Most of the time, buying a versatile grill means that it will do everything you want, but it may not do each of those things as well as a specialized model. However, when you purchase one of the best kamado grills, that isn’t the case. This kind of grill originated in Asia and has been around for thousands of years.
The modern version of a kamado grill can grill up a plate of steaks, smoke a brisket, or even bake bread or a pizza. The egg shape and insulation properties create great heat retention and a wonderful smoky flavor. If you use real wood in the fire, that smoky flavor will be enhanced even more.
Not every kamado grill is exactly the same and some offer benefits that others do not. However, the top kamado grills are very fuel-efficient and can cook for many hours without adding extra charcoal. The thick insulation and well-designed air control vents also make temperature maintenance a breeze.
Since there are so many kamado grills on the market, it can be challenging to choose the best one. That’s why we wanted to share the top options out there and what they have to offer. We’ll also share more information on these grills and choosing the right one later on in the article. But first, here are what we believe are the top nine kamado grills.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Kamado Grill
- 2 Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic Classic II Charcoal Grill
- 3 Kamado Joe Big Joe II BJ24RHC Charcoal Grill
- 4 Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr Red Charcoal Kamado Grill
- 5 Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker Black
- 6 Primo Grills and Smokers 773 All-in-One Kamado Round Grill with Cradle Shelves, Ash Tool, and Lift
- 7 Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill
- 8 Duluth Forge 140031 DF-CC-21-BK Kamado Grill 21” Black
- 9 Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Kamado Grill 18.5” Diameter Metallic Charcoal
- 10 Char-Griller 96619 Akorn Kamado Kooker Combo with Grill Cover with Cooking Stone Graphite
- 11 The History of the Kamado Grill
- 11.1 How a Kamado Grill Works
- 11.2 What Sets the Kamado Grill Apart
- 11.3 Features to Expect on the Best Kamado Grill
- 12 Conclusion
The Best Kamado Grill
Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic Classic II Charcoal Grill
Anyone looking for a compact kamado grill should consider the Kamado Joe KJ24RHC for the best possible portability. This grill is created of ceramic and offers a sturdy wheelbase so you can get grilling anytime and anywhere you like. This is a great option for someone who wants a small grill with all the typical features of a kamado.
The build on this grill is ceramic and includes a sturdy cart along with a locking wheel system. The price is also fairly average for a high-end model and has the features that put it in that category. The kamado grill has a cooking area of 508 square inches, which is pretty reasonable. However, there is no separate warming area to make use of.
This cooker can reach temperatures of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a heat gauge that gives you information about the temperature inside the grill area. The start-up time is minimal. All you need to do is get the charcoal going and prepare things to start cooking up ribs, burgers, turkey, and more.
Many accessories are available with this model such as locking casters, an ash pan, folding side shelves, a sturdy frame, and a lifetime warranty on ceramic parts. The grill is also just as easy to use as it is to transport and store. As long as you have experience using charcoal, getting used to using the kamado grill is simple.
● Features a proprietary Terapex ceramic blend
● Offers the option to fine-tune temperature easily
● Ceramic parts from with a lifetime warranty
● The cooking area is smaller than many high-end kamado grills
Kamado Joe Big Joe II BJ24RHC Charcoal Grill
Now that we’ve looked at a compact kamado grill, it’s worth looking at one of the heavy-duty options that can cook up nearly everything with ease. The Big Joe II from Kamado Joe has a large cooking surface to meet the needs of large events and groups who are dining together. It is a red ceramic model with 452 square feet of cooking surface along with a built-in thermometer.
One of the great things about this model is that it offers extreme versatility. You can do typical grilling or you can smoke, bake, or slow roast using the same tool. It doesn’t matter what kind of meal you are preparing, this kamado grill can offer assistance and ensure the food tastes great when everyone comes to the table. The top vent is made to offer precise airflow management while cooking.
There are many ways this grill can help you customize your cooking. You can choose to use various surfaces based on what you’re cooking that day. The grill also makes use of quality components that ensure the grill will stand the test of time. It’s simple to use so you can get a fire going and flavor your foods quickly. This device also comes with all sorts of accessories to make preparing food simple.
● Features a patented top vent for better airflow management
● Offers a versatile heat range from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit
● Includes a flexible cooking system for preparing several different foods
● Customer service from this brand can be hit or miss
Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr Red Charcoal Kamado Grill
Another small kamado grill is the Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr which addresses two of the major concerns with this kind of grill: mobility and affordability. This is one of the most competitively priced grills out there. It also happens to be quite small, which may be a benefit or a downfall depending on your specific needs.
Those who have limited space or want more room to move around will appreciate the small size. The same applies if you want a grill to take camping with you. The unit is made by Char-Griller, which is one of the top manufacturers of kamado grills. While it is a pretty basic model, you can expect it to be durable on top of being extremely affordable.
This unit is made from a durable steel material. This can be the best option if you are worried about breaking or dining up the grill. If you are taking it on the road, a metal grill is a better option than ceramic as the latter can easily be damaged. The grill has a 14” diameter grate while being 21” wide and standing 25” tall. It may not be the right grill for those who are feeding a big crowd.
Despite the size, the unit has two vents to offer great temperature control. It also has triple wall insulation to keep things at the right heat level as long as you need it. It can cook at anywhere from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, just like the larger and more expensive grills.
● Small and compact for quick heating to start cooking
● Portable construction for easy transport and storage
● Includes easy dump ash pan for simple and quick cleanup
● May not last as long as a kamado made of ceramic
Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker Black
In many cases, a kamado grill is going to be more expensive than a traditional barbeque grill you might purchase. However, there are exceptions and one of them is the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker. This is a great option for a beginner who doesn’t want to spend a lot to try out a kamado and see why these cookers are so popular.
Char-Griller looks to make affordable grills for those on a budget. While these are not top of the line grills, they get the job done and are reliable without spending everything in the bank. The grill has a 22 gauge steel body and cast iron grill grates. The exterior is powder-coated while the inside has a porcelain coating on it. It has double-wall insulation to keep heat inside as well as a locking mechanism on the lid so no heat can leave through the door seal.
The shelves on this model fold back so you can easily add charcoal while the grill is cooking, although you likely will not need to do so very often. Even though this is a model made to be entry-level, it also has features like a temperature gauge and an ash tray that is simple to empty and clean. The primary cooking area is 314 square inches, but a warming rack of 133 square inches is also included.
● Comes at a great price point with plenty of reliability
● Extremely fuel-efficient to save money in the long run
● Made of steel for additional durability compared to ceramic
● Some have experienced inconsistent quality control
Primo Grills and Smokers 773 All-in-One Kamado Round Grill with Cradle Shelves, Ash Tool, and Lift
The Primo Grills and Smokers 773 Kamado Grill has a lot going for it. It has a durable and sturdy design. It is user-friendly and easy to maintain even for beginners. It also offers the possibility of maintaining temperatures whether they are high or low. Beginners who are looking for a decent sized grill may find that this is the best option for them.
One of the best features of this grill is that it comes with a warranty for 20 years. While the price can be a bit higher than expected, taking into consideration that you can trust the grill to stand up to two decades of use makes the price point a bit more reasonable. Those who take the time to maintain the grill properly may find it lasts even longer than that.
This grill is made of high-quality materials to last. It has a construction that absorbs heat and insulates temperatures well. While other kamado grills may be larger or lighter, this model works well for those who prioritize durability and having plenty of cooking surface. The grill is also made with safety in mind using ceramic which retains heat but doesn’t transfer it away to avoid burns.
As far as versatility goes, this grill gives its all. It can cook all sorts of different dishes due to the ability to maintain many different temperatures. It is also portable through the inclusion of four durable caster wheels. Keep in mind that it can be a bit heavy, though. As far as temperature range goes, this grill can keep the heat at anywhere from 150 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
● The high-quality build will ensure the grill lasts for many years
● Offers a 20-year warranty and is made in the United States
● Provides portability through caster wheels and multipurpose design
● One of the heaviest kamado grills on the market today
Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill
Are you looking for a kamado grill that can handle a ton of cooking all at once? The Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Grill is exactly that. This is a fantastic choice for anyone who likes to host large parties or events in the home and appreciates cooking for guests. When using the rack extensions, the grill offers 680 square inches of space for cooking.
The grill has a unique oval design which is intended to create better taste. The exterior of the grill is a blend of ceramic coating along with a porcelain glaze. While this is one of the more expensive models, it’s worth it for someone who wants the extra space. The primary cooking space alone offers 400 square inches to cook on, which is perfect for making a large amount of delicious food.
Even though this is a charcoal grill, it can reach temperatures of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. The ceramic and porcelain build offers great insulation for even heating across the entire cooking surface. It has a quick startup time to get cooking and most of the time is spent getting the charcoal going. It may take a few minutes extra to get all the coals heated equally.
There are plenty of accessories available for this kamado grill such as an easy read thermometer, a lip lock, a soft-close felt gasket, and a 20-year warranty. Even though the grill has tons of space, it’s also easy to use. It might take time to learn how to distribute food in the best way, but after that, you will consistently be satisfied with the results.
● Offers a huge amount of cooking space compared to other grills
● Consistently warrants positive reviews from consumers who have used it
● Comes with a 20-year warranty on most of the grill parts
● One of the most expensive grills available on the market today
Duluth Forge 140031 DF-CC-21-BK Kamado Grill 21” Black
The Duluth Forge 140031 offers a classic ceramic wall body that is 1.25 inches thick. This allows the grill to absorb heat from a fire and evenly distribute it around the cooking chamber. This makes it very efficient for use with hardwood or charcoal. The grill can also be used as a direct heat grill or a low-temperature smoker.
The exterior of this grill is coated with black power and has a glossy sheen. The components like springs, the bang, and hinges are all made from commercial-grade 304 stainless steel for durability. All these things add up to a barbeque grill that looks great and operates as well as you could want. It has an easy to read thermometer that is one of the most accurate out there.
In addition, this grill has a dual-action tamper which makes it simple to control both temperature and airflow. Once you open up the grill, there is a warming rack as well as a primary cooking grid. Both of these components are made of stainless steel with a porcelain glaze to make them non-stick. An ash collection pan is also included at the bottom of the grill.
This is a versatile grill with thick ceramic walls for efficient cooking. That means using less charcoal while enjoying a great smoky flavor. With practice, the grill can also be used for low-heat applications like heating whole chickens and ribs in the 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit range. It can also reach upward of 500 degrees Fahrenheit for direct grilling and searing.
● Features an extremely accurate thermometer for precise grilling
● Made of quality durable materials to last a long time
● Thick ceramic walls offer better retention of heat and even circulation
● Does not include a table or stand so the customer will need to provide one
Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Kamado Grill 18.5” Diameter Metallic Charcoal
If you are the sort of person who does a lot of traveling for tailgating, camping, or other purposes, you want a grill that can handle that. The Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 is exactly that. It is a ceramic model that can be used on the go, but it avoids the issue of cracking that can come up with other grills. This is due to the exterior being made of steel.
As the name suggests, this kamado grill looks quite similar to a keg, which will be appealing to some. It has two durable wheels and can even be hooked up to the back of a trailer hitch using an available adapter. This grill is built much like an oven with insulation between the steel and enamel. It has 280 square inches of cooking space along with a second rack when you need it.
Broil King is most well known for gas grills, but they do offer kamado grills as well. The company is known for dedication to great grilling and their products are consistently rated highly. One of the newest innovations is included on this grill and consists of built-in bottle openers on the front handle.
This grill will heat up quickly and work well as a smoker and oven, as well as a grill. However, it can take some time to get used to two-zone cooking. The way it is manufactured makes it a great choice for travel, though, since it is far less likely to crack when you using it or transporting it from one place to another.
● Moves around easily for transport or storage purposes
● Lighter than other kamados in the same range
● Features a cast iron grid for cooking as well as a locking lid
● The handles and table may look less attractive than expected
Char-Griller 96619 Akorn Kamado Kooker Combo with Grill Cover with Cooking Stone Graphite
The Char-Griller 96619 Akorn Kamado Kooker Combo is a great option for a beginner to grilling as it comes with all the extra accessories you could want. The grill allows you to sear heat quickly over high temperatures or switch things up and cook over a low and slow roast. The grill is made to last using triple-walled 22 gauge steel and can accommodate temperatures from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
This grill has an adjustable top damper which helps maintain heat control and airflow while cooking. It also comes with a built-in temperature gauge, which makes it easy to go between different cooking styles. A second damper is located on the bottom of the grill to help with temperature control. There is also an easy to use ash pan for cleanup after grilling.
Right above the cast-iron grilling space, there is a removable warming rack of 133 square inches. It can be taken out when not in use or it can add extra space to your grill environment. The grill also has two side shelves with utensil hooks. They can be folded out or placed back on the grill itself out of the way when they are not needed.
● Comes with special accessories like a grill cover and Smoking Stone
● The insulated design offers less airflow and more heat for juicy meat
● Cart constructed of tubular steel with rubber wheels and locking caster
● Some have experienced malfunctioning or damaged grills being delivered
The History of the Kamado Grill
For those who are new to the world of the kamado grill, it’s a combination of two things. It is one of the oldest forms of outdoor cooking in the entire world, but it also happens to be a huge revolution in modern barbequing today. Kamado grills have been around for thousands of years and will likely stick around for many more years.
Long ago, a clay cooking vessel that was created in China made its way over to Japan. At this time, it was adapted into use as an excellent rice cooker which was known as mushikamado. This grill has similarities to the tandoori oven and it may have roots in the same place. Some believe the Japanese took tandoori technology and incorporated it into the cookers purposely. As far as the name goes, kamado simply means stove or cooking range.
Moving forward to the 1940s, American soldiers who were stations in Japan started to bring home souvenirs from deployments like hibachi and kamado grills. This led to adaptations on the invention to make it appropriate for grilling rather than making rice. The ability to control airflow was added along with the addition of a lid and hinges.
An importer in Atlanta, Georgia, started stocking kamado grills in the 1970s and made improvements such as switching from clay to ceramic materials. This led to the creation of the Big Green Egg. This particular grill led the industry for many years but recently other grill makers have taken on the challenge of creating their own kamado.
How a Kamado Grill Works
When you look at a kamado grill, the egg shape makes it simple to recognize, even for those that aren’t familiar with the grill type. In most cases, there is a cooking vessel that rests on a stand, but others may have a more traditional table design. Many of the modern kamado grills feature work surfaces that attach to the outside of the grill.
The bottom two-thirds of a kamado grill is the area where coals burn under the grill. The top part of the grill is a domed lid which typically has a built-in thermometer. Vents are included on both the top and bottom to help regulate the temperature when the grill is being used.
The best kamado grill is going to seal up tight when the lid is on it while the interior is created to reflect heat in an even manner on the inside of the grill. The most common material used for a kamado is ceramic but there are also metal models available.
Most people agree that kamados work best using lumpwood charcoal, but some find that briquettes also do a great job. Those who will be smoking using the kamado can add wood to the charcoal.
The fire is on the bottom of the cooker on a small grate that rests over the firebox. Air comes in through the bottom and an ash catcher holds the ash for easy cleanup. There is a fire ring over the coals where the grill rests. There are also many accessories that can be placed on the fire ring.
The grill is toward the top of the lower section of the grill. The upper area is the hinged lid and a top vent rests on top of that.
What Sets the Kamado Grill Apart
When you look at the various kamados on the market, you’ll see that the price range is anywhere from around $150 for an entry-level cooker to well over $2,000 for a professional model. However, most of the selection falls between about $750 and $1,500.
You might wonder what makes this grill worthy of that price and it really depends on what you are looking for. The first thing to realize is that a kamado is an investment. These cookers are well-crafted and made to last for years and years as long as you keep up with proper maintenance.
In addition to that, these grills offer a cooking experience that cannot be beaten. Many who try them never go back to another kind of grill. While it has the typical hot surface for barbequing burgers and searing steaks, it goes far beyond that and gives serious versatility.
As an example, the control you have over the airflow can be used to hold the desired temperature for however long you need. All it takes to get there is a little bit of practice.
Cooking meats like ribs and brisket low and slow is simple using a kamado. On the other hand, if you want high and quick, the vents can be opened up to watch the heat rise as long as you need it. This is the perfect option for searing up great steaks.
Another benefit of a kamado grill is that the reflected heat allows you to cook foods evenly. For those who have ever tried to make a pizza with a barbeque, you know it takes constant attention and presents a challenge. While you learn, you may end up making a lot of burnt pizza. The even heating of a kamado makes it a great option for making pizza or baking bread.
Features to Expect on the Best Kamado Grill
As we mentioned earlier, not every kamado grill has the same quality. As such, it’s important to know what features separate the best kamado from one that is simply decent. Below you can see what to look for and which features might matter to you.
Quality of the Build
Anytime that a consumer good gains popularity, it won’t be long before low-cost options are to flood the market. Saving money is a good thing, but you likely do not want to compromise on quality just to get a slightly less expensive cooker for the backyard.
Some inexpensive kamados will have thinner walls, which means holding a constant temperature will be an issue. Since the main priority of a kamado is heat retention, this is likely not something you want to give up. Inexpensive grills may also have lower quality finishes and fits. Keep an eye out for thin gaskets that might seal improperly and low-quality metal fittings that could rust.
When you see a small price tag, that can be appealing. However, consider the fact that a unit that is built better and a bit more expensive can pay off in the long term by lasting longer and having a better overall cooking experience.
Size of the Work Space
The amount of space you need is personal. Some people don’t care about having extra space, while others want an area to place seasonings, sauces, utensils, and other tools.
If you are in the latter group, you should choose a kamado model that comes with a work surface attached to it. If that isn’t possible, you will want a large stand or table to put the kamado on, so you have room. Many of the top manufacturers offer tables and carts that are custom made to fit their grills.
Material Grill is Constructed From
You are going to see that the majority of kamados come in either ceramic or stainless steel. The stainless steel models are typically coated in enamel. There are also cast aluminum options out there, but these are much more difficult to find.
The material you choose is up to you since all of them have pros and cons. Many people go with ceramic since it tends to hold the heat in the best and has no chance of rusting. Those who are going to be moving the kamado around a lot may want to choose a metal model since it is less likely to crack if dropped.
Kamado Grill Size Options
There are many different sizes of kamado grills from tiny to absolutely massive. However, the typical kamado will have a smaller cooking surface than a traditional charcoal or gas barbeque. You want to be sure the one you purchase has enough space for your needs.
A big model will be needed for someone who wants to cook huge racks of ribs or feed the entire family at one time. However, those who are just cooking for a few friends or family members may be well suited by using a smaller cooker.
Resistance to the Elements
Most people are going to keep their grill outside no matter what the weather or season. Because of that, a rust-resisting finish and fit are important to keep your kamado going strong for years. A cover is also a good thing to have on hand to prevent water from getting into the top vent.
Selection of Accessories
One of the best things about having a kamado grill is the level of versatility that it brings you. There are a huge number of accessories for most models including rotisseries, stacking grills, pizza stones, skillets, and much more. Moving away from the cooking surface for a moment, there are also rakes, ash baskets, and carts.
Some manufacturers include more accessories than others do. Before you choose the right kamado grill for your needs, always check on what extras come with it and which you may need to purchase down the line. When looking at two similar grills with different prices, you may find that accessories make up for that amount.
Customer Service & Warranty
Any product you buy has a chance of breaking and kamados made of ceramic have a high risk of chipping or cracking. These grills also have items that wear like seals and hinges, as well as parts on the inside to be aware of. Because of that, a warranty should offer excellent coverage. Some manufacturers know that and offer lifetime coverage while others offer far less or no warranty at all.
As far as customer service goes, knowing how a manufacturer handles it can be challenging if you aren’t yet in need of it. However, you can easily do some searching to find out what responses are available when a customer asks a question online. The feedback area of a manufacturer’s website or their social media posts are a good spot to start.
Opinions of Current Owners
If you have a friend or coworkers who already has a kamado grill, speak with them to find out what their experience has been like. Ask whether it has met their expectations and whether they would make the purchase a second time.
Take a look online as well. There are many forums for those who own kamado grills so you can read reviews from current owners. The company websites can also offer information to help you.
There’s no way to ignore budget when it comes to any major purchase and the kamado grill qualifies as one. Before you decide to deep dive into choosing a grill, you should have a dollar amount in mind so you know which grills should be on your radar. However, keep in mind that the best kamado grill is not going to be inexpensive. You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the size and features you want.
You should remember to think about how long you plan to use the grill and what you get for the money you spend. Sometimes stretching the budget for a high-quality product is well worth it if it will last much longer. This means you won’t need to replace a less expensive model every few years.
We hope our roundup of the nine best kamado grills for 2019 was helpful to you. There are plenty of options out there for all budgets, but these are some of the best options you will find. Even if you don’t find the ultimate kamado grill on our list, you also have the knowledge to visit any retailer and find a grill that does meet your needs. Good luck and have fun!