Summer has arrived and that means so has grilling season! At Busted Wallet we enjoy the outdoor life and there is no better compliment to a day outdoors then firing up the grill and cooking some delicious food.  Our friends at Char-Griller couldn’t agree more, and recently set us up with their AKORN Kamado Kooker and assured us we would not be disappointed.  Kamado cooking is a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal fueled cook stove. The style has been around for over 3,000 years and has evolved, but has seen an uptick in popularity in recent years as more modern versions such as the AKORN and the Green Egg have become more mainstream.  These grills are versatile due to the fact that they allow you to charcoal grill or use it as a smoker.  We were happy to head to the store to pick up some food and put the AKORN to the test. After a month of testing and eating like kings, here’s what we discovered…

Key Features:

  • Triple-walled Insulation for heat retention
  • Durable Steel Construction
  • Triple-Walled Insulated Steel
  • 22-Gauge Steel Exterior Body
  • Solid Cast Iron Cooking Grates
  • Wide Temperature Range: From 200° to 700° F
  • Stainless Heat Gauge
AKORN Kamado Kooper Review Breakdown

Assembly:

2015-06-04 10.41.36The good part about the assembly on the AKORN Kamado Kooker is that the longest part of the assembly is just getting everything out of the box.  Once you have everything laid out, the grill is fairly simple to put together.  The instructions could be a bit more detailed as there was some guessing going on but once you get the concept you really do not need the instructions.  If you don’t like manuals there is a great YouTube video by Ken Fisher that does an excellent job of walking you through everything.  The pieces are light enough that one person can do the entire assembly on their own.  From un-boxing to completion, the entire process took a little over an hour.

Design:

Once assembled the shape of the grill will resemble the very popular Green Egg, but don’t think that it’s a knock off. Most Kamado style grills are built very similarly because these grill styles are the more modern version of the Japanese kamado, an earthernware cooking urn whose original design is said to be at least 3,000 years old.  The Char-Griller version features a triple wall, insulated steel egg that is much lighter and than ceramic Kamados.  While typical Kamado grills are ceramic, don’t think for a second that reduces the quality of Char-Griller version or makes it less durable. By not using the extremely heavy ceramic it allows for a more cost efficient product and with a high-quality manufacturing process you are still getting an extremely well-built Kamado grill. Char-Griller appears to have created a cooker that performs pretty close to traditional Kamados at a fraction of the cost.  The body features 22-Gauge Steel which is high quality and should keep the grill around for a long time.

Inside the grill features a cast iron grate with a removable center that allows you to add coal.  The grate also has holes that allow a small chrome plated rack on a swivel post that can be popped into the holes that is used warming or slow cooking. On the side of the grill it offers a couple of small tables and below those tables comes with hooks to hang your utensils on.  While the grill is compact it did a good job of storing food and necessary supplies.

2015-06-04 10.42.24Temperature Control:

As with any charcoal grill temperature control is essential to grilling that perfect piece of meat. Our first few runs on the AKORN Kamado found us struggling to get past 350 degrees and we started to get concerned.  Then we realized that we were using extremely old charcoal that was not burning well.  Once we switched out for some fresh charcoal we get a lot better results.  The manual states that the AKORN can get up to 700 degrees, the highest we achieved was 650 but that wasn’t an issue for us because you don’t need to hit 700 degrees.  If purchasing a Kamado grill for the first time it is important to note that these grills are designed to retain heat.  With this in mind you will find yourself extremely frustrated if you over shoot your desired temp and try to get it back down.  It is best to take a conservative approach as you can always open the air vents to get more in and increase your heat.  It took us a few sessions to dial in the temperature, but we were happy to try and get it right.  Remember this style of cooking is a process, so if you are looking for quick jumps in temperature and for a fast process, then charcoal and Kamado style cooking might not be for you.

Durability:

Given the price of the AKORN Kamado Kooker durability was an obvious concern but when you dive in to the materials they used to produce the grill, you can quickly put those fears to bed.  The triple-walled insulated steel and the 22-gauge steel exterior body equate to a very rugged and durable grill.  We did have an issue with a seal coming loose around the chimney that allowed some water in and did some damage to our grate.  However, we contacted customer support and they replaced everything and even some parts that were not affected just to make sure.  While we could have avoided this by having a cover on it, Char-Griller stood by their product and rectified the situation quickly.  We have not had a problem since.  With the quality materials and a responsive manufacturer to address any concerns, you will have this grill for a long time.

2015-04-10 20.27.24

Value:

Priced at $299.99 the Char-Griller features tremendous value.  While the more popular Green Eggs will run you anywhere from $600-$1000 or more, this is a great start if you are interested in the Kamado style grilling.  In addition to having a great price point, the grill is extremely versatile that will allow you to grill or smoke.  If you are someone who enjoys grilling and loves the process, then we suggest trying out the Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Kooker.  You deserve a better grill and so does your food.

Buy Now: $299 or go to learn more, go to: CharGriller.com

Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Kooker- Grill Review
If you are interested in Kamado style cooking or are looking to upgrade your grilling options, then the Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Kooker deserves your consideration. The impressively designed and built grill will add great versatility to your grilling options for an extremely impressive price point.
Assembly8.9
Design8.7
Temperature Control8.5
Durability8.6
Value9.5
The Good
  • Great Price
  • Easy Assembly Process
  • High-Quality Materials
The Not-So-Good
  • Takes Time to Get Temperature Right
  • Could Not Reached Advertised Max Temp
8.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (186 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Contributor

Ande is the utility player around Busted Wallet. Whether it be speaker systems, kitchen gadgets, video games, booze, sports or if it has the potential to be awesome- you can bet he is writing about it. Ande enjoys taking a deep dive with his products to make sure they are up to snuff for our readers. With over 100 articles in the last few years, you can count on Ande to find you the newest and best products in the market.

15 Responses

  1. Ted howard

    Had my grill for four years only issue is the ash pa has rusted out ah the grate broke. Need help to find replacements.

    Reply
    • Ande Scherf

      Hi Ted- If you reach out to char griller customer service they can get you replacement parts. Not sure if you are still under warranty but they were very easy to work with.

      Reply
  2. Diana Bryan

    I have had a problem with the latch attached to the bottom of the grill coming out. To fix the problem you need a new bottom grill.

    Reply
  3. Dennis

    I bought one last week. Put it together and was missing the latch assy. Called customer support and she said she would send it our next day. Went to move it from my driveway and it caught on some rocks and fell over. Bent the bottom grill. Called back and after sending pictures they are sending a new grill piece. Awesome customer service. Used a bungee cord to secure the top and smoked a pork butt. I love this grill. As to the rust issues, you have to remove the lump charcoal from the grill and oil down after each use.

    Reply
    • Gordon Dahl

      Dennis, you must have had more insight than me, because I to purchased a Akorn but was not able to cook a pork butt until I went on line and purchased the required heat deflector to use it for smoking, they sure are proud of those online only purchases..what a way to get high (REALLY high) margin sales

      Reply
  4. Laura Herzog

    Just ordered one of these for my Husband. I didn’t ask him his thoughts, I just read the article and whipped out my Visa. I hope its as cool as you make it sound! I appreciate the detailed review and the finite honesty. I am not looking for perfection, just a manufacturer that will support their product. My man is in LOVE with the NuWave products so I hope he likes this cute little grill also. I am over Rusty oil drum grills.

    Reply
    • Josh Herder

      Best wife award! Hope he enjoys the grill. We highly recommend getting a grill cover as well to safeguard from rust. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  5. Gordon Dahl

    If you just want to grill a occasional burger or steak, go buy a 60 dollar charcoal grill and take care of it. If you want a grill to do more than that be prepared to shell out extra $ for the “accessories” you’ll need to do that. I purchased my Char Griller at a local store and it was assembled (incorrectly) and was slightly damaged because it was on the floor and the only one in stock. After I got it home and took it apart and re-assembled it, I got on line to check out some suggestions for use, specifically smoking, this grill as it comes “out of the box” is not able to smoke unless you buy additional accessories, the store that sold it does not have the heat deflector or any other accessories, you can ONLY buy it on line from them (Char Griller) you’ll pay what seems like TOO much for it as well as the basket for raising the coals close enough to the grill to properly “char” a steak. So, “out of the box” this grill will do nothing more than a 60 dollar grill, I have thrown good money after bad and went on line and purchased the heat deflector, adjustable coal basket, and grill cover (over 100 additional dollars) and a steep freight cost, to hopefully be able to do the things it’s advertised as doing. Its been a week since ordering and still no “accessories” so I own a useless grill one day prior to Memorial. I guess my guests for my annual Memorial Day BBQ will get some fried burger and boiled hot dogs rather than my Pulled Pork and smoked brisket.
    Describe Yourself Back Yard self proclaimed “Pit Master”

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    Reply
    • Ande Scherf

      Gordon- sorry to hear about your experience. With Kamado style grills I think you would find most of the accessories to be extra. For example, the green egg does not come with a heat deflector and it retails for way more than the Char Griller.

      Also, for accessories you can find many accessories for the Akorn on Amazon and if you have a prime membership it will help reduce costs on shipping and freight. Overall, the quality and price of the Akorn still holds true for me. I wrote this article 3 years ago and I still get compliments on it and it is still performing great.

      Reply
  6. Gordon Dahl

    Ande, I am glad your experience has been better than mine and it is working so well for you. I totally understand the green egg comparison but I did not buy a green egg. Maybe the sale person who assisted me at the store mis-represented the grill by telling me all the amazing things it was able to do (smoking included) with no mention of the accessories needed to do those things and maybe it will, after buying the accessories. I am not an Amazon guy and not savvy on places to get the best deal. The actual cost of the grill and accessories are not the issue, “yes” the add on accessories after the initial purchase of the grill are irritating but in the end it’s like I said, “out of the Box” the grill does nothing more than a 60 dollar grill will do and for those who are perhaps not a back yard “Pit Master”, the extra 240 bucks they save by not purchasing it might be all the difference, just my opinion and my own product review, not everyone will ever be pleased with all products, just sharing my experience with the Akorn. Have a amazing summer of grilling!

    Reply
  7. Karla Austin

    Last night we were grilling When my husband lifted the lid it came right off it was so heavy it pulled him over the backside over the open flame that’s not good.

    Reply
  8. Al Walker

    We’ve used this grill sparingly over the last two years. The lid screws pulled through last week, which means the lid came off. This grill is REALLY lightly used, and I know it was the low priced option. But I didn’t expect this. Customer service says I need to buy a new base for about $110. It really isn’t THAT good of a grill to invest that amount of money with. If you are looking for a Kamado style grill, you should do yourself a favor and avoid this one. Spend another $100 and get something that will last beyond 40-50 uses.

    Reply

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