Char-Griller Kamado Charcoal Grill
Last updated date: April 26, 2020
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We looked at the top Smokers and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Smoker you should buy.
Editor's Note December 15, 2020:
Checkout The Best Smoker for a detailed review of all the top smokers.
In our analysis of 46 expert reviews, the Char-Griller Char-Griller Kamado Charcoal Grill placed 13th when we looked at the top 14 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
From The Manufacturer
Kamado-style Grilling Enjoy Kamado style cooking with the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Grill and Smoker. Easily sear meat with high heat or enjoy a low and slow roast. This versatile grill and smoker is built to last with triple walled 22 gauge steel and will easily maintain cooking temperatures ranging from 200-700 degrees Fahrenheit. Easy Temperature Control Top and bottom adjustable dampers maintain even air flow into and out of the grill while cooking or smoking. The Kamado design makes it fuel efficient so you can use less charcoal when cooking. Built to Last The Char-Griller Akorn features a powder coated exterior finish, porcelain coated steel interior finish, 314 square inch cast iron cooking surface, 133 square inch removable warming rack, an easy dump ash pan, and built in temperature gauge. Triple-walled insulation retains heat. Durable steel construction built to last. Adjustable top and bottom dampers. Easy dump ash pan. Removable warming rack. Stainless heat gauge. Large 8 inch front wheels with locking rear caster. Cast iron cooking grates. Maintains temperatures from 200°- 700° F. 447 sq. in. total cooking area.
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An Overview On Smokers
What does summer smell like? Depending on where you live, it might be a mix. Suntan lotion. Freshly mown grass. And of course, the mouth-watering scent of ribs or brisket in a smoker.
For many outdoor chefs, their smoker is more important than any appliance or piece of cookware in the kitchen. It allows you to simultaneously cook meat while imparting a crucial smoked flavor, the latter of which is attained by exposing it to burning wood of some kind. There are several basic styles of smoker. Some will directly use the burning wood to generate heat, while some will pipe in smoke while heating up the food by gas or electric means.
As experienced pitmasters can tell you, there’s a delicate art to the process of smoking meat. Even the most advanced smokers will require a bit of attention as the meat makes its long journey to perfection. But since you’ll most likely be outdoors and can do those adjustments with a drink in hand, that’s part of the appeal.
If this is your first time owning a smoker, you probably have a budget in mind, and there are a wide range of price points among most of the different types. But you’ll also want to consider what you’re cooking, and who you’re cooking it for. Will you be bringing your setup to a tailgate, or keeping it in the backyard for family gatherings? Do you plan to feed the entire bowling team every week, or just the immediate family every once in a while? Portability, versatility, internal capacity and ease of use are all relevant factors and can make the difference between your smoker being a trusted appliance or an eyesore taking up space in the garage.
If you’re new to the practice of smoking meat, you will probably want to stick with a model that lets you control the temperature easily and precisely. That means either an electric smoker or a simple charcoal-burning type.
Of the two, electric smokers are likely the easiest to cook with. They’re so easy, in fact, that many brisket and BBQ competitions won’t allow chefs to use them. They can come in many different shapes and configurations, but in all cases the main work of the cooking is done by electric heating coils. On top of that, wood chips or pellets can be loaded to supply the smoked flavor (or omitted entirely, if you’re just using it to grill). In most cases, electric smokers won’t give you the full smoky flavor of more traditional models, but their precise temperature control makes them ideal for the “set it and forget it” style of cooking.
Charcoal-burning smokers are all about the fuel. They get both their heat and smoke directly from the charcoal, and they too can come in a few different styles. Drum smokers are the simplest configuration, and the most basic ones might actually be just a standard steel barrel that’s been repurposed for grilling. (There are kits you can buy to convert one if you’re feeling ambitious and have the right tools). The simplest drum smokers couldn’t be easier to fire up: Just load some charcoal in the bottom, light it and cook the food on a tray at the top. This can be fine for chicken, but it will take some special care to prevent pork or more delicate meats from drying out.
Vertical or “bullet” charcoal smokers add the crucial innovation of a water pan between the heating element and the food. That keeps your ribs and brisket from drying out and helps regulate the temperature a bit better. Basic bullet smokers are among the cheapest on the market, but more full-featured and sturdy brands such as the Weber Smokey Mountain are widely used by competing barbecue chefs.
An increasingly popular type is the pellet smoker, which uses a little more technology to get that direct wood-smoked flavor. It uses hardwood pellets that burn more slowly than less refined wood chips, saving a little fuel and making the heat level more consistent. They also produce less ash and residue than more traditional fuels. Pellet smokers can turn out some great flavor for relatively little effort, but the price point tends to be higher.
If you’re looking for performance on a more modest budget, the Masterbuilt smokers can be a good bet. Most of them are first and foremost for smoking meats and have plenty of internal racks. Their durability and smaller profile makes them more ideal for smaller patio spaces, but the tradeoff is less capacity for crowd-pleasing meals.
On the opposite side of the size spectrum, there are offset smokers. These units are broken into two chambers: A larger one reserved for the meat and main heating element, and a side compartment where wood or charcoal is burned. The smoke fills up the cooking chamber through a vent and gives the food an even, smooth flavor — provided it is well-designed with a proper airflow system. Beware of cheaper offset smokers that will produce uneven heat distribution along with erratic flavor.
Bear in mind that most smokers can do double duty as standard grills (among other cooking methods), but all of them will take a bit of getting used to for the novice. Luckily, practice doesn’t only make perfect. In this case, you’re bound to make some great meals along the way.
The Smoker Buying Guide
- What kind of fuel should you use with your smoker? In a lot of cases, you’re limited to the kind that the smoker is engineered to use. In others like electric grills and drum smokers, you’ve got a bit more leeway. Hardwood pellets will burn the slowest and produce the least ash, so they’re a good happy medium. You can use sawdust for fish or other meats that don’t need a lot of heat. As a bonus, it’s by far less expensive. Wood chips burn the fastest, but you can mitigate that by soaking them in water to produce a nice smolder.
- No matter how well you’ve got your cooking technique down, you’re still cooking outdoors. Weather can introduce variables that can wildly alter your cooking time, so take precautions. If you’re using your smoker in cold weather, make sure it’s got proper insulation so it doesn’t lose heat. High winds can cause the opposite problem, stoking your charcoal or wood chips higher than you might like. In either case, you can buy special tarps to cover your smoker and keep conditions steady.
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