No, that’s not an ancient burial urn or a large egg in you’re neighbor’s backyard. It’s actually a charcoal grill that can do wonders for your next barbecue party. A Kamado-style grill is a modernized version of the “mushikamado” which is a Japanese cooking stove that is fueled by wood or charcoal that has been around for more than 3,000 years. First introduced to Americans in the wake of World War II, the Kamado grill has certainly increased in popularity since then. So, what makes them stand out from the rest of the other charcoal grills in the market aside from the way they look? Well, there are several benefits to owning a Kamado grill and we’ll be discussing each of them. We’ll also point out some of the drawbacks of using one so you can accurately judge if this is exactly what you’ll need for your next grill.
Kamado Grill Benefits
Versatile & Efficient: The absolute best thing about owning a Kamado grill is the fact that you get to have a grill, a smoker, a roaster, and a baking oven all rolled into one. These grills are usually made of ceramics, cement, terra cotta, lava rock, and other refractory materials. Kamado grills also have thick walls that soak up a lot of heat. Because of its material and design, the Kamado grill excels at retaining and radiating heat evenly as well as holding the temperature steady for 12 hours or even longer. The temperature ranges from a low 225°F to a high 750° F (great for searing steaks). A Kamado grill is also great at retaining moisture because it is efficient in controlling air flow. This enables you to smoke meats that remain deliciously juicy. And just like wood-fire ovens, baking bread and pizza at around 500 degrees are a snap. Some high-end models come with a rotisserie so getting a perfectly browned, crisp meat is also on the table.
Aside from versatility, Kamado grills are very efficient in burning charcoal. You can use one bag of charcoal and slowly cook meat for 12 hours without having to worry about running out. And at the end of a cook, you can just close all the dampers to starve the coals. This makes it quite easy for you to use the leftover coal the next time you grill.
Ease of Use: Obviously, gas grills are a great deal more convenient. But, when compared to other charcoal grills, the Kamado grill is pretty convenient all around. Putting together your grill takes around 15 to 30 minutes so you definitely can have a barbecue on the same day that you bought it. Another convenience is the start up time which is around 15 minutes – a lot faster than other charcoal grills. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outdoors (year-round cooking, anyone?) because the insulation enables you to get your fire going with little oxygen and charcoal. As for cleaning, you only need to empty out the ash tray and brush the cooking grate after use. Because Kamado grills only use natural lump charcoal which produce less ash, cleanup is even way easier. Maintaining your grill is also quite painless. You’ll only need to check the band screws (connected to the hinge as well as holds the base and lid) once a year to make sure that they’re tight. The felt gaskets which help create an air-tight seal when the lid is closed only need to be replaced every couple of years.
No flareups: Unlike traditional charcoal grills, the food is placed high above the charcoal so flareups aren’t something you ever have to worry about.
Space: Unlike other charcoal grills, Kamado grills are usually only 18 ½ inches so you can barbecue to your heart’s delight even with limited outdoor space. And even though it is smaller than some kettle and barrel grills, you can use an extended cooking rack to help you maximize your cooking surface.
Kamado Grill Drawbacks
Slow to cool down: One small flaw you face with a Kamado grill is that it takes awhile to cool down because of its excellent heat retention. That’s alright when you’re just cooling it down after your barbecue session. However, if you happen to overshoot the temperature you’re going for, it’ll take a bit of time to get it back down to where you need it.
Very expensive: While ceramic is great at retaining and radiating heat, it can be very expensive. The prices of this type of Kamado grills range from $600 to $1000 unlike other charcoal grills that can cost you less than a hundred bucks. The cost is even higher compared to some gas and electric grills in the market. And since it’s very expensive, many manufacturers sell them without some necessary tools such as a deflector plate that you’ll need for indirect cooking. In short, buying a Kamado grill is definitely an investment. Good thing that it lasts a long time as long as you maintain them right.
Fragile: As we all know, ceramic isn’t exactly sturdy. It’s quite easy to crack especially when it’s hot. Just scrubbing the surface with a wire brush can damage it. And since it is fragile (and quite heavy), it’s not really a grill you can take with you for a picnic at the beach or a tailgate party. There are some manufacturers that offer carts with casters to make them more maneuverable. Just make sure you don’t tip it over while in transit or you’ll have to say goodbye to your investment.
It’s important to note that some Kamado grills are made of insulated steel which makes them a sturdier choice than ceramics. However, this type of material isn’t as good at retaining and radiating heat as ceramics are.
Safety: Like flareups, sparks aren’t that big of an issue with Kamado grills because the coal is a bit of a distance from the grate. However, there is a different danger that you’ll need to look out for – a flashover. A Kamado grill is almost airtight so it’s easy to starve the coals of oxygen when you’re trying to lower the cooking temperature or shut it down. But if you suddenly open the lid and oxygen comes quickly pouring in, you can create a fireball that’ll burn your eyebrows off or worse. It’s the same thing with gas grills. In this case, to avoid such an occurence, be sure to slowly open the top vent bit by bit and then opening the lid slowly. Be sure to stand on the side rather than the front of the grill.
Though they might burn a hole in your pocket, Kamado grills are a lifetime investment that you’ll never regret. Like any other grill in the market, it does have some flaws but nothing that can’t be overlooked. If you’re looking for a grill that can cook more than just your average burgers, hotdogs, and steaks, a Kamado grill just might be what you need.