Grilling season is here and there are many new products coming on the market. One of these is the newest model of the Cook-Air Portable Grill. This grill is a small unit, built and made for those times when you are not able to bring your large, full size grill. Ideal for tailgating, camping, RV’ing and more, the Cook-Air may be small and light, but it also dishes out a lot of heat. I have used many portable grills in the past and I often find that the heat is low and uneven. I was eager to try out this grill and see how well it performed.
While most portable grills are heated by propane or electricity, the Cook-Air is heated with wood. This is one feature that I really like because wood is always the best way to grill. The unit does need to be plugged in to power the fan. The fan is used to keep the fire going and really helps to increase the heat of the grill. This technology is not something I have seen before in a grill, but it works really well at generating very high heat.
The Cook-Air comes with everything you need to get grilling!
Characteristics of the Cook-Air™ grill:
- Made of top quality 304 stainless steel
- The most powerful PORTABLE GRILL on the market, equivalent to 65000 BTU
- SAFE, uses no explosive fuel or propane
- ECOLOGICAL, burns 99.6% of its gases
- FAST, ready to cook in 5 minutes
- Reaches temperatures of 1100 °F
- Uses WOOD as fuel
- SMOKES food
- 5 speed fan, ADJUSTABLE HEAT LEVEL
- EASY TO TRANSPORT, weighs less than 17 lb
- Can be used on any surfaces, the base always remains cold
- Works either with 8 “D” batteries (approx. 20 hours autonomy), the 120V electrical adaptor or the automobile adaptor
- Cooking surface : 14 inch DIA. (3 porter house steaks)
- Cleaning brush
- Cooking grid handle
- 120V electrical adaptor
- Automobile cigarette lighter adaptor
- Carry bag
Lifting up the lid reveals the grill surface. The round stainless steel grill grates provides 154 square inches of surface area for grilling. This is enough space for about 4 steaks 6-8 burgers, and 8-10 chicken drumsticks. For tailgating or camping, this should be plenty.
The grill grate rests on a special grid that evenly distributes the heat. This can be easily removed to get access to the fire box where the wood is to go. Simply use the grid handle to hook onto the side of the grill grid and now it can can be lifted up.
The grill grid is very light so it can be raised with one hand, allowing you to use the other to add wood to the fire box.
The fire box is a hollowed out round chamber that has fan vents on the side and bottom. The fan creates a mini cyclone in the chamber which keeps the fire very hot.
To get started, plug in the Cook-Air, turn it on and set it to 1. The number displays the fan speed and there are 5 settings. The 1 setting is the lowest and perfect for getting the fire started.
Light the fire starter, or some paper and place it in the fire box chamber.
Add the wood and place it on top of the fire starter. Cook-Air has specially made pucks of pressed wood chips. This lights up really quickly. It is also possible to use wood chunks or even cut up a log using a mitre saw. Use metal tongs when placing the wood in the fire box, since it can get very hot in there!
Place the grill grid back on top.
Turn the fan speed up to 5. This really gets the fire going and pretty soon the Cook-Air will be hot.
The Cook-Air advertises that it can reach 1100F. I do not have a digital thermometer that can read that high, but I did use my Thermapen and it maxed out showing heat well over 600F. I am not sure how hot it got, but I can confirm that this portable grill can pump out the heat. I was quite impressed with the heat it was emanating.
I love a good sear on my steaks, so I waited for the Cook-Air to get really hot before I placed the steaks on the grill. Immediately, they started to sizzle.
After a few minutes I flipped the steaks and there was a nice sear on them. There were not grill char marks, but instead there seemed to be an almost even browning across the steak.
I finished the steak off for a couple minutes on the other side nd then pulled it off the grill.
The picture above shows that the steak was nice and juicy. It was pink in the middle, just the way I like my steaks, and the taste was excellent. The Cook-Air did a really nice job grilling the steaks and this would be perfect for camping.
Since the Cook-Air uses wood, it will burn up over time and more will need to be added. It is a simple process to hook on the grid handle and lift up the grill to take a peek in the fire box. If the fire is getting low and there is a lot of ash, simply add some more wood. Depending on the length of the cook time, the speed of the fan and what type of wood you are using, it may be necessary to add wood a number of times. Using the wood pucks provided with the Cook-Air, I found that at speed 5, I needed to add more wood every 6-7 minutes.
It is possible to purchase extra wood pucks from Cook-Air’s website.
I wanted to see how the Cook-Air works at grilling something at a lower temperature. So, I added some more wood and lowered the fan to speed 3.
Chicken drumsticks are one of my favorite meats for the grill. The Cook-Air is clearly not as large as a traditional grill, but it can still hold a fair amount of drumsticks. I placed 6 on the grill, but there was probably enough room for close to double that, if needed.
For lower temperature grilling it is necessary to keep the lid on. There are vents all around the unit at the place where the lid rests. The smoke flows through the vents as seen in the picture above. This allows the meat to have a mild wood smoke flavor added to it during the grilling.
During the grilling, I checked on the drumsticks and turned them, to make sure that they were nice and browned on all sides. I brushed some BBQ sauce on them at the end of the grilling. They were delicious!
Cleaning the Cook-Air is very easy. The grate and the grid will need to be washed as there will be meat drippings built up on them. Other than that, it is just thefire box that needs cleaning. Simply dump out the ashes. If using clean, solid wood, there should be very little ash left in the fire box, since most of it should burn up. You can see in the picture above, all that is left of about 8 of the wood pucks. That is only a couple tablespoons of ash.
The Cook-Air comes with a cover that can be secured with straps. There is a handle on top of the cover that allows for easy transport.
The Cook-Air is an excellent portable grill and is an outstanding choice for camping, tailgating, or even for people who casually grill and do not have a lot of room in he backyard for a large grill. Even though the grill gets very hot, the base of the unit is very cool and therefore, the Cook-Air manual says it can operate on most any surface really. I used it on the glass top of the patio table and it was fine.
- Gets very hot, very quickly!
- Uses wood
- Very light and portable
- Wood needs to be added manually and fairly frequently
- No thermostat on the grill to show the temperature
The cost of the Cook-Air is extremely impressive. At $149, this portable grill is a very attractive price, especially considering how well it performs.
You can buy this portable grill at their website – Purchase Cook-Air Portable Grill
Disclaimer: Cook-Air provided me with the grill. They did not pay me for this product review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.