The 8 Best Kamado Grills of 2023

You won't believe how much one of these can do for you

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Top Kamado Grills

The Spruce Eats / Lecia Landis

Kamado grills claim a legacy going back thousands of years, but a kamado grill as we know it today is an insulated egg-shaped grill with a hinged lid that creates plenty of space above and below the grates for airflow. The best kamado grills are still made of ceramic, though some are made of steel or even cast iron. Their thick walls give them excellent insulation, high efficiency, and the ability to hold very high and very low temperatures, making them perfect for both grilling and smoking.

"Kamado grills are made from heavy, engineered ceramic material and once heated or 'heat soaked,' they will cook very efficiently for hours with minimal effort," explained Paul Sidoriak of Grilling Montana. "They can be used to smoke a prime rib, roast veggies, bake a cheesecake, and grill up burgers—all in the same day! There’s almost nothing you can’t make on a kamado grill."

Understanding how the kamado works can be a little tricky at first, but once you learn how to control the temperature, this versatile grill can produce exceptional results—and it just may become your new favorite way to cook. We tested top models for months at a time, grilling and smoking everything from brisket to veggies to pizza, to offer the best recommendations in a variety of sizes and price points.

Best Overall

Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill


Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
  • Ease of Cleaning
  • Design
  • Value
  • Temperature Range
What We Like
  • Ceramic body retains excellent heat

  • Smoke chamber is included

  • Consistent temperatures and even smoking during testing

  • Easy to clean and maintain

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

  • Changing temperatures takes time

The folks at Kamado Joe certainly don’t rest on their laurels. While the previous Kamado Joe Classic was a high-quality grill that rated well in our tests, the Classic Joe III has reached another level of cooking perfection with the patented SlōRoller insert that creates cyclonic airflow that controls both the heat and smoke for low and slow cooking, all the way up to 500 degrees. When it’s time for higher temperatures, which can reach up to 750 degrees, the SlōRoller can be swapped out for heat deflector plates for the perfect sear on a steak or an amazing restaurant-style pizza.

This 510-square-inch grill has the 3-tier Divide and Conquer cooking system, which provides more cooking space closer or further from the coals, as well as different cooking surfaces for different types of food. In testing, we experimented with multiple recipes from baby back ribs to pizza, and every time the temperatures remained consistent throughout cooking. We quickly mastered controlling the heat and airflow with the vents, enough so that we felt confident leaving the grill unmonitored once the integrated thermometer reached the correct temperature.

The heavy-duty wheeled cart makes it easy to move into the perfect place for grilling, and the ash pan makes cleanup a breeze when cooking is done. While it's definitely a splurge, the Kamado Joe Classic III is a worthwhile upgrade from the Classic II thanks to its larger cooking area, SlōRoller insert, superior smoking abilities, heavy-duty cart, and dual-zone charcoal basket.

Price at time of publish: $1,999

kamado joe classic

The Spruce Eats / Renu Dhar

Cooking Area: 510 square inches | Temperature Range: 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 262.5 pounds | Dimensions: 46.5 x 50.5 x 30 inches

Runner-Up, Best Overall

Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill


Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
  • Ease of Cleaning
  • Design
  • Value
  • Temperature Range
What We Like
  • Eye-catching color and design

  • Incredible heat retention and performance

  • Simple to operate

  • Wide temperature range

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy to move

  • Temperature reductions take time

  • Expensive

It’s hard to find something to quibble about with this classic 18-inch grill that’s a clear favorite among users. From the stainless steel hardware to the lid that opens with two fingers and stays in any position to the unique ash drawer that makes clean-out easy, this grill is a pleasure to use. It has a total of 406 square inches of cooking space and can maintain heat from 225 to 750 degrees, so you can use it for low-and-slow cooking or blast the heat to quickly cook pizzas.

Just like the Classic Joe III, the Divide and Conquer cooking system lets you cook different foods at different temperatures, and the included grate gripper tool makes it easy to move or rearrange grates the way you want them. There's also an integrated thermometer, and the top vent is designed to stay exactly where you set it to maintain the heat you need. It takes a little while to comprehend the vent system for successful grilling, but once we were set up, grilling or smoking in any condition—even below freezing with strong winds—was smooth sailing. During testing, we were able to enjoy smoked ribs, grilled steaks, and pizza in the middle of winter.

We also like that the side shelves give you space for tools and plates, while the stand with four wheels lets you position the grill perfectly. You’ll get a multipurpose stainless steel rack, two halved grill grates, and two halved ceramic heat deflectors with this grill, so all you need is charcoal and some food to get started.

Price at time of publish: $1,299

kamado joe

The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Cooking Area: 406 square inches | Temperature Range: 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 232 pounds | Dimensions: 46.5 x 31 x 48 inches

Best Budget

Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill


Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
  • Ease of Cleaning
  • Design
  • Value
  • Temperature Range
What We Like
  • Low price

  • Exterior stays surprisingly cool

  • Lighter in weight than ceramic kamados

What We Don't Like
  • Smoking accessories not included

  • Heat control takes practice

This grill is made from triple-walled 22-gauge steel rather than ceramic, and it has a powder-coated exterior and porcelain-coated interior. Using steel instead of ceramic is nontraditional for a Kamado grill, but so is the price tag. This grill works well and is a quarter of the price. This grill offers 314 square inches of primary cooking space on cast iron cooking grates, plus an additional 133 inches on the upper rack, so you’ll have plenty of room for cooking, smoking, and more. It can maintain temperatures from 200 to 700 degrees for everything from low-and-slow to blasting hot. The damper has numbers on it, so you can easily remember the damper position you prefer.

After a small assembly hiccup and a good seasoning of the cast-iron grates, we were ready to put this to the test. Getting it into the right spot in the backyard was incredibly easy, but you should monitor it carefully when preheating. Its amazing insulation meant the internal temperature wasn't affected at all by what was going on outside. We found we could grill and smoke no matter what the weather was like.

This grill includes a cart made from tubular steel, with 8-inch rubber wheels to help you position it perfectly. While it’s still a heavyweight at 100 pounds, it’s lighter than ceramic grills of the same size. It also comes with a cookbook, which is helpful if you’re a kamado grill novice.

Price at time of publish: $375

akorn jr kamado grill with finished chicken wings on the side table

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

Cooking Area: 447 square inches | Temperature Range: 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 97 pounds | Dimensions: 45 x 31 x 47 inches

Best Smart

Kamado Joe Konnected Joe 18-Inch Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker

Kamado Joe Konnected 18-Inch Joe Charcoal Grill and Smoker

Kamado Joe

What We Like
  • Incredibly easy to use

  • Effective temperature control system

  • Performs exceptionally with wide range of cooking methods

  • Easy to move around

What We Don't Like
  • App could use some minor fixes

  • Displayed temperature only updates when grill is opened/closed

  • Removing grill grates to add charcoal can be difficult

We've been big fans of Kamado Joe for years so we jumped at the chance to test its latest offering ahead of its summer 2023 release. The Konnected Joe Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker, now available for pre-order, is a smart grill that features an automatic starter so you can light your charcoal with the press of a button, a digital "Kontrol Board" for tracking temperature and cook times, and an app for monitoring everything from afar.

We tasked our Lab's Editorial Project Manager John Somerall with putting this new release through its paces. John has more than 10 years of professional culinary experience and is a year-round griller who fires up a grill at least once a week. After using it consistently for over a month, he's a fan: "I'd never used a smart charcoal grill before, but if this is the future of charcoal grilling, then the future is looking very bright!"

Our initial testing involved setup of the grill (fairly straightforward, but a second person is recommended) and installing the app (we tested a beta version). Downloading and connecting the app is quick and easy. The app is very thorough regarding the data it displays. It shows the grill's current temperature recorded by the grill's built-in wired probe thermometer and matches the temperature displayed by the Kontrol Board to an accuracy within 2-3 degrees depending on how the app seems to pair and update via the Kontrol Board. The app also displays the preset or target temperature as well as a timer to keep track of your cook times. You can also connect up to three wired-probe thermometers to be used however you'd like. The temperatures recorded by the grill's external wired-probe thermometer scroll along the bottom of the Kontrol Board's display screen. 

Our favorite app feature? The session graph, which conveniently shows all of the data recorded by the Konnected Joe in one place and tracks the temperature data via a line graph. This feature is exceptionally useful when performing longer smoking sessions where you want to track the internal temperature of your meat (and see when you hit and break through "the stall," for example) as well as track how well the grill maintains a consistent temperature. You can also use the app to turn the grill off. 

To test performance using the automatic mode, we grilled veggies, a tomahawk steak, and brisket (long smoke). Zucchini, red onions, and corn all came out evenly charred and tender, but there were no defined grill marks. The steak came out with a nice sear and was unbelievably juicy, especially considering it was cooked to medium/medium+ after resting for 10 minutes. The sear was a deep brown with hints of gold around the caramelized fat caps, and the grill marks, while somewhat faint, were lightly charred. The brisket was incredibly juicy and retained its integrity when handled as nothing was falling apart or overly dry. The cubed pieces of brisket were then tossed in bourbon-infused bbq sauce and drizzled with honey before returning to the smoker to prepare the burnt ends. The finished burnt ends came out deeply caramelized—tender and juicy with a somewhat crisp exterior.

One issue we had when grilling the steak was that the internal temperature registered by the grill's external wired-probe thermometer (plugged into the Kontrol Board) only updated when the lid was opened and then closed. The temperature displayed on the Kontrol Board was not a "live" recording of the steak's internal temperature, which is problematic. We went ahead and inserted an additional wired-probe thermometer into the steak to monitor the internal temperature—something we'd recommend to be on the safe side.

Overall, this grill is remarkably accurate when it comes to regulating a preset temperature, and we think the experience could only be improved with a few updates to the Konnected Joe Kontrol Board's firmware and the Kamado Joe app.

Ease of use is where this grill really shines. The automatic starter is a game-changer and the temperature-regulating features—Kontrol Fan that automatically maintains temperature and Kontrol Tower top vent for consistent air setting during dome opening and closing—make this a super accessible option for beginners. When one of our testers brought this home for more long-term extensive testing, he noted that his wife, who is relatively new to grilling, found that this model eased her anxiety, and it's made its way into weeknight use because of the efficiency factor.

Price at time of publish: $1,699

Kamado Konnected Joe

The Spruce Eats/Donna Currie

Cooking Area: 250 square inches | Temperature Range: 225 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 216 pounds | Dimensions: 48 x 47 inches

Best with Table

Vision Grills Kamado Pro Ceramic Charcoal Grill with Grill Cover


Home De Pot

What We Like
  • Ceramic shell holds heat for even cooking

  • Excellent ventilation gives you great heat control

  • Works great as a smoker

  • Can be shut down to snuff out remaining charcoal

What We Don't Like
  • Sacrifices a level of quality for lots of gimmicks

Most kamado grills come with stands, but this one takes the design to another level with an acacia wood table that holds and surrounds the grill, making it look like a quality piece of furniture for your deck or backyard. The table gives plenty of space for grilling tools and accessories, plates, and condiments next to the grill, with even more storage on the shelf below. The table is slatted, so rainwater will easily drain off, and has wheels that make it easier to position it in the perfect place.

You won't be disappointed with the grill either. It has a bi-level stainless-steel cooking grate that offers 604 square inches of primary cooking space. It's easy to light via an electric starter, though you can purchase a gas converter kit. When it comes to controlling the internal temperature, the vent dials have settings to help you find the right amount of airflow. There's also a top vent, and reviewers comment that it maintains a stable temperature for hours of smoking.

Price at time of publish: $800

Cooking Area: 604 square inches | Temperature Range: 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 191 pounds | Dimensions: 52.75 x 29 x 47.9 inches

Best Small

Big Green Egg 13 in. Small Charcoal Kamado Grill and Smoker Green

best kamado grills

Ace Hardware

What We Like
  • Small without losing functionality

  • Easy to control heat temperature

  • Multiple accessories

What We Don't Like
  • Not easily moved

The Small Big Green Egg is a ceramic kamado grill that is part of the family of Big Green Eggs that range from Mini to 2XL. The Small is a great size for patios and those needing to feed two to four people. While it only has a 13-inch grilling surface, the Small Big Green Egg keeps all the functionality of the larger models by maintaining the same shape. It has the same capacity to reach high temperatures for searing and maintain low temperatures for smoking as the larger models. The ceramic firebox ensures a quick starting fire and is set low inside the body to avoid flare-ups. A prominent temperature gauge, as well as the patented airflow system, allows for stress-free temperature control. 

Another bonus to the Big Green Egg is the sheer number of accessories offered to enhance the cooking experience, such as the stand and the acacia-wood shelves. When setting this up, keep in mind that the top-heavy shape and 80-pound weight of the grill make moving it inconvenient. The ceramic body is breakable so it's best to find a spot to keep the Big Green Egg year-round to avoid any mishaps. Luckily, low-maintenance stainless-steel grates make for easy cleanup.

Price at time of publish: $660

Cooking Area: 133 square inches | Temperature Range: 215 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 80 pounds | Dimensions: 22 x 16 inches

Best Oval

Primo Grills All-In-One Oval Junior 200 Ceramic Kamado Grill



What We Like
  • Includes cradle and some accessories

  • 0.75-inch thick ceramic wall

  • Top and bottom vent have multiple position options

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey for its size

If you prefer an oval shape, which some grillers say maintains heat more efficiently, then check out this grill from Primo Grills. It features 0.75-inch thick ceramic and includes a cradle, side shelves, a grate lifter, and an ash tool. In this grill, you can cook with both indirect and direct heat, and it has reversible stainless steel cooking grates. To control that heat, you have a top vent, which can be placed in six different positions, as well as a bottom vent that has five position options. Of course, there's a built-in thermometer to help watch the internal temperature.

This brand has one of the highest-sitting lids, which allows you to cook a chicken or turkey vertically. A locking hinge system keeps the lid open securely with a soft close, so the ceramic doesn’t chip when the lid closes.

Price at time of publish: $1,579

Cooking Area: 210 square inches | Temperature Range: 180 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 145 pounds | Dimensions: 22.75 x 43.88 x 51 inches

Best for Beginners

Char-Griller Akorn Auto-Kamado


Home De Pot

What We Like
  • Temperature can be controlled via an app

  • Large cooking area

  • Lighter in weight

What We Don't Like
  • Steel doesn't retain heat as well as ceramic

Cooking with a kamado grill can be quite a learning experience, but this one is unlike any other. The Akorn Auto-Kamado has a large cooking area—445 square inches—and is pretty light comparatively speaking. But perhaps the coolest feature is how it's used with an app on your phone! Sure, you can adjust the temperature via the knob on the LCD control screen, but it's arguably more fun to use use the app when the grill is connected via Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi.

Once it is on and heated up, you can use the grill to bake, roast, smoke, and sear. The integrated fan does the rest—making sure heat from the coals travels every inch of the inside of the grill. The cast iron cooking grates and Easy Dump ash pan make cleanup easy, and the wheels mean you can maneuver it to wherever you want to show it off. One thing to note is the grill is painted steel, not ceramic. It is triple-insulated, but you might notice that it doesn't retain heat as well as true kamado grills.

Price at time of publish: $450

Cooking Area: 445 square inches | Temperature Range: 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 95 pounds | Dimensions: 48 x 45 x 31 inches

Final Verdict

The Kamado Joe Classic III is pricey, but worth every penny, thanks to an impressive temperature range, superior smoking abilities, a three-tier cooking system, and a heavy-duty cart that will wow any griller. If you find the price a bit too high, you can get a similar performance from the earlier model, Kamado Joe Classic II, at a slightly more budget-friendly price.

How We Tested

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best kamado grills on the market, evaluating their key features, and speaking with experts for their recommendations. We fully tested options from top brands by grilling and smoking brisket, veggies, steak, pizza, and more. Our testers evaluated these grills' design, temperature control, and ease of use. These kamado grills are also being long-term tested by our experts so we can further update our recommendations with any durability issues over time. The Spruce Eats grills year-round. As new models hit the market, we will continue to evaluate how our favorite grills stack up to the competition and update this roundup with further testing data.

What to Look for in a Kamado Grill


Ceramic is the favored material for a kamado grill because it’s durable and provides excellent heat retention at both high and low temperatures. The thicker the ceramic, the better job it will do maintaining temperatures—and the heavier it is. Indeed, weight is the main drawback of ceramic. While it’s highly resistant to heat, cold, and other outdoor elements, if you were to drop a ceramic grill (because, you know, it’s heavy), it could easily crack on impact. Many competitive barbecuers have developed innovative methods for transporting their ceramic grills, but others opt for lighter-weight, double- or triple-walled steel models. Steel is lighter and less expensive than ceramic, but because it’s more susceptible to the elements and corrosion, it won’t last nearly as long. Kamado grills may also be made of cast iron. 


Due to their vertical design, freestanding kamado grills don’t have a huge footprint, but they are somewhat limited when it comes to cooking surface area. The listed size of a kamado grill refers to the diameter of the grill grate. The overall diameter of the grill will be about 6 to 10 inches more, not counting any stands, handles, or table attachments. In order to have enough space to grill burgers for a crowd or smoke multiple whole birds, you’re going to want at least an 18- or 24-inch grill, which gets into "large" or "extra-large" territory—but remember, the bigger they are, the heavier they get, so keep that in mind if you move frequently or plan to travel with your kamado grill. For comparison, while the standard Weber kettle grill is 22 inches and weighs 32 pounds, a 24-inch Kamado Joe weighs 371 pounds and a 24-inch Big Green Egg weighs 219 pounds.  

Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill close up of top vent and thermometer

 The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Bells and Whistles

The beauty of a kamado grill is its ability to maintain temperature so simply. In its most basic form, a kamado grill has an egg-shaped body with a hinged lid, grill grates, and top and bottom vents (most feature a daisy wheel, which is a vent cover, on top)—the latter to let the user control the airflow in order to maintain or adjust the temperature. Most models also have a built-in or replaceable thermometer on the lid. We recommend against gimmicky features like built-in electronic or motorized elements, as they’re unlikely to work for the lifetime of the grill. Instead, we recommend putting your money toward a material or size upgrade and using accessories or attachments that can be easily removed and replaced. 


There are a few accessories that you absolutely need (legs and a reliable thermometer to start) and others that will make cooking on a kamado grill much easier and more enjoyable (e.g., table, grill grate expander, ceramic heat deflector, etc.). Some brands include everything you need to get started, while others sell a basic grill body and allow you to pick and choose your preferred accessories for an additional cost. The cost of the accessories can add up quickly, too, so when shopping, pay close attention to what’s included with the grill you want to buy. 


A kamado grill—especially a large ceramic one—is an investment, and for most buyers, it will be important to protect that investment. Before you buy, be sure to read the brand’s warranty information, as many of the lifetime warranties only cover certain grill parts while other components have much more limited terms. If you’re considering buying a kamado grill secondhand, you may want to rethink that decision as some of the top brands will only honor the manufacturer’s warranty for the original owner.

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker with cooked baby back ribs on grate

The Spruce Eats / Cheyenne Elwell 


This is one category where price is generally pretty indicative of materials, craftsmanship, and size. With so many options on the market, the cost of kamado grills can vary greatly, with smaller steel models starting around $300, and high-end "designer" kamados commanding nearly $10,000. For the most part, hobby grillers should expect to spend $1,000 to $2,000 for a large ceramic kamado grill with enough accessories to start cooking. That said, it’s certainly possible to spend more or less depending on what brand you buy and what accessories you purchase with it. 


Big Green Egg

When most people think of a Kamado-style grill or egg-shaped smoker, they think of a Big Green Egg. That’s because the brand has been making high-quality kamado grills since 1974. For more than 30 years, it was the go-to brand for this style of grill. You can only get a Big Green Egg through an authorized seller—which sometimes made buying one a challenge in the past, but many retailers now sell online and even offer free shipping. The brand now manufactures its signature deep-green kamado grills in seven sizes, from 10 inches (Mini EGG) to 29 inches (2XL EGG). 

Louisiana Grills K22 Ceramic Kamado with lid open

The Spruce Eats / Cheyenne Elwell

Kamado Joe 

Newer to the market, but no less popular, the Kamado Joe brand is Big Green Egg’s biggest competitor. With its signature red exterior, Kamado Joe grills are high-quality ceramic cookers with a range of innovative accessories. Most sizes also feature the brand’s proprietary Divide & Conquer tiered grates, which allow the user to elevate half of the grill grate. Kamado Joe grills are also more accessible, with availability at big retailers (including Amazon) as well as specialty barbecue stores. The brand currently sells 10 different models (including an 18-inch pellet version) with a variety of features and accessories. The smallest is the 13.5-inch Joe Jr., while the Big Joe and Pro Joe models are 24 inches.

Comparing the Two 

It’s hard to talk about buying a Big Green Egg without also talking about buying a Kamado Joe and vice versa. Both brands are known for their superior quality and customer service, and both offer a limited lifetime warranty on ceramic parts, as well as various warranties on other grill parts. There’s sometimes a misconception among Big Green Egg devotees that Kamado Joe is the "cheaper alternative", when in fact, comparable Kamado Joe models are generally more expensive. That’s due (at least in part) to the fact that Kamado Joe grills include more accessories with the initial purchase. When you buy a Kamado Joe, you have everything you need to start cooking right out of the box—whereas with a Big Green Egg, even some of the most basic accessories need to be purchased separately. This means the process of buying a Big Green Egg may be more enjoyable for grillers and smokers who know exactly what they want, while the included Kamado Joe accessories may be more appealing to someone new to this style of grill. 

Louisiana Grills K22 Ceramic Kamado with burger buns on grate

 The Spruce Eats / Cheyenne Elwell


Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe may be the most ubiquitous brands on the market, but they’re not the only manufacturers of kamado-style grills. Plenty of competitors, such as Char-Griller and Char-Broil, have entered the space with steel models, and Vision has a line of (comparatively) affordable ceramic models. The most worthy competitor, however, may be the Primo Oval, a ceramic kamado grill that comes in four sizes and features a sleek black exterior. 


When properly maintained, a ceramic kamado grill can last a lifetime (and it will perform better every time you cook). Like any grill, you will need to thoroughly clean the grates after every use. It’s also important to clean out the ashes with regularity to ensure the grill can breathe. But if you’re just doing a quick cook, like searing a steak or cooking burgers, you can kill the airflow and save the coals for your next cook. If you’re doing a low-and-slow overnight cook and have no coals left, you’ll want to clean the ashes out before adding more coals. The daisy wheel will need to be cleaned when it gets sticky or clogged, while other parts, like the gasket (the heat-safe stripping that provides a tight seal when the grill is closed), will likely need to be replaced over time. A grill cover is an affordable investment that not only protects the exterior of your grill, but also helps keep moisture out of the interior when it rains or snows.

kamado-joe-classic-iii with food grilling on the grate

The Spruce Eats / Renu Dhar


There’s a seemingly endless list of accessories available for kamado-style cookers (here are some of our favorites), but there’s one that’s a must. No matter what make and model you choose, you’ll need something to elevate your kamado grill, because the bottom vent on the underside is integral to airflow and operation. Some brands and styles come with a basic stand, while you may need to buy legs or a cart for others. So if you’re making a cost comparison, factor in this potential purchase. 

A handful of Kamado Joe-brand accessories, including the JoeTisserie rotisserie attachment, will fit the Big Green Egg. Many kamado users also love the addition of a ceramic surface to deflect heat. This allows for indirect cooking, and many cooks use it to turn their grill into a smoker or outdoor oven. Both Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe have their own version of this ceramic piece, and you can use them interchangeably between both brands. 

Beyond Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe, many brands manufacture accessories—like upgraded chimney caps, grilling surface expanders, and digital temperature controllers—for kamado-style grills. It’s also possible to increase cooking surface area with a variety of grill grate attachments and expanders, which create an additional surface for indirect cooking, warming, smoking, and more. 

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker with baby fire on charcoal

The Spruce Eats / Cheyenne Elwell 


What is a kamado grill?

Kamado grills are fairly unique in their design, and these grills stand out from other charcoal grills thanks to their egg-shaped form and ceramic walls. The ceramic exterior retains heat better than traditional metal grills, and it also helps to keep moisture and smoke sealed inside, giving your food a richer flavor.

How do you light a kamado grill?

Lighting a kamado grill is very similar to lighting a charcoal grill. You'll want to open its air vents all the way to ensure oxygen can enter the chamber, then you can use a chimney starter or electric starter to light your lump charcoal.

How do you clean a kamado grill?

As with any grill, you'll want to use a grill brush to clean the grates of your kamado grill after cooking. Additionally, it's important to empty the ash collection pan after each use—you're typically able to slide the pan out from the bottom of the grill.

Once or twice a year, you'll want to give your grill a more thorough cleaning. Use a plastic bristle brush to clean the inner walls of your kamado grill, and vacuum out any lingering debris in the bottom. This is also a good time to check the tightness of the grill bands to ensure they stay in place properly.

Are kamado grills good for smoking?

Kamado grills are popular for smoking for several reasons. First, thanks to their superior heat retention, they're able to smoke for a long time using just a small amount of charcoal. Further, they seal in moisture better than many other smokers, which keeps your meat from drying out. Their round shape also encourages smoke to circulate within the cooking chamber, infusing lots of flavor into your food.

How do you control the temperature on a kamado grill?

Kamado grills do have a bit of a learning curve, especially if you typically cook on a gas or pellet grill. To control the temperature of a kamado grill, you have to adjust the vents at the top and bottom of the cooking chamber. For high temperatures, you'll want to open the vents more to let oxygen into the grill, and for low temperature, keep the vents partially closed.

How do you use a kamado grill?

Although there’s a bit of a learning curve, you’ll quickly discover how stable the temperature inside a kamado grill is once you get the hang of things. For starters, always use natural lump charcoal, which burns more efficiently. Fill the grill box with charcoal chunks, putting the biggest pieces on the bottom. To get the fire going, tuck a fire starter brick or two into the charcoal, sort of nestled in, but not all the way to the bottom. Alternatively, you can use an electric starter to ignite the charcoal quickly. Never use lighter fluid to start a kamado grill because it will penetrate the ceramic and cause a funky odor.

Make sure the bottom intake and top vent are open all the way. Now, let the grill come to your desired temperature. You’ll use a combination of the top and bottom vents to control the amount of air that flows through the grill. The more air allowed in, the hotter the grill will get. To cook at a lower temperature, limit the airflow that comes in the bottom and escapes from the top. Try not to let your grill get above your desired temperature because it’s difficult to lower because of how ceramic holds the heat. Once you reach temperature, start cooking.

Why are kamado grills so expensive?

They’re pricey because they’re made from thick, heavy, heat-resistant ceramic rather than lightweight, relatively inexpensive metal. However, because of their solid construction, they typically last many more years than a traditional grill.

What can you cook on a kamado grill?

Basically, anything you can cook on a regular grill. You can sear a steak, grill veggies or fruit, or use your grill as an outdoor oven to bake pizza or grill polenta. It’s also ideal for smoking salmon, a whole chicken, or pork butt.

Can you use briquettes, wood, or wood pellets in a kamado grill?

Read your manufacturer’s instructions for fuel recommendations; search your model number online if you don’t have it handy. Generally, natural lump charcoal is the recommended fuel because it’s made from charred wood with no additives and burns hotter and more efficiently than briquettes. You can also use hardwood chunks, such as maple, oak, pecan, or hickory to further imbue smoky flavors to your food. Most kamado grills can use wood pellets, too, but read the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure. If so, use wood pellets marked for outdoor cooking, not the ones manufactured for heating.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a cookbook author as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She stays up to date on all the latest grills and gadgets and personally tested a kamado grill for this roundup.

Danielle Centoni is the author of five cookbooks and a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She also tested one of the most popular kamado grills on this list.

This roundup was updated by Arricca SanSone, who has been grilling since she owned her first tiny hibachi in college. She’ll grill anything, but her favorite food to grill is homemade pizza with veggies and herbs from her own garden. She is a health and lifestyle writer for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, House Beautiful, PureWow, and many others.

Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days. She also updated this article to include the most up-to-date information.


Additional reporting by
Arricca SanSone
Aaricca SanSone
Arrica Sansone is a health and lifestyle writer with a focus on home and garden.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Emily Farris
Emily Farris
Emily is a food and lifestyle writer. Her writing, recipes, food styling and photography have appeared in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Apartment Therapy, and more. 
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Updated by
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald is a journalist living in New York City and Commerce Updates Editor for The Spruce Eats. She has written and edited health, wellness, food, and fitness content as well as recipes for multiple publications.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
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