Which Kamado Grill is the Best?
Kamado Grills come in lots of different sizes and colors. Years ago, there were just a few companies making these awesome charcoal grills that are based on ancient Asian cooking instruments. Today, the number of cheap and inferior products has exploded to make the marketplace crowded and confusing for buyers who are looking for the best kamado grill.
Let's look at some of the top kamado-style grills on the market so you can understand what makes one better than another. This way, you can make the decision about what features matter to you and how much money you are willing to spend to get all that you want from these charcoal grills.
Finding the Best Kamado Grills for 2023
We picked the best kamado grills by trying out different styles and brands, reading reviews from actual users, and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each design with professional outdoor cooking experts. Before we dive into what the best kamado grills on the market are, we will explain some of the features and functions you will want to look out for when buying your first (or your fifth) kamado grill.
What to Look for in a Kamado Grill
Kamado grills are shaped sort of like an egg or like an oversized version of the old-school Weber charcoal grill that is at every beach party, soccer game, and weekend cookout. The shape of the kamado works to funnel heated air and smoke up through the body, circulating the air to completely cook and flavor food. This basic design hasn't changed for thousands of years, but today's manufacturing processes mean that some kamado-style grills are better made than others.
The Outside of the Grill
Starting from the outside, the first thing you want to look at is the ceramic finish. It should have a nice, smooth glossy finish without any evidence of thinness, chipping, flaking, or other damage. The ceramic kamado grills need to have this protective coating to function correctly and you will find that low-priced inferior products often have defects at this critical point.
The Inside of the Grill
Next, open the lid. Because a kamado grill is made from ceramic, the lid is going to be very heavy and also quite delicate. You want to be able to easily and safely lift and lower the lid with one hand. Some designs use advanced air lift hinge designs to help ease the burden, while less expensive options tend to use inferior hinges that can allow the lid to crash down and shatter if you aren't careful.
The inside surfaces of the kamado grill are also ceramic. Good quality options will have a smooth texture without any signs of rippling, chipping, or other defects. Thin spots, rough surface texture, and damage are all issues that are more common on lower-priced options and can lead to unsatisfactory results and damage to the cooking space.
There are several types of cooking grate materials in use these days. Stainless steel grates are the most common, the least expensive, and the easiest to care for when using a kamado grill. The best-performing grill grates are made of a steel wire or frame that is ceramic coated. These aren't as popular these days because they require special care to keep them from cracking, but they offer the benefit of excellent heat retention. Cast iron grate designs aren't as common on kamado-style grills as they are on other smokers and grills because of the tendency for cast iron to cause hot spotting on ceramic which can lead to breakage. We've used them and liked them, but they aren't all that common these days.
Deep inside the kamado grill, you'll find the fire box. This is typically a ceramic bowl shape that holds the natural lump charcoal. Higher-end designs may include a removable basket that is made of stainless steel that helps clean the ash out of the grill when you are done cooking. Lower-priced options may not provide an easy way to clean the ash out of the grill, making for a difficult and messy job that must be done regularly.
The top and bottom vents are essential to getting good results. A good kamado grill will have easy-to-operate top and bottom air vents that allow you to easily and conveniently make adjustments to the temperature in your grill. A great kamado grill will have well-designed air vents that allow you to practically set it and forget it, almost with the convenience of a pellet smoker. Most kamado grills will have a sliding vent top that is functional, but there are heavier-duty designs that are more efficient and accurate.
Below, we will share some of the facts and figures that make some of the best kamado-style grills better than others. This will help you understand why some designs are more expensive but also why some of the models are better than others.
Big Green Egg Large
By far the best kamado-style grill is the Big Green Egg. We particularly find the large size to be highly-versatile. The newest models come equipped with the patent-pending rEGGulator top vent cap that allows for precision control of temperatures. A wide range of accessories, tables, and tools are available that can transform the Big Green Egg from a charcoal grill to a smoker to a pizza oven in seconds.
Big Green Egg backs up all their products with an outstanding warranty that covers the ceramic coating and any other problem you might encounter. The air lift hinges make opening and closing the lid smooth and nearly effortless, which is nice because this is very heavy design.
- 262 sq. in. cooking space
- Includes convEGGtor, grill gripper, ash tool
- Stainless steel grill grates
- Ceramic construction with enamel finish
- Limited lifetime warranty on all parts including ceramic
- Optional accessories available
Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill
Consumers looking for a big-time budget offering might want to take a look at the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Grill. This design is different from others on our list because it is not made of ceramic. Instead, it uses a triple-wall steel construction that offers good heat retention and incredible durability. Protect this grill from rusting and it will last a lifetime.
This is also one of the very few designs out there that uses cast iron grill grates. These are some of our favorites because of the ease of cleanup and the benefit of long-term durability. The grates are a rare feature for a budget kamado grill. This design features a built-in stand with oversized locking wheels that make it simple to move around and because it is made of metal, you don't have to worry so much about damaging it when moving it around.
- 447 sq. in. cooking surface
- Triple-wall steel construction
- Cast iron grill grate
- Locking wheels
- Folding side shelves
- Five-year warranty
Vision Grills S-4C1D1 Kamado Professional Ceramic Charcoal Grill
This is one of the newer designs around and features some unique technology that makes it incredibly easy to fire up and get cooking with professional results. The body and fire box are both heavy-duty ceramic construction and feature a range of interesting and attractive color options so you can match your kamado grill to your patio or outdoor cooking space.
The most interesting thing about this design is the unique ProZone temperature control system that makes setting the proper temperature simple without the guesswork typically associated with kamado grilling. This design even has a built-in electric starter that simplifies lighting the grill and a large ash dump to make cleanup less messy.
- 604 sq. in. cooking surface
- Ceramic construction
- Stainless steel grates
- ProZone temperature control cooking system
- Electric starter
- Folding side shelves
- Limited lifetime warranty on ceramic parts, five years on metal parts, one year on thermoplastic parts
Kamado Joe Classic III
The Classic III incorporates the best features of lower-priced options into a standalone package that offers the ultimate versatility. The Kamado Joe Classic III is built using high-quality ceramic construction with a black enamel finish. The stainless steel cooking grates are perfect for grilling, smoking, and searing.
Some of the features that set this design apart from others include the patented SloRoller system that converts the grill into a slow-cooking smoker and the Divide & Conquer cooking grate system that allows for multiple heat zones for indirect cooking.
- 250 sq. in. cooking area
- Ceramic construction
- Stainless steel grates
- Includes SloRoller system, advanced top vent
- Limited lifetime warranty on ceramics, five years on metal parts, three years on electronics and pizza stone, two years on accessories
Primo Grills All-in-One Oval XL 400 Ceramic Kamado Grill
Primo Grills offers some unique features not found in other designs. The first thing you notice about this kamado-style grill is its unique oval shape. Typical kamado grills are round but this design allows for better air circulation and a more even cooking temperature. The elevated lid is also unique and allows you to cook turkey or chicken vertically.
The shape of the kamado grill provides more cooking surface area than similarly sized designs, so you'll be able to cook more burgers, chicken, and steaks at once.
- 680 sq. in cooking surface
- Ceramic construction
- Stainless steel grates
- Patented oval shape
- Taller lid for vertical ribs, chicken, or turkey
- 20-year warranty on ceramics
How to Make a Decision
Picking the perfect kamado grill for your cooking area is not very hard. There are a few designs out there that offer unique features and high-quality construction. You'll notice that most of these products carry rather large price tags. That is a result of the quality ceramic construction which is something you don't want to skimp on. Not only does high-quality ceramic last virtually forever, but it also outperforms steel in every way.
We think the best way to start shopping for a kamado grill is to realistically look at the amount of food you cook. If you are just cooking a chicken or a rack of ribs, it might make more sense for you to purchase a smaller, less expensive model. If you are planning on big family cookouts where you are smoking brisket or cooking dozens of burgers at once, a larger model is more suitable.
Using a kamado grill is an enjoyable experience and offers some differences to pellet smokers and regular charcoal smokers or barbecues. The kamado grill design is simple to use, lights fast, and will maximize the burn time of lump charcoal so you can cook all day without having to reload the grill.
No matter what model you choose, remember that keeping the grill clean and using the proper lighting techniques are among the most common reasons folks struggle to use these grills. Take your time to learn how different changes to the top and bottom vents affect the way the grill works and you'll be cooking like a pro in no time.
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