If you’ve been shopping for a new grill or a smoker, chances are good that you’ve seen a kamado grill or two pop up in your search results. You might have even glanced at the often-high price tag, scoffed, and swiped on.
Though you have to wonder, the companies that make them are still in business. A lot of them, like Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg only make Kamado Grills. So, it’s not like they’re offering them as a small part of a bigger lineup of grills and smokers. Yet their Kamado Grills remain popular and profitable.
These basic truths have got to have you scratching your head, wondering are kamado grills worth it?
The answer depends on what you want to use the kamado grill for, and how often you’ll use it.
What Makes a Kamado Grill Different?
One of the hallmark traits of a high-quality kamado grill is the double-walled ceramic construction. Not only does this optimize heat retention, but it also helps create radiant heating inside the cooking chamber for more even doneness.
The best Kamado grills that are truly worth it for their high price also have very precise dampers and vents. This lets you perfectly dial in the airflow to control the flames in the bottom as well as the density of the smoke under the dome.
The dome and rings of high-quality kamado grills also help them seal tightly. Not only does this optimize heat retention and smoke density, but it also makes kamado grills good for roasting and baking.
The Best kamado grills worth the money also come with porcelain Coated Cast Iron grill grates. This maximizes their heat retention for searing meats. The nonstick porcelain also makes it easy to release and flip lean cuts of meat.
What Can You Do with a Kamado Grill?
The versatility of a kamado grill lets you use it for Grilling, smoking, baking, and roasting. The amount of charcoal you put in the bottom and how you adjust the airflow can let you hold the internal temperature at a consistent 225 degrees for a slow-smoking barbecue.
Then you can crank it up with a larger amount of charcoal and the dampers wide open to feed the flames. When properly dialed in, a quality kamado grill can easily get up to 500 degrees for high heat searing.
Can You Cold Smoke on a Kamado Grill?
Kamado grills offer impressive air control and consistent temperature retention that makes them great for cold smoking at the kind of low temperatures that traditional smokers can never hope to achieve.
The trick is to use a small wood pellet or wood chip sleeve and let it smolder without any sort of flaming coalbed in the bottom. This lets you cold-smoke Shellfish, cured sausages, fresh sausages, charcuterie, and even cheese.
What Type of Charcoal Is Best for Kamado Grills?
Kamado grills tend to burn the best and produce the smokiest flavor when burning premium jumbo lump charcoal, which can set you back more than $25 per bag. Though the burning efficiency of a kamado grill will extend the life of that bag by nearly double that of a traditional kettle or barrel-style charcoal grill.
Charcoal briquettes are also a good alternative. You might be able to find a bag of Kingsford Classic briquettes or Royal Oak for $10 for a 16-pound bag, which will further boost the cost-effectiveness of the kamado grill.
Though you should never use lighter fluid or charcoal briquettes impregnated with lighter fluid in a kamado grill. The hydrocarbon aroma of the porous ceramic walls can linger for several sessions affecting the flavor of the meat.
What Are Popular Kamado Accessories
Some kamado manufacturers do a better job of creating branded accessories for their line of kamado grill. Most kamado enthusiasts point to Kamado Joe as an innovator in making kamado accessories.
This includes things like:
- Kamado Rotisserie
- Pizza Stones
- Soap Stone Griddles
- Heat Deflectors
- Split Grill Grates
- Easy Cleaning Systems
Kamado Grill Warranty Coverage Makes a Statement
The best kamado grill manufacturers offer robust 3 to 5 year warranty coverage on most of their popular models. A few even offer staggered limited or extended warranty coverage that protects your investment for up to 10 years. This makes a strong statement about them having faith in their material build quality.
Just bear in mind that even the most reputable kamado grill manufacturers don’t let the warranty transfer to a second party.
Are Used Kamado Grills a Good Idea?
The age of the kamado grill and how well it’s been maintained will factor heavily in whether or not a used model is a good idea. A lot of kamado grills start to suffer cracked internal ceramic rings around 5 years old. This is also around the time when the warranty runs out.
So be sure to look closely at the state of the internal ceramic, the lid gasket, and the metal rings before you think about shaking hands on a used kamado grill.
Also, keep in mind that virtually no kamado grill manufacturer allows the warranty to transfer to a second party.
What Are Some of the Best Kamado Grill Manufacturers
Sitting at the top of the kamado grill market you will find Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe. Both are American-owned companies, that make their grills in China. Both made a point to find the best possible overseas manufacturing facilities and enforce industry-best quality standards. Both also maintain US-based customer service facilities.
In recent years Kamado Joe has started to slightly pull ahead of Big Green Egg in both market share and innovation. They tend to have more accessories such as soap stones and rotisseries as well as innovative heat deflector systems. They’ve also engineered their grills to be cheaper and easier to maintain in the long run.
Other Kamado Manufacturers
There are a lot of other kamado grill manufacturers out there. Some are just grill companies that make a model as a placeholder. Others are truly dedicated to offering high-quality kamado grills at competitive prices. After Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe, the next best kamado grill manufacturers and models to consider are:
- Weber Summit Kamado Grill
- Vision Grills Kamado Pro Ceramic
- Char-Griller E16620 Akorn
- Char-Broil Kamander
- Broil King Keg Kamado Charcoal Grill
Is a Kamado Grill Worth the Money?
If you love to smoke meat, barbecue, grill, and make smoky wood-fired pizzas, then a kamado grill should be on your radar. Especially if you’re thinking about featuring it as part of a dream outdoor kitchen.
Just bear in mind that they tend to have a slightly smaller cooking capacity than traditional charcoal grills and smokers. If you need to frequently grill for a family of four or smaller, this isn’t a big deal. If you have a family of six or larger, the slightly limited capacity of an average kamado grill might not be able to meet your needs.