Melissa surprised me with a Solo Stove Yukon fire pit last year for Christmas. Since the day I unpacked it from the box and lit my first fire, I've continued to be impressed with the Solo Stove brand.
So when I heard there was a Solo Stove Ultimate Grill available, I knew I had to get my hands on this product to see how it performs and find out if it's anything like the Solo Stove fire pits.
We were filled with all sorts of questions at first.
Is it basically a fire pit with a cooking grate? Do you use wood or charcoal? Is it also smokeless? Why in the world is the stand for the grill so short? What is so special about this charcoal grill that it falls at this price point?
We cook on a LOT of different grills around here and they all fall at different price points. Some are more entry-level and the flavor and experience really tend to reflect that. Others fall at a higher price point and the flavor and experience likewise reflect that. So the question remained, does the flavor and experience accurately match the price of a Solo Stove grill?
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What does the Solo Stove Grill Ultimate Bundle include?
Solo Stove Grill
This charcoal grill, with Solo Stove's signature 360° Airflow Design™, creates a convective heating environment that circulates hot air. It is simple to use and cooks hotter and faster than most traditional charcoal grills on the market.
The grill measures 21 ½ inches wide, and the cooking surface utilizes 21” of the available space. It’s edge-to-edge cooking on this grill with very little lost space due to design. If you were cooking on a kamado, you’d have at least a couple of inches of ceramic limiting the cooking dimensions, but the Solo Grill really maximizes the space. With the lid on the grill, it stands at 29 ½ inches tall, and without the lid, the grill is 22” high with the short stand.
The grill is constructed of 304 Stainless Steel. The grill itself is stainless, the cooking grate is stainless, the easily removable ash pan and charcoal grate are stainless, the tools are stainless. The lid on the grill, however, is made of enameled porcelain.
304 Stainless Steel, cold-rolled steel
Charcoal briquettes or lump kiln-dried chunk wood
Total Grill Height
The Solo Stove charcoal grill itself has a double-wall design like you might see in their line of fire pits.
The primary difference between their fire pits like the Bonfire and the grill is that there’s no air circulation to the top of the unit to give out a secondary burn.
The air that comes into the grill is circulated down below the ash pan. Solo Stove has a nifty diagram on their website showing how the air flow works on this grill, and it’s quite different from their fire pit design.
One of the things that Solo Stove talks about when it comes to this grill is the convection cooking feature. There’s no lower air control vent on this grill like you might find on a comparable Weber kettle or PK 360. Traditional charcoal grills involve making constant vent adjustments to manipulate just how much air comes in the bottom to have control over the heat of the grill. This grill is designed to run between 400-500 degrees all the time, so no air control vent means that this grill is a grill and not a smoker.
Now I’m sure that some of you are going to be bummed out that this grill isn’t as versatile as a Weber kettle, and that’s okay. I’ll just come out and say that this probably isn’t the grill for you if smoking is something that you want to do with the one grill you’re going to buy. This grill wasn't designed to be versatile, it was created to do one thing the best that it could, and that is grill in the 500-degree range.
I have grilled all kinds of meals on this cooker, and it really did best when I let it stay in its lane. Burgers are amazing on this grill. You can get the sear marks that you want to impress family and friends without fussing with airflow and perfect amounts of charcoal. Hot dogs are easier than easy and come away with a stronger charcoal and smoke flavor than I get on the kamado grills that we have here at The Lab.
I even tried a cook with chicken wings where I banked my coals to one side and cooked them indirectly for a bit before spreading things out and finishing them off over direct heat. There is some ability to cook indirect on this grill, but it’s all in how you place the coals under the cooking grate that will allow more versatility.
If you're interested in the other cooking options Solo Stove is now offering, be sure to check out our reviews of the Solo Stove Pi and the Solo Stove cooking system.
Grill Short Stand
The 13” grill stand is simple to assemble, but it's important to note that it does not easily fold back up for portability.
From what I can tell on the website, I think Solo Stove has a vision of interactive grilling experiences, with everyone sitting around the grill, rather than a campfire, the whole family cooking dinner together.
I could see this happening if I were camping (and I've already explained that I'm not a camper) or tailgating. For me though, I'd like this to be the charcoal grill I use on my back patio with a bunch of guests standing around admiring it.
Fortunately, if the height of the short stand bothers you, you can easily pick up a tall stand through the Solo Stove website for 7 more inches of cooking height.
Solo Stove Grill Tool Set
The grill tool set includes a spatula, tongs, and a meat fork, all made out of 304 stainless steel, measuring 19-21" in length.
The included grill shelter looks just like and is made of the same PVC material as the old design shelters for the Solo Stove fire pits.
Grill Carry Case
The grill carry-case has been included in this bundle for those who like to grill away from home on occasion. It is designed to carry just the grill, and the stand would be carried separately. I'm not a camper, myself. However, if I were ever to become a camper, it would likely be more "glamping" than anything else and I could totally see myself bringing this along for some charcoal grilling. The carry case would be a great asset to have if that day ever comes. In the meantime, I'll stow it away safely and probably forget where I put it.
The grill pack included in the ultimate bundle consists of one 4lb bag of natural charcoal briquettes as well as 4 fire starters. That amount of charcoal lasts about one 45 minute cooking session (400-500°) on the Solo Stove grill. Additional grill packs can be purchased at solostove.com.
I found this to be very high-quality charcoal. The flavor it imparted and the heat it put off were far superior to most any charcoal brands you would find in a big box store.
What makes the Solo Stove Grill better than any other charcoal grill?
I think most of us can agree that food tastes better when cooked over charcoal. So if that's the case, why have so many outdoor cooks switched to grilling with gas?
It's quick and easy.
Cooking with charcoal got kind of a bad reputation for being too time-consuming. It's too much work. It takes too long to get the grill up to temperature for cooking. I don't have time to cook like this on a weeknight. It's too hard to get the airflow right to hit my target cooking temperature.
The thing is, the Solo Stove grill really simplifies charcoal grilling, voiding the validity of many of those excuses.
Unlike other charcoal grills that depend on users being glued to their grills adjusting temperatures and maintaining consistent airflow, the Solo Stove grill was literally designed for the grill master to sit back and relax, enjoying the perfect cooking conditions.
Simply add charcoal briquettes to your Solo grill, light them, and the grill naturally lets the air flow to create the perfect cooking environment for any of your hot and fast outdoor cooking recipes.
What We Loved About the Solo Stove Grill
Flavor vs. Ease
The Solo Stove grill offers the ease of a gas grill but the unmatched flavor of charcoal. I mean, the food cooked on this grill tastes exceptional. It can be a tough choice which grill we use on any given night. But the Solo Stove grill is fighting to win and my family agrees.
Solo Stove Grill Packs
I was pessimistic at first that the all-natural charcoal briquettes and 100% recycled hardwood starters in the grill pack would be worth the price, but I was delightfully surprised.
Grate Quality and Design
The charcoal and cooking grates are made of stainless steel and they’re pretty heavy in comparison to many other grates on the market for grills of this size. I really like that the grates have a swivel-up hinge built into each side of the grate.
It allows for easy replenishing of charcoal or throwing in a piece of wood to add some smoke to the cook. The grates are easy to swivel around using the handles attached to each side, and it makes it handy when you are using the grill in a confined space like we are here.
Many charcoal grills aren’t fun to clean, but I love the way that Solo Stove has engineered this grill with cleanup in mind. To clean it out, just take off the grill grate and then shake off the charcoal grate if there’s anything left from the previous cook. All you do is just lift out the ash pan and take it wherever you want to dump your ash.
Solo Stove has a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects on this unit, and if you’ve followed the company in any of the groups online that gather around Solo Stove discussions and products, the company has a stellar reputation when it comes to honoring their warranty and coming through for their customer.
Opportunities for Improvement
Standard with Tall Stand
Because of our outdoor kitchen setup with our kamado drawers, the short stand has worked alright for us. However, without the kamado stand, this grill would sit uncomfortably low. I can see why the short stand would be ideal for portability, but for anyone using this charcoal grill in their backyard, the taller stand would certainly be preferred. I think it would make more sense to sell this grill standard with the tall stand and make the short stand optional.
Higher Quality Grill Tools
We've been purchasing Solo Stove accessories for our Yukon fire pit over the last year and have been overwhelmingly impressed with the quality of these tools. When we opened up the grill tools, we were a little disappointed to see that they didn't seem to be of the same caliber. They're still probably nicer than half the grill tools that we've seen around here, but not quite what I expected from Solo Stove.
The Solo Stove Grill is a perfect grill for people who want the head-turning look of a Solo Stove fire pit in grill form. It’s easily one of the first grills that people want to know about when they visit here at The Lab, and it’s incredibly easy to operate. If you want the ease of a gas grill but the flavor of charcoal, then this is worth looking into.
This is by far the easiest charcoal grill I’ve used, because there’s no meddling with air intake and fire management. It’s quite simply a grilling machine that sears meat and veggies without needing to be a pitmaster who understands airflow. If that sounds like you, then give this beauty a look.
So why buy a charcoal grill for over $500 when I can pick up a Weber kettle that does the same thing for less than $200? I guess for the same reason one would buy a Memphis pellet grill instead of a Z Grill. They both cook the same way, but the experience using one is head and shoulders above the other. You pay extra for the look and features that come with the higher end models. If aesthetic and ease of use are important to you, then the Solo Stove grill is a clear winner.