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Antonio

What is the best Kamado Grill without spending a fortune?

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I am looking to buy a Kamado Grill/Smoker I am looking for advice from people that have actually purchased and used one. I am also looking to buy one reasonably priced, Best Bang for the Buck.  I really like the Kamado Joe but they are definitely a bit pricey. So all advice from experienced Kamado buyers and users are appreciated  

 

Thank you

Anthony

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Welcome Anthony, glad to have you with us. A short straight answer to your question would be as follows: The Akorn metal kamado is probably the best and lowest price kamado.While  Akorns are not ceramic they can and do preform very well and can deliver amazing cooks. Once you go ceramic, the best and most reasonably priced kamados are made with Auplex ceramic components from China. There are several kamados in this category; Vision, Pit Boss, Browning, etc. Once you know what to look for all Auplex component kamados have a similar general look even though different brands may have trim variations. The next category includes BGE, KJ, Primo, etc. and as you said early they are a bit pricey but in the opinion of most all of us, quite worth the money in terms of quality, reliability, customer service, and warranty.  There are some other kamados in this category like the Saffire that are also quite good and well respected but not quite as widely marketed. Above that you have kamados like the Kamodo Kamado which is insanely well built and beautiful along with being very expensive. 

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Best “bang for the buck” may be a bit subjective. I will offer my opinion. Although I have never used one, the Akorn seem imho to be best bang for the buck. The only kamado you mentioned you like is the KJ. I think there are 4 trim levels of KJ, and the prices for each are quite different.  Possibly a better question is what would make you happy. Figure out the features you want and go from there. 

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1 hour ago, prowe said:

Figure out the features you want and go from there. 

 

I just read an article about buyer's remorse. If you buy and have remorse, it is short lived and you move on. If you don't buy, remorse about that decision can last a long, long time.

 

 I think the above is sage advice. If you have the ceramic bug, akorn is out. Otherwise, as evidenced by many happy owners here, it is a fine choice

.

 If you know you want the sloroller,  It will have to be a KJ, and a higher priced model.

 

 I bought the most basic, no bells and whistles Kamado and outfitted it as I liked. Maybe one of the mid level models with an array of cooking levels and heat deflectors is going to meet your needs, maybe you will find those not necessary or inferior in design. Make sure you buy one with a grate diameter that will fit your need. I would say 18-22 inches.

 

 Almost any brand will  be capable right out of the box. Some may have better fit and finish. Best to choose wisely the first time.

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Well, you said the KJ was pricey, but didn't give your budget????

 

The Akorn is the bottom of the "budget" ladder, but it is all metal and, from what I read here, it needs some TLC to get it working right... and there is the longevity thing with metal.  Especially kept outside in the elements.

 

Moving up, there are the Vision units and a host of others based on the generic Auplex kamados.  Auplex makes a BUNCH of models for various companies.

 

Then there are the two companies more or less at the upper end of the generic crowd, Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe.  BGE sat on their hands and let KJ outpace them in features and pricing.  Getting a BGE is like going to a car dealer and when they wheel your new car around, you find it has no steering wheel... which the dealer then tells you "that costs extra".  Then they nickle and dime you for everything else to boot.  And the BGE design has not changed in decades, no ash tray, no segmented firebox, etc.

 

Last, there are some "Premium" kamados that are several times the cost of even the KJ's and BGE's.  But they are not something most people consider as a first kamado.


Tom

 

 

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Another thing to consider is "accessories".   What fits what brand.   If you're real handy, you can build your own accessories to fit whatever you buy.  If not real handy, you'll be second guessing yourself as to fitment of said accessories.  Good luck with whatever you buy.

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I looked at locally available Kamados and was all set to buy a Primo.   For some reason the local store put me off and I backed away.  It was the dealer and not the grill.  Silly but there it is.

 

Then thought I'd try an Akorn Junior to see if I liked the concept.   By the time it arrived I decided that the full sized Akorn was more realistic so didn't even open the Jr's box, returned it, and got the bigger Akorn with cart.

Aside from major frustration in assembling the cart the rest went together easily.

 

So far I have absolutely no reason to doubt that decision.   It works very well for what I do.  No complaints at all.

 

As far as bang for the buck the biggest knock on Akorns seems to be that they may rust out in 5-7 years if exposed to rain etc.    Rain is not much of a consideration here but I still wheel it under the patio's roof when not in use.   Given the low price of the Akorn  I can replace mine 3 or more times for the cost of one of the ceramic brand names which may not last 20 years anyway [maybe neither will I?].  

If I used it every day the big names might be better value but I doubt it.   And ~ Nobody I know is impressed with the brand name on the grill.

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I am 7 years into my Akorn and while it would be nice to own a KJ,  this Kamado has served me well and provided many excellent products for my table.  I would seriously choose another for my next Kamado based on this and the price point.  Thats my two cents worth.

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Antonio,

 

At first glance the differences are hard to distinguish, unless you look at the Komodo Kamado which is in a class by itself. Amongst the others, I discounted the BGE because I dislike the color (shallow ;) ) and they have not innovated at all in a while. I almost decided on a KJ until I found the Saffire. The two features that sold me on the Saffire were the Crucible Firebox, which is made of firebricks vs ceramic. The Ash basket which other brands are now adopting. And finally the all polished stainless steel hardware on the Platinum series. The one thing I gave up vs the KJ was the airlift hinge. A year later I am still very happy with the purchase.

 

The blue color with the stainless steel looks great too!

 

IMG_5261.thumb.jpeg.9f7537bb329b71d36ae508dba45a73cd.jpeg

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5 hours ago, Paul in AZ said:

I looked at locally available Kamados and was all set to buy a Primo.   For some reason the local store put me off and I backed away.  It was the dealer and not the grill.  Silly but there it is.

 

Then thought I'd try an Akorn Junior to see if I liked the concept.   By the time it arrived I decided that the full sized Akorn was more realistic so didn't even open the Jr's box, returned it, and got the bigger Akorn with cart.

Aside from major frustration in assembling the cart the rest went together easily.

 

So far I have absolutely no reason to doubt that decision.   It works very well for what I do.  No complaints at all.

 

As far as bang for the buck the biggest knock on Akorns seems to be that they may rust out in 5-7 years if exposed to rain etc.    Rain is not much of a consideration here but I still wheel it under the patio's roof when not in use.   Given the low price of the Akorn  I can replace mine 3 or more times for the cost of one of the ceramic brand names which may not last 20 years anyway [maybe neither will I?].  

If I used it every day the big names might be better value but I doubt it.   And ~ Nobody I know is impressed with the brand name on the grill.

As a former Akorn owner and current Big Joe user/owner I can say you can't go wrong either way. The Big Joe is more consistent, keeps the temps steadier and has a larger area for cooking which is why I bought it but I loved my Akorn! The Akorn was cheap and if taken care of will last for a long time. You will have to pay closer attention to the temps than with a ceramic kamado grill,  but it is still a great kamado. Like said earlier by others ,if your budget accepts a ceramic grill, I would say go with one that provides the most accessories included for the grill and a lifetime warranty. If you are just looking to break into Kamado and want to keep it cheap, Akorn is the way to go and you won't be disappointed.

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+ 1 for the Akorn.

 

I bought mine in June because I was ready to take the next steps. I had used an electric smoker for years and had been wanting to learn fire management and temp control. I wasn't quite ready to pump a bunch of cash into a cooker style that I wasn't convinced was right for me and my use. I really thought I wanted an offset but couldn't quite come to grips with having to modify an offset that has a reputation for not being able to hold heat and leak heavily nor was I ready to jump into the $1100-$1500 range for something that I didn't know was right for me.

 

I kind of was interested in the kamados but didn't know much about them. I'd briefly look at them when I was at the home improvement stores whenever I'd go in but it was more out of curiosity than anything. 

 

One day I had been on the internet and saw at ad for the Akorn on sale. It was enough of a teaser for me to look further into it. The end result is that I an Akron now resides on my deck. 

 

It does a lot for me, it grills, smokes, sears, is easy to clean, has been next to zero maintenance, it was cheap enough price wise for me to take a chance on it and my food does not know the difference of what it has been cooked on. The main thing is that is is doing exactly what I wanted it to. It is teaching me how to control the fire, manage the temps and is versatile enough that I get to experiment with all types of food/cooking styles that an offset does not offer. As time passes I'm sure I will want something much higher in quality but for now I'm enjoying the process.

 

So far, my kamado experience has been very positive, at times frustrating but overall very enjoyable.

 

Whichever cooker you go with, enjoy the experience. I for one am glad I chose going with a kamado style cooker.

 

 

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I bought a Vision Pro-S from home Depot. I really like it. Most of what I read about the Akorn is if you like it you will eventually want something ceramic. I went with vision because Home Depot had free shipping and I liked the "pro zone".  I have not done anything low and slow because I have a gravity feed stumps clone for those cooks. I would encourage you to go ceramic with a lifetime warranty. Brand doesn't matter that much in my opinion, accessories are a must if you want the complete versatility. I have had a few issues with my Vision and customer service has taken care of all of them with very little questions. The vision HD is on sale for $499 it doesn't come with everything the Pro-S has, but its your standard Kamado design.  The Akorn is $295. I'm the kind of person I like to purchase once and because of that I spend a little more to make sure I do not have any buyers remorse. I got my Pro-S for $594. The Kamado Joe Classic is $699. I think they are all good. The Akorn will eventually rust and wont hold temps as well as a ceramic, but once you learn how to cook on it you would probably not care. 

 

So all that said I think the decision to move into a Kamado is a good one. The next decision should be focused on your budget and making sure you get the best Kamado you can for the lowest price. That means start looking for deals/sales. I can recommend anything from Vision Grills as customer support has been great so far and that is important to me. 

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On 12/8/2019 at 12:28 AM, Antonio said:

I am looking to buy a Kamado Grill/Smoker I am looking for advice from people that have actually purchased and used one. I am also looking to buy one reasonably priced, Best Bang for the Buck.  I really like the Kamado Joe but they are definitely a bit pricey. So all advice from experienced Kamado buyers and users are appreciated  

 

Thank you

Anthony

 

I've bought 4 Big Green Eggs, sold a few and now have three Kamado Joes and I have some friends that have discount Costco special Kamado's.

 

Having either owned or cooked on many brands here are 

 

1) Warranty, lifetime on ceramics matter (KJ does a better job on the firebox... solid boxes will eventually crack)

 

2) Quality.  Even a brand like BGE has examples of the dome sliding out of the bands and crashing to the ground and or issues maintaining dome alignment.  The KJ (I have two classic's with the air lift hinge and Joe Jr with traditional spring) is in a league of its own in this department.  KJ, Egg and Primo lead in ceramic quality fired at a high temp... primo has a video of this and it shows Costco specials melting into a puddle in the high heat test.

 

3) Value... BBQ accessories add up, especially with BGE.  The cart, heat deflectors, multi tier grid, ash tool, ash pan, side shelves etc. etc. are all additional cost.  Depending on the model, KJ includes some to all of these often for the same or less than the basic bare bones egg.

 

4) Accessories.  Primo makes a good grill but good luck finding accessories for the oval shape.  These grills last a long time, in 5-10 years your situation may be different and you might want additional toys like a rotisserie, pizza insert, temp controller, or multi tier grid etc.  I don't think anyone would argue KJ leads the field here.

 

If you can still find one, a series 1 KJ Classic is a banging deal... if not I'd look for a deal on a classic 2 and never look back.  Classic 2 comes with the better gasket, air lift hinge, new firebox, divide and conquer etc. etc. 

 

 

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To echo what a lot of guys have said here the Akorn is a fantastic kamado at a budget price and probably the best entry level option since you can get these new for $300 and used for half that.

 

The mid pack Auplex's are all about the same and decent purchases from what everyone has said.  If you can budget one of those over an Akorn more power to you, just depends on how much you're willing to spend to get started.

 

The Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, and Primo are on the higher end ceramics and from what everyone states are worth the money.  You probably get a little better support and warranty with these guys. 

 

There are alternatives to the ceramics in each price tier.  Ceramic kamados can crack it happens enough that there are discussions about that.  Most of the time it is just the firebox and some of them like Kamado Joe and Saffire have worked through those problems.  Usually that will be covered by warranty and doesn't cause a problem with cooking anyway.  If you want to stay away from ceramic there are options.

1. Akorn cheapest way to get started, enameled steel, will last a good long while, but you will have to replace it eventually.

2. Keg kamado's a little more expensive and better built than the Akorn, probably a great alternative to stuff like the Vision.

3. Weber Summit Charcoal porcelain enameled steel, Golden's Cast Iron, and Blaze Aluminum Kamado.  These guys are on the expensive end with the Eggs and Joes, but they are built to high quality and built to last.

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As you can see, if you wanted a short and sweet answer you came to the wrong place...

 

I'm with @buckleybj.  Got started with the Akorn, then added the Big Joe a few years later.  About a year after that, the handle on the Akorn broke as I was moving it to shelter and it went down and bent badly, crushing my soul.  We entertain a lot, so after being spoiled with having two kamados to work with at one time, I waited for a deal and got a blue Akorn for $180.  The Big Joe is my champion for its versatility, space, heat retention, and good looks, but the Akorn is the quick option when I don't have the time to let the Big Joe heat soak, or when i need a second temp.  It's also one of the only portable options you have if you like to camp, tailgate, or just want to cook on a different side of your house.  You'll get 2-3 years out of it if you let it get rained on, ~5 years if you take decent care of it, or a few more than that if you baby it.  If you start using it often, I'd suggest putting money in a jar every week to save for the ceramic that you will inevitably want, or your second Akorn.

 

Find out who your local dealers are for each of the big names and price check them all.  I got my Big Joe II at a piping supply company for $1,350ish after tax when everywhere else they were nearly $2,000 before tax (before the Big Joe III came out).  Why would they sell it there?  Don't know, don't care.  It was worth the little bit of time I put in, though.

 

Here's where to begin: https://www.kamadojoe.com/dealer-locator/

 

If you're unsure, get the Akorn and see if it's worth it for a few years.  I'm glad I started that way.  I wouldn't recommend the Jr as your only kamado due to its space limitations, but others may disagree.  Good luck in whatever you decide!

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