Char-Griller Kamado Acorn Grill
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.
$399 Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), actual price may vary.
Where To Buy (Buying from these suppliers supports this website):
Egg or Kamado Style
302 square inches ( about 14 burgers )
Manufacturer claims that all or practically all of this device is made in the USA
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.
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