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Best Kamado Grills

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 12 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 120 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best kamado grills

    Last Updated November 2018

    A traditional charcoal grill works just fine for making barbecue staples like burgers, chicken, and hot dogs, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of versatility. If you want a grill that doesn’t just grill but also enables you to smoke, bake, and roast, it might be time to invest in a kamado grill.

    Buying a kamado grill isn’t as straightforward as purchasing a basic charcoal grill, however. You have to consider the materials used in the construction very carefully, as well as figure how what size, shape, and accessories fit your cooking habits best. Considering the variety of kamado grills on the market, sorting through all the options can be a challenge.

    At BestReviews, our aim is to take the confusion out of shopping. You can forget about reading through hundreds of online reviews and marketing blurbs to identify the top products. Our careful research allows us to pass along the information you need to choose the best items for your home – and we offer specific product recommendations to save you even more time.

    If you’re ready to buy a kamado grill, consider our top picks in the product list above. If you’re looking for general tips on kamado grills, our shopping guide has the information you need.

    While a kamado grill is easy to use, it can take some time to get used to cooking on it if you’re accustomed to a traditional charcoal grill. Start with a small meal like a couple of burgers or chicken breasts before trying more complicated dishes.

    What is a kamado grill?

    Like a traditional charcoal grill, a kamado grill uses charcoal to cook and impart a delicious smoky flavor to your food. Most kamado grills are made of ceramic rather than metal, which offers superior heat retention and isn’t prone to rust. These grills are extremely durable and can even be left outdoors throughout the winter.

    Many home chefs find that the kamado grill’s enclosed design also produces better flavor than a basic charcoal grill because the smoke and moisture penetrate the food more effectively.

    How does a kamado grill work?

    To keep the charcoal burning, air enters the grill from the bottom. It passes through the coals and flows out through a damper at the top of the grill. You control the heat by adjusting the air flow through the grill, so it’s very easy to maintain a steady temperature.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The name of the brand, “Kamado”, means “cooking range” or “stove” in Japanese.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Because of their compact size, kamado grills are ideal for small yards or patios.

    Kamado grill benefits

    • Reliable: Kamado grills date back over 3,000 years in Asia, and in that time they’ve developed a reputation for reliability. These grills are more durable than many other types of grills. The ease of maintaining the interior temperature gives you consistent cooking results.

    • Easy to use: Compared to traditional charcoal grills, a kamado grill is easier to use. It usually takes about 15 minutes to get the grill started compared to a half hour with a basic grill.

    • Versatile: Kamado grills enable you to do more than simply grill burgers and hot dogs. You can smoke, roast, and bake, too, because the kamado grill works very much like a wood-burning stove.

    • Efficient: Because a kamado grill retains heat more effectively than a traditional charcoal grill, it distributes heat more evenly, which means you can cook more quickly.

    • Easy to clean: Kamado grills use lump wood charcoal, which creates less ash than other types of charcoal. That makes it much easier to clean up when you’re finished grilling.

    Outstanding quality and versatility

    The top-of-the-line Kamado Joe Classic II blows away the competition. Its thick walls trap heat and moisture for juicy, flavorful meats every time. And the innovative Divide & Conquer multilevel system not only doubles your cooking area but also allows you to cook different foods in different ways and at different temperatures all at once.

    Kamado grill features to consider

    Size

    As with any grill, it’s important to get the size right when you’re choosing a kamado grill. In general, most kamado grills are smaller than traditional charcoal and gas grills, so on may not be the best option if you routinely cook for a very large group. Many kamado grills are sold as either large or extra large, but you should pay attention to the specific dimensions of the cooking surface in any model you’re considering.

    • The 9.5- to 16-inch diameter cooking surface works well for one or two people.

    • The 18-inch diameter cooking surface works well for groups of four to six.

    • The 24-inch diameter cooking surface can accommodate groups of six to eight.

    Weight

    Because they’re usually made of ceramic (or ceramic-coated metal), kamado grills are extremely heavy. Most large models weigh at least 150 pounds. That can make it difficult to move the grill around your yard, You can place it on a stand with wheels or casters for greater mobility.

    Materials

    Grill body:

    • Ceramic: Traditional kamado grills are made of ceramic, which retains heat very effectively and never rusts. However, a ceramic kamado grill can crack if it’s dropped, so it may not be the best option if you need to move your grill on a regular basis.

    • Steel: Some kamado models are made of stainless steel coated in ceramic, porcelain, or enamel. Steel doesn’t maintain its heat quite as well as ceramic, but it doesn’t rust and is highly durable. Stainless steel won’t crack if dropped and doesn’t weigh as much as ceramic, so the grill is easier to move. For heat retention that’s similar to that of a ceramic model, choose a steel model with double- or triple-walled construction.
       

    Hardware: In addition to the grill body, pay attention the materials used for a kamado grill’s hardware. The dampers, handles, hinge assembly, and other components are usually made of stainless steel, cast-iron, painted steel, or a combination of the three. Because it’s corrosion-resistant, durable, and easy to clean, stainless steel is an ideal option.

    Grates: You’ll find cooking grates made of stainless steel or cast iron.

    • Stainless steel: These grates are easy to clean and won’t corrode. Avoid kamado grills with enameled steel grates, which don’t sear meat effectively and aren’t as durable as stainless steel.

    • Cast iron: This is a popular choice because it allows for more effective heat transfer for outstanding searing. However, cast-iron grates require more maintenance to keep clean.
    EXPERT TIP

    Keep the lid closed on your kamado grill unless you’re adding, turning, or taking food off the grill. It helps keep the heat and moisture trapped inside for the best-tasting food.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Grate shape

    Traditional kamado grills feature round grates inside the oven, but some manufacturers have started making models with oval-shaped grates. The advantage of an oval grate is that it enables easier two-zone grilling with different temperatures on each side of the grill.

    A round grate kamado doesn’t work as well for two-zone grilling because the heat circulates around the interior too evenly. If you want to set up a two-zone system for a kamado grill with a round grate, you’ll need to invest in deflectors and racks, which increases the cost of your investment and can be somewhat complicated to use.

    Thermometer

    Most kamado grills have a built-in thermometer in the lid, which makes it very easy to monitor the grill’s temperature as you cook. A few less expensive models may not include a thermometer, but you can purchase a separate thermometer that you attach to the grill to make sure your food cooks evenly.

    Accessories

    Many kamado grills come with accessories that make the grill easier to use or more versatile. Some accessories that you may want to look for in a grill include the following:

    • Cart with wheels or casters to make moving the grill easier

    • Side shelves for prepping food

    • Additional racks to increase cooking area

    • Ash pan or drawer for easy cleanup

    • Grill cover

    Generous size and low price

    The Char-Grill Akorn Kamado Kooker boasts an impressive 306 square inches of cooking space for grilling up to 15 burgers at once. Add the high-quality construction and a one-year warranty and it still costs less than comparable kamado grills. The steel cart provides ample prep space, too.

    Kamado grill prices

    Kamado grill prices can vary significantly based on the size, material, and extras. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $125 and $1,300.

    • Budget-friendly

    Small kamado grills made of steel instead of ceramic usually range from $125 to $350.

    • Mid-range

    Small to medium kamado grills made of ceramic usually range from $350 to $700.

    • Expensive

    Medium to large kamado grills made of ceramic usually range from $700 to $1,300.

    Pullout: A kamado grill can be safer to use around children and pets because the ceramic exterior stays cooler than the exterior of traditional charcoal grills made of metal.

    FAQ

    Q. What’s the best way to start a kamado grill?

    A. You should never use lighter fluid in a kamado grill. Because ceramic is so porous, it can absorb the fluid, which may damage the grill. Instead, use a charcoal chimney, firestarter, or electric starter to get the coals burning in your grill. You can ignite the charcoal in as little as 60 seconds with an electric starter.

    Q. What type of charcoal should I use in a kamado grill?

    A. Most manufacturers recommend using lump charcoal in a kamado grill because it’s easier to light, burns longer and at a higher temperature, and is easier to clean up than charcoal briquettes.

    Q. Can I use a kamado grill in inclement weather?

    A. Kamado grills aren’t affected by rain, cold, or wind, so they can perform very effectively in inclement weather. As long as you feel safe enough to be outdoors, it’s perfectly fine to use your grill in any type of weather.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer

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