Kamado grills have been around in one form or the other since man discovered the pleasures of barbecuing meat over three millennia ago.
These versatile grills offer an impressive range of cooking styles from grilling to baking. Consider this— you wouldn’t be able to bake a cake with a charcoal or electric smoker, but you certainly can with a kamado grill!
Also known as ceramic or egg smokers, the unique ability they possess to retain heat and control airflow makes them well-suited for most smoking and grilling applications.
So, which brands have the best kamado grills in 2021? We’ve broken down the top models so that you can choose the best kamado grill for your needs.
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Why Buy this?
- Generous 406 square inches of total cooking space
- Versatile two-tier cooking system and half-moon design
- Maintains minimum temperatures of 225F for over 10 hours
- Patent-pending firebox that eliminates breakage and increases grilling efficiency
- Locking casters and wheels for easy maneuverability
- Wire mesh fiberglass gasket for a superior airtight seal
- Patented ash drawer for an easy cleanup
Some Reasons To Own A Kamado Grill
How to Pick the Best Kamado Grill – Consumer Buying Guide
Kamado grills are one of the oldest grill types known to man. They are incredibly versatile and can grill, sear, smoke, bake, or broil when other grills can only perform one or two of these functions.
China first introduced the kamado grill to Japan during the Kofun period. US soldiers encountered these grills during World War II and brought them to the US, thus, beginning the popularity of these versatile cookers.
If you’re looking for a charcoal or wood cooker that can burn for 12 hours or more without refilling while keeping food moist and juicy during low and slow cooks, then a kamado grill is your likely your best choice. Kamados are also renowned for cooking pizzas and baking bread. Can a smoker or electric grill do that? We think not.
So, what should you look for or consider before getting a kamado grill for your backyard? Here are some handy tips that will help you make those decisions.
Design and Materials
Heat distribution and retention are what make kamado grills, kamado grills. If your cooker can’t perform this function in all-weather conditions, then it is probably not the best option.
The grill body should consist of two to three layers of ceramic coating that ensure proper heat retention. Ceramics retain the heat and smoke that the charcoal or wood provides. They also maintain the heat generated long after the fire dies.
While the outer layers can consist of steel or aluminum, ensure that the inner layer consists of ceramic for the ultimate heat retention. Some kamado grills, like the Weber Summit, feature air insulation, but this type of heat retention can’t compare to ceramic.
However, ceramic is also delicate and prone to cracking, so be mindful of this when handling or moving your unit.
Ease of Maintenance
Choose grills that are easy to maintain with the minimum of fuss and expense. Removable ash drawers and pans are easier to clean and help to prevent the blocking of air vents.
Kamado grill grates can also succumb to rust, so make sure the model you choose is well coated and cleaned after each use. Don’t use any chemical treatments on the grates, either. Although kamado grills are generally self-cleaning, you can still do a deep clean once or twice a year to avoid issues with mold.
Total Cooking Space
This consideration depends on how many people you regularly cook for, and whether you are cooking as an amateur or professional grill master.
A single grill plate on the kamado can do most of the work, but you can also install griddles to create dual layers and increase your cook space. Around 150 square inches of cook space is enough for a small family of 4 to 6, but if you’re feeding a crowd, select a model with 450 to 700 or more.
Kamado grills with these cooking systems provide versatility and ease the grilling and smoking process.
• Divide-and-conquer systems
where you can place foods into different areas within the grill, allowing them to cook at different temperatures and times
• Dual heat zone grilling systems
which allow you to cook low and slow over the cold area while searing or roasting in the hot area
Portability and Mobility
Kamado grills aren’t known for mobility and portability due to their heavy ceramic construction.
However, try to go for models with lockable wheels or smaller models if you value portability. As these grills are prone to cracking, ensure that you take the appropriate precautions before you transport your cooker.
Availability of Accessories and Fuel
If your kamado grill doesn’t come complete with accessories such as a smoking stone or water pan, then you’re opening yourself up to the possible need to buy them separately.
These come at extra cost, so be prepared to pay more.
Kamado grills use charcoal or wood, but some use either fuel exclusively. Although you can re-use charcoal, it is expensive, so try to go for models that use both charcoal and wood as an alternative.
Top 5 Kamado Grill Reviews
The Kamado Joe Classic II is one of the most versatile and durable kamado grills on the market. It comes with a small interchangeable flat vent that allows you to cook a variety of small-sized foods like chicken wings and hot dogs or prepare larger items like steaks or rib racks.
The generous 406 to 508-square inch cooking area allows you to cook quite the feast in one go. The surface of the grill consists of a thick heat-retaining ceramic layer that is crack-resistant. All the heat and smoke stay inside the grill, keeping your food flavorful, tender, and juicy.
Coupled with sturdy wheels that can lock into place, the Kamado Joe Classic II is easy to handle, and with an ash drawer that slides out, it’s easy to clean as well.
It has a new airlift hinge that keeps the lid up without the need to hold onto it, preventing damage in the event it’s unintentionally closed. The realigned top vent now provides more control over grilling, as well as preventing rain or sleet from getting inside and damaging your grill.
Overall this grill has everything you’re looking for in an egg smoker. It is sturdy, versatile, and easy to use and maintain. Unfortunately, its high quality comes with an equally high price tag, but it is a worthwhile investment to make if you cook outdoors often.
- .Excellent ceramic construction for the ultimate heat retention
- Eye-catching design with a pleasing red color
- Wheels included for easy mobility and maneuverability
- Sliding ashtray for a quick clean up
- Quite expensive
- The inclusion of a full-size flat top would improve the grill’s operation
- Cooking Surface: 406 square inches
- Heat Range: 225F – 750F
- Dimensions: 46.5 x 48 x 28 inches
- Weight: 118 lbs.
Weber is a recognizable name in the grilling industry known for producing high-quality, efficient barbecues—and their charcoal kamado hybrid grills are no exception.
The Summit Charcoal Kamado grill includes a gas-fired igniter that sparks a propane-powered igniter to life, eliminating the need for charcoal lighters, starter cubes, and chimneys, which means that the charcoal lights up in minutes. The fuel grate also operates quite efficiently. It can be lifted for high temperature searing and grilling or dropped down for low-and-slow smoking, roasting, and baking.
Although the Weber Summit is a kamado grill, it is also versatile and functions well as a charcoal grill and smoker. It features a 24-inch diameter grill and a generous 452 square inches of cooking space but is still lightweight enough for easy assembly and maneuverability.
It may surprise you to know that this grill has no ceramic lining, which is why it is incredibly light despite its size. The dual-walled kettle is air-insulated, which adds to its heat retention properties, but not on cold, windy days.
Another great feature of this grill is the removable ashtray. Weber is known for its one-touch cleaning systems, and this grill has it too. Simply slide the ash catcher and clean up any residue with ease.
- Large cooking area
- Excellent construction for low and slow cooking
- Removable ashtray for an easy cleanup
- Comes with a generous 10-year warranty
- Heat-retention capabilities could be better in cold, windy conditions
- Cooking Surface: 452 square inches
- Heat Range:225F – 750F
- Dimensions: 45.5 x 39.5 x 35.8 inches
- Weight: 114 lbs.
The Duluth Forge is the go-to kamado grill for professionals! With commercial-grade hardware and an attractive bamboo lid handle, this grill also has top and bottom dampers and porcelain-enameled steel cooking grates with a convenient plate setter. Cook with confidence, without worrying about the loss of heat on already prepared foods.
The one-inch thick ceramic walls ensure heat retention levels that keep your food flavorful and juicy, as well as evenly cooked. This grill also comes topped with a stainless-steel dual-action top vent that promotes more natural temperature control during grilling as well as allowing you to adjust temperatures to your preferred settings without much fuss.
Dual-level cooking grates and a stainless-steel thermometer also help you to gauge and control cooking temperatures inside the grill.
The only downside is that this grill uses charcoal alone for its fuel, which lacks versatility and can be expensive. The features and functions on this grill may also be a bit hard for beginners to grasp, so it is recommended for users with medium to advanced grilling skills.
- Dual vents promote excellent temperature control
- Easy to read thermometer
- Affordably priced for the build quality and functions
- Excellent customer service
- Outstanding ceramic construction for heat retention
- Not suitable for beginners
- Uses charcoal as a sole source of fuel, which can be expensive
- Cooking Surface: 567 square inches
- Heat Range: 225F – 700F
- Dimensions: 27.8 x 23 x 21 inches
- Weight: 140.4 lbs.
If you’re after a small kamado grill that is lightweight and portable, the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. is a perfect choice, especially if you camp, tailgate, or travel regularly. Despite the smaller size, this grill has the power and heat capabilities of its larger cousins, so it will give you the same flavorful and juicy barbecue, albeit in smaller portions.
Another thing this grill has going for it is its price–it’s by far one of the most affordable on our list, so it is perfect for beginners, small families, or those looking to dip their fit into the world of kamado grills before making a permanent, more expensive investment. The 153-square inch cooking space makes an adequate production for a family of 4 to 6.
This grill has two dampers for temperature control and a third at the bottom to help with the distribution of airflow, allowing for temperature adjustment for low and slow cooking at 200F or hot searing and grilling at 700F. It is also easy to maintain and keep clean with the incorporated quick dump ash pan.
However, to keep this grill working long-term in optimal condition, the cast iron grates, despite being reasonably well-made, need constant maintenance to avoid rusting.
- Easy to use
- Affordably priced
- Lightweight and portable
- Save charcoal—this grill uses much less fuel than its larger cousins
- Temperature range matches that of bigger, more expensive grills
- Internal grill is not rust-resistant and needs careful maintenance
- Not suitable to cook for a crowd
- Cooking Surface: 153 square inches
- Heat Range: 200F – 700F
- Dimensions: 20.5 x 21.5 x 25.3 inches
- Weight: 37 lbs.
Do you cook for large gatherings or in professional barbecue competitions regularly? Then the Kamado Joe Big Red Grill is the answer to your prayers. It comes with an impressive 24-inch grate allowing you to cook for quite the crowd with ease.
The grill grate consists of 304 rust-resistant and corrosion-proof stainless steel, which can be moved around and placed in different positions. This versatility allows you to cook on different levels and at different times.
This grill features an airlift hinge, too. When raised, it stays in place without the risk of crashing down onto the cooker. A grate gripper also allows you to reposition or remove them safely as you grill, and the patented slide-out ashtray makes ash removal and cleanup a breeze.
The only downside to this beast is the price–be prepared to invest over $2,000. However, it is a worthwhile investment that won’t see you buying another grill anytime soon. Also, note that it is cumbersome, coming in at 250 pounds. It’s more suited for stationary use rather than mobile grilling and smoking.
- Large cooking capacity with a 24-inch grate and 452 inches of cooking space
- Mix and match cooking system allows versatile cooking from grilling and searing to roasting and baking
- Quick slide-out ash drawer for an easy cleanup
- Durable and sturdy construction
- Eye-catching design with an attractive red color
- Top-end model with a top-end price
- Heavy and unwieldy—this is not a portable grill
- Cooking Surface: 452 square inches
- Heat Range:225F – 750F
- Dimensions: 50 x 31 x 54 inches
- Weight: 250 lbs.
Final Verdict: The Best Kamado Grill for Your Money
If you enjoy cooking outdoors, love versatility, and want to grill, roast, braise, smoke, and bake, then you must get yourself a kamado grill. Their ability to cook low and slow, ease of use, and unique flavor infusion, guarantee you’ll cook up the best barbecue you’ve ever tasted. These grills are also healthier than their gas counterparts.
However, kamado grills are expensive. Thankfully, with our top pick, the Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill you more than get your money’s worth. It’s sturdy and easy to use, offers excellent value for the price and provides the versatility you need to cook anything from juicy and tender chicken and smoky fried eggs to cake and pizza.
It also comes with useful accessories included in the price, excellent build quality, and a price tag that isn’t exuberant for what you’re getting—it’s not hard to see why we dubbed this the best kamado grill on the market in 2021.
If you’re on a little tighter budget, though, we recommend the Char-Griller Akorn Jr.as a far more affordable runner up. With this model, you get the basics of a Kamado grill without the high price tag.
After choosing what to buy we suggest to look into best grilling accessories for your grill.