5 Best Kamado Grills of 2018: Worth the Money?
Kamado is the Japanese word for stove or range, quite literally it means “place for the cauldron.” It is a modern version of the “mushikamado” created over 3,000 years ago. These styles of grills often have two things in common, the price-tag, and their odd egg shape.
In this review we look at whether or not the price-tag of the Kamado can be justified by the grilling quality they produce. Unlike other styles of smokers, these can reach temperatures up to 750 degrees! You won’t get that kind of heat even from the best infrared grills.
|Pros||Solid Kamado style without the pricetag.||Assembly all done for the most part. 20 year warranty with USA craftsmanship!||Superb build quality. Solid thermometer and ash tray design.||Solid grilling size. Two zone cooking setup easily done.||More affordable, durable just like it's brothers.|
|Cons||Temperate gauge somewhat inaccurate.||No firebox divider.||A bit pricey even for these style of grills. Small grilling area.||On the expensive side.||Quite small.|
|Cooking Surface (sq/inch)||447||280||254||452||148.5|
The Best Kamado Grills on the Market!
Let’s take a look at the top 5 Kamado Grills of 2018:
1. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill
|Cast-iron Cooking Surface|
|Cooking Area||447 Sq/in.|
Char-Griller has developed this Akorn Kamado Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker for a more durable, efficient, and convenient grilling. Before you spend all the money you have, let me give you a walk around tour of this grill.
The design is pretty innovative. The unique design allows one to cook with less charcoal and air flow, resulting in juicier meats. It comes with a secured latch, temperature gauge, adjustable top and bottom vent. It also features nice wheels for easy mobility. Moreover, it has foldable shelves on both sides to keep stuff on them as you cook.
It’s crafted from tubular steel which makes it more durable and lighter than its competition. The inside features double wall insulation along with porcelain coating for most efficient heating. Also, inside is 314 square inches of cooking surface that can be increased to 447 square inches by using the 133 square inch warming rack. Finally, it comes in three different colors.
The cast iron cooking grates impressed me the most. They are long lasting, and they do a fantastic job of providing constant and even heat to the cooking area. They have always returned nice and juicy meats.
Another thing that’s worth mentioning over here is that the grill is well insulated. I could lay my hands on top of the grill without injury when it’s cooking at 400 plus degree from the inside. Oh, I almost missed out on the assembly information. It was pretty easy and straightforward to assemble this unit. It took me roughly 30 minutes to get this unit from the ground up to cooking condition.
It has the standard owner manual that gives you all the information on how to assemble and use the grill for optimum results. It also comes with a grill handle that makes it easy to move things around. Plus, there are a few convenient utensil hooks. The removal center piece makes it easy to access the charcoal. There is also a removal ash pan at the bottom of the cooker. I generally empty the ash pan after multiple uses. A word of advice: Oil the grill often if you are not using it for an extended period of time.
The temperature gauge is not the most reliable one out there. Depending on the heat, it might sometimes mislead you. So, it’s better to check under the hood from time to time. Other than this minor tussle, I must say that this grill does one heck of a job without the big bucks. I was, and I am still impressed!
2. Primo Grills Kamado
Round Grill with Shelves
Our Rating: (4.8/5)
|95% Assembled on Delivery|
|20 Year Warranty|
|Cooking Area||280 Sq/in.|
Are you looking for an American made grill? The Primo Grill has USA written all over it. Given all the big plans that you might have for your next camping or tailgating trips, does this grill fit in? We will find out in a while. Let’s start with the standard product features.
The grill is made from high-quality ceramic. Included in the deal is a variety of items. It feels like Christmas when you receive the delivery. The package arrives with Cradle Shelves, Ash Tool, and Grill Lifter. Under the hood, you get 280 square inches of cooking space.
Available in a traditional egg shape, you can easily grill, smoke, bake, or roast any food or meat on this round grill. With precise temperature adjustment, you can do low and slow cooking, or high and heated cooking depending on your preference to retain all the natural taste of the food.
The thing that I love the most about this grill is that it does not rob the meat off its moisture. The meat stays nice and juicy. In fact, most of the foods that I cooked on this grill had amazing flavors. It simply returns flavorful dishes like nothing else in the market.
With its natural heat retention ability, it takes very little charcoal. I was able to cook one dish after another without adding additional coals. Until now, it has been my travel companion for a couple of camping trips. The wheeled cart makes it easy to move around and carry on in any outdoor trip.
It comes assembled for the most part (95% assembled). Plus, you get a 20% product warranty. With American made craftsmanship, you won’t really complain about the durability. I have been using this grill for more than a year now, and it still looks sparkling new.
The only issue that I have with this grill is that it doesn’t come with a firebox divider that’s seen in other oval grills of Kamado. Of course, it’s not the end of the world. The grill is easily worth the price tag!
3. Kamado Joe Classic Stand Alone
Our Rating: (3.8/5)
|Ash Tool and Grate Gripper Included|
|Materials||Stainless steel rack, two 304 stainless steel grates.|
|Cooking Area||254 Sq/in.|
It’s called a ‘stand-alone’ grill for a good reason. It’s designed to work on any fixed spot. So, it can be used anytime and anywhere you go. Let’s review Kamado Joe Classic Stand Alone to know more about it.
This 18″ Kamado Joe Classic features the famous Divide and Conquer Flexible Cooking System like other Kamado stand-alone models, which enables one to cook different foods in different styles and temperature. It has stainless steel top vent opening which can be easily adjusted by simply sliding the vent.
Plus, it comes with a nice warranty and stainless steel handle. The stainless steel handle offers a solid grip. It does not get hot. Therefore, it’s a nice addition to this grill. It has cast iron fire grate at the bottom of the grill. Now, let me invite you under the hood, and show you how it performed.
Putting the grill together after unboxing was an easy affair. I was all set within 30-40 minutes. This includes the unboxing time as well. My wife says that I am more restless than a squirrel. True to her claims, I used this unit within an hour of assembling to cook my all-time favorite burgers.
Truthfully speaking, I am all praise for this product. It seals the perfect taste. Moreover, there’s no after taste of the charcoal, and it heats better than other products in the same spectrum. The heat resistance shelf effectively locks the heat within the hood at any given temperature.
The food is placed quite high over the charcoal, so I never had to worry about flare-ups. I have cooked for hours and hours on this unit with one load of charcoal. As far as I remember, I have slow cooked it for 12 hours at a stretch with one bag of charcoal. It gets heated in about 12-15 minutes and delivers even and tasty food every single time.
The built quality is matchless. It’s easily one of the best-built grills on the market today. The patented sliding ash tray facilitates in easy cleaning. It also has a nice big thermometer on the top to give you temperature reference while cooking various types of foods on the grill.
All the additional accessories required to complete the grill set comes with no extra cost. Other than the grill, what you also get is a Multi-position Stainless Steel Rack, 2 Stainless Steel Halved Grill Grates, and 2 Ceramic Halved Heat Deflectors.
This unit won’t handle too much volume of cooking at a time. It’s good for a family of no more than 3-5 people. If you are looking to cook for a bunch of people, you will need a lot more cooking space than what this stand-alone grill can offer.
Although it’s a good investment, it’s quite expensive. Yes, it does not come with a shoestring budget. If you maintain it right, it will last for a long time. In other words, it will pay for itself in the long run. However, you should have deep pockets for the upfront payment.
4. Kamado Big Joe Grill
Our Rating: (3.8/5)
|Patented Slide-out Ash Drawer|
|Heat Range||225°F – 750°F|
|Natural Wood Pellets||452 Sq/in.|
The Kamado Big Joe Grill is pretty identical to Kamado Classic Joe Grill with the exception of size. Oh Yeah! But, there are some nitty-gritty things that you should know about this unit too. So, let’s get started with the product features, and I will also tell you how this one compares to the classic model.
The outside features are pretty much the same as the one above. It’s just that everything about this unit is larger than the Classic model. The heat range is 225°F – 750°F. This one has side tables too that can be used as working or serving space. The lid to the hood is a bit heavier too. It’s spring assisted though, to make your life easier. So, let’s take a look under the hood because that’s where the meat of the matter is. Isn’t it?
Inside the hood, you will find the same setup as the Classic model. The temperature stability is impressive on this unit. Even when the fire goes out, it stays hot for a long time. It’s unlikely to receive half-baked food from this grill. Foods such as chicken and meat that are prone to drying out in other grills actually come out nice and tender from the Kamado Big Joe Grill.
I have used this grill in extreme conditions, and it never went off to remind me that I am stretching its limits. So, I give it full scores on the convenient front. I can just set it up and check on the grill from time to time. In my opinion, it’s a low maintenance unit. I didn’t have to be out there besides the grill adding coal time and again. Overall, it’s super-efficient with the fuel.
Since it’s a 24-inch diameter grill, you can get a lot more cooked than the classic model. Yes, you can throw in a lot of food at the cooking surface. Also, the ceramic heat diffuser is split into two adjustable pieces, which enables one to have a two zone cooking setup in a flash. One can have hot cooking going on at one side, and indirect cooking on the other side. Unlike other grills at the same price range, I have noticed that the cooking time on this unit does not extend a lot under extreme weather. All thanks to the double layered insulation.
This beast is a high-end product, so it’s almost double the cost of that of a mid-range product. The high-cost might scare some people, but it’s worth every penny. It saves fuel, increases efficiency, reduces hassles, lasts longer, and also delivers outstanding flavor. It’s clearly a game changer grill.
5. Kamado Joe Jr
Our Rating: (3.3/5)
|Heat Range||225°F – 750°F|
|Cooking Area||148.5 Sq/in.|
This 13.5 inches Ceramic Grill by Kamado Joe gravitated grill lovers. I must admit, I was hooked too. I bought it days after my last grill malfunctioned. Fortunately, this one lived up to its promise. This time around, my wife couldn’t make fun of me. I don’t blame her though. I have an unreasonably bad online shopping record. Anyways, let me tell you what I liked and disliked about this product. So, let’s meet Kamado Joe Jr Grill.
Lookwise, it’s the spitting image of the classic model with the size exception. In fact, this unit is a smaller version of the Classic model. Since I have used both Big Joe and the Classic Kamado, I would say that everything looked pretty much familiar from the inside.
It’s fitted with 304 Stainless Steel Cooking Grate. The interior provides 148 square inches of cooking surface. The externally fixed thermometer can reach temperature up to 750 degrees. It comes with a sturdy black colored stand. It also comes with a removable ash tray for easy cleanup. The ashes fall directly into the tray which can be pulled out through the bottom air vent. Now, let’s find out how it smokes up.
This proved to be a go-to grill for my pizza cooking. I have used it for meat, ribs, hamburgers, and other stuff as well, but mostly pizza. The entire grill area can be used for cooking. I liked the fact that it gets to the required temperature quite quickly and maintains it really well too.
The foods turn out amazing, to say the least. It does a splendid job of retaining the flavor. Also, it’s of perfect size for our small family. I plan to keep using this grill until the day I retire, and even after that. I might have to buy a new one though when the day arrives.
It’s one of the most affordable Kamado grills out there. It’s pretty sturdy and durable too. Also, it’s very easy to pick up and load the unit on the back of the car. So, it scores well on the portability front. To tell you the truth, I haven’t seen the gym doors in over a decade. Our cat has made more gains than me in the last decade.
Unlike the other Kamado grills, this one doesn’t arrive with any accessories. This pretty much justifies the low price tag for a quality product. It’s almost half the price of Big Joe and classic model. Also, the size is a little small to be used as a primary grill. I use it as a secondary grill.
Are Kamado’s Worth Your Money?
It’s time to cut to the chase. If you need something family size, go for Akorn Kamado Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker or Kamado Joe KJ13RH Joe Jr Grill. Between the two, Kamado Joe KJ13RH Joe Jr Grill will be easy on your wallet.
If you have a larger family or lots of friends to entertain often, investing on a larger grill would prove to be the best bet. The Kamado Joe BJ24RH Big Joe Grill would serve you well over here.
If you do a lot of outdoor cooking, Primo Grill and Kamado Joe KJ23NRSH Classic Joe Stand Alone won’t disappoint you. They are portable, and they will provide you reasonable cooking space as well.