Which Brand of Ceramic Charcoal Cooker Should I Buy?

Ceramic charcoal cookers can cost quite a bit of money, so you should do your research before running out and dropping a load of money on one. While we don't formally rate the different brands of cookers, we do have almost 21 years of experience reading several of the online forums run by various brands of ceramic charcoal cookers. Also, over these 21 years we have owned:

  • 5 Big Green Eggs (MiniMax, 2 Small, Medium, Large)
  • 2 Kamado Joes (Classic, Big Joe)
  • Char-Griller Akorn
  • Primo XL Oval
  • Komodo Kamado 23-inch OTB Gen 2.4 Ultimate
  • Char-Griller Akorn
We can't tell you what to buy or what's right for you, but we will share with you our personal thoughts on the subject. Needless to say, you should do your homework. Visit the web sites of the brands you are interested in. Visit the online forums of the brands and ask questions of owners. (Word of advice: Members of a forum devoted to a particular brand will be biased in favor of that brand. This is a Chevy vs. Ford kind of thing. So ask your question about Brand X on Forum X but be wary of asking to compare other brands. It can get a bit heated sometimes if a debate gets started.)

So, what brands are out there? Well, here is a partial list:

  • Big Green Egg
  • Primo
  • Imperial Kamado
  • Komodo Kamado
  • Grill Dome
  • Kamado Joe
  • Char-Griller Akorn
  • Grill Pod from California Kamado
  • Bull Kamado
  • Dragon Fire Kamado
  • California Kamado
  • Monolith BBQ Guru Classic
  • Vision Kamado
  • Bayou Cypress Ceramic Grill
  • Broil King Keg
Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that we have grouped the brands into two groups. (Really sharp-eyed readers will also notice that we have not included Kamado or Kamado Rocket in our list. Please see the special notes about them at the bottom of this page.) So why the two groups? Well, we can dispense with the bottom list of brands by simply claiming ignorance. We simply know nothing about them. They may be perfectly fine, but of course you should do your homework and see if you can contact other owners to ask questions about service, warranty, dealer support, etc.

What about the top group of seven brands? Well, these are the relatively well-established brands that have a track record and appear to be reputable brands with satisfied customers. Here is some quick information about each:

  • Big Green Egg -- The granddaddy of all brands. Made from high-temperature ceramics. Huge sales volume. Dealer network. Lifetime warrantee on ceramics. Incredible owner loyalty and a very active online forum. Dozen's of "Eggfests" held every year from coast to coast. Known for ourstanding customer service. 5 sizes available. Many accessories available.

  • Primo -- Only brand with an oval-shaped cooker. Made in the USA. Active forum with lots of happy owners. 20 year warrantee. Dealer network. Made from high-temperature ceramics. 2 sizes available. Many accessories available.

  • Imperial Kamado -- Made from earthenware and cannot tolerate high temperatures. No dealers. 1 year warranty. 1 size available.

  • Komodo Kamado -- The Ferrari of ceramic charcoal cookers. Very expensive. Beautiful tiled exteriors. No dealers. Known for outstanding customer service. Made from a two-layer sandwich of refractory materials, computer cut stainless steel parts, many innovations. Lifetime warrantee. Two sizes available.

  • Grill Dome -- Made from ceramic. Lifetime warranty. No dealers. Active forum with many happy owners. 4 sizes available. Some accessories available.

  • Kamado Joe -- Made from ceramic. Lifetime warranty. Does sell through dealers or from the manufacturer. Two sizes available in 3 lines. Many accessories available. Recently there have been quality questions.

  • Char-Griller Akorn -- Made from insulated double metal walls. Sells through outlets like Wal*Mart. Two sizes available. Some accessories available. Amazing heat retention. Prone to rusting.
So which would we recommend? Well, we are sure that owners of all brands would tell you to buy their brand. Personally, we think you would most likely be happy with any of the top brands (assuming you are willing to give up high temperature cooking on the Imperial Kamado). We'll say it one more time, do your homework and look for the cooker that best suits your needs and budget.

Special Note Regarding Kamado Corporation: While Kamado is now out of business, thank God, their cookers still show up on the used market and the following information might help guide any decision to buy a used Kamado. We have recommended above that you do your research before plunking down your hard-earned money on a cooker. That advice goes triple if you should be contemplating purchasing a cooker from Kamado. (Note that Komodo Kamado is a completely different company. We are only discussing Kamado here.)

The Kamado Forum is no longer in existence, but when it was you had to watch it constantly because most of the posts were quickly deleted by the owner. If you did watch it closely, you saw that most of the posts were complaints from customers who could not get responses to phone calls and emails. Most of the posts were about their cookers cracking, the tiles falling off, Kamado's failure to deliver parts and accessories, and Kamado's failure to even deliver cookers after having taken a 50% deposit. According to many of the posters, people were taken for hundreds of dollars when they put down a deposit and then Kamado never delivered a cooker. A website you should visit as a part of doing your research is the Kamado Fraud Forum.

Special Note Regarding Kamado Rocket: Kamado Rocket purchased the Kamado business and in light of the troubles with Kamado, we would be very wary of purchasing a Kamado Rocket. There are plenty of stories on the internet about their cookers failing. Again, do your research!

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