Which Kamado Grill Class is Right for You?

The history of kamado grills dates back a few thousand years to ancient China, so it’s only natural that these grills have gotten a few updates throughout the years. Some manufacturers have even swapped the traditional ceramic construction for different materials, resulting in a variety of products with a range of capabilities. Certain kamado charcoal grills can handle extremely high temperatures, some are wildly versatile, and others excel as low-and-slow smokers only. Throw in full lines of accessories — some of which are necessary for certain cooking styles — and those ancient ceramic stoves suddenly become harder to sort through than anyone at the time of their invention could’ve imagined.

To help you cut through the clutter and find the kamado that best fits your lifestyle, we’ve broken out our selection into 4 clearly defined classes: Luxury, Premium, Practical, and Economy. We placed equal weight on a grill’s quality, performance, and features when determining where it fell on this spectrum, giving you a complete picture of each kamado so you can get right to the one you want.

Class Economy Practical Premium Luxury
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Luxury Kamado Grills

  • Luxury Kamado Grills
    • Cast aluminum bodies will never rust, making these grills a years-long investment
    • High-quality construction backed by lifetime warranties so you stay covered
    • Extra-thick cooking grates make it easy to sear just about anything
    • Capable of reaching and sustaining high heat, adding cooking versatility
    • Sleek aesthetic matches stainless steel appliances and fits right into an outdoor kitchen
  • Quality

    Though they’re not made of ceramic like traditional kamado cookers, these models are also built for decades of use. Their high-quality cast aluminum is far less fragile than ceramic and will never rust, though it doesn’t retain heat quite as well as ceramic. Blaze kamados back their excellent construction with a best-in-class, lifetime warranty on all parts, further guaranteeing the longevity of these models. Built-in Luxury kamados can even serve as a stunningly beautiful outdoor kitchen centerpiece, but they usually require clearance from combustibles and may need an insulated kamado jacket.

  • Performance

    Ceramic is a prized cooking material, but you might find cast aluminum gets the job done just as well. Heat moves much faster through metal than through ceramic, so Luxury kamados have no problem reaching high temperatures and staying there. Blaze charcoal kamado cookers doubled down on this thermal property by including 12-millimeter, stainless steel cooking grates that hold the high heat necessary for a good sear. And when it comes to retaining heat for lower cooks, these kamado grills are constructed with a solid inch of thickness to absorb and radiate heat like their ceramic counterparts.

  • Features

    To give you the highest degree of versatility, kamado cookers in the Luxury class are loaded with helpful features. Blaze’s rotisserie kit accessory, for instance, pairs with a stainless steel charcoal basket and drip pan to produce incredible roasts, ribs, or turkeys just like a gas grill rotisserie. As a bonus, the charcoal basket and drip pan can also be used for indirect heat or even 2-zone cooking setups with the Blaze half round heat deflector. The Blaze 4-in-1 plate gives you even more options for indirect heat and BBQ smoking, not to mention that it’s large enough to hold a water pan.

Premium Kamado Grills

  • Luxury Kamado Grills
    • High-fire ceramic insulates heat very well and withstands higher heat than lesser materials
    • Backed by lifetime warranties, and Primo offers a 20-year guarantee on its ceramic
    • Widest range of accessories available makes these kamados even more versatile
    • Only class to include oval-shaped kamado cookers, which make 2-zone cooking possible
    • Oval and Big Joe are some of the largest kamados in the industry, allowing for huge cooks
  • Quality

    In terms of quality, ceramic kamado grills don’t get any better than this. Kamado Joe and Primo headline the Premium class, which is full of kamados with thick ceramic bodies that retain heat extremely well and evenly radiate it back toward food. Their superior construction comes with lifetime warranties on the ceramic bodies of every grill, and it’s not hard to see why — just look at how well Primo kamados can withstand insanely high temperatures. No wonder Primo offers a 20-year guarantee on its ceramic.

  • Performance

    All ceramic cookers are excellent at low-and-slow smoking, but Premium kamados also achieve high heat well enough to have earned the title of “grill.” You can perform any and every kind of cooking style on these models, and in some cases you can pull off multiple methods at once with 2-zone cooking. Some brands offer accessories to help you closely replicate this technique, but the distinct oval shape of Primo charcoal kamados naturally sets the stage for you to use direct and indirect heat at the same time.

  • Features

    These models have the widest range of features and accessories on the market, such as grate lifters to help add charcoal, Coyote’s laser-cut heat deflector grate, Primo’s charcoal divider, and the many cleverly named Kamado Joe accessories (the DoJoe and Joetisserie make us chuckle every time). While 2-zone cooking is possible with the Kamado Joe Classic III or Big Joe III when you use the included charcoal basket and divider, your best bet might be the Divide and Conquer half-moon heat deflectors and split-level grates.

Practical Kamado Grills

  • Luxury Kamado Grills
    • 1-inch ceramic walls insulate and retain heat well for reliable cooks
    • Multiple color options and accessories let you personalize your kamado
    • Quick-change fuel inserts give you the option to use propane or natural gas
    • Included lava rock can be used as a heat deflector for indirect heat, improving versatility
    • Built-in shock absorbers limit damage from slammed lids to increase your kamado’s longevity
  • Quality

    Practical kamados are solid, well-built cookers that have a heavy-duty feel. Their thick ceramic walls hold heat fairly well and can endure some high-end temperatures, but these kamado charcoal grills are designed primarily for low-and-slow smoking. One of the most appealing things about Icon kamado grills is the ability to personalize them with your choice of color — freestanding models come in red, white, or black, while tabletop configurations can be either orange or teal.

  • Performance

    While you may have some trouble hitting sky-high heat in Practical kamado grills, they still offer a wide enough temperature range to do a decent amount of grilling in addition to slow-cooks. Oh, and did we mention you can still harness the performance of Icon kamados on days when you don’t feel like fooling with charcoal? These are the only kamados with a quick-change fuel accessory, which allows you to connect with a standard propane tank or quick-connect natural gas hose.

  • Features

    Icon kamados have some of our favorite features: electric starters and LED lights attached to the top handle of the lid, and a shock absorber that catches the lid handle when closed so the ceramic doesn’t crack from accidental slamming. The Icon 900 Series in particular has an electric starter that can be inserted directly into the coal bed for easy lighting. Their cast iron grates can even hold a layer of lava rock that acts as heat deflector, perfect for baking and BBQ smoking.

Economy Kamado Grills

  • Luxury Kamado Grills
    • Lower grades of materials make these kamados budget-friendly
    • Ceramic is incapable of handling extreme levels of heat without being damaged
    • Painted steel kamados have the shortest lifespan of any models on the market
    • Brief lifespans reflected in slim warranties (5–10 years on external parts, 2–5 on internal)
    • Versatility limited by fewer accessories, smaller heat range, and lack of 2-zone cooking
  • Quality

    Extremely high heat can stress or damage the bodies of ceramic Economy kamado cookers, making them fit mostly for low-and-slow smoking. And while painted-steel Broil King Keg kamados can handle high heat thanks to their metal construction, the material simply won’t last as long as ceramic. Warranties are also lacking, with most maxing out at just 5 years of coverage. The best offer in the Economy class is from Broil King, which warrants some parts for up to 10 years.

  • Performance

    Though kamado cookers are prized for being do-it-all grills, Economy models aren’t nearly as versatile as those in higher classifications. This is due to the lack of accessories limiting versatility, and the upper limit of heat they can safely handle. That being said, these kamados are still quite capable of BBQ smoking for all the same reasons every kamado makes a great smoker. Just don’t try to sear at 700 degrees, or you’ll risk reducing their usable lifespans.

  • Features

    Don’t expect to see many accessories being manufactured and sold by Economy kamado brands. Most of them don’t offer anything more than a heat deflector plate for smoking meat or baking, so you generally won’t have the proper tools to set up direct and indirect heat at the same time. If all you want is a kamado that’s easy on the wallet and you don’t mind limited longevity, features, and cooking versatility, then an Economy kamado cooker is probably your best option.


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