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TheFury

A slightly different “which size kamado is right for me” question

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Hey everyone, long-time lurker and first-time poster here. I’ve been reading these forums and watching the super-helpful videos posted by several KG members for the past few weeks (y’all sure are a helpful bunch!), and I still feel like I could use a tiny push in one direction or another. 

 

Here’s my situation: I’m moving to a place in the summer that has a small back yard. It’s a townhouse in a big city so you can imagine that quarters are cramped back there. I’ve grilled a lot before but mainly direct/high heat. Fully confident that getting a kamado (BGE, KJ or WSC) is going to give me the kick in the backside I’ve been looking for to get *really* good at working a pit and pulling off low & slow cooks. 

 

For the most part, I’ll be cooking for just my wife and myself. Before too long, a third little human will be in the mix. Outside of that, I won’t be cooking for more than 8 people *maximum*, because that’s probably the biggest crowd that can fit in my apartment!

 

I’ve been to Lowes to check out a KJ classic, and even that felt pretty beefy for how small a grate you get. Haven’t seen a BJ or XLBGE near me to compare, but will keep looking. In general, I would spring for a 24” kamado without a second thought except for two things:

  1. Space is at a premium in this small apartment and that extra 6” diameter / 3 square feet or so makes a difference in how cramped the cooking area will be, alongside a small table to seat people
  2. I have no idea how I’m going to get the bigger kamado delivered in this city, strapped to a pallet and maneuvered through the building to get to my back yard. The 18” size would be more manageable. 

 

I would man up and deal with the above if it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to cook a full meal for three on a large-sized kamado without relying on another cooker (i.e. the kitchen inside). What I’m really looking for validation on is: can I cook a whole meal for my family on a KJ classic / LBGE sized grill? I’ve seen the pictures and videos, and I know that an expansion grate / EGGspander etc. would be a must, but even with that, could I fit something like two whole chickens *and* a cast iron skillet for sides? A butt or two and a pile of veggies? Maybe somehow add a second side and a second butt if I’m entertaining??

 

Thanks in advance for your insight!!

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Welcome, glad to have you with us as you go through the decision making and purchasing process. As you probably know from reading posts on the subject, kamado selection including brand, size, and accessories is  very much personal preference driven, and what works for one isn't necessarialy the perfect choice for another. That said, I cook on a large BGE and regularly cook for an extended  family of 8 to 12  on holidays, and other occasions when the family gathers. Most of my day-to-day cooks are just for my wife and I. The 18.5 grate in my large Egg works just fine and is more than adequate. I have also, on a couple of occasions,  cooked Ribs and Chicken for a group of 20 from church. The cook for 20 did take some planning and logistical prep, but once I knew the plan and had it written down, the cook was taxing but not too difficult to accomplish. Not to be a spoiler, but it sounds, from your description, that you are going to be living in a building with apartments or condos with attached small outside patios or yard space. Kamados and other charcoal grills make great food but they also hold fire and create smoke. It is not uncommon for buildings and complexes to have rules and restrictions which govern outdoor cooking. I would check on those before I went too much further in the decision process. 

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@keeperovdeflame This is great info and a nice warm welcome, thank you! I definitely see how personal a decision it can be to choose a grill. Similarly, context around how other folks make creative use of their grill space helps me get my head around the options. It sounds like an 18-incher is the more responsible choice, logistically speaking. 

 

One follow-up question for you: I can probably fit more meat on a Large than I’m likely to need for the size of gathering that my back yard can support. But what sorts of combinations of meat + sides have you pulled off on your LBGE before? It’s the ability to handle a full meal on a single cooker that I’m most interested in (INB4 “just get a L and a MM” — unfortunately I just don’t have the space for that!).

 

Lastly, one of the first things I checked was my condo by-laws and thankfully there’s nothing in there that prohibits outdoor cooking. Outdoor fire pits/fire places are specifically prohibited, but not charcoal grills; the current owners of the place have a Weber kettle out there so I should be fine on that front (thank god!) 

 

 

 

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Pretty much, if you plan it out, you can cook almost anything you can cook in your kitchen oven on your kamado. You can cook a large cut of meat and then as you shut down the grill use the residual heat to bake pies, breads, etc. You can stagger when things go on the grill  to allow you to cook multiple side dishes along with the main dish. Chicken and Ribs is an easy thing to start with.  Soup, Prime Rib, potatoes, veggies, is pretty easy as well. The more you cook the more you figure out how to set up and stage cooks. One thing is to remember anything thing you cook above something else will drip fat down on to what's below. Sometimes, that is to your flavor advantage, and sometimes you wont want that to happen. I will occasionally disregard healthy  fat content, and cook a pan of potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, etc beneath a spatchcocked chicken and let the chicken drip into the pan. It's not considered healthy but It is how my grand mother cooked and we enjoy the amazing flavor and richness. The more you cook, the more you learn. Happy Cooking.  

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I have a KJCII. I’ll say up front that most all of my cooking on it has been less of the “whole meal on the grill” variety and more of the “I cook something outside while momma cooks something inside and we’ll put it all together on the table” variety. But I have done the former a couple times. It’s cramped (I cook for 5: wife and I plus 3 kids from 8-14). 

 

Couple quick pics.

 

Full chicken w corn on the cob and a few side shrimp skewers. The bird is sitting on a cast iron skillet full of diced red skin potatoes. This is easily the most food I’ve crammed on the grill so far. EB93F1E9-E8BE-44EE-85C9-5A52F6007A55.thumb.jpeg.246f5c6b8a9fb5a75f8ee8fad8b42459.jpeg

 

Skillet of fajita veggies flanked by 6x chix breast. 

CFBDC457-A6F8-4DCB-92AB-BDE943C2CD1C.thumb.jpeg.99ce38707e42d3736c11f45218ba11f4.jpeg

 

And about 30x wings on the extender with 5x potato/onion/butter foil packs underneath. 

35DBE443-4A5E-49EB-B814-46D4E2B12FC0.thumb.jpeg.a983d13255b61bb58889623a7b69adf0.jpeg

 

 

My biggest issue with cooking a whole meal on a grill this size is whether I need two cooking zones. If I do, it’s probably too cramped. If I can get away w cooking at one temp, then it’s much more doable. 

 

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@Bgosnell151 @dirty6 this is exactly what I wanted to see! Thank you. Particularly the pics of cast iron on the grill alongside the meat. Just for a sense of scale, are those 10" pieces?

 

It's interesting to note that I do all the cooking in my household, so I won't have the convenience of (soon to be) momma prepping the sides inside. So these pics are super helpful. It might be that I feel more comfortable operating on a 24" after all, even though a full meal seems to be totally possible on an 18"

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2 hours ago, TheFury said:

Just for a sense of scale, are those 10" pieces?

 

That is correct. 

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@TheFury

 

I have been cooking on the Kamado Joe Big Joe, Classic, and Jr. for quite some time now.  If I could only have ONE of those three grills, it would definitely be the classic.  It's always enough for 2 people and usually more than you need.  For those occasions where you are cooking for more, it's still enough for the numbers you are talking about.  

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6 hours ago, TheFury said:

@Bgosnell151 @dirty6 this is exactly what I wanted to see! Thank you. Particularly the pics of cast iron on the grill alongside the meat. Just for a sense of scale, are those 10" pieces?

  

It's interesting to note that I do all the cooking in my household, so I won't have the convenience of (soon to be) momma prepping the sides inside. So these pics are super helpful. It might be that I feel more comfortable operating on a 24" after all, even though a full meal seems to be totally possible on an 18"

 

Mine is a 5 Qt Dutch Oven, which for scale, the lid is a 10.25" skillet.  

 

I, too, do all of the cooking in my household and don't have anyone else prepping the sides.  The benefit of the kamado grill is that you get the temp to where you want it, and can then go about doing anything else you need to do.

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Cooking full meals on 1 kamado is all about what temperatures you need for the individual items. 

 

If you do something low-n-slow you cook that first then pull, wrap and into a cooler to rest. At that point you crank the temperature up to cook your sides. 

 

If everything needs the same temperature (say 375*) you can usually cram it all in together. 

 

What you can't do (no mater what size you get) is cook at 2 different temperature at the same time. Even a divide and concour type setup doesn't really give you two different temps. Also much easier to go up in temperature as the cook progresses. 

 

With all that said proper meal and cook planning is a must regardless of kamado size. If you pick appropriate sides for the main protein (considering the temperatures) almost anything is possible. An main grate with an upper grate extension helps a lot to cook full meals on one kamado. 

 

 

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Thanks everyone for your replies. @ckreef, very helpful insight. You're right, I'm thinking about putting everything on at once when in reality that will rarely work. 

 

I went to a store today and checked out the L and XL BGE side by side. While the L grate did feel a bit compact, the size of the XL felt way too imposing. The salesman said he'd push me towards the large as well. Interestingly, while that store is an authorized BGE retailer and he's the BGE guy at the store, he also said he'd push me towards the kamado joe even though he's technically not supposed to say that. 

 

This is a tough call! 

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I have no skin in this game because I've never owned either a BGE or a KJ. (started with a full size Akorn now I have 2 KK's, a Primo Oval Jr, and a Akorn Jr). With that said I have been on this forum for a while and read almost every post. When friends ask I always stear them towards a KJ. A lot of useful accessories are made for the KJ not to mention a few fun accessories. 

 

If you have a BGE dealer stearing you towards KJ you might want to listen to him.......... Just sayin...... 

 

 

 

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55 minutes ago, TheFury said:

Thanks everyone for your replies. @ckreef, very helpful insight. You're right, I'm thinking about putting everything on at once when in reality that will rarely work. 

 

I went to a store today and checked out the L and XL BGE side by side. While the L grate did feel a bit compact, the size of the XL felt way too imposing. The salesman said he'd push me towards the large as well. Interestingly, while that store is an authorized BGE retailer and he's the BGE guy at the store, he also said he'd push me towards the kamado joe even though he's technically not supposed to say that. 

 

This is a tough call! 

I was cooking on bge large for many many years i had 2 larges at one time the large has a ton of room to cook what ever you want .the one thing i never liked with bge is all the added accesories you have to pay extra for

 

If i had to do it all over again i think i would go kj especially with their divide and conquor system and other innovations as of late 

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I used to cook full meals on a single kamado all the time. These days I have multiple kamados to choose from and it's usually easier to just fire up 2 or 3 to get the job done....... Except....... 

 

Tonight I had a rotisserie chicken cook planned. I was getting ready for the cook and something told me to test the rotisserie motor. Oh Crap!!! The motor clicked on for a second then died. This isn't a big surprise. I left the rotisserie motor installed on my KK from the begining when I first bought it (over a year ago). It sits under a covered porch but I live in GA with crazy summer humidity coupled with air dripping in moisture during fog and rainy days. I figure either the gears or the inner electrical connections rusted up. I guess that's what I get for being lazy and leaving it attached. 

 

So how does this relate to this thread? 

 

Well I had to scramble for plan B. Spatchcocked chicken with carrots, potatoes, and gravy underneath. A full meal done on the fly with a moments notice cooked in one dish on one kamado. Not an issue you just have

stray a bit from the original plan when things go wrong. 

 

brokemotor1.thumb.jpg.b8fa0d8698abb37a3308ca8b66fc6ef1.jpg

 

 

 

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