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on April 22, 2012
I have had this grill for a week. I absolutely love it. Its ability to QUICKLY climb to high heat or to HOLD heat and bake in a moist sealed environment puts it into a different category than a gas grill or a Weber Kettle grill.

I have cooked a pork rib roast at 350 that came out great. With a moist and smoky environment.

I have had it up to 650 and did fabulous burgers. They had a brown and crispy surface with out being dried out.

The problem comes in when I want to get it below 300.

There is too much air coming in from the bottom vent. I was going to seal the back of the vent where it seals to the ash pan. When I removed the ash trap to work on the vent-- I found that the entire round ash trap bottom is just tacked to the top in a butt joint and there is already a gap at one place where it is separating from the flat top part that butts up against the sealing gasket for the ash trap. The metal is deformed in another area directly behind where the vent attaches. Said another way the metal had already deformed behind the vent slot.

I question the long term air tightness with this construction detail.What use is a sealing gasket on the ash trap when the whole area below it is just butt jointed and tack welded in several places?

The photos are available on the customer images when you are viewing the product. Take a look it is quite startling.

This detail is on the removable ash trap and in theory this small part of an otherwise great grill could easily be improved. It looks like this joint may become more and more leaky over time.

The photos for what I am describing are the customer photos when you are viewing the product page.

UPDATE 4-25-2012

I contacted CharGriller about this problem. They say they will replace the ash trap as a warranty item.

The thing is you MUST HAVE YOUR RECEIPT. So if you buy this Akorn Kooker save your receipt. Thank goodness that Lowe's is great about issuing a new one. Just as Amazon is great at letting you go into your history and print a receipt.

They also had no word about if the replacement ash trap will be made the same way. This is absolutely a design created problem.

UP DATE 5-22-12
Char-Griller did sent a new ash trap and it had the same defects and developed leaks only not as bad. This unit cooks much better when it is air tight.

Here is a link to the KAMADO GURU forum in which they cover fixing the air leaks.


In addition some people have used theirs extensively and feel it is holding up well.


UPDATE: 6-2-2012

There is an element to the design of this AKORN that people should be aware of. This unit is egg shaped. The result is that the top over hangs the more narrow bottom. Any fat that renders out will either be caught in a drip pan on top of the smoke stone diffuser or it will run down the sides. Any grease that reaches the ash trap area will either drip into the ash pan or run under the top flange and soak the gasket on the ash trap seal.

Cleaning the ash trap will remove the oil that has collected there. The sealing gasket should also be checked and DE-greased if it is wet with grease.

I put a grill grate on the smoking stone position and built a fire to get more intense heat to do burgers. I filled the outside edge of the grate with 20% fat burgers. I got nice crispy burgers. When I closed the lid and shut the top and bottom vents----the dome temp gage shot up to 650F.

The next cook was going to be three pork butts a couple days later. Except I could not get the ash pan off to clean it. To make a long story short---the ash trap gasket was glued on to the separating surface with carbon. I had to pry it off and scrape the carbon crystals off both the mating surface and the gasket. A new gasket is available from Char-Grill. To install it just pry with a plastic object between the gasket and the flange it is attached to. The gasket is held in with metal attachments that snap out. The new one just snaps in. This takes about five minutes.

EDIT---Ultimately I scraped the gasket loose with a plastic scraper and crumbled the carbon crystals out of the gasket and am still using it in 2014 with no problems. These stock gaskets can stand to to a direct grease fire. The grill in January 2014 is still in excellent condition and has been left in the weather covered.

Users should check the gasket for oil when they empty the ash pan. There is not likely much chance for a grease fire while doing a low and slow cook. It can happen the next time you take it up to 600. A drip pan should be used for low and slow to catch as much grease as possible.

This probably is not a good grill to use for direct high heat grilling of fatty things like 80% burgers or sausage. The high heat and the abundant oil are what caused mine to catch fire.

As I inspected the design more I did notice that the very out side edge ot the grate extends over a gap between the inner fire bowl and the outer insulated shell. Any grease that gets into this gap will run down to the ash trap with no chance to burn off. I believe that this is what contributed to my grease fire. i now keep any thing that I cook back from the edge and over the inner fire bowl.

DESIGN MODIFICATION---- If a metal flange were installed above the ash trap area and sloped to the back. A pipe could be run out the back and the grease caught in a bucket.

UPDATE 10-2-2012

I have used this CharGriiler Kamado since April about 3 times a week. If you are interested in Kamado style cooking this is a good place to start. The AKORN gets the same results as the more expensive Kamado style cookers that start around $900 and quickly end up in the $1500 to $2,000 range.

You can grill at 650 degrees or do true BBQ at around 250 degrees. I have done nine pork butts for pulled pork with great results. I have done ribs, chicken thighs, chicken breasts, steaks, hamburgs, WOKED vegetables,ETC and all were great.

You can cook chicken with the skin on without getting the typical huge flare up. In fact there is no fire at grill level at all. I do find that slashing the skin on the thighs and cooking them skin side up works best.

I have not had a grease fire since the one noted above. I now take it up to 600 and do a burn off immediately after I cook something fatty and I keep what I cook over the inside of the fire bowl.

To get good performance you will need to put felt behind the vent slide, seal behind the vent to the ash trap area, and any gaps in the seam between the top of the ash trap and the outer bowl. I have had to replace the felt behind the slide three times so far. There is a lot of information about these mods at the Kamado Guru forum--in the Char-Griller AKORN Kamado/ King Griller group and in the topic section Mods and Fixes. This is a must visit site if you own one of these.

This cooker heats up fast and is slow to cool down so the techniques needed are different from other grills. They are not difficult just different. There is a lot of info about this in the AKORN section at Kamado in the ----starting a fire low and slow definitive. I find a dual temp digital thermometer ( grate temp and meat temp ) to be extremely helpful. I find the dome thermometer to be slow to respond.

I love the taste of lump charcoal and wood chunks on my food.

In my opinion this grill is a bargain but you will need to take an active and on going approach to keeping it air tight to get the best results. Yes I would buy it again---but be warned you will want one of the pricey Kamados in a few years down the road. Do notice that I said want. This grill will last for many years if you keep it coved and out of the weather and the food will taste the same coming out of the AKORN or a $1,000 ceramic kamado.

EDIT 1-2014-- The bottom vent assembly on AKORNS are very prone to be leaky. The top vents as of 2012 have been reworked and are air tight. If there is a top vent leak it comes from the o ring and is easily addressed. SO it has ALWAYS been possible to control the heat by closing the top vent down to a sliver. There is a process of balance in a tightly sealed and properly functioning Kamado. If you open up the top vent you get a less smoky flavor if you close it you get more because the smoke and burning juice smoke are trapped and held around the meat. Before i got the bottom sealed I had to control the temp by keeping the top vent to a sliver. This resulted in a flavor profile that my family did not like. Once i was able to open the top vent and control the temp from the bottom we all started liking what we got much better. Ultimately This is a matter of personal taste reference and some people keep the top vent quite tightly closed and leave the bottom vent open--deliberately because they prefer this flavor profile. I tend to do the opposite and leave the top vent wide open and control the temp by closing the bottom vent up. Doing this I get a slightly smoky flavor that combines with the rub and meat in a way that i really like.

EDIT 4-22-13

Lowe's finally put a display model out this year and the air slide was even more sloppy than mine. It literately rattled in the track.

BJ's had two of these AKORNS on display that are now called the King Griller AKORN. One air slide was so tight that it was difficult to adjust and the one on the other was very smooth and it had less play that the Primo Oval XL that I looked at. So it does appear that some of the models for sale this year now have good air control on the bottom.--- with out putting felt behind the slide. This is encouraging--I just wish that mine was a made to those tolerances. The truth is both of the units at BJ's were so tight that nothing could fit behind the slide.

In addition the center insert now is all grate and no emblem to block the heat--IMO another good thing.

It does appear that CharGriller is refining the AKORN as time goes on. It may be hit or miss though.

UP DATE: 11-4-13

The Man Cave Meal demo videos for the CharGriller AKORN are no longer available to the public. If you need advice on tightening up an AKORN there is plenty available on the Kamado Guru site ---in the section-- CharGriller AKORN Kamado in the section for various brands of Kamados. Many people are now reporting that they do not need any after market sealing---BUT the quality of product is not uniformly consistent and some say the one they have still needs it. IMO the AKORN remains a bargain along with the ceramic Vison Kamado's.

I am am still using my AKORN and have been through two full seasons of cooking now. You owe it to your self to look into Kamados if you enjoy out door cooking. The food is fantastic and easy to make on a Kamado.

Eventually I will buy either a Kamado Joe-- Big Joe with a split fire box and flexible grate set up or I will buy a Primo XL with a split fire box and the accessories to make it flexible.

There new videos being released on the Kamado Joe you tube site that demonstrate Kamado cooking. These are linked to from the Kamado Guru site. If you end up buying any Kamado --- the Guru site is well worth looking at. Just do a search for Kamado Guru. There are plenty of documented cooks with pictures to inspire you.

If you have any question having to do with Kamados you can post it on KG and most likely will get an informed answer--because the people there are knowledgeable and helpful.
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on September 10, 2012
I got my new grill last week, and spent the weekend learning to use it.

First I should mention the previously mentioned air leak issue. In the current version of the grill, there is no air leak issue. The new cast iron top vent is designed to stop all air, except what you have dialed in to pass through the vent. If you turn it off, it will stop the air flow, and extinguish the fire. It has a high-temperature o-ring made of a silicone rubber, and has a nice tight feel to it. The lower vent seems to be fit good enough to do what it needs to do. But with two dampers (top and bottom) the airflow is controlled by the most closed of the two. Since the top one closes enough to kill the fire, any small leaks in the bottom one don't really matter. So I think the air-leak problem is in the past, the manufacturer really stepped up and addressed the issue. They are listening!

The grill I got should have been black, but instead it has a nice hammered two-tone finish. It is black on grey for the main shell, and black for the legs. It looks like a nice finish that should hold up well.

My goal is to learn to properly regulate the temperature, for low-slow cooking. One thing I learned is that even at a low temperature, the radiant heat from the fire will tend to overcook anything that gets direct heat if you are doing a long cook, so the first accessory that is a must have is some kind of heat deflector, such as a pizza stone. I used a sheet of foil with a drip pan on top, that worked too.

As for temperature regulation, learning that will require some patience and understanding. In a test cook, I was trying to get a temp in the 225 range. It turns out the vent setting for that temp is around .5 to .75 on the upper vent. Not knowing that in advance, I started on a setting of 2... The fire quickly started getting really hot, so I turned the vent down to 1, and waited a half hour. The temp was still high. So I turned it down to .5, and waited another half hour... it dropped to 350. So I set the vent lower, barely cracked... Half an hour later, it was at 300. The vent was almost closed so I decided to wait a bit longer to see if it cooled more... half an hour later it was at 275, so I decided to go ahead and put the meat on (a pork rump). I figured it would keep slowly dropping. What I didn't know was that the fire was out, it was the insulation that was holding the heat in. So my first lesson on what not to do... Head the warnings about starting low, once the temperature is too high, it is difficult to get it back down without extinguishing the fire and starting over.

One of the tricks is not to have too much fire to begin with. Make a pyramid of cold charcoal lumps, and only light a small section of the coals. For a low-slow cook, you will want the fire to slowly burn across your fuel load, so lighting one edge of the stack is better than dumping a load of pre-lit coals in. If you start with a full fire, you will never get the low temperature right. A good stack lit from one edge will give the fire an order with which to burn in, so that you don't go cold with unused fuel. Since most of the fuel is cold to start with, making sure it is all in a tight pile will insure the fire eventually is able to consume all of the coals.

The idea of using a propane torch to light the stack in one spot is a good way to go, thanks to the reviewer who suggested that. A propane torch on a hose is best for that, so you don't hold the bottle upside down.

Since your fire will be burning from one edge of your pile to the other, having a heat deflector will prevent the uneven heat from causing a problem. The fire will gradually move across the pile, and a deflector will keep the heat even regardless of where the fire is.

I found that I was able to hold a low-slow temp quite well, but it would change temperature slightly so I was tweaking the top vent every hour or so. I think my next project is to make a thermostat, and figure out a way to motorize the damper.

But so much for my learning to control the fire. I still have more to learn obviously.

I also tried some ribs, both pork and beef. The pork ribs were good, the beef ribs were excellent.

As soon as I get my pizza stone, I will do a brisket.

After a couple of meals featuring too much meat, I did a cook with a load of veggies, potatoes, corn on the cob, mushrooms, assorted peppers, and cherry tomatoes... It all came out very good, but veggies are easy and don't take long to get right.

The grill is well made, and the parts all fit as they should. The only problem I had during assembly was trying to use a wrench on the hex bolts. The bolts are chamfered, and so are my wrenches. well before the bolts are starting to get tight, the wrench looses the ability to turn them because of the chamfer causing them to just slip past each other. They are slotted for a Phillips screw driver, and as it turns out my big #3 driver could put more than enough torque on them, so I was happy once I put the wrench away. The chamfered bolt heads are actually nice in that they make a smoother surface... Just don't use a wrench.

My old stainless grill had bad rust problems. Turns out that there were places for water to collect inside of non-stainless parts. In particular the legs. I was happy to see that on this grill, two of the legs are not closed at the bottom, so no place for water to collect. The back leg with the caster-wheel looks closed at the bottom, so at some point I'll pull the caster off, and drill a small hole for water to drain out from. Older cars had this problem, rusting out from the inside... Car makers learned that lesson a few years back, and started putting drain holes in places water can collect, and as a result cars stopped rusting out from the inside (as long as some idiot didn't cover the drain holes with undercoating. The only other potential water collection point is the ash pan. I don't think I want a drain hole, so instead I may store the bottom inside the grill upside down... I'll be thinking about that for a while.

I did buy a cover from Walmart that fits really good, for under $6. It should last at least 6 months while I find a better one...

In summary, I really like this grill. The price is right compared to something like a Green Egg, I just need to keep on-top of the potential for rust, and if I can do that it will last a long time.

EDIT-- The ash pan is a big water collector. Because it is insulated, there are two steel walls in the ash pan, and both collect water. A very small hole through both should fix it, at the cost of a small air leak (should be ok if the hole is small enough).

Also I have added a fan from Auber instruments (6.5cfm I think) that can be connected to any common PID. The fan fits perfectly without any adapters, and does an excellent job controlling the temperature. I can get 30+ hours of cook time from a single load of lump charcoal when I cook at a low temperature (like around 220f). Once I can control the temperature accurately, I get flawless fall-apart brisket every time!
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on September 17, 2013
When I first bought this bbq/smoker, I loved it and used it almost every day for two months. Out of this cooker came the best tasting slow smoked ribs, brisket, and bbq chicken I had ever cooked! Unfortunately, problems started almost immediately!

When I got the first one home, I attempted to assemble it but one of the threads for the legs was missing so I had to return it for another one. Around the second month, as I was setting the cast iron grate on the concrete ground, it literally shattered. I posted photos so you can see what I mean. I was shocked, but figured the company would take care of it. How I was wrong.

I contacted Char-Griller to ask them if they would consider sending a replacement since I had only had this thing barely two months and I was just out of my 30 day return period. A new grate costs $25 + shipping, and I figured any company worth their weight wouldn't hesitate to send out a replacement to a happy customer, but this was too much for char-griller and they said they wouldn't send out a replacement unless I footed the bill. After forking out $299 for this thing I was surprised that a company would go this route and lose a loyal customer over a $25 grate.

It's a great cooker so long nothing breaks and you have to deal with the company. I would have easily given this a 5 star rating had Char-grill known how to treat their customers right.

Oh well, I will buy a higher end cooker, and I suggest others do as well if they don't want to deal with a company that doesn't seem to know how to treat loyal customers.

UPDATE: Char-Griller was supposed to send out another seal that had torn after the first month of usage, but they never did send out the new seal. It's been a few months and I have heard nothing back from Char-Griller. Expect extremely poor customer service from this company!
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on May 16, 2013
The first time I used the grill it was amazing -
After continued - the inside started peeling and finally the ash pans coating peeled on the outside and one of the wooden handles fell off.
I cooled the grill according to manufacturer instructions each time I used it and cleaned it each time, as well. I emailed pictures of the damage to Char- Griller and Susie from Customer Service said HEAT DAMAGE is not warrantied.
It's a GRILL- That's HEATED each time you use it. So, I'm guessing NOTHING would be covered due to their HEAT DAMAGE policy.
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on July 8, 2013
The Akorn is a very nice smoker at a great price point. A number of sites show modifications which seal the grill of air leaks. High temperature Nomex gasket material on the lower vent and mating surfaces of the dome and ash pan will allow for low temperature control. I am able to park my smoker at 220-225 degrees with very little effort. I use a very cheap metal pizza pan as a heat deflector which is adequate, but I believe that using a heavier one could improve temperature stability even more.

The price point may suggest that it is not well designed, but function is surprisingly good for a grill that is much cheaper than a ceramic kamado.

Unfortunately, my experience with quality control is not as good. Out of the box, there was a dime sized dent and chip in the enamel inside the dome. After two uses, the dome vent is showing several chips in the paint surface down to the bare metal. I can live with cosmetic issues. They should not worsen the function or life time of the grill since I keep it covered and inside the garage and not exposed to the elements. The problem is that the outer cooking grate cracked along a line, in two areas near where the warming rack would be seated, after only two smokes. I had not used the rack in any of my two burns. The grate's design may not be an advantage, since the center area can be lifted out to add fuel. While that may seem to be useful, in fact the firebox is more than roomy enough to preclude the need to add fuel. What it does do is to make a solid grate into a doughnut shaped one that is weaker. Other customers have had this part replaced, even after explaining that their damage was due to accidental drops. When I called, the customer service person was not in such a mood and insisted that Char-Griller had no responsibility for any damages after even a single use. This appears to be a policy shift from other postings. They are now taking a very narrow interpretation of the 1 year warranty that comes in the manual by invoking the following clause. "The warranty is for replacement of defective parts only. Manufacture will not be responsible for damage resulting from accident, alteration, misuse, abuse, hostile environments, improper installation, installation not in accordance with local codes of service of unit."

My opinion is that the Akorn is a great introduction into kamado cooking at a reasonable price point. There are a few skills needed to successfully transition from the standard kettle grill to this style of grill. Fuel selection and fire building techniques come to mind and there are many helpful sites from passionate kamado fans that help guide you through. Get a nice grill temperature probe, because the dome thermometer will not be accurate enough (it reads 10% lower than actual grate temperatures.)

I guess that the buyer should beware, because you are not paying to get the warranty of a ceramic cooker. The warranty and customer service do not seem to agree on the manufacture's desire to keep their customers satisfied. In this regard, I am disappointed. The cheap price is the main justification to buy this smoker, but with that in mind, it also suggests a bit shoddier build and customer support. I do not consider this a grill for a life time but a great introductory model to see if you like this style of cooking. With some experience food will come out attractive, moist and delicious. 5 stars for the concept, 3 for the execution, and no stars for weak warranty.
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on September 6, 2013
I've had my Akorn for about 6 months now. One of my favorite past times in life is "feasting with friends" and the Akorn is the ultimate cooking machine to help me feast with friends, more. The Akorn is the definition of value: where awesomeness and price collide. I've probably used mine about 75-100 times. I mostly use it for low and slow cooks. I've mastered some INSANE pulled pork using the Akorn.

I picked mine up from Amazon Warehouse Deals for $349 at peak season. I probably paid too much as you can now pick it up for $249 from Warehouse Deals. Also, I've seen them at BJs with a cover and a stone included for $250.

I highly suggest these items to go along with your purchase (regardless of what kind of kamado you buy):
-Temperature controller ($150)
-Pizza stone ($10-40)
-High quality hardwood charcoal
-Maverick thermometer ($60)
-Cover ($30-45)

If you're doing low and slow cooks, I highly suggest a temperature controller. If you're not familiar with kamado cookers, basically it's all about air flow: the more air you allow through the bottom of the unit, the more heat is generated. On the front of most kamado cookers is a little sliding door, allowing you to control the air flow.
The first time I did pulled pork I had to stay up all night and check the smoker every 2 hours. It wasn't such a fun time when 4 AM rolled around.
For an additional ~$150, you can setup your Akorn to execute a more automated cook, keeping the temperature right where you want it. The unit is essentially a temperature sensor and a fan. The sensor goes inside the bbq with a wire leading to a computerized unit. That computer turns the fan on and off as necessary and helps you obtain the perfect temperature. BBQ Guru is famous for these devices. I didn't have a plug near my Akorn, so I opted for the battery powered unit:

I know $150 basically adds more than 50% to the cost of owning this kamado, but it's honestly worth it for me. I get way more use out of my unit because of the ease it provides.

For low and slow, you also need a pizza stone. I haven't tried the Char-Griller unit that goes with the Akorn. I ended up using a random williams-sonoma square stone I picked up for $15 on clearance and just cracked off the corners so it would fit.

As for charcoal, you need hardwood charcoal to use with kamado (not your standard charcoal). Chances are you won't be able to find high quality options locally.

I tried many different types and landed on this one from Amazon:
Apparently Argentina is the best source in the world for hardwood charcoal. This bag of charcoal was fantastic. Low and slow is done better with big chunks of charcoal, and this bag had some of the biggest chunks I'd ever seen.
UPDATE: This is my new favorite kind of charcoal:
Fogo FHWC35LB 35 Pound Hardwood Charcoal

Although kingsford and other brands cost about $1 per pound, hard wood charcoal is more like $4 per pound. That said, I get extreme mileage out of a 40 pound bag (you can reuse charcoal from one cook to another) and find the above bag to be of value.

You don't necessarily need this... but it makes life easier. Another helpful tool for low and slow cooks. Basically, you stick this inside your meat and it transmits the temperature wirelessly to another box you keep inside your house. The unit beeps if the bbq temperature goes below or above limits you set and the same for the meat (there are two temperature probes).

There are many different ways to get the fire going. This is the first thing I tried and it works well. You can pick these up for $3 per box on Amazon or locally. I typically use 1 cube if I'm doing a low and slow and more cubes if I want the fire to get hot, fast.

This is something ceramic cookers, like the big green egg, don't require. However, given the Akorn is made from rustable materials, the cover is probably a good idea.
King Griller Char Griller 6655 Kamado Kooker

As for downsides:
-On the inside of the unit there's a weird flaking substance that almost looks like paint. It could be grease, I'm not sure. I plan to email Char-Griller to find out what's going on
-The small handle on the top of mine busted off, which I also plan to email Char-Griller for replacement
-Some smoke does occasionally come out of the bottom of mine. That said, it really doesn't affect my cooks and might be related to my temperature controller
-Unrelated to the quality of the Akorn, I've now had two pretty bad grease fires in my unit. Both can be traced back to the fact that on the last cook I did 20+ pounds of pulled pork. I made the mistake of not using a proper drip pan (you really need something that basically is the same size or larger than your pizza stone). On the next cook, things went well until suddenly the entire grill was engulfed in flames. On the most recent grease fire, I had the unit open and the flames reached 12" above the grate, at which point I closed the unit. Then I made the mistake of opening it back up and POOF! The entire white smoke ignited and burned the hair off my arm. Luckily I closed everything up completely and the fire went out... although it took like 2 hours to get under 550 degrees from 600. Be careful!

I'll come back and post some photos, as well Char-Griller's response, soon.
UPDATE: Char-Griller replaced my damper and the shelves in my unit. They refused to replace the entire top. I was hopeful they would replace the top given the pain chips. I'm still pretty concerned about the paint chips... can't be good...
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on March 8, 2012
I had wanted an egg for a while but could never justify the cost. Even the "other" brands of ceramic cookers are well over $600. I bought the Char-Griller Kamado Kooker at my local supermarket for $300. So far I am extremely pleased. I got the newer model that is a dark green instead of red. The company seems to have fixed all the little issues that others have reported with these cookers. The top vent is now a thick cast aluminum with a black finish. It seems to be very well sealed and has no slop at all in it when you open or close it. It keeps its position perfectly when you open the lid to check on things. The bottom vent also seems to have been redesigned. When closed I can detect no leakage at all. There does seem to be a very slight gap between the material at the left end of the bottom vent and the side of the cooker but it doesn't appear to allow any air in. When I close both vents completely the fire goes out and the temperature comes down. I've had no trouble at all holding the temperature at 350 degrees to cook chicken or at 550 degrees to sear steaks. In both cases I adjusted the vents a couple of times as it approached the temp I wanted and then the cooker held them perfectly with no further changes.

Assembly of the cooker was extremely easy. It took me about 20 minutes. The hardware is all really solid and the directions are clear. I had no issues at all putting it together. Make sure you follow the instructions to season the cooking grate before cooking food on it. The grate comes with a light coating of machine oil to protect it. This must be washed off and the grate re-coated in vegetable oil then heated to 400 degrees.

I haven't done a long smoke yet but plan to do one this weekend. Since the company doesn't have their own accessories available yet I plan to follow the suggestion of another reviewer and get a pizza stone from Bed Bath and Beyond. This cooker is a terrific buy for those who don't want to spend $$$ to get an egg.
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on March 4, 2012
I just bought one of these few days ago after shopping around for a kamado a long time.
Reason why i bought it was my old weber needed replacement and my neighbor recommended me a kamado type grill.They have the advanage to keep the temperature better than gas and weber grills. This one was far cheaper than the famous bands therefore I decided to give it a try, paid 299 USD.Assembly was pretty easy, it took approx one hour plus one hour 'burn in time'. I made sure to tighten all the screws well, construction actually seems pretty sturdy . So far I cooked with it two times , here is my comments:

Price is very competitive, 299 USD vs 800+ USD for a 'famous brand' kamado .

Size, it is actually bigger than the competing "L size" kamados. Its 19 inch grid can fit three whole chickens easily.

Performance, seems to be good,for me it held low temperature 250F very well,I cooked ribs for 5 hours at 250F stable, impressing because it was cold,windy and rainy outside that day.I used hickory wood to smoke and saw no leaks in the construction.Controling temperature is very easy and the grill stays cool on the outside.After 5 hours of grillingi found it had used up surprisingly little coal!!
Note:I have not tried high temperature cooking yet,this bbq can be heated up to 700F to make pizza etc.

Construction, very impressive considering the price.It is made out of metal with ceramic interior, well insulated.This grill much lighter than he ceramic kamados.
I can recommend to buy few extras to set it up for smoking, I invested in a 17 inch weber grid plus a cast iron dripping pan , set me back additionally 30USD. The cover costs 24 USD.

I found the thermometer is not accurate, way off actually.. It shows 250F when actual temp was 280F. But it is not a big issue in practice.
This is a steel construction and it will probably not last forever,The more expensive ceramic kamados probably will last longer, if not forever.
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on August 28, 2013
I bought a red one of these at Menard's in Madison, WI in 2011. I wanted to try kamado-syle cooking, but wasn't ready to drop $900 on a Big Green Egg just yet.

Other reviewers are right about the 'initial quality' things - - assembly was easy. And, it does cook bbq very well -- holds a steady 225 temperature for several hours without adding charcoal. You can definitely get great-tasting bbq ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, etc. It's no contest between this and a gas grill.

Advantages to Big Green Egg: 1/4 the cost, slightly larger grilling surface, circular insert in grill grate makes adding lump easier, bottom pan makes ash clean up easier, much more portable (BGEs and other ceramic-lined grills require 2 people to lift), stand and several accessories included.

Equal to BGE: Cooking performance (as far as I could tell). Good looking (at least for the first year... see below on that important caveat).

Disadvantage to BGE: It falls apart very quickly. This is the 3rd summer I have had my Kooker, and it is practically dead. The paint is faded, the side tables are ready to crack off, and the bottom is rusted to the point of hardware coming off. The wire bracket that holds the ash pan has rusted and separated from the body. Now, I'll admit that I could have covered the grill more often and babied it more. But I did use a cover sometimes, and stored it in the garage all winter. I also polyurethaned the side table tops immediately. In contrast, BGE's have a lifetime warranty -- paint won't fade, construction is rock solid.

Design flaws include: interior paint that will not withstand high heat (despite claims on the box), poor quality exterior paint, think gauge metal prone to rust, and -- worst of all -- some peculiarity in the body shape that causes rain to get into it even when lid is latched and the top vent is completely closed. So this means that if is rains after you grill (remember, the grill is hot, so you can't put a cover on it), next morning you will find a bottom ash ash with an inch of water in it. This causes the bottom to begin rusting and flaking paint in just a few months.

For the price, these are good. They make great bbq. Hopefully the manufacturer will address the design issues. If you do buy one, do what you can to protect it. Keep it covered whenever not using -- sun will fade it (maybe black will fare better than red). Polyurethane the side tables yearly. Figure out how to prevent rain from getting into the bottom pan. Treat the rust promptly when it starts showing up. But if you want less worry and can afford the initial outlay (or can find one used), a BGE may be better in the long run.
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on April 10, 2013
Just to be sure. Based on some of the previous reviews, I was a little concerned that I had purchased something that would need a ton of work to get dialed in for both BBQ and for grilling. Let's start with the packaging.

Came in the factory box, and it seems that the company has listened to reviews- it was well packed and undamaged. There seemed to be plenty of protection to keep the metal from getting beat up. The only (little) issue I had was that the packaging for the screws had managed to work itself loose, so I did have to spend a bit of time digging out all the screws from the packaging and around in the dome.

Assembly: This was straightforward and the instructions were pretty good. Nice to see that they were clear and concise- easy to follow and it went together well. Maybe 45 minutes to get it all put together

Finished product: Looks great! I am so happy that I went this route instead of the BGE or other Kamado cooker- you really can't beat it for the price! One weird thing is the folding rack on the right side of the product doesn't go up quite the same way that the one on the left does- looks like it may not have had the boards put on quite right at the factory- can't tell by looking at it, but when you go to put the cover on, the right side doesn't go all the way against the grill. Minor though, really minor.

Usage: Some of the early reviews mentioned that you needed to do some sealing up on the unit as there was some poor finish on the seals. It looks like they really addressed this issue with the newer ones- mine has a perfect seal around the bottom, the gasket does great down there, and the vent (top and bottom) have a great seal as well. Helps it to really hold temps the way that it should! I really like the grate and the warming grate, and have used it probably a half dozen or so times in the last few weeks, low and slow as well as regular grilling- it performs exactly as you would expect a kamado to.

Based on some stuff about this grill, I did add a second charcoal grate on the bottom, turned 90 degrees to keep the smaller bits of charcoal in the fire area, cheap and works perfectly, and picked up a pizza stone (haven't used it yet) as well as a third grate to put a heat deflector on as well as to do high temp searing. You really can't go wrong with this little grill- better grate space,and WAY less than the competition- A+
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