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

Kamado cookers, which are egg-shaped ceramic wooden grills that you may have seen or at least heard, give a delicious smoky taste to everything they cook. At smoking temperatures, they can be low and slow for hours and sear on high heat far beyond the capabilities of a Gas grill. This is hot enough to create real steakhouse steaks and real wood-fired pizza like a professional grill.

The Big green egg is the best known example of a kamado grill and smoker, but competitors like it Kamado Joe, vision, Char griller and Char Broil complete the category of grills that offer the benefits of Kamado cooking. If you’re tempted to include one in your arsenal and become a more serious griller, I put the Big Green Egg and its four main competitors to the test over 200 hours to find the best kamado grill – here’s what I found have.


Ribs, chicken, burgers: you name it, we cooked it.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Over 200 smoke-filled hours later, I cooked over 20 pounds of pork ribs, six chickens, and 10 pounds of burger along with a few steaks. After all that, I can confidently say which brands make the best Kamado grill for my taste and which you should avoid.

Here are my Kamado grill reviews and tips for the best Kamado grill options of 2020 that I will update as I review new products.

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At $ 1,600, the Kamado Joe Classic III has a high price but offers a lot for the money. That means a lot of accessories that are not standard on other grills, including the Big Green Egg Kamado. This Kamado grill and smoker works well too. In our slow and low grill test, we set the grills to 107 ° C and let go of the controls to see what happens. In this experiment, the Joe showed excellent temperature control.

The grill got a little hot in the first 30 minutes, but then settled after an hour. From there it rolled out with cruise control and parked the needle between 253 and 219 F for almost three hours. Only the big green egg turned in a narrower temperature curve and buzzed for hours in the smoking sweet spot.

A feature that really distinguishes the Classic III is the so-called SloRoller. Called “hyperbolic smoke chamber” by Kamado Joe, it is an hourglass-shaped metal device that sits over the fire. The device acts both as a heat deflector and as a convection aid. In essence, it prevents the radiant heat generated by the coals from hitting the food on top (on the grill). This prevents the meat from drying out during long cooking times. And according to Kamado Joe, it also promotes air circulation (smoke) in the cooking chamber.

In fact, there are a lot of extras that are included with the Classic III – including ceramic parts. This includes an additional set of ceramic heat deflectors (one for each grill half), a coal heater and an aluminum coal basket. You also get two halved aluminum grids, an ash removal tool and a three-level cooking grate, which you can configure for grilling as needed.

In contrast, everything on the Big Green Egg costs extra except for the stand. Remember you can also save a little by choosing Kamado Joe’s Classic II. For $ 1,195, it’s almost identical to the Classic III, but it lacks the SloRoller accessories and it has a different stand.

The construction of the Classic III also feels very solid. I particularly like the stable side shelves, ideal for grilling and smoking, also standard. All of this makes this grill one of the best Kamado grills if you can afford it.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Big Green Egg, the company that sparked the Kamado craze, still has a winner. Of all the grills in my test group, the Large BGE model had the best temperature performance and stability. As soon as the egg was set to a low and slow temperature of 22 ° C, it ran pretty much by itself. According to our temperature display, the green egg adhered to this temperature range with only slight and rare fluctuations.

The big big green egg also felt the most responsive. If for some reason I had to adjust the top or bottom vents, I quickly saw a change. I usually noticed course corrections in just six or seven minutes.

The food I cooked in the Large Big Green Egg was also delicious. While my BGE test device lacked the additional accessories for the heat deflector, the chicken and pork ribs had a convincing grill taste. Although the BGE was not as tasty as what I smoked in the Kamado Joe Classic III, it came in a very tight second place. Big Green Egg is a heat deflector accessory called ConvEGGtor, but it’s an additional add-on.

True to its name, this Kamado grill and smoker is large and offers you plenty of space for grilling, smoking and cooking to your heart’s content.

That’s why I recommend the Large Big Green Egg as one of the best Kamado grills for almost everyone. You need to contact a local dealer, and unlike the Kamado Joe Classic III, everything except the booth is extra. Ultimately, however, the total cost of the Large Big Green Egg should be less than that of the fully equipped Classic III.

Char griller

The char grill Akorn offers real Kamado performance at a low price. It only costs $ 323, which is incredible considering typical kamados will set you back by $ 800 to $ 1,000. The Akorn’s cooking temperature and temperature control are not as stable as the more expensive kamado grills I’ve used. I suspect this is because the Akorn’s body is made of triple-walled steel, as opposed to heavy ceramic. The fire of the grill was also more difficult to ignite and light than the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe Classic III.

When I let it burn through our low and slow test (adjusted to 225 F), the fire of the Akorn went out within 45 minutes. After re-lighting, the temperature inside the stove rose to 370 F in just 15 minutes. I didn’t add any additional fuel either, just a paraffin fire starter. Thirty-five minutes later, the heat in the Akorn reached 405 degrees. The temperatures then rose to a plateau but remained hot and did not drop below 387 ° F for the next three hours.

It was very different when I had the Akorn in mind. At a starting temperature of either 225 F or 350 F, only a few vent settings for the airflow were required to get the grill back on track. And since the Akorn is made of steel, not ceramic, it weighs less (100 pounds) than traditional kamados (200 pounds or more).

The food I cooked on the Akorn wasn’t bad either. Both slowly cooked baby ribs and chicken had a pleasant charcoal taste. Still, thanks to the bundled heat deflector smoking system, they couldn’t match what came out of the Kamado Joe. However, such a low price outweighs many disadvantages, so the char grill Akorn leads to a fantastic Kamado bargain.

How we test Kamado grills

Testing Kamado grills is an intense experience for a griller. It literally requires playing with fire and high temperatures, albeit in a controlled, responsible manner. The most important element for Kamado performance is heat, especially temperature control and how well a grill maintains a temperature. And to smoke meat slowly and quietly, this magic number is 225 F. Good smokers, kamados or others, hold this temperature for 12, 15 or 20 hours. This means that a temperature display and the possibility of controlling the air flow via ventilation slots or flaps are of crucial importance.


We monitor the inside temperature of the Kamado grills while they are running.

Brian Bennett / CNET

To capture this, we load Kamados with thermocouples (one per grill). They are essentially a sensitive temperature sensor consisting of a probe and a connected wire and hang directly above the grill rack (1 inch). They are connected to a data logger and ultimately to a computer that records changes in heat levels over time.

Then comes the time to light each grill.

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We try to carry out temperature tests on every grill at the same time. We also use the same weight and brand of Lump coal (4.4 pounds or 2 kg), often from the same bag. This also applies to fire starters (one per grill).

A Kamado smoker with stable heat is the key to good performance.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Then we light them as specified in the manuals, if available. Usually this means that the coals stay hanging for 15 minutes with the lid open and then the grill closes. At this point, the ventilation openings remain wide open until they are within 50 ° F of the target temperature.

We play carefully with the ventilation slots to get there. Finally we let go of the controls and watch.

We follow the same procedure for our test at higher temperatures with a goal of 350 ° F. The idea here is to simulate the heat output required to roast chicken and other poultry.


We smoke ribs along with other foods for anecdotal testing.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Speaking of food, we also do a lot of anecdotal cooks. We smoke a frame with baby back ribs. We butterflies (Spatchcock) and also roast them, sourced from the local Costco (about 5 pounds each). Finally, we grill a set of four half pounds of burger patties (8 ounces) over high heat (600 F).


Burger anyone?

Brian Bennett / CNET

Do you want more options? Here are two more Kamado grill models that I rated for this test group:

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Testing gas grills in the CNET Smart Home


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