PK, also known as Portable Kitchen, is a brand that’s been around for decades. Based in Little Rock Arkansas, since the 1950s, PK has been bringing us only the best portable charcoal grills at a price that’s affordable. Today’s grills by PK still maintain that 50s vintage charm that makes them not only unique and stylish but surprisingly durable as well. The grill’s basic, lightweight design is one of its main selling points, as is its durable construction and portability.
Our Verdict: One of the biggest reasons grilling enthusiasts fall in love with the PK Grill is its cooking potential combined with a low-maintenance design. The cast aluminum body makes the grill lighter than you’d expect and rust-proof. It also folds down very easily so there aren’t small parts that can wear out or break. Its vent system is easy to use and understand. However, the location of the bottom vents is poorly placed. When grilling, small pieces of lit charcoal are able to fall through. The inability to adjust the height of the grate can also make it limiting in terms of what you can cook on the grill. The grill’s compact design makes it a great choice if you live in an apartment or have a very small backyard.
If you want a basic, durable, charcoal grill that’s easy to use and transport, then this PK Original Outdoor charcoal grill is a perfect option. Continue reading to find out more.
Overview and Features
At first glance, the grill may appear very basic. While it’s true that it doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, the basic design is actually one of the reasons it works so well. The innovative design is what allows this model to excel in terms of heating efficiency, even cooking, and temperature regulation.
Like we mentioned earlier, these grills have been around for years. They were the most popular grills on the market back in 1952.
The original PK grill was such a hit that it attracted the attention of the U.S. Army who ordered thousands. PK grills still use the same traditional design that made them so famous , but they have made some changes to the body including a folding body that makes the grill easier to transport.
This is a traditional looking charcoal grill made out of one hundred percent recycled aluminum. Since it’s made out of aluminum, you can leave it outdoors year-round, without worrying about it rusting.
The grill’s simple design makes it more beginner friendly, compared to kamado grills like the KamadoJoe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill. However, like a kamado grill, you will still have to experiment with how to use the two dampers to control airflow and cooking temperatures. However, once you get the hang of it, this grill is pretty simple to use.
Portability isn’t a main priority for some grill owners, but if you’re looking for a grill you can take with you on your next hiking adventure through the backcountry, then you want and need a grill that’s heating efficient and lightweight.
This grill comes with a detachable carriage that’s equipped with semi-pneumatic rubber wheels, which can be used to move the grill around the backyard, easily. The grill can also be taken apart and quickly put back together, so it’s perfect for caravanning and camping trips. The grill’s foldable design combined with its low weight makes it a perfect choice for travel.
The grill’s cooking surface is three hundred and six square inches. The grate has a hinge design that makes adding coals a breeze.
As we briefly touched on earlier, the grill easily detaches from the stand, which makes it easy to clean, store, or transport. The grill’s made out of a thick cast aluminum and comes with a couple sets of sliding dampers. Two dampers are placed on top of the grill and two are located on the bottom. The damper system is what gives you total control over the temperature. While other grills are made out of stainless steel or coated steel, PK continues to design and produce the cast aluminum models they’re known for. Both the grill and cart are made out of aluminum, which is a rust-resistant metal.
Considered one of the most durable grills on the market, the innovative cast aluminum design allows for naturally even heating abilities that will reduce hot spots.
Since aluminum is a lightweight metal, the weight isn’t an issue, which is why it’s a great choice for hikers, campers, caravanning, and more. The stand’s rubber wheels are a much better option than the cheap plastic wheels that you’ll commonly find on lower priced models and roll well even over uneven terrain.
The combination of the four dampers and the thick cast aluminum provides a very heat efficient grill. This model is able to hold a steady temperature for long periods of time at one hundred and eighty degrees up to seven hundred degrees. It’s also energy efficient so it can use the same charcoal for multiple cooks.
For more than sixty years, the durable, rust-proof portable PK grills have been considered some of the best portable charcoal grills on the market. Basically, this is a grill that’s designed to last.
At three hundred and six inches, the grill is very small. You can cook approximately fifteen burgers if you utilize every inch of grilling space. Unfortunately, there’s no way you can lower or raise the grates, which would come in handy if you wanted to place meat right above the flame while you grill.
The grill chamber itself consists of two pieces. The base and lid of the grill are not attached with any type of snap or locking mechanism. Instead, the lid simply rests on the hinges when cooking, instead of using bolts or screws to secure it to the base. This design can make it easier to transport, however, it can also be a safety concern if you have small children in the home. Another issue is the placement of the bottom vents. When the coals begin to burn, you may notice that small pieces of lit charcoal can fall through the vent. Additionally, there’s no lower ash tray so you will need to use a pan of your own in order to prevent a potential mess.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Cast aluminum construction
- Detachable stand
- Lightweight design
- Highly portable
- Rubber wheels
- Easy to clean
- Four vent system
- Small cooking surface
- Coal can fall through bottom vents
- No height adjuster for grates
- No lower tray to catch the ashes
Can I Use This Grill to Cook Bread or Pizza?
This grill does allow you to control the temperature of the grate using the vent system, however, it doesn’t have enough insulation to allow you to cook other types of food. One solution is a kamado grill. These grills are egg-shaped and feature thick walls, a domed lid, and a layer of ceramic coating on the interior. Kamado grills work very much like a traditional convection oven, so there’s really no limit in terms of what you can cook on it.
How Do You Maintain the Grills Temperature?
The grill’s four-point venting system in addition to its unique shape allows for both direct and indirect cooking. The placement of the vents is specially designed to provide exceptional airflow inside the grill. If you’re cooking ribs you will want to minimize airflow in order to maintain a lower cooking temp. With steak, cooking at a higher temperature is the goal. The vent system makes it easy to use a consistent level of heat on the grill. However, learning how much to open the vents or close them can be tricky in the beginning. To learn more, click here to read our article on how to maintain charcoal grill temperature.
Can I Leave This Grill Out in the Rain?
You can. However, the nickel plated grills may corrode over time. While nickel is corrosion resistant, it’s not rust-proof like aluminum is. Buyers have claimed that if the grill is left outdoors year-round, the grills may need to be replaced every three years. Fortunately, you can purchase extra grates straight from the manufacturer.
Conclusion and Rating
The PK Original charcoal grill features the same classic design that Portable Kitchen was known for in the 50s. The lightweight aluminum design not only makes the grill durable, but easier to transport, store, haul, and clean. There are a few minor design flaws, such as the inability to adjust the height of the grates and the fact that charcoal can fall through the lower vent. But these design flaws aside, the grill is heat efficient, which makes it easy to control and adjust the airflow and cooking temperature. We gave this grill a rating of four and a half stars out of five.