Complete Buyer’s Guide: The Best Kamado Grills [2018]

If you’re looking for a grill that is efficient, versatile, and easy to use, Kamado grills are a great option.

Derived from traditional clay cooking vessels humans have used for thousands of years, Kamado grills have a unique design and are especially great for baking, grilling, and smoking.

Best Kamado Grills Comparison Chart

Product

Our Rating

Price

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue

Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe Classic II

AUPLEX Outdoor Lifestyle Ceramic BBQ Kamado Grill

Best Ceramic Grill​​​​

What is a Kamado Grill? 

Modern Kamado grills are most similar to the mushikamado, a rounded clay pot used to steam rice commonly found in Japan.

However, most models you’ll find today won’t be made from clay, which cracks easily. Instead, most are made from materials such as high fire ceramics, terracotta, or refractory materials.

They are fueled by lump wood charcoal, which sits in a ceramic or stainless steel bowl inside the outer ceramic shell.

The food is cooked on the grids, which are placed over the fire and charcoal bowl.

Temperature is controlled by two vents in the cooker, one on the lower side that allows air to reach the charcoal and another in the dome lid so air can escape.

Because they are ceramic cookers, they are much more versatile than a conventional oven or grill. Not only are they excellent for grilling and smoking, they can also be used for baking.

What Makes a Top of the Line Kamado Grill?

Kamado grills have a fairly straightforward design, but there are still specific details to pay attention to when you’re looking for a long-lasting, quality model.

Most Important Features of Kamado Grills:

  • Material of body
  • Vents system
  • Temperature range
  • Size and versatility

Since most Kamado grills are made from high fire ceramics, terracotta, or refractory materials, they are typically very sturdy and durable grills. The material of the body not only affects the overall look of the grill, but its heat retention and insulation as well.

Kamado grills have two vents, one in the lower side and one in the lid. These vents are the primary method of temperature control, so it’s important that they are well-designed. Vents made from aluminum designed to be resistant to rust or rain are a good choice because weather damage could affect the temperature control.

As with any purchase, the size of the product is important to consider. Because of the materials most are made of, Kamado grills can be pretty heavy.

Most come with wheels to keep even the heaviest models mobile, but if you think you’ll be transporting the grill more often, some also come with handles.

Size is also important when it comes to cooking space. One of the best aspects of Kamado grills is their versatility. They can grill, smoke, and bake. Larger grills will have more cooking space, which is convenient for cooking for larger groups but also using the baking option for bigger items, such as pizza or bread.

What Can a Kamado Grill Be Used For?

Kamado grills are a great option if you’re looking for something reliable, straightforward, and versatile.

Because of their traditional design, Kamado grills are easy to assemble and have minimal maintenance. 

It’s recommended to check the felt gaskets and change them every 2-3 years for the best performance, but generally there is very little you have to check on once your grill is assembled.

They are also incredibly convenient and easy to use. Instead of using charcoal briquettes, Kamado grills use lumpwood charcoal, which has less additives that affect the food flavor. Lumpwood charcoal also produces less ash, making clean up easier.

The charcoal and grill design also retain heat much better than other grills, allowing you to easily bake trickier items like pizza and bread.

Most come with a thermometer to track temperatures, and Kamado grills have a wide range of temperatures.

Many go from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows you to make a variety of different food without a problem.

Most models are fairly compact, so they’re great if you have limited outdoor space but still want an efficient and versatile grill.

Willy's Top Picks - Best Kamado Grills

Review of the Best Kamado Grills

So what are some of the best Kamado grills? Let’s look at some of our favorite models in more detail. There’s a lot of variety out there when it comes to Kamado grills and each of these has its own unique features that make it stand out.

1. Best Kamado Grill: Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker

Let’s start with our top pick: the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker.

It’s extremely durable, with a body made from 22 gauge steel and an exterior finish of powder coated steel.

The cooking surface itself is made of cast iron, with 314 square inches of primary cooking space and a warming rack with 133 square inches.

It also includes double wall insulation to retain heat and a locking lid. Not only does this help the food cook more evenly, it is also much safer and prevents any accidental burns from touching the grill while it’s cooking.

With a temperature range of 200-700 degrees Fahrenheit, you can cook basically anything you like with this grill.

Because of its excellent insulation, the Kooker can control temperature for long periods of time with minimal need for adjustment.

It’s perfect for many different meals, from grilling veggies to baking a pizza.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • User friendly
  • Easy assembly
  • Strong insulation
  • Large cooking space
  • Temperature control and range

Cons

  • Not very portable (Wheels can be flimsy)

Bottom Line

This model is durable and easy to use with excellent insulation. It is very similar to the popular Big Green Egg grill, but at less than half the price. It is convenient, well-designed, and made of quality material that will last.

2. Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

Another great model by Char-Grill is the Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill. It is small and compact, but still provides 153 square inches of cooking space over durable cast iron grates.

Its exterior is made from triple walled 22 gauge steel, providing strong insulation and retaining the desired cooking temperature for long periods of time.

It can maintain a range of temperatures, from 200-700 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat gauge and top and bottom air dampers help you control the temperature easily and keep it at the exact level you want.

It heats up quickly and doesn’t require too much charcoal to keep going. It also includes an easy dump ash pan, so you’ll be able to save a lot of time with clean up.

This is a great option if you’re looking for something durable but portable. While it is smaller and more lightweight than most ceramic grills, it still includes a decent amount of cooking space and is very versatile.

It includes convenient handles that make it easy to carry as well, so it’s perfect if you want a grill you can take with you, from camping trips to cookouts at the park.

Pros

  • Durable material
  • Precise heat gauge
  • Lightweight with carrying handles
  • Easy dump ash pan for quick clean up

Cons

  • Limited cooking space
  • Assembly can be a little tricky

Bottom Line

This grill is convenient and made to last. While it is smaller than other Kamado grills, it still has a decent amount of cooking space and is very easy to carry around for all different kinds of events.

3. Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II

The Classic II stands out with its unique and user friendly design. It is pricier than some of the other models, but if you’re able to splurge, this grill will last a long time.

It is straightforward and easy to use, and even comes pre-assembled so you won’t have to worry about piecing anything together.

It has a multilevel, half-rack cooking system that doubles that amount of space, so you’re able to cook food on different levels and surfaces all at the same time. This model is sturdy and durable, but its air lift hinge reduces the dome weight by 96%.

It has a temperature range of 225 - 750 degrees Fahrenheit, with an all-aluminum rainproof top vent that helps insulate the heat and maintain the precise temperature you want for long periods of time.

It also includes a built-in thermometer for heat monitoring. The gasket is double-thick wire mesh fiberglass, which is a new design that creates an air-tight seal and outlasts most normal gaskets.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Made to last
  • Comes pre-assembled
  • Multi Level cooking system
  • Maintains precise temperature

Cons

  • Larger and heavier
  • More expensive than other models

Bottom Line

This grill is great quality and made to last. The multi level cooking system is a unique feature that give you a lot of cooking space. While it does cost more than the other models, it includes extra features that justify the higher price.

Best Ceramic Grill: AUPLEX Outdoor Lifestyle 21 Inches Barbecue Egg Shaped Charcoal Ceramic BBQ Kamado Grill

Last but not least is the AUPLEX Outdoor Style, our top pick for ceramic grills. It has a compact and sleek design, with a ceramic body and a collapsable wooden shelf on either side for food preparation.

It is fairly large at 169 lbs but it also comes with wheels on each of the four legs, so it can still be moved around easily.

The ceramic design retains heat well and allows for longer burn times. It has an impressive heat range, from 50 - 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The ceramic material and charcoal fuel cook food without making it less juicy or flavorful, unlike a gas grill.

Pros

  • Large but portable
  • Collapsible shelves for storage
  • Reaches wide range of temperatures
  • Retains and maintains temperature for long periods of time

Cons

  • Heavy for its size

Bottom Line

The AUPLEX Outdoor Style is our favorite model when it comes to ceramic grills with a sleek, modern design that will look great in any backyard or apartment balcony.

The ceramic construction makes it heavier than other grills its size, but it also helps with the retention and maintaining of heat for long periods of time.

Conclusion

Versatile, convenient, and easy to use, you can’t go wrong with a Kamado grill. Their unique design allows you to cook food evenly at a precise temperature for long periods of time and the charcoal fuel will keep food flavorful and juicy as it cooks.

Available in many different sizes, designs, and material, there are many aspects to consider when choosing one.

We hope this article helped you better understand Kamado grills and pick the best one for you.

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