Kamado style grills have exploded in popularity over the last few decades and for good reason. 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 as well as home cooks. The distinctive egg shape and round grill of the Kamado grill has become ubiquitous in the barbecue and grilling space.
Kamado style grilling can seem intimidating to the novice griller. However, they are easy to use and just require a little bit of learning and planning up front to be effective. It is an art form to smoke and grill meat to perfection.
Where did they come from?
The Kamado grills that we use today originated in Japan, but were originally invented in China thousands of years ago. 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 ceramic movable grill.
Where Should you Use a Kamado Grill?
A Kamado style grill is a great option for small spaces, urban grilling and off grid living as it uses charcoal instead of propane or natural gas. Most major cities don’t allow propane or natural gas grills, but Charcoal is typically fine depending on the type of outside space being used. In New York City for example a charcoal grill is permitted on both terraces and in backyards as well as most city parks. There are strict requirements for spacing though. Typically many grills are also not allowed on fire escapes or some balconies for safety reasons. Before purchasing any type of grill you should check the local laws for your state and city.
Charcoal lends a smoky distinctive flavor to the food being grilled and is usually more cost effective than propane. It also doesn’t require any type of connection like Natural Gas which makes it more portable. 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 style grill allows for year round grilling and smoking.
One consideration with Kamado style grills is weight and how frequently you will plan to move the grill. This is not a light weight grill. A small model is portable, but will still be close to 70 pounds. Standard models can weigh in at over 200lbs.
What is the Benefit of a Kamado Grill?
A Kamado style grill is a great choice for those looking to purchase one grill and for anyone who love 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 style grill to allow for more sophisticated cooking and grilling techniques. 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 charcoal burns longer and can be reused.
How does a Kamado Grill Work?
A Kamado style grill is typically made from a ceramic stone, but some brands offer metal options. 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 wills tay consistent. Most Kamado grills feature a top and bottom vent that allows for better airflow and temperature control. Since the ceramic dome retains heat so well it’s important that the temperature be managed up front 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 bucket, cast iron pans and pizza stones.
How to Choose a Kamado Grill?
There are a wide range of colors on the market and sizes. Although the Kamado style 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 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 less bells and whistles. We recommend investing in a grill that is manufactured by a reputable brand that stands behind their 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 a high quality 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 and not wanting to use charcoal would probably be the biggest reasons. 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. Check out some of our favorite models below.