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People have been using ceramic kamado grills for thousands of years. Newer modals are sometimes made with metal, but ceramic is great for retaining and distributing large amounts of heat evenly, which is of the utmost importance when preparing a quality meal. Kamado grills have many uses including grilling, BBQ smoking, and baking. Backyard chefs who want more versatility in their food prep might consider having a charcoal kamado grill in addition to their gas grill.
We’ve put together this guide with a few key considerations to take into account so picking out your kamado grill is easier for you. Keep reading to see what our experts say are the most important features to think about for your new kamado grill.
A benefit of a freestanding kamado grill on a cart is that you can move it freely - either to rearrange your backyard area or to put it in storage. This mobility also comes in handy if you clean the ash out of it using a shop vac or dust broom. You can choose from several cart styles for your kamado. Regardless of which one you choose, the cart should be designed to allow for the maximum amount of airflow and access to the grill vents, where you adjust the temperature on a kamado.
Charcoal grills can also be built in. Obviously, once you put the grill’s head in your BBQ island cutout you won't be able to move your grill all around like with a freestanding unit. But the aesthetic added to your outdoor kitchen is unmatched. Built-in charcoal grills can pair nicely with a gas grill to give you more cooking options in your outdoor kitchen.
Oval and round kamados can look similar, so you might be surprised to learn that the capabilities of your kamado grill depend heavily on its shape.
Oval kamado cookers have the major benefit of versatility. With a center divider, you have the option for dual-zone cooking, where you can use both a direct flame on one side and indirect heat on the other. Oval kamados are also a good shape for unconventionally shaped foods and cookware, like whole turkeys or pots and pans with long handles.
Round, or egg-shaped, kamado cookers are best at creating uniform heat because the heat gets radiated to a central spot. The bonus of the uniform heat is that you can bake, smoke, and roast equally well. It’s a lot more difficult to create distinct temperature zones with a round kamado grill, but modals that use split-height racks or heat deflectors can come close.
You should also think about what classification of kamado will work best for you. For your convenience, we’ve broken down kamado cookers into two classes - premium and economy - based on their features, performance, and overall quality.
Premium charcoal kamado grills are better at stabilizing temperatures and enduring higher heat on account of their thick ceramic insulation. Premium kamado cookers have longer or lifetime warranties with a broader choice of accessories. This is also the category where you will find oval-shaped kamados that offer 2-zone cooking.
Our economy class kamado cookers are more gentle on the pocketbook, but the ceramic or painted steel bodies are thinner, so they don’t retain heat as well. Warranties are also much shorter, so your grill is going to have a shorter lifespan overall. Economy kamado grills are best for BBQ smoking, but the heat range will be more limited and there aren’t as many choices for accessories.
The selection of accessories will vary by manufacturer, so you’ll really want to think ahead about what you’ll be preparing on your kamado grill before making a purchase decision. Like we mentioned previously, dividers and heat deflector plates make indirect cooking a possibility, so your freedom in meal prep is greatly expanded. Other accessories you may find include multi-tier racks, smoking chambers, pizza stones, etc.
Ceramic is both heavy and fragile, so we highly recommend you use a hood lift-assist with ceramic kamados to make your life a little easier. Slamming the lid risks cracking the grill body, so some sort of lift-assist apparatus will protect your kamado cooker and therefore give it a longer lifespan.
One thing to keep in mind is that your exhaust vent, or chimney, at the top of your cooker should be sturdy with tight settings so that you don’t have to worry if your vent settings moved around just because you opened the lid. Try to pick an exhaust vent that isn’t going to rust due to consistent vulnerability to the elements. A water-resistant chimney is a good idea in case there is rain, but you can always get a grill cover, too.
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to pay close attention to what your vent hood brand says about charcoal grills. A lot of manufacturers don’t allow them under their vents because they can’t define the maximum heat setting. You may void your vent hood’s warranty if you go against what the manufacturer says, so be absolutely positive that building in a kamado grill is allowed before making that decision.
We hope we’ve helped make your kamado charcoal cooker decision process easier, but if you’re still not sure how to make your dream outdoor kitchen come true, please reach out to us. We are more than happy to help you better understand kamado grills.