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Char-Broil Kettleman review: A great choice for charcoal BBQing this summer

Maggie Holland
9 Jun 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT (as of 9th of June)

The Char-Broil Kettleman isn't the cheapest charcoal option, but its clever design means less burnt food - and it looks smart, too

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With a classic kettle-style design, the Kettleman is a great charcoal barbeque. Shot through with oodles of nice design touches - we're big fans of the handy thermometer embedded in its lid - it's well worth picking up now before the warm weather returns.
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The Char-Broil Kettleman is the company’s entry-level charcoal barbecue. It’s a kettle-style barbecue, looking similar to the Weber and Landmann models that I've tested (reviews upcoming), but it actually has a number of key differences. Large enough to cook for a family, the Kettleman features some unique design points that make all the difference.

Assembly and build quality

As soon as I opened the box the quality of the Kettleman was apparent. It was very nicely packaged with good, clear assembly instructions. Char-Broil also includes a glossy 'Guide to grilling' which was nicely written and illustrated, but, perhaps more importantly, explained exactly how to set-up and use the excellent TRU-Infrared cooking grate for a variety of cooking styles. The Kettleman was quick and easy to put together with all nuts and bolts clearly labelled and was ready to fire up in about half an hour.

The Kettleman's body is high quality and is noticeably sturdy and robust, with a non-stick coating. The only part of this barbecue that obviously needs improvement is the slightly flimsy legs. Although they didn't cause me any problems during my review, they don't have the same tough feel as the kettle.

Looks and style

The Kettleman is one of the best-looking barbecues I've cooked on. A lot of effort has been put into the design and build of this grill and although it sits at the cheaper end of Char-Broil's range, with a price tag of £200 that's all relative. When asked, this was my only review model that friends thought cost a lot more than it did and, with even the basic details, such as the logo and the handle on the lid looking upmarket, it's easy to see why this could be seen as an even more expensive barbecue.

The body of the barbecue is nicely hinged at the back, meaning there's no need to find somewhere to put the lid every time you need to move things around on the grill. The lid has a thermometer built in, which is great for slow cooking or smoking, and at the back of the grill there is a nice splash guard to stop fat spraying onto the inside of the lid when open. Open or closed the Kettleman looks the part, but it's not just easy on the eye, as I found many of these features that make it look good, also helped us to look good as a barbecue chef.

In use and features

It's smart and well thought out on the outside then and that continues on the inside too. The cooking grate is Char-Broil's own system, TRU Infrared, which is thickly porcelain-coated and shaped a bit like a crinkle cut crisp. This allows the heat and smoke up to the food but prevents fat from dripping directly back down onto the flames. That means fewer flare-ups scorching your fattier items and less burnt food as a result.

The grill also distributes the heat more evenly across the cooking area. In practice, I found it worked very well and, as long as the cooking grate is hot enough, it's brilliant. However, if it’s too cool your food will really stick, so make sure it's up to heat before you start cooking.

Once hot, the grill cooked steaks and cuts of meat incredibly well. The thick bars, or peaks as they called on this grate, meant good surface area contact with the meat, making nice thick sear lines on the food, which really added to the taste and texture, as well as the presentation.

I also found that, as per the manufacturer's claims, the Kettleman does indeed use less charcoal. I tried this using a kilo of lump wood charcoal (bearing in mind the similarly sized Weber needed two kilos) and the Kettleman still cooked for around as long and, for a while, reached a higher temperature when closed.

Having tried various meats and vegetables on the Kettleman, there is no doubt it was one of the best to cook on of the various models I've tested to date, although to the seasoned barbecue chef, some of the features that make the Kettleman excel, such as the very even temperature across the grill, may also take some getting used to.

Cleaning and storage

Due to the excellent coatings on all the surfaces and the removable ash pan, after light usage the Kettleman was easy to clean. After heavy usage, where a lot of oil and fat has been able to collect, some areas of the cooking grate can be trickier to clean. As with most of my test barbecues, a cover is probably the best way to store the Kettleman, unless you have a large shed. Although it is moveable on its wheels when the lid is clasped shut, it is still large and cumbersome.

Conclusion

Char-Broil's only charcoal kettle barbecue can make even a novice barbecue chef look good and comes in a style most are familiar with. For the price, the Kettleman is great to grill on and can be set up for various types of cooking with, in my experience, great results. In the flesh, this barbecue looks good and is solid. It is also relatively easy to clean with the right equipment. It's Expert Reviews' Best Buy charcoal BBQ for 2016. For other options see our Best BBQ 2016 roundup. 
Buy the Char-Broil Kettleman now from Argos

 

Physical
Fuel typeCharcoal
Cooking area572mm circular diameter / 2,568cm2
Dimensions (HxWxD)990x700x660mm
Weight19.9kg
Features
Controllable ventsyes
Cooking height adjustmentno
Thermometeryes
Accessoriesnone

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