Char-Griller 6520 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Review
The Char-Griller 6520 Akorn Kamado Kooker make a strong attempt to marry the heat efficiency inherent in the design of kamado grills with affordability, and thoughtful design. It even comes with a cart that includes locking wheels, a side shelf, and some simple underneath storage
The grill grates are made from cast iron and coated in a thin layer of semi-non-stick porcelain. The lines on the grates are also slightly tapered into a triangle shape. This helps maximize thermal energy, yet makes sharp-looking sear lines.
The Char-Griller Akorn has dual air dampers for more accurate heat control. They also include some basic tips and damper settings in the owner’s manual to help you get the hang of how to use the dampers to cook most common meats.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Many kamado grills use dual ceramic wall construction to maximize their thermal efficiency. Char-griller departs from this a little bit with the Akorn. Instead, they use a steel exterior, with dark gray powder coat paint. The interior is then a thick layer of ceramic material, which helps absorb the heat.
The net result is an exterior that gets a little bit warmer than its dual ceramic walled competitors, but not severely hot. Yet it also has nearly the same interior thermal efficiency. What it also does is significantly lower the price. Many competitors in this same range can be as much as double the price tag of the Char-Griller Akorn.
Assembly is a little bit of a chore with the Akorn. This isn’t so much due to the grill as it is getting the grill to fit snugly into the cart. All told the entire unit weighs a little over 100 pounds. You will save yourself a lot of sweat and backache if you recruit a friend or two to help you put it together.
The instructions are a little difficult to read in places. With some patience and a little bit of mechanical sympathy, you should be able to get through the tricky parts. Assuming you recruit a little help, you can probably have it put together in around an hour and a half. Maybe as much as two hours, if you try to tackle it on your own.
When it comes to thermal efficiency, the fact that the Char-Griller Akorn is steel and ceramic instead of dual-walled ceramic might seem like a noticeable cut-corner. Really though, its heat range is from around 200 to 210 degrees up to around 550 to 600 degrees. When you compare this to dual walled competitors of the same size, the heat range is typically around 180 to 650. So, really, it’s not a major difference in thermal efficiency.
The grill grate is a little on the small side. If you regularly need to cook for more than say four or five people, the Akorn might be too small. Still, it can handle a butterflied chicken with a little room to spare.
The owner’s manual includes some suggested damper settings for various temperature ranges and common foods. It might sound like something minor, but a lot of kamado grills take some experience to dial in the exact temperature range. Having a little extra guidance speeds this process.
The triangle shape of the grill lines is also nice and makes for visually appealing sear lines.
The porcelain-coated grill grates provide up to 314 square inches of primary cooking space as well as an additional 133 square inches of warming rack. In a pinch, you might also be able to use the warming rack as a secondary cooking space for slow smoking applications.
As strange as it might sound, the fact that this kamado grill comes with a cart included in the purchase, is somewhat of a special feature. There are some competitor grill manufacturers who just offer the kamado grill without a cart, or the matching cart is yet another expense.
The Akorn having a cart with a little storage and a side shelf might not knock your socks off, but it’s not something to dismiss out of hand.
Ease to Clean
Kamado grills tend to be easy to clean. Their thermal efficiency means they use very little charcoal in a single session. This equates to minimal ash cleanup.
The semi-non-stick coating on the grill grates and their tapered, triangular shape also reduce scraping time. Still, the porcelain layer is a little bit on the thin side. A stiff-bristled nylon grill brush is probably a safer choice for long-term maintenance than a wire brush or steel wool.
The Char-Griller 6520 Akorn comes with a one-year warranty.
When you compare this warranty to other kamado grills of the same size, this is less than the competitors. When you compare this warranty to grills in the same price range, it’s pretty much right on par. This is possibly due to the need for enhanced warranty protection with more fragile double ceramic walled competitors.
The Char-Griller Akorn answers a question that you maybe didn’t know you had. The designers made a very concerted effort to create a kamado grill that could do everything you expect it to, at a very reasonable price. Then they included a wheeled cart with storage and a side shelf to boot.
If you are looking for a kamado grill with all the bells and whistles to impress the neighbors, the Akorn might not fit the bill. If you are looking to get some experience with the versatility of a kamado grill, and you don’t want to put too big of a dent in your bank account, you might want to give the Akorn some extra thought. It can do pretty much everything you want a kamado to do, at nearly half the price of the competition.
- Great price for a kamado grill
- Cart with side shelf included
- Cast iron grill grates
- Steel exterior with ceramic interior
- Modest warranty protection
- The primary grate is a little small
- Not double-walled construction
- The protective layer on grates is thin