What Is A Kamado Grill
You can use a kamado to grill steaks and burgers, or use it as an outdoor oven or smoker.
Clay and earthenware cooking pots have been used for thousands of years in China, Japan, and India, but the modern-day kamado grill has only been around for a few decades. As ancient cooking methods evolved, they found their way into Japanese households as mushikamado rice cookers, charcoal-fired cooking devices with a damper and draft door to control the heat. Americans stationed in Japan during World War II brought these devices home, and entrepreneurs like Ed Fisher transformed the domed, clay cookers into the original kamado grill: the Big Green Egg.
Over time, the clay was replaced with more durable porcelain glazes and ceramics, making them sturdy enough to last almost a lifetime. These grills function a lot like wood-fired ovens because the thick sides can absorb a ton of heat. They also tend to be more efficient with their use of charcoal and cook food more evenly than grills made with plated steel. You can use a kamado grill to cook steaks and burgers, or transform it into an outdoor oven or smoker. The possibilities are endless!
Kamado Joe Big Joe Ii Grill
Award:BEST MID-SIZED DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: A mid-large-sized entry in their standard line, features all the high-temperature versatility, performance, and ease of use, with a generous 24 cooking area and convenience features like large side prep tables.
- 2×12 of multilevel cooking surface
- Precision ventilation dial for maximum temp control
- Double thick shell for excellent heat retention and safety
- Fairly high price point in class
The Kamado Joe Big Joe II is the larger version of the Kamado Joe Classic II with the same user-friendly but very modern design but a larger 24 cooking area allowing for preparing meals for large groups. Standard features include the patented Divide & Conquer multitiered flexible cooking system, a heavy-duty cast iron cart with caster wheels for mobility, a precision ventilation dial for precise temperature control, and a patented slide-out ash drawer for easy cleaning.
Whats The Best Way To Light A Kamado Grill
Its recommended that you use an electric charcoal starter to start a kamado grill. These are inexpensive and easy to use- simply fill the grill with charcoal at the top and newspaper or some other kindling at the bottom and light- your grill should be ready to cook within 15 minutes. Using lighter fluid or grill starter fluid isnt recommended, first of all, because its far less safe and can cause sudden large flames when starting. Secondly, ceramics are semi-porous and any such fluid will soak into the body and frame and usually create an odor that will affect the taste of your food for the worst. A purpose-made tool such as an electric starter, then, is the way to go, and wont require a bigger budget.
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Can You Use Regular Charcoal On A Kamado Grill
Almost every kamado grill manufacturer recommends using lump charcoal.
Almost every kamado grill manufacturer recommends using lump charcoal over charcoal briquettes. Many of them even sell expensive private-label charcoal. In our experience, briquettes may cost less, but lump charcoal is better suited for a kamado grill. It can reach higher temperatures and it tends to smell better as you cook it, too.
If you do want to use briquettes, read all the fine print to make it wont void the warranty of your very expensive grill. Youll also want to skip the instant-light varieties and never use lighter fluid. It can absorb into the uncoated ceramics in the firebox, and no one wants their food to taste like fuel.
Check out our comprehensive charcoal review to learn more than you ever wanted to know about these lumps and bricks.
What Is The Big Green Egg Grill
The Big Green Egg popularized a type of grillthat originated in East Asia. American soldiers encountered the kamado grillduring World War II, and found themselves enamored with the unique features ofit.
While a standard charcoal grill requires moremaintenance for certain levels of heat, the Big Green Eggs predecessors wereused for a variety of cooking methods. The grill did not just center on meat,but instead could cook rice in a pot inside the grill while simultaneouslygrilling whatever its user desired.
The versatility was not the only benefit, asthe ceramic grill could safely rise to impressive heat levels and remain therewith complete stability. They utilized charcoal just the same as a standardgrill, but the results were far more tender and flavorful.
When soldiers returned home from the war,several of them brought these ceramic grills back. It was a moment of culturalintegration that was utilized by the Big Green Eggs creators in 1974, when EdFisher launched the company in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Can You Grill On A Kamado
Kamados can get mighty hot. We cranked a Big Green Egg until a column of fire shot out the top, and it was like a blast furnace inside. That’s great for searing the snot out of thin meats, like skirt steak, that you just want to cook hot and fast, but once kamados get hot, they take forever to cool down. Along with the difficulty of creating a two-zone setup, this is why we believe most kamados function better as smokers and ovens than as grills.
If you really want to take your grilling skills to the highest level, then you need to master two-zone cooking and get a charcoal grill in addition to the kamado, or select a kamado that can do two-zone cooking.
Is The Big Green Egg Grill Worth It
CR put this $1,000 kamado cooker to the test to see how it stacks up against less expensive competitors
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We arent here to judge the cultural phenomenon that has formed around the Big Green Egg since its 1970s debut. Lets just say that this ceramic beast of a charcoal grill and smoker has hatched numerous copycat cookers and die-hard devotees who call themselves Eggheads.
We can, however, evaluate its performance and help you answer the question: Does anyone really need to drop $1,000 on the Big Green Egg? Especially when competitive kamado grills can be had for as little as $300, not to mention that some great gas grillsas well as the top-rated charcoal grills from our testsstart around $100.
But the Big Green Egg was never trying to supplant gas and charcoal grills and, frankly, its design has little in common with traditional grills.
Rather than adjusting gas burners or arranging charcoal briquettes as you would in a conventional charcoal grill to concentrate heat, you fill a kamado grill’s lower hemisphere to capacity with lump hardwood charcoal. Once the coals are going, the design starts to make sense: Cast-ceramic walls an inch thick and a heavy lid with a heatproof gasket team up to trap heat. That allows you to use the dampers to precisely control the temperature.
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Is It Hard To Learn To Cook On A Kamado Grill
There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to kamados. Little adjustments on the air dampers can have drastic effects on the inside temperature. Some people find it easy to overcook the first few times, just because theyre not used to cooking in such an efficient grill. But, once you take the time and learn the nuances of your kamado grill, youll be able to enjoy that efficiency in a way thats just not possible with other charcoal grills.
How We Test Kamado Grills
Testing kamado grills is an intense experience for a griller. It requires playing with fire and high temperatures, though in a controlled, responsible way. The most critical element to kamado performance is heat, specifically temperature control and how well a grill holds to one temperature. To smoke meat low and slow, that magic number is 225 F. Good smokers, kamados or otherwise, will stick to this temp for as long as 12, 15 or 20 hours. This means the temperature gauge is key and so is the ability to control airflow via air vents or dampers.
We monitor the internal temperature of the kamado grills as they go.
To capture temperature data, we put a thermocouple on each kamado grill. Essentially a sensitive temperature sensor made of a probe and a connected wire, the thermocouple hangs suspended just 1 inch above the grill grate. It’s connected to a data logger and ultimately a computer that records changes in heat levels over time.
Then it’s time to fire up each grill.
We try to run temperature tests on all the grills simultaneously. We also use the same weight and brand of lump charcoal , often from the same bag. That’s true of fire starters too .
A stable heat level is key to good performance for a kamado smoker.
We carefully fiddle with the vents to get there. Lastly, we let go of the controls and observe.
We smoke ribs along with other food for anecdotal tests.
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Lump Charcoal Only No Chemicals
Since ceramic is a porous material, its best not to use any lighter fluid or other types of chemicals inside. Itll prove near impossible to get the chemicals out of the grill. For the same reason, youll want to stick to using natural lump charcoal.
Briquettes often have additives and binders that can leave behind residue. Plus, briquettes tend to create more ash than lump charcoal, which can gum up the works of the efficient kamado design.
Here’s Why Kamado Grills Work So Well
BBQ Guys share that kamado grills have several advantages over metal gas and charcoal grills. Because they’re constructed of ceramic, kamado grills are much better insulated and they do a superior job of retaining heat. Once the grill reaches the desired temperature, you can easily keep it there to cook food more efficiently, and do it using less charcoal. They also share that kamados do a better job than metal grills of keeping moisture in foods, which is especially helpful for long, low-temperature cooking.
The versatility of kamados also makes them a worthwhile investment. With all the talk about smoking meats and “low and slow” cooking, you might think that it’s the sole purpose of a kamado. However, Louisiana Grills points out that kamados are fantastic pizza ovens, moving the hot air through in a way that melts the cheese on top while also achieving that all-important crisp and chewy crust underneath. Kamado owners also use the grills to cook up whole chickens, steak, burgers, and even to bake bread. It’s a smoker, grill, pizza oven, and bread oven all in one.
The Spruce Eats also notes that tiered racks are available for most models of kamado ovens. So although the primary cooking grate may be the size of that in a standard charcoal grill, the rack systems allow cooks to extend this space vertically. This means more burgers, more racks of ribs more of everything.
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How Do You Clean A Kamado Grill
To clean the Big Green Egg, you have to use an ash tool to work the coals around the firebox, pushing the dust and ash through the holes at the bottom.
Cleaning the grill grates is easyevery time you use it, brush the grates with a wire brush while theyre still hot. The residual heat helps remove any nasty, burnt-on bits. You should clean the grates every time you grill, but youll also want to clean out the inside of the grill from time to time. Its important to keep the dust and spent ashes from plugging up the air intake holes.
Unfortunately, this process is a bit of a pain. Ash catcher buckets are standard on most charcoal grills, but few kamado grills have this feature. To clean the Big Green Egg, you have to use an ash tool to work the coals around the firebox, pushing the dust and ash through the holes at the bottom. Using the same tool, you can scrape the ashes into a bucket or bowl. If the coals are cool enough, you could also use a shop vaccuum, but dont throw away the whole pieces of lump charcoal theyre still good for your next cooking session!
If you’re at stoked as we are about these as we are, check out the best kamado grills we’ve tested.
Kamettle Kettlelado The Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
The Weber Summit Charcoal Grill is a radical departure from George Stephen’s original Weber Kettle. It’s Weber’s first major upgrade to the Kettle in decades. Sure, the prices are in line with Summit gas grills and premium-quality kamados on carts, but they’re a big leap up from the Kettles we know and love. It’s true that a regular classic Weber Kettle can grill and smoke, but the new Summits are just plain bigger and better in every way. You get more capacity, ease of use, and more versatility. It actually is an excellent dedicated charcoal smoker by design, and the adjustable coal grate that burns directly under the cook surface for better searing also makes the Summit an even better grill than the classic Weber Kettles.
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The Quick Version: Our Kamado Joe Classic I Review
The Classic I is the entry-level model of the popular Kamado Joes range of high-fired ceramic kamados.
Coming complete with the highly demanded Divide and Conquer Cooking System, Kontrol Tower, slide out ash drawer, and, ingenious Advanced-Multi Panel firebox, everything you need to grill, smoke, bake and roast is included in the base price. And, the results are next-level!
By doing the basics well, the Classic I provides great value for money without sacrificing on the quality needed for durability and superior performance. Its still covered by the same Kamado Joe warranty as their upgraded kamados, is built just as solidly, and, doesnt feel like youre using a cheaper alternative.
For anyone on a budget, or, whos looking for a value for money kamado, the Classic I couldnt be a better solution!
But, if youre interested in seeing what the next level up gets you, check out our Kamado Joe I vs II comparison.
Faqs About The Kamado Joe Classic I
Q. Do I get the lifetime warranty if I buy the Classic I on Amazon?
As far as we know, yes. After purchasing on Amazon people have registered their warranty with KJ without any issues.
Q. How long does one load of charcoal last in the Kamado Joe Classic I?
Of course it depends on how much you load up. But full, you should be getting about 18 hours of smoke time from one load of quality charcoal.
Q. How easy/hard is it to clean the ash out?
KJ makes this really easy with their pull out ash drawer. You literally slide it out, use the included racking tool to clear the ash out and put it back in. Every 6-12 months youd do a more thorough clean where you remove the firebox and sweep out the inside.
Q. Can I add more fuel while cooking on the Classic I?
Not without removing the meat and grates. Kamados are designed to be stocked once and left to do their thing and you should be able to do that, even for longer cooks.
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The Ancient Cooking Method Of A Kamado
Kamado grills have a history going back more than 1,000 years. According to Kamado Jim, it’s believed that the Chinese brought the idea of clay cooking vessels to Japan around 300 A.D. The Japanese gradually modified the design of the vessels over centuries of use and eventually created the first rice cooker called a mushikamado. A pot containing the rice sat inside the cooking vessel, and the temperature could be controlled to gently simmer the rice. As the design continued to evolve, cooking grates were eventually added to mushikamados, which allowed for meats and fish to be grilled or smoked in the cookers.
Kamado grills made their way abroad thanks to soldiers stationed in Japan just after World War II, who saw the ingenuity of the design and experienced the food prepared in them. They brought mushikamados back home with them, tinkering with the design and making changes like adding vents to make it easier to manage the airflow. According to Kamado Jim, American Ed Fisher created the Big Green Egg in the 1970s, one of the most recognizable kamado grills that’s still available today. His biggest improvement was to use a high-quality ceramic for grills that performed better and lasted longer.
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