Cook-Air Portable Grill Product Review

Review Overview

Design
Features
Performance
Cleaning
Value

Great portable grill!

The Cook-Air is an outstanding portable grill for tailgating, camping and many other functions. Wood fired, it pumps out high heat and is great for steaks, chicken and burgers.

User Rating: 2.41 ( 74 votes)

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.

Cook Air Product Review

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)

Accessories included

  • Cleaning brush
  • Cooking grid handle
  • 120V electrical adaptor
  • Automobile cigarette lighter adaptor
  • Carry bag

Cook Air Product Review-2

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.

Cook Air Product Review-3

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.

Cook Air Product Review-4

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.

Cook Air Product Review-5

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.

Cook Air Product Review-6

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.

Cook Air Product Review-7

Light the fire starter, or some paper and place it in the fire box chamber.

Cook Air Product Review-8

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!

Cook Air Product Review-9

Place the grill grid back on top.

Cook Air Product Review-10

Turn the fan speed up to 5. This really gets the fire going and pretty soon the Cook-Air will be hot.

Cook Air Product Review-11

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.

Cook Air Product Review-12

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.

Cook Air Product Review-13

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.

Cook Air Product Review-14

I finished the steak off for a couple minutes on the other side nd then pulled it off the grill.

Cook Air Product Review-15

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.

Cook Air Product Review-17

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.

Cook Air Product Review-16

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.

Cook Air Product Review-18

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.

Cook Air Product Review-20

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.

Cook Air Product Review-21

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!

Cook Air Product Review-22

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.

Cook Air Product Review-23

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.

Cook Air Product Review-19

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.

Pros

  • Gets very hot, very quickly!
  • Uses wood
  • Very light and portable

Cons

  • 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.

About Steve Cylka

Steve is the author of The Black Peppercorn. He is a recipe developer and food photographer. His recipes have been featured on websites like Bradley Smoker, Times Picayune, Buzzfeed, and Basil & Salt. He has also authored and co-authored a couple cookbooks.

5 comments

  1. Hello……& thank you for the helpful review of the Cook-Air. I am skeptical about any gadget advertised on TV even when I have never seen the ad. But, in this instance your thoughtful and complete review was thorough and may lead to my purchase. It did, however, leave me with one question. Is the 7 minutes, about what you say the wood will last, sufficient for cooking a hamburger, steak, or 3/4″ piece of fish. If not, it would seem that the burden of removing the grate with food on it, dropping in additional wood sufficient to keep cooking, would make using the grill much less convenient than it would otherwise be……or will the wood last enough longer at a lower blower setting to enable those items to finish cooking without refilling the fire-pit.
    Whether or not you reply your review remains helpful. Thanks WP

    • That is one of the main negatives about this unit. It does impact longer grill sessions for sure. But, while somewhat annoying, it is quick and simple to remove the rack and quickly add another piece of wood. I do like that this portable grill is heated with wood. That is a nice plus. Hope this helps you decide.

  2. I got one a few years ago and its amazing at a lot of things. I am now cooking pizza on it. I agree with Steve on adding wood. Its a bit annoying to do but so simple. and easy that it seems just natural to do it after a few times.

  3. I bought one of these on sale at Cabela’s for $89 about a week ago. I’ve used it a couple of times with excellent results . Mine did not come with any of the wood pucks , so I just used chunk hardwood . it’s for sale at the big box home improvement stores, as well as Safeway.

    I’ve been using it in my kitchen next to a good exhaust fan without any problem . Please note that I do not own a canary! ;^)

    I’ve also been searing steaks before vacuum sealing them . I then cook them sous vide and they’re perfect! I’ve frozen some after searing and then cook them sous vide and they work well, too.

    Even after using several chunks of wood ( I’m using mesquite) there is only a tablespoon or so of dry white fluffy ash in the combustion chamber. Once the unit cools off, I just suck it out with a portable rechargeable vacuum . It works fine . I find that using nonstick spray on the grill before cooking makes it very easy to clean .

    as mentioned in the above review, sometimes lifting the lid also lifts the grill and heating grate. hopefully the company will provide a little more clearance in the next batch. but the advantages far outweigh this quibble. it lets me grill inside, which is wonderful! Even if you just have a tiny balcony, this will do the trick.

  4. I love the grill and have owned two of them. You might say- why did you need two? They tend to rust out around the inner ring and down into the fire pit. I have gotten two years out of each of them and am ready to buy a third. I meticulously cleaned them before putting them away in the garage after each use, but it doesn’t seem to help.
    But the price is right and I will try a third unit. What I love is the variety of hardwoods you can try – I like peach and apple wood the best for flavor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *