Kamado grills continue to dominate the grilling industry as the most popular option since their durability and temperature regulation abilities are far superior to that of kettle grills. Ever since the early 1970s, grill manufacturers such as Char-Griller, have been bringing us bigger and better models that continue to take the market by storm. Char-Griller’s latest, the Akorn Kamado Kooker, is their best-selling model. Its design and build quality rival many competing models and thanks to its low price, these grills always seem to be out of stock.
Our Verdict: The Akorn Kooker by Char-Griller offers many of the same benefits that a true ceramic grill has to offer, but there is definitely a dip in performance in terms of heating efficiency since the interior of the grill is made out of steel and not ceramic. However, it does do a much better job of regulating the cooking temperature when compared to a standard charcoal grill. The lightweight design and wheels make this grill very easy to transport and store, while the top and bottom damper give the user total control over the cooking temperature.
Read on to learn how this unique kamado grill handles temperature regulation and much more.
Overview and Features
The Akorn Kooker is made out of triple layers of insulated steel, so it’s obviously able to handle heat well. While the lack of ceramic material involved doesn’t qualify it as a true ceramic grill, the traditional egg shape design allows for improved cooking efficiency. The cooking area measures in at twenty inches or three hundred and fourteen square inches. This is much bigger than the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. which has approximately half the cooking surface space.
The traditional kamado grill features a thick steel construction with a ceramic coating on the inside. But this grill offers a unique take on traditional kamado grill design.
The grill is made out of three layers of stainless steel. This design promotes even heat distribution, so it’s perfect for thick steaks, bread, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and your other grilling favorites.
The legs and wheels make this model highly portable, so you can easily wheel it into the garage or shed when you’re done grilling for the day. Since it’s made out of stainless steel we don’t recommend leaving this grill outdoors year-round like you can with a ceramic kamado.
The built-in ash pan can be unclipped for easier ash removal.
The locking clip on the lid will make it much safer to transport the grill. The large dome shape of the lid is common with every model of kamado grill. The lid combined with the rounded bottom gives the grill its egg shape, which also has an impact on how quickly this grill heats up.
This model is one of the most versatile grills you can buy. With the use of a pair of tongs and a spatula, you can smoke, grill, bake bread, or cook a pizza. Since it acts just like a traditional convection oven, you can cook pretty much anything on it.
Evenly Cooked Food
Since you have total control over the airflow, you can expertly adjust the temperature inside the grill. This means the entire grill will remain the same temperature. No longer will you have to worry about cold or hot spots. However, if you grill steaks you will not be able to cook the steak using indirect heat. This grill is able to easily cook at temperatures that range from two hundred degrees up to seven hundred degrees.
Are kamado grills really the best portable charcoal grills? There are many benefits that come with cooking with this type of grill. They can be perfect for cooks and grillers who enjoy trying new cooking techniques, they can cook a steak to perfection, one that’s juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. Kamado grills are also known for their energy efficient cooking. In fact, you can slow cook ribs for several hours using just one batch of charcoal. However, for long cooks, most grilling enthusiasts recommend using hardwood charcoal for a longer cook and the small lumps of charcoal for hotter, shorter cooks.
Ease of Use
For some, learning how to use this grill will be the biggest challenge. If you’re used to a normal grill, then cooking on a kamado can be very challenging. But learning how to adjust the dampers and create the perfect grilling environment can also be a fun experience, especially if you’re serious about grilling. Using a digital thermometer will help you control the temperature. With slight damper adjustments, you should get the hang of adjusting the temperature your second or third time grilling with it.
In terms of heating ability, the Kooker does better than the average charcoal griller, but not quite as well as a true ceramic kamado. But considering the lower price, this dip in efficiency isn’t very surprising.
If you’ve never used a kamado grill before, then expect a learning curve. Grilling with a kamado grill is much different than with a gas, electric, or kettle grill. The top and bottom dampers are what give you total control over allowing air in and out of the grill. This will either increase or decrease the temperature inside the grill. If you’re smoking meat, this type of precise temperature control is essential since the meat must be smoked slowly, over a period of several hours.
When you’ve got the hang of adjusting the temperatures the cooking becomes much easier and very enjoyable. As the Akorn holds heat well, it can smoke ribs to perfections and produces some of the best results we’ve had on a budget kamado.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Wheels make it highly portable
- Above average temperature regulation
- Simple design
- Learning how to adjust the temperature can be difficult for new grillers
- Made out of stainless steel
- Not rust-resistant or waterproof
How Do I Clean a Kamado Grill?
Kamados were actually originally designed as self-cleaning, although with modern models you may need to use more elbow grease. In order to clean it simply fire up the grill to seven hundred degrees. Allow it to continue to burn for thirty to forty minutes. Next, open the vents all the way and allow the grill to cool down completely. Carefully remove the grate, firebox, and ash. Cleaning the grill at this point should be easy since it’s been heated at such a high temperature. The heat works to break down any grease, grime, and leftover burnt on food. Use a large grill bristle brush and scrub down the surfaces inside the grill. You can remove the grill and brush it down before wiping it with hot soapy water. Dry the grill completely before replacing You won’t have to clean it so thoroughly each time you use it. If you grill more than a few times a week, then once a week should be sufficient.
What’s a Hybrid Grill?
Hybrid grills are pretty popular these days. These grills allow you to use charcoal and gas to cook up your favorite foods. The Char-Broil Gas2Coal 3-Burner Liquid Propane and Charcoal Hybrid Grill is one of the leading models of hybrid grills on the market. Essentially, it provides the best of both worlds by allowing you to use gas for easier temperature regulation, with charcoal, for that smoky flavor that you usually miss out on when using a standard gas grill. The only real downside to these types of grills is their size. Most models of hybrid grills are about the size of a traditional gas grill, so storing and transporting them can be challenging. However, the Gas2Coal does come equipped with wheels, so moving it to its appointed storage spot is easier.
Do I Have to Use Lighter Fluid to Ignite the Charcoal?
No. Some grillers don’t mind using lighter fluid to light their coal, while others swear that lighter fluid leaves behind a strong chemical taste. If you don’t want to use lighter fluid the next time you grill, there are actually plenty of alternatives that you can try. Some will take longer to ignite the charcoal compared to lighter fluid, but they’re definitely a more eco-friendly option. To learn more, click here to read our article on how to light charcoal without lighter fluid.
Conclusion and Rating
Overall, the Akorn kamado Kooker is a great grill that’s available at a very attractive price point. In terms of quality, it has a few issues, but that’s to be expected with a lower priced kamado. If you’re looking for an entry-level kamado and one that can provide many of the same benefits that a ceramic model can, then the Kooker is a perfect choice. We gave this model a rating of four and a half out of five stars.