What to Know About Kamado Grills
You've heard about kamado grills, but never tried one. What's all the fuss about, and are they worth the hype? Take a look to find out for yourself.
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If you’re used to smoking meats and flipping burgers on your gas grill, why not switch things up and try a Kamado grill? These grills are versatile and sturdy, heat up quickly and thoroughly, and make it possible to cook, grill, smoke and serve up mouth-watering cuisine year-round.
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What Is a Kamado Grill?
Today’s Kamado grill is a modern interpretation of cooking vessels from Asia that date back 3,000 years. Originally, the Chinese made these grills from clay and used them to cook rice. Now they’re used to cook practically anything — from pizza to whole chickens.
Other fascinating facts about these grills:
- Shape and Composition: Most Kamado grills are shaped like an egg and made from ceramics.
- Fuel: Kamado grills rely on hardwood lump charcoal for fuel.
- Heat Capabilities: Using charcoal means a Kamado grill might take longer to preheat. But it will cook food fast, thanks to its ceramic shell that effectively holds and reflects heat.
- Cooking Method Flexibility: A Kamado grill can hold a high temperature for hours, allowing you to smoke or slow cook meats while leaving the grill unattended for a period of time.
At-home grillers who own Kamado grills love the ability to create delicious, restaurant-quality meals without leaving their backyards.
One nice accessory to pair with your grill is a Kamado grill station. That will give you additional surface room to work with while you cook.
Kamado Grills Benefits and Features
Many at-home grillers rely on traditional gas grills for cookouts and tailgates. But a gas grill can’t deliver the same level of quality and versatility as a Kamado.
- Heat Point: Kamados can maintain consistent temperatures up to 700 degrees F. Your typical backyard gas grill only reaches the 500 F range, making it more difficult to get that perfect sear for your steaks.
- Quality: Gas grills last maybe 10 years, if you’re lucky. Kamado grills, however, last a lifetime. They’re more expensive than gas grills, but over a lifetime of grilling the Kamado can save you money.
- Versatility: Gas grills are good for one thing — grilling. With a Kamado, however, you can smoke, grill or slow roast any food you’d like. Most Kamados have features and accessories that allow you to bake pizza, fry eggs and cook a rotisserie chicken.
- Flavor: Some people say gas grills impart a slightly bacon-like taste to anything you throw on the grates. Meanwhile, Kamados give your food a traditional smoky flavor. Plus, you can switch up the flavor by using different types of lump charcoal or spiced wood chips.
- Size: If you entertain often, you’ll find you have more cooking surface area on a large gas grill. However, some large Kamados are just as big as gas grills. And the smaller models are more portable, so you can take them camping.
Kamado Grill Temperature Control
Because they can cook with such high heat, it’s important to master the temperature control on your Kamado grill. The most popular models use the same system for that, the top vent and the draft door.
You’ll find the draft door near the bottom of the grill; that’s the primary way for controlling the temperature. It lets air into the grill, which helps feed the fire. The more you open it, the hotter the fire, and vice versa. The top vent is used to let heat and smoke out of the grill, and it’s used to dial in more exact temperatures. It will take some practice to get the exact temperatures you’re looking for.
Kamado Grills Accessories and Utensils
Kamado grills generally only come with grates to lay food upon. To increase versatility, you’ll need to purchase a few additional accessories for your Kamado grill.
For instance, you may be able to cook a pizza on the grates. But if you hand-make your crust, you’ll need a pizza stone so the dough doesn’t ooze through the openings. Other handy and useful accessories include the clever JoeTisserie (a spit rod accessory for roasting), a cast iron Dutch oven and heat-resistant gloves. Another is a soapstone, a burn-resistant, non-porous, stain-resistant surface you can cook on. It permits more uniform cooking without the hassle of extensive clean-up.
Most Popular Kamado Grills
No matter what you like to grill, there’s a Kamado for you. Here are some of the highest-quality grills on the market today:
- Akorn: This brand offers Kamados in various sizes, including the Kamado Jr., for maximum portability. These grills are also more lightweight and affordable than other ceramic grills.
- Big Green Egg: The most iconic Kamado grill out there. This line offers seven sizes for the ultimate cooking experience.
- Blaze Kamado: Unlike most Kamados, this one consists of aluminum and stainless steel. Still, the Blaze Kamado claims to hold heat exceptionally well and provide a lifetime of quality performance.
- Duluth Forge: This line offers three grill sizes with one-inch-thick ceramic walls for premium heat retention and longer smoke times.
- The Kamado Joe: Includes red-colored grills in several sizes and styles. From design to production, this company builds Kamados that last.
- The Kong: This is a large grill with more than 600 square inches of cooking space. It also comes with swivel casters for easy transportation.
How Do You Choose the Best One?
Before choosing a Kamado grill, consider multiple brands and compare sizes, special features and optional accessories. Also think about what you plan to cook most often and find a Kamado that is most effective at making those foods. Here are a few things to consider:
- Which foods do you grill most often? Some Kamados come with accessories like side tables and rotisserie spits, while others have those items available separately. If you only grill burgers and smoke ribs, you won’t need these extra features. In that case, save money by choosing a straightforward kamado grill with fewer bells and whistles.
- How many people are you feeding? Consider how many people you typically grill for. If you only pull out the grill to host large parties, consider purchasing a 600-sq.-in. Kong. On the other hand, if you only grill for two, an Akorn Jr. might be the perfect size.
- What temperature range is best? Most meats require a good smoke at about 300 F. However, if you’re baking Neapolitan pizzas, look for a Kamado that will reach at least 700 F, such as the Kong.
- How much storage space do you have? If you have a big yard or deck with plenty of room, you may want a larger model. However, if you only have a small patio, you may want to opt for a smaller model like the 18-in. Duluth Forge or Kamado Joe’s 13-1/2-in. Jr. model.
Purchasing a Kamado Grill
While you can purchase a Kamado for less than $500, it may be wise to invest in a higher-quality grill. Those grills generally cost $1,000 to $2,000, with larger, professional models priced even higher. You can purchase a Kamado grill on Amazon, through your favorite brand’s website, or a retail dealer.
Best Way to Clean Kamado Grill
Cleaning a Kamado Grill is relatively easy, and it works similar to the self-cleaning feature on your oven by using an extremely hight temperature to do most of the work for you.
Ash removal: You’ll want to remove the ash from your grill frequently, so that it doesn’t build up inside. Most grills have a tray at the bottom that collects; all you have to do is pull that out and dump the ash, when the grill isn’t hot.
Self-cleaning: Each grill manufacturer may have a different suggestion for how to deep clean their product, so be sure to check the owner’s manual for specifics. In most cases, you can clean the grill by heating it up to 600 degrees for 20-30 minutes, and let it cool down again. After that, remove the cooking grate, pizza stone or any of the other internal components for cooking. Clean those separately.
The high heat should remove residue that’s built up inside the grill. Once it’s cool, brush the interior of the grill, using a soft-bristled brush to sweep any residue down to the bottom and remove the ash and debris from the bottom. You can also use a vacuum if you need to. Put the cooking grate back in, and you’re ready to cook.
If the heat deflectors get dirty and grimy, just flip them over the next time you cook, and that will keep the gunk off those.
You’ll probably want to clean your Kamado grill twice a year, depending on how frequently you use it.