You’re probably asking yourself “What the heck is a Vortex?” and I don’t blame you! Until relatively recently I hadn’t heard of the Vortex either, but man am I glad I found it! The Vortex is a very simple tool, but it adds so much versatility to your charcoal kettle grill. The Vortex is a conical piece of steel that allows you to better direct the heat from your charcoal.
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You have (4) basic orientations you can use the Vortex:
- Place charcoal inside the Vortex and your food directly over the Vortex for extremely high heat grilling and searing (great for steaks).
- Place charcoal inside the Vortex and your food around the outside of the Vortex for indirect cooking (great for smaller foods like chicken wings).
- Place charcoal around the outside of the Vortex and your food directly over the Vortex for indirect cooking (great for larger cuts of meat like a pork butt).
- Place charcoal around the outside of the Vortex and your food around the outside of the Vortex. This will allow you to have more control over your cook and more even heating.
I typically use orientations 1-3. I have cooked a ton of chicken thighs in Orientation #1 and they cooked quickly (be sure to use an instant read thermometer so you don’t overcook them) and were juicy and had that perfect hint of lump charcoal flavor. Then, I smoked several racks of pork spare ribs using Orientation #2 with a combination of lump charcoal and applewood. Those ribs were so smoky and delicious my eyes rolled to the back of my head!
Recently I have been smoking a ton of pork butts using a slight variation of Orientation #3. I put my charcoal and wood chunks in a basket like a Slow ‘N Sear and then place the pork butt over the Vortex to protect it from the direct and radiant heat. This allows the meat to cook slowly and get nice and smoky and tender. Easily the best tasting pork butts I have ever made! I think this accessory for your charcoal kettle grill is a no brainer, but if you want to learn more before pulling the trigger we’ve got you covered – keep reading!
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- Simple and Effective
- Stainless Steel Construction
- Made In America
- We haven’t identified any flaws in the Vortex
The Vortex performs as expected. When used in Orientations 1 or 2 it does a great job of directing the heat right above the cone. This allows you to create nice convection when cooking in-directly (Orientation 2). In Orientation 1 this allows you to get a phenomenal sear on things like steaks. I love to smoke meat on my Weber kettle and I religiously use the Vortex in a slight variation of Orientation 3 to produce dark, smoky bark without burning my pork butts or brisket. As a long-time pellet grill enthusiast this was a real eye-opener for me and has been an absolute game-changer. The best BBQ I’ve ever made. Overall the Vortex is super simple. This makes it easy to use and really durable. It’s a cost effective charcoal grill accessory that is super easy to experiment with. Pick one up and start putting it to work!
The Vortex is offered in four different sizes that range from $37 to $47. We use the Medium size on our 22” Weber kettle and that version costs $45. While it is a very simple product, it is a phenomenal value because of the versatility it adds to your kettle grill.
The Vortex is manufactured in the USA using heavy duty stainless steel. It looks and feels very sturdy and ours hasn’t degraded at all despite the extreme heat and duration of use it has seen. The Vortex is constructed from a single piece of stainless steel that is spot welded to form a cone. There are no moving parts or fasteners to worry about.
Who Is It For?
If you love making chicken wings the Vortex is a no-brainer as it allows you to get a great, even cook with crispy skin. We also love using the Vortex as a heat deflector to protect large cuts of meat (like pork butt and brisket) from the direct and radiant heat during long smokes. This allows us to build beautiful bark and smoky flavor without burning our meat.
The Vortex gives you more cooking options AND greater margin for error when cooking on a charcoal kettle grill. It is fantastic for searing, but we use it even more for indirect cooking. At under $50 the Vortex is a great value.