touch for your convenience and safety – you won’t get burned. And the ash collection pan is externally below the bowl and easily removable to clean. Some online reviewers report that the charcoal grate has fairly large openings so that smaller pieces of charcoal fall through unburnt.

We do like the stability of this model as it’s built on a square base rather than the usual triangle shape.

Pros

  • Black kettle BBQ with separate ash pan and metal grid shelf.
  • Powered by charcoal.
  • Cooking grill is chrome plated steel.
  • Bowl and lid are enamelled porcelain.
  • Lid is hinged.
  • Lid handles are cool touch for your safety.
  • Has upper grilling rack.
  • Air vent is in the lid.
  • One-year warranty.
  • Dimensions: 48cm (diameter).

Cons

  • No built-in thermometer.
  • Difficult to put together.
  • Charcoal grate has large openings.

Our recommendation

The George Foreman GFKTBBQ1801B Portable Round Kettle looks like the usual charcoal-fuelled black round dome, but it has a few good surprises. The lid is hinged to the bowl so it’s easy to open and keep out of the way. There’s a partial second-level grill for foods that need cooking at a lower heat and the large square wire grid shelf at the bottom is ready to hold all your BBQ supplies. Although this model is without a built-in thermometer, that’s easily overcome by supplying your own.

This George Foreman GFKTBBQ1801B Portable Round Kettle is for those who want the most convenient way to charcoal grill their meals outdoors.


4. Weber 741001 Silver OneTouch 57.2cm Kettle Grill

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Weber 741001 Silver OneTouch 221/2Inch Kettle Grill, Black

The Weber 741001 Silver OneTouch 57.2cm Kettle Grill is a smart black kettle grill with the usual enamelled porcelain bowl and lid. This material lets the BBQ retain heat and it won’t rust. As with all kettle BBQs, this one is fuelled by charcoal.

Unfortunately, the lid is separate to the bowl and comes away completely. However, you don’t have to worry about placing it on the ground when you want to grill as the bowl of the BBQ has a hook to hang the lid safely from. The handle on the lid and those on the side of the bowl are glass-reinforced nylon that remains cool when the bowl and lid become hot.

The adjustable vent for controlling the airflow is on the lid and is easily accessible. However, there’s no built-in thermometer so you need to provide your own or just use guesswork and experience to judge how hot the coals are.

The ash pan to collect the used up charcoal is underneath the bowl. The One-Touch cleaning system lets you simply turn a lever to empty the ashes from the bottom of the bowl into the pan. You remove the pan to empty and clean it.

The large and weatherproof wheels of this Weber BBQ let you leave it out in all seasons (preferably enclosed in a waterproof cover) and move it around your patio for different entertaining events.

A smaller model in this Silver One Touch series – at 47cm diameter – is also available.

Pros

  • Black kettle BBQ with aluminium ash-pan beneath.
  • Bowl and lid are porcelain-enamelled.
  • Fuelled by charcoal.
  • One-Touch cleaning system releases ash onto the pan.
  • Lid hook holds lid while you attend to the grilling food.
  • Heavy-duty steel-plated cooking grill retains heat.
  • Handles are glass-reinforced nylon; lid handle has a heat shield.
  • Wheels are weatherproof and won’t crack.
  • Air damper for controlling the internal heat.
  • Steel shelf at bottom for storage and stability.
  • Dimensions: 57.2cm (diameter); holds up to 13 beef burgers.

Cons

  • Lid not attached to bowl.
  • No built-in thermometer.
  • Poor assembly instructions – just pictures.

Our recommendation

The Weber 741001 Silver OneTouch 57.2cm Kettle Grill, Black, is a durable family-sized charcoal BBQ from a world-renowned manufacturer. It’s easy to use and even easier to clean the ashes out from. The lid, bowl and air damper do not rust and, even though the lid is not hinged, there’s a hook on the bowl to hang it from when you’re in the process of grilling.


5. Dancook 1000 – Medium Sized Kettle Barbecue Grill – 40cm    

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Dancook 1600 - Small Kettle Barbecue Grill with 40cm Cooking Grid.

The Dancook 1000 – Medium Sized Kettle Barbecue Grill is a more compact model than others in our review. It’s 40cm in diameter and is good for those who just don’t need to cook 13 burgers at the same time.  This is a sturdy BBQ with a solid circular shelf in place of the usual ash pan underneath the bowl.

So where is the ash pan? The ash from the burned charcoal goes into a pan that’s inside the bowl of the BBQ. This pan is actually the liner of the BBQ in which you put the coals. It’s made of a patented material that reduces the amount of charcoal needed to produce the heat. The cooking effect is increased by 50% also as the unit passes pre-warmed air – from three air vents in the lid  – over the coals, making them quicker to heat up.

The rest of the BBQ is made of aluminium and stainless steel. The lid is separate to the bowl. Be aware that the handle on the lid is metal. It’s shaped to hang over the bowl and keep out of the way when not in use. Just be careful to wear an oven mitt when you touch the lid handle.

We like that the cooking grid is made of extra-thick (6mm) chrome plated steel. Load it up with thick T-bone or Porterhouse steaks and don’t worry about their weight.

Also available in a medium-size (46cm diameter) and a large size (54cm diameter).

Pros

  • Compact, black kettle BBQ fuelled by charcoal.
  • Constructed of aluminum and stainless steel.
  • Three air vents to control the internal temperature.
  • Bowl liner is of a patented material to reduce the charcoal needed.
  • Internal ash pan is fully removable.
  • Preheated combustion air increases the cooking effect by 50%.
  • Cooking grid is extra thick to hold heavy foods.
  • Circular metal shelf below the bowl.
  • Lid hangs on the bowl with the metal lid handle.
  • Warranty: 10 years on stainless steel bits; two years on other parts.
  • Dimensions: 40cm (diameter).

Cons

  • No built-in thermometer.
  • Metal handle on lid.

Our recommendation

If you don’t need a huge grilling area, the Dancook 1000 – Medium Sized Kettle Barbecue Grill is a good choice. The ashes stay inside this unit after the coals have burned down and you remove the liner from the top of the BBQ to empty and clean it. This means that kids and pets never have exposure to the burned coals. The three adjustable air vents give you more control over the airflow than a single air vent, but there isn’t a thermometer built-in to tell you the temperature. We like that unique features increase the efficiency of this BBQ.

If you’re looking for a smaller kettle BBQ with features designed for fuel efficiency, the Dancook 1000 – Medium Sized Kettle Barbecue Grill is worth a good look.


Buyer’s Guide for Kettle BBQs

At a glance, one black kettle BBQ looks just like any other. But once you start looking at them in detail, you notice that there are some differences. This Buyer’s Guide directs you where to look to help you make your best purchase decision.

The lid

The best arrangement for the BBQ lid is that it’s hinged to the bowl part. You just flip it up when you need to attend to the food on the grill – you don’t have to worry about banging into a hot lid.

Comparing kettle bbq lids to see how they attach

The next best arrangement is to hang the lid on the side of the bowl. While this is not completely out of the way, you don’t have to put it on the ground and then step around it. In some models the handing hook is on the bowl while other models use the lid handle as the hook.

Thermometer

It’s difficult to tell the internal temperature of the BBQ without a thermometer yet many models don’t come with a built-in one. The units that do have an integral thermometer often place them in the domed lid – far away from the cooking surface. Some online reviewers report that the temperature registered there is usually a lot cooler than the temperature at the cooking grill.

With thermometer meat temperature is checked at the kettle grill

It seems that purchasing a separate thermometer and placing it close to the cooking grill is the best way of knowing how hot it is in there. And maybe having a built-in thermometer isn’t the deal-breaker it seems to be.

Cleaning

Cleaning a charcoal BBQ is a matter of removing the ash created by burning the coals as well as any grease that drips down from the food.

Most of the BBQs we review have an external ash pan that collects the ash when you release it (by a dial or a lever) from the bottom of the BBQ. This however doesn’t get all the ash and grease so you do need to deep clean the entire BBQ occasionally.

One model has an ash collector below the coals and you need to remove it from the top of the BBQ. While this isn’t as convenient a way of removal, it does ensure that you get all the ash out at once.

Don’t forget to wipe down the inside of the bowl and to use a grill brush on the cooking grill while it’s still warm to remove any remaining food bits.

Air vents

While charcoal grills often seem to do their own thing, you can control how hot the coals burn by adjusting the air flow to them. You do this by the air vents/dampers in the BBQ bowl and lid. The more air vents you have and the closer their placement to the burning coals, the more delicately you control the temperature.

Lid of a charcoal kettle barbecue, with open air vent

For example, grills with vents in the bowl closer to the coals let air flow directly over the coals, while those with just one vent in the lid circulate air around the entire interior.

Look also for air vents that you can open and close with a dial or a lever. Some kettle BBQ models have static air vents that are always open to the same amount. While this delivers fresh air to the coals, it doesn’t let you control how much flows in.

Size

Kettle BBQs seem similar in size if you look just at their diameters – such as 40cm vs 45cm. But if you take into consideration the grilling area that such a difference produces it amounts to a significant difference. For example, the 5cm difference mention above results in almost 20cm2 more grilling space – that’s a few sausages worth.


Final Conclusion

The amazing taste of charcoal grilled food can be yours with a kettle BBQ. The differences between the models of this type of grill are quite subtle but we point them out and advise you which ones are best. Our Buyer’s Guide gives more details about the elements of the grill to examine before you buy one.

Our Best Pick is the Weber 14402001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch (46cm). This is a good family size BBQ with some extra features for your convenience.

Weber Compact Charcoal BBQ, 57cm, Black, & Amazon Basics Charcoal Kettle Grill Cover – Black is the Runner-up in our review. This is a combination of a highly-reviewed Weber BBQ and a woven polyester BBQ cover to keep everything safe from bad weather.

If you decide a charcoal BBQ isn’t really your style, check out our Top 8 Best Gas BBQs review. And to grill properly, you need the right utensils. The Top 4 Best BBQ Grilling Tool Sets article presents our recommendations.

And we enter into the fray of the Grilled vs Charcoal taste discussion with our article Which Tastes Better? Grilled Vs Charcoal BBQ Grilled Meat.


Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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