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Last Updated on October 29, 2021
Kamados have gained a loyal following of fans in recent years for having a specific design and set of features that make them unique. If you’re the devoted owner of a traditional grill, you might be wondering how the two differ.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Kamado over a traditional grill? What can a Kamado do that a traditional grill cannot? It all comes down to varying degrees of temperature control, your budget, and design preference when deciding if joining the trend and switching to a Kamado grill is the right choice for you.
Ease of Use
Which of these two grill types is easier for the average person to use? Traditional grills are relatively easy to use with minimal setup time. However, there is usually some degree of guesswork involved in achieving the desired temperature for cooking.
Kamado or ceramic grills are controlled using an airflow system. The user monitors this system to achieve the correct temperature for cooking. It can be tricky to get the hang of for first-time users, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s an extremely useful feature. There is almost always a thermometer that is easy to read on a Kamado to confirm the temperature is exactly where you want it to be. The edge that the Kamado has here is its incredibly thick walls, allowing it to maintain its temperature for longer than most traditional grills.
When comparing Kamado grills to traditional grills, it’s helpful to know how they differ in the temperature range. Temperature range and control have a significant impact on the final results of your cooking. The first consideration here is the time that each type of grill takes to heat up. The Kamado can reach high temperatures within just 15 minutes or so, while a standard grill will often take around 20 to 30 minutes to reach optimum cooking heat.
Also, consider the temperatures that each grill can reach. Direct or indirect heating on a traditional grill can be done up to around 700°F, although the majority of standard grills peak around 500°F. You can cook at low temperatures on a conventional grill, using various methods, such as reducing the amount of fuel and cooking over indirect heat.
However, the Kamado offers a more extensive range. A Kamado can reach temperatures of 750°F and above with relative ease. It can also hold temperatures as low as 225°F, which is helpful for slow cooking and smoking. The essential advantage of the Kamado is its ability to sustain these temperatures. Your traditional grill will have higher heat loss levels, making it harder to maintain a consistent temperature.
Maintenance and Longevity
A huge consideration for many when it comes to what grill to buy is how easy it is to maintain and keep clean.
A traditional grill that uses briquette charcoal produces a good amount of ash residue. You can purchase what is known as a catcher can to mitigate some of the effects of build-up. If you regularly grill, you’ll need to make sure you’re scraping and brushing the grilling grates before each use. Every so often, you’ll need to give the outside a wipe down as well.
A standard charcoal grill is a reasonably straightforward design, and there is not a huge amount of maintenance involved. You’ll need to keep an eye on the cooking grate for any signs of wear or rust, but other than that, maintenance tasks are pretty simple.
With a Kamado, if you are using natural lump charcoal, it produces less than a third of the amount of ash than a traditional briquette. Many Kamado grills also come complete with an ash tool to help you remove any excess with ease. As with any grill, you will need to brush and scrape debris off the grates before each use.
A Kamado does require slightly more maintenance due to its more intricate design and range of materials. Maintenance tasks to consider include replacing the felt gaskets around every 2 to 3 years. You’ll also have to check the band screws which hold the lid and base tight and adjust if necessary. Perform this maintenance annually.
How Cost Factors into Your Decision
A significant factor in your decision between the two types of grills is the difference in affordability. If you’re an infrequent griller but still want to have the odd barbecue when the weather gets nice out, a traditional grill is the best option for you. With prices starting reasonably low, you can find a grill for every budget.
When it comes to the Kamado Grill, there is a smaller range of prices. You aren’t likely to find a high-quality Kamado for an ultra low cost, and for one with all the features you might be seeking, you’ll need to have a healthy budget on standby.
Taste and Aesthetic
For some people, the grill’s taste and the visual appeal is the first thing on their minds when they start shopping. After considering all the other practical factors, it’s essential to seriously consider which grill will provide your desired flavor and what looks best in your outdoor entertaining space.
Many people prefer the taste of a traditional or charcoal grill, although some point out that additives found in ready-to-light briquettes can result in an unpleasant aftertaste. A ceramic grill is known for creating a classic charcoal flavor with the use of natural lump charcoal. The Kamado also comes out on top when it comes to slow cooking and smoking meats.
Budget, Design and Level of Grilling Expertise are Important Factors
The rise in popularity of the Kamado Grill is due to a few standout features that make it a unique piece of equipment. Although some still prefer to use traditional grilling methods, there are several factors to consider when deciding which one is best for you.
Your budget, taste preferences, design aesthetic, and level of expertise determine which is the better grill for you.