Kamado smokers are all the rage. These wood-fueled ceramic grills have a unique egg shape. The food they cooked often has a lovely smoky taste, which is addictive. Not like basic, Kamado cookware is also very flexible. They can reach high pipe temperatures to burn them, and can keep the heat low and slow for hours. This means you can use them to grill steakhouse style steaks, cook wood-fired pizzas in minutes, smoke real grills, and everything in between.
Big green eggs are the most famous examples of traditional kamado grills and kamado smokers, but competing brands like Kamado Joe, Vision, Char-Griller and Char-Broil are also perfect in the grill category offering kamado cooking effects . If you really want to add one to the arsenal, and, I tested Big Green Egg and its four main barbecue competitors in 200 hours to find the best Kamado-style barbecue-this is what I found.
After more than 200 hours, I have cooked more than 20 pounds of pork chops, six chickens, 10 pounds of burgers, and some steaks. After all, I can firmly say which brand suits my taste best and which brands should be avoided.
This is my review and selection of the best kamado grill options of 2020, and I will update when reviewing new products.
The price of Kamado Joe Classic III is US$1,700, which may be expensive, but it is good value for money. This means that many Camado grill accessories are not standard with other grills, including the Big Green Egg Carmen. This kamado grill and smoker also performed well. In our slow and low speed grill test, we adjusted the grill to 225 F (107 C) and then let go of the controls to see what happened. In this test, Kamado Joe Classic III showed excellent temperature control.
The grill was a bit hot for the first 30 minutes (315 degrees Fahrenheit), but then stabilized within an hour. From there, he taxied the cruise control system, stopping the pointer between 253 F and 219 F for nearly three hours. Only the large green egg has a narrower temperature profile, buzzing for hours in the best place to smoke.
The one feature that really makes Classic III stand out is SloRoller. Kamado Joe called it a “hyperbolic smoke chamber” and it was an hourglass-shaped metal device located on the fire. The device is used both as a thermal conductor and as a convection aid. In essence, it can prevent the radiant heat generated by coal hitting the food above the grill grate. This prevents the meat from drying out during a longer cooking time. According to Kamado Joe, it also encourages air (smoke) circulation in the cooking room.
In fact, there are a lot of additional features bundled with Classic III in the box. It includes another set of ceramic baffles (half each grill), a coal stove and an aluminum charcoal basket. You will get two halved aluminum grids, a ash removal tool, and a three-layer cooking rack that can be grilled as needed.
In contrast, with the exception of the stall, everything on the Big Green Egg requires an extra charge. Remember, you can also save some money by choosing Kamado Joe’s Classic II. It costs US$1,200, which is almost the same as the Classic III, but lacks SloRoller accessories and has a different base.
The structure of Classic III feels very solid. I especially like the sturdy side racks, which are also perfect for barbecues and smoking. If you can afford it, then this makes it one of the best Kamado grills.
Big Green Egg, the company that sparked the Camado craze, still has winners. In my test group, among all kamado-style grill options, the large BGE model has the best temperature performance and stability. Once adjusted to a low and slow temperature of 225 F, the egg can run automatically. According to our thermometer, the “green egg” stays within this temperature range, and the fluctuation is small and rarely occurs.
The big green egg also reacted fastest. If for any reason I have to adjust the top or bottom vents, I will soon notice the change. I usually notice course corrections in just 6 to 7 minutes.
The food I cooked in big green eggs is also delicious. Although my BGE test equipment lacks additional baffle accessories, the chicken and pork chops have a convincing barbecue flavor. Although not as delicious as I smoked in Kamado Joe Classic III, food from BGE is close behind. Big Green Egg did make a deflector accessory called ConvEGGtor, but this is an additional accessory.
As the name suggests, the large green egg Kamado large grill and smoker are very large and provide you with a lot of space, so you can grill, smoke and cook to meet your inner needs.
This is why I recommend the big green egg as one of the best camado grills for almost anyone. You have to go through a local dealer. Unlike Kamado Joe Classic III, everything except the shelf is redundant. In the end, the total cost of the Big Green Egg should be lower than the fully deployed Classic III.
Char-Griller Akorn provides real kamado performance at the lowest price. It costs only US$323, which is incredible considering that a typical kamado grill will set you back between US$800 and US$1,000. Akorn’s cooking temperature and temperature control are not as inherently stable as the more expensive Kamados I use. I suspect this is because Akorn’s body is made of three layers of steel instead of heavy ceramic. The grill fire is also harder to ignite and maintain lighting than Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe Classic Three.
When I passed the low-speed test (adjusted to 225 F) to make it burn, the Akorn fire disappeared within 45 minutes. After re-ignition, the temperature inside the cooker reached 370F in just 15 minutes. I did not add any additional fuel, just a paraffin igniting agent. After 35 minutes, the heat inside the Akong reached 405 degrees. The temperature then stabilized, but it was still hot, and the temperature did not drop below 387 F in the next 3 hours.
When I followed Akorn, the situation was very different. When the starting temperature is 225 F or 350 F, you only need to adjust the airflow to push the grill back on track. Since Akorn is made of steel rather than ceramic, its weight (100 pounds) is lighter than the traditional kamado grill option (200 pounds or more).
The food I cook with Akorn is also good. The slow-cooked baby back ribs and chicken have a pleasant charcoal flavor. That is to say, they can’t compare with Kamado Joe grill due to the bundled baffle smoking system. However, such a low price outweighs many disadvantages, so Char-Griller Akorn is really a bargaining bargain.
How we test the Kamado grill
Testing the kamado grill is an intense experience for grillers. Although the game needs to be played in a controlled and responsible way, it requires playing with fire (literally) and high temperatures. The most critical factor affecting Camado performance is heat, especially temperature control and the ability of the grill to maintain a temperature. To smoke slowly and slowly, the magic number is 225F. Good smokers, Kamados or others will stay at this temperature for up to 12, 15 or 20 hours. This means that the thermometer is the key, as is the ability to control the airflow through the vent or damper.
To capture the temperature data, we placed a thermocouple on each kamado grill. Essentially, a thermocouple consists of a probe and connected wires. It is a sensitive temperature sensor that is suspended 1 inch above the grate. It is connected to a data logger, and finally to a computer, which records changes in heat over time.
We try to perform temperature tests on all grills at the same time. We also use lump charcoal (4.4 lbs or 2 kg) of the same weight and brand, usually packed from the same bag. The same is true for ignition starters (one per grill).
After that, we will light it up according to its manual (if any). Usually, this means capturing the coal for 15 minutes, opening the lid, and then closing the grill. At this time, the vent will remain open until the grille enters within 50 degrees of the target temperature.
We fiddled with the vent carefully to get there. Finally, we let go of the controls and observe.
For the 350 F target, we followed the same procedure for the high temperature test. The idea here is to simulate the thermal performance required for roast chicken and other poultry.
When it comes to food, we also do a lot of “anecdotal chefs”. We smoked a row of baby back ribs (225 F) on each grill. We also roast the little chicken (aka little chicken). These were purchased from the local Costco and each weighed about 5 pounds. Finally, we bake a set of four 8-ounce hamburger patties at high heat (600 degrees Fahrenheit).
Need more options? These are the other two kamado grill models I evaluated for this test group. Although they did not include it in my selection, you may still want to take a look at the comparison:
More benefits of grilling: