We love traditional charcoal grills, but there’s a certain allure to cooking over an open fire pit. Because it can be tricky to set this up on your own, some companies have stepped in to fill the void.
The Rivergrille Cowboy Grill is a combination charcoal grill and fire pit that includes a rotisserie spit. The name suggests nights spent preparing dinner under a blanket of stars, with plenty of fresh air to whet the appetite.
In this Rivergrille Cowboy grill review, we’ll tell you all you need to know about this unique product. The technique requires a measure of skill, but once you get the hang of it, the grill provides a memorable experience.
One minor note before we get started: The Rivergrille brand belongs to a Hong Kong company called Rankam Group. If buying American-made grills is important to you, you’d be better off expanding your search.
- Keeps you warm and cooks dinner at the same time
- Provides a generous amount of grilling space
- Fast, simple assembly
- Rotisserie option included
- Open concept doesn’t allow for great heat retention
- Requires seasoning before the first use
- No cover included
Rivergrille Cowboy Grill Review: Features and Benefits
Design and Construction
The Rivergrille Cowboy Grill is a circular fire pit with a tripod stand. The legs on the tripod are a bit higher than you might expect. However, this design helps to keep the ingredients from sitting too low to the ground. If the stand were any shorter, you might wind up kicking dirt into your food.
A large cooking grate with a crosshatch design sits atop the fire ring. The grate is made of nickel-plated cast iron and comes with an adjustable pot hanger. The fire bowl itself is constructed of heavy-duty steel that measures 4 millimeters thick.
In addition to the pot hanger, the cooking surface features a small working table on a swivel post. We think the table is too tiny to be used for prep, but it might be able to hold a few tools or ingredients as you work.
The unit also includes a rotisserie that can be adjusted to whatever height you prefer. We’ll talk more about that in the separate section below.
One other interesting feature: The design includes a boot rail along the outer edge of the fire pit. It’s a nice touch that helps to bring the “cowboy” image together.
If you’re used to cooking on a regular charcoal grill, you might be surprised at the amount of cooking space that the Rivergrille Cowboy offers.
The main grilling surface consists of 730 square inches, which is an impressive number on its own. However, the warming rack area adds another 154 square inches to the total, giving you 884 square inches altogether.
You could easily fit 36 regular-sized hamburger patties on the main surface of the Rivergrille Cowboy. Even if you never take advantage of the rotisserie kit or pot warming hanger, you can whip up plenty of tasty grub on this grill.
Unlike some charcoal-fueled grills, the Rivergrille Cowboy can be assembled in a hurry. Most of the parts are distinctive enough for seasoned pitmasters to figure out where they’re supposed to go. The rotisserie is the only part that can be tricky, and even that can go smoothly if two people are involved.
The following tools are required for assembly: an adjustable wrench, a Phillips head screwdriver, a flat heat screwdriver, and a good set of pliers. These tools aren’t included with the purchase, so be sure you have them on hand before you try to put the grill together.
Rivergrille recommends a specific technique for starting the initial fire (see the related answer in Frequently Asked Questions, below). If you start out too hot, the steel bowl might warp slightly. We would recommend building a low fire and letting it burn to season the metal before its first use.
The cooking grates will need to be seasoned as well. To do this, rub a small amount of neutral oil (canola or flaxseed both work) into both sides of the grate. Place the grate over the fire and let it warm up for a bit. Then carefully rub in the oil using paper towels and a set of sturdy tongs.
The company advertises “fire pit cooking” for this model, inviting you to grill up large batches of steaks or burgers while enjoying the great outdoors. Thanks to the rotisserie, it’s more versatile than we expected.
That said, remember that this unit is designed for open cooking. If you would prefer a charcoal grill that can be used for indirect heat techniques, this might not be the right fit.
Also, be aware that the grill doesn’t come with a cover. In fact, Rankam doesn’t even manufacture one that’s designed to fit this unit. Try to find a suitable cover before you set up the Cowboy Grill. Otherwise, it might become damaged due to rain and other inclement weather.
The adjustable rotisserie comes with a manual crank. This means you’ll have to turn the spit constantly in order to ensure even cooking. Even if you’re cooking a small chicken, this will tire out your arm in a hurry.
Fortunately, the company offers an electric rotisserie motor that fits the spit jack perfectly. You’ll have to purchase it separately, but it’s a good deal if you plan to use the rotisserie on a regular basis.
Cleanup and Maintenance
The grease management system on the Rivergrille Cowboy is well-designed, particularly for a charcoal grill. A drip channel helps to funnel grease runoff away from the bowl, which cuts down on potential flare-ups. This channel needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup from forming.
Seasoning the grilling grates will go a long way toward maintaining their longevity. Once they’ve gained a nonstick coating, cleanup will be simple. You should also re-season them with additional cooking oil after each use.
Finally, be sure to clean out the ashes from the fire pit when they’re cool enough to handle. If you leave them in there, they may get wet, which will corrode the metal. Don’t forget to cover the grill when you’re finished.
The Cowboy Grill comes with a 90-day warranty. Although this is better than nothing, it would be nice if the guarantee were more generous. A one- to two-year warranty would be more in line with the cost.
When you’re dealing with an interesting setup like this one, it’s a good idea to find out what other buyers might have to say. Let’s take a look at the customer response to the Rivergrille Cowboy Grill.
From what we could see, the unit received positive reviews across the board. It’s reportedly easy to assemble and fun to use, and the materials are durable enough for frequent grilling. A few people recommended using a combination of wood and charcoal for best results, as the fire pit is so large.
Finding the Rivergrille Cowboy Grill can be difficult. If you don’t come across one, try investing in one of these similar models.
#1 ARTEFLAME One20
This combination grill and fire pit is shaped like an inverted cone. The cooking surface is much smaller than the Cowboy’s, but it has plenty of eye appeal.
How they compare:
- Design and Construction—ARTEFLAME
- Care and Maintenance—Rivergrille
Bring home the ARTEFLAME One20 if you want a grill that’s a true conversation starter.
#2 HANGKAI Backyard Patio Garden Stove
The square shape and raised profile of this combination fire pit are both practical and eye-catching. As a bonus, the fire pan lifts right out for easy ash disposal after cooking.
How they compare:
- Design and Construction—HANGKAI
- Care and Maintenance—HANGKAI
Try the HANGKAI model if you’re looking for an attractive fire pit for toasting marshmallows.
#3 Skyflame Fire Pit Grill Combo
The stainless steel construction gives the Skyflame a certain space-age appeal. It’s also height adjustable, which gives it versatility.
How they compare:
- Design and Construction—Rivergrille
- Care and Maintenance—Skyflame
Start cooking on the Skyflame if you want a combination unit that looks more like a grill than a fire pit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I add wood chips to the Rivergrille Cowboy Grill?
Adding wood chips to the charcoal fire can improve the flavor of your grilled food. You can also use a combination of real wood and charcoal, but wood chips allow you to experiment with different flavor profiles.
How long will the coals stay hot in a combination grill and fire pit?
Because of the open concept, charcoal fires won’t last as long in a combination unit as they would in a regular grill. Fortunately, this same design also allows you to add fuel as needed.
The manual says to keep hot coals from touching the sides of the grill. Why is that?
This precaution is put in place to keep the heat focused in the center of the grill. When you’re loading the fuel, place it in the middle of the grill base. Be careful not to use too much, or it will overflow.
The Rivergrille Cowboy Grill is an excellent package, but it’s not available at many online retailers. That’s why we would recommend checking out the Skyflame model instead.
The Skyflame doesn’t have the same Western appeal as the Cowboy grill, but it’s equipped with plenty of cool features to make it more efficient. If you were hoping to grill-roast large cuts of meat, you can easily adjust the height of the grill for indirect cooking.
Click here to give the Skyflame Fire Pit Grill Combo a try.