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Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer is why I never serve dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. Thermapen is the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using.

Click to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $269 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

Search Our Reviews and Ratings

Click Search to see all our Reviews and Ratings. Use the filters below to refine your search.

*Based on 4" raw burger with 1/2" space on all sides

Thermometers. The thermometer on your grill is lying to you.

Best BBQ accessories & gadgets. Tools and toys that make you a better outdoor cook.

Char-Griller Kamado Acorn Grill

By Max Good

Manufacturer: Char-Griller

Char-Griller makes some of the cheapest cookers on the planet. Almost all of their models are round, horizontal charcoal grills and smokers. They also offer an interesting charcoal and gas combo cooker and their best product: an inexpensive, insulated, steel Kamado cooker. Char-Griller epitomizes the old saying that you get what you pay for. Budget conscious buyers often can't pass up the Char-Griller price tag and many models are very popular. Hence they have wide distribution coast to coast in all the big box stores and online. Unfortunately, many novice cooks aspiring to slow smoke are drawn to Char-Griller's super cheap offset smokers. Offsets are already difficult to work with and Char-Griller's tin can, drafty construction has been a source of consternation for generations of first time smokers.

Char-Griller is a mysterious organization owned by the equally mysterious A&G Manufacturing. A&G makes woven wire grills and grillwork for industrial applications. Although we tried different phone listings for Char-Griller and A&G we always got the same "Executive Assistant" who refused to put us in touch with any person of authority in design, manufacturing or marketing.

Char-Griller Kamado Acorn Grill

The new Char-Griller Kamado Acorn Grill, like its predecessor the King-Griller Kamado Kooker, is a double wall, insulated  steel egg that is much lighter, in some ways more durable, and way less expensive than ceramic Kamados. Char-Griller is well known for grills that are cheap to make and cheap to buy. Until now, they gave us what we paid for. But this insulated steel egg design and Char-Griller's manufacturing process may be a match made in heaven. By replacing the heavy ceramic used for thousands of years with modern lightweight materials, Char-Griller appears to have created a cooker that performs pretty close to traditional Kamados at a fraction of the cost.

This steel design is not new. The Broil King Keg and Big Steel Keg, (formerly Bubba Keg), are basically higher quality versions of the Acorn. And Acorn is basically a lower priced version of their previous King-Griller. What makes Acorn remarkable is people are buying it for the low price, then discovering the thing actually performs very well. Some did side by side comparisons to top of the line ceramic cookers and felt the results were virtually identical. I was recently at a state BBQ competition and a couple teams had Acorns. Everyone made the same comments: they're lightweight, easy to move, you don't have to worry about dropping them, they're inexpensive and they work great.

The lid and body consist of approximately one inch thick insulation wrapped in steel. Outside is powder coated and inside is porcelain coated. Calibrated dampers are located at the top and bottom of the egg. The bottom damper is part of a removable ash pan. Both the lid and the ash pan are secured to the body with metal latches. Both have a single strip of flexible gasket on only one edge. Some complained these gaskets and dampers are poor quality and leak. It's easy to believe the gaskets are cheap just by looking at them. They aren't attached well either. I opened one model and found half the gasket dangling from the lid. Cooking at high temps of 700F and up can reportedly melt or degrade them. This is an example of how Char-Griller cuts costs. Surprisingly, there are few reports of air leaks. If you do have this problem, the gaskets can easily be replaced. The dampers appeared adequate upon cursory inspection.

An extra-crumby lid heat indicator is included. Get a digital thermometer and reduce your stress.

The three legged cart is sturdy enough with a bottom shelf, two large 8 inch wheels and one locking caster. It has two light weight side shelves with tool hooks. Inside is a 302 square inch cast iron grate with a round, removable center to add coal. Just like the Broil King Keg, it has a small chrome plated rack on a swivel post that can be popped into holes in the cast iron grates and used for warming or cooking. It swivels a few inches above the primary cooking surface.

A useful accessory is the "Smokin' Stone", which fits between the coal and grate to diffuse heat for slow cooks. Availability of this seems limited. One clever fellow claims a 16 inch pizza pan makes a pretty good diffuser if you can't get the Smokin' Stone. Also available are pizza stones, woks, drip pans, poultry and roaster racks, cover and a wireless remote thermometer that appears to be the Maverick ET 732.

Kamados are built to retain heat. The Kamado design works well for Char-Griller because they can effectively employ inexpensive steel and insulation to replace the dramatically more expensive ceramic. But remember: once they get hot, they stay hot and take some time to cool. This is great if you nailed the desired temp, but frustrating if you overshoot. So err on the cool side.

Char-Griller's quality is notorious. Don't expect the Acorn to last forever. But if you're curious about Kamados and have been waiting for the right time and price, this could be it.

The Black version with metal side tables is available at Lowe's.

The Red version with wood side tables is available at Menards.

Price: 

$399 Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), actual price may vary.

Primary Function: 

Egg or Kamado Style

Fuel: 

Charcoal

Primary Capacity: 

302 square inches ( about 14 burgers )

Manufacturer claims that all or practically all of this device is made in the USA

No

Review Method: 

Looked Closely At It

We have seen this product up close and we have also gathered info from the manufacturer,  owners, and other reliable sources.


Please read this before posting a comment or question

Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help. Then please post your question on the appropriate page. Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F! If you are not using a good digital thermometer we can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers, then buy a good digital, and then, if the problem persists, hit us with your questions.

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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, edited by Meathead.

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