I am fascinated with kamado grills as well and I know your struggle all too well when it comes to purchasing a new kamado smoker. Just like in case of any other grill, you will find dozens of different ceramic grills on the market, which makes the final choice all the more difficult.
Choosing a new kamado gets complicated by the fact that the difference in their prices is very big. The cheapest kamado grill smokers cost from $100 to as much as few thousand dollars. So how to buy one that is 100% worth the price and will live up to your expectations?
First and foremost, you have to understand what you need a new kamado grill for and what is your budget, as in how much you are planning to spend on a new kamado. You have to know that a good kamado grill usually costs few hundred dollars.
Next take a look at the table below where you will find a list of the best kamado grills.
Remember! All the kamado grill reviews included in this article are objective and written based on my experience and tests.
I have selected kamado ceramic grills for you taking plenty of factors into account such as the price, the quality of workmanship, the size and the price to quality ratio.
My goal is to help you choose a grill that is worth the price and will live up to your expectations.
You don’t know much about kamado grills ?
That’s not a problem, in this article you will also learn how they are made, how to cook with them, what features to pay attention to before the purchase and you will also learn their upsides and downsides. That way you’ll see if a kamado grill fits your style of cooking and if you actually need it.
Best Kamado Grills 2018 - Comparison Table
Char-Griller Akorn Jr.
153 sq. in.
447 total sq. in.
Kamado Joe Classic II
660 total sq. in.
Pit Boss Kamado BBQ
570 sq. in.
How did I pick the best ones?
The first thing I do is analyzing the stores’ offers in order to find few grills ( in several price category ), that look promising. Then I move on to the practical tests, and finally I give the final rating.
The price range is huge which is why I created several categories so that everyone can find something for themselves.
Of course, at first the most important thing is comparing the key aspects of a grill. To do that, I check out the price, quality of workmanship, features, efficiency, durability and many other things in order to give the final rating.
Finally, the most important thing is the price to quality ratio, plenty of manufacturers offer a product that is overpriced. For an average client, it is hard to tell if a particular product is really worth its price. Which is why I analyze all the offers on the market in order to find the best kamado grill in several categories ( Budget, Portable, Upgrade Pick, Best Overall, High End etc ).
How I test ?
After spending many days analyzing the stores’ offers, I selected several most promising models, and then move on to the tests. While cooking on different kamado grills, I observed how each of them worked. I used different methods ( meat searing at low temperatures, roasting, grilling ) and cooked different types of meat on all the grills at the same time, later evaluating their level of being done and taste.
On top of that, I paid attention to many other details such as quality of workmanship in minor elements, screws or simply the overall structure. Another thing I paid attention to was assembly and functionality. Finally, when possible, I analyzed customer reviews for the customer service ( especially after the purchase when the device malfunctioned while still under the warranty ).
1. Upgrade Pick Kamado Joe Classic II
The king among kamado grills when it comes to quality of elements, durability, size and features.
Sadly, the price might be too high for many, but taking all the characteristics of this grill into account, I have to say that it is the best kamado grill, 100% worth its money.
In the competition between kamado joe and big green egg, Kamado Joe Classic II is definitely the winner ( I suggest watching the video in which you will see the differences between those popular grills ).
Of course, there is no difference in the flavor of food, but it wins the comparison if we take functionality and the quality of elements into account.
I know, the price is high, but it’s fully adequate to the quality and efficiency. If you’re looking for a high-quality kamado grill and price doesn’t matter to you, then just go ahead and take Kamado Joe Classic II, you will surely not regret it.
Quality elements and solutions in this ceramic grill make Kamado Joe Classic II the number one among kamados ( Updated April 2018 ).
Kamados are characterized by their large mass and weight, their cover is heavy which requires one to be careful when closing and opening it. When it comes to Kamado Joe Classic II, on the other hand, a supporting mechanism was introduced that makes it possible to safely lift the lid without using force even with just two fingers. Another upside is that when you let go off the lid, it stays in the same position instead of slamming hard, as is the case with the popular Green Egg.
The stainless steel grates offer a two position height adjustment. You can set two halves of the grates at two different heights which allows to cook at two different temperatures.
At the bottom you will find draft door that you can set in different positions, decreasing or increasing the air flow accordingly and controlling the temperature inside the grill securely. There’s a removable ash tray behind them that makes it possible to get rid of the ash quickly and easily.
Located on the top of the grill is a cap that makes it possible to control the air flow. It was made of cast aluminum which makes it much more durable ( aluminum is rust resistant ). The chimney cap allows for an easy several degree control of the air flow while also protecting the holes from water in case of rain. If you wish to increase the air flow to the max, it is possible to rotate the upper part of the chimney’s cap, revealing a big opening. The upper part can be removed any time without using any tools and washed.
For a precise temperature control inside the grill, you will find a thermometer at the center of the lid.
What is shipping and assembly like? The grill is fully assembled and professionally packed with all the covers that are good at protecting it from unwanted damage during transport. In my eyes it definitely beats Green Egg because all the little details were taken care of here, it is simply a kamado grill that is much better thought-out and better finished.
Despite its high price, it is most certainly worth your money. Efficiency, large cooking area, a supporting lid opening mechanism, and high quality of details all make it the best kamado grill. I think that you won’t find a better one – a high-quality product that is worth its price.
Of course I do understand that not everyone wants to spend this kind of money on a grill, which is why you should check my other mid-tier and budget kamado grill reviews.
2. Best Budget Char-Griller Akorn Jr.
Is it possible to buy a kamado grill smoker for a little less than 200 dollars that is cheap, durable and efficient at the same time? I used to think it was impossible, but I was very wrong when I saw Char-Griller Akorn Jr.
The cooking area is 153 square inches, is it not enough? It depends, but I do know that for most people it will be enough as long as you don’t cook for a large group of people at a big party ( it is more than enough for 1-3 people ).
Char-Griller Akorn Jr. is very economical, it uses very small amounts of charcoal during regular cooking.
I am also very surprised when it comes to temperature. It can hold temperature within the range of 200 all the way up to 700 degrees F.
Remember that the price of this grill is really low, so you can’t expect miracles or features that are present in much more expensive models. When purchasing a relatively cheap product, you have to get prepared for some barely relevant downsides that lower the comfort of cooking to a small degree when compared to other high-quality kamado grills. I’d like to point out, however, that Char-Griller Akorn Jr is most certainly a very good grill, ( undoubtedly a great one for this kind of money )
The structure was made of high-quality steel, the inside is porcelain-covered steel, whereas the external side is finished with powder-painted steel.
The assembly isn’t particularly difficult, the instruction makes everything clear.
Temperature control isn’t complicated here, air vents are located on the top and on the bottom. Also located on the bottom is the ash collector, which can be removed after unscrewing it.
The solid, short legs are great at keeping your kamado grill in the right position. The total weight isn’t big, which also makes it one of the few kamado grills that can be brought along, like when going camping. You will find big and durable handles on either side that make it possible to easily move the grill from place to place.
In conclusion, it’s a very good, small ( and portable as well ) Kamado Kooker Grill and Smoker for a low price. Of course you can’t expect it to be a top tier grill in terms of workmanship, as it’s not possible at this kind of price. I can honestly say, though, that it’s a very well built grill that is efficient and worth its money.
A great choice for those with lower budget who can’t afford something like the phenomenal Kamado Joe Classic II.
3. Best Overall Char-Griller Akorn
Another Kamado Kooker Grill and Smoker from Char-Griller. This one is also made of steel which has its downsides and upsides. It warms up definitely faster and is lighter than a ceramic kamado, but the downside is its durability due to being made of steel.
It is not a perfect grill, but for this kind of price it’s a very good choice for beginners, unlike spending 800-1500~ dollars on their first kamado.
If you fall in love with the kamado style and learn how to cook with it, you can later easily spend a lot of money on a high-quality kamado smoker that will serve you for many years without causing problems.
Obviously, the price is much lower than for high quality ceramic kamado grills ( several times lower ), which makes it a great choice for those with lower budget who want to have a good quality, efficient kamado grill for a small price.
Efficiency and functionality are at a satisfying (high) level, close to the high-quality ceramic grills for more than one thousand dollars ( Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe Classic II ).
Adjustable dampers on the top and the bottom allow for an easy temperature control. Char-Griller Akorn is great at maintaining temperature within the range of 200-700 degrees F.
Inside, you will find area of 314 square inches plus 133 square inches of a heated rack that you can take out any moment.
On top of that, you also have two foldable shelves at your disposal as well as ability to move your grill around, as it’s equipped with two 8 inch wheels.
Metal Char-Griller Akorn is a good choice for 5-15 years if you’re looking for something really decent and durable ( eternal even ), I’m talking about a genuine ceramic kamado grill, you’ll have to pay several times as much, like Kamado Joe Classic II which costs more than $1000, but remember that you get what you pay for.
Which is why I stand by my opinion that Char-Griller Akorn is a very good and efficient grill that is an undisputed winner at this price range in every regard.
4. Also Good Pit Boss Ceramic BBQ Grill
Last but not least is the Pit Boss ceramic grill, its price is quite high due to it being ceramic. Ceramics are the best at holding heat while also being very efficient in terms of charcoal consumption, but why is it the last on my list?
Well, there are several things here that could have been done much better ( like the brackets that hold the side shelves in place being kind of low quality ).
However, after thinking it over, there’s no point being nit-picky, as the best high-quality kamado grills with all the details taken care of cost twice as much as Pit Boss.
The most important thing is that Pit Boss is an efficient ceramic grill with favorable reviews and large cooking area. There are two-level cast iron grates available with different possible configurations with the total cooking area of whole 567 square inches.
All the elements such as screws or hinges are made of stainless steel. The side shelves are durable and foldable.
Another advantage are foldable wooden side shelves that are not only pretty but also offer plenty of space to prepare food.
On the top of the grill, there’s a durable cast iron top tamper that allows to easily control the air flow, right below it you’ll find a thermometer that monitors the temperature inside the grill.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune ( at least $1000 ) on a new ceramic kamado grill then it’s a good choice. One big advantage of ceramics is rust resistance. All the cheaper grills made of steel are prone to rusting which shortens their durability. Another advantage is better heat holding and control.
Overall, I would recommend this kamado smoker, it may not be perfect (a small percentage of clients complained about poor quality of certain elements), but the quality to price ratio is decent here. If you don’t want to spend twice as much buying a ceramic grill, choose Pit Boss.
Buyer’s Guide – Several facts on Kamado
What are Kamado Grills ? BBQ Guys have prepared a detailed description of their history for you, as well as what modern kamado-style grills are like today. I invite you to read this short yet detailed article where you will also learn how a kamado grill works.
When you’re looking for your first kamado grill at a store, you see models that cost $300 as well as ones that cost more than $1000. A price this high seems crazy at first which is why most people pick the cheaper models. However, once you fall in love with the kamado cooking style, you will definitely want to buy a durable high-quality kamado grill in the future, and when you do, the high price ( over $800-$1500 ) will not be something shocking when for a product that can truly last forever.
Why Kamado Smoker & Grill ?
Among all grills, kamado definitely handles heat holding the best.
Now time for the few downsides
What to pay attention to?
If you want a durable kamado that will be an investment for years to come, you should pick a ceramic kamado cooker ( the downside is the price being at least twice as high compared to a steel kamado as well as much bigger weight ), whereas the upside is the fact that the ceramics are rust resistant and much better at holding heat.
As you can see, each material has its upsides and downsides. Let me add that a small steel kamado is a good choice if you’re often on the move with your grill. Ceramics are rust resistant and can be kept outside, but the downside is fragility and the risk of cracks upon impact, like when moving the grill around from place to place.
My advice – If you’re the kind of person who’s only starting their adventure with Kamado then the best choice will be to buy a steel kamado, which is several times cheaper than a ceramic kamado. For instance, Char-Griller Akorn or the slightly smaller Char-Griller Akorn Jr model.
That way you won’t spend a fortune and you’ll have a good kamado grill for many years. If you fall in love with the kamado cooking style and feel like you need something better, then you can buy a much more expensive ceramic kamado that costs several times as much.