Blaze BLZ-20-KAMADO Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill Review
Kamado style grills took a little bit to really gain traction in the marketplace. They started out as a little bit of a big green curiosity. In recent years, their popularity has started to grow as more and more people realize their versatility and efficiency. They also tend to look attractive, while not taking up a ton of space on the deck or patio.
Blaze is a relatively new grill manufacturer whose brand image hinges heavily on the gleam of cast aluminum and stainless steel. Their Kamado Grill BLZ-20 represents their best attempt to invade the currently crowded Kamado grill/smoker niche.
It doesn’t take a long hard look to realize that the BLZ-20 has a few differences from the standard Kamado grills. It’s made largely from cast aluminum, as opposed to the ceramic or insulated steel that you find with most other kamado grills. In fact, the body is made from an impressive 1-inch thick cast aluminum.
The rest of the body and lid have what you would expect in a Kamado-style grill. Easy to control dampers, lid with a thermometer, and a body designed to maximize the rise of hot smoke.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
The cast aluminum body and the 304 stainless steel of the hinges, grill grates, and other components give the BLZ-20 a gleam, that requires you to wear sunglasses when you look at it on a sunny day! The 1-inch thick body helps with heat retention, yet it still isn’t as efficient as a Kamado grill with a ceramic body.
At first, the 304 stainless steel hinges start out matching the overall physical appearance of the cast aluminum body. Yet as time goes on, the effects of weather can start to gradually alter their gleam. Giving them an occasional spot cleaning with a stainless steel cleaning solution and a soft rag will help keep them matching the aluminum body.
The temperature gauge itself isn’t as accurate as you like with a Kamado grill. You can trust it to be within 10 to 15 degrees of the target temp. Just don’t expect it to be spot on. It also has a knack to fog up from time to time.
The BLZ-20 is perhaps a little heavier than you might expect when you first look at it. When it comes to putting it together, I would recommend loading the box onto a handcart and put it together where it will spend the rest of its life.
There are a few spots in the instructions which might leave you scratching your head. Still, a Kamado grill by its nature is relatively easy to assemble. With the basic tools you already have and a little technical acumen, you should be able to have it fully put together in about an hour.
Kamado grills are designed to be the peak of thermal efficiency. Most of the more popular options in the market use double walled ceramic or insulated steel. The 1-inch thick cast aluminum body of the BLZ-20 isn’t as thermally efficient as the competitors. Yet it does use less charcoal than you would with a traditional charcoal grill.
Kamado grills by design and intention are meant to be very versatile. This also means that a properly prepared charcoal bed is key for making the most out of what the BLZ-20 can do. A traditional ceramic-lined fire chamber tends to take a while to build up a significant heat load. Then it radiates it back to the food being cooked.
The cast aluminum of the BLZ-20’s cooking chamber tends to heat up much faster than ceramic or steel. This means you can have a ripping hot fire early on to quickly preheat the chamber, before dialing the damper down to smoke the intended meat. If you prefer you can leave the fire to burn on high to sear steaks, or even to bake something like Scandanavian Aebleskiver doughnuts!
If you are going to use the BLZ-20 for a long smoking session, the thermal efficiency might be an issue when it comes to reloading. Most ceramic Kamado smokers can make it longer without having to reload charcoal and wood chips. One way to spare yourself the hassle is to use wood chunks that have been soaked in water overnight. They tend to burn for much longer than wood chips.
The BLZ-20 has an 18-inch stainless steel grill grate. Provides just over 254 square inches of cooking space. This is enough to smoke a small pork shoulder, assuming it will fit under the lid. Splayed out and butterflied you could smoke a whole chicken. ribs could be cut into 3 or 4 rib servings to maximize the cooking space.
Ease to Clean
There is a little bit of scooping involved in cleaning out the Blaze BLZ-20. While it does take a little more work to clean it than say a ceramic Kamado grill, it’s still less work than a traditional charcoal grill or smoker.
The stainless steel grill grates can be a little bit on the sticky side. If you are preparing a lean cut of meat, it might help to grease it with a little olive oil before laying it down.
As the grill ages, the sheen of the stainless steel hinges might start to change in a way that will noticeably clash with the rest of the cast aluminum body. Take the time to use a stainless steel cleaner or polish from time to time to maintain it’s shine.
The Blaze BLZ20 comes with a lifetime warranty, which is impressive and at the top of the class over the competition.
The Blaze BLZ20 makes the most out of a relatively unique material that you don’t always find in the Kamado grill niche. If you compensate for some of the thermal inefficiency and take the time to get comfortable with dialing the dampers to just the right airflow-temperature, it should take care of you for many years to come. The impressive lifetime warranty says that they stand behind the quality of their product.
- Superior warranty
- Cast aluminum and stainless steel gleam
- Fast preheating time
- Not as efficient as other Kamado grills
- Stainless steel needs maintenance to match the aluminum
- Smallish grill grate