Best kamado grill: the top egg-shaped grills for juicy, smoky flavoring

Invest in the best kamado grill for a long-lasting buy that offers high heat retention, incredible flavors and versatile cooking options

best kamado grill - Big Green Egg BBQ on an outdoor table
(Image credit: Big Green Egg)

If you want to up your grilling game, investing in the best kamado grill could be a smart move this summer, allowing you to cook a wide range of delicious BBQ food with ease. 

If you're not quite up to speed with this method of cooking, it stems from a ceramic cooking device the Chinese invented about 3,000 years ago, which was later introduced to the Japanese who called it 'kamado.' Americans came in contact with the kamado cooker while stationed in Japan during World War II, but it wasn’t until 1974 when Big Green Egg was founded in Atlanta, that the kamado grill, as we know it, took off.

Today, the kamado grill is one of the most best grills on the market. Grill enthusiasts are attracted to the egg-shaped grills for their heat retention capability and fuel efficiency. But most of all, kamado grills are beloved because they can be used to smoke, grill, sear, roast, and even bake. 

With that in mind, we wanted to guide readers to the best kamado grill on the market. Although they may be designed in similar ways, some are more innovative, smaller or larger, or simpler to use. We’ve taken care to break down all the benefits of each kamado grill so you can invest smartly in your very own.

Best kamado grill 2022

Kamado Joe Classic III

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Classic Joe III Kamado Joe

Best overall kamado grill

Specifications

Fuel: Charcoal
Cook surface: 510 square inches
Dimensions: 30 x 46.5 x 50.5 inches
Stand included: Yes

Reasons to buy

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Three-tier cook system
+
Innovative dome hinge
+
Stand with side tables included
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SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber improves cooking and smoking 

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Some reports of thermometer needing calibration

Kamado Joe is known as the most innovative kamado grill company, and you can see that in the Classic Joe III. For instance, they don't just provide a cook surface that's 18 inches in diameter. The Classic Joe III comes with a three-tier system, so you get 510 square inches of cook surface which means you can grill different foods at different temperatures at the same time.

Like many of the best kamado grills, the Classic Joe III uses lump charcoal which fits in a charcoal lump basket. Their SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber helps distribute smoke and heat evenly resulting in a juicy, well-cooked, and smoke-flavored meal.  

The Classic Joe III is outfitted with a unique hinge that reduces the weight of the top of the dome so that you can open the lid as much or as little as you like – and it won't fall down. In addition to an easy-to-empty ash tray, a purchase of a Classic Joe III includes a heavy-duty galvanized steel rolling cart with folding side shelves.

While it has a hefty price tag, you'll be glad to know that this grill has one of the best limited lifetime warranties. The only drawback we've seen are some reports of the built-in thermometer needing calibration.

Big Green Egg Large

(Image credit: Big Green Egg)
Best kamado grill for beginners

Specifications

Fuel: Charcoal
Cook surface: 262 square inches
Dimensions: 30 x 20 inches
Stand included: No

Reasons to buy

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Simple and easy-to-use
+
Decent cook surface
+
Great limited lifetime warranty
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Versatile cooking capabilities

Reasons to avoid

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Limits to where and how you can buy it
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Doesn't include a stand
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Pricey

If you’re new to kamado-style grilling, we highly recommend the Big Green Egg because it's not overloaded with too many bells and whistles that will overwhelm or distract you in your grilling endeavors. The grill is so easy to use, that it doesn’t even come with an instructional pamphlet.

Although Big Green Egg offers several sizes, our favorite is the large because it provides 262 square inches of cook surface which is enough to fit 12 burgers, a 20 lb turkey, eight steaks, or seven racks of ribs set up vertically. The grill uses lump charcoal, and when lit, it’s easy to regulate with a top and bottom hatch and a built-in thermometer on the exterior. Maintenance is minimal and basically involves removing the ash from the ash tray with a provided tool.

Take note, that if you're not planning to put the Big Green Egg in an outdoor kitchen, you'll need to purchase a stand. Big Green Egg offers a wide variety to choose from. 

The lifetime limited warranty for this grill is equally as impressive as the one provided by Kamado Joe, which is one of the reasons why these two kamado grills have been in competition for decades. If a long-term reputation matters to you, remember – Big Green Egg was founded in 1974. They're the reason why kamado grills became popular. 

Gardeningetc rated 5 out of 5 stars: read our full Big Green Egg review for more info

AKORN

(Image credit: Char Griller)

3. AKORN Char-Griller

Best budget kamado grill

Specifications

Fuel: Charcoal
Cook surface: 447 square inches
Dimensions: 31 x 36 x 48 inches
Stand included: Yes

Reasons to buy

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Affordable 
+
Stand included
+
Cast-iron cooking grates
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Warming rack for additional cook surface

Reasons to avoid

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Made of triple wall steel versus ceramic
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One-year warranty

Kamado grills are notoriously expensive, but the folks at Char-Griller are trying to make them more affordable with the AKORN 20-inch. To keep down the price, Char-Griller has built the AKORN with triple wall steel (rather than ceramic). The heat retention will be decent, but maybe not as good as some of the others on the list. That said, it will be easier to move the AKORN around because it’s made of lighter materials.

Perhaps the best feature of the AKORN is the cast-iron cooking grates. Imagine the kind of sear you'll get on your meats. You can fit 15 burgers or nine steaks on the main cooking area which is 314 square inches. With the removable warming rack, you get a total of 447 square inches to grill upon. We also love the AKORN’s Easy Dump ash pan and that it’s fitted with a built-in stand with two 8-inch locking wheels and folding side shelves with hooks for cooking tools. 

The warranty for this kamado-style grill is one year-limited, which tells you that this kamado grill isn’t going to last you for life. But it will give you an affordable introduction into kamado grilling, and for some, that's the best option. 

Even Embers pellett

(Image credit: Even Embers)

4. Even Embers Pellet Fueled Ceramic Egg with Bluetooth

Best alternative-fuel kamado grill

Specifications

Fuel: Wood pellets/Electric
Cook surface: 441 square inches
Dimensions: 29 x 48 x 48 inches
Stand included: Yes

Reasons to buy

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Wood pellet grill
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16-lb pellet hopper
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LCD digital Bluetooth controller
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Includes a stand with side shelves 

Reasons to avoid

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Requires an outdoor outlet in a favorable area

If there is one drawback to kamado grills, it’s that most use charcoal which requires some finesse and time to light and fully heat up to proper temperatures. The Even Embers Pellet Fueled Ceramic Egg is unique in that it is powered by wood pellets – a far more easier fuel to manage. 

Even Embers designed this kamado grill with a 16-lb pellet hopper and a LCD digital Bluetooth enabled controller. As with other pellet hopper grills, you can set the temperature and go about your business preparing the rest of your meal. There is no struggle to light or manage the fire. It does it all for you!

The Even Embers Pellet Fueled Ceramic Egg has two cook surfaces made of porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates that total to 441 square inches. One meat probe is also included in your purchase. 

In terms of maintenance, this grill has a drip bucket for grease clean up and an easy-to-remove tray to empty the pellet ash. The price isn’t too shabby especially since it comes with a built-in stand with wheels and side tables. 

Just remember that because this kamado-style grill is powered by wood pellets, it is therefore, an electric grill and needs an outdoor outlet to function.

VESSILS 13 inch

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. VESSILS 13 Inch Kamado Grill Handle Style

Best small kamado grill

Specifications

Fuel: Charcoal
Cook surface: 75 square inches
Dimensions: 20 x 17.5 x 15.5 inches
Stand included: Yes

Reasons to buy

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Great for small homes 
+
Has a built-in stand 
+
Easy to maneuver with side handles

Reasons to avoid

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Limited cook space

If you live in an apartment, lack space for storage, and only want to grill for yourself and one other person, then you don't need a large kamado grill taking up space you don't have. Go for the VESSILS 13-inch Kamado Grill, a small ceramic kamado grill with the same cooking capabilities – smoke, char grill, bake, sear, and roast – as all the other kamado grills presented here.

The VESSILS is only 19.7 inches in height and is outfitted on a small iron stand. With two side handles, you can easily move it around your patio or take it on camping trips. Use the top vent to manage air flow and the built-in thermometer to gauge temperatures. The cook surface is only 75 square inches so if you’re cooking for more than two people, you'll want something larger. 

How to buy the best kamado grill

Whether you’re still on the fence about a kamado grill or just want some insightful tips, we put together the most important things you need to know when looking to buy the best kamado grill. 

Diverse cooking capabilities

Most kamado grills use charcoal as their fuel, which means they have phenomenal smoking capabilities, but that’s not all they can do. You can grill burgers, roast a turkey, smoke ribs, sear vegetables, and even bake pizzas and bread in a kamado grill. Their diverse cooking capabilities are why they continue to gain popularity year after year. There are more tips on how to cook on a charcoal grill in our guide. 

The key to lighting a kamado grill

Because kamado grills typically have ceramic interiors, lighting a kamado grill can be a little tricky. Do not – I repeat – do not use lighter fluid as it will ruin the ceramic interior. Lump charcoal is the only way to go – not briquettes. 

You’ll need some kindling to light the charcoal, and it’s always best to use those sold by the brand of kamado grill you buy. Keep the dome top open to let air flow into the grill and feed the fire. Once it’s burning bright, you can close the lid and watch the interior temperature rise.

Airflow affects temperature

There is an art to kamado cooking and it involves cooking specific foods at the proper temperatures. To make the temperature increase, you’ll need to provide the kamado grill with more airflow, usually through the top vent, though some grills come with an additional lower vent too. To make the temperature go down, you close the vents. It's certainly not as straightforward as cooking on the best gas grills, and can be a bit tricky at first, but not too hard to figure out after a time or two.

Accessories are helpful

The best BBQ tools are always helpful, and Kamado grill companies offer a wide range of accessories. Our favorite is a heat deflector plate that’s made of ceramic. It allows for indirect, slow cooking that produces some of the most delicious meals you’ll ever have. Some companies offer rotisserie adaptors, cast-iron grids, multi-level racks, and covers. 

Proper support

Unless you’re planning to install a kamado grill into your outdoor kitchen, you should absolutely buy a stand for it. Kamado grills are large and heavy and you can't move them around your BBQ area without a proper stand. If they fall, they'll crack -- and then you'll have wasted a lot of money. If you can afford it, go with a stand that has locking wheels and side tables.

Size and weight

Before you buy a kamado grill for your outdoor grill station, keep in mind that they are pretty tall, wide, and heavy. You should have enough storage space for them. While they can handle most weather, it’s best to store the kamado grill away from the rain, cold, and harsh storms so they can last a lifetime. 

Cool off period

If you have children, be sure to keep them away from the kamado grills. They have phenomenal heat retentive capabilities, which means they stay hot long after you’re done cooking. 

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is a Dallas-based award-winning author and freelance writer that has covered home, design, architecture, and art in publications like Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Home & Gardens, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Artsy, Neighborhoods.com, Culture Trip.