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What is the Best Kamado Grill This 2021? Top Favorites + Guide

by Outdoor Cooking Pros August 08, 2021

What is the Best Kamado Grill This 2021? Top Favorites + Guide

The kamado grill, a versatile and unique-looking ceramic cooker that can be used to create a delicious feast with one unit. Are they really as good as they are advertised to be or are you better off spending your money on dedicated grills? Let’s find out with this review on kamado grills by our team of chefs and engineers. 

Reviews of Top Kamado Grills

1. Primo PGCRC - Best Overall

An all-in-one kamado grill brings versatility into your kitchen. You can use the Primo PGCRC for grilling, roasting, smoking and even baking! The best kamado styles can accommodate whatever skill you need in your kitchen, and the PGCRC complies with that standard.

The amazing grill comes fully assembled and the construction is highly durable. You won’t need to worry about the fragility of the ceramic grill as it has powder-coated hardware and a premium ceramic build. The thermometer is built-in for easy reading and temperature control is simple with the stainless steel draft door.

Enjoy a 280 square inch cooking area with this elegant kamado grille. 

Pros

  • Limited lifetime Primo warranty 
  • 20-year guarantee on ceramic kamado grills
  • Powder-coated hardware
  • 280 inches of cooking space
  • Includes fold-down side shelves
  • Locking front caster wheels
  • Thermometer built in
  • Very versatile charcoal grill 

Cons

  • Can seem heavy to some
  • Takes some time to learn  

2. Primo PGCXLC - Premium Pick

 

The PGCXLC from Primo is another one of the best kamado-style grills our team members came across. It features an oval shape, which adds even more functionality to the traditional round design. The elliptical shape will enlarge the cooking area to accommodate larger slabs of meat in the ceramic grill.

The Primo oval PGCXLC is kamado-styled with excellent build quality. It’s made of ceramic primarily that will give more flavor, moisture and amazing heat retention abilities. The lid is also of a higher design that can allow you to cook whole chickens and turkeys for special holidays. 

Pros

  • Easy lift-and-lock hinge lid
  • Made in the USA
  • Premium-grade thick ceramic
  • Comes with ash drawer, grade lifter, side shelves
  • 680 square inch cooking area
  • Heavy-duty grill
  • High lid

Cons

  • Takes up more space than a smaller grill
  • Takes some time to learn the ins and outs

3. Primo PGCRH - Budget Option

 

The PGCRH is also an all-in-one ceramic kamado grill that allows you to hone your cooking skills with one tool. The grill comes fully assembled with various features and accessories. Among the package are a cast iron top vent, a thermometer, a porcelain-coated cooking grate, and a stainless steel draft door.

The grill also comes with side shelves, an ash tool, a grate lifter, and locking front caster wheels to keep it in place. The side shelves can take up more space, but if you don’t need that large of a cooking space, you can fold down the shelves to save room.

Pros

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Stainless steel draft door
  • A kamado grill with locking casters
  • Traditional round design
  • Large cooking area
  • Durable ceramic kamado charcoal grill
  • Excellent heat retention

Cons

  • Can’t accommodate longer meats
  • May take some time to learn

4. PRIMO PGCJRC

Don’t let the word “junior” fool you, as there is nothing small about the PGCJRC kamado grill. The all-in-one ceramic grill has a very large cooking area that can handle two turkeys! The PGCJRC kamado grill is an excellent additional tool for your bbq or it can function as the main unit.

The PGCJRC comes fully assembled with coated hardware, a top vent, porcelain-coated reversible cooking grates, a stainless steel draft door, and more.

The total cooking area measures in at 360 square inches including the optional rack system. Of course, the kamado grill is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty from the brand. 

Pros

  • Large cooking space
  • Excellent heat retention abilities
  • Kamado ceramic grill
  • Fold-down side shelves
  • Premium-grade ceramic grills
  • Ash pan and grate lifter included
  • Reversible cooking grates
  • Versatile use
  • Locking caster wheels 

Cons

  • Can be a bit heavy
  • Can take up some space

5. Primo PGCJRH

The hardware on the Primo PGCJRH kamado grill is built to last. No one likes a long and arduous cleanup after an already tiring day. Users can rejoice because the PGCJRH grill is easy to clean thanks to the porcelain-coated grates and the anti-rust properties.

The maintenance for this kamado grill is minimal as it’s built with trusted and hardy materials such as premium-grade ceramics.

The grill’s cooking area is 360 square inches in total, large enough to accommodate two 14-pound turkeys for a large party. It may look small, but the grill has more than enough space for your everyday needs. 

Pros

  • Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
  • 360 square inches of cooking area
  • Made from premium-grade ceramics
  • Easy to clean
  • Anti-rust properties for minimal maintenance
  • Easy temperature control with built-in thermometer
  • Stainless steel draft door
  • Cast iron top vent

Cons

  • Heavy 
  • May incur tariffs when shipping across borders 

6. Primo PGCLGH

 

The larger 24-inch ceramic charcoal grill comes fully assembled so you can get set up and grilling in no time at all. Porcelain-coated grates are easier to maintain than stainless steel grates as there will be less sticking. The thick ceramics kamado grill features a cooking system that can allow users to bake, roast, grill, smoke, and almost anything else you can think of.

Buying Primo PGCLGH kamado grill is an excellent way to improve your cooking skills and test new recipes. This model comes with features and accessories you need like its counterparts with a draft door, cast iron vent, easy-to-use thermometer, and a very large cooking area.

Pros

  • Premium-grade ceramic construction
  • Ceramic with a porcelain treatment 
  • Large cooking surface
  • Easy temperature control
  • Coated hardware
  • Easy to clean
  • Relatively low maintenance

Cons

  • Larger and heavier than some other models
  • Takes up more space

7. Primo PGCXLHJ

 

The Primo PGCXLHJ is one of the larger kamado grills our experts have included on the list. American made, the PGCXLHJ Jack Daniel’s full-assembled large kamado grill has a cooking area of 680 square inches in total! This is thanks to the oval shape, which allows for more room to cook longer and larger slabs of meat.

The cooking grates are reversible to get the most use out of them and to deliver professional grill marks. There is an optional rack system and a grill table you can choose to add that will complete the unit. 

Pros

  • Features a very large cooking surface
  • Reversible cooking grates
  • Easy to clean
  • Ceramic grill
  • Optional features to add
  • Limited lifetime guarantee
  • Plus 20-year guarantee for ceramics

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Takes up a lot of space

8. Primo PGCXLH

 

The PGCXLHis another very large grill that is very well built to bring long-lasting performance. The grill comes fully assembled just like the rest of the grills on our list, and it also features a very large cooking area that is practical for 2 or even serving groups over a dozen.

The Primo PGCXLH is one of the brand’s most popular grills due to its versatility. You can use the unit for grilling, roasting, baking, and more. If what it comes with is not enough, you can choose to add the optional rack system and other accessories to boost the functionality.

Pros

  • Versatile grill 
  • Optional accessories available 
  • Patented oval design
  • Very large cooking space
  • Fully assembled
  • Long-lasting construction

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Takes up a lot of space 

Kamado Grills Buyer’s Guide

It takes a lot to be one of the best kamado grills on our list. We don’t look at brands but instead, focus on the capabilities and features. Let’s take a look at how our expert team of cooks and engineers narrowed down the options. 

Design and Material

Let’s dive deeper into the materials used to design the kamado grill of your dreams. Most of the ones our experts featured and ones that are available on the market feature a ceramic body. Ceramic[1] can be very heavy, but there is no debate about its insulation abilities.

It’s also possible to find ones made of steel on the market. While steel is lighter than ceramic and will make portability much easier, it won’t feature the same insulation as ceramic and it’s more likely to rust. Steel is also much less fragile as it won’t crack or break when dropped, but overall, steel kamado grills will have a shorter lifespan.

Our team of chefs suggests looking for thicker, premium-grade ceramics when purchasing kamado grills, but we also caution that they will be much heavier. The biggest drawback to high-quality ceramic grills is the weight, but our team feels that it is a sacrifice worth making for the delicious results.

As for the design, you may have noticed that ceramic kamado grills resemble each other in one way or another. The biggest difference, and one that our experts greatly appreciate, is Primo grills can come in an oval shape. 

This may not be a big deal for those who focus on steaks and small meats. However, for passionate aspiring chefs who want to incorporate ribs and racks, the elliptical appearance will make all the difference.

Cooking Space

Another feature that you must take into consideration when buying a kamado grill is the cooking area. Look at the square inches listed and consider how many people you will be serving on the regular. If it’s just you and your significant other, then it’s less likely you will need a cooking surface that is over 600 square inches. 

For small families, a single person or a couple, our cooking team recommends a kamado grill with around 300 inches of cooking area. The larger the grill, the more it takes to operate it. We’re referring to more coals and a longer cleanup. 

Our experts remind you not to count the total surface area, because many manufacturers list a number that includes racks and attachments. We also remind you that a grill with a larger cooking space will also most likely be heavier.

Vents

In order to be the best grill, your unit will need vents. The vents are used for temperature control. As most of us have learned in school, oxygen causes fire to burn bigger and brighter, and the same logic can be used to your advantage when using a kamado grill. 

The ventilation system needs to give you optimal control over how much air to let in. You can create masterpiece dishes with this feature. Are the vents manual or do they have easy control settings? The top vents may also come in single or double wheel designs. They both work well, but double wheels will allow for more precision.

Ash Trays and Grates

Aside from making your cooking process less messy, ash trays and grates also factor into the cleanup. The ash tray or grate in kamado grills is located at the bottom of the pit. They can come in a variety of materials including ceramic or porcelain-coated. Its job is to catch all the ash debris in one place so cleaning up after a long bbq is easy. 

Any material for the ash trays can function well, it’s more about how well the ash tray catches the particles.

The cooking grates can also be made from different materials. We often see coated ones or steel such as 304 stainless steel in the best options on the market. Both of these options are great, because they are low maintenance and easy to clean. The biggest advantage of these grates is their rustproof properties.

Maintenance

Just as most of us wouldn’t want to wash dishes after a long day at the stove, the cleanup for this type of grill also invokes the same dread. However, purchasing the best kamado grill that features low-maintenance accessories and an easy cleanup process will make a significant difference.

Not only will the cleaning not be as taxing, but knowing that the kamados you choose are not difficult to clean up will also give you more incentive to use your investment. 

Warranty

The price of the best kamado grills will be around 700 to 2000 give or take. This is a huge investment, which is why your purchase needs to come with an extensive warranty. Different brands offer differing warranties, but the Primo brand backs its products with a limited lifetime warranty plus 20 more years on ceramics.

What does this mean? This means that your kamado-style grills will always be protected. 

What is a Kamado Grill and How to Use it?

The simple definition of a kamado-style grill is a ceramic charcoal grill with either a round or oval shape. The idea for this cooking innovation originated from Japan around 3000 years ago! Yes, it can be said that it is one of the oldest cooking tools and the Japanese used it for a variety of purposes. From making rice to grilling meat 3000 years ago, the Japanese relied heavily on what we know today as the kamado grill.

This style of grill wasn’t only seen in Japan, as archaeologists traced remnants of its use to China and India as well. The kamados we see on the market today still greatly resemble the ones of the olden days with some improvements for efficiency such as built-in thermometers and stands. 

Most of the kamado grill is used for the fire. You place your charcoal in the bottom area and the debris will gracefully fall into the ash tray. The top one-third of the kamado grill is where the magic happens. You can choose to bake, grill, or smoke your meats and cover the area with a tightly-sealed lid.

Kamados are famous for their insulation, which is why the thick ceramic walls and completely-sealed design are so coveted. To adjust the temperature, all users need to do is adjust the air vents. There are a lot of accessories that are available for purchase that can help with heat zoning with two-zone cooking, low and slow smoking, and even the famous divide and conquer cooking system. You may even find an extra heat deflector accessory that can customize your experience. 

Pros and Cons to Know

Kamados have a long history and there is no question as to why they still exist today. However, not everything can be good and there are always drawbacks to every product. Our chef team will now go into the pros and cons of a kamado-style grill.

Kamados are excellent for versatility. As our team mentioned, people centuries ago relied on one tool to cook everything, which is what kamados today are known to do. The cleanup and maintenance of kamado grills is also much easier compared to some other models.

Perhaps the most famous feature of kamado grills is the cooking techniques. This style of grills maximizes heat retention and distribution plus insulation, which results in rich flavors. They work well in small spaces and in cold weather, and they are made to last. They also take less resources to operate compared to some other grill styles, which can make them cheaper in the long run.

Unfortunately, kamado grills are not without fault, but the drawbacks are more than manageable. For example, this type of grill doesn’t come in super large sizes that are suitable for a banquet. This isn’t much of a disadvantage to some because cooking for over 30 people isn’t something the average person usually does.

It can take a little longer to wait until the temperature within the ceramic walls heats up to the right level, but it isn’t usually more than 15 minutes. Conversely, it also takes a while for the ceramic body to cool down before you can get to cleaning.

Our experts say you also need to understand how to take advantage of the heat zones for even grilling such as low and slow smoking. Kamado grills are also notoriously heavy and can be more fragile than their steel counterparts, but that is a sacrifice for the excellent insulation. 

Kamado vs Charcoal Grills

Kamado grills also use charcoals, so what sets these two apart? Yes, our experts say that they do both use charcoals but they vary in many ways. For starters, the insulation of kamado grills makes them highly efficient and makes the most use out of the charcoal.

The temperature control is much more efficient on a kamado than a charcoal grill. All it takes for heat adjustment on a kamado grill is opening and closing the vents. Charcoal grills allow for temperature control as well, but refuelling often is necessary.

The biggest downfall of a kamado grill is the weight. They are much less portable than their lighter charcoal counterparts. However, they are also smaller with less inches of cooking space. Another drawback of kamados is the price. While we can find some pricey charcoal grills, kamado grills are usually more costly.

FAQ

Is a Kamado grill worth it?

Yes, a Kamado grill is worth it. It can be pricey, but the insulation, flavor, and versatility you get from one unit is great. There are also accessories to add to allow for two-zone cooking, help with low and slow smoking, and you can even find a heat deflector. 

Why are Kamado Joe grills so expensive?

Kamado Joe grills are so expensive due to the accessories and brand name. You can find a heat deflector accessory and ones that allow for traditional two-zone cooking. There is no debate that Kamado Joe grills are extremely well-built with premium materials. 

Can you use regular charcoal in a kamado grill?

Yes, you can use regular charcoal in a kamado grill, but our experts suggest specifically using hardwood lump charcoal. You can even use wood chips or chunks with your kamado grill. The best part of the kamado is its versatility, so feel free to try with different sources of fuel. 

How long do kamado grills last?

Kamado grills are built to last a lifetime. Not only are they efficient and versatile, but they are highly durable as well. You can see this fact in the lifetime warranties provided by many kamado grill manufacturers. A kamado grill is worth the money as a lifetime investment.

Our Top Pick For a  Kamado Grill: PRIMO PGCRC 

The Primo PGCRC is our chef team’s choice for the best kamado grill. It’s an all-in-one design that’s highly versatile and comes fully assembled. Among its features, the PGCRC includes everything you need such as side shelves, and a built-in thermometer. The PGCRC grill was crafted with high-grade materials and is built to last a lifetime.

Outdoor Cooking Pros
Outdoor Cooking Pros


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