Best Kamado Grills of 2020 – Ultimate Review

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.

Comparison Chart of the Best Kamado Grills

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker

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Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

  • Compact design can easily fit in a small space
  • Perfect for camping, tailgating, or for a picnic in the park
  • Thick ceramic and steel construction ensures precise temperature control
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Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II

  • Superior air lift hinge reduces dome weight ensuring a comfortable grilling experience
  • Rain-proof and weather-resistant aluminum top vent maintains a consistent temperature during dome closing and opening
  • Innovative multi-level, half-moon design allows users to cook different foods at different temperatures simultaneously
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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.

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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Not very portable (Wheels can be flimsy)

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers have had a very positive experience with this grill, and the more they use this product, the more they like it. Whether they want to slow grill ribs or sear a steak, this grill keeps the meat juicy and succulent. They have tried cooking different types of food on this grill, including strip steaks, wings, pizza, slow-cooked ribs, lamb loins, and much more. They also like its egg-like shape and recommend it to people who have not yet used this product.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

The best thing about this grill is that it is able to efficiently regulate the cooking temperature as compared to the standard charcoal grills. It is constructed with triple layers of insulated steel that enable it to handle heat well while the cast iron cooking grates distribute the heat evenly and enhance the flavors. The egg shape design of this grill ensures improved cooking efficiency. Its lightweight design and wheels make this grill very convenient to transport and store. Moreover, the top and bottom damper help the user prepare great tasting food by giving total control over the cooking temperature.  

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.

Who Will Use This Most

This product is perfect for grillers and chefs who love food and want to try new cooking techniques. They can cook a steak to perfection by ensuring that it is juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. This product is also ideal for slow cooking ribs by using just a single batch of charcoal. This versatile grill acts like a traditional convection oven; therefore, it is perfect for people who want to grill, smoke, cook a pizza, or bake bread.

Bottom Line

This grill is one of the best charcoal grills for people who want a dependable unit without having to spend much. Its insulated, fuel-efficient steel egg design uses less charcoal when cooking while the top and bottom dampers ensure beautifully cooked meat. Ashpan, folding side shelf, and removable warming rack further add convenience for the users. 

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.

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

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that this wonderful grill has made it easier to cook food. Whether it was steak, fish, chicken, or lamb, buyers were able to cook everything perfectly. They also found the instructions to assemble this grill very accurate and were able to get the grill going in no time. This is a cost-effective and most affordable smoker that provides excellent performance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are many things about this Kamado grill that we find worth mentioning. Its triple-walled construction ensures a long life while its compact size is easily able to maintain cooking temperature.

The powder-coated exterior finish, easy dump ash pan, 153-square inch cast iron cooking surface, and built-in temperature gauge are some features of this grill that make it one of the best available.

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.

Who Will Use This Most

This grill is perfect for small families and people who regularly travel due to its compact size. It has two handles, which makes it convenient to move this grill from one place to another. It is lightweight with short, sturdy legs that keep this unit steady while grilling. Moreover, if you are looking for a smoker for three or fewer people, then this unit will be able to fulfill your needs easily.

Bottom Line

If you love grilling, then this product is perfect for you. Its durable construction and excellent performance ensure a superior grilling experience by providing users with the ability to grill longer while using less charcoal. Whether you want to slow smoke ribs or sear a steak on high heat, this smoker will cook the food that is tender and juicy.  

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.

Best for the Money:
 Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II

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

What Recent Buyers Report

‘Awesome,’ ‘Fantastic,’ Truly unbelievable performance,’ are some of the adjectives that recent buyers have used to describe this grill. They find the lid assist mechanism very convenient as it allows them to open the lid with just two fingers. The removable ash drawer further increases convenience while its sturdy construction reassures the users that this grill will last a long time. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This innovative grill is perfect for both slow and high heat cooking, which is why we highly recommend this product. It’s Divide and Conquer cooking feature allows users to cook different foods at the same time by using a deflector plate. It is easy to use and clean, which enhances the grilling experience. 

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.

Who Will Use This Most

This versatile grill is perfect for every person who loves to grill. Burgers, chicken fillets, steaks – the choice is endless. There is no limit to what this grill can do, making it one of the best ceramic grills available. You can also bake bread or make pizzas on this grill, thus effortlessly catering to the appetite of everyone.  

Bottom Line

Most of the ceramic grills available do not come with multiple heat zones. However, this two-tier grill design makes it easier to cook according to your preference. Its sliding ash drawer is another added convenience which helps in hassle-free disposal of ash. The large cooking surface, egg-shaped design, and waterproof vents all combine to make this a durable grill that you can use year after year.

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.

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

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are very impressed with the quality and performance of this grill. They found it well-packaged and easy to unpack. The instructions with this grill were very simple and clear, thus making it easier to assemble. They found that the meat cooked on this grill had a perfect smoke flavor. After eating various types of food cooked on this grill, buyers are surprised why they have waited so long to invest in this grill.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We simply love the versatility of this product. You can sear meat on the grill, or smoke chicken pieces on indirect heat. This product can also be used as an oven, in which you can bake pizzas or a whole roast chicken or thick pieces of meat. It is able to retain moisture, which makes the grilled food juicier than the one prepared on gas grills.

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 collapsible 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.

Who Will Use This Most

This grill is simply the best product for people who love to grill food three or four times a week. With this grill, people can enjoy tender and juicy food grilled to perfection. Whether you are in the mood for a juicy steak or are hungry for some succulent chicken pieces, this grill will help to fulfill all your cravings.

Bottom Line

If you love the smoky aroma and the tender meat prepared on a good quality grill, then this product is for you. Its ceramic construction ensures great heat retention while saving fuel. It is designed with folding tables on the sides, which come in quite handy while grilling. The locks on the wheels ensure that the unit does not move while cooking. With this grill, you enjoy countless cookouts with friends and family.

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.

How to Use Kamado Grill

Using a Kamado grill is very easy. By following the steps listed below, you will be able to get your grill going in no time: 

  1. Take an empty firebox and line the grate with large pieces of charcoal taken from a fresh bag. Stacking the larger pieces at the bottom ensures that the smaller pieces of charcoal do not block the air holes and disturb the airflow.
  2. Put lump charcoal over the larger pieces. You can also use lumps from a previous grill as there is no wastage of lump charcoal.
  3.  Make a well with your hands in the center of the firebox and place the fire starter in it. Take a lighter and light up the fire starter. Let it burn for a minute until it lights up good. Make sure that the top and bottom vents are wide open.
  4. Once the fire starter catches fire, completely rearrange some of the bigger charcoal pieces in order to get the fire going. After it has burned for a couple of minutes, place the accessory (if you are using any) such as the diffuser on top.
  5. Place the grill over it and close the lid, ensuring that the vents are open. If, for example, you want a temperature of 275 degrees, you should close the vents partially once the temperature reaches 175 degrees to control the growth of the fire.
  6. Once the temperature reaches 220 degrees, close the top vent and leave the holes on the daisy wheel open. Also, close the bottom vent, leaving only 25% of it open.
  7. When the temperature reaches 250 degrees, close the small holes at the top halfway. Make vent adjustments accordingly until you reach the desired temperature.
  8. This process can take 30 to 45 minutes; however, this time is reduced once you get the hang of it.
  9. If you still find it difficult to start a fire in your Kamada grill, you can watch the following video to get a clear idea of how you can get your grill working at your desired temperature.

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.

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.

People Also Ask

Cooking on Kamado grills can have an incredible impact on the taste of the food. After reaching the desired temperature, all that is required is to control the temperature by adjusting the vents at the top and bottom. Although using a Kamada grill is very easy, first time users may need some additional information. They usually ask the following questions:

Do You Have to Season a Kamado Grill?

No, it is not necessary to season a Kamado grill; however, some sources suggest seasoning these grills at low temperatures for 3 to 5 hours before using it at more extreme temperatures. 

How Much Charcoal to Use in Kamado

When you put charcoal in the Kamado grill, build a mound that reaches just below the holes present on the side of the firebox. Make sure that the peak of the mound does not reach above the fire ring. 

Can You Burn Wood in a Kamado?

Yes, you can burn wood in a Kamado as it will turn to charcoal, which can be used the next time that you cook.

How Do You Cool Down Kamado Joe?

After you have finished cooking, you should close the top and bottom vents and the lid to cool down Kamado Joe. Although the fire goes out quickly, the unit takes a long time to cool down as ceramic stays warm for a very long time.  

Where are Kamado Joe Grills Made?

Kamado Joe grills are manufactured in Yixing, China.      

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