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If there’s one thing you can say about PK grills, it’s that they have an authentic, classic look. These retro-looking grills were produced in Tyler, Texas, all the way back in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the company went out of business once it moved to Arkansas in the mid-1970s.
With PK grills becoming highly collectible in the last couple of decades, one collector decided to buy the rights and relaunch the brand. The company is back the business and they’re manufacturing and selling well-built, versatile, and efficient grills and smokers once again.
One of their most popular models is the Original PK Grill and Smoker. Looking like an elegant throwback to the 1950s, this charcoal smoker comes with a couple of exciting features. It sports a durable cast aluminum construction, a 4-point venting system, as well as large wheels for smooth movement. The 10-year warranty that accompanies the unit inspires confidence in its durability and reliability.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll analyze its characteristics in detail. If you’re in a market for a classic-looking charcoal smoker, keep reading – the Original PK Grill and Smoker might be your best choice on the market.
This is an outdoor charcoal grill & smoker combo manufactured by Portable Kitchen Grills (Arkansas).
- Classic design
- Available in two colors (silver & graphite)
- Easy to put together and use
- Sturdy cast aluminum construction
- Versatile – allows smoking, grilling, baking, and roasting
- 4-point venting system for consistent heat
- Generous 10-year warranty
Another excellent feature of this model is that there’s an abundance of accessories available for it. Some of these include a grill cover, heavy-duty charcoal basket, raised cooking grid, and others. We’ll take a more detailed look at these accessories later.
Why Get It?
Introduced all the way back in 1952, the design of this smoker didn’t change much for the last 60 years. Its shiny retro-cool appearance is guaranteed to appeal to many outdoor cooking enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a classic charcoal smoker, this model is probably your best choice out there.
Putting this model together couldn’t be easier. It assembles easily with nuts and screws, which are included in the package. The instruction sheet is clear and well-written, so it shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to get the unit fully assembled. The cooking section can be detached from the carriage, which means that the whole smoker can be quickly dismantled for a camping trip.
The unit’s design includes the original cast-aluminum body. Not only is it sturdy and rust-resistant, but also retains and radiates heat efficiently. Older models of this smoker often get passed from one generation to the next or show up at garage sales. In other words, they’re very durable, and the same can be said for this new edition.
If you’re worried about cast-aluminum as the primary build material of your smoker, you shouldn’t be. Not only is this material lightweight, durable, and rust-proof, but it also conducts heat four times more efficiently than steel. The model weighs only 45 pounds, and with the addition of caster wheels, moving it around is exceptionally easy.
The four-point air control system we’ve mentioned deserves particular words of praise. It consists of two air exhausts on the top and two air inlets at the base of the smoker. The dampers on each of these vents have a tight fitting and can be easily adjusted. By using them, you’ll be able to control the amount and circulation of air that gets inside the unit’s body. The ability to control the air flow and temperature is undoubtedly the essential performance factor.
When it comes to capacity, the Original PK Grill and Smoker has 300 square inches of cooking space. This means that it can handle everything – from hot dogs to a Thanksgiving turkey. You won’t have any issues with accommodating even the largest cuts of meat. This turns the model into an ideal choice for those who often prepare food for larger groups of people.
Other essential features of this model include caster wheels, storage cart, and a side shelf. The caster wheels, which we already mentioned, are made out of heavy-duty rubber and allow smooth relocation.
The side shelf is made out of aluminum and provides a place for food that you finished cooking. Finally, the storage cart offers lots of room for holding condiments and utensils.
When it comes to cleaning, there’s no easy way to remove the spent ashes from this model. Some people use a little shovel, and some use a vacuum cleaner. Many users of this grill switched over to lump charcoal, as it doesn’t produce that much ash. With embers and ash sometimes dropping through the bottom vents, we advise placing a disposable aluminum pan underneath.
Ease of Use & Portability
Thanks to its straightforward design, this model is an excellent choice for a barbecue beginner. The assembly is as easy as it gets, and it’s pretty easy to figure out how everything works. However, it’s important to mention that there’s still a learning curve to getting the unit’s vents right to keep the proper temperature. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll be able to prepare the food of your dreams.
As we already mentioned, the Original PK Grill and Smoker comes equipped with two caster wheels. These are heavy-duty semi-pneumatic wheels that roll across all types of terrain. Thanks to these, you’ll be able to move the model around the backyard easily.
Accessories & Warranty
There’s an abundance of accessories available for this smoker. One of the most useful is the “Littlemore” grid, which sits above the unit’s rear half and adds more cooking area. The charcoal basket, on the other hand, helps minimize the ash loss and works with any fuel. It is made from heavy-duty steel and has inward folding handles for easy clean-up.
Another handy accessory is the canvas cover. Made from waterproof fabric, it is lightweight, easy to store, and its sealed seams protect the smoker from rain. It is incredibly durable and UV-resistant.
A 10-year warranty covers the model. It’s one of the most generous warranty deals on the market and something that confirms the unit’s durability and reliability.
Pros & Cons
- Classic, retro design
- Available in silver and graphite colors
- Quick & easy assembly
- Durable cast-aluminum construction
- Consistent heat – 4-point venting system
- Semi-pneumatic wheels for portability
- Storage cart & side shelf
- 10-year warranty
- Overall 84% 84%
- No ash catcher
- Grill grates not of best quality
“I’m thoroughly impressed with this model. Although not as big as I expected it to be, it is still the best charcoal smoker I’ve owned so far. Its cast-aluminum body will last forever and there is always even heat distribution and retention. It’s effortless to use for both purposes and portable enough for car-camping. It’s all I ever wanted from a grill-smoker combo.”
Most of the users agree that this model is a great smoker and one of the best options for the price. The lack of an ash catcher is the most commonly mentioned downside.
What to Watch Out For
No ash catcher
Our chief complaint about this smoker is that it comes without an ash catcher. Although this can be solved by adding a disposable aluminum pan, some might consider it a real inconvenience. It’s still not a deal breaker, though.
Grill grates not of best quality
Unlike on the competing smokers, the grill grates found on this model are not made of stainless steel. Moreover, they do not sport a ceramic coating. They’re still useful, though, and provide ample space for your food.
A Piece of Advice
One of the easiest ways of enhancing the smoke is to use wood chunks. Chips and wood chunks can give your meat a better flavor. Chunks work better, though, as they smolder for a longer time. Simply place the wood inside the chimney together with the charcoal. Make sure to set them off to the side of your charcoal when you’re adding them to the smoker.
The woods most commonly used in charcoal smokers are hickory, cherry, apple, and oak. Other types of wood can be used as well, but we advise sticking to hardwoods. This is because softer woods produce a sooty smoke and can easily ruin the flavor of your meat.
In the end, the Original PK Grill and Smoker is undoubtedly an excellent purchase. It’s a triumphant resurrection of an old idea and something that looks and works just as advertised.
Even if we put the retro-cool looks aside, we still have a model whose efficiency and reliability are thoroughly impressive. There’s enough space for a whole turkey, while the 4-point venting system makes maintaining a consistent temperature effortless. The presence of four caster wheels ensures a smooth relocation, and a 10-year warranty covers all of this. What more could one want?
If you’re in the market for a classic-looking outdoor smoker, this model is a great option. It is practical, versatile, and can be efficiently used even by the barbecue beginners.