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Kamado Grills claim a legacy going back thousands of years. Their thick walls—usually made from ceramic—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. Think you might want to invest in one? We did thorough research, rounded up the top options on the market, and even spent extra time testing a couple of models to make sure we mastered the chicken and perfected the ribs. In the end, it was worth it, despite that nasty barbecue stain on our favorite apron.
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, 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.
The integrated thermometer makes it easy to monitor the internal temperature, while the top vent makes it simple to control the smoke and heat. The heavy-duty wheeled cart makes it easy to move into the perfect place for grilling, and the ash pan makes cleanout a breeze when cooking is done.
Like the Classic Joe II, this has the three-tier Divide and Conquer cooking system that allows cooking in layers, which provides more cooking space closer or further from the coals, as well as different cooking surfaces for different types of food. The total cooking space with the system is 510 square inches, so it’s great for family dinners as well as parties.
Another benefit of Kamado Joe grills is the variety of accessories available to further customize the cooking experience.
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 a breeze, 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.
The integrated thermometer lets you check the temperature easily, and the top vent is designed to stay exactly where you set it, to maintain the heat you need. The side shelves give you space for tools and plates, while the stand with four wheels lets you position the grill perfectly.
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. 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 grill.
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 200-700 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.
This grill is made from triple-walled 22-gauge steel rather than ceramic, and it has a powder-coated exterior and porcelain-coated interior. Two metal shelves give you space for sauces, rubs, and spices, and they fold down to get out of the way when not in use. When it’s time to clean up, the ash pan makes it easy.
This 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.
This grill will appeal to folks on a budget as well as people who don’t want to commit to a large, heavy grill. At just 37 pounds, this is petite enough to be portable. Side handles make this easy to move, while short, sturdy legs keep it stable on uneven surfaces.
The 153 square inches of primary cooking space is enough for a family meal on the 14-inch diameter cast iron cooking grate. Even though it’s small, this has many of the features of a larger grill, including triple-walled 22-gauge steel construction and the ability to maintain temperatures from 200 to 700 degrees. The interior is coated with enamel, while the exterior is powder coated, and the ash pan makes cleanup easy.
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 tools, 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. This grill has a bi-level cooking grate that offers 214 square inches of primary cooking space. Duluth Forge also offers larger grills, sold without a table.
Shaped more like a keg than an egg, the double-walled steel body keeps this grill insulated while keeping the total weight down to 126 pounds, so this is easier to move than ceramic grills of the same size. It has a durable powder-coated finish that will resist rust and stay attractive for years.
The 280-square-inch primary cooking grid is made from cast iron while the 200-square-inch secondary area has a chrome-plated steel grid that easily rotates out of the way when you need to get to the food on the lower rack. The side shelves let you keep tools and spices nearby, and are removable if you don’t need them. The large wheels, steel frame, and sturdy handle make this easy to move when you need to.
When you’re ready for a big kamado grill and you have space to keep it, this 24-inch grill is one you should take a close look at. Highly rated by users, it has 452 square inches of cooking space, so you can feed a crowd with ease.
The cooking grids are made from commercial-grade 304 stainless steel that won’t rust or corrode, so cleaning is easy. This features the Divide and Conquer cooking system so you can cook on different levels which means you’re also cooking at different temperatures.
The air-lift hinge lets you raise the heavy lid with just two fingers, and it will stay in position when you let go. A grate gripper lets you grab the grates to remove or reposition them safely during cooking, and the patented slide-out ash drawer makes ash removal easy when the cooking is done. An ash tool is included for thorough cleaning when needed. This grill weighs 250 pounds, so even though it has a wheeled cart, you’re unlikely to move it very far once you’ve decided on the perfect cooking space.
The ideal Kamado grill for singles and couples, this little guy offers 85 square inches of cooking space. It’s made from ceramic just like bigger grills, so it weighs in at a bit under 50 pounds, but it’s compact enough for small spaces with an exterior diameter of 13 inches. The short legs keep the heat away from whatever surface it sits on, but those stubby legs make it low to the ground. It might be best if it’s perched on a table.
The heat is controlled like a standard Kamado, with a bottom damper and a top vent, and it retains heat well for low and slow cooking. This comes with a waterproof cover so it can live outdoors, but it’s small enough to pick up and move for out-of-season storage. If this grill is just a little too small, the same model is available in a 16-inch (exterior) grill with a 13-inch diameter cooking surface, thicker walls, and a 138 square inches of cooking space.
Weight Let’s face it — a large ceramic Kamado grill is the opposite of portable. It’s heavy, and ceramic can crack or break if dropped. However, smaller Kamado grills (and those made from other materials) are lighter, and some come with wheeled carts to make them a bit easier to move. Does portability matter to you?
Cooking space Do you plan on cooking a full-size turkey in your grill, or are you more likely to grill chicken wings, burgers, and brats for two? If you need extra space but don’t want to commit to a larger grill, two-tiered racks can offer that to you.
Accessories As Kamado grills become more popular, more accessories are being made to enhance them. Some grill companies have their own line of add-ons, while third-party manufacturers have joined in on the fun by making fans, covers, rotisseries, special grates, and more. If add-ons are appealing, check to make sure the grill you choose can fit the accessories you want.