Kamado grills have been around since about 980 B.C., and we’re still using them—nearly 3,000 years later—because if it isn’t broke, then there’s no need to fix it.
Do you want to get true, authentic grilled flavor like nobody else?
Your neighbor Mike is sucking up gas fumes with his chops, while you could be enjoying seared-to-perfection steak over a roaring fire, trapped in a ceramic bowl.
Kamados make the best ceramic grill variants on the market, primarily because they’re heavy as can be.
The best Kamado grill is going to easily be over a hundred pounds (our top pick is 250 lbs), and it’s going to last you a lifetime.
This is something you can pass down to your children.
If you’re ready for the most absurdly mouth-watering food you’ve ever made over an open flame, then let me introduce you to our top Kamados.
The 5 Best Kamado Grills
Kamado Joe Classic II Ceramic and Charcoal Grill
There’s nothing quite like Kamado Joe, and among all their units, the Classic II has to be the very best.
Kamados have a long history, and in that history, they were the most effective methods of cooking at the time, but they definitely had flaws.
Kamado Joe has a seal along the center of the grilling area, made of fiberglass mesh, to lock all that heat in during your cooking time.
Fiberglass mesh is built to last for an insanely long time.
I would wager that you may have to replace this gasket once every five years, which is pretty darn good.
It protects the two halves from crashing down on one another and causing damage.
Now, no Kamado grill review would be complete if I didn’t boast about how hot this thing can get: 750° F, which is arguably more than you’re ever going to need in your backyard.
Manipulate the two half-moon metal racks on the inside to reside at different heights, so you can keep some things closer to the flames than others.
Through all of my pickiness and being very thorough while testing this grill, I really tried to find some pitfalls.
A few issues here and there to let you know about. With the grill itself, there’s nothing that I disliked about it or found to be inadequate.
However, there are plenty of stories online about people receiving their Classic II, and seeing chips in the frame or having bent grates that come along with it.
This is always a shipment issue, not a manufacturing issue. It’s why I urge you to look over the included warranty.
The warranty is basically the stuff dreams are made out of.
You get a limited lifetime warranty on all ceramic parts, up to five years on metal parts and deflectors, and a year on the gasket and thermometer.
Built-in thermometers aren’t made to last forever, but even so, this one is a stupendous quality.
I didn’t receive a cracked deflector plate, I had no dents, and the package was handled with care.
But it was a 285-pound package, and we don’t have the Hulk delivering our stuff to us.
I just recommend that you vigorously inspect the entire grill after you open it to ensure there are no problems during shipment.
|Grilling Area:||255 square inches|
|Dimensions:||26.4” x 26.4” x 36”|
|Warranty:||5-year on metal, 3-year on deflector/stone, 1-year on gasket and thermometer|
Kamado Joe Big Joe II Charcoal Grill
Another Kamado cooker from Kamado Joe?
Yeah, it’s a little hard to stay away from when you know they produce the best of the best.
Kamados aren’t cheap, and I’ll kick this off by saying they charge a lot for this grill.
It’s an investment, it’s that last grill you ever want to buy so you don’t have to worry about replacements in five years.
Any Kamado style grill is going to be heavy.
Even when you get down to the bottom of the list to a lightweight model we have in store for you, it’s still 90 pounds.
This grill, on its own, weighs 270 pounds. It’s a big boy, and it’s because the capacity is much larger than the standard Classic II.
With that, you get some problems.
The cooking area that’s nearly double the size of the Classic II is nice, but it takes a lot of fuel to heat it up.
This is something you have to attribute more charcoal to, which can up the total fuel cost of each grilling session.
However, if the Classic II is too small for you because you regularly entertain, then you’re already accounting on increased charcoal costs.
Much like with the Classic II, Kamado Joe is going to ensure you have a limited lifetime warranty on the ceramic sections and up to five years on some other parts.
One of the most beloved Kamado Joe features is the fiberglass gasket.
It’s not only extremely effective at locking the heat in, but it has an average of a five-year lifespan and can last up to a decade if you aren’t too rough on it.
It helps support the air latch to easily raise your lid without hassle, alleviating up to 96% of the actual weight of the lid during lifting.
You can use one finger and raise the lid. Shipping concerns are the same, though.
There are plenty of stories of these arriving with cracks or damaged parts and broken reflector plates.
There are no manufacturing defects, just shipment problems.
The funny thing is, Amazon actually handles these packages better than Kamado Joe’s own delivery team down, which is a bit odd.
You can scour the internet yourself and find countless people discussing that Amazon’s delivery teams handle this with more care.
|Grilling Area:||452 square inches|
|Dimensions:||33.5” x 33.5” x 39.4”|
|Warranty:||Five-year warranty on some components|
Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill
Weber is one of the kings of the grilling scene.
You know that I know that, but what I did not expect was for them to make a Kamado style grill that performs so effectively while offering a good amount of cooking surface.
You get 363 square inches of cooking space and a rather short lid height, so the temperature rises fairly quickly.
When it comes to ventilation on the lid, it’s right under the handle, which can really heat it up.
You’re going to need a mitt if you want to pop the top on this Kamado.
But there’s more to this than just the grill itself.
You get a fair deal of workspace on the right, which makes prepping and laying food down on the grill a lot easier.
Underneath, there’s a black plastic bin that you can tilt outward to pull charcoal out of.
At the end of the day though, the best thing about this grill has to be the One-Touch cleaning system.
In the basin at the bottom, you can just pull the lever to the right, then back to the left, and a fan-style series of blades allows all the charcoal to drop down into a removable bin.
Simply unhinge the bucket and pull it out, and voila; you can dump your charcoal with ease.
In the spirit of slow cooking your food, as Kamados are often used for the interior grate system makes a circle around the actual charcoal pit.
That charcoal pit is arranged very evenly into sections so that your charcoal can burn in the most efficient way possible.
There’s no need to use a spatula and flip your charcoal or make fire zones here; it’s basically all done for you.
There is one issue with those big, bulky back wheels. They’re plastic, and easy to break, especially since this is a 90-pound grill we’re talking about.
While there’s no presence of stone or ceramic-like there is with a traditional Kamado grill, it’s still very effective at keeping the heat in.
Last but not least, if you don’t feel like putting this together by yourself (and I can’t blame you for that), you’re granted free expert assembly at checkout.
While most of the time it ends up costing you 30% of the sticker price of whatever you’re buying, someone will assemble this for you, and it won’t cost you a penny.
Just be sure to have a good workspace for them when they show up with your grill.
|Type:||Charcoal and gas|
|Grilling Area:||363 square inches|
|Dimensions:||30” x 48” x 43.5”|
|Warranty:||10-year on the bowl, 5-year on One-Touch cleaning system, 5-year on plastics|
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
Char-Griller isn’t the first brand you would think of when it comes to Kamado grills, but they did a bang-up job when they made the E16620 Ceramic BBQ.
First of all, you get an agreeable cooking surface of 314 square inches, giving you enough space to cook for a medium-sized party of people, or just throw some steak and chops on the grates for yourself.
However, the side shelves on this grill are laughable.
They work to hold one standard plate on them, but that’s not really enough to make it groundbreaking.
They do have a couple of utensil hooks on the underside though, which makes them a little more useful.
The weird slats in the top of the tables seem like they’re supposed to help hold onto stoneware plates, but it’s just another spot for food to get stuck in.
When it comes to the actual grill itself, it’s the perfect go-between if you can’t afford a Kamado Joe, and you don’t want to go back to your kettle-style charcoal grill.
With a locking lid and easy raise, it’s simple to pop this open and take full advantage of the 22 gauge stainless steel grates.
I would argue that one of the best parts about cooking on this grill is that these grates leave diamond marks like nothing else.
Heat rises from the central charcoal bed in the bottom and circulates through your Kamado, giving you immediate heat when you need it most.
If you’re struggling to maintain the temperature in your Kamado, the ventilation shafts at the bottom make for an easy way to add oxygen, while the small chimney at the top works great to alleviate the heat.
Very simple operation, very easy to use.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the stand.
It’s decent, has a spot to store your spare charcoal, but the main front wheels are intentionally misaligned.
They’re on their axel the right way, but if you look at how the poles tilt inward slightly to rise up to the actual charcoal basin, it’s not good.
Moving this or nudging it from the side is going to put immense pressure on the wheels.
I would use the smaller back wheels to kick the brake on, and just leave it where it is.
|Grilling Area:||447 square inches|
|Dimensions:||26.6” x 24.8” x 21.6”|
|Warranty:||One-year warranty from purchase date|
Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill
As the best budget Kamado grill, you’re going to see some trade-offs, but it will keep more green in your pocket.
Made with steel and ceramic, it weighs about 90 pounds, giving you a hefty load to move around, but something that you could bring tailgating with you if you really wanted.
And moving it around it pretty easy.
The big wheels are nice and flush with the curved legs, and the third leg acts as a great break with its rubber cap.
Working from the outside in, you get a latch on the tue cooking chamber, a handle that’s perfectly placed, a built-in thermometer, and a thick, durable side shelf.
Your double steel wall keeps all the heat in, while the ventilation shaft at the top will help alleviate that heat if it gets too hot.
It’s a very solid design, so you might have to toy around with how quickly it heats up if you’re used to standard kettle grills.
Cleanup isn’t easy, but it’s for a good reason.
You have to wait for this to cool down before you can remove the grate, reach down, and pull the ash pan up.
That’s because vents on the bottom tend to leak air in and ruin the Kamado experience.
The other problem that this creates is that you have to pop the entire lid open just to add some more oxygen in here.
You should start using this with an open lid and let the fire breathe a bit before shutting it.
Additionally, there’s a separate drip pan for your grease, but it’s not going to catch everything.
Your side shelf is excellent, and the hooks underneath even work well without getting in your way.
They’re not dangling S-shaped hooks like most of these grills have.
Overall, a solid Kamado without paying the big bucks.
|Grilling Area:||327 square inches|
|Dimensions:||27.1” x 43.8” x 45.8”|
Kamado Grill Buying Guide and FAQ
Are Kamado Grills Worth It?
Kamado grills will outlast your entire family.
They’ve been unearthed nearly 3,000 years after they were initially used in China, and you know what?
You could still light those bad boys up and throw a party. They’re still going to work.
The modern Kamado grill is made up of ceramic as a coating on the inside, but on the inside, it’s comprised of concrete, lava rocks (I’m not kidding), terra cotta, and other materials that repel heat to maintain it in the confines of the grill.
The only way to really mess up a Kamado grill is by dropping it on the stony ground (which might not even break it) or intentionally demolishing it with a sledgehammer.
Other than that, you’re good to go.
What are the Benefits of a Kamado Grill Over a Regular Grill?
The entire cooking system is different.
Yes, there’s a live charcoal fire in the bottom with a grate, but the way oxygen feeds the flame is different, which makes for a different cooking experience.
- Oxygen Vents: Many kettle-style charcoal grills have an air vent system in the bottom so that you can feed oxygen to the charcoal. Those will burn about 400° F to 500° F, but with a Kamado running much hotter, it sucks up the oxygen and spikes the heat much faster.
- They’re Actually Easier to Open: Any modern Kamado grills, such as the Kamado Joe Classic II, will have an easy opening system. Look, these grills are insanely heavy, but air levers on the hinges make it easy to prop these open with one finger. They’re just easier to operate.
- Doubles as a Smoker: You aren’t just grilling here, you also have a smoker if that’s what you want. Just don’t allow too much oxygen to enter the charcoal basin, and you can keep the temperature range from 200° F to about 225° F, which is the optimal temperature for smoking foods.
- Lasts a Lifetime: You’re going to really try to break these. If you get a Kamado with a sealed exterior, and not just bare stone, I don’t think you could break it if you tried. These are something you can pass down to your children, and enjoy for decades to come in the meantime.
How Hot Does a Kamado Grill Get?
A kamado, or a ceramic smoker grill, as some call them, is designed to retain an insane amount of heat.
You’re supposed to be able to cook food in these with such lightning-fast results, you wonder what else you could do with it.
Kamados can get around 800° F—roughly 300° F hotter than most conventional ovens in homes across America.
Is that not insane to you?
The way the heat reflects off the ceramic and is insulated by the stone helps build a fire that rages on.
You’re always going to see people on online forums saying “Well, I got mine to 809° F using this super crazy method,” and junk like that.
Learn to control the air vents, use good fuel, and if you can get it over 500° F on your own, you’re doing a damn good job.
You’re the Kamado Commander
Kamado grills are basically your ultimate way to grill with no stops—make an all-day buffet, keep the fire roaring so you can stay warm by the porch on a cold summer’s night.
They’re ultra-heavy and heavy-duty grills that aren’t going to fail you; there’s a reason that this grill style is still around after all these years.
For the next step in your grilling voyage, it’s Kamado or nothing.
Last update on 2021-04-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API