Best Kamado Grill

Kamado grills, also known as ceramic grills, are one of the most versatile cooking vessels around. They can grill, smoke, bake and roast. The best kamado grill not only does all that, it is also great at maintaining internal temperature. This lets your food cook evenly throughout.

For all the reasons stated above, this cooking appliance has been growing in popularity over the past few years.

If you’re in the market for a kamado, our reviews below will help you choose the one for you.

 

Our Top Picks: Kamado Grills that Will Let You Cook Everything

For more options: View the Kamado grills available on Amazon.com.

 

What Is a Kamado Grill?

Kamado grills get their name from a traditional cooking vessel used in Japan. In fact, the term kamado refers to an oven, stove or cauldron. This type of grill uses an old-style method of cooking that dates back 3,000 years in China where clay pots where used.

Today’s, most kamado grills are made with ceramic. Some newer models use steel. But, they still apply the same cooking concept as the clay pots.

Kamados have a unique look. They are large oblong shaped. This is where the name Big Green Egg comes from. To explain, Big Green Egg is actually a brand. It is one of the best known manufacturers of kamado grills.

The ceramic material along with its shape are the key to their excellent cooking ability. The round shape inside allows heat to come from all directions. This cooks your food all around, instead of just from underneath. As a result you get even cooking throughout.

These grills also come with a heavy dome lid that seal heat and moisture well. On the top and bottom, there are dampers that let you control how much air gets in and out of the cooking chamber. By adjusting the dampers you can bring temperature up as high as 800°F. Or, as low as 150°F.

The wide temp range lets you cook different ways. These including grilling steaks and burgers. Or, smoke brisket and ribs.

The image above is from our friends at BBQGuys.com. It illustrates the parts of a kamado grill.

What Can You Do With A Kamado Grill?

The biggest selling point of these grills is their versatility. Because they’re able to seal in heat and moisture so well, you’re able to cook with very consistent temperatures for long periods of time. Additionally, they are able to reach very high and very low temperatures as well.

Thanks to this, you can grill and smoke BBQ with one device. Plus, get the smoky flavor we all love.

All in all, kamados are able to:

  • Grill steaks, burgers, chicken and chops
  • Sear to give you the grill marks
  • Bake pizza, bread, cookies and pastry
  • Roasting meats and poultry
  • Smoke BBQ

 

Pros & Cons of Kamado Grills

Pros

  • Versatile. They let you grill, bake, smoke and many more. This is thanks to
  • Easy to use. They’re simple to start. Plus, temperature control is easy as well.
  • Burns fuel efficiently. Because of the ceramic material and oval shaped design, they’re very efficient in their usage of fuel. You won’t need to add charcoal or wood during the cooking process. And, the dampers allow you to feed or choke the fire.
  • Good temperature control and wide temp range. The design allows the cooker to keep consistent temperatures for a long time. Along with the dampers, it’s easy to bring up or lower internal temperature. Additionally, you’re able to go up as high as 800 degrees or drop to 150 degrees.
  • Ceramic material. Well Insulated and keeps in moisture. In addition to temperature control, its sealed design helps keep moisture in. This helps keep your meat moist even when cooking for long periods of time. The insulation also lets the internal chamber stay hot even when weather is cold outside.
  • Very durable. They’re thick and heavy. This makes them very durable. So you can enjoy them for a long time.
  • Safety. The problem with very hot cooking vessels is they can be dangerous to touch, especially for kids playing around. The thick ceramic material prevents the heat from permeating to the exterior. As such, even when the inside is scorching hot, the outside doesn’t get hot.

Cons

  • Cost. Kamado grills are expensive. This is because of the material that’s used to make them. Many cost between $700 and $1,500. Compared to gas and charcoal grills which can cost as low as $100.
  • Very Heavy. These may not take up a lot of space because they’re built vertically. But, they’re very heavy. They weigh a few hundred pounds. As such, moving them is hard. You also want to be careful not to drop them.
  • Less cooking space. The round shape gives you less surface area to cook with. In addition, you don’t have multi-level racks like those in smokers. This means you’ll need to choose a grill that fits all your food.
  • Steep learning curve. Unlike a gas grill or pellet smoker, you’ll need some practice and time to get to know your kamado. Understanding how they cook and how to control the temp requires experience. The good news is, once you get the hang of it, they’re very easy to use.
  • Fuel. Many kamados are specific in the type of fuel they use. Often, this means you’ll need to use lump charcoal. Many manufacturers will tell you they don’t recommend using the cheaper charcoal briquettes on these cookers. The good news is, the fuel efficiency of kamados partially negate the extra cost of lump charcoal.
  • Wood chips. For extra flavor, you’ll be relying on wood ships. Unfortunately, their size won’t let you use larger pieces of wood like logs.
  • They can crack. While very durable and sturdy, careless use and abuse can cause the lid to crack. Needless to say, don’t drop them. This is a sure way to damage your grill.
  • Long cooling time. Insulation works both ways. They’re great for keeping in heat when cooking. But, it also means they take very long to cool down. As a result, it’s hard to be able to cook using different methods in one day.

Kamado Grill vs. Gas Grill vs. Charcoal Grill

Instead of laying out all the features and functions of each of these grills, we’ve decided to put them up in chart/table format. Hopefully, this will make it easier to let you compare them side by side to see the difference between kamado grills, gas grills and charcoal grills.

Technically, kamado grills are charcoal grills. But for our purposes, we will consider charcoal grills as the coal-burning kettle and offset grills that we’re more familiar with.

Charcoal Grills Gas Grills Ceramic Grills
Flavor Little smoke flavor. Added flavor comes from burned off drippings. Authentic charcoal flavor from lump charcoal. Modest smoky flavor from briquettes due to additives and fillers. Excellent smoky flavor for the lump charcoal and wood fire.
Ease of Use Easy to light and turn off. Allows to immediate temperature regulation. Less cook time. Long preheat. More work spent monitoring and controlling temp. Need to start lump charcoal. Good temperature control via dampers. Easier than charcoal grills. But harder than gas grills.
Cooking Ability Grilling, Smoking Grilling Grilling, Smoking, Baking, Roasting
Fuel Source LP gas tank or Natural gas Lump charcoal or briquettes Natural lump charcoal
Warm Up Time Fastest. Ready in 10 min. or less. Longest. 20 to 30 mins. Around 15 mins.
Temperature Range Avg. models as high as 500°F. Higher end units up to 600°F 650°F. Some come with sear station or infrared burners for higher temps. Easy to maintain consistent temperatures. Avg. is 500°F. Others let you go up to 700°F. Difficult to maintain consistent temp. Can reach 800°F or go down to 180°F. Able to achieve consistent temperatures for very long hours, ie. 12 or more.
Moisture Retention Can dry out food. More moisture loss than gas grills. Good moisture retention due to insulation.
Cleaning Easier to clean than charcoal grills. But, more maintenance. Lot of ash residue. Need to clean the grill. And, dispose of ash catcher’s contents. Grates are easier to brush and clean. Less ash so less cleaning. Brushing and scraping the grates is needed.
Need to clean burners, igniter box and drip trays. Cooking grid also needs brushing and oiling depending on material.
Price Range Cheap are around $100. Cheap options available under $50. On average $700 to $1,000.
Good quality grills cost between $500 and $1,000. Most cost between $75 and $150.
Commercial units over $1,000. High end are $300 to $600.

Kamado Grill Buying Guide

1. Material Used and Construction

Traditional kamados are made with ceramic. Most models still use this. But, many manufacturers are now producing kamados made with insulated steel.

Ceramic does a great job with heat insulation. They absorb heat and seal in moisture. Their drawback is, they’ve very heavy and fragile. You can’t drop them or they crack.

Steel kamados are an alternative to ceramic. Brands like Weber and Broil King make these. The insulated steel allows them to function the same way ceramic does. But, it makes them lighter and more durable.

2. Size, Weight & Capacity

Kamados are available in small and large sizes.

  • Small is a misnomer though because they may be small, but they’re still heavy at around 100 pounds. These come with less capacity and can be portable to a certain degree. They’re ideal for smaller groups. You can use them for camping and tailgating. But be sure to use your car or SUV.
  • Large size kamados are the norm. They’re what most people have. These let you cook around 12 to 14 burgers at a time. These weigh around 150 pounds.

Some brands like the Big Green Egg, Grill Dome, Kamado Joe and Primo offer extra large versions. These let you cook between 17 and 20 burgers at a time. As you’d guess, XL kamado grills are the heaviest at about 200 pounds apiece.

Finally, don’t forget to pick the color you want.

3. Type of Cooking Grid

Another thing to consider is the type of grid. Different brands use different grate styles. Some use a single grid. Others use multi-level or hinged grids. A lot of this will depend on your preference.

In addition, the material used for the grids vary as well. You’ll find some that use stainless steel grids. Meanwhile, others come with cast iron or porcelain enameled ones.

  • Stainless steel are the most durable. They’re also rust and corrosion resistant. But, they don’t sear as well as cast iron.
  • Cast iron are the best when it comes to heat and searing. But they need to be seasons. Plus, they require more care.
  • Porcelain enameled steel grates are the cheapest ones. Unfortunately, they lack the best features of the two. They don’t sear as well as cast iron. Nor are they as durable as stainless steel.

4. Accessories

Accessories that come with these grills are somewhat different from those in regular grills. Here, you get things like a small stand that lets you do indirect cooking, pizza stones and add-on grill racks.

Larger models include more extras. Some of these are heat deflecting plates, drip pan holders, rotisserie kits and firebox dividers.

Also, you’ll need to decide if you want to get a kamado that comes with cart or not. A few models are standalone. Most come with some kind of cart to make them easy to move around.

If you go with the cart, we recommend one with wheels. You can also choose if you want one with side shelves or extra tools.

5. Warranty on Ceramic and Metal Parts

With ceramic grills, you’ll notice that manufacturers offer different warranties for the metal and ceramic parts. So, take note of each.

  • We like ceramic grills that offer lifetime warranties. Most good quality kamados come with this. Kamados that are made with steel or other metals often give lifetime warranties as well.
  • The warranty for the metal components do vary. Often, 5 years is a good number to shoot for.

 

Best Kamado Grill Reviews



Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker

For the money, Char-Griller’s Akorn 16620 is a great choice. It isn’t as expensive as the Big Green Egg. Yet, it lets you enjoy cooking many different ways in your backyard.

This Akorn 16620 is a standalone kamado grill. It comes with a stand complete with wheels. This makes it easier to move when needed.

The unit isn’t built with ceramic like traditional kamados are. Instead, it is made with triple wall steel. The material along with insulation does a good job in keeping heat in. This lets it work like ceramic does. But, with a couple of advantages. It is lighter in weight. And, much more affordable for consumers.

The grill surface offers 314 square inches for primary grilling. Of course, you can do a lot more than just grill with this unit. It lets you bake, roast and smoke as well.

The Akorn Kamado 16620 comes with cast iron grates where you put the food. It also has a removable warming rack. The unit lets you cook different ways thanks to its wide temperature range. It holds temperatures between 200°F and 700°F.

As with the others, this is a heavy unit at 100 pounds. The bottom is removable making cleaning easier as well.

Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker

If you prefer something that doesn’t take up as much space at home, the Akorn Jr. is a more practical choice.

The unit is similar to the Akorn 16620 above. It comes with triple wall steel. And, you get dual dampers that lets you control head from above and below the device. It also has many same features. These include the heat gauge and cast iron grates.

The major difference between the two is size. This one is more compact. It is also lighter in weight. This makes it easier to move around. In fact, it is portable enough to bring camping and tailgating if you wish.

This unit offers 153 square inches for cooking. It works similar to charcoal grills and smokers. Though it is more economical in terms of fuel.

The unit comes with a lid lock and is sealed on the rim. This lets you completely close it to keep the heat it. Doing so lets you roast, bake and smoke at the right temperatures. You get to control internal heat by adjusting the top and bottom dampers to let more or less air in.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe II Stand Alone

For those who want to stick with the more traditional ceramic grills, this is a good choice. It is a bit more pricey because ceramic is expensive.

Compared to the Char-Griller kamado grills above, the Kamado Joe Classic Joe II stand alone is different in form as well as the material used. As mentioned, it is made from ceramic. Plus, it does not come with a stand or wheels. Do note that Kamado Joe has a Big Joe model that comes with the tray and side shelves as well.

The Classic Joe II offers a good sized 18 inch diameter for cooking. This makes it ideal for families. Or, if you like to have guests over. This gives you around 256 square inches of grilling area. Should you need more grilling space, Kamado Joe does offer a grill expander brings it up to 407 square inches.

This Kamamo cooks at temperature ranges between 225°F and 750°F.

We like it because it is well made. In addition, it seals in the heat very well. This helps you get the temperature you want. The shape of the lid and bowl also let you achieve even cooking.

The Classic Joe II stand alone comes with a built in thermometer on the lid. The air vent on top lets you control how much oxygen goes in to fuel the fire. And the ceramic build ensures it works like an oven.

As mentioned, this cooking appliance is sizable. More importantly it is heavy at 188 pounds. It measures 46.5 inches wide and is 28 inches deep. With the lid, it stands 48 inches high.

Primo 773 All-in-One Kamado

This is a Kamado that comes with everything you need for home BBQ. You get the rolling cart along with the side tables. This lets you easily move the heavy ceramic grill easily.

The Primo All-inOn Kamado has a 280 square inch main grilling area. This gives you a diameter of 18.5 inches across the circular surface. The space is enough to cook 13 burgers or 10 to 12 steaks at the same time.

We like that Primo uses high quality materials for its products. The outside of the grill is scratch resistant. And, the ceramic material they use inside along with the seal on the lid ensures heat is kept in the grill.

This ceramic grill is 3/4 of an inch thick on the sides. It also comes with cast iron grates.

In all, you get a durable cooking appliance that’s very fuel efficient. As an added bonus, it comes with a nice 20 year warranty on the ceramic parts.

The Primo 773 comes with a built-in thermometer on the lid. You also get a vent on the top as well as a draft door to the bottom of the unit. Both give you the ability to control the grill’s internal temperature.

Inside there’s a firebox divider and cooking grates that are reversible. One of the best parts of kamado grills it that you can change how it cooks by adjusting the configuration within the firebox. This lets you grill, roast, smoke, bake or sear.