Seize control of your summer grilling with Char-Broil’s Kamander

You might be tempted to call the Char-broil Kamander Grill a “poor man’s Big Green Egg,” but we think that would be doing the outdoor cooking appliance an injustice. We’ve been grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking on the Char-Broil Kamander for the better part of three months now, and we’re convinced it’s one of the most sensible Kamado-style grills you can buy.

For the uninitiated, modern Kamado grills are a derivation of ancient Asian wood or charcoal-fired clay cookery, and are typically made of ceramic material, though the use of insulated stainless steel is becoming popular as well. Everything about the grill’s design, from its egg-like shape, to the insulated material it is built from, is designed to retain and maintain heat while radiating it evenly throughout the vessel’s interior. As such, Kamado grills are versatile enough to act as a traditional grill for steaks, chicken, or burgers, or as an oven Hybrid and large-size Big Green Egg tip the scales at 188 and 162 lbs. respectively, the Char-Broil Kamander weighs a slightly more manageable 117 lbs. What’s more, if the Char-Broil Kamander were to be tipped over or otherwise hit the deck (hey, BBQs can get rowdy, right?) its stainless steel construction may suffers some scuffs, but it certainly isn’t going to chip, crack, or shatter as heavy ceramic grills might.

We’re convinced it’s one of the most sensible Kamado-style grills you can buy

All of the Kamander’s constituent parts are stout and resilient, right down to the all-metal storage platform at the bottom of the grill, which can handle a hot charcoal chimney or the grill’s removable grill surface section without melting. We are particularly fond of the Kamander’s air intake and exhaust systems, which precisely manage airflow thanks to numerically-coded dials, and are heavy enough to stay in place when set, yet move smoothly enough for easy dialing in.

We also want to call attention to the Kamander’s surface coating, which is capable of withstanding extreme heat without discoloring, and is well-steeled against rust. We operated this grill in the Pacific Northwest through the end of the rainy season, and feel confident the grill will hold up well for the long haul, which is more than we can say for many of the sub-$500 BBQs we’ve used over the years.

Top to bottom, the Kamander is a well-built grill that not only looks like a serious piece of culinary hardware, but feels like one too.

Features and Functions

The Kamander grill comes with a deep, high-volume, removable ash pan with handle, a drip pan with support ring, a porcelain-coated cast iron grill grates — one removable  for easy fuel addition — and an elevated, swing-away warming rack.

The exterior of the grill is armed with a lid-mounted temperature gauge, stout lid handle, storage rack,  two wheels on the rear for easy transport, and a pop-out side shelf.

The Char-broil Kamander comes with a one-year warranty.

Performance

After over three months of constant use, we are pleased to report the Kamander performs very well for grilling, roasting, baking and some low-and-slow BBQ cooking.

We were initially concerned that the 8.5-inch distance from the charcoal platform to the cooking grates might make high-temperature searing and grilling a challenge, but thanks to even heat radiation and plenty of room for a large volume of coals, we were able to achieve a gorgeous sear on steaks, chicken, chops, and vegetables with minimal effort.

The Kamander’s substantial vertical clearance above the cooking grates afforded us plenty of room to roast a whole chicken upright using a vertical roasting pan. The cook only took about 1.5 hours at 350-degrees Fahrenheit, and thanks to the grill’s excellent airflow management, a single chimney of coals would have lasted another 2.5 hours easily.

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Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

We had similarly positive results baking cornbread in a cast-iron pan and a fresh pizza on a baking stone. With airflow maxed out and the vessel sealed tight, we had no problem achieving a 550-degree baking temperature, which had the pizza ready in minutes, exhibiting a perfectly charred crust with uniformly melted cheese and crispy meat toppings.

Slow-smoked BBQ also came out excellent, though we must point out that the extended cooking times needed for cuts like beef brisket and pork shoulder proved challenging to achieve. While we were able to turn out stellar pork spareribs in about 3.5 hours at 220 degrees, future cooks revealed that fuel ran thin and the temperature began to drop after the four-hour mark, requiring the addition of charcoal and hardwood to sustain the additional time needed to cook our brisket and pork shoulder. Adding charcoal with the drip pan in place (which is necessary to carry out indirect cooking) was both a hassle and precarious. To do so, it is necessary to remove the food and hold it in aluminum foil, remove the hot grates, then remove an extremely hot drip pan full of popping fat before adding fuel. In the end, we found the process a bit daunting. It’s doable, but not advised. For longer cooking sessions, we would suggest one of Char-Broil’s other products, such as the company’s Smart Digital Electric Smoker.

Conclusion

The Char-broil Kamander is an outstanding Kamado-style grill made irresistible by its wide availability and shockingly low price. We continually find ourselves impressed by the Kamander’s build-quality, ease of use, and performance. For those interested in one of these remarkably versatile Kamado grills, we highly recommend Char-broil’s Kamander, and didn’t hesitate to add it to our list of the best outdoor grills you can buy