Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Review
There is a belief that kamado grills are expensive. However, that cannot be said for the Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker. It is one of the most affordable BBQ units on the market in this category. The manufacturer is known for producing reliable entry-level grills that can be compared to similar high-end units. This article will cover everything you need to know about this model. We will start by explaining all the features and accessories and then move on to listing the reasons why we believe the unit deserves your attention. Our goal is to provide you with all relevant info until the end of the review. That way you can make an informed decision whether purchasing this barbecue is a smart investment.
The crucial distinction compared to other models is that this is a kamado-style grill. Here are some other specs that might be interesting to read:
- Dimensions: 26.5 x 25 x 21.5 inches
- Weight: 98 pounds
- Cooking surface: 447 square inches
- Heat range: 200-700F
- Fuel: Charcoal
Before we dive into the features, let’s mention that the product uses lump charcoal as fuel. This is considered to be an entry-level kamado BBQ perfect for those who are only learning to find their way around these units.
Kamado Grill Explained
As you might have discovered from the name, Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker belongs to the category of so-called kamado grills. Before we move on to discussing specific features of this unit, let’s talk about what the concept of Kamado grilling is.
Kamado is a Japanese word for a cooking vessel that used to be made of clay. This way of cooking originated in Japan and Chine more than 3,000 years ago. With time, this cooking device evolved depending on the part of the world. In Japan, there was a pot with a removable lid called mushikamado that included a draft door and damper for controlling heat.
The literal meaning of the word is a “cauldron spot,” but after the kamado pots found their way to the United States, the term has been used for this style of cooking. It is believed that the first encounter the Americans had with mushikamado occurred after the Second World War. Today, ceramics or steel is used to design kamado cookers,and it depends on the manufacturer. In most cases, they use lump charcoal as fuel.
As for the model that we are reviewing in this article, it is constructed from steel. Although it’s not stainless, it’s still solid steel of excellent quality. It has a22-gauge thickness, while the exterior is coated with powder to improve rust and corrosion resistance. At the same time, the interior is covered with porcelain,and that ensures enhanced heat retention.
The overall weight of the product is just below 100 pounds. That tells a lot about the quality of the material used for construction. The overall impression is that the manufacturer could have used elements of higher quality than this. However, keep in mind that this is an extremely affordable kamado cooker and some of its durability was sacrificed to ensure price this low.
You could say that Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker is a regular-sized BBQ unit. This charcoal grill offers 447 square inches in total. That amount is divided across the central grids, which have 314 square inches of thesurface, and the warming rack that provides extra 133 square inches for your grilling needs. The secondary tray is situated above the central grates and, as such, it receives less heat than it. That makes it perfect for preparing side dishes such as vegetables or keeping bread buns warm.
Let’s forget about the numbers now and talk about people. It is believed that you need around 70 square inches per person. That means you can serve up to six people at once with this unit. When it comes to the number of burgers you can fit on the cooking surface, it depends on how big the patties you make are. If you keep to the standard size, you should be able to place about a dozen of hamburgers to grill at once.
The kamado grills are vertical, unlike most other grilling units. The original grates take up the central position,and the warming rack is located above them. As for the space beneath primary grids, it is reserved for the charcoal bed. You can easily access the coal pan by lifting the middle part of the grates. Arranging the charcoal is a simple process,and you shouldn’t have any trouble with getting the fire going either.
We are now coming to the section that can make any grill stand out from the crowd – cooking options. When it comes to Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker, you should know that it is incredibly versatile. It uses a unique way of cooking food,and that is its most significant advantage. The range of temperature that this product can deliver varies from 200F up to whopping 700F.
It’s hard to list everything that you can do with that extensive heat range. Are you in the mood for smoking or slow roasting some meat? Or maybe you want to use the highest temperature settings to grill burgers or hot dogs? Whether you have time for barbecuing or you are in a rush, this product can provide for you and deliver unmatchable food flavor. In its essence, it is a charcoal grill, but the concept of kamado cooking provides equal heat distribution and secures that the food remains juicy and tender.
One of the reasons why this grill is able to achieve such high temperatures is phenomenal heat retention. There are two reasons for that. The first one is the triple-walled interior that prevents the hotness from escaping the cook box. The other one is the cooking grates which are made of cast iron. If you are a total newbie, let us reveal that no other material retains heat like cast iron, which is why the experts consider it the best choice for making cooking grids. This is also an extremely durable material, which means that the grates will last and deliver unmatchable results for years.
It must be crossing your mind whether you will be able to control this grill and avoid flare-ups or burning your food. That’s not something you should worry about as there are two dampers whose job is to secure total heat control in the hands of the user. The dampers are located at the top and at the bottom,and they are both adjustable.
There is a chance you haven’t dealt with adjusting temperature via dampers so far, but don’t be afraid. Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker comes with an instruction manual that lists how you should set the dampers depending on the level of heat you want. For example, if you’re going to smoke meat, you should close the top damper, and only open the damper on thebottom to a certain extent. The instructions are clear and understandable,and even beginners can find their way around them. On top of that, the manual lists what food you should cook at which temperature.
If you are wondering how to check the current heat level in the firebox, you should refer to the lid. You will notice a mounted thermometer located there. This heat gauge provides accurate information about the current level of hotness inside the cook box. However, if you want the data to be even more precise, we suggest purchasing a digital meat probe.
Folding Side Shelves
Although kamado style cooking offers an unusual way for grilling, there are some usual features you can encounter, too. One of them is the folding shelves located on both sides of the core unit. The shelves do have a unique look because they are made of multiple connected boards. However, that doesn’t affect their ability to hold the platters so that you don’t have to juggle them while preparing food. The shelves are also equipped with hooks for your grilling tools and other essentials.
When you are not using these side tables, you can fold them and save a considerable amount of space. This is particularly useful when you are storing the unit away as it enables you tosave a lot of room.
Ash Management System
When it comes to charcoal grills, it’s vital that they have a feature that is related to managing any ash residue. Fortunately, that is the case with Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker. It comes with a removable ash catcher pan that collects any waste that appeared during the using of the product. The tray does an excellent job ofmanaging the ash,and there is no danger that the residue will miss and fall away from it.
The cleaning process also doesn’t require a lot of effort. It’s enough to remove the ash pan and clean the residue before returning it in position. Just by doing that you prepared the tray for the next use.
It might seem unusual if you are used to traditional charcoal grills with four-legged stands, but this model actually features three legs. Each of them is equipped with a roller that secures natural movement. The wheels on the front legs are large and have a diameter of 8 inches. That ensures that you feel comfortable while moving the product around. At the same time, the rear wheel has a built-in locking feature. Once you are in the desired position, you can use it to increase sturdiness and ensure that the product remains there. The rollers are durable, but we still do not advise moving the unit across bumpy surfaces too often as you can damage or break them.
There are some exciting extras you can buy for Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker. For example, you might consider trying the Folding Beer Can Chicken Rack. While we are on the topic of poultry, the rotisserie kit and fork both come into play for this model. If you have never tried pizza prepared on a kamado BBQ unit, make sure to purchase a pizza stone and try the delicious taste of this treat.
We don’t know about you, but we like to look cool when we are grilling. That is why we recommend purchasing a chef’s apron. Aside from the touch of elegance, you will also keep your clothes free of stains, so it’s a win-win. While you are there, consider purchasing a pair of grilling gloves. You will deal with a lot of heat that this unit provides,and you don’t want to risk burning your hands.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about replacement parts because they are easy to find. That includes stuff like grate lifter or dip pan and even the fire grate. Finally, don’t forget about purchasing a cover for your grill as that will protect it from weather conditions and other outside factors.
Why Should You Choose Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker?
What sets Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker apart from other grills? If you still can’t answer that question, take a look at why we love this unit. It might inspire you and bring you one step closer to purchasing it:
Unique and Versatile Way of Cooking
As we already established, this is a kamado grill. Those who have tried this way of thecooking claim that it’s far better than the classic charcoal or gas grilling. In the end, it all comes down to taste, but if one thing is correct, it is that kamado BBQ systems are incredibly versatile. Thanks to the broad range of heat that can vary from 200F to 700F. That enables anextensive range of cooking options, including smoking, roasting, barbecuing, grilling, and searing. As you can see, there is not a lot you can’t do with this unit.
Thanks to the fact that it uses less airflow than traditional grilling, kamado cooking is extremely efficient. However, since it uses coal as fuel, you will get that exquisite flavor you are used to with charcoal BBQ systems. In fact, the taste of the food might be even better than with standard coal units.
Pick Your Favorite Color
Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker is available in four different colors, including black, blue, brown, and red. The last one seems to be the favorite of other manufacturers that design premium kamado grills, so if you want your unit to remind ofthem, perhaps that should be your pick. The black one will probably be the choice of those who love classic and tradition. However, since the stand of the BBQ system is also black,it might look too simple. If that is the case, you can choose either brown or blue to add a little bit of style to your grilling system.
The Alternative Is AkornKamado Jr.
Aside from the regular model, there is the Char-Griller Akorn Junior KamadoKooker. This model is smaller than the standard one,and it has only 153 square inches of cooking surface. However, it’s very light,and it is ideal for grilling on the go. If you need a BBQ unit to take camping this one is an excellent choice. The legs of the product are small,and there are two handles to make moving around effortless.
The price is not something you should neglect, especially when it comes to kamado cookers. We have used that these grills are expensive and their price tag might seem unreal at some points. However, Char-Griller ensured to offer an affordable kamado unit that won’t drain you of money. If you prefer to look for bargains,and you don’t need a premium BBQ, but you can manage with an entry-level one, there is no reason why you shouldn’t save cash by purchasing this grill.
We always like to start with design since that is the first thing we notice. Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker is available in four different colors, which means that you can choose your desired style. Apart from that, this grill looks classic and reminds of any kamado unit on the market. It has a cooking vessel made of steel,and it stands on three legs with rollers. These casters enable easy mobility, which means that moving this unit around is an option.
Although we first notice the looks, it’s the performance that matters,and we are aware of it. That is why we tested cooking several types of meat on this unit. The taste of thefood was delicious,and we were delighted each time. First of all, kamado is an entirely different style of cooking than traditional grilling. The fact that it uses less airflow secures better heat retention and keeps food moist and tender. The charcoal that fuels the unit gives that distinctive flavor both traditionalists and modern BBQ enthusiasts love.
On top of that, the temperature range that this unit can achieve varies from 200F to 700F. That gives you a variety of options to cook on Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker. If you prefer smoked meat, you will stick to low temperatures. However, if you are a fan of sears on your burgers or steaks, just turn the volume of heat up and enjoy thedeliciously-grilled food.
You also have a warming rack that you can use to prepare side dishes or keep food warm. To make your time around the BBQ comfortable, there are the side shelves that can be used for placing platters or grilling tools. The racks are foldable, which makes storing the unit manageable. While we are on the topic of saving space, let’s mention that this product has a tiny footprint. As such, it is perfect for those who have limited space in their backyards or on their patios.
Dealing with a kamado grill is somewhat different than handling traditional BBQ units. That is why you should be aware that there is a learning curve for this product. If you don’t have any experience with charcoal grills at all, you might find it tricky to find your way around this unit. We wouldn’t say that it is unsuitable for beginners, but if you are a newbie griller, make sure to be patient and carefully analyze your role in the cooking process.
We are not sure if this is a drawback since the manufacturer did that on purpose, but Char-Griller AkornKamadoKooker is made of steel,unlike premium kamado units which are made of ceramic. That doesn’t affect the performance of the product or the taste of the food. However, it does mean that the durability of this product is not as long as with the ceramic models. However, keep in mind that you can purchase this grill for two times less price than a ceramic kamado cost.