Best Ceramic Grill for the Money Offering True Barbecue Flavor + 5 Cheapies

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Do you want that true barbecue taste in your steaks? Ceramic grills are versatile outdoor cookers that are just the best for smoky barbecue flavor, but also great for other cooking styles. Here I look at popular model including some in the lower price range and the things to look out for, like the air control, ash collection, side table support, temperature gauge, grate, portability, and more.

The benefits and features of these egg grills include smoking and grilling of bulk meats and vegetables and the promise of mouthwatering flavor and tenderness. But, these outdoor cookers are also perfect for pizza and bread-making.

When things warm up, imagine loading up the charcoal grill!

Tip:

To make it low-fuss and super relaxing — order a BBQ pack from ButcherBox! and have your meat needs delivered for convenience.

Best cheap ceramic grill chart

The quality features of these ceramic outdoor cookers come at a price, so I’ll start with the cheapies. But, if you’re wanting to know the best ceramic grill for the money, keep reading on.

The following table* displays kamados that are either smaller ceramic types or ceramic-look versions, making them less expensive than the full deal.

Char-Griller E56720 AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill, Pack of 1, Blue
AKORN E56720
Top & bottom dampers
Steel (ceramic look)
Cast iron grate
Folding shelves
Warming rack
Wheels
CHARAPID 12 Inch Kamado Grill, Ceramic Charcoal Egg Grill, Multifunctional Outdoor Smoker Grill for BBQ, Camping and Picnic
CHARAPID 12″
Top & bottom dampers
Ceramic
Metal grate
No side table
No wheels
Lifesmart 15" Ceramic Kamado Grill
Lifesmart 15″
Top & bottom dampers
Ceramic
S/steel grate
Side shelves
Wheels
Char-Griller E06614 Charcoal Grill, Red
Char-Griller E06614
Top & bottom dampers
Steel (ceramic look)
Cast iron grate
Lump charcoal
Handles
No wheels
VESSILS Kamado 15'' Charcoal BBQ Grill – Heavy Duty Ceramic Barbecue Smoker and Roaster with Built-in Thermometer and Stainless Steel Grate – for Backyard, Tailgating and Outdoor Cooking
VESSILS 15″
Top & bottom dampers
Ceramic
S/steel grate
Handles
No Wheels
*available at Amazon.

What makes these cheap kamados?

What makes these the ‘ceramic’ grills budget priced is that they are either not ceramic through-and-through or they are smaller in size than the ones shown below.

This makes them much cheaper than the solid ceramic types reviewed further on… and also much lighter.

The Akorn brand shown is not ceramic, but is double-walled steel, with insulation between the walls and a ceramic look. One advantage of steel models is that they won’t break if dropped.

About the Kamado

Another name people give kamados is ‘eggs’ as in ceramic egg grills, because of their oval shape.

What is a kamado?

Originating in Asia as a cooking vessel of mud or clay, fired by stones, wood, or coal, a kamado is what we know today as a ceramic egg-shaped BBQ grill that uses charcoal for cooking outdoor meals. Kamado is a Japanese-derived word for stove or cooking range. These cooking vessels came from China and eventually saw their way to Korea and Japan, and then to the west…

The kamado first came to the US in 1970, imported by an American serviceman and entrepreneur, Ed Fisher, who recalled how great the food tasted when cooked in a kamado while he was in Japan in the 1950s. Ed went on to found The Big Green Egg Company.

My best ceramic grill guide

Here, I look at the larger ceramic charcoal grills and what to look for in any ‘egg’ ceramic grill. I also go into the care and cleaning of ceramic grills, and finish with tips on smoking a turkey with one of these.

Benefits of ceramic grills

More than anything, the food cooked on a gas barbecue cannot compare as there is no smoke that yields that the true ‘barbecue flavor’. Then there are these…

  • Reduced risk of contact burns from the exterior compared to metal
  • Works well outdoors year round
  • Heat retention is good
  • Enhances food with smokey flavor
  • Food remains juicy – no drying out

Best ceramic grills have cooking versatility

In the best ceramic grills, you can choose to slow cook a rack of ribs at 230°F for four hours or bake a pizza at 500°F for 20 minutes in a ceramic barbecue grill.

What else to look for in the best ceramic grills

Decide whether you want to spend the money on a fully ceramic kamado or opt for the cheaper types made of metal or smaller in size. Some of these things depend on your preferences.

Top and bottom dampers: two draft doors or openings (vents aka dampers). The bottom horizontal sliding door of the ceramic grill works together with the top swiveling door to regulate the updraft and flow of air. This allows you to effectively adjust the temperature of the cooker.

Ash dump: Does it have a dust or ash collection that’s easy to remove to discard the debris?

Cooking grate: What is the cooking grate made of? Is it robust, such as cast iron. Or, you may prefer stainless steel.

Lid hinge: Does the lid hinge lock into place and is it a sturdy lock?

Warmer grid: Some models have a warmer grid that sits above the cooking grate. This is convenient for keeping foods warm while continuing to cook more of the meal.

Temperature gauge: Does it have a temperature gauge that’s easy to read?

Wheels: If you want to be able to easily move the grill around and reposition it, then wheels might be the go.

Side tables: Side tables or shelves on the outdoor BBQ cooker are handy for placing foods, plates, or utensils in range while cooking. Some are foldable, which helps when you’re wanting to cover and store them when not in use. Check that the shelf supports are sturdy.

Charcoal grills: Look to use charcoal. Charcoal is a fairly efficient cooking fuel. Many consider charcoal grills as the best for flavor enhancement since it produces a distinct smoky grilled taste. Lump charcoal enhances the smoky aromas and flavors of the food the strongest.

The beauty of charcoal is it is efficient and ‘clean’ in flavor contribution.

Ceramic grill reviews

If you’re looking for the best ceramic grill for the money…Let’s start with a review of the classic, the Big Green Egg.

American serviceman and entrepreneur Ed Fisher, was amazed at how much better the food tasted and he began to import them sensing that there might be an interest back home. When Ed opened the first Big Green Egg store in Atlanta in 1974, he sold a simple clay cooker based on the same design and materials that had been used thousands of years ago.

History of the Big Green Egg, Big Green Egg 2020

The Big Green Egg Ceramic Grill

The Big Green Egg is cast from ceramics that are designed to reflect heat and reach temperatures of up to 650 °C (1,202 °F). It is said that this high-quality ceramic was initially developed by NASA for their rocket heat-shields.

Made in North America, this green ceramic grill uses lump wood charcoal, which is best as charcoal ceramic grill briquettes can have additives that hurt the flavor of the food.

Big Green Eggs are perfect as charcoal barbecues for smoking or grilling. With the right accessories, you can even bake bread or cook a pizza. They come in seven sizes with the largest being able to cook 35-40 burgers or 14-16 whole chickens.

The MiniMax is portable and an ideal sized ceramic BBQ grill for camping, poolside, and is perfect for table placement. This is a relatively small ceramic grill, but still, it is large enough to cook a 12-pound turkey, 4 burgers, 2 steaks, and a rack of rib.

Cons: The price for the size of this portable ceramic kamado grill.

The Pit Boss Ceramic Grill

PIT BOSS 71240 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 24"See the latest price at Amazon

Here we have the Pit Boss ceramic BBQ grill, kamado style. It is a ceramic smoker grill with upper and lower cooking vents. The thick ceramic body ensures good heat retention.

Lump charcoal is best for this cooker.

It has a large damper for airflow control and two-tier stainless steel cooking racks.

There is roomy cooking space.

As most Pit Boss ceramic grill reviews will tell you, this grill is a great value option when compared to the more pricier brands.

Cons: Brackets for mounting the side tables aren’t the best quality metal.

Vision Ceramic Grill

VISION Grills Ceramic Kamado (Large, Black Bundle)

This kamado Vision ceramic charcoal grill is said to heat rapidly, with an expected temperature rise of 500 degrees, from 200 to 700 ºF, in minutes.

This grill features an ash drawer and vent dials that are all in one. It has a cast iron top vent and dual draft vent dials to help you control temperatures. The C-Series (as in the item model number, e.g. CF1F1) has an integrated smoker. This compares to the S-Series, which is a cheaper charcoal grill without this feature.

The Vision kamado ceramic charcoal comes in a range of colors. It has a lifetime warranty on all ceramic parts and 5 years for metal parts. And, is somewhat cheaper than the others listed in this ceramic range.

Cons: The wood side shelves on this may warp and not last the life of the grill if left outside unprotected. However, they are detachable and easy enough to store safely away.

Where to buy

Kamado Joe Ceramic Grill

This Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, in blaze red, has multiple levels and a half-moon design to make the most of its smaller sizes. So you can cook food to please everyone or to cover different courses., For each of these levels you can choose different temperatures.

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

This ceramic grill is designed for cooking that caters for different tastes or dishes when having friends or family get-togethers.

You can do your smoking at 225 ºF while searing at 750ºF as it can handle a range of cooking temperatures.

It also has a thick ceramic shell with a glazed exterior finish. This gives it durability and easy cleaning along with the ultimate in temperature retention.

A hinged lid with an extra heavy-duty spring makes opening and closing the Kamado Joe cooker a breeze. The Classic II advances upon the Classic I with a better hinge system, a revamped damper top, and a number of other internal upgrades

This grill features an ash drawer for easy clean up. Unlike other grills you don’t need to remove the inner working to clean out the ashes.

Cons: Doesn’t come with a host of accessories.

Where to buy the Kamado Joe ceramic grill

Primo Ceramic Grill – 774 model

Primo 774 Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill, Oval Junior

This is a very efficient unit giving you great quality and precision in BBQing with it being ready in 10 mins for cooking.

It has ceramic coated grill grates which make for easy cleaning.

Primo ceramic grill reviews will tell you this kamado is big enough to cook a feed for 3-4 people and still have leftovers.

Primo ceramic grill prices may seem expensive, but no more so than any good gas grills.

Cons: Doesn’t come with the stand. If you don’t already have one, you’ll have to outlay for this separately.

Where to buy

You might be feeling the above are out of your price range. In that case the following may interest you.

Best ceramic grill for the price

If you are after the best ceramic grill for the price that’s somewhat cheaper than those listed above, check out the five cheap ceramic grill options available at Amazon in the table above.

How much these ceramic grills cost does vary from country to country. The prices for the US at the time of writing are in the 2-3 hundred dollar range.

How to care for / clean a ceramic grill?

Ceramic grills are easy to clean. One thing: In caring for the grill, don’t use lighter fluid.

The few ceramic grill parts that need cleaning basically means wiping the ceramic grill cover and cleaning the grates. That’s all you need to worry about after use.

From time to time, you will need to check to see if charcoal is blocking any air holes.

Clean away any ash that falls to the bottom of the Kamado with an ash tool.

For a thorough cleaning of built up grime and soot of the EGG, see below .

Areas that need care in cleaning an EGG

Inside: Run at over 400 °C (752 ºF) for 1-2 hours to burn off soot and grease that accumulates on the inside of the dome and the grids and the ConvEGGtor.

Calibration: You might want to do this once a year. Place the tip of the Tel Tru thermometer in boiling water to check it measures the right temperature. The boiling point of water is 100 ºC (212 ºF). To adjust any discrepancies, turn the nut on the back of the dial so that it matches. Verify calibration by placing the tip in boiling water again.

Bolts: Check the bolts haven’t loosened over time.

Gaskets: Replace any that are badly damaged or sticky and causing problems when opening the dome.

How to clean ceramic grill crates

Scrape the grill grates

Simply scrap the grill grates with a scrapper. The charcoal compartment and chamber below collects the excess ash.

Empty the ash

Remove the ash pan and discard the scrapings. Removable ash pans make removing the ash a breeze.

Tips on smoking a turkey

This video about smoking a turkey on a ceramic grill has some helpful tips:

And if looking for ceramic grill recipes, try this ceramic grill turkey recipe.

Ceramic grill accessories

Some brands include all-weather covers, but if not it’s advisable to get one to keep your cooker looking and performing its best.

Other accessories to consider:

  • Temperature probe with a remote display screen
  • High-temperature grilling gloves
  • Reflector plates or heat shield
  • Reflector plate holders
  • A drip rack holder
  • Ceramic grill stones
  • Grill woks
  • A BBQ dragon (clips on and revs the charcoal bed into red hot in a matter of minutes)
  • A coal hook

FAQs

Final thoughts

The solid ceramic cookers are bulky and heavy. They are also expensive. But if you are wanting a good outdoor cooker that won’t rust, which is what you need if you want it to last outdoors, these will last the test of time.

These are the traditional types that are rugged enough to endure the outdoor conditions year after year.

But then, if your budget is tight, there are cheaper kamado grills that offer that same look and style of cooking, though perhaps not passing the same test of time outdoors. You just need to accept that you might have to replace them in future years.

Recommended: BBQ pack from ButcherBox for all your easy peasy meat supplies to cook on a ceramic grill.

Info sources

Big Green Egg Warranty | Vision Grill Product Manual

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2 thoughts on “Best Ceramic Grill for the Money Offering True Barbecue Flavor + 5 Cheapies”

  1. I like the fact that ceramic grills make the food appears juicy and delicious without the worries of leaving dry after minutes of grilling while adding a smokey flavor into it. This is in fact one of the reasons why people grill the food-to enhance the flavor, quality, and texture of the food based on how it was cooked. Speaking of, we’re going to have a big family reunion and one of the suggested themes of our party would be barbecuing; I have to be sure that I don’t fail them which is why I’m preparing things in advance and buying all the stuff needed to make this possible. Buying a ceramic grill sure is a great idea so I’ll speak with my husband to help me look for a good-quality ceramic grill for our party.

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