Making the choice between a grill and a smoker can be challenging.
Grills are better for cooking meat at higher temperatures, and you can make many classic meals on these surfaces, like fire-seared steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled veggies. On the other hand, slowly smoked brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder are all classics that can only be achieved by cooking your meat slowly and for a period of several hours.
Oftentimes, grilling and smoking require different kinds of grill bodies, and so it is nearly impossible to have seared steaks one night and brisket the next. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simply to find a grill that can sustain a wide range of temperatures, like the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker.
The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker is a mid-range grill and smoker barbecue that runs on charcoal, and the major draw for this grill is its versatility. By giving you a huge range of temperature control, you should be able to go easily between smoking and traditional grilling for smaller gatherings of up to five people.
Even better, the straightforward mode of operation is accessible for beginners, and the modern perks like the built-in temperature gauge keeps it interesting for the experts. You’ll also find that the relatively lightweight design of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker makes it a good contender for a portable grill, particularly for those barbecuers who like to camp.
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Features of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
- 2 Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Detailed Review
- 3 How Does it Compare?
Key Features of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
Versatility to Cook at High and Low Temperatures: The most appealing aspect of the Akorn Kamado Kooker is that it allows you to go easily from smoking to grilling. This is possible because the smoker has a compact, dome-shaped body that is both short enough to let flames cook your food directly and well-insulated enough to maintain low smoking temperatures for a long period of time.
This dual-functionality can be most appealing for people who want to consolidate their grilling equipment, but it can also be a good stepping stone for people who want to transition from grilling to smoking.
In any case, the flexibility of the Akorn Kamado Kooker to go from smoking to grilling without temperature problems is an advantage that is hard to find in many combination grills.
This interesting feature is made possible by the incorporation of dampers at both the top and bottom of the grill. These dampers are precisely measured and marked using an indexing system, and by opening them to a specific opening each time, you can set and maintain temperatures from 200°- 700° F.
Portable Design: While it is entirely possible to store the Akorn Kamado Kooker in your backyard or garage for home use, it is also possible to bring this light-weight grill with you for camping and tailgating events.
With sturdy rubber wheels that can be locked in place and fold-down tables, you should have no problem loading this grill to go just about anywhere. Better yet, the self-sustaining charcoal heat source doesn’t limit you by requiring electricity or a stable source of propane.
Large Cooking Area: With 314 square inches of principal cooking space and an additional 133 square-inch warming rack, you should have plenty of space to manage a standard family barbecue no matter where you use the Akorn Kamado Kooker.
Removable Ash Pan: Removing the ash that builds up in this charcoal grill is simplified by the addition of a removable ash pan at the bottom of the grill’s body.
Check out GeauxGrilling’s review of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker below:
- Versatile temperature range for grilling, searing, and smoking
- Relatively light weight with several features for portability
- Easy to clean features like the removable ash pan
- Reported problems with the cast iron grates rusting out over time
- Some quality control issues, particularly with dented units
- Requires good maintenance habits to last more than a year of heavy use
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Detailed Review
Design and Build Quality
On the whole, the Akorn Kamado Kooker is a very simple grill and smoker combo.
It does not have some of the flashier elements that you might find in its competitors, but what it lacks in gadgets and gizmos, it makes up for in versatility.
The dome-shaped body of this grill and its upper and lower dampers give you access to both grilling and smoking. Meanwhile, at roughly 100 pounds, this multifunctional piece of equipment can tag along for camping and tailgating events.
The body of the grill is well-designed. It is made almost exclusively of steel for excellent insulation.
The 22-gauge steel body is coated with porcelain on the interior to help maintain high and low temperatures as well as to make cleanup easier. The exterior, on the other hand, is made of powder-coated steel to give the Akorn Kamado Kooker a hard, protected finish.
Inside the grill, you’ll find cast iron grates. While these are appealing for searing meat at high temperatures, the exposed iron metal may be subject to rusting. You will probably want to pay extra attention when cleaning and maintaining these grates.
The only major problem that you might run into with the Akorn Kamado grill is some water build-up in the ash tray. This comes from humidity inside the body if you are smoking meat or vegetables with the damper closed. To remedy this, you might choose to adjust your dampers or to drill a hole into the bottom of the ash pan.
Ease of Assembly
Like other Char-Griller models, the Akorn Kamado Kooker is easy to assemble. It has less than 30 pieces, and it requires only a 7/16 wrench to assemble. You’ll find a detailed guide with photo demonstrations with your grill.
Ease of Use
Experienced barbecuers should have few problems when cooking with the Kamado Kooker, and beginners may be able to learn many new techniques with the help of the damper guide that comes with this grill.
Like most multifunctional grills, you will control the temperature using dampers at the top and bottom of the body. By simply adjusting indexed dampers, you should be able to easily set and maintain a wide range of temperatures.
With minor adjustments, you can also have access to different flame heights, which can be used to give your cook the nice seared edge that is typical of flame-grilling.
Quality of the Cook
In general, most barbecuers have found that the Akorn Kamado Kooker is good for cooking at both extremes of the barbecue spectrum.
The quality of this grill-and-smoker’s cook comes from the temperature control, allowing you to set a low-temperature, slow burning fire for smoked meats or a tall, high-temperature fire for searing meats.
In either case, you can control more specific flavors of your barbecue by experimenting with different flavored wood chips and other additives.
Ease of Cleanup
Cleaning this Char-Griller brand grill and smoker is intended to be easy. To remove ash after each cook, you simply need to detach the ash pan, located at the bottom of the body. With a porcelain-coated interior and cast-iron grates, you should also be able to easily wipe away grease build-up after each use.
Keep in mind that cleanup is a priority for maintaining a long lifetime with this grill. Many users who let too much grease build up inside the body of the grill and on the grates experienced problems with rusting as well as the opening and closing of the dampers.
The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker is an excellent multi-purpose grill at a very reasonable price.
The well-insulated 22-gauge steel body is expected to be durable so long as it is regularly maintained. As a low-cost, easy-to-master model, most beginners will not have to feel shy about investing in this multi-purpose grill, and experts can benefit from this grill’s versatility and portability.
Not only does this grill have the capacity to do low-temperature smoking, you are also able to get the grill running at temperatures as high as 700°F. This gives you the flexibility to do just about any kind of cooking that you might need, and as an added bonus, the lightweight of this grill also means that it is portable enough to travel with you for camping or tailgating for cooking wherever you need to.
How Does it Compare?
Let’s take a look at some of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker’s competition:
Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
For those on a smaller budget looking for a very simple smoker, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker may be right for you.
Check out our review here.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
An alternative to the Masterbuilt 40 Digital Electric Smoker, the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker also offers a ton of cooking space along with a remote control for simple hands-off smoking.
Check out our review here.
Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
For those looking for a simple electric smoker on a budget, the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker may be right for you.
Check out our review here.