The best kamado grills of 2021: Kamado Joe, Big Green Egg, Char-Griller and more

Meals cooked over an actual wood fire tastes extremely scrumptious. And that is only one motive folks love wood-burning kamado grills. One other is that kamados are succesful cookers, capable of deal with nearly any yard grilling activity you throw at them. In actual fact, in case you have the talents and apply, a kamado can run rings round your strange gas grill

Usually created from ceramics, they maintain warmth with wonderful effectivity. A small quantity of gas goes a great distance, letting you run a kamado at low and sluggish temperatures all day lengthy. Plus, you may fireplace up kamado grills to change into scalding scorching. I am speaking scorching sufficient to cook dinner actual wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. They’re additionally nice for searing true steakhouse-style steak and, truthfully, absolutely anything you may consider grilling. 

The Big Green Egg is the best-known instance of a standard kamado grill and kamado smoker, however competing manufacturers akin to 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 become a more serious griller, I put the Massive Inexperienced Egg and its 4 main grilling rivals to the take a look at to search out the perfect kamado-style grill — here is what I discovered.

Learn extra: Best gas grills of 2020: Weber, Char-Broil and others

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

Brian Bennett/PJDM

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 just a few 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’s best to keep away from.

Listed below are my opinions and picks for the perfect kamado grill choices of 2020, which I am going to replace as I evaluate new merchandise.

Learn extraBest gas grills of 2020

Chris Monroe/PJDM

At $1,699, the Kamado Joe Traditional III could have a steep value, nevertheless it delivers a lot for the cash. Meaning plenty of kamado grilling equipment that do not come customary with different grills, together with the Massive Inexperienced Egg Kamado. This kamado grill and smoker performs properly too. In our slow-and-low barbecue grill take a look at, we regulate 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 glorious temperature management.

The grill obtained just a little scorching 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 inside 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 fireplace. The equipment features as each a warmth deflector and a convection support. Primarily 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 line with Kamado Joe, it additionally encourages air (smoke) circulation inside the cooking chamber.

In actual fact, there are a ton of extras bundled with the Traditional III proper within the field. That features an extra 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 removing instrument as properly, plus a three-level cooking rack which you could configure as wanted for grilling.

In contrast, every part on the Massive Inexperienced Egg besides the stand prices further. Bear in mind, you can even save just a little by selecting Kamado Joe’s Traditional II. For $1,200 it is nearly equivalent 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 aspect cabinets, ultimate for grilling and smoking, additionally customary. All that makes this among the finest kamado grills, in case you can afford it.

Chris Monroe/PJDM

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 Massive 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 line with our temperature gauge, the Inexperienced Egg caught to this temperature vary, with solely minor and rare fluctuations.

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

The meals I cooked within the Massive Massive Inexperienced Egg got here out fairly tasty as properly. 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 identify, the Massive Massive Inexperienced Egg kamado grill and smoker is large, providing you with plenty of house so you may grill, smoke and cook dinner to your coronary heart’s need.  

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


The Char-Griller Akorn supplies actual kamado efficiency at a rock-bottom value. It prices simply $299, which is unimaginable 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 costlier kamados I used. I believe that is as a result of the Akorn’s physique is constructed from triple-walled metal, versus heavy ceramic. The grill’s fireplace was additionally more durable to ignite and preserve lit than the Massive Inexperienced Egg’s and Kamado Joe Traditional III’s.

After I let it burn by our low-and-slow take a look at (adjusted to 225 F), the Akorn’s fireplace 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 further gas both, only one paraffin fireplace starter. Thirty-five minutes later, warmth ranges contained in the Akorn hit 405 levels. Temperatures then plateaued however remained scorching, not dropping beneath 387 F for the following three hours.

Issues had been very totally different once I stored an eye fixed on the Akorn. With a beginning temperature of both 225 F or 350 F, it solely took just a few 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 delightful charcoal taste. That stated, they could not match what got here out of the Kamado Joe grill due to its bundled warmth deflector smoker system. A value this low outweighs numerous the cons, although, so the Char-Griller Akorn provides as much as a implausible kamado cut price.

How we take a look at kamado grills

Testing kamado grills is an intense expertise for a griller. It requires enjoying with fireplace (actually) and excessive temperatures, although in a managed, accountable approach. Probably the most crucial component to kamado efficiency is warmth, particularly temperature management and the way properly 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 stick with this temp for so long as 12, 15 or 20 hours. This implies the temperature gauge is vital, and so is the flexibility to regulate airflow by way of air vents or dampers.


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

Brian Bennett/PJDM

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

Then it is time to fireplace up every grill.

Tyler Lizenby/PJDM

We attempt to run temperature assessments on all of the grills concurrently. We additionally use the identical weight and model of lump charcoal (4.Four kilos or 2 kg), typically from the identical bag. That is true of fireside starters too (one per grill).

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

Brian Bennett/PJDM

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

We rigorously 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 thought right here is to simulate the warmth efficiency required to roast rooster and different poultry.


We smoke ribs together with different meals for anecdotal assessments.

Chris Monroe/PJDM

And talking of meals, we carry out plenty 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 8-ounce burger patties at excessive warmth (600 F). 


Burgers, anybody?

Brian Bennett/PJDM

Need extra choices? Listed below 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, you might have considered trying to have a look for comparability’s sake:

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