The 9 Best Kamado Grills of 2022

You can’t go wrong with the Kamado Joe Classic Joe III, our pick for the best overall.

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If it’s possible for a grill to have charisma, kamados draw people to them like magnets, creating an entire subset of grilling enthusiasts. “It’s a cult following,” jokes Derrick Wade, Executive Chef of Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, S.C.

Kamados evolved over centuries in Japan and have much in common with the tandoor oven. Some prefer to use the Big Green Egg as a stand-in for a tandoor, including Greg Garrison, chef and owner of Prohibition in Charleston. S.C., and Repeal 33 in Savannah, Ga. The design and typically ceramic construction create a fuel-efficient convection cooking vessel that is versatile enough for high-heat searing, low-temp roasting, smoking, and baking

We look at the best kamados on the market right now with the help of expert input from Wade, Garrison, and Brandon Rice, chef and owner of Ernest in San Francisco. At the end of the day, we dubbed the Kamado Joe Classic Joe III as Best Overall, with several strong contenders not far behind. Read on to find out why and for our other picks.

Best Overall

Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

4.8
Kamado Joe KJ23RHCI-A Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

Amazon

Pros: The Kamado Joe offers excellent convection-like airflow, heat retention, and multi-zone cooking.

Cons: It’s top-heavy, so care is required when moving it, even on the cart. When comparing the cooking area to the price, it’s a high cost per square inch.

Most diehard kamado users are either Team Joe or Team Egg. Wade counts himself among Team Joe: “I’m a nerd for them,” he says. Truthfully, they’re the best apples-to-apples comparison one can make in the kamado world. Each offers exceptional heat retention and management, ash management, and quality construction in the vessel, finishes, hinges, and handles. They both share roughly the same cooking area, while the Joe is almost twice the weight of the Egg. Where the Kamado Joe sets itself apart from its competitor is in its included accessories.

The BGE base package is essentially the grill and all other pieces, including a stand, are add-ons. The KJ includes the grill, rolling cart stand, shelves, a three-tier multi-zone cooking rack system, and a smoking insert. The smoking insert can be swapped for deflector plates in minutes to use the grill for baking. So when looking at out-of-the-box usability, the Kamado Joe edges out the Big Green Egg for our Best Overall pick. Other great add-on accessories include WiFi connectivity and a rotisserie.

Price at time of publish: $1,999

  • Cooking Area: 250 square inches
  • Dimensions: 47 x 51 inches
  • Weight: 360 pounds

Best Splurge

Komodo Kamado 32-Inch Big Bad Grill

komodo kamado grill

Pros: The Big Bad offers style and function with good heat retention and dual-zone cooking.

Cons: It’s extremely heavy and expensive.

If you’re looking to make a statement with a kamado as the centerpiece of your outdoor space, the Big Bad may be your choice. As we first taste with our eyes, the variety of available exterior finishes, including stone inlay and mosaic tiles, strike a bold look without wandering into baby blue tuxedo land. It’s a formidable footprint, three feet wide and 4.5 feet tall, and weighs in at just over 900 pounds. It’s big and beautiful. But does it work? 

The Big Bad has impressive heat retention, offers dual-zone cooking, and has a total cooking space of over 1,500 square inches. Standard accessories include a rotisserie, temperature control fan, stainless steel grates, and a teak and steel plug. This grill is obviously not for everyone, nor is it the grill for cooking for two. But for cooking for groups and making a statement while you entertain, the Komodo Kamado offers both form and function. 

Price at time of publish: $6,962

  • Cooking Area: 1,538 square inches
  • Dimensions: 36 x 36 x 54 inches
  • Weight: 918 pounds

Best Value

Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

4.5
Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Amazon

Pros: It offers a large cooking area and good heat retention at a reasonable entry price. 

Cons: The steel construction is prone to rust, so it requires more maintenance and preventative care than others reviewed here, and the ash management system could be easier to use.

It’s no exaggeration that kamado grills are expensive. If cost is a barrier to buying one, the Akorn is a good alternative that doesn’t sacrifice performance for a lower price. The Akorn features triple-wall stainless steel construction with a powder-coated finish in place of ceramic, making it considerably lighter without sacrificing heat retention. It features a large cast iron grate for cooking and a removable warming rack. It also comes with locking wheels and collapsable side shelves. A “Smoking Stone” that converts the grill into a smoker or creates convection is available for additional purchase. This is a good place to start for those looking for a good, but not high-end, grill to enter the kamado world.

Price at time of publish: $329

  • Cooking Area: 314 square inches
  • Dimensions: 31 x 45 x 47 inches
  • Weight: 97 pounds

Best Small

Char-Griller E06614 Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller Akorn

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: It’s small and portable while offering the same heat retention as its larger counterpart.

Cons: A smaller grill means a smaller cooking surface. It also requires a longer burn-off than expected to eliminate off-gassing and unwanted flavors.

The Char-Griller Akorn Jr. offers all of the functionality of the Akorn in a more compact form. Its lighter weight makes it a good choice for small patios or spaces where it might require frequent movement, while triple-wall, powder-coated stainless steel construction minimizes the risk of cracking from jostling. Inside, find a sturdy cast iron grate for cooking. Char-Griller takes pride in its ash-management system, which may damage the gasket after multiple uses, and which some users may find cumbersome.

Price at time of publish: $139

  • Cooking Area: 155 square inches
  • Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 26 inches
  • Weight: 33 pounds

Best Large

Big Green Egg XLarge EGG Collection with Nest

best kamado grills

Ace Hardware

Pros: It has an extensive cooking area, excellent heat control, and is highly versatile.

Cons: The lack of accessories can add surprise costs to the purchase.

Now for Team Egg. Garrison and Rice are both members of this squad and for good reason. Big Green Egg kicked the kamado market into high gear several years ago and has remained relevant since its inception. The Egg, while offering excellent heat retention, is also one of the most responsive to changes in the temperature management system. Users report temperature correction in as little as five minutes when tweaking the dampers for the right spot. “They are user-friendly, and it is very easy to control the heat inside the chamber,” says Rice.

The XLarge model boasts a cooking area of 452 square inches, making it big enough to cook for a large group or family with ease. The ceramic construction and heavy steel hinges and handles add to the grill's longevity. The only real downside to this and other Eggs is that unless you’re purchasing one as part of a package, anything else you may want for it will be an additional purchase. This can be a plus, as it allows users to customize their grills, according to Garrison. “They have the best aftermarket accessories like stones, grates, and tables,” he says.

Price at time of publish: $1,399

  • Cooking Area: 452 square inches
  • Dimensions: 27 x 27 inches
  • Weight: 219 pounds

Most Versatile

Weber 18201001 Summit Kamado E6 Charcoal Grill, Black

Weber 18201001 Summit Kamado E6 Charcoal Grill, Black

Amazon

Pros: It’s lightweight for a kamado and very versatile in its cooking capabilities.

Cons: The One-Touch Cleaning System’s blades can get stuck on unburnt charcoal, and the damper system will take some time to get used to for experienced kamado users.

Not a traditional kamado design, the Summit is Weber’s inroad to the kamado market. Weber blends the design of their iconic kettle grills with the more common kamado shape. The result is a versatile grill for searing, slow roasting, baking, and smoking using the adjustable fuel grate for heat regulation. It also offers one of the largest cooking areas of the grills reviewed here. The double-wall enameled steel construction ensures longevity while providing fast heating and heat retention. The top and bottom baffles are more in line with their kettle grill designs, so there will be a learning curve for those used to a kamado’s typical fittings. The ash management system is also a callback to the kettle grills. While it’s efficient, it is more cumbersome than most kamados on the market.

Price at time of publish: $1,249

  • Cooking Area: 452 square inches
  • Dimensions: 36 x 35 x 45 inches
  • Weight: 117 pounds

Best Metal

Blaze 20-Inch Cast Aluminum Kamado

BLaze 20-inch Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill

Amazon

Pros: It’s a great-looking grill with excellent features and a large cooking area. 

Cons: Removing the ash pan requires removing all the grates to access it, and it’s expensive.

The Blaze takes a left turn from the other metal grills reviewed here, using cast aluminum construction instead of multi-walled steel. This construction dramatically reduces the weight of the grill while providing excellent heating time and retention. The lid has a lift-assist feature that makes the job more pleasant, and the cast design allows for a tongue and groove seal that significantly reduces heat loss rather than the gaskets found on many ceramic grills that wear out over time. Two cooking racks expand the grilling space, or you can use a water pan or heat deflector for offset cooking on the lower shelf. The ash management system is a full-width lift-out pan, which is a nice touch.

Price at time of publish: $1,790

  • Cooking Area: 400 square inches
  • Dimensions: 22 x 28 x 34 inches
  • Weight: 161 pounds

Best Two-Zone

Primo Oval LG 300 Charcoal Ceramic Kamado Grill

Oval LG 300 Charcoal Ceramic Kamado Grill

Courtesy of BBQ Guys

Pros: The oval shape and dual-zone cooking make this an easy grill to use. 

Cons: It’s expensive and heavy and doesn’t include much in the accessory department.

With a slight variation from the classic design, the Primo’s oval shape provides a wider cooking area without expanding the circumference of the grill. This width can be helpful for larger items, like ribs or turkeys, but it also allows the grill to be a proper two-zone cooker when using the fire box divider. With that divider, you can simultaneously set up two distinct charcoal arrangements for direct and indirect cooking. 

On top of the dual-zone capacity, the Primo offers 300 square inches of cooking space, expandable to almost 500. It’s got a friendly hinge spring system that eases the pain of lifting the heavy ceramic lid and a reversible stainless steel grate system. Aside from the oval shape, the ceramic construction follows the traditional kamado design, providing convection and heat retention. The biggest drawback to the grill is that almost everything outside of the grill itself is an add-on cost unless purchased as a package.

Price at time of publish: $1,799

  • Cooking Area: 300 square inches
  • Dimensions: 28 x 21 x 28 inches
  • Weight: 152 pounds

Best Portable

Broil King Keg Kamado Charcoal Grill

broil-king-kamado
Courtesy of Lowe's.

Pros: The Keg is easy to move and strong enough to resist damage that would crack ceramic grills. 

Cons: The painted exterior may be prone to rust, and the cast iron grate is the most fragile piece.

Moving a ceramic kamado presents some challenges. Between its weight, fragile material, and a shape prone to cracking, many hesitate to load one in the car to take to the game or on a camping trip. The Keg resolves most of those problems. It was designed with portability in mind, with steel exterior construction and ceramic interior and a layer of insulation between them. The beer keg shape also alleviates cracking issues. There’s even a trailer hitch mount available for purchase to make transporting it more manageable.

Inside there’s a cast iron cooking grate, a chrome-coated secondary cooking rack, and an ash management system. Users report a cooking temperature of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit while the grill's exterior stays cool to the touch. The top damper is a sturdy cast iron design, while the bottom damper is cast aluminum. With all of that out of the way, the Keg provides 280 square inches of cooking area, which you can double with the secondary rack.

Price at time of publish: $999

  • Cooking Area: 280 square inches
  • Dimensions: 41 x 28 x 47 inches
  • Weight: 126 pounds

Our Favorite

For quality, durability, and user-friendliness, we love the Kamado Joe Classic Joe III. The XLarge Big Green Egg is a close contender for those who want to customize their experience a bit more.

Factors to Consider

Material 

You have two main choices here, ceramic or metal, which both have inherent strengths and weaknesses. Ceramic does a better job of heating quickly and retaining that heat, while metal provides strength and lightens the weight. Outside of that, consider the hinges, handles, flanges, and seals. As Wade says, you “want it all to be very strong; you’re making an investment.” Extra attention to those items and finishes improves the lifespan of the grill.

Cooking Surface Area 

Gauge what and how you’ll be cooking. Smaller grills will limit cooking to one technique at a time, while a larger grill will allow for multiple cooking zones. One never wants too much grill, but because of the fuel efficiency of the kamado’s design, it is easy to scale your usage either up or down. It’s no harder to cook a couple of burgers on a kamado than to smoke ribs.

Fuel Type

The fuel of preference is lump charcoal. Some kamados, like the Weber, are made with briquettes in mind. Never use lighter fluid or instant-light charcoal in a ceramic kamado, however, as those flavors will infiltrate the stone's porous nature.

Features 

Some people want a complete, ready-to-use system right out of the box. Others prefer to piece together and customize their experience. Consider which fits your needs and budget. As purchasing a kamado is not a small investment, the best, most useful feature is a good warranty, according to Garrison and Wade. If well taken care of, a kamado should be an heirloom purchase, and a warranty should help ensure that.

The Research

Three chefs lent their insight and expertise to our in-depth research process: Derrick Wade, the executive chef of Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, S.C.; Greg Garrison, the chef and owner of Prohibition in Charleston, S.C., and Repeal 33 in Savannah, Ga.; and Brandon Rice, chef and owner of Ernest in San Francisco. We then combined our expertise with their input, scouring the market for the best options based on the conclusions from these discussions. We weighed the kamado grills we found against several criteria, including value, ease of use, and quality of construction.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are the benefits of a kamado grill?

    The main benefit of having a kamado grill is versatility, according to Garrison. A kamado can be a grill, a pizza oven, a high- or low-heat roasting vessel, or a smoker, just to name a few. 

  • How do you light a kamado grill?

    The chefs interviewed all use some variation of a blowtorch and cardboard-paraffin lighter blocks. The torch ignites the blocks, which then ignites the lump charcoal, with the added boost of the blowtorch. Other preferred methods are a chimney starter or building a small fire to light the charcoal. We discourage using lighter fluid or match-light charcoal, as the noxious petroleum fumes will permeate any porous surface, like the interior of a ceramic grill or a pizza stone.

  • How do you clean a kamado grill?

    Our experts are all on the same page on this one. The best way to clean your grill is to increase the heat for 10 to 15 minutes after cooking and let any remnants on the grill burn off. A grill brush will take care of any remnants after burning. Sometimes, a bit of grease can dribble out of the top baffle, and a bit of any kitchen degreaser will make short work of that.

Our Expertise

Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and food writer with decades of experience in the food industry. His written work appears in Food & Wine, Food Republic, and other publications.

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