The 9 Best Kamado Grills and Smokers to Buy in 2018

These old-school grills cook meat to perfection

kamado-grill-meat
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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 one of the top 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.

  • 01 of 09

    Kamado Joe Classic

    Kamado Joe Classic 18
    Kamado Joe Classic 18. Kamado Joe Ceramic Grills
    Excellent

    The cynic will tell you that this is a red (or black) version of the Big Green Egg. To be honest, the similarities are so great that the average person could probably not tell the difference between the two. The truth is that they cook the same, work the same, and the only real difference is how they are equipped. Lately, Kamado Joe has begun to look beyond just making extras into standard features and has started innovating, making them a more viable kamado solution.

  • 02 of 09

    Big Green Egg - Large

    Big Green Egg - Large
    Big Green Egg - Large. Big Green Egg

    The big green egg has been producing these Kamado Style grills for decades. This one is the most popular of their models and is big enough to cook one 20-pound turkey. What makes this unit great is that while it can produce high temperatures due to the focused heat of its ceramic shell, it can also hold low temperatures making it a great smoker. It's the versatility of the egg that makes it stand out as one of the great charcoal grills of our time. With many accessories available there really isn't much this charcoal grill can't do. At around $800 this large grill is for the person who plans to do a lot of cooking. You'll need to see where there is a local authorized dealer by you to purchase. 

  • 03 of 09

    Komodo Kamado OTB 23-inch Charcoal Grill

    Komodo Kamado Charcoal Grill - Blue Tile
    Komodo Kamado Charcoal Grill - Blue Tile. Komodo Kamado

    The history of the Kamado Charcoal Grill is too long and confusing to recount. Suffice to say that when Dennis Linkletter stumbled across these ceramic charcoal wonders, he knew he could make them better. From a reinvention of airflow, spring assisted lid, and laser cut stainless steel parts this is one loaded grill. It includes the EZQ Rotisserie system and the BBQ Guru temperature control blower. Anyone who knows eggs about Kamado grills knows that they grill at incredible temperatures and smoke at a perfect low and slow pace. This unit takes it to the next level and does it inside a shell of pure beauty.

  • 04 of 09

    Char-Broil Kamander

    Char-Broil Kamander Kamado Grill
    Char-Broil Kamander Kamado Grill. Char-Broil LLC

    Coming in around $350USD, this metal version of the Kamado from Char-Broil is a complete package including a wheeled 'cart', fold down side table, diffuser/water pan, and swing away warming rack. This model is one of the least expensive Kamado grills to ever hit the market and while it might not have the quality of its ceramic cousins, it is really hard to argue with the price. Functional and able to do everything that the others can, this might just be the most accessible Kamado grill ever made. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

    This smaller kamado grill has 153 square inches of cooking space and a 14-inch diameter cast iron grate that retains heat and produces excellent grill marks. Made from 22-gauge steel rather than ceramic, the grill is lighter in weight, affordable, and won’t crack or break. The powder coated finish and porcelain-coated interior help prevent rust, and the triple wall construction with insulation retains heat very well from 200 to 700 degrees. The handles make this easy to move to the proper grilling location.

    Top and bottom air dampers make it easy to adjust the cooking temperature and a hinged locking lid makes it easy to check the food during cooking. The integrated heat gauge lets you see at a glance that the cooking temperature is correct without opening the lid. There’s an easy-dump ash pan that makes cleanup easy when grilling is done.

  • 06 of 09

    Louisiana Grills 22" Ceramic Kamado

    louisiana-ceramic-grill
    Courtesy of Walmart

    Designed for grilling for four to six people, this kamado grill has a 299 square inch cooking grid made from 304 stainless steel that will never rust or corrode. The included removable top-tier rack increases the cooking surface to 575 square inches.

    This grill includes bamboo side shelves and an ash tool that makes cleanout easier. The beveled thermometer looks good and makes it simple to check the interior temperature without lifting the lid.
    The fire bowl can reach temperatures up to 700 degrees, and you can use either direct cooking or indirect, with the addition of a heat deflector (sold separately).

  • 07 of 09

    Pit Boss with Cover and Heat Deflector

    This kamado style cooker will look at home in your backyard, where it can handle food for a crowd on the 570 square inch cooking space on two-tier stainless steel cooking grids. Two bamboo side shelves give you plenty of room for plates, sauces, and cooking tools, then the shelves fold down to get out of the way when cooking is done.

    The top damper and slide vent give you precise control of the air flow and cooking temperature, so you’ll always get the results you look for, while the heat deflector makes indirect cooking a breeze as it provides a barrier between the flames and the food.
    The heavy lid has a spring-loaded hinge and dampers, so it will open and close easily, every time. The wheels lock to keep the grill from moving if accidentally bumped, then they unlock when you need to find a better location for cooking or you want to move the grill out of the way when cooking is done.

  • 08 of 09

    Cal Flame 21 in. Kamado Smoker Grill

    cal-flame-grill
    Courtesy of Home Depot

    You might know the Cal Flame brand from their high-end gas grills, but they also make quality kamado-style grills. The heavy ceramic and interior fireproof fabric seal in this grill help maintain even heat that’s perfect for just about every type of outdoor cooking including grilling, baking and slow and cool smoking.

    The top and bottom vents give ultimate control of the interior heat while the 304 stainless steel grill grates are easy to clean and won’t rust, corrode, or stain. The large wooden handle stays cool and offers a wide grip for lifting the hinged lid and the side shelves give you plenty of space for plates, barbecue tools, and spices, then they fold down when cooking is done to save space on the patio or in storage.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Hanover 19 in. Ceramic Kamado Grill in Desert with Stainless Steel Cart

    The unique desert color and the stainless steel cart will make this kamado-style grill stand out from the rest. But it’s not just about the looks. That sturdy four-wheeled cart makes it simple to roll the grill across the patio to the perfect cooking spot, then you can roll it out of the way when cooking is done. The casters have a dual-locking system, so you can keep them from pivoting or rolling, for better control. When fully locked, the grill won’t travel if it’s accidentally bumped during the party.

    The two integrated side shelves have plenty of room for condiments, grilling tools, and hot dog buns, then they fold down neatly against the sides of the grill when cooking is done.

    Adjustable draft doors let you control the airflow for the perfect cooking temperature from 200 to 700 degrees while the multi-level cooking surfaces with a total of 285 square inches let you cook closer or further from the heat. At the highest temperature — up to 1100 degrees — the grill cleans itself as it burns off food debris, drips, and grease, so there’s less cleanup to worry about when the party is over. 

Products Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 16 hours testing one of the most popular Kamado grills available. To get truly comprehensive feedback, we asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this Kamado grill, like its weight, amount of cooking space, and performance. We've outlined the major takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Kamado Grill

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.

Test Results: Kamado Joe Classic

Excellent

What We Like

  • Clear instructions

  • Wheels make it maneuverable despite weight

  • Impressive performance

What We Don't Like

  • Not quite enough cooking space

  • Ceramic pieces inside are very fragile

This grill’s performance impressed our testers thoroughly. “I'm obsessed with the fact that I can cook pizza on it,” raved one reviewer. “I'm smoking ribs this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. It's almost replaced my oven — we grill at least four times a week.” The only downfall was the size of the grill area, which our testers wished was a few inches bigger: “It would make grilling large amounts of food a lot easier, because right now I have to grill things in batches,” observed one reviewer.