Smokin' and Grillin' with the Akorn Kamado Style Grill

Smoking a rack of ribs for Sunday dinner.
I've been planning to write a review of our Akorn grill for a year now.  Finally, I'm getting around to that task.  However, the timing of this post is just right. As Labor Day approaches, grill prices will drop to a seasonal low as stores make room for fall and winter items - most specifically Christmas.  (Don't get me started!)  But, if you are thinking about a new grill, this post is for you!  And, if you are curious about the hype with these charcoal egg-shaped grills, keep reading.

We purchased our Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker from Walmart.  It was the display model.  Knowing it was the end of the season, I walked up to the counter and made an offer.  A manager accepted, and we scored a great grill at half price!  Don't be afraid to do this.  All they can do is say no.

The Akorn Grill has a nice temperature gauge on the front of the grill.
Keep an eye out at grocery stores like Kroger or any big box stores as they close out grills this summer.  Our kamado style cooker from Chargriller is a fraction of the cost of other competitors.  Just before our purchase, I heard a camping and grilling enthusiast Casita Dean recommend this grill on the RVFTA podcast.  One year later, we are still just as happy with this cooker.  But what makes this grill stand out?

First, it is well made, and Chargriller offers excellent customer service.  We did have one small issue with our cooker the first time we used it.  The lid disconnected from the base because there was something wrong with the screws.  Chargriller honored their warranty and sent a replacement lid that we attached, and it has worked perfectly ever since!  It was a simple process with no hassles.

You will need to use lump charcoal instead of charcoal briquettes.  Lump charcoal lights more quickly and will burn hotter.  It is natural and easier to control the temperature.  Charcoal briquettes won't yield the same results. Lump charcoal is made for this type of cooking.  Save your briquettes for Dutch Oven cooking where they work perfectly.

Make sure your charcoal says 'lump charcoal'.
Avoid lighter fluid.  It will affect the taste of your food.  If you are going to spend the time and effort to grill with charcoal, don't taint your food with chemicals.  Trust me on this.  The contrast in food cooked with lighter fluid dowsed charcoal versus natural lump charcoal is amazing.  You will be able to tell it the first time you grill!  

I've had fine success lighting my coals with newspaper.  Lots of grillers recommend using Electric Fire and Charcoal Starters.  This is going on our Christmas wish list because it would make starting the coals much easier.  Another helpful tool is a  Weber Rapid Fire Chimney Starter.  We have one of these that we use when camping, and it is a huge help.  However, you can mound up your charcoal and do just fine.  So, don't feel the need to run out and buy every gadget known to man.  Keep it simple!

The best part about this cooker is its versatility.  You can use this cooker to both grill and smoke.  We have had great success grilling steaks, burgers, a whole turkey for a Thanksgiving meal along with smoking ribs.  During the upcoming football season, I'm sure our grill will be in high rotation for smoking meats for tailgating.

Grilling a turkey for a Thanksgiving meal.

Green bean bundles on the grill.
Kamado style cookers have the ability to cook at very high temperatures.  You control the heat with the dampers located at the bottom of the grill.  To smoke meats, you will keep the dampers almost entirely closed to keep the temperature low and slow.

The damper is easy to control on the bottom of the grill by sliding it open or closed.
To grill steaks and other items, open the dampers more.  The more open the dampers are, the higher the heat.  You will get a superior cooking experience with practice because of the ability to control the coals inside of the cooker.  This cooker will make you feel like a professional serving steakhouse quality steaks and real smokehouse meats.

So, how can you go from grilling to smoking?  Chargriller has a Smokin' Stone that can be added to your grill.  It is like a large pizza stone that fits into the grill between the cooking grates and coals.  It controls the heat low and slow smoking temperatures.  You can mix in wood pellets or chips with your charcoal to add smoke flavor into the cooking process.

The smoking stone fits right into the grill over the coals.
If you are smoking, I do recommend the BBQube Heat Deflector/Drip Pan .  It will catch the drippings from the meats you are smoking.  I think it is a good idea to protect your stone because it can actually be used to grill pizzas and do other cooking inside of your grill.  My instructions even say you can make cookies on the stone!  I haven't tried it but am up for the challenge!

Other pros to this cooker are that it is on wheels and easily rolls in and out of the space on our deck for cooking.  It is small and would work well for smaller spaces. Plus, it really is a two for one product.  You get a grill and smoker out of one piece of equipment.  Whatever you do, purchase a cover to protect your investment.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a new grill, now is the time to do it. Get out there and bargain shop at the end of the season.  And if you are thinking that you would love this for camping, they do a make a Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill.  It is much smaller in size, and I see these at the campground often!

Don't forget the cover!
We have owned 2 really nice propane grills in our 20 years of marriage, and this is probably the best grill we have owned.  We both really enjoy grilling a lot more than we did with our last propane grill.  I think the biggest change is the charcoal and the actual cooking results.  The flavor and food quality are superior every time we cook.

If you have a Kamado style cooker, I'd love to hear what you think about these types of cookers and your experiences.  Feel free to share a favorite grilling recipe.  And if you score a great bargain on an end of the season sale, I'd love to hear about that too!

Until next time, happy grilling and...

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