Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Review
There are different types of heating that can potentially affect different foods in different ways. When it comes to grilling and smoking this comes in the form of convection heat and conduction heat. Each of these can also be further broken down into direct and indirect heat.
Direct convection heat is pretty straightforward. This is the meat roasted over an open flame that human beings have been enjoying since the minute we master the ability to make fire. Conduction heat can also be direct, but it typically requires contact between something like a hot piece of metal and the food being cooked. Conduction can also play a role in things like heat retention for smoking, slow-and-low grilling as well as maximizing heat retention of a grill.
Like many other Kamado style grills, the Char-Griller E06614 Akorn maximizes heat retention for maximum efficiency and consistency as well as giving you the ability to cook with direct heat. This is thanks in part to its triple walled insulation, as well as a lid with a firmly sealing gasket ring.
The top and bottom dampers are enumerated which allows you to precisely dial in the airflow for maximum heat control and smoke retention. The owner’s manual even comes with a handy temperature guide which allows you to bring the internal temperature down to a consistent 200-250 degrees. This allows you to smoke and even hybrid grill.
With the dampers set nearly wide open, it can also soar over 450 degrees for direct heat searing of things like thick cut steaks. Char-Griller even goes so far as to claim that the E06614 Akorn can reach as high as 700-degrees Fahrenheit, which is usually only something you find with steakhouse broilers and infrared grills.
The Char-Griller E06614 Akorn is also very portable. It only weighs in at a meager 37 pounds and comes with very sturdy side handles. This means you can take it with you camping, tailgating, or a trip to the beach. Just keep in mind that the handles can get very hot. Char-Griller recommends using oven mitts to move a hot grill, but I would recommend springing the extra money for some heavy-duty welding gloves.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Char-Griller paid keen attention to detail when it came to the design and construction of the E06614 Akorn. The triple insulated walls maximize heat retention and also help radiate heat for more consistent cooking than you would get from something like a classic kettle grill.
One small area of complaint is that the grill grates are cast iron, which helps with heat retention and searing. Unfortunately, they don’t have any sort of non-stick porcelain glaze which you often find in competitor grills.
Assembling the E06614 Akorn isn’t overly complicated. True it’s more than what you would have to do if you were putting together a simple kettle grill. Still, with some basic mechanical skills and tools you probably already have laying around the house, you should be able to put it together in a little over an hour, maybe an hour and a half.
For being only 21.5-inches across the Char-Griller E06614 Akorn is very versatile. Most other grills this compact are only capable of direct high heat grilling. With the enumerated top and bottom dampers, you can dial in the airflow for maximum heat control. The triple insulated walls also help maximize heat retention.
With a little practice and guidance from the manual’s suggested settings, you can use this grill to do something like smoke riblets at 250 degrees, as well as sear a Steak at 450 degrees. Char-Griller claims that you can take this grill up to 700 degrees, but that’s probably not very safe, and isn’t really necessary for searing most common foods.
At 37 pounds the Akorn is also very portable. This makes it a great option for taking with you on a camping trip or tailgating. Once you get the hang of it, you can make some really nice chicken wings by first smoking them until they are nice and tender. Then add some fresh charcoal, allow it to ignite, and then open the dampers to sear and crisp the skin on the wings.
It’s important to keep in mind that heat retention is a factor built-in to the intended operation of the Akorn. The thick seal on the lid holds heat in and allows for precise airflow control. If you are constantly opening the lid, it will change the dynamics between the heat and airflow, which could lead to flareups and rollercoaster heating. There are times when you are simply going to have to trust the temperature gauge that is built into the lid.
Two small complaints when it comes to performance and safety is the central ring in the grate. It’s meant to pull out so you can add fresh charcoal or wood chips to the burning coal bed. Yet it’s a little small and you could burn your fingers trying to fit something through it, so it’s best to use a pair of tongs.
Also, keep an eye on the bottom damper, when you have it set wide open for high heat. Every once in a blue moon a small burning ember can manage to spill out and leave a burn mark on your deck.
The compact cast iron grill grates provide 153 square inches of grilling space, which should be enough to grill up four decent sized hamburger patties.
The thick, tight sealing gasket helps with heat retention. The enumerated top and bottom dampers then allow for precise heat control.
The bottom ash can pulls out for easy cleanup.
Ease to Clean
The Char-Griller E06614 Akorn is generally easier to clean than say a simple kettle grill. The grill grates are made from cast iron, without a protective coating. This means the food is more likely to stick and will require some extra scouring with a wire grill brush. Lightly coating the grates with a little shortening when you are done grilling and cleaning or making a point to lightly grease food before placing it on the grill grates may help with this.
The bottom ash can detaches easily, which allows you to quickly dump out the spent ashes into your backyard fire pit or a metal can.
This grill comes with a multi-tier, limited warranty. The Grill hood and bottom are covered for 5 years from the date of purchase for rust through and burn through. However, the removable ash pan and all other parts are warranted for defects for up to 1 year from the date of purchase.
If you are looking for a Kamando-style grill that is cable of low heat smoking as well as high heat grilling, that is still compact enough to take with you, then it’s hard to look past the Char-Griller E06614 Akorn. It typically beats most other grills of the same size and class when it comes to price.
Just make an effort to keep food from sticking to the cast iron grates, and remember to keep an eye out for any embers that might escape from the lower damper. If you plan to move it around, use thick oven mitts or quality welding gloves to grab the often-hot handles.
- Very versatile Kamando-style grill
- Can smoke slow-and-low
- Can grill high and hot
- Easy to clean
- Priced competitively
- Efficient and precise heat control
- It can get very hot
- A stray ember might escape bottom damper
- No non-stick coating on grill grates
- Center removable grates is small