The Bottom Line
In the past few years, the Kamado style charcoal grill has gone from a niche product to a mainstream necessity. Most manufacturers now have something in the category and one of the last to the field is Char-Broil. Known for building more affordable products, the Char-Broil Kamander Grill is a $350USD, metal version of the popular Kamado. This makes it one of the least expensive on the market, and with Char-Broil's reach, the one that is bound to make it onto more patios than any other.
The big question, of course, is this grill worth buying. Ceramic Kamado Grills are expensive. For a full sized model, the prices start around $800USD and that doesn't include any accessories and typically only a basic metal stand to put it on. The Kamander is cart-mounted and comes with a deflector and swing away warming rack. It is a complete Kamado package for what would appear to be a ridiculous price. Again, is it worth buying?
- Insulated body holds in heat for efficient cooking
- Good temperature control
- Works as a grill, smoker and roasting oven
- Can be shut down to snuff out remaining charcoal
- Large amount of plastic components
- Materials are thin and prone to corrosion
- Has an annoying Char-Broil marketing sticker (see below)
- 20-inch diameter cooking surface (327 square inches)
- 113 square inches of additional cooking space (warming rack)
- Top vent cap is cast iron - bottom vent is plastic(see below)
- Vents are numbered for visual cue
- Insulated, dual layer metal body
- Porcelain enameled body and deflector/drip pan
- Spring loaded lid for easy lifting
- Removable ash catcher
- Porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates
- Fold away side table
- Mounted on two wheels and one blunt leg
- Made in China by Char-Broil LLC
Guide Review - Char-Broil Kamander Kamado Charcoal Grill
The temptation when looking at a new Kamado Grill is to compare it to the industry standard, the Big Green Egg. If Big Green Egg made a 20-inch model and if it was equipped with everything that the Char-Broil Kamander comes standard with, it would cost over $1,500USD. The Char-Broil Kamander costs $350USD. The Egg has a durable ceramic shell and an attractive appearance. The Kamander has an insulated metal shell and I will let you decide the quality of is aesthetics. Put simply, Char-Broil may be innovative, but trying to compare these two grills isn't going to get anyone very far. They exist in two completely different worlds.
The Char-Broil Kamander Kamado Charcoal Grill is capable of hitting the kinds of high temperatures necessary for searing steaks while still being able to hold low and slow temperatures for long periods of time necessary for smoking briskets. It is efficient in its consumption of fuel and the two vents allow for easy temperature adjustment. The 20-inch diameter cooking surface (327 square inches of primary cooking space) is large enough to hold a 20-pound turkey or a large brisket. This gives you the space to grill or smoke plenty of food. In every way, this is a Kamado Grill and it can do anything that any other Kamado Grill can do.
Despite what makers of the metal version of the Kamado Grill will tell you, ceramic shells are not all that fragile. The more expensive Kamado Grills really can last for a generation or two. I have seen models from decades ago still in use. The Char-Broil Kamander is probably not going to give you that kind of longevity. Already, the test unit I received a month ago is showing signs of corrosion on some parts. These will need to be oiled and cared for and will still probably have problems in the course of a few years. Of course, at this price, it is exactly what one would expect since this grill costs a fraction of what those others do.
The standout feature on this grill is both a representation of Char-Broil's ability to be innovative and their problems with quality control and quality components.
The intake vent for this Kamado Grill is mounted on the side table. Both top and bottom vents can be seen and adjusted simultaneously. There is not bending or crouching to work the bottom vent. These vents are large, numbered and very convenient. Once you have the hang of how this grill works it can be quickly adjusted for the desired temperature. The bottom vent is connected to the base of the grill via a duct. A screw on cap seals the bottom of the grill and provides for easy clean out (though ashes are collected in an ash pan inside the grill that is simply lifted out).
The problem with this very convenient arrangement is that the vent, duct, and bottom mounting cap are made from cheap plastic. The kind of plastic that melts easily and while the grill is heavily insulated and that under normal operation all this plastic should be fine. However, anyone with experience in outdoor cooking can tell you that normal operation doesn't always occur. Situations are going to happen that may damage this system and that will require replacement of all these parts. Even a thin arrangement of metal parts would be a better solution that the large amount of plastic that has gone into this grill.
One of the most complained about problems of Char-Broil products is one that can be so easily solved and yet Char-Broil seems to be unable to even address it. This grill, like all their products, has a marketing sticker slapped on it. With this item, it is on the side table. These marketing stickers are put there so that when one of these products shows up in a store, customers can get a quick explanation of what the product is and why they should be it. I understand that. The problem is that these stickers are cheap and very hard to remove without picking up a bottle of nail polish remover and spending a good deal of time working to get it removed and cleaned up. In some cases, removing the sticker can take longer than it took to assemble the grill (though not, in this case since this grill takes a while to put together).
I know that this is something of a rant, but I do think that a certain amount of shame needs to be thrown at the Char-Broil marketing division to try and get them to understand that spending a few more pennies on a sticker that can be simply peeled away would make their customers a lot happier.
All in all, and considering the price, this is a working Kamado Grill that can do it all and it comes in a complete package that can have the user smoking a rack of ribs the afternoon after it is purchased. The grill works well and is easy to operate. No, it won't get passed down to the kids, but at this price, they can buy their own.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.