Updated February 2022
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Buying guide for Best kamado grills

A kamado grill is a combination of a traditional grill, oven, and smoker all in one. Fueled by charcoal, they are great for slow cooking or roasting meats to release the unique flavors inside of them. They are also a convenient way to prepare meals without needing a large patio grill.

Since there are a lot of options for kamado grills available, you need to consider what shape, size, and accessories will fit your cooking style the best. Construction materials are extremely important since you will find many ceramic and steel models in the body and cast iron or stainless steel for the cooking grate.

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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.

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

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.

Kamado grill features to consider


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.


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.


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.

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.


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 meat thermometer that you attach to the grill to make sure your food cooks evenly.


Many kamado grills come with grill sets 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

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.

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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.


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.

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