Kamado-style grills have exploded in popularity over the last few decades. This is for good reason as they are incredibly versatile and can be used to grill, roast, smoke, bake, and sear. The temperature range is also wider than most home ovens. They are used by both serious chefs and home cooks alike. The distinctive and charming egg shape and round grill have become ubiquitous in the barbecue and grilling space. If you are looking to purchase one grill for your home a Kamado grill may be a perfect choice.
A Brief History
The Kamado grills that we use today originated in Japan, but this style of grilling has been around for thousands of years. The word Kamado in Japanese means stove and was first introduced to Americans during World War II. The Kamado grills typically seen in America today are modeled after the Mushikamado which is a Japanese ceramic movable grill.
The Perfect Small Space Grill for Cities
A Kamado-style grill is a great option for small spaces, urban locations, and off-grid living as it uses charcoal instead of propane or natural gas. It does not require any electricity or power source besides charcoal and fire. This makes it an ideal grill for cities and apartment living. Most major cities don’t allow propane or natural gas grills, but charcoal is generally okay for both public and private places. In New York City for example a charcoal grill is permitted on both terraces and in backyards as well as in most city parks. There are strict requirements for spacing though and grilling is typically not allowed on fire escapes and balconies for safety reasons.
Before purchasing any type of grill we recommend that you check the local laws for your city and state as well as building or HOA rules if this is a concern.
Another reason that a Kamado grill is a great choice for urban living is its flexibility in sizing. Kamado grills come in many sizes with the most traditional being an 18-inch round grill. Some of the smaller Kamado grill models are also suitable for camping and tailgating due to their lighter weight and small profile.
For those living in colder climates, the Kamado grill also allows for year-round grilling and smoking which is also a major benefit.
One consideration with a Kamado grill is weight and how frequently you will plan to move the grill. This is not a lightweight grill. A small model is portable, but will still be close to 70 pounds. Standard models can weigh in at over 200 lbs.
Charcoal as a Fuel
One of the best features of grilling with charcoal is the smoky distinctive flavor that it lends to the food. This flavor is unique and almost impossible to duplicate with other grills. It can also be reused more than once (although new charcoal performs best) and is considered generally more cost-effective than propane. It also doesn’t require any type of permanent connection like Natural Gas. This allows it greater portability. However, burning charcoal is considered a carcinogen and there are environmental impacts to consider. Charcoal grills can only be used outdoors for safety as they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning when used indoors. We recommend that you choose a high-quality charcoal when grilling for the best results.
It's a Grill, Smoker, and an Oven
A Kamado-style grill is a great choice for those looking to purchase one grill and for anyone who loves to cook and barbecue. It can grill, smoke, roast, and bake and has a temperature range of 250 F to 700 F. This is a wider temperature range than most home ovens. Propane grills by comparison tend to max out at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Most charcoal grills do not have the temperature control that is available on a Kamado grill which allows for more sophisticated cooking and grilling techniques. This has to do with the ability to control airflow within the grill. It can cook low and slow for 8+ hours as well as sear a steak and cook a pizza. Charcoal can also be more affordable than propane as a high-quality lump of charcoal burns longer and can be reused.
How does a Kamado Grill Work?
A Kamado grill is typically made from a ceramic stone which has some special qualities that make this grill unique. It has a top and bottom vent that allow for airflow within the grill. This allows coals to stay hot and is also a way to control the temperature. Since the ceramic dome retains heat so well it’s important that the temperature be managed upfront as it can not be easily lowered. There are many accessories that can be used with Kamado grills. Some popular options are deflector plates, ash buckets, cast iron pans, and pizza stones. Deflector plates allow for indirect heat that is ideal for baking and roasting. The egg dome shape of the grill and ceramic construction allows it to retain heat and maintain consistent temperatures for a long period of time as well as spread heat evenly inside the oven. For smoking, this feature lends itself well for low and slow cooking as the temperature will stay consistent.
How to Choose a Kamado Grill?
There is a wide range of colors on the market and sizes. Although the Kamado grill originated in Japan many American brands now dominate this space. At Moveable Home we offer the Kamado Joe brand of Kamado style grills as well as Primo which is known for its proprietary oval shape.
When choosing a Kamado grill it really depends on what features you like and what makes sense for your lifestyle and goals. Choosing a grill that matches your needs You also may want to consider how you primarily plan to use your grill.
If you are in the market for a high-quality Kamado-style grill prices will typically range from $400+ for a small model to $2,000+ for a premium option. For single people, couples, and small families a small model like the Joe Jr. from Kamado Joe can be a great option to get started with Kamado grilling as it is significantly less expensive and provides a very high-quality experience. It’s also more portable and a great option for tailgating and camping.
The standard Kamado size is also an all-around best choice for many people and has a price range of $1,000-$1,500 for most models. It is less portable but has more grilling space and the ability to use more accessories.
If you are looking to entertain and/or cook large portions of food a bigger option will be the way to go.
Sometimes a basic grill will offer the same results as a more premium model but may have fewer bells and whistles. We recommend investing in a grill that is manufactured by a reputable brand that stands behind its product. At Moveable Home we offer the Kamado Joe brand because they are a leading manufacturer and offer a high-quality product that has an option that works for almost every customer. In addition to grills, they offer premium charcoal and smoking woods that are designed to be used with their products.
What would be some reasons not to choose a Kamado grill? The learning curve use of charcoal and the time needed would be the biggest deterrents. Kamado grills work differently than standard propane, natural gas, and other charcoal grills. They require more time for planning and set-up and technique needed to be effective for each cook. It can take 30+ minutes to get the temperature correct and ready. This is compared to some propane grills that just require the pressing of an ignition button and a few minutes.
The difference is ultimately in the flavor of the food being prepared.
Kamado grilling can seem intimidating to the novice griller. However, they are easy to use and just require a little bit of learning and planning upfront to be effective. It is an art form to smoke and grill meat to perfection.