11 Best Kamado Grills in 2021 – [Buy Smart]

In many cases, you’ve got to give something up if you buy a versatile grill. You either have less cooking space, have poor quality, or have something bulky or not big enough.

Luckily, there’s the kamado grill. These could be the best products on the market because they are fueled by charcoal, are made of ceramic, and are both a grill and smoker.

The best news is they’ve been around for more than 3,000 years!

The best kamado grill is often made of ceramic, and it is highly insulated. Therefore, they make efficient smokers. Unlike regular charcoal smokers, though, they can be roasters, grills, and pizza ovens.

We expect that you’ve seen advertisements for the Big Green Egg, but there are many other styles. Though the Big Green Egg is the supreme, it also comes with an incredibly high price tag and is hard to find – even online. That’s part of the reason we didn’t include the Big Green Egg in our list today; we want it to be easy to find the grills we’ve listed.

To make it easier for you to find the best kamado grill out there, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best choices at various price points. Everyone can get one!

That’s not all we’ve done. Before you can buy the best kamado grills, you’ve got to know what they are, how to set them up, and their pros and cons.

Short on Time? Check out the Top 3!

9.5
Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II

Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill Best Overall

If you want something similar to the Big Green Egg, the <strong>Kamado Joe Classic II</strong> could be one of the best options. While this one is red and the other is green, they both work about the same.
9.5
Pit Boss 24-inch Ceramic Kamado Grill

Pit Boss 24-inch Ceramic Kamado Grill Best Runner Up

Another alternative to the <strong>Big Green Egg</strong> is the Pit Boss Ceramic Kamado Grill. It steps it up a notch with a stand and side tables and features a dark-green color.
9.5
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Grill

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Grill Best Budget

If you're on a budget, the best kamado grill might be the <strong>Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Grill</strong>. You get plenty of cooking space without the high price as some of the other top models.
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Buyer’s Guide

You want to make a good decision about the outdoor equipment you use to cook food. We’ve included this buyer’s guide to help you understand more about these ceramic grills and what to watch out for when buying one.

How a Kamado Grill Works

The design for the kamado grill is simple and ancient. The egg shape and thicker walls allow for more moisture and heat retention. Generally, the vent is at the top, with an air intake at the bottom. You can adjust these vents to control the temperature. When you’ve got the right temperature, the kamado grill stays there without any fluctuations. However, it’s essential that you choose a high-quality kamado gas grill for the temperature feature to be exact.

Fuel must be placed into the cooking chamber. Once you light the charcoal, the cooking racks and all other equipment are added. The food sits on the cast-iron cooking grate. Since it sits farther away from the coals, it is easy to get the right doneness.

For smoking or indirect cooking methods, there is a heat deflector plate or plate setter. This goes under the grate and has three legs.

The heat deflector doesn’t always come with the kamado gas grills available. If your kamado gas grill doesn’t include one, you should consider paying for this feature because you can make many other meals with it. There are various other accessories available, too. These include pizza stones, grid lifters, and stands.

How to Use the Kamado-style Grill

Before you decide to buy a kamado grill, it’s a good idea to know how to use it:

Add Charcoal to the Kamado Grill

  1. You need an empty firebox to start with, and it must be clean.
  2. Stack up the charcoal into the kamado grill firebox. You can use briquettes or lump charcoal. To prevent smaller pieces from falling and obstructing the airflow later, make sure to stack the charcoal right onto the fire grate. That way, the big pieces are at the bottom.
  3. Put smaller pieces or lumps on top. Use some of the leftover charcoal from previous smoking sessions if you’ve got it.
  4. There’s no need to completely fill up the firebox. The amount you add depends on how long you plan to cook. This takes some experimentation to find out how long the charcoal lasts.

Fire Up the Kamado Grill

  1. You should now open the top/bottom vents fully.
  2. Make a ‘well’ in the middle of your coal pile. Place the fire starter into this well and light it. Leave it alone for a while so that it fully ignites.
  3. Once the fire starter is going, place some bigger charcoal lumps on top of it. Those lumps are then going to light up.
  4. When you get the fire established, add the racks and accessories that you’re going to need to cook with.

Adjust the Vents on the Kamado Grill

  1. Now, you should close the lid while leaving the vents open completely.
  2. Watch the thermometer that comes with the kamado grill or insert one. Once the temperature is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit less than your target temperature, you can start closing the vents. Make sure that you experiment a little. We feel that it’s best to leave open the top vent with a crack and close the bottom vent by about 50 percent to slow down the fire enough.
  3. Continue monitoring the kamado grill temperature. As you get close to the target temperature, shut down the vents some more.
  4. It’s going to get easier to make the final adjustments as you sail up to your target temperature. Just make sure that you’re adjusting only the top vent.

Reach Your Target Temperature

  1. At this point, you may want to switch to a digital thermometer for temperature control because they’re more accurate. When you reach the right temperature, and it continues to rise, you should shut your top vent a little more.
  2. When the temperature stops at the desired mark, make sure that you leave the vents alone. From there, these charcoal grills are going to retain their temperature and offer heat retention while you cook.
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What to Consider When Buying a Kamado-style Grill

Buying a kamado grill is a significant purchase, so you should focus on build quality and determine what your preferences and needs are beforehand. Here are just a few things to consider when searching for a kamado grill.

Size

How many people are you going to cook for at a time? If you usually have six to 10 people, a large kamado grill is essential. Also, you need a bigger one if you plan to use two-zone cooking. For example, the Kamado Joe Classic II is an excellent charcoal grill that feeds plenty of people.

There are various accessories out there for the kamado grill. Consider a model that includes more of those accessories so that you can cook without spending even more.

Warranty

Many people forget about the warranty or don’t focus on this. However, a kamado grill costs a lot. Since they’re made of ceramic, there’s a risk that they could crack or break. Consider brands with a lifetime warranty on the ceramic part. Most warranties last up to 10 years for other components, such as the stainless steel or cast-iron accessories. A kamado grill should last a lifetime.

Ash Trays

Ash buildup can be a significant concern for your kamado grill. Ensure you know where the ash goes and whether or not it’s easy to clean it out. Generally, it’s best to look for models with a removable ash drawer. Another alternative is a slide-out ash drawer. This is going to ensure that it’s easier to use in the long run.

Design Features

You can find a variety of designs out there. For durability and aesthetics, you could prefer stainless steel for the outer part of the kamado grill. Sometimes, you can even find powder-coated lid bands and hinges. Usually, the bands and hinges are uniform. If you’ve got a preference for a specific material over another, ensure that your kamado grill choice offers that. Some models are standard with one material, while others allow you to make the choice.

Construction Material

Typically, a kamado grill is made using ceramic with a porcelain glaze. However, manufacturers now include steel variations, as well. This could be worth considering because steel kamado charcoal grills aren’t going to crack if they get dropped. Steel can also be more lightweight than traditional ceramic options.

However, steel may have a shorter lifespan than a ceramic kamado grill because steel is likely to rust with time. You’re going to find that the price reflects that, though, so it’s a great entry-level option. You can save up to buy a ceramic kamado grill while you use the steel one. This is a good idea for those on a budget.

Ash Grates

There’s a grate on the bottom of the fire pit, and it is made of ceramic, cast-iron, or powder-coated steel. These materials all work well, but if you’ve got a preference, check the model first.

Cooking Grates

There are two primary things to consider when focused on the cooking grate style. These include the materials and the hinged access.

Typically, they are made of enameled steel, though some models use stainless steel.

Ensure that the cooking grates have hinges. They allow you to access the under-part of the kamado grill beneath the cooking grate. That way, you can easily add more smoking wood while using it and don’t have to remove the entire grate during cooking. We like the air-lift hinge best, but others are just as good.

Top Vents

Most people don’t care, but it can be good to find out if your kamado grill has a single or double wheel for the top vent. Both do the job well, but double wheels can provide more precision for temperature control.

Other Considerations

While the earlier mentioned technical aspects are essential, you may want to think about the color you prefer. Choices are sometimes limited because each manufacturer usually chooses one shade.

In most cases, the appearance of the kamado grill isn’t as important as what’s practical and has the features you prefer.

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Comparison Table

Kamado GrillsCooking SpaceWeightWarrantyDimensionsReview
Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill406 square inches188 poundsLifetime warranty on all ceramic parts46.5x48x28 inchesCheck Price
Pit Boss 24-inch Ceramic Kamado Grill662 square inches179 poundsLifetime warranty on all ceramic parts45.9×29.1×52 inchesCheck Price
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado314 square inches + 133 sq. in. 100 pounds1-year warranty on all parts26.6×24.8×21.7 inchesCheck Price
Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker153 square inches37 pounds1-year warranty on all parts20.5×21.5×25.3 inchesCheck Price
Kamado Joe Big Joe II Charcoal Grill576 square inches394 poundsLimited lifetime warranty on all ceramic parts33.5×33.5×39.37 inchesCheck Price
Kamado Joe Joe Jr.180 square inches75.5 poundsLimited lifetime warranty on all ceramic parts19.75×20.75×27 inchesCheck Price
Pit Boss Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill484 square inches179 poundsLifetime warranty on all ceramic parts45.9×29.1×52 inchesCheck Price
Primo Oval Ceramic Grill400 square inches250 poundsLifetime warranty on all ceramic parts27.5x21x24.5 inchesCheck Price
Broil King Keg 5000480 square inches126 pounds10-year warranty on body and 2-year warranty on paint/other parts41×27.5×47 inchesCheck Price
Outlast 23.5-inch Ceramic Kamado Grill529 square inches235 poundsLifetime warranty on all parts52.7×23.5×32 inchesCheck Price
Vision Grills Kamado Pro596 square inches252 poundsLifetime warranty on all ceramic parts32.5×28.8×47 inchesCheck Price
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The 11 Best Kamado Grills on the Market for 2020

1. Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill – Best Overall

If you want the best kamado grill on the market, we think the Kamado Joe Classic is the top choice. It’s definitely made a name for itself, and the brand makes high-quality and innovative products.

We like that the Kamado Joe Classic was recently redesigned a few years ago to include the new air lift hinge. This reduces the dome’s weight by about 96 percent. You’re going to appreciate this new design even more because of the double-thick fiberglass gasket with the six-piece firebox.

The Kamado Joe Classic also includes the divide and conquer cooking system. This means you can cook various foods on different cooking surface options. It’s more versatile that way and doubles your area for cooking.

With the Kamado Joe Classic, you get two half racks that sit at different levels. That means there are various heat zones with multiple temperature options, and they all work simultaneously.

These grills hold a temperature between 225 F to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The top vent is there to help with fine adjustments and is also rain- and rust-proof.

You’re going to appreciate the stainless steel construction. Plus, the heat deflector is included with the price, so you don’t have to spend extra. We were also impressed with the easy-clean system, making it easier to handle one of the worst jobs.

9.5Expert Score
Takeaway

If you want a compact grill with tons of space to cook on, this is the right product for you. It's got many features and is unique in its design.

Pros
  • Divide and conquer system
  • Air lift hinge
  • Cast-iron cart
Cons
  • Plenty of cooking surface, but grill is small

2. Pit Boss 24-inch Ceramic Kamado Grill – Best Runner Up

Those who want the best grills are sure to appreciate the Pit Boss 24-inch Kamado. Though the Kamado Joe is the top choice, it does cost a bit more. We like that this one is a little less expensive and still suitable.

You get the top features you expect from high-end models, such as ceramic construction and superb temperature control. We like that it works at high temps and can also cook low and slow. The heat can go up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit for searing purposes. It’s possible to control the heat by using the cast-iron tamper right at the top of the grill.

However, it doesn’t come with a heat deflector, so you have to buy one separately if you want to do indirect cooking and smoking. To combat this slight concern, there are two side shelves made of bamboo that fold down when you don’t need them.

The stand has swivel casters, making it easier to position this grill and lock it into place.

9.5Expert Score
Takeaway

If you're not too worried about smoke leaking, this product has a great value for the price. However, it doesn't do all types of cooking without buying extra accessories.

Pros
  • Great value for money
  • Heat retention and control
  • Heavy-duty wheels
Cons
  • Requires more work to get an airtight fit
  • Have to buy extra accessories for all types of cooking

3. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado – Best Budget

Those who want the best and are on a tight budget may like the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado. This is highly affordable and works well for your first kamado. You can try it out and see if it’s what you want before forking over more money to get a better option.

Though the brand might not be top of the line or high-end, it’s still reliable, gets the job done, and doesn’t break your wallet.

We like that the body of this grill is made of 22-gauge steel, and it also features cast-iron grill grates. The outside is powder-coated to protect it from the weather, while the inside uses a porcelain coating.

It comes with shelves that fold back, so you can add more charcoal if needed. However, this rarely happens. Even with that, the tables make it easier to keep all of your utensils at the ready.

Though it’s an entry-level model, it comes with many nice features. The ashtray is easy to empty, and there’s a temperature gauge. You are going to appreciate the large cooking surface and can do a low and slow roast or crank the heat up and make things faster.

One thing we prefer is the double-wall insulation. There’s also a locking mechanism on the lid so that the heat doesn’t get through the seal.

9.5Expert Score
Takeaway

If you're on a tight budget and still want to try the kamado style, this is a less expensive choice. Plus, it's durable and uses less charcoal than other brands.

Pros
  • Steel construction
  • Less expensive than other models
  • Fuel efficiency – use less charcoal
Cons
  • Steel rusts with time; must take proper care of it
  • Inconsistent quality control

4. Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker – Best Small

The Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker actually addresses two primary concerns that people have with kamado grills: mobility and affordability. This product is a smaller version of the Akorn that we just talked about. You’re going to like that the Kamado Kooker is smaller, meaning you can move it around.

Those with limited space are going to find this to be the best choice. You can even take it on camping trips or move it around on the patio. The unit is made from the same brand as the earlier Akorn model. It’s generally considered to be the basic version, but it’s a top choice for many.

We like that the unit is made of steel, making it very durable. Plus, it’s lightweight when compared to ceramic models. You also don’t have to worry about dropping it and cracking the material.

This is a smaller grill and only has a 14-inch diameter. It stands 25 inches tall, so it isn’t ideal in some situations. For example, if you regularly cook for large groups or want the two-zone cooking method, consider a different brand.

Those who only want to cook for two may like it best.

There are two vents for excellent temperature control. Plus, the triple wall insulation helps it retain heat. These grills can get just as hot as the bigger ones, but you can also cook low and slow.

You’re going to appreciate the cast-iron cooking grates. Food doesn’t stick to them, and they’re easy to clean.

9Expert Score
Takeaway

Those who want something portable and like the kamado (round) style are sure to appreciate this product. We aren't sure how long it's going to last, but it does its job while it works.

Pros
  • Portable because of steel construction
  • Can heat up fast
  • Steel construction, more durability
Cons
  • Check for good condition upon arrival – issues with quality control
  • Longevity issues

5. Kamado Joe Big Joe II Charcoal Grill – Best High End

If you’re looking for the best high-end Kamado grill, the Kamado Joe Big Joe II might be the one you want. The Kamado Joe brand is full of expensive and great grills, but this one is top of the line. Just make sure that you’ve got plenty of space to use the Big Joe because it’s a beast to move later.

These grills from Kamado Joe are rated quite highly by us because the cooking grates are made using stainless steel. They aren’t going to corrode or rust, so it’s easy to clean them and take care of them. As with other models of the Kamado Joe brand, it uses the divide-and-conquer system to cook multiple foods at different temperatures. The heat stays relatively consistent throughout the process, as well.

In a sense, this product is just like the Classic II, but it’s much bigger. This means you get the same air-lift hinge. Since the lid is so heavy, it’s important to have this feature. It only takes two fingers to raise it, and it’s going to stay in the same position when you take away those fingers.

There’s a grate gripper that helps you remove and reposition the grates safely, even during the cooking process. Plus, we enjoy the patented ash drawer, which slides out and makes it easier to remove the ashes when you’re finished cooking.

Though there’s a wheeled cart on which it sits, the entire unit is 250 pounds, so you’re not going to want to move it around a lot. Ensure that you focus on location before setting it up.

9Expert Score
Takeaway

If you've got the money and want to splurge, you can't beat this brand. Its high-end because it is one of the best on the market right now.

Pros
  • Aluminum top vent
  • Wire mesh, double-thick fiberglass gasket
  • Advanced firebox design
Cons
  • Challenging to assemble

6. Kamado Joe Joe Jr.

The Kamado Joe Joe Jr. is quite similar to the Big Joe, though it’s so much smaller. We think this could be the best choice if you prefer grills that are small, easy to transport, and can be tucked out of the way.

We like that the Kamado Joe Joe Jr. is heavy-duty with a thick-walled shell that’s heat resistant. The good thing about that is you can smoke at any temperature, and the meat retains its moisture.

You’re going to like the stainless steel cooking grate because it’s never going to rust or corrode. Therefore, it’s easy to clean and maintain.

With the Kamado Joe Joe Jr., you’ve got a built-in temperature gauge right on the top. You don’t have to open the lid during the cooking process to see what’s going on inside.

8.5Expert Score
Takeaway

Those who like the styling and the brand but don't have the room can get the 'junior' version. You've got plenty of precision, but it does take awhile to heat up.

Pros
  • Portable
  • Felt gasket for airtight seal
  • More Precision
Cons
  • Lid doesn’t stay open
  • Takes longer to heat up

7. Pit Boss 22-inch Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill

Those who want the best kamado grill may prefer the Pit Boss Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill. It has a significantly heavy body, which means it’s stable and efficiently burns the charcoal you put inside it.

You are sure to appreciate the cast-iron tamper on top because it provides full control over airflow. That way, you can set it to the right temperature and let it go on its own. In fact, it retains its heat well enough to cook low and slow without any issues. Still, you can use high heat when necessary.

We are quite impressed with the side shelves because they’re made of solid bamboo. They’re sturdy enough to hold all your utensils, but they fold down to make it easier to store the grill.

However, we don’t think you’re going to be moving it around a lot because it weighs almost 180 pounds. It can be a little easier to do because of the cast-iron wheel casters. That way, you can put it in a shed to protect it from thieves.

Another great aspect of this grill is the stainless steel grill racks. You get dual-tier grates to give you more space to cook, roast, smoke, and bake. In fact, it encapsulates more heat so that you can get more done at once.

8.5Expert Score
Takeaway

Everyone wants plenty of room to grill so that the meat can spread out and take its time. This option offers two levels of cooking and can reach extremely high temperatures!

Pros
  • Two tiers for cooking
  • Achieves temps over 700 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Glossy black color for style
Cons
  • Loose low vents
  • Hard to clean

8. Primo Oval Ceramic Grill

Those who want the best kamado grills are sure to appreciate the Primo Oval Grill. It’s made in the US and uses premium-grade ceramic materials. This helps to retain moisture, heat, and flavor. The Primo brand offers a higher-sitting lid, which means you can cook turkey or chicken vertically.

This all-in-one grill includes side shelves, an ash tool, cradle, and grid lifter. All the components are heavy duty and designed to last for a long time.

Whether you like to use indirect or direct heat, you’re going to be able to do what you want with this product. We like the wide cooking surface because you can fit more food on at once. Plus, the grates are reversible and easy to clean. They include a porcelain glaze, which is lead-free and resistant to scratching.

We like the patented oval shape of the grill because it is more efficient and can distribute the heat more evenly. You also get a more consistent temperature, regardless of whether you choose 180 or 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

You’re going to be impressed with the stainless steel draft door. Some manufacturers call it a vent, but regardless, it is durable and strong enough to keep out air. The top chimney cap is made of cast-iron, and there’s also a thermometer built into the top. You can easily read it and monitor the device to keep things precise.

There’s also the lift-and-lock hinging system, which keeps your lid in place and allows it to rise effortlessly. Plus, you don’t burn your fingers with the cool-touch handle. With the felt gasket, the ceramic is protected while you open/close the grill lid.

8Expert Score
Takeaway

If you've got the perfect spot for your kamado grill, then you should consider this brand. It isn't portable, but it comes with plenty of accessories and a built-in thermometer.

Pros
  • Includes various accessories
  • Easy-to-read thermometer built-in
  • Easy to assemble
Cons
  • Very heavy
  • Requires two people to assemble

9. Broil King Keg 5000

Though Broil King is known best for making gas grills, they do offer a few kamado-style options. For example, the Broil King Keg 5000 is designed for better performance and durability. The insulated double-wall body retains moisture and heat effectively. Plus, it’s made of steel, so you don’t have to worry about the walls absorbing odors or smoke.

With the Broil King Keg 5000, you can use less charcoal when cooking. This is because of the insulated design, as well as the aluminum lower damper and cast-iron top damper. There’s also a durable gasket. Because of all this, the Broil King Keg 5000 uses much less charcoal, so you’re spending less money on fuel.

You’re going to like that it’s easy to clean the bottom of this grill. There’s a removable ash catcher made of steel, so you can swiftly sweep out the extra ashes. There’s no issue of having a mess on your deck anymore.

We like that this grill comes with various accessories to ensure that it’s highly functional. The chrome secondary rack swings away when you don’t need it and can be used for keeping food warm. There’s also the mobility cart so that you can move it around the patio as necessary. If that weren’t enough, you also get resin side shelves to store utensils and ingredients. They’re detachable, too!

8Expert Score
Takeaway

Kamdo grills are popular because of the double-wall insulation. Since ceramic is used here, it's a top-quality product, but it's heavy and can be hard to set the temperature controls.

Pros
  • Insulated double-walled steel construction
  • No cast-iron used; only ceramic
  • Includes many accessories
Cons
  • Hard to lower the temp if you shoot too high
  • Doesn’t sear well

10. Outlast 23.5-inch Ceramic Kamado Grill

Those who want the best kamado grills may prefer the Outlast brand. We like the all-in-one design of it. In fact, you can bake, grill, smoke, and so much more. While it doesn’t come with a rotisserie, you can buy one and use it to make turkey and chicken in a new and different way.

The hardware on the device is all made using stainless steel. Therefore, you know it’s going to be durable. Plus, it isn’t going to rust with time. You can leave the grill outside without fear that the legs/stand and outer parts are going to get damaged.

We like the cast-iron grill base and top vent, too. This is designed for durability, but it also protects it from the elements. Since the vent is so strong, you can turn it frequently without fearing that it’s going to fall off or get broken.

Though you probably aren’t going to move this grill around a lot, there are bamboo handles. They’re cool to the touch, so if you do need to scoot it over while cooking, you don’t burn your hands. Plus, there are side tables included. They fold down so that you can wheel the cart into a corner for easier storage. You can appreciate the bamboo construction of both the handles and tables. This makes them eco-friendly and adds elegance and style to the grill.

Something must be said about the design, as well. It comes in three colors (blue, red, and black). The outside features countless divots all around it. While they don’t do much to retain heat, they look amazing and make the grill stand out and become the focal point of the area.

7.5Expert Score
Takeaway

If you're interested in something unique, this brand has you covered. There can be issues with heat retention, but the bamboo features are a great addition. Just be careful and don't put too many things on the table.

Pros
  • Includes temperature gauge
  • Amazing versatility
  • Bamboo tables and handles
Cons
  • Table hinges can break with too much weight
  • Hard to slide bottom tray

11. Vision Grills Kamado Pro

Vision Grills Kamado Pro

$827.00
as of December 19, 2020 7:36 pm

The Vision Grills Kamado Pro is an excellent grill. We like that it can go from 200 to 700+ degrees Fahrenheit in just minutes. Be aware that if you overshoot the temp, it takes a lot of time to lower it back down. Still, you can appreciate the heat retention it provides. That means you use less fuel, which saves you money. On top of that, you are being more eco-friendly because you’re producing less ash and consuming less charcoal.

With the Vision Grills Kamado Pro, you get a self-contained environment for cooking. There aren’t any flare-ups from the fire, which means you don’t get hot and cold spots on the grill. You can put food anywhere and have it evenly cooked quickly.

Because it’s made of ceramic, you can actually touch the outside of the grill without getting burned. This means it is safer to have kids outside while you’re grilling. In fact, you can grill throughout the year, even if you live in a cold climate. It works in -30 degrees Fahrenheit with ease.

This grill comes with many settings, whereas the others don’t. You can choose to grill or smoke. It also allows you to set the strength of the temperature.

9Expert Score
Takeaway

Those who want something to heat up fast are sure to appreciate the electric start on this grill. We also like the precision and control with the knobs, though you should be careful about what you put on the side shelves.

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Electric starter for quick lighting
  • Precise control with dedicated smoke/grill knobs
Cons
  • Too easy to bend side shelves
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FAQs

What Is a Kamado-style Grill?

The kamado grill has only become popular within the last few years, but they’re not a new concept. They’ve been around for about 3,000 years. Japan and China came up with the original idea for the kamado grill, but a similar option comes from the tandoor oven from India.

After World War II, Americans took note of these ceramic grills. From there, they started getting shipped to the US, and the concept was immensely popular.

A kamado grill is made using refractory materials. These include terracotta, ceramic, lava rock, and cement. Because of this, they have significant insulative properties.

That’s why these kamado grills perform well as smokers and ovens. The insulation means that the temperature within is even and constant, giving you a good heat.

Because kamado grills can be used for many things, they’re considered the best option for versatility. Some people refer to them as smokers or ovens, and the terms are fully interchangeable here.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Kamado-style Grill?

It’s important to consider the drawbacks and benefits of Kamado grills to make sure that they’re the best option for you:

Pros:

  • When you treat them properly, the best kamado grills last a long time. Take your time to choose the right model for you so that you can give it to your kids as an heirloom.
  • The best kamado grills have tons of insulation within them. Therefore, they can be started in bad weather without a problem. Those who live in colder climates and want a grill and smoker to use year-round are sure to appreciate the kamado grill. The kamado grills are best because they offer even cooking, temperature control options, and retain heat.
  • Kamado grills are highly efficient. You’re going to find that you don’t use a lot of charcoal to have perfectly grilled or smoked food.
  • Typically, the best kamado grills don’t have many flare-ups because the meat doesn’t sit right on the coals.
  • The meat is juicier and moister when you use a kamado grill. This is often best because there’s less airflow, so the meat doesn’t lose a ton of moisture while it cooks.
  • There’s a different technique to fire up kamado grills when compared to other charcoal grill options. It can take time to master it, but kamado grills are quite easy to start when you get the hang of it.
  • You can cook at various temperatures on kamado grills. Whether you want to cold-smoke jerky or cook a pizza, you can do so much with the best kamado grills when you master temperature control.

Cons:

Though kamado grills are one of the best choices out there, they aren’t for everyone. Consider these drawbacks on kamado grills to help with your decision to buy:

  • Kamado grills aren’t often the best for those on a tight budget. The best kamado grills are quite expensive. However, we did include some that are a little lower to try to make it easier for everyone to afford a kamado grill if they want one.
  • It’s best to do some research on the features and options you need to get what you want from the grill and smoker. You should be prepared to pay extra, but you’re going to be able to use the kamado grill for many years to come.
  • Remember, it’s easy to overshoot the target temperature in kamado grills. If that happens, it’s going to take some time to go back down. It often takes practice to master temperatures and control them effectively. When you do that, though, the kamado grill is going to keep a constant temperature while you cook.
  • To keep the heat down in the kamado grill, you should restrict airflow. That means your coals smolder. As a result, you get white, billowy smoke instead of the thin blue stuff that often gives the best results.
  • The kamado grill is considered the best smoker, but smaller versions don’t offer 2-zone cooking. Larger, oval-shaped options can use this set-up, though.
  • When you have a large kamado grill, you can do so much more with it. However, they’re not portable because of their awkward shape and weight. Ceramic grills are likely to crack if they get dropped. Therefore, you need to focus on where you’re putting the kamado grill before you assemble it and ensure that it can stay there all year-round.
  • You can find smaller versions of these ceramic grills, but they don’t usually cook enough for more than two people.
  • Check the design of the kamado grill for ash collection and topping up the coals. Some models make you remove everything to add more coals. Though the kamado grill is quite efficient and doesn’t require this step often, it’s going to be cumbersome and annoying if you must.
  • Ash production is sometimes an issue with the kamado grill, as well. Therefore, make sure that there’s a removable ash drawer that can be emptied while you cook. That way, it doesn’t mess with the airflow and take longer to get the results you want.

What Are the Differences Between Charcoal Grills and Kamado Grills?

Most people think that the kamado and charcoal grill are the same thing. While they’re both similar, they’re also significantly different. Comparing them is often hard, but we’re going to attempt it.

Efficiency

Kamado grills are so heavily insulated that they’re more efficient. Lump charcoal goes much further, so you can cook for a good six or more hours and don’t have to top up your coals.

Temperature Controls

The kamado grill holds its temperature much better than a traditional charcoal grill. Though the charcoal grill can achieve and stay at the right temperature, they burn through more fuel. You’ve also got to make more adjustments to the top and bottom vents to ensure constant and consistent temperatures. If it’s wet, windy, or cold, this also affects everything. A kamado grill doesn’t have the same issues and performs in all types of weather.

Portability

While there are so many good things about the kamado grill, portability isn’t the top selling point. They’re heavy, cumbersome, and big. You must find a good spot for it first and keep it there.

Typically, a large kamado grill can weigh well over 200 pounds. Your typical charcoal grill weighs right around 23 pounds.

You can find stainless steel kamado grill options, which are lighter than their ceramic counterparts, but they are still going to be heavier than the charcoal grill.

There’s little competition here. If you need a grill that can be moved around or taken with you, the charcoal grill is likely the best choice.

Cost

There isn’t a good way around it; the kamado grill is expensive. While the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe Big Joe II are the highest on the list, even budget-friendly ones can be $300 or more.

By comparison, a charcoal grill is much more budget-friendly. Keep in mind that you’ve got to replace the charcoal grill more often than a kamado grill.

Who Needs a Kamado Grill?

Generally, the kamado grill buyer already has experience with gas grills, and they need something more versatile. You may want to try your hand at smoking meat, but you also want to use the same ceramic grill to cook pizza, grill, and make other items.

Kamado grill fans are highly loyal to the style, so you can easily see that these grills are high-quality.

You’re going to appreciate that the kamado grill is reliable, versatile, long-lasting, easy to use, and efficient. However, they do require a specific handling method, so take the time to learn how to use them.

People who live in cold climates truly like the kamado grill. Heat retention is so much better with these, and you can use them in the bitter cold weather, smoking meat all through winter.

As you can see, the kamado grill is a good choice for almost everyone, but there are a few things to consider before diving in. Primarily, these include cost and portability.

If you prefer two-zone cooking methods, make sure you research your options before you buy. Every kamado grill is made slightly differently, so some models may not have that feature. Typically, narrow, small options don’t allow this cooking method, but the wider, more oval-shaped ones do.

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Conclusion

We hope that you’ve found the best kamado grill for your needs. There are so many options available to suit your needs. Some are even found at low price points. For example, the Akorn and Akorn Jr. are low-cost, while the Kamado Joe Big Joe II and Primo Oval are the most expensive.

With all of that, though, we believe that the Kamado Joe Classic II is the best overall. It comes with great accessories, an innovative design, good features, and a price that isn’t too crazy. This is the best grill and can last a long time, so you can pass it on to others when you don’t use it anymore. Choose the Kamado Joe Classic II for the top option regardless of your needs. If you need something bigger, the Kamado Joe Big Joe is a bit bigger and can make even more food at once. Happy grilling, smoking, and baking!

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