Kamado Grills Vs Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills and Kamado grills could easily be comparable. They are similar in terms of they both use charcoal but in all honesty, thats primarily where the similarities end. You can use your Kamado grill as a direct cooking source for burgers and things just like you would a charcoal grill.
With both grills, you need to heat your grill by burning your charcoal. The Kamado provides a more controlled environment and is made much differently than your typical charcoal grill.
The Kamado grill is heavy and commonly made with ceramic. It retains the heat more effectively because of the materials of the body of the grill. Most charcoal grills are limited to what you can cook on the rack.
The Kamado grill is designed to be used as a direct cooking source or as a slow-cooker/smoker option. The Kamado is much more versatile as far as how you can cook things and as far as the control you have over the temperature.
Other Egg And Ceramic Grills Worth Considering
We considered dozens of different grills that didnt make our best kamado grill list. Here are some of the standouts we couldnt include in the full guide.
- Kamado Joe Joe Jr If you are looking for a small ceramic grill, the Joe Jr is an excellent option. We named the Char-Griller our best small ceramic grill because it had better portability. But if full ceramic construction is important to you, the Joe Jr is a good bet.
- Kamado). Construction seems good, the warranty is generous and you the value for money is decent.
Best Small Kamado Grill Kamado Joe Kj13rh Joe Jr Charcoal Grill
Why youll love this:
The Joe Jr. is the perfect choice for those on a budget. While smaller than the Classic II, and without a cart, it provides a good amount of space to use still, and comes in at about a quarter the price. That alone may make it a tempting choice.
What We Liked
- Construction: This takes all the pieces that make the overall construction of the larger models great and shrinks them down. It still has the solid ceramic construction which holds in heat so well, along with the double thick wire mesh that seals in heat better and will last 10 times longer than a standard gasket. It even has the air lift lid to prevent you dropping and damaging the grill by letting go of the lid too soon.
- Relatively Lightweight: This grill only weighs 75.6 lbs. , far less than the standard kamado grill. As a result, its significantly more portable than a full sized variant, meaning you can use it outdoors, for camping, or for tailgating and then store it inside much more easily.
- Heat: Despite the reduced size, it still regulates heat in the same 225 degrees to 750 degrees Fahrenheit range with no issues or added work in maintaining it, though you may need to add more charcoal slightly more often than usual.
What We Didnt Like
Its also one of the few kamado grills I could see taking on some camping trips, or to a tailgating party. Its still heavy , but light enough you can feasibly move it around short distances and get amazing results out of it.
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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.
Further Information For Kamado Joe Bbqs
A key advantage of the Kamado Joe is the ceramic design and its ability to insulate, this keeps the heat in the grill and the moisture in the meat. The ceramic design means you require less total heat for cooking, it also lets you cook at significantly higher temperatures, or at very low temperatures, for a significantly longer time. Combine this with the ability to fine-tune the temperature, and you get a grill that is extremely versatile and allows you to grill, sear and smoke! BBQ Barn is an Official Kamado Joe Dealer, The Number 1 Top seller in the UK and has a Price Match Promise.
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Why Trust The Spruce Eats
Donna Currie is a cookbook author as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She stays up to date on all the latest grills and gadgets and personally tested a kamado grill for this roundup.
Danielle Centoni is the author of five cookbooks and a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She also tested one of the most popular kamado grills on this list.
Runner Up Kamado Joe Big Joe Ii 24
Why youll love this:
The Big Joe II lives up to its name, providing a much larger alternative to our winner, albeit at a similarly inflated most. Ultimately, for most uses, that price hike isnt going to be worth it the Classic II is big enough. But if you have huge grill needs, the Big Joe II is there to provide.
What We Liked
- Size: As mentioned, the Big Joe II is a quite sizable kamado grill, giving you between 452 and 608 square inches of cooking space to work with depending on how you set up the various grates and cook surfaces inside.
- Variety: Just like the Kamado Joe Classic, the Big Joe II offers the collection of mix and matchable grates and a mini flat top to use as you please to cook whatever you please.
- Air Lift: Air lift hinge reduces the weight of the dome lid by 96%, making it smooth and easy to open and close, without the danger of dropping and damaging the lid or bottom by slamming them together.
- Seal: Seal is a double thick wire mesh that is meant to last 10 times longer than the industry standard gasket.
- Wheels: Wheels lock in place but glide smoothly when unlocked, making it easy to wheel around or make a permanent stationary fixture as you wish.
What We Didnt Like
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Included Accessories: All The Essentials
Everything you need to start grilling or smoking is included with the Kamado Joe. That includes the cart, shelves, stainless steel cooking grates, and ceramic heat deflector, which helps moderate the heat and create indirect heat zones. Theres even an accessory rack so you can customize the placement of the grates even more, and a grabber tool for moving the cooking grates around.
We were able to cook pizzas on the grill grates no problem, but if youre a serious pizza enthusiast, investing in the pizza stone is a good idea. Other optional accessories available for purchase are a perforated steel pan for grilling small delicate things like vegetables or fish and a cast iron grill grate for getting great grill marks.
Whats The Difference Between A Kamado Grill And A Conventional Charcoal Grill
Most kamados have a ceramic body. This gives them superior heat-retaining qualities to most standard charcoal grills. The enclosed design helps to lock in the smoke and moisture. Youll appreciate these benefits when you taste food from a kamado grill. Start-up times are also dramatically reduced with kamados. You can be up and running in well under 15 minutes, something youll seldom achieve with a regular charcoal grill.
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What Kamado Grill Size To Get
Do you value versatility when grilling? Then a kamado grill for your outdoor kitchen is right up your alley. It can sear, roast, smoke, or grill just about any type of food ranging from bread to pizza. As part of the charcoal grill family, the term kamado refers to a ceramic cooking pot in Japan. Its layered with aluminum, stainless steel, or cast-iron outer shell thats built for excellent temperature control.
Furthermore, a kamado grill is a beast at heat retention compared to the generic charcoal counterparts that are available in portable, freestanding, or built-in configurations.
The Best Kamado Grill For 2021
We thoroughly tested a group of popular kamado grills from Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Char-Griller and others. These are our picks.
Kamados are capable cookers that can handle nearly any backyard grilling task you throw their way. If you have the practice and the skills, a kamado grill can run rings around your standard gas grill. It also makes wood-fired cooking easy, a technique that yields delectable results.
Typically made from ceramics, these grilling champs boast amazing heat retention. A little amount of fuel goes a long way, allowing you to run a kamado cooker at slow and low temperatures all day long. Plus, you can fire up your grill to become scalding hot. I’m talking hot enough to cook authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. A kamado griller is also great for searing true steakhouse-style steak and, honestly, just about anything you’d consider grilling.
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The Big Green Egg is the most high-profile example of a traditional kamado grill and kamado smoker, but rival kamado manufacturers such as Kamado Joe, Char-Griller, Vision and Char-Broil round out this category of grills. Tempted to add one to your outdoor kitchen arsenal and become a hardcore griller? I put the Big Green Egg and its four major grilling competitors to the test to find the best kamado grill out there — here’s what I found.
Ribs, chicken, burgers: You name it, we cooked it.
Other: No Smoking Accessories
While this product is billed as a grill and smoker, the smoking setup instructions required the use of accessories that were not included with the grill. While we were able to substitute a deep dish pizza pan for the not-included drip pan, we decided to purchase the smoking stone that acts as a heat diffuser and holds the drip pan below the cooking grate.
Check out our best smokers article.
Adding Charcoal To Your Kamado Grill
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What To Look For When Buying A Kamado Grill
What you may or may not need for your Kamado grill could significantly vary based on how you intend to use it as well as your overall budget. Here are a few tips of things you should consider when purchasing a Kamado grill.
Is A Kamado Grill Easy To Use
Kamado grills might look intimidating, but they are easy to use and work up to temperatures as high as 750F, perfect for searing like a pro even if youre a complete beginner. To dial back the heat, youll need to master the art of temperature control. If youre prepared to embrace a shallow learning curve, youll soon be smoking, slow cooking, grilling, and searing like a chef on your kamado.
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How Cr Tests Kamado Grills
We started by assessing the cooking performance of each kamado. Could it get thin-crust pizza hot enough to crisp the crust without burning the toppings? Next, we used pork shoulder to see whether the grill could cook low and slow for long stretches, all while maintaining a consistent temperature.
Every kamado grill we tested excels in our cooking tests, but they differ significantly in two key areas: convenience and cleaning. The best kamados not only cook well but also make it easy to build a hot fire or dial down the temperature for ribs or brisket. They’re also easy to clean. Many have ash catchers, or trays, while others need to be disassembled for a thorough cleaning.
CR members can read on for our in-depth test results for the Big Green Egg.
And regardless of which kamado grill you use, there are certain tips that will help ensure great results. Below, we’ve highlighted five of the foods that we think are best on a kamado and provided expert tips for preparing each.
How Kamado Grills Work
Kamado grills operate on hardwood lump charcoal. No gas or propane is necessary to operate your Kamado grill. This means your food gets a delightful smoky flavor and its so easy to use.
The Kamado grill is designed with a thick wall that holds in the heat, making the grill more efficient than its competitors. It operates much like you might expect a wood stove to operate.
The grill is egg-shaped and air enters from the bottom, passes through the fuel source , and steam is emitted from the top through an air vent or chimney-like feature.
You can monitor and adjust the temperature of the grill by adjusting the air that passes through the unit. Its quite simple to control and regulate the temperature once you get your Kamado grill pre-heated. Your grill simply needs hardwood charcoal and air in order to operate effectively.
Important Notes About Kamado Grills
Not all kamado grills are equal. Some kamados, such as Kamado Joe BBQs feature a higher quality construction and feature a much better design to create a more versatile grill, such as the revolutionary SloRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber insert.
Cooking temperature range – with a Kamado Joe bbq you can easily cook at temperatures between 200°F and 750+°F. This enables you to smoke barbecue for long periods of time. You can easily roast chickens and turkeys in the 350-450°F range. You can sear burgers and steaks in the 500-550° range. Baking pizzas at 600°F or higher is no problem. The Kamado Joe can handle a wider variety of cooking temperatures than most other grill and smoker platforms.
Heat retention – ceramic kamado joe grills have a lot of thermal mass that soaks up heat and holds it within the ceramics for a long time. The major advantage of this design shines through when you open the dome lid on your grill and then close it again. The grill returns to its stable temperature more quickly than charcoal grills and smokers that are made from thin metal materials.
Moisture retention – the shape of the Kamado Joe creates convection currents inside that create air circulation that helps retain moisture. When I open the dome lid on my Kamado Joe bbq it is quite common that my glasses fog over from the moisture. That doesn’t happen on any of my other grills. The moist environment helps provide more efficient cooking without the need for a water pan.
Kamado Joe Classic Ii Charcoal Grill
The Spruce / Danielle Centoni
We purchased the Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
Though the Kamado Joe company was founded in 2009, kamado cooking is more than 3,000 years old. Based on ancient clay-oven cooking, the concept originated in China and spread to Japan, where the ovens evolved to include dampers for better heat control. The Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill is built on these same ancient principles but uses modern materials and forward-thinking design to make the heavy ceramic grill a pleasure to use. Like most other modern-day kamado-style grills, the Kamado Joe Classic II is quite expensive, but its ability to effortlessly manage low-temperature smoking and high-heat grilling, coupled with its user-friendly features, make it one of the most versatile charcoal grills on the market. We put the popular product to the test to see if it held up to its reputation.
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