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What is the best Kamado Grill without spending a fortune?


Antonio
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There have been many good replies here. I would also recommend the Akorn as the best budget option. I was very happy with mine and purchased the Big Joe as a personal reward but I was very happy with the Akorn. My thing living in a humid and sometimes rainy area was that I used to obsess over rain and I don't have to do that with a ceramic. The best thing is that it is just a grill that we are talking about so find out what you think will make you happy and go with that.

 

Happy cooking

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16 hours ago, pr0wlunwoof said:

... 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 best bang for the buck is a low-end ceramic on closeout. It will likely need "improvements" to work as well as a high-end ceramic, but clay is clay so you'll be able to cook everything a high-end can. 

 

The Akorn is a great cooker, but with a little less range than a ceramic. I had a hard time convincing myself to spend $300 on one, but there was no convincing needed to spend 5x that amount on a Big Joe. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

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5 hours ago, fbov said:

The best bang for the buck is a low-end ceramic on closeout. It will likely need "improvements" to work as well as a high-end ceramic, but clay is clay so you'll be able to cook everything a high-end can. 

 

The Akorn is a great cooker, but with a little less range than a ceramic. I had a hard time convincing myself to spend $300 on one, but there was no convincing needed to spend 5x that amount on a Big Joe. 

 

Have fun,

Frank


On the point about clay is clay, jump to the 5:20 mark In this video 

 

 

obviously internal temps never get that hot but that second unit that turned into a puddle is no where near the same clay it would seem 

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4 hours ago, Smokingdadbbq said:

On the point about clay is clay, jump to the 5:20 mark In this video ...

Clay is clay in the finished product. This is a smart man, but a salesman, so he's just set up a specious test. Joe Average falls for this all the time, even when the results are not unexpected. Firing conditions depend on the clay, and if properly matched, you won't know from looking at the finished product 

 

WHY IS CLAY FIRED?
Clay becomes pottery at temperatures at about 1,000 degrees F (the beginning of glowing red heat - about 540 C). Traditionally, tribal earthenware is fired to about 1,400 degrees F (760 C). Heat removes the molecular water in the clay. The heat converts clay molecules to molecules that do not dissolve or slake in water. In modern societies pottery and brick is fired in kilns to temperatures ranging from 1,800 F to 2,400 F. Most of the common clays like clay shown here on the left found in our back yards start to deform and melt if they are fired higher than about 1,900 F. Modern toilets are fired from clay that has fewer contaminants. It is fired to 2,300 to 2,400 F., making it very strong and impervious.

https://www.goshen.edu/art/DeptPgs/rework.html#:~:targetText=In modern societies pottery and,clay that has fewer contaminants.

 

If he's using a toilet kiln (look at the flat plates... commode sized?), it would be very easy to overheat the dry ones, achieving far higher temperatures than the wet, unfired clay.  This tells us nothing about Kamado quality, and I don't see where is serves the OP's question. 

 

HAve fun,

Frnak

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12 hours ago, fbov said:

The best bang for the buck is a low-end ceramic on closeout. It will likely need "improvements" to work as well as a high-end ceramic, but clay is clay so you'll be able to cook everything a high-end can. 

 

The Akorn is a great cooker, but with a little less range than a ceramic. I had a hard time convincing myself to spend $300 on one, but there was no convincing needed to spend 5x that amount on a Big Joe. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

 

I tend to agree with  Frank. The low end units probably skimp on things like gaskets and tables etc, but being in a ceramic off the bat means your probably just looking for upgrades and not a full on replacement in the future. If you buy a Acorn as a "starter" your gonna like it for sure, but eventually gonna want to get a ceramic cooker. So go with a Ceramic you can afford. If you can't afford one save your money till you can.

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7 hours ago, Smokingdadbbq said:

obviously internal temps never get that hot but that second unit that turned into a puddle is no where near the same clay it would seem 

 

Yeah.... That is a good sales ad. Doesn't really speak to quality though. A better test would be dropping them all down the stairs and seeing which one survived, or do a burn with the same type/amount of coal and see which holds temps longer. Even a tinsel tests on the metal parts would lend itself to quality differentiation. What your truly buying when buying a ceramic cooker is a companies word\longevity. If Vision is in buisness for 50 years from now it doesn't matter if my dome cracks they replace it. Same thing with BGE KJ PRIMO. Your buying the warranty as much as your buying the Kamado. I believe the cooking experience on the "classic" Round kamado's has to be pretty stinking similar thats why product differentiation is so hard. Now with all that said the KJ is tapping the market in a different way with accessories others have not thought about or took the time to produce. Vision has done some innovative things in my opinion with the gas burner insert on the pro series with whispers they are working on a pellet insert. Primo's claim to fame is the oval. So I think they are all good. Just get the best value you can find. 

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3 hours ago, fbov said:

Modern toilets are fired from clay that has fewer contaminants. It is fired to 2,300 to 2,400 F., making it very strong and impervious.

 

This is the point.  BGE and Primo are using a more pure mix and fire at higher temperatures.  This means the repeated heating and cooling of the pots do not break down like my 2000 era Kamado #7.  That ceramic was of poor quality and broke down in less than 3 years. "When George Samaras, who started Primo in 1997, leads visitors through the factory where employees make the oblong-shaped kamado he patented, he shows off his porcelain spray booth and 28-million-B.T.U. kiln. (He is also quick to tell them that a toilet manufacturer in Mississippi originally used his kiln.)"

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From the Vision FAQ:

Q: Do I have to season the grill by running it at a low temperature on the first use?
A:
No. Many online resources suggest seasoning Kamado grills for 3-5 hours at low temperatures before using at more extreme temperatures. Since the process for constructing ceramic involves kilning at 2,400+oF, seasoning prior to use is not necessary to improve long-term performance. Many Kamado manufacturers suggest seasoning your grill during the first use to strengthen the gasket adhesive and prevent separation from the ceramic. Vision Grills uses high-quality adhesive for its gaskets, so your Vision Grill is fully operational immediately after assembly.

 

But I still like the video. Possibly the "mix" and the purported heat are overkill?  

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I have to say that I have been totally satisfied with my Kamado Joe Classic. So many options from cooking levels, cast iron, pizza stones and on and on.

 

As to service, I have contacted them a couple of times. Not always through their preferred web warranty portal. They were very patient with my not following protocol. Delivery of warranty parts may be a little slow but good gosh, got a complete fire box ceramic replacement, a replacement base for that fire box, and just now, having asked for a replacement for a rear castor with a bent bolt, I received a complete set of all four castors! Two front locking castors and the two free-wheeling rear castors.

 

These folks are not shy when it comes to warranty service! Kudos to them!!!

Edited by davefrmmrfy
Why was this hidden? I want to give praise to KJ support.
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22 hours ago, Family_cook said:

This is the point.  BGE and Primo are using a more pure mix and fire at higher temperatures.  This means the repeated heating and cooling of the pots do not break down like my 2000 era Kamado #7.  That ceramic was of poor quality and broke down in less than 3 years. "When George Samaras, who started Primo in 1997, leads visitors through the factory where employees make the oblong-shaped kamado he patented, he shows off his porcelain spray booth and 28-million-B.T.U. kiln. (He is also quick to tell them that a toilet manufacturer in Mississippi originally used his kiln.)"

Actually, what I believe fbov was getting at was all of the competitors were finished as in after they had been through a kiln. I dont believe the Primos had already been through the kiln. If that is the case, the others would reach MUCH higher temperatures than the Primo because it has to dry out all the water first. Undoubtedly they put them in for a set time that they know they are dried out.

 

At any rate, I have no plans to put my kamado in a 28 million BTU kiln anytime soon. So, cook on!

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30 minutes ago, CaptainMusky said:

Actually, what I believe fbov was getting at was all of the competitors were finished as in after they had been through a kiln. I dont believe the Primos had already been through the kiln. If that is the case, the others would reach MUCH higher temperatures than the Primo because it has to dry out all the water first. Undoubtedly they put them in for a set time that they know they are dried out.

 

At any rate, I have no plans to put my kamado in a 28 million BTU kiln anytime soon. So, cook on!

He made a point of explaining that the Primo left front was a finished unit and the BGE next to it was of course also a finished unit.  Only the Primos in the back were unfired.

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On 12/11/2019 at 9:44 AM, fbov said:

Clay is clay in the finished product. This is a smart man, but a salesman, so he's just set up a specious test. Joe Average falls for this all the time, even when the results are not unexpected. Firing conditions depend on the clay, and if properly matched, you won't know from looking at the finished product 

 

WHY IS CLAY FIRED?
Clay becomes pottery at temperatures at about 1,000 degrees F (the beginning of glowing red heat - about 540 C). Traditionally, tribal earthenware is fired to about 1,400 degrees F (760 C). Heat removes the molecular water in the clay. The heat converts clay molecules to molecules that do not dissolve or slake in water. In modern societies pottery and brick is fired in kilns to temperatures ranging from 1,800 F to 2,400 F. Most of the common clays like clay shown here on the left found in our back yards start to deform and melt if they are fired higher than about 1,900 F. Modern toilets are fired from clay that has fewer contaminants. It is fired to 2,300 to 2,400 F., making it very strong and impervious.

https://www.goshen.edu/art/DeptPgs/rework.html#:~:targetText=In modern societies pottery and,clay that has fewer contaminants.

 

If he's using a toilet kiln (look at the flat plates... commode sized?), it would be very easy to overheat the dry ones, achieving far higher temperatures than the wet, unfired clay.  This tells us nothing about Kamado quality, and I don't see where is serves the OP's question. 

 

HAve fun,

Frnak

I am concerned that I lacked clarity in my response. To suggest that this video is a "specious test" should not go unchecked.  I have no affinity for Primo or any brand, but I do appreciate quality and justification of same.  It is clear in the video that the 4 different brands in the front are all finished pre-fired product.  It is also obvious that the flat gray unglazed units behind the front row have never been fired.  He is not trying to deceive, but rather is demonstrating the difference in quality ceramic mix verses less pure mixes.  I would not respond twice to this thread except that terms like "Joe Average falls for this all the time" completely misrepresent this video.  My response does not imply that this video proves Primo are superior.  Many ther factors need consideration in selecting your optimal cooker.  But to suggest that this manufacturer has produced this video to trick prospective buyers must be corrected.

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I started out on the Akorn completely by accident.  I had saved up the money to buy a Big Green Egg and was planning to buy one over the weekend when I stumbled across the Akorn at Lowes for $299 a few days before I was going to buy the Egg.  I was intrigued by its possibilities.  So I bought it and put it through its paces.  I pushed it to the limits and found its strengths and weaknesses and learned to cook around them.

 

The pros of the Akorn:

 

1.  It's cheap

2. It's light weight compared to ceramics

3. It's fuel efficient because of its low thermal mass 

 

The cons of the Akorn:

 

1.  It's more difficult to control temps because is not air tight

2.  I experienced finish burning when the grill gets to temps in excess of 650°F

3.  Rust

4.  Limited warranty compared to most others

 

I would expect a well-kept and well-used akorn to last about 5 years as long as its kept completely dry and out of the weather.  I'm sure there are exceptions to that idea though.

 

6 to 8 months after I had run my Akorn through the wringer, I still wanted a ceramic grill.  My first one was the Kamado Joe Classic:

 

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kamado-Joe-Classic-Joe-18-in-Red-Kamado-Charcoal-Grill/1000707764

 

I think THIS grill or a Large Big Green Egg or a Primo Kamado is the RIGHT starting point whether it's in the price range you like or not.  In bang for the buck terms, I think you will have a hard time beating the Kamado Joe.  What you get with that grill in the original wrapper is significant compared to what you get with the rest of the premium brand kamados.  This $750 package is perfectly capable of cooking anything their more expensive trim option models will cook.  

 

I would seriously consider starting out at this price point rather than the $300 point.

 

 

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3 hours ago, John Setzler said:

I would seriously consider starting out at this price point rather than the $300 point.

 

I would agree with John both on recommendations and reasoning. I only decided on my particular brand\model because of features I thought I wanted (Vision Pro-s with pro-zone) and it was on sale ($594). I have to admit had the Vision not been on sale the KJ is probably the better value because of the divide and conquer system. I'm looking to spend another $140(on my gift registry also) on the woo ring, only fire charcoal basket, deflector stone, and 16 1/2 inch pizza stone. I tend to buy base model things and accessorize specifically to fit my desires. 

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