Review: Napoleon Pro 22
I have been meaning to finish this review for so long, I genuinely don’t know what’s taken me so long! However, it’s better not to rush a review and make sure the kit is thoroughly tested so here we are – 20 months after I first used it, time for Review: Napoleon Pro 22.
Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know I started out with a Weber 57cm Kettle. I learnt a lot on that grill and enjoyed cooking on it but a number of components failed and needed replacing but that was the point I found out the “10 year warranty” only covers the lid and bowl, not the majority of parts that seem to need replacing before 10 years.
You can read my review of my Weber grill and learn more about the parts that needed replacing here:
As the replacement parts were going to cost more than a brand new grill I did some research on kettle grills in the market which is where I found the Napoleon Pro 22 grill. The first thing that grabs your attention is the awesome looking cast iron grill!
Napoleon are not as well known in the UK as Weber currently, I did some research:
In 1976 Wolfgang Schroeter from Barrie, Ontario was making steel railings for local farmers in his garage. Wolfgang went on to make a wood stove for his father in law which opened up a new line of business for Wolf Steel.
The fireplace sales were seasonal with most sales between September and February so in 1995 the Napoleon Appliance Co was founded to produce high-quality grills with superior warranties.
In 2010 a charcoal grill was introduced for the European market which led to the Pro 22 (22 stands for the 22 inch grilling surface).
The company has grown to produce grills, fireplaces, air conditioners and furnaces in Barrie, Kentucky and China with 1,500 employees.
Napoleon Pro 22:
I didn’t want to buy another Weber as the previous one hadn’t lasted too long and feedback from friends was that the build quality on the newer range seemed to be lower than previous grills.
The Pro 22 looked cool, I wanted that funky grill! I contacted Napoleon to see if I could get one to replace my Weber grill, if they said no I was going to buy one anyway! Fair play to Napoleon they sent me out a new Pro 22 and didn’t ask for anything in return such as x cooks per week or a review etc. I was free to cook on it and enjoy it, fantastic!
The grill arrived quickly and the first thing I noticed was how heavy the box was! The individual components felt high quality but the grill itself is pretty heavy. It didn’t take long to put it together but I must admit I kept putting the legs on the wrong way round even with reading the instructions! Not sure how they can make it any easier so lets put it down to user error!
The key features of this grill can be seen in the picture below:
- Porcelain enamelled bowl and lid as with the Weber.
- 4 legs with 2 wheels on the back so it’s sturdier than the 3 legged Weber grill.
- That awesome cast iron grate with wavy pattern and Napoleon logo in the centre.
- The grate has 3 height settings, you can see the notches around the edge.
- The top and bottom sections are hinged so you can add more charcoal or wood chunks during the cook without lifting the whole grate out.
- Two handles to help adjust the height or lift it out completely
- A hinged lid, attached in the corner.
- No more lid on the floor or hanging off the kettle bowl
- Yes, you can take the lid off. Just unscrew the hinge, pop the bolt and remove the lid – more on this later.
- There is a handle on the front which is useful for moving the grill about.
- There are no notches on the handle to hang tools off. Napoleon do sell a tool hanging device but I just loop the tongs through the handle.
- There is a rack on the bottom for storage – I put my grill grates and charcoal baskets on them.
- You don’t get charcoal baskets with the grill but they do sell them separately.
This picture shows the ash catcher section with diffuser in place. The diffuser sits over the ash catcher and below the charcoal. It is supposed to divert air out and around the centre to prevent a hot spot. I haven’t used it for a long while and haven’t had any issues without it.
The ash catcher is a better design than the Weber one as it’s just a big hole in the centre of the grill with the ash catcher beneath. I think it’s better as there is no need for anything like the one touch cleaning system, the ash just drops in the catcher and anything else can be pushed down the hole (when cool!). The mechanism holding the ash catcher also seems sturdier than the Weber one. Even after all this use it’s not loosened up or caused me any issues.
Initially, I was slightly concerned about the bottom vent basically being a large hole and the impact it would have on temperature control but it’s been totally fine. The ash catcher is used to open/close the gap in the vent and the markings/notches on the outside make it very clear how open/closed it is which solves one of the issues I had on my Weber as it wasn’t always clear if the vents were open or not.
For the first cook I poured in a full chimney of lit charcoal
That awesome grate on top
Running pretty hot
Some big old chops were up first!
That first cook went really well, I was impressed with the Napoleon grill during the cook. It felt like a quality bit of kit, the hinged lid was really handy and the grate left some cracking sear marks on the meat!
During the cook I did notice the top vent closed each time I opened and shut the lid. This was an issue for the first few cooks but soon tightened up after I had cooked on it a few times.
I get asked a lot of questions about the Napoleon Pro 22 which I will cover here:
Q: Can I use a Rottiserie?
Yes you can! Just push the pin out the hinge, take the lid off, fit your rotisserie then put the lid back on top. I use my old Weber Rotisserie and it fits perfectly. Taking the pin out the hinge takes less than 10 seconds and is easy to put back in later.
Here is the Rotisserie in place:
View from above:
And with the lid on:
This was one of my favourite rotisserie cooks on the Napoleon, Greek leg of lamb:
Q: Can you use the Vortex?
Yes you can! I use it as with the Weber then place the grate on top with a lump of wood over the vortex:
Some of the best wings I have cooked have been on this grill using the vortex, no issues at all. It does run quite hot though!
Q: Do Grill Grates fit?
Yes they do! The Grill Grates I used on the Weber fit the Napoleon perfectly:
Q: Can you get a griddle?
If you have a griddle that fits the Weber 57cm it will fit this too. Interestingly the cast iron for the Kamado Joe Big Joe fits the Napoleon perfectly so I use that!
Q: What is the grate like?
It is seriously impressive, it’s very high quality, maintains a consistent heat across the whole area and can produce some great sear marks:
It’s big enough to cook large pieces of meat too:
As well as running two heat zones:
And big enough to cook your breakfast on too:
Big enough to cook a whole Turbot on too!
Q: What about cleaning it though?
I had a go at cleaning the grate one time and it was quite hard. What I do now is scrape it with an old blunt knife then brush rapeseed oil on it after I pour charcoal in. It’s not immaculate but it’s good enough and low maintenance enough for me!
I don’t remember cleaning the actual grill other than pushing ash and charcoal down into the ash catcher. The grill still looks in great condition even after 20 months and a lot of cooking!
Q: What is the warranty?
Looking online it’s 10 years for the lid and bowl. The air control system and cast iron grate are 5 years with 50% off replacement parts after the 5th year and up to year 10. The chrome plated kit is 3 years and everything else is 2 years.
Even with the beating I have given it there is no sign of any issues so far which is good.
Q: How easy is it to control the temperature?
As I mentioned above, it’s easier to see what setting your bottom vent is on as the notches are clearly marked. The grill does seem to run hotter than the Weber but I started using less charcoal which gave a lower temp with the bonus of using less charcoal!
When I finish cooking I shut the top and bottom vents which extinguishes the fire and leaves charcoal for reuse on the next cook.
I have really enjoyed cooking on the Napoleon Pro 22, it’s a cracking bit of kit, high quality and well made. The cast iron grate definitely has the wow factor and everyone asks about it when they see it! A lot of people have been asking for advice about what kettle grill to buy lately and I always reply Napoleon Pro 22. Why? Because in my mind it’s better built than the Weber so should last longer. The hinged lid and cast iron grate are fantastic and it’s just a small thing but 4 legs give the grill a nice balance which avoids it toppling. Everything I used on my Weber grill fits the Napoleon so if you are looking to replace a Weber or buy your first kettle it’s reassuring that you can reuse existing kit or use everything a Weber owner can use – especially the rotisserie!
The grill tends to be available for £269, I would recommend contacting Dave Clarke from Morreys of Holmes Chapel as he sells them and when I bought my Kamado Joe from him he was really, really helpful:
You can see all the cooks I have done on the Napoleon Pro 22 here (or click on the picture below):