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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. Here, the best kamado grills on the market.
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 Big Green Egg has plenty of loyal fans, plenty of sizes to choose from, and a wide range of accessories that make this grill a worthy contender when shopping for a kamado. Plus, the company liberally uses eggy turns of phrases when naming its … EGGcessories.
The Large Big Green Egg is the most popular size and it can be used with all the egg accessories for baking, roasting, and smoking. It’s large enough for families, but not so large that it requires a team of volunteers to move it around. The grid is 18.25 inches in diameter and has 262 square inches of cooking space, which is enough to cook a 20-pound turkey, eight steaks, or 12 burgers. For big crowds, six chickens or seven racks of ribs can be cooked vertically. This weighs 162 pounds, so it’s not lightweight, but when placed on a wheeled “nest,” (sold separately) it’s easier to move into place.
The oval shape of the Primo grill is said to provide more efficient cooking than its round counterparts. This is the large version of the Primo, with 300 square inches of cooking space. For people who need more cooking space without investing in a larger grill, the optional rack system can add another 195 inches. Even without the extra space, this can handle a dozen burgers, six chickens, one whole turkey, or eight racks of ribs, so there’s plenty of space to cook for the family or for a party.
This grill comes in a variety of configurations, so you can customize it with a cart, table, or cradle, and there’s even an all-in-one package with extras. The Primo comes in larger and smaller sizes, and there’s even a gas model for those who don’t want to use charcoal.
The Kamado Joe Classic Joe III is the latest, state-of-the-art version of the brand's popular grill and earns our top spot. Looking for something more budget-friendly? Check out the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill.
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.
The Ultimate Kamado Grill Buying Guide
By Emily Farris
When U.S. servicemen returned from the occupation of Japan after World War II, they brought with them kamado-style cooking—a Japanese method of grilling with charcoal in a ceramic cooker. Entrepreneur Ed Fisher, the founder of Big Green Egg, was the first to manufacture a modern-day kamado grill in the United States in the 1970s, and since then, kamado cooking has continued to grow in popularity, with dozens of brands now selling kamado grills at various sizes and price points.
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 while the user controls the temperature with vents on the top and bottom. The best kamado grills are still made of ceramic, though some are made of steel or even cast iron.
Although a kamado grill is first and foremost a grill, it also makes an amazing smoker because it's so good at retaining heat and maintaining temperatures. Some people even use their kamado grill as an outdoor oven. You can use it to slow-smoke brisket and pork, sear thick steaks over high heat, wood-fire a pizza, and even bake brownies.
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. Here is everything you need to know before you buy 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 of 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, free-standing 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 six 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
For those who love to cook outside, a kamado grill is a great investment. And depending on what you buy, it’s one that can last a lifetime if properly maintained. While some outdoor cooks may find that the mobility of a steel model outweighs the benefits of a ceramic version, we generally recommend a ceramic kamado grill for its durability and heat stability. Before you buy, think about what accessories you’ll actually use and make sure they’re available for the grill you want. There are also plenty of online communities for users of Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, and even Primo grills. Consider joining a group to see how people are using their grills, what they complain about, and what they love before you invest in a ceramic kamado grill of your own.