We're taking some of the most popular kamado grills, such as Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, and Primo and running them all through a series of tests to see which one is the best kamado grill for you.

This article is all about comparing 8 of the most popular kamado grills available today. It's not our job to tell you which of these grills to buy. Our job is to test all of these grills out as fairly and transparently as possible to research for you. You get to decide which would be the best fit for your budget, use, and preferences. Let us know in the comments what you decide and why!

ceramic kamado grills lined up on our patio

Who Makes the Best Kamado Grills?

In this year's testing group of kamado grills we have included 8 different brands ranging in size from 18 to 24 inches in diameter. Our testing candidates included the large Big Green Egg, Blaze Aluminum kamado grill, Everdure 4K kamado, Grilla Grills Kong, large Kamado Joe Classic III, NewAge kamado grill, Primo XL, and the large size Saffire kamado grill.

Grilling Gift Guide

Looking for gift ideas for yourself or someone special in your life? We've got you covered.

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!

How We Tested For The Best Kamado Grill

We'd like to thank Porter Road for supplying all the meat for these tests. We gave the exact same cuts of meat to each kamado to grill directly, cook hot and fast indirectly, and smoke low and slow.

Porter Road has done its best to ensure that this meat is all hormone and antibiotic-free and pasture-raised, so we know the quality of this meat is all top-notch. Now it's up to each grill to see how they smoke meat. 

Mail-order meat that's pasture-raised and hormone & antibiotic free. We love getting our meat deliveries from Porter Road!

assortment of steaks, bacon and sausage in bowls and on cutting boards
RocketFire lighting charcoal in the Grilla Kong grill

Lighting the Grills

For all of our testing we used the RocketFire fire torch to light our FOGO charcoal. If you haven't seen it, this is a really cool propane or map gas torch that has a diverter on the end that directs your fire 3 different ways to light your charcoal more quickly. You just bury the stainless steel tip of the torch in the charcoal and light it up. It made starting up this many grills a quick and easy process.

we tested to see how well each grill could cook steaks

High Heat Grilling

We started out our kamado cooking tests with a high heat direct grilling comparison.

We got some beautiful NY Strip Steaks from Porter Road and seasoned them with the Dust Bowl seasoning blend from Bartlow's BBQ. We used the small probes from our ChefsTemp ProTemp Plus (Get 25% off with code "BBQLAB25") to keep an eye on the internal temperature for us so we could pull them when they hit 125°.

We went with the 90-second method of cooking these steaks, and if you're interested in learning more about that, you can check out this video.

After 90 seconds, a rotation, 90 seconds and a flip, this is what the sear looked like on the Big Green Egg, Blaze, Everdure, and Kong. 

And this is what the sear looked like on the New Age, Primo, and Saffire.

The Blaze and New Age were definitely the standouts for us in this category with the huge grates giving us well-defined hash marks on the steaks.

The Saffire and Primo gave us the best crust with the grilling grate so much closer to the fire when you rest the grates on top of the ceramic firebox.

All-in-all, the family really enjoyed the products of this round of tests and we were very happy with the quality and flavor of these NY strips from Porter Road. Hats off to the ProTemp Plus for keeping an eye on the internal temperatures for us so we could enjoy a consistent medium rare on each steak.

Each kamado charcoal grill cooked chicken legs over high heat

Hot and Fast Indirect Cooking

For our next cook we tested each grill with a hot, fast, and indirect cook of Porter Road chicken drumsticks.

We rubbed the chicken down with some sweet red dirt seasoning from Bartlow's Barbecue and placed them on each grill running 425° with a deflector plate in place to diffuse the heat.

Just as a point of reference, the Kamado Joe, Everdure 4K and Saffire each included a deflector, but the other grills would require that as an additional accessory add-on to do this type of cook.

After around 30 minutes, the drumsticks were reading between 175-180° internally with the ChefsTemp FinalTouch X10 instant read thermometer (Get 25% off with code "BBQLAB25"), and our drumsticks were officially done.

This is what the chicken looked like on the Big Green Egg, Blaze, Everdure, and Kong.

And this is what it looked like on the New Age, Primo, Saffire, and Kamado Joe.

For the most part, all of the grills handled this cook exactly the same. The only thing we noticed was that the Saffire grill appeared to somehow allow more radiant heat around the deflector and over the meat, because even with the grill running at the same temperature as all the others, the drumsticks on that grill looked a little more done on top.

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!

we used a heat deflector on each of these charcoal grills to smoke a chuck roast with low and slow temperature

Low and Slow Smoking

A couple of weeks ago we asked the question of whether our followers considered kamado cookers as grills first or smokers first and an overwhelming majority of you said smoker. What's intriguing to me is how many of these manufacturers don't include a heat deflector in the box, allowing the kamado to actually function as a smoker.

For this last cook, we're going to test these grills as smokers with a low-and-slow smoked chuck roast.

While the grills heated up and settled into a low and slow temperature of about 250° we got the meat ready for the cook. We got some beautiful chuck roasts from Porter Road and seasoned them with a layer of Bartlow's Barbecue Dust Bowl seasoning, followed by a layer of Sweet Red Dirt. We inserted a ChefsTemp ProTemp Plus (Get 25% off with code "BBQLAB25") probe in each roast and were able to monitor the temps from my phone inside, which is a good thing because it rained today, so the fewer trips I had to take outside the better. By the way, if you want to learn more about the ProTemp Plus you can check out our video review.

We put the chuck roasts on each kamado smoker with a water pan, or in the case of the Everdure, the included water cup, and after 5 hours of smoking, this is what the chuck roasts looked like on the Big Green Egg, Blaze, Everdure, and Kong. 

chuck roast comparison

And this is what they looked like on the New Age, Primo, and Saffire.

chuck roast comparison

Next we wrapped the roasts in foil and returned them to the grills until the ProTemp Plus told us they were done. After about a 30 minute rest, we tore them open and this is what a cross section of the chuck roast looked like from the Big Green Egg, Blaze, Everdure, and Kong. 

And this is what it looked like on the New Age, Primo, and Saffire.

Overall, the results were fairly inconclusive to be honest. They all produced pretty much the exact same quality of food, which means that it's really going to come down to user experience in the end, which I'm going to talk about in just a minute.

While all 7 of the roasts were moist and delicious, and my small group and neighbors were all huge fans of this test, none of the grills produced a real smoke ring to speak of, in spite of the cherry wood chunks added throughout the cook. But the question is, can a smoke ring actually be achieved in a kamado smoker? Those of you who have one, let us know in the comments.

Cooking Grates & Capacity

Cooking space varies considerably between all of these grills. With only an 18" diameter, the large Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe Classic III large, and the Everdure 4k have the smallest cooking surface area.

The Saffire Platinum large is just a hair bigger with a cooking grate diameter of 19".

The Blaze aluminum has a 20" diameter primary cooking space and the cooking grates are impressive! The 304-grade stainless steel grates are 12 mm thick and have a hinge on both sides where the grate can partially lift to add fuel.

The New Age kamado has a grill grate diameter of 22", and the Grilla Grills Kong and Primo XL are the largest at 24" (Kong) and 25 x 18" oval (Primo). Primo has an advantage over the Kong, I think, in that the cooking grate is oblong rather than round, making for more usable cooking space. The Primo XL would have no trouble at all smoking a full packer brisket or several racks of ribs.

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!

Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning the leftover ash between uses is important for optimal airflow in your kamado grill. Some of these grill brands have added certain features that make this dirty task a little easier.

Kamado Joe grills, and the Saffire Platinum both include a kick ash basket that allows you to lift up the charcoal and shake it a little to allow the spent ash to fall through to an ash pan below. This is the best way of separating the lump charcoal that can be used again from the ash that needs to be removed.

While the New Age, Everdure 4K, and Blaze don't exactly have the same shakeable charcoal basket, they all have removable ash pans that help with cleanup.

The Grilla Kong, Big Green Egg, and Primo XL all require ash to be removed through the bottom vent of the grill which requires an ash tool. Grilla Grills and Primo have both included an ash scraping tool in the box with the purchase of the grill. Big Green Egg offers a variety of different accessories to aid with ash removal but none of them come with the grill itself outside of a bundle.

The Results of Our Best Kamado Grill Testing

Big Green Egg Large Ceramic Kamado Grill

large Big Green Egg

What we liked:

  • You have the option of starting your Big Green Egg journey as basic as just the grill itself without being forced to buy a bundle. This is ideal for those who are planning to use it in an outdoor kitchen and won't need a cart.
  • Big Green Egg offers a seemingly endless variety of accessories to add to your kamado collection.
  • The lid is easy to open.
  • Limited lifetime warranty

What we don't like:

  • We don't like that a deflector is not included with the grill.
  • Accessories are quite expensive which makes a fully accessorized Big Green Egg pretty pricey compared to some of the other options available.
  • The top vent is made of cast iron and may be prone to rust if left uncovered.

Blaze Aluminum Kamado Grill

Blaze Aluminum Kamado

What we liked:

  • This kamado offers great durability and longevity with the materials and way it is built. 
  • It comes with a lifetime warranty. It's built to last and the company knows it.
  • The grill grates in the Blaze aluminum kamado are second to none. They are super heavy-duty and put an amazing defined sear on your protein.
  • Because of the design of this grill, there is no gasket needed, which means there will be no need to change the gasket in a few years when it starts falling off.
  • The Blaze aluminum kamado is set up to be compatible with a rotisserie accessory.
  • It has a port to run thermometer wires into the cooking chamber without having to be run through the lid.

What we don't like:

  • It doesn't come with a stand because it's really intended to be built into an outdoor kitchen more than a "temporary fixture" on your patio.
  • We don't love the cart that you can purchase separately to go with this grill. Unless you're really tall, the cooking height of the grill in the cart is impractical. 
  • We don't like that a deflector is not included with the grill.

Save $75 off of $1500 with discount code: BBQLAB75

Everdure 4K Kamado Grill

Everdure 4K kamado

What we liked:

  • This grill is a real attention-getter. We've had a number of visitors to the patio during this testing phase and 100% of them flocked straight to the Everdure and overlooked all the other kamado grills.
  • Less fuel is needed in this grill. In fact, even though we read that was to be the case, we still overloaded it with the same amount we put in all the others and ran into temperature control issues because it got too hot. We should have listened to the instructions from the beginning. A little fuel goes a long way with this one.
  • Everything is included in your purchase... even the diffuser.
  • There's a port on the side of the grill where you can drop in additional charcoal or wood chunks with the included tongs.
  • There is an electric burner underneath the charcoal basket so you can start your fire hands-free.
  • It comes with 4 meat thermometers that plug directly into a port in the lid.
  • The grill can be removed from the stand if you want to install this directly into an outdoor kitchen.

What we don't like:

  • The digital thermometer is difficult to see on a sunny day.
  • We have the Everdure 4K in mint color, and it shows drips, grease, and messes very easily.
  • While there is Bluetooth capability and an app, we didn't find it helpful, since we had to be outside near the grill anyway to use it.
  • There are no wheels so we couldn't move it under the pavilion when it rained.
  • Also, the storage drawer somehow collected water when it rained, even though it was closed.

Save $75 off of $1500 with discount code: BBQLAB75

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!

Grilla Grills Kong Ceramic Kamado Grill

Grilla Grills Kong

Check out our full review of the Grilla Kong.

What we liked:

  • We LOVE the ability to upgrade to the all-terrain cart for this grill. Likely, most people don't move their grills around as much as we do, but for someone who might store their kamado grill inside the garage, this cart is a game changer for kamado mobility.
  • This is a LOT of kamado for the price. The Grilla Kong offers great value by including so many accessories in the bundle with such a large grill.

What we don't like:

  • The heat deflector was not included in the purchase bundle.
  • The lid is quite heavy to lift.
  • The grill grates are pretty thin compared to the other kamado grills we tested.

NewAge Products Kamado Grill

New Age Products Kamado grill

What we liked:

  • It has a unique shape that sets it apart in the kamado space.
  • The New Age kamado gives you the ability to divide the firebox to create 2 heat zones.
  • New Age Products has packed this grill full of accessories for a variety of different cooking setups, including the ability to hang your protein.
  • The teak side shelves snap up and down really easily with a simple lever underneath.
  • We really like the wheels and locks on this cart. This was probably the easiest kamado to move besides the all-terrain cart from Grilla Grills.
  • A charcoal chimney is included in your purchase.

What we don't like:

  • In spite of ALL the extras this grill came with, it did NOT include the deflector.
  • I worry about how the teak side shelves and handle will hold up over time and exposure to the elements.

Primo XL Ceramic Kamado Grill

Primo XL ceramic kamado grill

What we liked:

  • Primo makes their high-quality kamado grills right here in the USA.
  • This kamado grill has an unbelievable capacity when it cooks to cooking food.
  • Your purchase includes the deflectors.
  • The cooking grates have the ability to be set low or set high depending on which way you have them flipped.
  • We love that the cooking grates, deflector, and firebox are all divided. You have ultimate control and multiple options on how you want to run your cook. 

What we don't like:

  • We were surprised to see the side shelves were made of plastic. 
  • With a cooking chamber this large, you'll go through a lot of fuel.

Save $75 off of $1500 with discount code: BBQLAB75

Saffire Platinum Large Kamado Grill

Saffire Platinum large kamado

What we liked:

  • Everything that isn't ceramic is made of stainless steel. All parts of this grill are built to last.
  • The ash basket is a game-changer when it's time to clean up.
  • The Saffire Platinum is a kamado that is intended to be both grill AND smoker since it comes with a deflector in the box, as well as its built-in port and accompanying tool to help you easily add charcoal, wood chunks, and wood chips mid-cook.
  • The Saffire Platinum gives you the ability to divide the firebox to create 2 heat zones.
  • The cooking grates and diffuser are also split giving you many options for cooking both direct and indirect simultaneously.
  • The included side shelves have tool hooks.
  • Lifetime warranty

What we don't like:

  • The removable ash pan is a tight fit in the bottom of the firebox and we had a difficult time pulling it out, making it easier to just pull the ash out the bottom vent with an ash tool.

Be sure to use the code: BBQLAB to save 5% on your purchase

Kamado Joe Classic III Large

Kamado Joe classic III large

Check out our full review here.

What we liked:

  • I can't imagine a kamado grill lid that could be any easier to lift than this one. I can literally lift this lid with one single pinky finger.
  • Includes a very nice gasket to help seal this grill tight.
  • The half-moon grate system offers great cooking versatility.
  • The SloRoller insert promotes great air and smoke circulation.
  • Divided ash-kicker basket is a great way to easily separate the reusable charcoal from the ash
  • The ash cleaning system makes for a very simple clean-up.
  • The folding metal side shelves have tool hooks.
  • Your purchase includes everything you need to utilize the full function of this kamado grill.

What we don't like:

  • The cooking grates are a little on the light side.
  • Because all accessories are included, the price of this grill is high and more difficult to ease into. 

Save $75 off of $1500 with discount code: BBQLAB75

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!

Is a kamado grill right for me?

With the right accessories, kamado grills can just about do any kind of outdoor cooking you're interested in. Low and slow smoking? Yes. Hot and fast cooking? Certainly. Direct heat grilling? You bet. Can it cook a pizza? Sure it can.

So if they can do it all, why don't more people have kamado grills on their patios? Well, for a couple of reasons, probably.

First, charcoal grills can be more challenging to manage, leading many to prefer the ease of a gas grill or pellet grill.

The next obstacle for many would be the cost. Kamado-style grills are notoriously more expensive than other types of grills, particularly if you have to purchase your desired accessories separately.

On the flip side, the life span of ceramic kamado grills far exceeds any gas grill or pellet grill on the market.

ChefsTemp X10 thermometer and seasoning on side shelf of Saffire grill

How Do Kamado Grills Work?

Kamado grills are ceramic grills that use lump charcoal as fuel for the fire. Unlike other charcoal grills, a kamado grill uses significantly less charcoal than a standard kettle-style grill.

Kamado grills excel at both direct heat and indirect cooking, using a heat deflector for slow-cooking tough pieces of meat.

Heat retention is the name of the game with a kamado grill, and keeping the cooking chamber closed as much as possible really helps with temperature control.

Airflow is controlled by managing the top and bottom vents. Keep the top and bottom vents all the way open for high heat, and close them most of the way down for low and slow temperatures.

To start a kamado grill, just place a small lighter bundle or a lighter cube into the charcoal on the bottom of the grill, light it up and leave the lid open for about 5 minutes.

While the grill operates the best if the ash pan is cleaned before every use, we find that we can get away with 2-3 cooking sessions without limiting the oxygen supply to where it's noticeable.

Most kamado grills are purchased by people who want to move away from gas grills. The biggest complaint is that gas grills don't impart any additional flavor to food, and kamado grills bring copious amounts of flavor to the party.

seasoning chicken before cooking on the kamado

Is It Worth Getting A Kamado Grill?

Kamado grills can be a big investment but we believe they're worth it for a couple of reasons.

They are built to last. These grills will last decades while many other types of grills are lucky to last 5 years.

Sure you may have to replace a gasket or small part here and there over the lifespan, but barring a tornado tipping it over and causing the ceramic to crack, these grills are in it for the long haul.

Kamado grills can serve the function of multiple grills. Rather than having a charcoal grill, smoker, and pizza oven taking up space on your patio, one single kamado grill can serve all 3 functions.

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!

What are the benefits of Kamado grills?

There are many benefits to owning a kamado-style grill over any other, but it can best be distilled into seven main benefits.

  1. 1
    Long-lasting - Kamado grills can easily last for 20-30 years if you take care of them. This is a far cry from the big box store grills made of thin metal that you need to replace every few years.
  2. 2
    Fuel-efficient - It takes a fraction of the charcoal to achieve the same temperature in a kamado that you'd get if you were cooking in a different charcoal grill. Kettle grills are much less efficient than a kettle since there's so much more ceramic mass inside the grill to retain heat.
  3. 3
    Heat retention - As mentioned above, you're heating up hundreds of pounds of ceramic every time you light a kamado grill. With that much more thermal mass, the grill is naturally more fuel efficient since less heat escapes during a cook.
  4. 4
    Versatile grill - You can cook everything from a low and slow brisket to an 800° pizza with a kamado grill. It's all in how you manage the amount of charcoal and the airflow to cook from super low and slow to crazy hot and fast.
  5. 5
    Wide temperature range - I've used a lot of kamado grills here at The Barbecue Lab, and I've had them cold smoke cheese as low as 80-90 degrees. I've also fired them up so they reach the 800-900 degree range and cooked Neapolitan pizzas in them. They are really the all-in-one combo grill people crave.
  6. 6
    Incredible flavor - If you like the flavor of a charcoal grill, then the kamado is what you're looking for in the taste department. The best kamado grills are known for their ability to impart flavor in addition to heat, and that's why they're so popular today.
  7. 7
    Easy to clean - It doesn't take much to clean ceramic grills. The grill grate is potentially the most difficult thing to clean, and I like to use the Grill Rescue brush, which uses steam to handle the grease and grime left from the last cook. Cleaning the grate of a kamado joe is really no different than cleaning your traditional gas grill.

How To Use A Kamado Grill

1. Clean out the ash and grill grates. Ash is the #1 cause of fire management problems on a ceramic grill, since ash will limit the airflow in through the bottom air intake if not cleaned out.

Adding FOGO lump charcoal to the large Big Green Egg

2. Fill with lump charcoal. Lump charcoal is the preferred coal of choice since it can be relit and used again after your previous cook. 

RocketFire lighting charcoal in the Grilla Kong grill

3. Light the charcoal. Pro Tip: don't light all of the charcoal in the grill. Use a fire starter like the RocketFire and just light a small section of the charcoal. How far open you set your vents will determine how much charcoal the lighter will ignite. Light too much, and temps are hard to keep low. Here are our some of our favorite ways to light a kamado grill.

using a heat deflector in a kamado grill allows you to cook meat indirectly

4. Decide if you're cooking direct or indirect. Direct cooking is cooking directly over hot coals. Indirect cooking is using a heat deflector to deflect the heat around the meat and up into the dome of the grill. If you're cooking indirectly, now is the time to position the deflector in place.

The top vent of this Kamado Joe Big Joe grill is fully open to allow maximum airflow

5. Adjust top and bottom vents. The most open your vents are, the hotter the fire will be. Lower temperatures call for smaller openings on the intake and output vents.

Using Thermoworks Billows to control the temperature in our Big Green Egg kamado grill

6. Optional: Utilize a pit controller fan. A pit control fan is like autopilot for your smoker. Just insert the fan in the intake port, set the controller to the temperature you want, and it will control the kamado for you. Thermoworks , Fireboard, and Flame Boss all make great pit controller fans that fit most kamado grills.

What To Look For When Buying A Kamado Grill?

When deciding which kamado grill to purchase, there are three main considerations that I like to help people think about. Whether you're looking at a Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, or an Akorn kamado charcoal grill, it all comes down to functionality, durability, and accessories.

The first question I always ask is, "Will this grill fit the largest crowd that I expect to invite over?" If the answer is no, and this is the only cooker you plan on having available, you probably need to go a size up. A small kamado grill may be ideal for the family, but cooking for a crowd, you'll be disappointed with the lack of cooking space.

Secondly, I want to know what accessories are available with this grill. Does it come with the accessories I think I'll eventually want, or are they available from the manufacturer?

Often people who buy kamado grills will want to start cooking pizzas and brisket, each completely different kinds of cooks on the same unit. The pizza needs a pizza stone while the brisket needs a deflector plate for indirect cooking. Check what comes in the box so you know what you'll have and what you'll need in your kamado cooking journey.

Can you cook comfortably on this grill? How heavy is the lid and will you be able to lift it easily? How high is the cooking grate when you're using it on the stand? Height of the cooking surface can vary, so it's important to look into.

How is the warranty on this grill? Kamado grills will last for decades if you take care of them, but it's always good to know that you have a warranty to back you up in case of the unexpected.

The best kamado grill is the cooker that you'll use, not just another pretty backyard patio ornament. The best kamado grills in the world are the ones that are used multiple times per week.

Kamado cooking is one of the most versatile cooking methods on the planet, and I think everyone needs to try it for themselves. Robust temperature control and using heat zones for anything from hot and fast to low and slow cooking makes a strong case for a kamado in every backyard.

Download our Quick & Easy Kamado Chart to see a side-by-side comparison of all 8 grills!