You’re in the market for a new grill… And there are several boxes that you need to check.
You want a grill that can also be used as a smoker.
You want a grill that’s simple and no-frills… But produces reliably delicious results.
And you want a grill that’s fueled with flavor-packed charcoal.
In our minds, there’s only one type of grill that ticks all these boxes.
A kamado grill.
These unique little cookers can just about do it all… And we’ll cover everything you need to know to decide if a kamado is right for you.
So, what makes us qualified to speak on this?
For one, we partner with a company that sells kamado grills. (So we’d like to think we know a thing or two.)
But more importantly, several of our team members own a kamado grill… And use them regularly. (Including yours truly.)
With that said, let’s start with a friendly comparison.
- 3 Surprising Reasons to Consider a Kamado over a Standard Charcoal Grill
- Types of Kamado BBQ Grills: Which is Best for Your Backyard?
- Expert Tips for Using Your Brand-New Charcoal Grill Kamado
- 10 Must-Have Accessories to Amp Up Your Grilling Skills
- What’s the Best Kamado Style Grill? The Answer May Surprise You…
- Kamado Grill Reviews & Top Brands of 2023
- Need a Better Place to Park Your Kamado Ceramic Grill?
Why Get a Kamado Over a Charcoal Grill
At this stage, you may not be fully convinced about buying a kamado grill.
Can you just get away with a regular charcoal grill?
Most models are far cheaper than a kamado… And it’s always nice to put some savings back into your pocket.
So let’s discuss a few reasons why a kamado is worth the cash.
Insulative Properties Cook from All Sides
Arguably, heat retention is the biggest draw to purchasing a kamado grill…. Especially when compared to a regular charcoal grill.
The ceramic walls of a kamado can essentially be viewed as a giant heat battery.
It absorbs the heat from your coals… And doesn’t waste a single BTU.
So on one hand… This means that a kamado is using your premium lump charcoal as efficiently as possible. (Talk about getting a bang for your buck!)
On the other hand… This “heat battery” lands you with superior results over a standard charcoal grill.
The radiant heat from the ceramic is cooking your dish from all sides. This results in a quicker, more even cook.
The thin metal walls of a charcoal grill simply can’t keep up with this effect.
Not to mention… This radiant heat also allows you to go far beyond the standard grilling and searing.
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Properly Equipped for Low & Slow Smokes
While you can smoke in a regular ol’ charcoal grill… Does that mean you really should?
We’d say not.
And here’s where a kamado charcoal grill has a huge leg up over its standard counterpart.
These cookers double as an incredible smoker.
You’ve got the radiant heat, yes… But the airflow of a kamado is truly where these smokers sing.
Due to the location of small vents at the top and bottom of the grill… You end up with a convection-style airflow.
Heat is coming up to the top of the dome, with cooler air sinking to the bottom. The air is fully circulating… Which means a beautiful stream of smoke is constantly enveloping your protein. (On all sides!)
A regular charcoal grill doesn’t have that type of convection… And the product will simply pale in comparison with a kamado.
But the versatility of these cookers doesn’t end there.
Wider Variety of Cuisine Options
Aside from grilling, high-heat searing, and smoking… A kamado is well-equipped to cook a wide variety of cuisines.
Some models even support the addition of a rotisserie kit… (Which some standard charcoal grills offer as well, to be fair.)
But what we’re really getting at is the potential for baking and roasting.
Due to the presence of radiant and convection heat… Your kamado can act much like an indoor oven. (Just with charcoal flavors.)
Which means, you could be baking a full-on NY style pizza with the help of a pizza stone… Or roasting a delightful medley of vegetables to go along with your burgers.
You might even consider baking up an apple pie or blueberry cobbler for dessert.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for an all-in-one outdoor cooking system… Nothing can truly beat a kamado grill. (A Weber kettle certainly can’t compete!)
Yet, not all of them are created equal.
Types of Kamado Grills
Ultimately, while they may look similar… Not all kamado grills are made the same way.
Ceramic Grill Kamado
Thus far, we’ve focused our attention on the ceramic kamado grill.
It’s the original form we all know and love… And from our perspective, it tends to perform the most effectively.
As we’ve already mentioned… Ceramic is a true winner when it comes to heat retention and radiant heat.
Temperature control is seamless once you get it set… And you’ll actually have to “fight” your kamado to get that cooking temperature changed!
So if you’ve got your kamado set to a nice 350°F… It will effortlessly hold that for hours on end.
But ceramic is also an extremely low-maintenance material.
There’s a chance that your kamado will crack… But this is a rare occurrence. (And most ceramic kamados will come with a lifetime warranty to cover this.)
Other than this risk, a ceramic kamado is virtually indestructible in the outdoor environment.
It won’t rust, corrode, or rot… And the only thing you may have to replace on occasion are metal or wooden components. (Hinges, handles, etc.)
Speaking of metal…
Metal Grill Kamado
Although less common… In your search, you’ll likely encounter metal kamado grills.
Blaze’s kamado grill and Char-Griller’s akorn kamado are prime examples of this.
But the quality is really a mixed bag.
Blaze’s kamado is constructed with cast aluminum and is incredibly durable… (Although, there is a chance of corrosion over time.)
Whereas, the akorn kamados are typically constructed with double or triple walled steel. The quality of steel is unspecified, leading us to believe it’s prone to rust and corrosion.
And while this downgrade in materials makes the Char-Griller akorn kamados palatable price-wise… As Ben Franklin once said,
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
Which is ultimately just an eloquent way of saying… You get what you pay for.
So are metal kamados any good or not?
Well, if you’ve got your heart set on it… A Blaze kamado should perform quite well for you.
That said… There’s still the issue of conductor vs insulator that we can’t get around.
Metal is a conductor (transfers heat)… While ceramic is an insulator (traps and holds heat).
So no matter which way you cut it… You’ll lose some heat retention by going with a metal kamado. This also has the consequence of making it slightly less fuel efficient.
And on the topic of fuel… Do you always have to use charcoal in your kamado?
Gas Kamado Grill
If you just can’t part with the convenience of a gas grill… Vision grills offers a one-of-a-kind kamado gas grill.
These ceramic grills can be fueled by charcoal, of course… But there’s also a quickchange gas insert you can use to convert your kamado into a gas grill. (It will be fueled with a liquid propane tank.)
So, does having more options make this grill superior?
From our perspective, it’s better to let a kamado do what it does best… Make incredible charcoal-kissed dishes.
In our minds, the gas attachments just muddy up the works a bit… And in most cases, you’re better off having a dedicated gas grill.
But if you simply don’t have the space or money for two separate grills, and you can’t give up on gas… This option might be suitable for your needs.
No matter what type of kamado you decide to buy… The way you operate them is pretty much universal.
Using Your Kamado Grill Smoker
In preparation for your purchase… Let’s cover a few “tricks of the trade” when it comes to using your new kamado grill.
Lighting Your Kamado
There are a number of ways to light your kamado… But we prefer to keep things simple.
All you need is to get yourself a charcoal chimney and fire starters.
Fill up your chimney with some lump charcoal, toss some fire starters into the bottom… And light the fire starters.
Now, it’s just a waiting game.
Most of the time, it will take about 20-30 minutes to get up and running… But it’s always a sure thing.
Once your charcoal is lit, you’ll dump it into the firebox, let your kamado grill warm up… And then start fiddling with the temperature!
As your kamado is heating up, you can work on setting your target temperature.
Admittedly… This is the most difficult part of the process!
It’s an art that will take some time for you to master. But once you do… This step will become stress-free.
The key is understanding how your vents work.
The bottom vent is almost like a vacuum, sucking up air into the grill… With the top vents funneling that air out.
The more your vents are opened, the more heat you will end up with.
Starting out, you’ll want to keep your vents pretty open. As you see that temperature start to climb… Pay close attention when you’re about 50°F away.
At this point, you’ll want to choke down the bottom vent significantly. Most of the time, we leave about an 1/8” opening, like a cracked door.
Then, you’ll manage the rest with your top vent. As your target temperature approaches, you’ll want to close down the top vent accordingly.
When your temperature is set… You’ll also just want the top vent to be slightly cracked open.
If everything was set properly… That temperature should remain stable for quite some time!
So let’s get cooking.
Cooking with Your Kamado Smoker Grill
In all honesty… This section alone could fill several articles.
So we’ll just give you an extremely high level overview!
Thankfully, due to the kamado’s ability to maintain stable temperatures so well… As long as you’re familiar with what you’re cooking, there shouldn’t be any issues.
If you’re low-and-slow smoking a rack of ribs… You’ll want to invest in a heat deflector to keep that direct heat from overcooking and drying out our protein.
And if you have tiered grates… It’s worth also putting a bowl of water underneath your ribs to add additional moisture.
For grilling and searing, the experience is not much different than what you’re already used to. Just be sure to keep the lid closed as much as possible… You don’t want to lose that heat and charcoal flavor!
As far as baking goes… Once again, the experience is not much different from your regular oven.
You’ll get your kamado set to 350° – 400°F… And bake like you normally would.
For pizzas, you’ll definitely need a pizza stone. (And higher temperatures, like 500°F – 600°F!)
And before you launch your pizza… You’ll have to let that pizza stone sit in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or so.
Once that stone is nice and hot… You can launch your pizza, and cook with the lid closed.
Most of the time, you’ll be done baking within 10 minutes.
Now that you’re done cooking… What do you do with the mess?
Upgrade your Kamado Grilling Station
Cleaning & Maintenance
For the most part, cleaning your kamado is quite simple.
After every cook, you’ll want to clear your ash drawer. Some kamados make it easier than others… But even in the worst-case scenario, you’ll just need an ash tool to clear it into a bin.
It’s also smart to clean off your grill grates with a grill-safe brush. (Typically, these are made with nylon.)
And every so often, it’s worth doing a deep-clean of your kamado. (Especially if you see mold over the winter!)
In this case… Heat an empty kamado with the cooking grates and heat deflector to around 500°F.
Hold this temperature for a half hour, then close both vents completely.
Once the kamado has cooled… Clean off your cooking grates and heat deflector with a grill brush.
Also, clean out any residual ash in the firebox and walls of the kamado. You can use a handheld vacuum to help you out here.
Finally, clean out the ashtray… And put everything back in its proper place.
A deep clean once or twice a year (depending on usage frequency) will keep your kamado in tip-top shape.
But that’s enough for the cleanup. Let’s get to the fun stuff!
Kamado Cooking Accessory Options
Want to know one of the best things about a kamado grill?
It comes down to the sheer amount of accessories offered. Pizza stones, griddle plates, rotisserie kits, chicken thrones… It basically never ends!
This is where you can really customize your kamado to your unique cooking style.
Just keep in mind… Not all brands sell the full breadth of accessories, so do your research ahead of time! (Some accessories are compatible with different kamado brands, too.)
What’s the Best Kamado Grill?
Now that you’re basically ready to whip out your credit card and make a purchase… There’s one last thing you need to know.
Who makes the best kamado grill?
Unless you’re considering a metal kamado, which can be questionable in terms of quality…
In our minds, it’s a bit of a trick question.
99% of the time… You’re going to be debating between several ceramic kamado brands.
And at the end of the day… There’s really not much difference between them.
Ceramic is ceramic. So quality and performance will be virtually identical across the board.
So really what you have to decide is… Which brand makes the best kamado smoker for you?
Which aesthetic do you prefer? Do they have the accessories and size you want? Is the price right?
So with that said… Let’s take a look at some ceramic kamado grills that might match your preferences.
Top Kamado Grill Selections of 2023
In spite of the fact that most kamados perform quite similarly to each other… There are still some innovations and differences in the market.
Here are what we deem to be some of the best kamado grill options in 2023.
Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series III
Price: $1,999.00 or $2,999.00
Size: 18” or 24″
Cooking Surface: 250 or 450 square inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime, 5 years on metal parts, 3 years on electronic components and 2 years on miscellaneous components
Standout Qualities of the Series III Kamado Joe BBQ Smoker
- Bright, Fire Engine Red Finish
- Triple Tier Cooking Grates
- AirLift(TM) Hinge to Effortlessly Open Your Grill
- Kontrol Tower(TM) Damper for Accurate Temperature Control
- Convenient Slide-Out Ash Drawer
- Divide & Conquer Cooking Method allows for Simultaneous Direct and Indirect Cooking
- Compatible with a Robust Variety of Kamado Joe Accessories, Cast Iron Cookware, and Grill Covers
- Durable Wire Mesh Fiberglass Gasket
Being one of the most ubiquitous kamado brands out there… It’s no surprise to see Kamado Joe smokers make an appearance on this list.
Between the Kamado Joe Big Joe, Joe Jr, Big Joe II, Big Joe III, pellet grill kamado, and now the Konnected Joe (with WiFi connectivity!)… There’s no shortage of options to consider.
But the classics are a classic for a reason… Which is why our selection here is the Classic Joe Series III.
18” or 24” sizes are available… Leading to 250 square inches and 450 square inches of cooking surface, respectively.
Kamado Joe prices are quite different between the two sizes. You’ll pay $1,999.00 for the 18”… And $2,999.00 for the 24”.
No doubt, this is a large investment!
For the steep cost… Kamado Joe grill comes with a tiered warranty.
Kamado Joe ceramic grill parts are covered under a limited lifetime warranty, you’ll get 5 years on metal parts, 3 years on electronic components and heat deflectors… And 2 year coverage on miscellaneous components and standalone accessories.
The Big Green Egg
Price: $429.00 – $2,199.00
Size: 10″ – 29″
Cooking Surface: 79 – 672 square inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime on ceramic cooker, 5 years for metal components, and 1 year for wood components
Standout Qualities of the Big Green Egg
- Appealing Emerald Green Finish
- Variety of Size Options to Meet Your Needs
- Large Array of Cookbooks and Branded Accessories Tailored to Your Kamado Egg Grill
- Simplistic Design for the Minimalist at Heart
We’d be remiss not to mention the brand that started the kamado craze in the US market… Big Green Egg.
And in their nearly 50 year span… The Big Green Egg kamado line has stayed consistent across the years.
Which is why we actually don’t have a specific model recommendation here. All Green Eggs are identical in terms of features. The only difference is size!
There are 7 unique sizes on offer, from the mini to the 2XL Green Egg. Which translates to a 10” and 79 square inch cooking area… All the way up to a 29” and 672 square inch cooking area.
Compared to the Kamado Joe BBQ smoker… There’s a distinct lack of innovation in Big Green Egg’s product line.
But if you want your kamado to be as simple and no-frills as possible… The elegance of a Big Green Egg might prove to be a charmer, indeed.
As far as a warranty goes… You’ll get a limited lifetime warranty on the ceramic cooker. Metal components are covered for a period of 5 years, and wooden components are covered for a single year.
The Mini Egg starts at around $429.00… With the 2XL Big Green Egg maxing out at around $2,199.00. (Keep in mind, this pricing does not include a stand.)
Cooking Surface: 254 square inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime on ceramic, 5 years for metal components, and 1 year for wood components
Standout Qualities of the Coyote Asado
- Sleek Pitch Black Finish to Match Any Aesthetic
- Soft Close Piston to Prevent Lid Damage
- Comes with Heavy Duty 304 Stainless Steel Laser Cut Grill Grates
- Includes Matching Bamboo Side Shelves
- Features 304 Stainless Steel Metal Parts, Resistant to Rust and Corrosion
- Accessory Bundles and Covers Available Online
Now, let’s turn our attention to an option you’re likely not familiar with.
Coyote is primarily known for their line of premium, built-in outdoor kitchen appliances… But they also offer their very own ceramic kamado.
Unlike Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg… You’ll have a single size option here. But for most purposes, it’s just right.
The Coyote Asado comes with a 19” cooking grid diameter… Translating to 254 square inches of cooking area.
And while this little cooker might seem unassuming on the outside… It does have a couple quality-of-life upgrades that might edge it out over other options. (We’ll get to that!)
Coyote offers a limited lifetime warranty on the ceramic… Right in line with previous mentions. All metal parts are warrantied for 5 years, with any wooden parts being warrantied for 1 year.
Currently, the freestanding Coyote Asado will run you $1,499.00.
Vision Grills XD702 Maxis
Cooking Surface: 724 square inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime on ceramic, 5 years for metal components, 3 years on side shelves and handles, 1 year for cover and temperature gauge
Standout Features of the XD702 Maxis
- Available in Gunmetal Gray and White Finishes
- Includes a Built-in Electric Starter for Your Charcoal
- Able to be Converted for Use with Propane or Natural Gas
- Includes Lava Stone that Doubles as a Heat Deflector and Pizza Stone
- Two Tier Cooking Grates
You’ll recall mention of Vision Grills earlier when we brought up their hybrid kamado grills.
And folks… Here’s an excellent option to consider if you’re dead-set on a dual fuel solution.
The XD702 Maxis is Vision Grills’ best seller… With some features not seen in any other kamado.
This kamado comes with an 18.25” cooking grate, and a 724 square inch cooking area when both tiers are used.
As with the other brands… Vision has a tiered warranty offering.
You’ll see a limited lifetime warranty on the ceramic… With 5 year coverage on metal parts, 3 year coverage on side shelves and handles, 1 year for the cover and temperature gauge. The lava stone, electric starter, and Bakelite tab are covered for a period of 90 days.
Currently, you can purchase the XD702 on Amazon for $1,599.99.
Need a Better Place to Park Your Kamado?
No matter which kamado grill you buy… You’ll need a place to put it when the box is delivered.
You might already have an idea of where your kamado’s final resting place will be… But let’s leave you with a quick idea.
Why not incorporate your BBQ kamado grill into an outdoor kitchen?
Not only will that eliminate the need for a chintzy side table… The amount of counter space you will gain is nearly priceless!
There’s ample space to prep briskets, pork butts, and whatever else you need… Right outside.
Plus, an outdoor kitchen will beautify your backyard… And enhance the aesthetic appeal of your kamado as well.
To get a sense of what we’re talking about… Try our free online design tool, and we’ll go from there.