Kamado grills really do deliver a superior cook than most other units. They also are leading in quality for both grilling, and smoking, mainly due to their amazing ability heat distribution and retention. They also normally come with a much larger number on the price tag.
However, there are some budget Kamado grills that have the fundamental great qualities a Kamado grill should have, without compromising quality, at a much lower price point. We’ve highlighted the best budget Kamado grills, at 4 different price points to fit any purpose and budget.
What To Compare When Looking At Kamado Grills
Cooking space is always important, for any type of grill. Always consider how many people you want to cook for. For reference, 150 square inches of cooking space will be enough for one medium brisket or pork butt, but not for a full stack of ribs, you will need to break it up into segments.300 Square inches will be enough for whole turkeys or chickens or other larger meats. Do remember not to crowd the grill to ensure an even cooking, whether grilling or smoking.
Think about what you’re going to be using the Kamado grill for. If you are thinking of taking it camping, tailgating, or travelling with it in general, consider the weight of the actual cooker. Usually portable Kamado Grills should be around 45 pounds.
Kamado’s are naturally heavier than other grills because of their thick ceramic bowls and cast iron construction. This is all part of the amazing design but it can be more difficult to move.
Cooking Grates & Construction
Kamado grills do a great job at effectively heating up, and evenly distribute this heat and smoke for a superior cook. To capitalise on these qualities, cast iron grates, although heavier, will heat up evenly and distribute heat more effectively than stainless steel or porcelain enamelled. They are also a bit heavier, but much more durable.
The last decision to make after you’ve decided what size, weight, and features to go for, is to look at your budget and work out your price-point. Again, take note of the cooking space, quality of the grates and construction material, and it’s weight. We’ve highlighted the best at several different budget points, all top quality and well worth the money for a Kamado grill.
What Are The Best Kamado Grills On A Budget?
Best Budget Kamado Grill: Char-Griller Akorn Jr
- Cast iron grill grates for heat retention and durability
- Very affordable
Basic but effective design
- The ceramic body and inside paint could be more durable
What Matters The Most:
- True Kamado-style grilling but at a fraction of the price.
- Cast iron grill grates are more effective in distributing even heat, and retaining heat than standard stainless steel.
- The design insulates and circulates the heat well, easily maintaining temperatures from 200-700°F.
- Has both top and bottom adjustable dampers for better temperature control.
- Lightweight compared to other units with durable handles on each side which makes it very easily portable.
- There are several reports which state the inside paint has peeled after 3-6 months. Others state they expected the ceramic outside to be more durable. These issues don’t tend to affect the performance of the grill, just the look.
This performs as well as larger, more expensive units. It’s surprisingly lightweight, great for camping or as a backyard unit. Although there are small issues in paint and ceramic quality it won’t often affect the performance of the grill. One of the most affordable options, and definitely has the qualities of a great Kamado grill. Overall, the Char-Griller Akorn Jr is the best budget Kamado grill.
Best Cheap Kamado Grill: Chefood 13” Ceramic Kamado
Cooking Space: 85 Square Inches
Cooking Grates: Porcelain Enameled Steel
Weight: 46.7 Pounds
- Great heat retention and circulation
- Fuel efficient
- Comes with weather resistant and waterproof cover
- Small cooking space
What Matters The Most:
- This little unit is amazing at retaining heat, and it doesn’t take long to heat up given the small insulated space.
- Again, due to its size, it doesn’t require much fuel to get a solid grill or smoke going making it highly fuel efficient which will save you in the long run.
- To ensure it’s kept clean and works well, Chefood has included a weather resistant and waterproof cover.
- It’s size, weight, and design make it a very portable option for camping, tailgating, or traveling.
- If you are constantly cooking for 2+ people you may want to consider a slightly larger unit, as this really isn’t too large of a cooking space.
- Harder to move when it’s been in use as there are no carry handles, so it requires you to carry from the bottom which can be very hot after use.
Chefood 13” Ceramic Kamado is another quality-made, but much lower priced, Kamado grill. It’s definitely on the smaller side, so if you’re cooking for more than two people often I would consider a larger unit. Due to its value for money and being a very durable unit, Chefood 13” Ceramic Kamado is the best cheap Kamado grill, but not the absolute most affordable, which is why it’s number two.
Most Popular: Kamado Joe Jr
- Leading brand known for quality and top performance
- Cast iron, even the air vent, and high quality ceramic exterior
- Great heat circulation and retention for easy temperature control
- More expensive if on a budget
- Slightly heavier for its size
What Matters The Most:
- Kamado Joe is a top performing brand in the market for Kamado cookers. It’s at the pinnacle of charcoal grills, with it’s excellent heat retention and cooking capabilities.
- Greatly innovated design for ideal heat circulation and temperature control.
- Cooking grates are made from stainless steel, but could have been porcelain enamelled or cast iron for increased durability.
- Top performance guaranteed. Kamado Joe rarely ever gets critiqued on its ability to grill and smoke. It’s a very trustworthy and forgiving grill to really bring the most out of the experience and food.
- If you’re looking for an affordable unit, this might be pushing the budget. If you love grilling and will use it frequently, the Kadado Joe Jr will be the most affordable top quality Kamado grill in 2020.
- Because of the cast-iron and heavy duty ceramic build, the unit is heavier than other options this size. Less convenient if you want to use it as a portable grill.
Many believe that Kamado Joe is the leading brand when it comes to Kamado cookers, even better than the classic Big Green Egg. If you have a bit more of a budget and want something that will last for life, this is the unit for all your needs. It really is the highest performing brand and design. Given this is at a price point much lower than other models, it’s still one of the best budget Kamado grills.
Higher Budget: Char-Griller E56720 Akorn Kamado
- High quality and has all the essentials
- Large cooker at an affordable price
- Comes with cart and table
- Cast iron grates
- More expensive
What Matters The Most:
- This all-in-one unit comes with a quality build and strong performance of the cooker, and with a cart and table. This all at an affordable price really makes this the best option if your budget is a bit higher.
- Large cooking space for large briskets, full turkeys, or a lot of meat!
- Cooking surface is cast iron for extra durability
- This cooker really does compete with leading brands like Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe, and at a fraction of this price.
- If you’re not needing the table, cart, or size, there are definitely more affordable options that will still give the same quality cook.
Even given that this is a bit more expensive, it comes with all the key essential features that a Kamado grill should have, and is one of the most affordable all-in-one cookers on the market. It’s a very popular option for those wanting a cheaper alternative to Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe, without compromising on performance.
What Fuel To Use In A Kamado Grill?
Kamado cookers are designed to heat up effectively, and distribute the heat and smoke evenly throughout the cooker. To really make use of this style and quality, you want to use the best type of fuel you can, and the cleanest! For Kamado grills you really want to use 100%, all natural hardwood lump charcoal. The best lump charcoal for Kamado should have no additives, burn well at high, and low temperatures, and ideally produce low ash for an easy clean up.
If you plan to do more smoking or grilling in your unit, check out the difference between the best lump charcoal for smoking vs. the best lump charcoal for grilling.