We all love grilled foods, and most of us know the hassles we have to go through to get it done correctly. There is a lot that comes into play when grilling food. An appropriate amount of seasoning has to be applied, marination that takes a specific duration and a particular amount of heat to cook. While all these are critical stages of preparing barbecue, the most crucial aspect of all, is the type of grill you are using.
The grill determines the success rate and the overall taste of your food. Your grill is the masterpiece to how tasty and juicy your food will be, and that’s is why many people are turning to smoke grills-particularly kamado grills.
Kamado grills are exceptional additions to any kitchen. From baking, roasting, smoking, and grilling, these little vessels have the versatility that you deserve to get your food done just right. If you enjoy making and eating delicious meals, then you probably have already figured out that cooking is an art, and for any chef, cook or food fanatic, the kamado grill is more than just a big green egg.
Made of stainless steel or thick ceramic material, the best kamado grill that we know and value today is based on an old earthenware that was used in the ancient days to roast, bake, and smoke. The heat-retaining insulated walls offer a highly efficient 360-degree cooking that helps give you the exact flavor that you want.
In recent years, may charcoal grill enthusiasts are considering and turning their attention to the old kamado grills. The best kamado grills are known to be great heat retaining vessels compared to any other grill on the planet.
This ancient design has grown popular and received massive acceptance in the barbecue community. If you have been using electricity or propane gas for your grilling, you may be missing a lot. You may want to add these smoking hot kitchen additions to your backyard barbecue scene, and you won’t regret serving some tasty crisped pizzas, smoked ribs, veggies, and steaks.
However, how do you identify the best kamado grill? What are the factors to consider when finding a kamado grill? How do they work? Read on to learn everything about kamado grills and their fascinating history.
Table of Contents
- WHAT IS A KAMADO GRILL?
- KAMADO GRILLS: FACTORS TO CONSIDER
- TOP 5 KAMADO GRILL FOR THE MONEY IN 2020
- #1. Best All-around Kamado Grill — XLarge Big Green Egg
- #2. Runner-Up — Kamado Joe Ceramic, Classic II Charcoal Grill
- #3. Best Value Kamado Grill – Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″
- #4. Best Budget Kamado Grill — Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill
- #5. Best Small Kamado Grill — Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr, Red Charcoal Kamado Grill
- HOW KAMADO GRILLS WORK?
- PROS AND CONS OF KAMADO GRILLS
WHAT IS A KAMADO GRILL?
If this is your first time buying a kamado grill, it is essential to know what to expect and look for in the grill. Simply put, a kamado grill is a rounded and sometimes oval kettle shaped charcoal grill. They look much like a giant egg or urn.
This now very stylish design originated from Japan about 3000 years ago when people used kamados to make rice and then later installed a cooking grid to roast and grill meats.
Archaeologists have dated the early versions of kamado grill in early civilizations. They were most popular in China and were used by Indians as tandoors. The kamado we know today as we mentioned comes from the Japanese ‘mushikamado’ which means ‘stove’ or ‘cooking range’.
During the second world war, Americans had to make use of the available resources to make food and were understandably happy with charcoal burners. That is when the concept was borrowed and brought back to the United States. That is when Ed Fisher began manufacturing the modern-day kamado and branded it as the big green egg.
The kamados of today are not simply smokers or grills made of primary clay. Instead, they are more circular and some still oval and made from high quality ceramic. To improve efficiency, manufacturers have added dampers, stands and in-built thermometers. In addition, there is a wide range of accessories in the markets today to strengthen, broaden and enhance the abilities of the kamado grill.
KAMADO GRILLS: FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Size of the grill
Kamado grills can be quite expensive, especially for economic conscious individuals which is why it is a great idea to know the size of the grill to buy. Smaller grills are relatively cheaper than large units. You may want to have an idea of how many people you are going to cook for, how frequent you are going to use the grill, where you intend to keep and use the grill. Concrete answers to these questions can help you find the grill of your needs, lifestyle, and budget.
You may want to consider the space between the top of the lid and the area between the grill where you will place your food for cooking. Larger grills retain more smoke. If you enjoy the smokey flavor in meat, you might make good use of a big grill, but if you like a hint of smoke flavor, you may need to consider reduced distances.
There is no doubt about it that the average kamado grills command higher prices than most standard grills, especially if you are looking for some distinctive features. The best way to go about it is to ensure that you pick a grill that offers all your priority features and is less costly. Different needs like space, accessories and design may only be available in grills with heftier prices.
Like any other food preparation space, you want to make sure that you have enough space to cook your food. If you intend to travel a lot with your team, space should be your top most priority. Remember kamado grills are quite heavy based on what they are made up of.
You may want to get a permanent cooking space, so you don’t need to keep moving it from one place to another. Ceramic made kamados require some level of care as they can break easily when knocked over or dropped.
Do you have enough room to keep the grill? Do you have and do you need a stand-alone workbench? Are you planning to create it in an outdoor kitchen? All this play a significant role in making your purchasing decisions.
Not having adequate room to cook a few pieces of ribs or brisket is a complete fail. Squeezing food, when every chunk is fighting to get enough smoke and heat evenly is just a bad idea. Let your meat enjoy the space and cook sufficiently.
Top vents are essential features of regulating heat in a kamado grill. You can either choose to go with a single or double wheel. Both work well, but to maximize your control, consider picking a model with double wheel vents.
Design features & accessories
If you have a generous budget, you may want to enquire about the features and accessories that come with your grill to improve efficiency. The best kamado grill should give you some value for your money. For durability and aesthetics, the best grills come either in powder-coated or stainless-steel hinges and lid bands.
Depending on your preference, check out before making a purchase. Consider the features that seriously matter to you and make them a priority. Do you want a stainless-steel build or a ceramic will do? Would you benefit from an inbuilt shelf? Do you want to be able to swap to gas-powered at some point? Is easy to clean vital to you? What about the best setting that will match or complement with your deck or outdoor scenery?
To maximize versatility, you need to select the add ons carefully. The market is full of kamado accessories, but most quality kamado grills come with separate accessories such as carts, skillets rotisseries and pizza stones.
Like we already mentioned, most kamado grills are made of ceramic that is glazed with porcelain. However, you can also find grills made of stainless steel and sometimes aluminum. Kamado grills made of ceramic are relatively durable if well maintained. However, they are more expensive compared to stainless steel. Kamado grills made of stainless steel; on the other hand, are relatively cheap, do not break easily when knocked or dropped. However, these models are prone to rust and therefore not long lasting.
Ash trays and ash grates
Ash grate and trays are essential components of a kamado grill. The ash grate typically comes in cast iron, powder-coated steel, or ceramic material. All these works well, but you need to check a few reviews before settling on any. Ashtrays have the critical job of cleaning up your kamado grill. Too much ash build-up can be disastrous. Check out where the ash goes and find out whether it is easy to clean or not. Doing this will make your grilling easier.
TOP 5 KAMADO GRILL FOR THE MONEY IN 2020
When it comes to choosing the best kamado grills, your lifestyle, budget and needs play a critical role. If you have been checking the kamado grill reviews, you may have noticed that most kamado grills look pretty much the same and have almost similar qualities. With the market getting overwhelmed every day with new kamado grill models all claiming to be best, you have to be very specific in what you want to avoid bad deals. However, here are a few options that you can check.
#1. Best All-around Kamado Grill — XLarge Big Green Egg
The original makers of the modern incarnation of kamado grills, the big green egg, was keen to produce a durable, efficient, and stylish kamado grill. From the mere look at this grill, you can tell that its insulative qualities are second to none. It is made of high-quality materials that will serve you for a very long time.
A noteworthy point that many people do not know is that the ceramics used in the manufacture of the Xlarge Big Green Egg were initially produced by NASA for their space program. There are other exciting design features that may impress you about this kamado grill. For instance, you will like the vent system on this grill as it is powerful to help control the heat. The hinges and stainless cooking grates are also made to perfection. That explains the reasons for the astronomical prices.
That fans are fiercely loyal to your cooking, and the mini size is perfect for cooking for two people. However, you can always choose size based on the number of people you are cooking for. Of course, your wallet needs to be well loaded for you to walk home with this kamado grill. The prices generally include the unit itself. If you need any accessories, that is an additional cost.
- Made of high-quality, durable material
- Available in a wide range of sizes
- Exceptional performance
- Excellent heat retention and distribution properties
- The green color doesn’t fade or get damaged by elements
- Cannot be ordered online
- Too expensive
#2. Runner-Up — Kamado Joe Ceramic, Classic II Charcoal Grill
Kamado Joe is a big name in the grill market. The company is known to make high quality grills including the Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic, Classic II Charcoal Grill. The grill has received many positive kamado grill reviews in terms of features, size, and quality. What we liked most about this grill and its company is the level of generosity. When you buy the Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic, Classic II Charcoal Grill, you also get a few handy extras to make your grilling easy, fun, and efficient. You receive:
- Flip- up side tables
- A stand on wheels
- Ash tool
- The divide and conquer kind of system to offer various cooking temperature zones
The unit is carefully designed and is packed with a few advanced features that will take your grilling sessions to the next level. The high fired ceramic walls effectively lock smoke, moisture, and heat to provide you with a perfectly cooked meal. The outside is porcelain-glazed and finished with a heat resistant shell that helps keep the kamado grill cool to the touch.
The high-quality material used makes the grill heavy and quite expensive. However, you can make good use of the airlift hinge to carry your grill to whatever location you want. The vents are improved to offer maximum heat control and are made of aluminum to prevent rusting.
- Quality stainless steel material that does not rust
- A sturdy shell that is long lasting
- The unique vent design allows easy control of heat and doesn’t rust
- Packed with excellent accessories
- Features a superior double thick wire mesh fiberglass gasket
- Thick ceramic construction
- Great style and color
- Improved features like the vent system
- Not cost-friendly
#3. Best Value Kamado Grill – Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″
If the other two types of grills did not catch your attention, the new boss in town– Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″ might win your heart. This is one of the best ceramic grills we have on this list. The more significant parts of this grill are made of ceramic, a high heat retention material. It is also one of the best charcoal users as it can cook long with little charcoal. But that is not what attracted us to this grill.
This little machine offers excellent quality features that you would expect from a high-end grill. The cast iron top damper, easy to read thermometer, dual-tier cooking grates and folding side shelves are just some of the features you will enjoy when you purchase this grill. When it comes to space, this grill is spacious enough to feed several people and comes with a locking lid to seal your juices and keep your food moist. The heat gauge ensures that your cooking is at an optimal temperature.
As you would expect with the best ceramic grill, the Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″ is quite heavy to carry around. Fortunately, it comes with wheels so you can move quickly on a flat surface.
- Comes with many exciting features like a cast-iron top damper, easy to read thermometer, dual-tier cooking grates and folding side shelves
- Made of high-quality ceramic material
- Offers a large cooking area
- The grill distributes and retains heat well
- Heavy-duty wheels to help with moving
- Easy to use and handle
- A bit expensive for the average person
- Limited innovation
#4. Best Budget Kamado Grill — Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill
If you are looking for a grill that will mimic the standard gas and electric grills, look no further because the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill, Graphite is your answer. Kamado grills, especially those made of ceramic, generally require a minimum of 15 minutes to heat correctly. This can delay your cooking, especially if you are in a hurry. However, the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill, Graphite heats up pretty fast as it is made of stainless steel.
Also, if you are tight on your budget, this is the best budget kamado grill in this list. As you would expect, the most significant material in this grill is stainless steel. It may not be as durable as you would expect, but it does its job well. The company’s idea was to create a product that will be accessible and affordable and will perform excellently without breaking the bank.
The grill features 314 square inches of primary cooking space and a warming rack of 133 square inches making it a total of 447 inches—just enough for a medium-sized family of about five people. The insulated design ensures that you use as little fuel as possible. It also allows less airflow to ensure that your food turns out juicy, moist, and evenly cooked.
- Offers value for money
- Excellent performance from a stainless-steel grill
- Saves fuels despite being a cheap grill
- Hard to break when knocked or dropped.
- Uniquely made of stainless-steel materials
- Ample cooking space and warming space
- Excellent for beginners
- Heats up quickly, thus cooking faster.
- Susceptible to rust
- Not durable
#5. Best Small Kamado Grill — Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr, Red Charcoal Kamado Grill
Kamado grillers often face two challenges—mobility and affordability. The best ceramic grill is not cheap. As if that is not enough, the heavy ceramic material makes it difficult to move the grill from one place to another. However, the Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr, Red Charcoal Kamado Grill, addresses these two issues. If you have limited space, don’t worry. This kamado grill will take care of itself. If you are camping, you can take your grilling companion with you as it is portable.
It is a pretty basic grill, relatively small for a small family or group and affordable. The unit is made of durable stainless steel, and there was a reason for that—you might drop or knock it over when camping out there. Thus, it is made to withstand, the harsh travel world of bad weather and getting stashed in a car trunk. With that said, if you are a camper looking for the best small kamado grill, you have the answer right here.
- Heats up pretty fast almost like a gas grill
- Well-constructed for portability
- Relatively affordable
- Great heat retention properties
- Great size for a small group
- Easy and fast clean up
- There is a problem with assembling, make sure you receive all the parts
- Not durable as it is susceptible to rust and weather damage
HOW KAMADO GRILLS WORK?
If you have never used a kamado grill before, you may want to know how things go down in that large egg-like structure. The bottom two-thirds of the kamado is typically reserved for the fire. That is where your charcoal will sit on a small grate, and the ash will fall and collect just below. Above this section, you will find the grilling or cooking space that is topped with a tightly sealed heat distributing and retaining lid.
Coupled with quality thick ceramic walls, this set up creates a conducive 360-degree cooking environment. It also ensures that little or no smoke escapes for maximum penetration. To adjust the heat, you only need to close or open the vents in the base or at the top of the kamado depending on your needs. The best kamado grills come with a few accessories. If not, you may need to buy some. One of those accessories includes a ceramic insert.
This will sit over the fire to deflect and absorb direct heat and can be used for baking and smoking. You may need to fire up your kamado without the insert if you want to sear your meat and enjoy direct heating. The debate about which type of charcoal is suitable for kamado grilling is still ongoing, but many kamado grill reviews point to lump wood charcoal.
The reason why they are preferred is that they burn with less fire smothering ash and burns cleanly. They also have fewer additives compared to charcoal briquettes which can contaminate the entire state of your food. Lastly, if you want a smoky flavor, try using wood.
PROS AND CONS OF KAMADO GRILLS
Like any other grill review, kamado grills come with their own advantages and disadvantages. If you are still debating whether to purchase a kamado grill or a basic gas grill, you may want to determine what works for you, especially if it has to do with the smoke. However, this list of the pros and cons of kamado grills will help you choose or decide whether a kamado grill will work for you or not.
Pros of kamado grills
- Kamado grills are the real deal when it comes to versatility; they can smoke, cook, grill, bake and roast.
- They are relatively easy to use and clean compared to many other types
- Offer excellent heat distribution and retention
- Excellently insulated to maximize radiation and absorption while maintaining moderate heat.
- Generally, use less fuel which is also cheaper
- Ideal for cold weather and winter cooking as it offers warmth
- Made of high, long-lasting materials like ceramic, aluminum, and stainless steel
- Require little or no maintenance
- Suitable for small outdoor spaces
- Beautiful design that can easily blend with indoor and outdoor décor
- Best for outdoor kitchen setups
Cons of kamado grills
- Kamado grills offer a limited amount of cooking area and therefore not suitable for big families
- You will need to always wait for about 15 minutes for the ceramic walls and the entire grill to heat before you can begin cooking
- They take too long to cool down because of the thick ceramic wall
- Even cooking is not always guaranteed. You need to take advantage of the available heat zones.
- They can be problematic to carry and move around
- The ceramic material can crack or break easily when it comes into contact with hard objects
- Kamado grills are quite expensive, and you may need to add similarly costly accessories
Kamado grills are taking over and revolutionizing the world of grilling. They are a great kitchen or backyard addition. These beautiful egg-like structures are what you need to get the rich smokey flavorful ribs and that crispy hot pizza. You will enjoy a lot of versatility with kamado grills and have fewer hassles in maintenance and cleaning. However, you will need to work on finding the best grill, which may not be that easy.
Of the five kamado grills that we reviewed; we find XLarge Big Green Egg an exceptional choice. Having been in the industry for many years, you can never go wrong with a product from the Big green egg. The grill is made up of quality material that ensures maximum heat retention and distribution. You can count on excellently cooked delicious meals. It is the ideal grill for those smokey ribs you always admire at the restaurant.
Ready to shop for your kamado grill? We hope this guide helps you get your dream kamado grill. Time to smoke it up!