Akorn Grill Kamado Kooker by Char Griller

Editor rating

4.5/5 on June 2, 2016

User's rating

508 reviews

PROS

  • Won't crack like ceramic
  • Great temperature control
  • Insulated cooking space
  • Much cheaper than its rivals

CONS

  • Build quality just a bit under par for its category
  • Careless slamming of the lid may damage latch

VERDICT

You'll be satisfied with the Kamado Kooker's smokey flavor and consistent cooking performance. Just be gentle with the lid, as there are a very small amount of reports about the latch breaking. Overall, you are likely to get real value for your dollar in this purchase with an affordable, quality kamado-style grill that makes food taste like it was made in a grill that cost double the price.

Char Griller Akorn Grill Kamado Kooker Introduction

Akorn Grill Kamado Kooker CloseupThe Char-Griller Kamado Kooker Akorn Grill Barbecue and Smoker (what a mouthful!) is a modern take on a classic cooking style. This griller is specially crafted for kamado cooking and is a much easier, more durable alternative to classic ceramic kamado grillers. With its thick insulation and cast iron cooking surface, I couldn’t wait to try this new version of classic kamado cooking, especially if it could deliver the same great grilling experience for less than the large Big Green Egg prices.

Key Features

  • 306 square inches of cooking space
  • 165 square inches of warming rack
  • Insulated design for juicier meat
  • Steel cart with rubber wheels
  • Locking lid
  • Easy dump ash pan

Out of the Box

Akorn Grill Kamado Kooker Closeup CastersThe Akorn Grill comes in a roughly 25 x 29 x 21 inch box, and weighs 100 pounds with the box included. So while I wouldn’t let my great-grandmother unbox this by herself, if you have a friend or family member there to help you, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue with this. Unfortunately, a cover is not included in the purchase of the grill. However, it’s great to see the stand (with wheels) and shelves included in the box, and Char-Griller did not sell the as an add-on accessory. The warming rack was a nice touch, as well.

Initial Setup

Akorn Grill Kamado Kooker Closeup GrateIf you have ever set up a grill before or are just handy with basic tools like screwdrivers, the grill shouldn’t give you any trouble. If not, I’d definitely recommend finding a friend that is, because while this is a simple setup, you won’t be halfway done and then realize you’ve done it wrong. The great thing about this grill is that it is tightly built and designed to not take up a lot of space, which means less assembly for you. Follow the fairly basic instructions and you shouldn’t have any issues! As with all grills, be sure to check for shipping damage before you start grilling.

Performance

You can expect some great grill cooking on the Akorn Kamado grill and smoker. It smokes meats like an off-set smoker, but is more versatile. Being able to adjust the airflow through damper vents at the top and the bottom allow for a surprising amount of control.

Akor Grill Damper Adjustments

Its performance is very much inline with the large Big Green Egg – at a fraction of the cost. You can get your charcoal fired up quickly, and without any charcoal starter or chimney, as its design naturally creates a charcoal chimney effect. The charcoal is sufficiently far enough below the food that any flare-ups aren’t as much of a problem as with other grills. The thick build of the Char-Griller, and the material used, creates a radiating effect that cooks your food from all angles. This helps with consistency, regardless of what you’re cooking. The two work spaces on either side are adequate, but nothing special. One word of caution: be gentle with the Akorn’s lid. There have been reports of the latch breaking, which can lock the lid shut. I’ve not seen it, but Char-Griller’s customer service is ready to take care of anything you need. Bottom line, don’t slam the heavy lid down!

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Akorn Kamado Kooker vs The Big Green Egg

One can’t deny that the Big Green Egg started the kamado grill craze. It introduced many BBQ enthusiast to a new way of charcoal grilling and smoking, enabling outdoor chefs to throw away their lighter fluid, and begin utilizing indirect, consistent heat for longer periods of time to cook their food to perfection. It’s big, beautiful, and extremely well-built. The only thing it had going against it was its price. It was my first introduction to quality charcoal barbecues.

As with any popular product, a first mover has market advantage, but competitors are likely to pop up and offer their own products with competitive advantages. That’s clear by the number of kamado grills on the market. But Char-Griller has stood above the rest and competed against the large Big Green Egg prices, and that’s saying something.

While you might think that spending a little more might get you a lot, you’d be mistaken. The Akorn Grill holds temperatures extremely well, for not being made of ceramic. If you’re looking for long, overnight, professional-grade smoker performance, this isn’t the grill for you (at least without modifications.) That’s some fancy BBQ that we all love to enjoy, but takes time, talent, and patience – and I lack at least one of those at any given time! The Akorn Grill gives you the benefits of a kamado oven for those of us who want to do some quick grilling of burgers or steaks on the weekends, and don’t need a more expensive oven for fancy work.

Here are the primary difference between the two grills:

  • Price – Large Big Green Egg prices are steady at $850, while the Akorn Grill goes for under $350.
  • Cooking area – A Large Big Green Egg has about 50 square inches less of cooking space than the Akor Grill model 06620.
  • Included accessories – All Big Green Eggs come without any type of stands or work space/shelf attachments. These accessories will cost you about as much as you’d pay for an Akorn Grill!

Lastly, and this may not matter to all of you, but you cannot buy a Big Green Egg on Amazon and enjoy free shipping and no sales tax (depending on your state.) You must go through a dealer, which also means you’re much less likely to find a good deal as compared to manufacturers that sell online. Again, perhaps it’s not a big deal to you, but having a 90 pound grill delivered to my front door that I didn’t have to schlep across a parking lot and heft into my truck seems pretty appealing.

Convenience aside, we can’t really justify the price increase to go with the Green Big Egg. Yes, the Green Big Egg comes in many sizes, and its flat-bottom design allows it to sit on a tabletop outside. However, the Akor Grill comes with a stand, so BGE is really just doing a favor to those of you who don’t want to pay for what you can already get from Char-Griller.

When you put the price, features, and included accessories into perspective, along its almost equal grilling performance, we’re going to go with the Akorn Grill, hands down. Check out more alternatives to the Big Green Egg here.

Akorn Grill Kamado Kooker Review Video

Editor’s note: this item is eligible for free shipping from Amazon.

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