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Best kamado grills: Kamado Joe, Big Green Egg, Char-Griller and more

Cooking over an actual wooden hearth is among the large advantages of kamado grills. And the meals you prepare dinner in them, imbued with an exquisite smokey taste, is downright scrumptious. Kamados can do nearly any model of yard cooking job too. Actually if you know the way, they run rings round your peculiar fuel grill.  

Usually comprised of ceramics, they maintain warmth with wonderful effectivity. A small quantity of gasoline goes a good distance, letting you run a kamado at low and sluggish temperatures all day lengthy. Plus, you’ll be able to hearth up Kamado grills to turn into scalding sizzling. I am speaking sizzling sufficient to prepare dinner off actual wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. They’re additionally nice for searing true steakhouse-style steak, and actually absolutely anything you’ll be able to consider grilling. 

The Big Green Egg is the best-known instance of a conventional kamado grill and kamado smoker, however competing manufacturers like Kamado JoeVisionChar-Griller and Char-Broil spherical out this class of grills. Must you be tempted so as to add one to your arsenal and turn into a extra severe griller, I put the Massive Inexperienced Egg and its 4 main grilling rivals to the take a look at over 200 hours to seek out the perfect kamado-style grill — here is what I discovered.

Learn extra: Greatest fuel grills of 2020: Weber, Char-Broil and others


Ribs, rooster, burgers: You title it, we cooked it.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Over 200 smoke-filled hours later, I’ve cooked greater than 20 kilos of pork ribs, six chickens and 10 kilos of burgers, together with a couple of steaks for good measure. In spite of everything of that, I can say with conviction which manufacturers make the perfect kamado grill for my style, and which of them it is best to keep away from.  

Listed here are my critiques and picks for the perfect kamado grill choices of 2020, which I will replace as I evaluate new merchandise.

Learn extraGreatest fuel grills of 2020

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At $1,699, the Kamado Joe Traditional III might have a steep worth, nevertheless it delivers a lot for the cash. Meaning a lot of kamado grilling equipment that do not come commonplace with different grills, together with the Massive Inexperienced Egg Kamado. This kamado grill and smoker performs nicely too. In our slow-and-low barbecue grill take a look at, we alter grills to 225 F (107 C) and let go of the controls to see what occurs. On this trial, the Kamado Joe Traditional III demonstrated wonderful temperature management.

The grill received somewhat sizzling within the first 30 minutes (315 F) however then settled down on the 1-hour mark. From there it coasted on cruise management, parking the needle between 253 F and 219 F for nearly three hours. Solely the Massive Inexperienced Egg turned in a tighter temperature curve, buzzing alongside for hours throughout the smoking candy spot.

One characteristic that basically units the Traditional III aside is one thing known as the SloRoller. Billed as a “hyperbolic smoke chamber” by Kamado Joe, it is an hourglass-shaped metallic contraption that sits over the hearth. The equipment features as each a warmth deflector and a convection assist. Basically it stops radiant warmth generated by the coals from hanging meals sitting above (on the grill grate). This prevents the meat from drying out throughout lengthy cooking occasions. In response to Kamado Joe, it additionally encourages air (smoke) circulation throughout the cooking chamber.

Actually, there are a ton of extras bundled with the Traditional III proper within the field. That features a further set of ceramic warmth deflectors (one for every half of the grill), a coal stoker and an aluminum charcoal basket. You get two halved aluminum grates and an ash elimination software as nicely, plus a three-level cooking rack which you could configure as wanted for grilling.

In contrast, every thing on the Massive Inexperienced Egg besides the stand prices additional. Bear in mind, you can too save somewhat by selecting Kamado Joe’s Traditional II. For $1,200 it is nearly similar to the Traditional III, however lacks the SloRoller accent and has a distinct stand.

The development of the Traditional III feels very strong; I particularly just like the sturdy facet cabinets, preferrred for grilling and smoking, additionally commonplace. All that makes this among the finest kamado grills, in case you can afford it.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Massive Inexperienced Egg, the corporate that began the kamado craze, nonetheless has a winner. Of all of the kamado-style grill choices in my take a look at group, the Giant BGE mannequin had the perfect temperature efficiency and stability. As soon as tuned to a low and sluggish temperature of 225 F, the Egg just about ran itself. In response to our temperature gauge, the Inexperienced Egg caught to this temperature vary, with solely minor and rare fluctuations.

The Giant Massive Inexperienced Egg additionally felt probably the most responsive. If for any cause I needed to make an adjustment to both the highest or backside air vents, I noticed a change rapidly. I usually observed course corrections in as little as 6 or 7 minutes. 

The meals I cooked within the Giant Massive Inexperienced Egg got here out fairly tasty as nicely. Whereas my BGE take a look at unit lacked the additional warmth deflector accent, rooster and pork ribs had convincing barbecue taste. Whereas not as scrumptious as what I smoked within the Kamado Joe Traditional III, meals from the BGE got here in a really shut second. Massive Inexperienced Egg does make a warmth deflector accent, known as the ConvEGGtor, nevertheless it’s an additional add-on.

True to its title, the Giant Massive Inexperienced Egg kamado grill and smoker is large, providing you with a lot of house so you’ll be able to grill, smoke and prepare dinner to your coronary heart’s want.  

That is why I like to recommend the Giant Massive Inexperienced Egg as among the finest kamado grills for nearly anybody. You may should undergo an area vendor, and, once more, in contrast to the Kamado Joe Traditional III, every thing besides the stand is additional. Finally although, the full price of the Giant Massive Inexperienced Egg ought to be lower than the absolutely decked-out Traditional III.


The Char-Griller Akorn offers actual kamado efficiency at a rock-bottom worth. It prices simply $299, which is unbelievable contemplating typical kamado grills will set you again $800 to $1,000. The Akorn’s cooking temperature and temperature management aren’t as inherently steady because the dearer kamados I used. I think that is as a result of the Akorn’s physique is constructed from triple-walled metal, versus heavy ceramic. The grill’s hearth was additionally tougher to ignite and hold lit than the Massive Inexperienced Egg’s and Kamado Joe Traditional III’s.

Once I let it burn by way of our low-and-slow take a look at (adjusted to 225 F), the Akorn’s hearth died out inside 45 minutes. After relighting, temperatures contained in the cooker shot as much as 370 F in a mere 15 minutes. I did not add additional gasoline both, only one paraffin hearth starter. Thirty-five minutes later, warmth ranges contained in the Akorn hit 405 levels. Temperatures then plateaued however remained sizzling, not dropping beneath 387 F for the subsequent three hours.

Issues had been very totally different once I saved an eye fixed on the Akorn. With a beginning temperature of both 225 F or 350 F, it solely took a couple of vent changes for the airflow to nudge the grill again on monitor. And because it’s constructed from metal, not ceramic, the Akorn weighs much less (100 kilos) than conventional kamado grill choices (200 kilos or extra).

The meals I cooked with the Akorn wasn’t dangerous both. Each slow-cooked child again ribs and rooster had a satisfying charcoal taste. That stated, they could not match what got here out of the Kamado Joe grill because of its bundled warmth deflector smoker system. A worth this low outweighs plenty of the cons, although, so the Char-Griller Akorn provides as much as a implausible kamado discount.

How we take a look at kamado grills

Testing kamado grills is an intense expertise for a griller. It requires enjoying with hearth (actually) and excessive temperatures, although in a managed, accountable method. Probably the most essential aspect to kamado efficiency is warmth, particularly temperature management and the way nicely a grill holds to 1 temperature. To smoke meat low and sluggish, that magic quantity is 225 F. Good people who smoke, kamados or in any other case, will follow this temp for so long as 12, 15 or 20 hours. This implies the temperature gauge is essential, and so is the flexibility to manage airflow by way of air vents or dampers.


We monitor the inner temperature of the kamado grills as they go.

Brian Bennett/CNET

To seize temperature information, we put a thermocouple on every kamado grill. Basically a delicate temperature sensor made from a probe and a linked wire, the thermocouple hangs suspended simply 1 inch above the grill grate. It is linked to a knowledge logger, and in the end a pc that data modifications in warmth ranges over time.

Then it is time to hearth up every grill.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We attempt to run temperature exams on all of the grills concurrently. We additionally use the identical weight and model of lump charcoal (four.four kilos or 2 kg), typically from the identical bag. That is true of fireplace starters too (one per grill).

A steady warmth stage is essential to good efficiency for a kamado smoker.

Brian Bennett/CNET

After that, we gentle them up, as instructed by their manuals if out there. Often meaning letting the coals catch for 15 minutes, with the lid open, then shutting the grill. At this level, vents stay broad open till the grill comes inside 50 levels of the goal temp. 

We fastidiously fiddle with the vents to get there. Lastly, we let go of the controls and observe. 

We observe the identical process for our higher-temperature take a look at with a goal of 350 F. The concept right here is to simulate the warmth efficiency required to roast rooster and different poultry.


We smoke ribs together with different meals for anecdotal exams.

Chris Monroe/CNET

And talking of meals, we carry out a lot of “anecdotal cooks” too. We smoke a rack of child again ribs (225 F) in every grill. We butterfly (aka spatchcock) chickens and roast them too. Sourced from the native Costco, these weigh roughly 5 kilos every. Final, we grill a set of 4 Eight-ounce burger patties at excessive warmth (600 F). 


Burgers, anybody?

Brian Bennett/CNET

Need extra choices? Listed here are the opposite two kamado grill fashions I evaluated for this take a look at group. Whereas they did not make it into my picks, it’s your decision to have a look for comparability’s sake:

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