What Is the Best Kamado Grill in 2020? [29 Grills Reviewed]

Kamado grills represent a badge of honor among barbecue enthusiasts.

Their unique design, superb heat retention, and long history all contribute to their appeal.

If you’ve never tried your hand at kamado grilling, perhaps the time has come to broaden your horizons.

With the market so crowded, however, it can be difficult to narrow down your options.

Read on to find out how you can select the best Kamado grill to suit your lifestyle.

In a rush? Here are the winners:

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Everything You Need To Know About Kamado Grills

Even if you already have a working knowledge of kamado grills, there’s a good chance you have more to learn. When you’ve finished reading this section, you’ll have all the information you need to make the purchase that’s right for you.

What is a Kamado grill?

Kamado grills have been around for 3,000 to 4,000 years, with the earliest specimens hailing from China. The cooking technique eventually spread to other parts of Asia, and the word “kamado” is actually the Japanese term for “stove” or cooking place.” In fact, the literal translation is “a place for the cauldron,” and that’s what these units resemble more than anything.

An authentic kamado grill will feature a ceramic construction, an echo of the early models, which were made of clay. However, some modern manufacturers have swapped out this traditional material for the heavy-gauge steel that’s used to create many other grill types. While the steel units may not offer the same heat retention that’s typical of their ceramic counterparts, they tend to cost a great deal less. Since ceramics are naturally resistant to rust, however, a traditional kamado grill is built to last a lifetime. This helps to offset the higher price tag, especially for true kamado grilling enthusiasts.

Kamado grills use charcoal as their heat source, but some models make it possible for you to add wood chips for a more authentic flavor. As most grilling enthusiasts are aware, this method requires a degree of finesse, as well as patience. If you’re the type of griller who prefers the instant gratification of a gas-fired model, then a kamado grill might not be the best choice for you.

The oldest kamado grills were effective but rudimentary. Today’s versions offer a number of appealing features, such as improved airflow, ash removal systems, and locking lids to help hold in the heat. While the basic design has endured, modern technology has been kind to this grilling technique.

How Kamado grills work

When cooking over a kamado grill, the lid is typically closed. That’s because the best kamado grill will function more as an oven than as a typical charcoal-burning unit. You can still use the unit to grill burgers and dogs, but your range of options will be much broader than that.

Kamado grills are egg-shaped, with the fuel chamber located at the very bottom. The charcoal and wood chips are added to the base, with the fire ring and cooking grates positioned above. Many current models will feature more than one grilling grate, and they’ll be situated on multiple levels. This allows you to perform several cooking applications at once.

The bottom of the grill will have a built-in vent, with a damper on the lid. You can adjust the settings on each of these to help control the airflow. Once the fire is hot enough to cook, the interior of the grill will begin to reflect back the heat, allowing the ingredients to cook to uniform temperatures throughout.

Features to Look For in a Good Kamado Grill

Shopping for a kamado grill is slightly different than shopping for a traditional charcoal grill. In this section, we’ll clue you in on what features you should look for, and why.

Material

As we mentioned earlier, kamado grills are usually constructed using ceramics. This makes the units more resistant to rust and contributes to superior heat retention. If you decide to cut costs by purchasing a steel kamado grill instead, make sure to buy one that’s constructed of heavy-gauge steel (if advertised, the gauge should be 22 or lower), with stainless steel or cast iron grilling grates. If there’s a stand included, it should also be durable and rust-resistant, with quality components.

Construction

The thicker the walls, the better the heat retention will be. It may also increase the longevity of the unit, since a sturdier construction will make the ceramic more difficult to crack (see “Cons of Kamado Grills,” below). Bear in mind that thicker walls usually translate into higher costs, since these models are meant to last longer than their flimsier counterparts.

Vents and Dampers

The vent on the bottom and the damper on the lid should be easy to adjust, without sticking. It also helps if the handles are constructed of some type of heatproof material, so you can control the airflow without donning gloves or burning your hands.

Temperature Gauge

Since the lid will probably be closed while you’re cooking, it’s a good idea to have a built-in temperature gauge. Lifting the lid will allow heat to escape, thereby lowering the internal temperature of the grill. A visual display will let you know when you should adjust the dampers and vents without sacrificing heat.

Storage Space

Some kamado grills will come equipped with built-in shelves for prep or storage. Look for shelves that also offer tool hooks, so you won’t have to rest your grilling tongs awkwardly on a shelf or railing while you wait for the food to cook.

Warranty

The best kamado grill will be built to withstand years–perhaps even a lifetime–of regular use. Most manufacturers will stand behind this promise by offering a warranty on their product, often for at least ten years.

Before you buy, make sure you’re aware of the company’s guarantee, and familiarize yourself with what is or isn’t covered. For example, the main body of the grill might be covered for ten years, but the additional components might only be under warranty for three to five.

Pros of Kamado grills

Durability

By now, we should have made it very clear that kamado grills will typically outlast the competition. It might well be the last grill you ever buy, especially if you find yourself hooked on the tastiness of the results.

Heat Retention

The sturdy walls of a kamado grill are designed to hold in and reflect the heat, ensuring a thorough, even cook. A well-designed unit will have a temperature range of 200 to 750 degrees, making them suitable for everything from smoked pulled pork butt to Neapolitan-style pizzas.

Fuel Efficiency

Superb heat retention translates into maximum fuel efficiency. When you purchase a kamado grill, you’ll find yourself spending less money on charcoal than you would with a regular steel grill. Over time, this benefit helps to justify the higher cost, especially if the unit lasts as long as it should.

Versatility

Since the temperature range on a kamado grill is so broad, you’ll be able to experiment with cooking techniques that you might never have considered. In addition to simple grilling, you can use these grills for smoking, braising, roasting, and baking. In essence, you can use your kamado grill for anything that you could make in your indoor kitchen.

Flavor

As any proponent of charcoal grilling could tell you, there’s just no match for that authentic flame-broiled flavor. A kamado grill delivers all that and more, infusing your ingredients with a rich, smoky taste without sacrificing texture.

Cons of Kamado grills

Price

These units don’t come cheaply, so be prepared to plunk down a wad of cash if you have your heart set on a kamado grill. As we’ve mentioned, steel kamado grills can be had for a fraction of the cost, but they might need frequent replacement. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to wait until you can afford one of the more durable models before making a purchase.

Cooking Surface

Even the best kamado grill will have a limited surface area, especially if you want to grill over direct heat. Although some of them offer more than one grilling grate over multiple levels, the main surface will typically feature less than 300 inches of space. Gas and pellet grills are better options for big gatherings or for smoking many large cuts of meat at once.

Weight

Unlike steel grills, traditional kamado grills are exceptionally heavy and therefore difficult to transport. If you’re in the market for a model that you can take camping or tailgating, you might want to think twice about whether a kamado grill is the right choice for you. That said, there are some models with stands that come equipped with built-in handles to make transportation easier. Be aware, however, that these units are typically far smaller than the full-sized models.

Cracking

It’s worth mentioning that ceramics, while rust-resistant, are prone to cracking and chipping if you aren’t careful. The risk is slight if the unit stays in one place all the time, but you’ll have to take extra care if you plan to move it into the garage for the winter. If you invest in one of the smaller, travel-sized units, you’ll increase the risk even further.

Who should buy a kamado grill?

Seasoned barbecue experts who are looking to take their grilling game to the next level will appreciate all that a kamado grill has to offer. Since they require a moderate level of skill and finesse, they might not be the best choice for beginners. They’re also better suited for people who grill on a regular basis. If you’re an infrequent or seasonal griller, you’re less likely to get your money’s worth.

How to use a Kamado grill

Before you start your kamado grill, you should always make sure that all dampers and vents are open. Without sufficient airflow, your fire won’t ignite properly.

Next, add your chosen fuel to the fire box. We recommend lump charcoal, but charcoal briquettes are also acceptable. If you’re using a chimney starter, put the starter in first and stuff it with several sheets of newsprint, then add the charcoal. Light the newspaper and wait for the coals to ignite.

For the electric starter method, place the starter in the bowl, then stack the briquettes on top. Plug in the starter and wait 10-15 minutes. At this point, the starter should have grown hot enough to light the coals.

If you decide to use lighter fluid (not recommended, as it may impart a chemical taste to your ingredients), add the charcoal, then about 2 tablespoons of fluid per pound of coals. Ignite the coals using a stick lighter and wait 15 minutes, or until the coals are coated with a thin coating of silvery ash.

Once the coals are hot, spread them out into a single layer. Close the lid, and wait for the gauge to display the proper temperature. This could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how hot you want the grill to be. When the interior temperature is sufficient, you can proceed with the cooking process according to whatever recipe you’re using.

Check out this YouTube tutorial for a visual demonstration on how to light your kamado grill for the first time:

Kamado Grills vs. Charcoal Grills

As far as taste and convenience are concerned, kamado and charcoal grills are pretty much neck-and-neck. They both deliver authentic flavor and require a short waiting period before they’re hot enough to cook. Kamado grills require a little bit more skill to operate, but the difference is negligible, especially if the unit is capable of holding the proper temperature.

Because of their construction, steel charcoal grills usually take a longer time to heat up than kamado grills–20 to 30 minutes, minimum. They’ll also burn through about twice as much charcoal per use, depending on what brand you buy. Since they’re usually not equipped with a built-in thermometer, it can be difficult to guess when a charcoal grill has reached the proper temperature. You can also expect to replace a charcoal grill more often than you would a kamado grill.

Are there any areas in which traditional steel charcoal grills are superior to kamado grills? The most obvious answer is price, since you can buy a charcoal grill for well under $100, while kamado grills land higher in the three- to four-figure range. The maintenance is typically easier with a charcoal grill as well–just make sure the grill grates are cleaned thoroughly after each use, and regularly inspect the entire unit for rust. They’re also more maneuverable than kamado grills, making them a better choice for tailgating or picnics.

The Best Kamado Grill: Product Review Guide

#1 Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center

Weber 18501001 Summit Charcoal Grilling Center, Black

At first glance, you might mistake the Summit for just another cart-style charcoal grill. When you look more closely, you’ll see that the cooking chamber is egg-shaped, which puts it in kamado grill territory.

The body of the grill is composed of porcelain-coated steel, with hinged stainless steel cooking grates and heat diffuser plate. The total surface area measures 452 square inches, which is quite generous by kamado grill standards. Although the Summit uses charcoal as its fuel source, the unit is equipped with a “Snap-Jet” gas igniter. That means no messing around with a chimney starter or messy lighter fluid—just add coals, push the button, and wait for the fire to do its work.

The Summit is outfitted with a generously-sized side table, an attached wire mesh basket, and a lower wire rack. While the low rack is situated a little bit too close to the ash catcher, the unit offers an ample amount of storage space. Buyers can expect to pay a bit more for this convenience. There are also wheels attached to the bottom of the cart for maneuverability.

Pros:

  • Generous amount of storage space
  • Light and maneuverable
  • Convenient cart-style design
  • Gas ignition system
  • Ash management system

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Lower rack is awkwardly positioned
  • Large, sprawling design

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#2 Vision Grills Kamado Professional Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Vision Grills Kamado Professional Ceramic Charcoal Grill in Chili Red with Cover

Vision Grills offers a traditional ceramic charcoal grill with a built-in thermometer and heavy lid. The stainless steel cooking grates offer 604 square inches of grilling space, and an electric starter is included in the purchase. The vents are calibrated to allow for precise temperature control. There’s also a removable ash drawer to aid with the cleanup.

This grill is cleverly designed, with two locking wheels on the steel cart and a shock absorber built into the lid. Two side tables offer storage space, but we’ve found that they can’t hold anything heavier than a simple serving plate. The ash drawer, while convenient, allows too much air into the chamber. This means that you can expect to burn through more fuel with this unit. Finally, note that Vision Grills offers a full-length vinyl cover at no additional charge.

Pros:

  • Electric starter included
  • Side tables for prep or storage
  • Generous amount of cooking space
  • Shock absorber keeps lid from slamming shut

Cons:

  • Not particularly fuel-efficient
  • Gaskets need to be replaced frequently
  • Side tables are flimsy

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#3 Vision Grills Pro Kamado BBQ Bundle

Vision Grills CF1F1 Pro Kamado BBQ Bundle

This is an upgraded offering from Vision Grills, with a sturdy ceramic construction and 596 square inches of cooking space. The temperature control is impressively accurate—you can easily toggle between low smoking temps and inferno-like heat in a matter of minutes. This unit also retains its heat better than its earlier counterpart, and is much more fuel-efficient as a result.

The Pro Kamado BBQ Bundle includes two stainless steel cooking grates, a natural lava cooking stone for pizza and flatbread, an electric starter, and a heat deflector plate for even cooking. The two side shelves are foldable and detachable, so you can shrink the unit’s footprint if necessary. The ash management system offers convenience without sacrificing function, and the grill is configured to make the removal easier.

Vision Grills offers a lifetime warranty for all ceramic components, five years for metal parts and 90 days for the side shelving and temperature gauge. The included cover comes with its own one-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Very user-friendly
  • Excellent customer service
  • Versatile
  • Generous amount of cooking space
  • Good heat retention

Cons:

  • Takes 25-30 minutes to heat to temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Some hardware and add-ons are low quality
  • Shipping issues reported frequently

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#4 Viemoi Minimax Kamado Charcoal Grill

Viemoi Kamado Grill Mini Kamado Charcoal Grill Barbecue Cooking System Black with Stainless Steel Grid

As the name suggests, this is a smaller tabletop kamado grill, suitable for travel. It’s also one of the most affordable units on our list, so if budget is a concern, you might want to take a closer look at this model.

The Minimax offers a ceramic construction with stainless steel cooking grates and a powder-coated steel stand with wooden handles. The cooking surface measures around 200 square inches, which is fairly generous for a travel-sized unit. The lid also features a wooden handle, in addition to a built-in thermometer. Viemoi boasts a cooking range of 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit for this model—impressive by any standards, and ideal for pizza. A gripping tool (for handling hot grill grates) and waterproof cover are also included in the purchase.

The heat retention on the Minimax is nothing short of superb. Even if you don’t know the first thing about kamado grilling, you’re bound to achieve splendid results with this model. The only real downside is the size, which is a tad small if you have a large family or plan on using your grill on a regular basis. For casual grillers or small families, the Minimax is a real bargain.

Pros:

  • Very user-friendly
  • Affordable price point
  • Suitable for travel
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Durable construction

Cons:

  • No storage space
  • May be too small for everyday use

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#5 Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill

The Primo 778 offers 400 square inches of cooking space on the main surface, with an additional 280 inches available when the rack extensions are engaged. This oversized cooking surface is the main reason to consider this unit.

The roomy cooking chamber gives you several options for charcoal placement, giving this unit a versatility that can be difficult to find in a kamado grill. Its construction is ceramic, with a scratch-resistant porcelain glaze on the exterior. All ceramic parts come with a 20-year warranty.

The porcelain cooking grates are fully reversible and easy to clean. A precision thermometer is built into the locking lid, and the cast-iron chimney vent allows you to control the temperature with ease. We’ve found that this unit works better as a smoker than as a grill, especially for large quantities of meat. However, if it’s just simple burgers and dogs that you’re after, it does a fine job on those too.

Pros:

  • Turns out great smoked meats
  • Huge cooking surface
  • Good heat retention
  • Easy to light

Cons:

  • Porcelain cooking grates can crack easily
  • Can be difficult to obtain replacement parts
  • Insufficient packaging

#6 Primo 774 Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill

Primo 774 Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill, Oval Junior

This model, also known as the “Oval Junior,” is a smaller version of the 778. Offering 200 square inches of cooking space on the main surface and 360 with the aid of the rack extensions, it’s a tabletop grill that can be built into an existing outdoor kitchen. The porcelain-coated ceramic cooking chamber and porcelain cooking grates match up with the other offerings by Primo.

The heavy lid on the Primo 774 is equipped with a precision thermometer and a cast-iron chimney vent with matching cap. A stainless steel door allows you access to the lower part of the cooking chamber for ash removal. The grill sits on three porcelain-coated “feet,” which help keep it stable.

If we wanted to be critical, we would note that the lid handle on the Oval Junior is on the small side. It’s also slightly difficult to access the lower chamber to remove the ashes, unless the grill has been built into a specially designed tabletop. In addition, since there’s no stand included, this isn’t really suitable for use as a travel grill. Bear these caveats in mind before you decide to invest in this grill.

Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Versatile unit that can handle more than one cooking application at once
  • Easy to assemble
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • No storage space
  • Ash removal can be problematic
  • High price point 

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#7 Pit Boss 71240 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker

PIT BOSS 71240 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 24'

Pit Boss throws their hat into the kamado ring with this heavy ceramic unit, featuring foldable bamboo side shelves and stainless steel cooking grates. The lid offers a built-in thermometer and cast iron damper, giving you greater control over the interior temperature. The two-tier cooking surface covers 662 square inches in all, which is sufficient for entertaining—or simply preparing several components of your meal at once.

The Pit Boss 71240 has one of the best-designed lids that we’ve seen, designed to hold in heat while protecting the ceramic construction at the same time. A wooden handle, shock absorber, and felt edge all contribute to its efficiency. While it’s an exceptionally heavy model, the stand is equipped with four wheels to make it more maneuverable. While we would still recommend choosing a single designated area for your kamado grill, it’s nice to know that you can shift it out of the way if necessary.

Pros:

  • Sturdy, efficient design
  • Felt edge helps to protect the lid without sacrificing heat
  • Ample cooking surface
  • Folding side shelves for prep and storage

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Bottom damper is not airtight
  • Thermometer can be erratic

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#8 Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker

Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22'

This is a smaller version of the 71240, featuring 567 square inches of cooking space over two tiers. The ceramic construction boasts a glossy black coating and steel trim for a sophisticated, cosmopolitan effect. Stainless steel cooking grates are both functional and simple to clean, and the temperature range is impressive. We’ve had a fairly easy time reaching temps of 700-plus, but be forewarned that it can take a while to hit that high mark.

Like the 71240, this model features a lid with a built-in shock absorber and a felt edge for additional protection. There’s also a built-in thermometer and cast iron chimney cap that can be adjusted to maximize airflow. An ash tool, additional cooking grate, and grill cover are included in the purchase price.

On the whole, we think this unit is more reliable than its larger counterpart. If you’re looking specifically for a Pit Boss model and can get by with less cooking space, you should consider this one first.

Pros:

  • Sturdy cart with locking casters
  • Adjustable damper remains in place when lid is opened
  • Many bonus features included in price
  • Superb heat retention

Cons:

  • Heavy lid can be difficult to manage
  • Hinges are somewhat flimsy

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#9 Louisiana Grills 61220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker

Louisiana Grills 61220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22'

The 61220 offers a ceramic construction with dual tier stainless steel cooking grates, giving you a total of 574 square inches of grilling space. The heat chamber is capable of reaching temps up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and a numbered dial on the top damper gives you precise information regarding the airflow. The legs on the stainless steel frame are outfitted with a set of wheels for mobility. A pair of foldable bamboo side shelves offer additional storage.

This unit is exceptionally heavy for its size, so be prepared to ask for help when setting it up. Despite the weight, it’s not as durable as some similar models—the ceramic cracks easily, even in transit, and the hinges begin showing signs of wear and tear after about a year of use. Given the high price tag, we can’t justify recommending this unit.

Pros:

  • Numbered dial on top damper
  • Folding side shelves
  • Good heat retention

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Difficult to set up
  • Construction not as durable as some of the competition

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#10 Kamado Joe Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

This ceramic grill measures 18 inches in diameter and offers a total of 508 square inches of cooking space over its multi-level cooking surface. If you use just a single level, you’ll have 254 square inches; add the second grate and the grill expander, and your grilling surface expands to 660 square inches. With the expander alone, the main surface measures 407 square inches. The sheer number of options gives the Classic II an impressive degree of versatility. All of the cooking grates and the expander are constructed of high-quality stainless steel.

The top vent on this unit is cleverly designed, giving the interior chamber a temperature range of 225 to 750 degrees. An air-lift hinge keeps the lid from accidentally snapping shut, and makes it easier to open despite its considerable heft. There’s also a patented ash drawer to make cleanup easier.

The lid is equipped with a stainless steel latch and a built-in thermometer. Two folding shelves give you room to store the grill gripper and ash cleanout tool that are included in the purchase price. While the Classic II is equipped with a metal stand and locking wheels, a stand-alone version is also available (more details on this model can be found below).

Pros:

  • Comes with many handy extras
  • Extremely durable
  • “Divide and Conquer” multi-tiered grilling system
  • Impressive amount of grilling space

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Some secondary components need frequent replacement

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#11 Kamado Joe Classic Joe Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RH Classic I Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

The Classic Joe has many things in common with the upgraded Classic II, including the ceramic construction, stainless steel cooking grates, ceramic heat deflectors, and “Divide and Conquer” versatility. The measurements of the grilling surface are identical, as is the grill in general. This model even boasts the same 225- to 750-degree temperature range. The only noticeable aspects that are lacking in the Classic Joe are the air-lift hinge and the double-thick wire mesh fiberglass gasket. There are a few other minor design differences, but you probably won’t be aware of them.

Pros:

  • Reasonable price point
  • Excellent temperature control
  • Good seal on the lid
  • Durable construction

Cons:

  • Needs more than one person to set up
  • Sharp edge on the ash removal tool
  • Coating may chip away after a few years of use

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#12 Kamado Joe Classic II Stand-Alone Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23NRHC Classic II Stand-Alone Grill, Blaze Red

This unit offers the same basic features as the traditional Classic II: A multi-level cooking surface with a maximum of 660 square inches of grilling space; a ceramic body and lid; stainless steel cooking grates; and a double-thick wire mesh gasket for heat retention. The air-lift hinge works just as well on this model, and the temperature ranges from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

The difference? While the regular Classic II comes outfitted with a metal stand and locking wheels, the Stand-Alone version has three ceramic “feet” attached to keep it in place. There are no folding side shelves either, so you’ll have to provide your own prep and storage area. However, this type of kamado grill was designed to be installed in an existing outdoor kitchen. If that’s what you have in mind, the Classic II Stand-Alone Grill delivers.

Pros:

  • Convenient addition to a well-equipped outdoor kitchen area
  • Sturdy construction
  • Air-lift hinge on lid
  • Versatile unit

Cons:

  • No storage space
  • Grill gripper and ash removal tool not included
  • Ash chamber can be difficult to access

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#13 Kamado Joe Jr. KJ13RH Charcoal Grill 13.5 inch Blaze Red

Kamado Joe Jr. KJ13RH Charcoal Grill 13.5 inch Blaze Red

Since kamado grills are so heavy, it can be tough to find one that’s designed for travel. The Joe Jr. demolishes this stereotype, delivering a durable ceramic grill that’s small and portable enough to be taken on the road.

The stainless steel cooking grates offer 148 square inches of grilling space, and the temperature range is on par with other units in the Kamado Joe family—225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. A cleverly designed cast iron stand is equipped with two handles for ease of transport. The lid includes a built-in thermometer and a felt ring to keep the sides from knocking together. A ceramic heat deflector is included in the purchase. While this unit might be a bit too small for everyday use, it’s a decent size for a travel grill.

Pros:

  • Cast iron stand with handles
  • Reasonable price point
  • Attractive design
  • Sturdily built

Cons:

  • Relatively small surface area
  • Some shipping issues reported
  • Felt gasket prone to melting

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#14 Kamado Joe Classic III Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RHCI-A, Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

The Classic III measures 18 inches in diameter, giving you a main cooking surface of 254 square inches. Like the Classic II, it comes equipped with a second stainless steel cooking grate, as well as a grill expander. When all of these components are in place, your cooking space expands to 660 square inches. The multi-surface “Divide and Conquer” system allows you to cook several components at different temperatures, all at the same time.

Kamado Joe’s “III” grills offer a hyberbolic “SloRoller” smoke chamber that’s designed to maximize the amount of smoke flavor that you can achieve. If you truly love the taste of smoky food cooked over an open fire, then the Classic III might be the one for you.

This grill comes equipped with a four-wheeled, heavy duty steel cart, complete with two side shelves as well as a lower mesh shelf. You can use the low shelf to store fuel or tools, but we like to keep our ash-catching receptacle down there so it’s always available when we need to empty the drawer.

Be forewarned that the SloRoller technology comes at a hefty price—you can expect to pay significantly more for this grill than you would for most models of similar size. Fortunately, Kamado Joe offers a limited lifetime warranty on all its ceramic parts. Metal parts are covered for five years, while the thermometer and gaskets come with a one-year warranty. Any ceramic deflectors or pizza stones are covered for up to three years.

Pros:

  • Heavy and durable
  • Delivers superb smoke flavor
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Excellent temperature range

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Manual can be difficult to follow

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#15 Kamado Joe Big Joe II

Kamado Joe BJ24RHC Big Joe II Charcoal Grill, 24 inch, Blaze Red

The “Big Joe” series is designed for outdoor chefs who would prefer a larger cooking surface. Measuring 24 inches in diameter, the main grid offers 452 square inches of grilling space, which extends to 604 square inches when you insert the expander. A second grate gives you even more room to work with—904 square inches without the expander, 1056 when you use both. This makes the Big Joe II a great choice for large families or grillers who like to entertain often.

The lid is outfitted with a well-designed top damper for airflow, giving the cooking chamber a range of 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. A built-in thermometer, felt ring, and air-lift hinge round out the features of this sturdy lid. The fire box features a six-piece design to help prevent breakage. Two metal side shelves flank the cooking chamber, and the wheels are outfitted with locking casters for stability. A grill gripper and ash removal tool are also included.

Pros:

  • Superior quality
  • Enormous cooking surface
  • Very versatile
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Somewhat difficult to assemble
  • Lid hinge doesn’t operate well in the cold

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#16 Kamado Joe Big Joe II Stand-Alone Grill

Kamado Joe BJ24NRHC Big Joe II Stand Alone Charcoal Grill, Blaze Red

The “Big Joe” II Stand-Alone offers all of the same features as the regular “Big Joe” II, with a couple of minor exceptions. First and foremost, it comes outfitted with three ceramic “feet” instead of a wheeled cast iron stand. This means that the grill can be easily installed in an existing outdoor kitchen. You can also place it on the ground or a picnic table, but it might be a tad heavy for the latter.

Since this is a stand-alone unit, there’s no storage space to speak of. There are no grippers or ash removal tools included in the price, either. Everything else about the unit is virtually identical to the regular “Big Joe” II.

Pros:

  • Designed for installation in outdoor kitchens
  • Easy to assemble
  • Sturdy design

Cons:

  • No storage space
  • No grilling tools included

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#17 Kamado Joe Big Joe III Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe BJ24RHCI-A Big Joe III Charcoal Grill

The “Big Joe” III is Kamado Joe’s premium offering, with a price tag to match. The ceramic cooking chamber is outfitted with multi-level stainless steel cooking grates, totaling 1056 square inches of grilling space. The “SloRoller” hyperbolic smoking chamber should appeal to grillers who can’t get enough of that deep, rich, smoky flavor.

Two metal side shelves and a lower disk-shaped shelf round out your storage options. We think the lower shelf is positioned a bit too close to the fire box to be useful, but it should be fine for smaller tools. The rolling cart is made of heavy-duty galvanized steel, complete with locking casters on the wheels. The lid features air-lift technology, a built-in thermometer, and an adjustable damper for temperature control. Like the rest of Kamado Joe’s grills, the “Big Joe” III offers a range of 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pros:

  • Delivers excellent smoke flavor
  • Sophisticated design
  • User-friendly
  • Built to last

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Lower shelf is awkwardly positioned
  • Very top-heavy; difficult to assemble alone

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#18 Grill Dome Infinity Series Ceramic Kamado Charcoal Smoker Grill

Grill Dome Infinity Series Ceramic Kamado Charcoal Smoker Grill, Silver, Extra-Large

This stand-alone smoker grill from Grill Dome comes in two basic sizes: Large and Extra-Large. Both offer a ceramic construction with stainless steel hardware and cooking grates, a “Featherlite” hinge system for easy opening, and a lifetime warranty. A range of color options are available for both.

The Large grill features 255 square inches of cooking space, while the Extra Large offers 380 square inches. The construction is durable and solid, with good heat retention. If you use the proper amount of fuel, the Grill Dome Infinity can be ready to cook in about 10 minutes. You can then use the adjustable top damper to control the temperature, which can range from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

While we’re impressed by the strong construction and efficient temperature control on this model, it does have a few weak points that make it difficult to recommend. First is the top damper, which has no numbers or other markers to guide you when making adjustments. There’s also no lock or latch on the lid, so you have to take extra care when moving the unit. Since this is a stand-alone grill, this might not be necessary, but we would recommend investing in the Grill Dome Infinity model only if you plan to install it in an outdoor kitchen.

Pros:

  • Superior heat retention
  • Extra-thick ceramic walls
  • Good color selection available
  • Relatively affordable

Cons:

  • Top damper offers no markings
  • Difficult to transport
  • No storage space

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#19 Duluth Forge 21 Kamado Grill

Duluth Forge 140031 DF-CC-21-BK Kamado Grill, 21 Inch, Black

This selection from Duluth Forge is another stand-alone unit, and one of the most affordable kamado grills listed here. The main body and lid have ceramic walls measuring 1.25 inches thick, with stainless steel hardware and porcelain-coated grilling grates. While the lid doesn’t lock, it’s well-sealed, with a sturdy wooden handle. The built-in stainless steel thermometer is very easy to read from a distance, and the bi-level cooking surface features 567 square inches of cooking space.

We’ve found this grill to be quite effective and versatile, turning out everything from well-seared steaks to succulent pulled pork. As an added bonus, the customer service department is efficient and easy to deal with.

Pros:

  • Relatively lightweight
  • Affordable price point
  • Very fuel efficient
  • Easy-to-read thermometer
  • Excellent customer service

Cons:

  • No storage space
  • No lock on lid

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#20 Char-Griller E6520 Kamado Cart Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller E6520 AKORN Kamado Cart Charcoal Grill, 22', Ash

If it’s storage space you’re after, the Char-Griller E6520 has you covered. Unlike most kamado grills, this one is situated within an oversized cart-style frame, with a prep surface that measures 26 by 26 inches. This gives you plenty of room to store your sides, condiments, or grilling tools. There’s also a lower wire rack for storing charcoal or larger cooking utensils.

The E6520 is constructed of heavy-gauge steel, with cast iron cooking grates. The main cooking surface measures 314 square inches, with an additional 133 square inches included with the optional warming rack. This unit features a temperature range of 200 to 700 degrees, which is ideal for making everything from smoked meats to thin-crust pizza. The cart is equipped with two oversized wheels and two locking casters, giving it maneuverability and stability in one well-designed package.

While the steel construction is sturdier than you’ll find in most traditional charcoal grills, the heat retention of the E6520 isn’t as advanced as some of the competition. On the plus side, you’ll spend significantly less for this grill than you would for a ceramic unit.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Generous amount of storage space
  • Cast iron cooking grates give great grill marks
  • Adjustable dampers on top and bottom

Cons:

  • Average heat retention
  • Relatively small surface area
  • Lightweight, somewhat flimsy construction

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#21 Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker

Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill, Graphite

This is another heavy-duty steel kamado grill from the folks at Char-Griller, this one with a more typical tripod design. Like the E6520, the cooking grates are composed of cast iron, offering up 314 square inches of grilling space with an additional 133 square inches on the optional warming rack.

The body of the grill is flanked by two handy shelves, complete with built-in hooks for hanging your barbecue tools. A lower shelf offers additional storage space, with a single-piece construction that won’t allow smaller components to slip through the cracks. Two large wheels and a rear locking caster are affixed to the steel legs.

Adjustable dampers on the top and bottom allow you to set the temperature from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Although steel grills will never offer the same level of heat retention as their ceramic counterparts, this is a decent affordable option that should deliver quality results.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Durable cast iron grilling grates
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Easy to clean
  • Indexed damper

Cons:

  • Average heat retention
  • Minimal amount of cooking space
  • Plastic components are of low quality

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#22 Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr, Red Charcoal kamado Grill

As the name suggests, this is a smaller version of Char-Griller’s heavy-duty steel grills, offering 153 square inches of cooking space. The grilling grate is composed of cast iron and measures 14 inches in diameter. Two handles make the grill easy to load into the bed of a pickup truck for an afternoon at the beach or the lake, and a built-in latch keeps the unit from flapping open during transport.

Perhaps because of its smaller size, we’ve found that the Akorn Jr. is better at maintaining its temperature than its larger counterparts. The advertised range is 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and the adjustable top and bottom dampers make it easy to control the airflow. If you’re looking for an affordable kamado grill that you can take camping or tailgating, then you might want to give the Akorn Jr. a closer look.

Pros:

  • Very affordable price point
  • Suitable for use as a travel grill
  • Durable enough for frequent use
  • Fuel efficient

Cons:

  • Small surface area
  • Some off-gassing is noticeable at first
  • Can be difficult to obtain replacement parts

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#23 Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Combo

Char-Griller 96619 Akorn Kamado Kooker Combo with Grill Cover with Cooking Stone, Graphite

The Kamado Kooker Combo offers the same steel fire box and cast iron cooking grates as the regular Kamado Kooker. The only difference lies in the bonus features. The Combo comes equipped with a “Smokin’ Stone,” which is used to diffuse the heat so your food will cook through more evenly. A grill cover is also included in the purchase.

If you’d planned on purchasing the Akorn Kamado Kooker anyway, and think you might benefit from the grill cover and the diffuser stone, you might want to give the combo package a try. Otherwise, you’d probably be better off looking at other options.

Pros:

  • Comes with several extras
  • Built-in tool hooks on shelves
  • Generous amount of storage space

Cons:

  • Lightweight and somewhat flimsy
  • Average heat retention
  • Special features don’t quite justify the increase in price

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#24 Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill

Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill

This is a well-designed steel kamado grill, complete with a sturdy side table and lower wire shelf for storage. The porcelain-enameled steel cooking grates offer a total of 469 square inches of grilling space, with 327 available on the main rack and an additional 142 on the optional second tier.

A removable drip tray and convenient ash pan make cleanup simple, and the top damper is effective at controlling the temperature. That said, we’ve found that it performs better for high-heat cooking applications than for low-and-slow techniques, so if you’re looking for a smoker, you might want to keep your options open.

Pros:

  • Heats quickly and efficiently
  • Works great for grilled meats
  • Affordable price point
  • Stable construction

Cons:

  • Assembly can be problematic
  • Steel construction is not what most people expect from a kamado grill
  • Not ideal for indirect cooking

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#25 Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill

Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Kamado Grill, 18.5-IN Diameter, Metallic Charcoal

The double-walled steel construction of this grill ensures even cooking and impressive heat retention, with no flavor and odor absorption. It’s also remarkably fuel efficient, using only a fraction of the charcoal that a traditional grill would. The cooking grates are composed of cast iron, offering 280 square inches of space on the main rack and an additional 200 square inches on the swing-away warming rack. Both the top and bottom damper are adjustable and well marked, making it easier for you to achieve the desired temperature.

The wheeled base of the Keg 5000 is remarkably constructed, with the ability to detach fully from the fire box. It can also be attached to a trailer hitch, making this one of the most portable kamado grills on our list. Resin side shelves, a cleaning tool, and two built-in bottle openers are also included in the purchase price.

Pros:

  • Can be affixed to a trailer for ease of transport
  • Durable dual-walled steel construction
  • Very fuel efficient
  • Affordable price point

Cons:

  • Requires a deflector to maintain lower temperatures
  • Some shipping issues reported
  • Somewhat bulky design

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#26 Blaze Freestanding Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill

Blaze Freestanding Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill with Shelves (BLZ-20-KAMADO-BLZ-20KMDO2-CART-BLZ-KMDO-SDSH)

This behemoth is designed for professionals who don’t mind shelling out a lot of cash for a quality kamado grill. The cast aluminum fire box and lid measure one inch thick, allowing for superb heat retention. Both the cooking grates and the hinges are made of restaurant-grade stainless steel. The grilling surface measures 400 square inches, which is sufficient for couples or smaller families.

This unit is considerably taller than most of the competition, with the grilling grates at chest level or higher. That cuts down on the amount of bending and lifting that you’ll have to do. It also makes ash removal that much easier. The cart features six legs with locking wheels, and two side shelves offer additional space for storage or prep.

Pros:

  • Excellent heat retention
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to care for
  • Tall enough for most people to reach the cooking surface without bending

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Complicated assembly

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#27 LifeSmart 24

LifeSmart 24' Kamado Grill and Smoker in Blue with Value Bundle

With two tiers offering 645 square inches of cooking space, this is a generously-sized grill with a sturdy ceramic construction. The grilling grates are constructed of stainless steel, and a ceramic deflector stone is included for even heat distribution. The cart features an attractive four-legged design with locking casters and folding side shelves.

Dampers located on the top and bottom, along with a built-in thermometer, allow you to keep a close watch on the temperature. An electric starter and quality grill cover are also included in the purchase price. While you might spend a bit more for the LifeSmart grill than you would for something in the Kamado Joe lineup, the bevy of extras helps to justify the increase.

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • Generous surface area
  • Plenty of extras included
  • Adequate storage space

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Assembly can be difficult

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#28 Komodo Kamado Grills

The grills in the Komodo Kamado lineup feature a stainless steel construction and restaurant-grade stainless steel cooking grates. They’re noted for their flashy exteriors, which come in a range of colors from cobalt blue to bronze metallic. While they’re durably constructed, the 23-inch model weighs in at just 85 pounds.

These are stand-alone units, equipped with four “feet” for stability and hinged lids with built-in latches. They’re user-friendly and generally easy to assemble, with a drip pan and heat deflector plate included in the purchase. Komodo Kamado also throws in a replacement kit with a number of spare parts, which helps to offset the high price tags.

The 23-inch “Ultimate” unit is their flagship offering, but there are also models available in the following sizes: 21-inch (“Supreme”), 22-inch the “Beast Table”), 32-inch the “Big Bad”), and 42-inch (the “Serious Big Bad”). If you’re looking for plenty of color variety and a decent size selection, there’s a good chance you’ll find a Komodo Kamado grill that suits your needs.

Pros:

  • Very attractive models
  • Plenty of extras included
  • Durable construction
  • User-friendly
  • Easy to obtain replacement parts

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Exterior chips or cracks easily

#29 The Big Green Egg

This is perhaps the best-known company in kamado grilling circles. The Big Green Egg is available in the following sizes and styles:

  • Mini (79 square inches of grilling space)
  • Minimax (travel grill offering 133 square inches)
  • Small (133 square inches)
  • Medium (177 square inches)
  • Large (262 square inches)
  • XL (452 square inches)
  • 2XL (672 square inches)

With the exception of the Minimax, which comes equipped with a carrier for ease of transport, the Big Green Egg grills are stand-alone units. Unlike some comparable units, though, these models have flat bottoms with no feet or legs. That makes them a good fit for outdoor kitchens, although they can rest on any stable surface.

All Big Green Eggs feature a heavy ceramic construction with a stainless steel cooking grid. The namesake green glaze on the exterior is easy to wipe clean, and protects the unit over long years of use. The only real complaint we have about these grills is the fact that many components must be purchased separately, which contributes to their already-high price tags.

Pros:

  • Excellent heat retention
  • Built to last a lifetime
  • Attractive design
  • Fits easily in outdoor kitchen spaces

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Many components are sold at an additional price
  • High price point

The Winners

So, which of these kamado grills is the best in its class? To make your choice easier, we’ve broken down the winners into several different categories. Any of the products listed below would make a superb addition to your outdoor cooking arsenal.

Best Kamado Grill Overall

After reviewing all of the products, we’ve found that the best kamado grill on our list is the Duluth Forge 21 Kamado Grill. Not only is it affordable, but it offers some of the best heat retention we’ve seen anywhere. Customer service is prompt and courteous, and the grill itself turns out superbly flavored results. The only caveat? It’s a stand-alone grill, which requires a measure of extra finesse. If you do decide to buy the Duluth Forge model, consider purchasing a stand with some of the money you saved.

Runner Up

If you’re not in the market for a stand-alone grill, or if you have a hard time finding a dealer that stocks the Duluth Forge, then the Kamado Joe Classic II is an excellent option as well. The cooking chamber is cleverly designed, and the locking lid helps seal in flavor and moisture. As with most of the Kamado Joe grills, the temperature gauge is generally accurate, and the products are built to last.

Best Budget Kamado Grill

Looking for a kamado grill that won’t break the bank? Consider taking a closer look at the Char-Griller E6520 Kamado Cart Charcoal Grill. You’ll have ample storage and prep space, and the low price point will leave you plenty of cash for extras. While most of the Char-Griller options are a good deal, we think the additional surface area makes this one the best of the bunch.

Best Ceramic Kamado Grill

As we’ve already established, the Duluth Forge model is the best ceramic kamado grill that you’re likely to find anywhere. If you’re looking for an alternative, consider the Big Green Egg in the Large size. This unit offers a comparable amount of cooking space, and is constructed of high-quality materials. You can expect to spend a bit more, but the Egg should last you through many long years of use.

Best Small Kamado Grill

If you don’t have a great deal of space, try the Viemoi Minimax Kamado Charcoal Grill. The cooking grid measures just 12.8 inches in diameter, making it a good fit for a smaller deck or patio. You can even take it along on camping trips, provided you have enough space to allow for sufficient cushioning. The heavy-duty handles on the carrier make it even easier to transport.

Tip: If you’re planning on taking your kamado grill on the road, make sure to save the original packaging. The grill survived the trip to your home while encased in that wrapping, so there’s a good chance it can make it to the beach and back without suffering any ill effects.

Best Large Kamado Grill

Grillers who need additional space will find what they’re looking for in the Kamado Joe Big Joe III. This gigantic unit offers a grand total of 1056 square inches of cooking space, enough to accommodate the entire neighborhood–and with plenty of leftovers. The multi-level interior and tight-fitting lid ensure that your full rib racks and whole chickens will turn out perfectly, and with almost no effort required on your part. Best of all, the “SloRoller” smoke chamber imbues your ingredients with maximum flavor.

Best Kamado Grill for Beginners

New to kamado grilling? The grills in the Komodo Kamado series were among the most user-friendly models we could find, and the most eye-catching. Even if you’ve never cooked over a real fire before, you should be able to achieve enviable results with this unit. The only drawback? They’re very costly. If cost is a primary concern, or if you aren’t sure whether kamado grilling will be for you, try the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker instead.

Best Kamado Grill for Smoking

Likewise, if you plan on using your kamado grill primarily for smoked meats like pulled pork and brisket, give the a try. The well-insulated fire box does a superb job at maintaining low temperatures, and is large enough to handle plenty of meat at once.

Best Kamado Grill for Pizza

For pizza with a crisp yet chewy crust, you’ll need a grill that’s capable of maintaining temperatures of at least 700 degrees. At the risk of sounding repetitive, we’ve found that the Viemoi Minimax fits the bill, especially if you crank it all the way to 750 degrees. When it comes to heat retention, thick walls and a tight-fitting lid are essential, and the Viemoi delivers on both counts. That makes this grill an excellent choice for searing as well.

May your new kamado grill bring you many years of impressive and mouthwatering results. Happy grilling!

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