The Bottom Line
The best feature of the Portable Kitchen Cooker has always been its amazing longevity. Lasting for decades, these have been a mainstay of serious grillers and barbecue cooks who learned that these grills were also great smokers. The problem was, the original PK grill was very small. After this product was resurrected in the late 1990s, the company has introduced their first new grill.
The PK360 is larger, with a whole new look, but the same cast aluminum construction. At 360 square inches, it is the same size as the ever popular 22-inch Weber Kettle, but several times the price. This model is being billed as equally capable and durable as the best Kamado Grills, and it is priced similarly. The question is, will people buy this marketing strategy and this grill?
- Lasts for decades
- Excellent temperature control
- Cast aluminum vents won't break
- Does both low-temperature smoking and high-temperature grilling
- High price tag
- Top mounted vents allow water to enter the grill if it isn't covered
- 360 inches of primary cooking space (additional grate sold separately
- Complete aluminum construction with a cast aluminum cooking body and lid
- Hinged marine grade stainless steel cooking grate
- Four adjustable vents, two top, and two bottom, built into the aluminum casting
- Bottom vents are raised and covered to prevent ash blockage
- Lid mounted temperature gauge
- Easily removable base for transportation
- Removable plug in the bottom for ash cleanout
- Two large side tables
- Made in the United States and China
Guide Review - PK360 Cast Aluminum Charcoal Grill
There is a long history to the Portable Kitchen Grill that I briefly describe in my review of the original grill.
Suffice to say, that this grill started life in 1952 and some of those original units are still being used today. There are legions of fans of this product and models from the fifties are hunted by collectors everywhere. Now, after 65 years since that first grill, there is a new model on the market.
Like the original, the PK360 is made of cast aluminum and is highly durable. This, of course, is one of the main reasons that this line of grills has been so popular. It is a product that can take a lot of punishment and continue grilling for decades. There isn't a part on it that will corrode or need replacement anytime in the near or even distant future. As with its ancestor, the PK360 bought today should be grilling longer than you will.
What the PK 360 offers is a completely new design. The larger cooking surface is certainly an improvement over the relatively smaller original version. At 360 square inches of primary cooking surface (made of marine grade stainless steel rod), this charcoal grill is comparable in size to the most popular charcoal grills on the market. The rectangular shape makes it even better at indirect grilling and low and slow smoking than it's round competitors.
There are two bottom vents, controlled from the front by dials and this means that the airflow is better managed (the original Portable Kitchen Grill also has this feature). From a functional standpoint, this grill can cook at extremely high temperatures while still offering the kind of temperature control for very low-temperature grilling and smoking.
Additionally, the lid of this grill simply lifts off, though it holds in place perfectly. This means that in an open grilling capacity, the grill can be approached from any direction and two people can cook on it at the same time without getting in each others way. The base removes with a single bolt, so the whole unit can be easily packed up and transported, the side tables are large and convenient in both size and location. The vents are easily worked, though it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of the bottom vents.
The cooking grate has a removable, hinged section for access to the fire.
All in all, this is a great grill. It works as promised and is excellently constructed. The only real issue (other than rain water getting inside (keep it covered)), is the price. The original Portable Kitchen Grill sells for around $370USD. This model, twenty percent larger in cooking capacity, lists at $869USD, making it one of the more expensive, non-ceramic charcoal grills on the market. The makers argue that the PK360 will do anything a kamado grill will do and in a more portable size. Certainly, this grill will last as long as one of those, but it isn't an easy argument to make. In my experience cooking on this grill, the claims hold up, but the $500USD price difference between the models seems pretty high considering what you are getting. I will leave the decision to the buyer and will only add, that I love this grill and really do enjoy cooking on it.