Grills by Price
Shopping for Kamado Grills
Also see the Top 10 Kamado Grills
What is a Kamado Grill?
Kamado style grills have become immensely popular in recent years. With the ability to hit ridiculously high temperatures for grilling while holding steady, low and slow, temperatures for hours, the Kamado is the perfect grill and smoker. Originally, these grills were made from ceramic and while most still are, all metal versions have been appearing. The metal versions have the advantage of being lighter in weight and can be just as capable as their ceramic counterparts. A Kamado grill is typically powered by charcoal (though some gas units have appeared recently), has a vent in the base and one on top that controls airflow. With the vents and lid closed the grill should be airtight. The body of the grill is insulated, making it very efficient. The combination of insulation and airflow control is what allows this type of grill to hold low temperatures for extended periods of time. Some Kamado grills can hold a temperature around 225 degrees F for as much as 20 hours. On the other side of the equation, a Kamado grill can reach cooking temperatures over 700 degrees F, which is far beyond what most other types of grills can reach.
Many Kamado grills are priced on the grill alone. This means the body of the grill and all connected parts. They will generally include a tool for lifting out the hot cooking grate as well as a clean out tool for getting the spent ash out of the body. Beyond this, everything can be extra. This includes stands or carts, heat diffusers (aka plate setters), and all other accessories. This configuration provides a working grill, but little else. Some units, however, are a complete package and can do everything one would expect from a Kamado grill out of the box. When comparing prices it is important to consider the extras that might need to be added on. Where are you going to set your Kamado? Do you want to be able to do low-temperature smoking and cooking? Take these factors into consideration when comparing prices. Some units might seem to be a better deal, but cost more in the long run. On the other hand, some units advertise themselves as being the complete package for a competitive price, when in fact you can end up spending more than you would have building your own personal configuration.
Getting what you pay for
In recent years, with the popularity of Kamado grills growing, a number of inexpensive (largely metal) cookers have hit the market. Kamado grill, like most things in life, really are a "you get what you pay for" sort of product. This is not to say that you have to spend several thousand dollars to get a unit that will perform perfectly and last for decades. In fact, the ceramics used in Kamado grills is nowhere near as fragile as some critics make it out to be. Typical Kamado grills (those in the $1,000 range) will last for decades if properly cared for. They can be fired up in the dead of winter without cracking and can run at extreme temperature for very long periods of time.
I have including small, portable Kamado grills on this price list. These can be so small that they can only cook a single steak at a time. That might sound useless, but these little units can reach the same kinds of temperatures as the larger one, so it will only take a few minutes to grill a steak. The Big Green Egg Mini Max has become a favorite of expensive restaurants solely on its steak cooking capabilities. On the other side of the equation, there are Kamado grills capable of cooking a couple of 20-pound turkeys at the same time. Capacity is a factor to consider when buying a Kamado grill. An important point to note here is whether or not you intend to do smoking with your grill. As a barbecue smoker, these are excellent and are frequently used by barbecue competition cooks. To do this style of cooking, however, the grill should have a minimum 18-inch diameter cooking surface. Anything smaller will limit the amount and type of smoking that can be done. An 18-inch unit is capable of smoking a full brisket, a pair of pork butts, or several racks of ribs.
The Quality is in the Parts
For most Kamado grills the point of failure isn't the ceramic body, but the metal hinges and component pieces. These are easily replaced, but if you find yourself looking at a Kamado grill on a showroom floor it is important to look at the metal parts that hold the lid in place as well as the vents. Kamado grills can have very heavy lids and require spring assisted hinges to make them manageable. Before buying a Kamado grill, lifting the lid is the first test to consider. If you can't open the grill easily, it will be very difficult for you to use.
Where to Buy?
These days, Kamado grills are widely available. Some appear in large hardware store chains, and even discount club stores frequently carry a model during peak season. Some brands of Kamado grills are only available through authorized dealers while others are sold online. Make sure that whoever is selling you a Kamado grill is authorized by the manufacturer. Failure to do so can result in a voiding of warranties and product support. Since the distribution of many brands can be limited and availability spotty, many people opt to buy their Kamado grill online. This might sound risky, but in truth, there have been very few problems with this kind of distribution. A little research will tell you who is a reputable brand and who is a reputable dealer. Only buy once you are comfortable with both.