Have you ever seen those large, bulky, egg-shaped grills? If you are a BBQ amateur, then you probably don’t know much about them. But, if you’re experienced at grilling, then you know that we are talking about Kamado grills.
Just like all the other grills, Kamado grills can be used for grilling and smoking, but also for baking pizza, roasting meat, or even cooking food tandoori-style. The design of these grills was inspired by the earthenware ovens that were used in China and India centuries ago. Kamado grills feature a thick exterior and that is why they require less fuel. Some users claim that a single batch of charcoal can last up to 14 hours. If you don’t intend to use the grill that long, then simply leave the unburned charcoal for your next grilling session.
If you’re thinking about going Kamado, then make sure to check out our list of the best Kamado grills available on the market. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide that includes the reviews of the most popular models and tips for choosing the perfect Kamado grill for your needs. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will know which grill is the one for you.
Best Kamado Grill – Kamado Joe Classic II
Kamado Joe Classic II Overview
Since we mentioned the design, it is important to point out that Kamado Joe Classic II was built to last. Unlike conventional steel grills, there is no chance of rusting. However, the grill might crack since it is made of ceramic. So, if you’re planning to cook in extremely cold weather, make sure to warm up the grill slowly. The top vent is made out of aluminum and it helps maintain consistent air flow.
Kamado Joe Classic II is a beast of a grill. It weighs around 190 pounds, which makes it difficult to move the grill around. To ensure safety, the manufacturer placed the grill on a heavy-duty rolling cast iron cart. Moving the grill on smooth surfaces might be a bit easier since the cart has a wide base and four locking wheels. If you decide to move the grill after cooking, keep in mind that it can keep heat for very long periods of time. So, make sure that the grill cooled down before touching it.
Kamado Joe Classic II Features
Kamado Joe Classic II is one of the most versatile grills ever made. It features a multi-level design that puts an end to batch-cooking. You can set the grates at different heights and use heat deflectors to create different temperature zones. The heat deflector can also be used to provide open flame and indirect heat at the same time.
The temperature range of this grill is from 225°F to 750°F. When it comes to maintaining temperature and trapping heat, almost no other grill can beat this Kamado Joe. The grill features an airtight design and it has a top vent that allows you to control the heat with precision.
Ash Drawer and Side Tables
Cleaning kamado grills can be quite a messy task. To help make this easier, the manufacturer included an ash drawer at the bottom of the grill. Simply slide out the drawer and dispose of the ash. In case some gets left behind, make sure to use the ash clean-out tool that is included as well.
And, for all those who love side tables, the Classic II has two of them. This gives you additional storage space for cooked food or sauces and seasonings.
Ease of Use
Kamado Joe Classic II is quite easy to use if you’re used to grilling with charcoal. However, if you’re switching over from gas then there is going to be a brief learning period. And, this is the case with all kamado grills, not just Kamado Joe ones. But, don’t worry. Once you get the hang of controlling the temperature, you’ll love using your new grill.
One feature that adds to the ease of use is the latching lid. When you go for slow cooking, a tight fit is a must. There is nothing more frustrating than losing heat simply because you forgot to check the lid. The Classic II has a rust-resistant latching lid. There will be no more guessing whether the lid is down or not.
Kamado Joe Classic II Features Pros
Its design allows you to cook with different heat at the same time.
- Cooking surface allows you to use multiple grilling techniques simultaneously.
- The grill has a solid and sturdy construction.
- The grill has a convenient ashtray and side tables.
- Top vent can be easily adjusted.
- The cooking surface can be expanded.
Kamado Joe Classic II Features Cons
- The grill is heavy and not portable.
- Cooking surface is a bit smaller compared to other standard kamado grills.
- The thermometer isn’t as accurate as it should be.
Runner Up – Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Overview
The Akorn is one of the most convenient kamado grills on the market. The steel design, wheels, and legs make it very easy to move the grill around. The ash pan allows you to dispose of the ashes easily and the side shelves give you more cooking space. Similarly to our top pick, the lid has a locking clip which provides proper heat retention. However, this kamado grill can’t be set up for two-zone cooking.
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Features
Safety and Durability
One significant upside of the Akorn’s steel design is its insulation capability. The insulation of the grill is so good that you can even touch the outside while the inside is at searing temperatures. This feature is a big plus when it comes to safety, especially if you have little ones or family members prone to accidents.
When it comes to the durability, steel kamado grills can be more durable than the ceramic kamados. If you tip over or drop the Akorn, it won’t crack or break. In addition, no matter how heavy and durable a steel grill is, it is always easier to move around than a ceramic one.
Large Cooking Area
The Char-Griller Akorn has 314 square inches of primary cooking surface and an additional 133 square inches thanks to the removable warming rack. In total, you get 447 square inches for cooking burgers and hot dogs, but also large cuts of meat. The cooking space of this grill will allow you to serve up to ten people.
Buying a traditional ceramic kamado grill can cost you quite a lot. Luckily, now you can get all the benefits of a ceramic kamado but at a much cheaper price. The Akorn holds and distributes the heat almost as well as a ceramic kamado. Thanks to its durable steel design, the grill will last you for many years. If you want to go kamado but still save some money for other things, then the Akorn is the perfect choice for you.
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Pros
- Versatile grill for kamado-style cooking.
- Large cooking surface.
- Good value for the money.
- Removable ash tray makes cleaning easier.
- Has folding side tables and removable warming tray.
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Cons
- Build quality could be better.
- Cast iron cooking grates require maintenance.
- The thermometer is less accurate than separately sold ones.
Best Kamado Grill for the Money – Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker
Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Overview
Similarly to the Akorn, the Akorn Jr. features cast iron grates and terrific dampers. The grates are excellent at dispersing heat quickly and evenly across the cooking surface. In addition, cast iron is much better than steel when it comes to maintaining heat. The iron grates also reduce the cooking time. Dampers, on the other hand, can be used to enhance your smoking experience. Top and bottom air dampers enable the user precise temperature control. They are quite easy to use, but it might take you a bit to get used to them. The best way to start is by experimenting on low heat.
If you’re on a budget but looking to get the most you can out of a kamado, then the Akorn Jr. is an excellent choice. The grill is affordable and performs as well as the pricy units. The only downside is its size. However, if you don’t plan to have big cookouts or if you tailgate often, then there is no better choice for you.
Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Pros
- The grill is built out of durable materials.
- Great choice for people with limited outdoor space.
- The grill is easy to use and assemble.
- Cast iron grates ensure even heat distribution.
Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Cons
- Some users state that cleaning the grill is somewhat difficult.
- The grill size might be limiting.
Best Small Kamado Grill – Kamado Joe Jr Grill
Kamado Joe Jr Grill Overview
The only downside of this Kamado Joe grill would be the lack of the Divide & Conquer cooking system other models have. Despite this, the grill is equipped to meet all your other grilling needs. Similarly to its big brothers, the grill is made out of quality materials. With Kamado Joe Jr. you get an excellent heat range (225°F – 750°F), even cooking, and perfect results every time. The grill weighs only 68 lbs., so moving it around won’t be a problem. In addition, Joe Jr. comes with a few accessories – a built-in thermometer, ash tool, and a grill gripper.
Kamado Joe Jr Grill Pros
- The grill is made out of quality materials.
- Performs as well as other Kamado Joe grills.
- Weighing only 68 lbs. it is easy to move around.
- Excellent heat range (225°F – 750°F).
Kamado Joe Jr Grill Cons
- The cooking surface is only 148.5 square inches large.
- Lacks the Divide & Conquer cooking system.
- Unlike other models, Joe Jr. lacks stainless steel self-closing latch.
Best Large Kamado Grill – Kamado Joe Big Joe II
Best Large Kamado Grill – Kamado Joe Big Joe II Overview
This grill also comes with a heavy-duty metal cart that is used as a stand. The cart has wheels on the bottom, making it a bit easier to move the grill around or to lock it in place. At the bottom of the grill, you will find a removable ashtray. To make the cleaning process even easier, the manufacturer included an ash tool. In addition, you also get a gripper that allows you to adjust the hot metal grates inside the grill.
Big Joe II also comes with an upper exhaust vent and a lower intake vent. The upper vent functions as a rain cap that keeps water from getting in and a damper that can be used to adjust air intake. The lower vent allows the user to control the amount of air getting sucked in by the charcoal fire.
Kamado Joe Big Joe II Pros
- Large cooking surface – 452 square inches.
- Excellent temperature range – 225°F – 750°F.
- Built out of quality materials.
- Features the Divine and Conquer cooking system.
- Removable ashtray, ash tool, and gripper are included.
Kamado Joe Big Joe II Cons
- The size makes it hard to move the grill around.
- Ceramic kamado grills can crack.
- The unit is pricy.
Best Aluminum Kamado Grill – Blaze Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill
Blaze Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill Overview
The Blaze Cast features a 20-inch cooking surface which provides exceptional heat retention. The cast-molded exhaust cap enables precise heat control and eliminates the risk of falling off or breaking. The cooking surface is hinged and it allows the user to add wood or charcoal without removing it. The grill has a stainless-steel charcoal griddle that provides optimal air circulation. The griddle also eliminates the need for frequent cleaning and it can’t get clogged by small pieces of charcoal.
And, the greatest thing about the Blaze Cast kamado grill is that you get a lifetime warranty. This way, your investment will definitely last you a lifetime.
Blaze Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill Pros
- A hinged, 20-inch cooking surface.
- The grill is made out of cast aluminum for superior durability.
- The lid hinge allows easy opening.
- Excellent heat retention.
- The unit is easy to use and clean.
Blaze Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill Cons
- The unit is expensive.
- The grill is heavy and difficult to move around.
Best Infrared Kamado Grill – Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill Overview
Char-Broil claims that their Kettlemen uses way less charcoal than other grills. Well, there is some truth to this. The reason behind this is that the charcoal is very close to the cooking surface. In turn, this enables the cooking surface to store heat and reduce the amount of air that escapes out of the top damper.
The grill has large vents which are supposed to impact the grill temperature. Opening the large vent on the top of the grill lets out the heat and cools the inside. Closing the vent retains the heat inside. However, many users pointed out that the amount of charcoal is what actually controls the temperature and not the vent.
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill Pros
- First infrared kettle BBQ.
- The grill is affordable.
- Large capacity – 22.5 inches.
- Efficient charcoal usage.
- Even, high-temperature cooking.
- Removable ashtray.
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill Cons
- The grill takes some time to light.
- Temperature is controlled by the amount of charcoal you put.
- The grill has to be cleaned frequently.
Honorable Mention – Medium Big Green Egg
Medium Big Green Egg Overview
This efficient design reduces the use of charcoal. Controlling the heat is done with the help of the vents located on the top and at the bottom of the grill. The vents are very easy to use and they provide precise heat control.
If you still doubt the quality of this grill, here is one fact that might reassure you. The manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty. And, you know that a product must be good if it is backed up by a warranty like this one.
Medium Big Green Egg Pros
- The grill is safe and easy to use.
- Ceramic shell holds heat and provides even cooking.
- Can be used as a smoker.
- Vents allow precise temperature control.
- Lifetime warranty.
Medium Big Green Egg Cons
- Small cooking area.
- The stand is sold separately.
- The grill with all the accessories is expensive.
Honorable Mention – Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″
Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″ Pros
- Made out of quality ceramic.
- Has two layers of cooking space.
- Contains foldable side shelves.
- The unit is portable thanks to the wheels.
- Vents provide precise temperature control.
Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″ Cons
- The ceramic exterior can be damaged.
Honorable Mention – Char-Griller 6520 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Cart
Char-Griller 6520 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Cart Pros
- Large cooking surface.
- Great kamado grill for the money.
- Comes with a tubular steel cart.
- Excellent temperature range (200°F – 700°F).
- Adjustable dampers allow precise temperature control.
Char-Griller 6520 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Cart Cons
- The unit is made out of materials that can melt at high temperatures.
Honorable Mention – Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill
Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill Pros
- Made out of double-walled steel.
- Large cooking surface.
- Includes a foldable shelf, warming rack, and additional bottom rack.
- The grill has a built-in temperature gauge.
Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill Cons
- The grill is heavy and hard to move around.
- It is an investment buy.
Honorable Mention – Broil King Keg 5000 Charcoal Barbecue Grill
Broil King Keg 5000 Charcoal Barbecue Grill Pros
- The grill is less expensive than other kamado cookers.
- Small amounts of charcoal are needed due to efficient design.
- Excellent insulation and high-temperature output.
- The grill can be shut down to snuff out charcoal.
Broil King Keg 5000 Charcoal Barbecue Grill Cons
- The cooking grates can scratch enamel coating.
- Using this grill for smoking requires some practice.
Honorable Mention – Primo Grills and Smokers All-In-One Kamado Round Grill
Primo Grills and Smokers All-In-One Kamado Round Grill Pros
- Kamado grill built out of quality materials.
- Includes two-sided porcelain coated steel grates.
- 280 square inches of cooking area.
- A built-in thermometer provides precise temperatures.
Primo Grills and Smokers All-In-One Kamado Round Grill Cons
- The unit is very heavy and difficult to move around.
- Gunk can accumulate inside the upper damper.
How to Pick the Right Kamado Grill?
When buying a kamado grill, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Even though the size and the build quality are perhaps the most important features, you should also be aware of your needs and preferences. Here are some things you should keep in mind.
The first question you need to ask yourself is how many people you plan to cook for. Kamado grills can be quite pricy and choosing a smaller one might save you several hundred dollars. If you plan to cook for 6-10 people on a regular basis, then you should be aiming for one of those large models. If not, then the smaller ones are definitely the right choice for you.
There are two types of kamado grills when it comes to materials – steel and ceramic grills. Steel kamados tend to be cheaper. However, they don’t hold the heat as well as the ceramic ones and they are prone to rust. Ceramic kamados, on the other hand, are bigger, rust resistant, and hold heat much better. That is why they are more expensive. However, if you’re already planning to invest in a kamado grill, then you should make sure that your investment lasts for many years to come.
Once you buy a quality kamado grill, it should last you a lifetime. But, that doesn’t mean something won’t break down at some point. Majority of manufacturers offer some sort of a warranty, while some brands offer even a lifetime warranty. So, before making a purchase, make sure to ask about the warranty.
Lots of grills come with neat accessories that expand their capabilities or add to their convenience. Before making a final decision, check out what accessories the manufacturers offer. Keep in mind that these accessories might add to the cost, but also allow you to get more creative with your cooking.
Since we mentioned costs, there is one thing you will have to accept. A high-quality kamado grill costs a whole lot of money. The grill’s size, the material it was made of, and some other advanced features largely influence the price. Sometimes, it is not bad to spend more money than you planned if that means your new grill will last for years.
An ashtray might seem to be one of the most irrelevant kamado grill accessories. However, it is quite the opposite. Ash buildup is a common issue among kamado grills. Don’t forget to check out how easy it is to clean out the ash. This simple tool can make your life easier in the long run.
When it comes to the cooking grates, there are two things you should check out – the material and if they have hinged access. Usually, cooking grates are made out of enameled steel. However, some models have stainless steel cooking grates.
Hinges, on the other hand, can make your grilling experience much more convenient. If cooking grates have hinges, then you can add more wood without having to remove the entire grate. This is especially useful if you have to add fuel while you are cooking.