The 9 Best Kamado Grills for Slow-Cooked Excellence

Kamado-Grills

If you’re looking for one of the most versatile grilling experiences, there is very little to beat one of the best kamado grills.

Fueled by charcoal, these hybrid grill/smokers have been popular in principle for thousands of years.

Typically made from ceramic, these grills have exceptional insulative properties. This leads to them performing very strongly when you’re smoking meats and other dishes.

Where a charcoal smoker is much more limited, though, a kamado grill also allows you to roast and grill, as well as whipping up a pizza when you get the feel for Italian.

The kamado concept originated in the far east, with the Indian tandoor oven also using the same core principle.

As WWII was ending, kamado grills started penetrating the United States.

The trademark egg shape and thick, highly insulated walls keep all the heat locked in, as well as all of the moisture.

Fuel goes into the cooking chamber. Once ignited and ablaze, add the racks and accessories, then layer your food on the cast iron or stainless steel grate. The food will sit a little further from the coals than with other methods like charcoal grilling.

You can adjust the air intake on kamado grills using a vent at the top and the bottom of the unit. Once you achieve your desired temperatures, these grills will efficiently maintain that temperature with very little fluctuation.

Now, while buying a kamado grill isn’t the most taxing decision, there are nevertheless a few pointers worth considering on the buying trail. Keep your eyes peeled for these elements:

  • Size: Think closely about how many people you’ll regularly cook for to better inform your decision concerning the size of the grills on your shortlist. If you need split-zone cooking or you plan to frequently have larger cookouts, we have plenty of beefy kamados for you to choose from. If you need to cook for fewer mouths or you need a portable grill for tailgating, camping, and fishing, we have plenty of suitable models for you, too. Total cooking surface area is expressed in terms of square inches. We include this for each of the kamado grills on our shortlist to make your life easier
  • Materials: Most kamado grills are made from ceramic with a porcelain treatment. Increasingly, you find kamado grills made from stainless steel
  • Aesthetics: While design is not the most vital aspect of your buying decision, you should invest in a grill you like the look of. After all, many of the more expensive kamado grills can last a lifetime, so why compromise on something ugly?
  • Cooking grates: Enameled steel, 304 stainless steel, and cast iron are all great materials of cooking grates. Make sure these are hinged to promote easy access to the area underneath
  • Top vents: Double wheels on the top vents will help to adjust the temperature with even more precision

OK, with that simple framework in place, you should be perfectly placed to explore the best kamado grills at a variety of price points. See which, if any, of these versatile grills makes the right fit for your patio, decking, or back yard.

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I. The 9 Best Kamado Grills

1. Our #1 Pick: Kamado Joe Classic Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Kamado-Joe-KJ23RHC-Classic-II-Ceramic-Charcoal-Grill

  • Diameter: 18 inches
  • Total cooking area: 245 square inches
  • Dimensions: 26.4 x 26.4 x 36 inches

Kamado Joe is an industry specialist as their name makes abundantly clear. Does this grill live up to the hype and the price tag, though?

Firstly, there are several iterations of this grill. This is the Classic II that comes without the cover available on the range-topping model.

You benefit from a tiered cooking system, maximizing your options when you’re rustling up your favorite grilled snacks. Total cooking surface area is reasonably spacious at 245 square inches, but it’s not the largest grill in this class. If you frequently embark on substantial cookouts for lots of guests, you may want to consider one of the beefier grills on our shortlist.

You can control the temperature using the vent located on top of the unit. This is easy to use and allows you to achieve a consistent temperature so you can focus on cooking. From smoking at 225F through to searing your steaks at 750F, you have all based covered for your next cookout.

The nifty air lift hinge allow you to lift the lid of this grill with one finger, ideal for removing the hassle out of grilling.

Keeping this thing clean is super-simple. Wash the grates with some warm soapy water and allow them to air dry. The ash pan is removable, so ditch the contents and replace.

The multi-paneled design of the firebox improves lifespan and complete a winning package from an industry specialist. Kamado Joe grills are certainly not cheap, but they set the standard others follow.

While the bulk of user testimony concerning this spacious kamado grill is positive, we found some complaints concerning the quality of customer service.

Things We Like

  • Multi-tier cooking system
  • Airtight seal
  • Precise airflow management

Things We Dislike

  • Customer service is questionable

2. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller-E16620-Akorn-Kamado-Charcoal-Grill

  • Diameter: 22 inches
  • Total cooking area: 447 square inches
  • Dimensions: 26.6 x 24.8 x 21.7 inches

Char-Griller is a highly reputable brand in this space with a deep bench of grills from smokers and charcoal grills through to this classic Akorn kamado grill. If you’re ready to embrace the challenges this cooking method presents, what do you get for your money here?

This grill is aesthetically pleasing. Now, while you’re not buying a grill primarily for its good looks, it doesn’t hurt to inject some style into your patio or decking rather than settling for a sub-par hunk of metal cluttering up the space.

Fortunately, it’s not a case of form over function either. Of the several iterations available, this is the combined grill and smoker.

For such a compact and reasonably lightweight unit, you get a surprisingly spacious total cooking area of 447 square inches. Even though this is not the biggest grill out there, it’s more than fit for purpose for larger families.

Mounted on a steel cart with wheels, you can move this grill around without undue effort. The wheels lock into place for safety’s sake.

With triple-walled insulation locking the heat in, you can easily manipulate the temperature of this grill from 200F for smoking duties up to 700F when you need to sear some steaks.

There’s a removable warming rack so you can keep everything ready to serve at its very best.

Constructed throughout from 22-gauge steel, and equipped with folding side shelves and plenty of utensil hooks, this is one of the best budget kamado grills and it comes from an industry heavyweight, too.

Things We Like

  • Seamless temperature control
  • Rugged steel construction
  • Removable warming rack

Things We Dislike

  • Some reported issues with build quality

3. Char-Griller Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller-E06614-Charcoal-Grill,-Red

  • Diameter: 14 inches
  • Total cooking area: 153 square inches
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 21.5 x 25.3 inches

Another entry from the hard-hitting Char-Griller stable up next with this classic charcoal grill. This is the bright red iteration of the iconic Akorn kamado grill, so how does it shape up?

The ceramic construction ensures the heat is locked inside and optimally retained. The triple-walled insulation further enhances cooking performance.

Now, this is not the biggest kamado grill out there. The primary cast iron cooking grate measures up at 153 square inches, so this is a great fit for smaller families, couples, or singles. It’s worth adding that this compact nature turns into a benefit if you want a portable grill for camping, fishing, or tailgating.

Firing this grill up couldn’t be easier, and once you’re up and running, you can adjust the temperature from 200F through 700F, offering you total flexibility. There is a damper situated on top of the grill to permit this, and there’s also a temperature gauge so you can cook with confidence and precision.

The removable ash pan allows you to quickly and seamlessly dispose of the spent charcoal.

Made throughout from rugged materials built to stay the distance, you should get years of faithful service from this grill.

The squat and sturdy legs on this grill offer you a wonderfully stable base of operations.

From smoking to grilling to searing, you get everything you need and nothing you don’t with this affordable, durable kamado grill from Char-Griller.

Things We Like

  • Triple-walled insulation
  • Tweak temperature from 200F to 700F
  • Easy to dispose of ash pan contents

Things We Dislike

  • Some issues with rusting

4. Kamado Joe Big Joe II Charcoal Grill

Kamado-Joe-BJ24RHC-Big-Joe-II-Charcoal-Grill

  • Diameter: 24 inches
  • Total cooking area: 452 square inches
  • Dimensions: 33.5 x 33.5 x 39.4 inches

If you have deep pockets and demanding tastes, the Kamado Joe Big Joe II is a strong contender for the best kamado grill out there. How does it stack up?

The aluminum build of this grill differentiates it from much of the opposition. Kamado Joe manages to pull this off, though. Hear retention is first-rate.

The cooking surface is commercial-grade and heavy-duty stainless steel. Your food won’t get stuck all over and the grate is very easy to keep clean. It won’t rust or degrade over time either.

Kamado Joe’s pioneering Divide and Conquer cooking system gives you split-level convenience and the ability to whip up multiple dishes simultaneously.

If you use natural lump charcoal in this grill, you’ll impart a trademark smoked taste to your food that’s impossible to achieve with a propane grill.

A few users have reported difficulties with temperature adjustment, but the vast bulk of user feedback is positive. As long as you can afford it, a Kamado Joe should last a lifetime when properly maintained. Consider this an investment rather than an expense.

The unique design of the firebox with multiple panels extends its lifespan and improved efficiency.

Whether you like to smoke, grill, bake, or all three, the Kamado Joe Big Joe II gives you a sprawling 452 square inch cooking surface and a traditional kamado grill that will stay the course. Why not treat yourself and the family this summer?

Things We Like

  • Multi-piece firebox
  • Divide and conquer cooking system
  • Mesh gasket imparts airtight seal

Things We Dislike

  • Quite awkward to adjust temperature

5. Vision Grills Ceramic Kamado Grill

VISION-Grills-Ceramic-Kamado-(Large,-Black-Bundle)

  • Diameter: 19 inches
  • Total cooking area: 604 square inches
  • Dimensions: 32.5 x 28.8 x 47 inches

Vision Grills is an upcoming brand with an impressive stable of grills. How does this ceramic kamado stand out?

You’ll first need to choose from a variety of sizes to suit. We like this degree of flexibility. This is the Large model with a huge cooking surface area of over 600 square inches. If this black colorway doesn’t appeal, there are five alternatives.

The dual flip grates give you plenty of latitude to cook a variety of meats, burgers, and sausages at the same time. These are made from stainless steel so lifespan and build quality is uppermost.

You can fine-tune the temperature when you’re cooking with the grilling knobs allowing you precise control. The inbuilt thermometer lets you keep a close eye on the temperature without breaking your stride.

A nice bonus is the completely natural cooking stone included, widening your options further and allowing you to whip up some lip-smacking pizza just the way the Italians cook them.

With an electric starter port baked in, you won’t be standing on ceremony when it comes to firing up this kamado grill. Slide your starter straight into the port and you’re away in an instant.

A pair of wooden shelves slide up and down so you have space for prepping salads or for placing food that’s plated up and ready to serve.

The cart is designed not to easily topple over when you’re cooking up a storm and the overall build quality means this grill should be part of the family for some time to come. All that remains is to choose which color makes the best fit for your yard.

Things We Like

  • Multiple sizes and colorways
  • Natural lava stone
  • Expansive cooking surface area

Things We Dislike

  • Gasket is weak point

6. Weber Summit Kamado Grill

Weber-18201001-Summit-Kamado-E6-Charcoal-Grill

  • Diameter: 24 inches
  • Total cooking area: 529 square inches
  • Dimensions: 30.6 x 36.8 x 29.3 inches

Weber has a hard-won reputation for producing first-class grills at a highly affordable price point. This spacious kamado grill continues that tradition in fine style.

You can maneuver the cooking grate into two different positions, allowing you to cook low and slow or searing hot to suit. These stainless steel grates shouldn’t end up splattered with food, and they’re built to last without rusting, too.

The one-touch cleaning system further streamlines running this thing. Remove the ash catcher and ditch the contents and you’re good to go.

The dampers let you precisely manipulate temperature, making this one of the more beginner-friendly kamado grills.

There’s a diffuser plate included to help you when you’re smoking. You can remove this with ease if you need to sear some steaks. The overall experience is super-flexible.

The cooking area is generous and you should be able to cater for guests with ease next time you break out the BBQ.

Dual-walled insulation keeps all the heat locked inside tenderizing, smoking, or searing your meat rather than dissipating into the atmosphere.

Weber products are always consistently well-reviewed and we found very few complaints concerning this grill. That said, a few disgruntled consumers report poor customer service experiences.

Things We Like

  • Steel with porcelain enamel coating
  • One-touch cleaning system
  • Impeccable brand heritage

Things We Dislike

  • Customer service could be improved

7. Broil King Kamado Grill

Broil-King-911470-Keg-5000-Kamado-Grill

  • Diameter: 18.5 inches
  • Total cooking area: 480 square inches
  • Dimensions: 41 x 27.5 x 47 inches

Broil King makes some great grills, and this dinky kamado grill is ideal for use in the yard or on the road.

If you’re looking for a massive grill for a big family, this is not for you and we would advise exploring some of the beefier units on our shortlist. If you need a portable grill and you’re cooking for a small family, on the other hand, the Broil King kamado make a neat fit.

Measuring 18.5 inches across and with a cooking surface area totaling 480 square inches, you can rustle up a variety of burgers, meats, and sausages along with anything else that takes your fancy.

Made from highly insulating steel and with cast iron and aluminum throughout, this efficient grill will help you get better results with less fuel for the double-win.

There is a swing-away secondary cooking rack to expand your options and there are also foldable wooden shelves to simplify food prep and help you arrange everything you need at hand.

Cleaning the grill is quick and easy with a removable ash pan and grates that won’t end up smeared with food debris.

While this is a large and heavy grill, the mobility cart bundled turns it into a great portable grilling solution.

The body of this grill is guaranteed for a class-leading 10 years, while the parts and paint are covered for 2 years. You really can’t ask for much more than this and it shows the confidence the manufacturer places in this grill.

Things We Like

  • Swing-out secondary rack
  • Quick and easy to clean
  • 10-year limited warranty

Things We Dislike

  • The sealing is weak

8. Vision Grills Ceramic Kamado Grill

VISION-Grills-Ceramic-Kamado-(Compact,-Orange)

  • Diameter: 19 inches
  • Total cooking area: 214 square inches
  • Dimensions: 25 x 22 x 21 inches

As we near the end of our quest for the best kamado grill, we have another iteration of the Vision Grills kamado finished in a striking orange. If you want an extra splash of color on your decking or patio this summer, what else do you get for your investment?

In terms of pricing, this kamado sits roughly in the mid-range. It’s not cheap, but it’s nowhere near the price of a Kamado Joe. Overall value is excellent.

This is a compact grill, so if you’re looking to whip up a feast for a large gathering, there are plenty of superior options on our shortlist. If you’ve been hunting for a portable grill for trips fishing, camping, or tailgating, on the other hand, this could be the perfect solution.

The color-coded dial helps you to seamlessly cook a variety of dishes with precision.

Twin-layered stainless steel cooking grates give you plenty of flexibility, even if the total surface area is minimal. For smaller cookouts, this is a non-issue.

The lava stone bundled allows you to smoke your food with indirect heat.

Some customers report having problems manipulating the temperature on this grill, but the overall flavor of user feedback is positive. This is one of the best kamado grills out there if you don’t mind the relatively limited size and cooking surface area.

Things We Like

  • Split level cooking system
  • Portable and compact
  • Eye-catching aesthetics

Things We Dislike

  • Temperature maintenance is tough

9. Pit Boss Kamado BBQ Grill

Pit-Boss-71220-Kamado-BBQ-Ceramic-Grill-Cooker

  • Diameter: 22 inches
  • Total cooking area: 662 square inches
  • Dimensions: 45.9 x 29.1 x 52 inches

Pit Boss delivers a classic kamado BBQ grill that’s well worth adding to your shortlist if you’re hunting for a traditional and spacious ceramic cooker.

The first thing that strikes you is the generous total cooking surface area on offer. You can cook over two levels and a total area of 662 square inches, so you’ll have ample space to rustle up food for the whole family, as well as any guests.

The outside of this grill is finished in a premium ceramic. This is coated with a glossy black treatment and accented with steel trim.

With the perfect cooking environment in place, once you load this thing up with charcoal, you’ll find it easy to control the temperature as you cook. There is a cast iron tamper on top of the unit. Manipulating the airflow using this allows you to stay in precise control up to 700F. You can keep your eye on the temperature thanks to the analog gauge baked in.

Neat bamboo shelves fold down on the sides giving you more space for prepping food or salads.

Hardware is impressive and durable throughout. The lid is heavy and comes with a fire-proof edge for your peace of mind.

While this is a heavy and bulky unit that works best when permanently set up on the decking or patio, the wheels underneath mean you can shift the grill around without straining yourself.

Overall, this is one of the best kamado grills on a budget and it comes from a highly reputable brand. What’s not to love?

Things We Like

  • Expansive cooking surface area
  • Easy and efficient control of airflow
  • Bamboo side shelves fold down

Things We Dislike

  • Brackets are weak and flimsy

II. FAQs

1) 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 you’re a complete beginner. To dial back the heat, you’ll need to master the art of temperature control. If you’re prepared to embrace a shallow learning curve, you’ll soon be smoking, slow cooking, grilling, and searing like a chef on your kamado.

2) Can I grill on a kamado?

As a general rule kamados work best when used as a smoker or an oven. Once they get hot, it takes some time for them to cool down, making them less suited to grilling. Creating a two-zone set-up can circumvent this, so if you’re planning to do a lot of grilling on your kamado, look for split-level grills.

3) How should I add charcoal to my kamado grill?

Start by making sure the firebox is clean. Choose between lump charcoal or briquettes. When you stack the coals, place them directly onto the fire grate. This should prevent any of the smaller pieces from falling down and blocking the airflow. Place the smaller lumps on top. If you have any coals left over, you can add these. There’s no need to completely fill the firebox. Add charcoal according to the length of the cook you have planned. When you’re starting out, be prepared to experiment until you can dial in the quantity you need.

4) How do I fire up my kamado grill?

Make sure you first open both the top and bottom vents. Pop a fire starter into the well. Light it until it is fully ablaze. Once this is burning, add some larger lumps of charcoal. Wait for some of these to start lighting up. Add the racks and accessories when the coals are glowing.

5) How can I adjust the vents on my kamado grill?

Close the lid of your kamado grill while ensuring the vents are completely open. Check the thermometer closely. Once the temperature dips 100F below your target, you can start closing the vents. Shutting the lower vent halfway should be enough to achieve this. As with all aspects of using a kamado grill, be prepared to spend some time experimenting at first until you’ve got things mastered. As you near your target temperature, make adjustments using the top vent.

6) What’s 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. You’ll 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 you’ll seldom achieve with a regular charcoal grill.

7) What is kamado flashback and is it dangerous?

Kamado flashback occurs when the charcoal in the grill is starved of oxygen. If the lid is opened, the ignition that occurs is called kamado flashback. It’s rare but worth taking precautions against by burping your kamado. Kamado flashback can be lethal.


III. Conclusion

Well, if you arrived here today at Madiba with no idea about how to compare the best kamado grills, you should now have plenty of options on your shortlist.

We’ve included grills at a range of sizes, from highly portable kamado grills to those suitable for large cookouts. We’ve also given you grills at a range of price points.

Take advantage of our impartial reviews and see if any of these kamados make the right fit for your yard this summer.

We’d ask you to bookmark our blog before you head off. Come back any time you need guidance on grilling and we’ll see you soon!

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