Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Review

Editor rating

4.5/5 on July 13, 2018

User's rating

288 reviews

PROS

- Doubles as a Smoker.

- Solid Cast Iron Cooking Grates.

- Triple-walled Insulation for heat retention.

- Heats up quickly.

- Fast Assembly Time.

- Easy to Clean.

- Mimics expensive Clay and Ceramic Ovens.

CONS

- Flimsy Handles and Stand.

- Lid-mounted temperature gauge is inaccurate.

VERDICT

The Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill has exactly the same design and successes as the Original Akorn Kamado but also, its failures. The big things are taken care of. This Grill makes absolutely outstanding food that really does taste like it just came out of a Ceramic Oven costing thousands. It does it by insulating with thick Steel and new Ceramics made by Char-Griller. So mainly the design, but also the Grates are a good Cast Iron build. The Dampers and the design enable you to Smoke as well as Grill which adds a degree of variety here. Results in Smoking are great, but it’ll take time to learn.

For food, it’s up there with the best Weber Grills. Unfortunately, the Handles and Stand seem like a last-minute thing that they just threw on there. They look and feel flimsy. It could have done with Wheels and the size is half that of the original Kamado. Although it’s half the price too. Can you put up with the not so good Stand and Handles, for restaurant standard Ceramic Grilling? Can you put up with the size? If so you should buy it. If not then look for something else, perhaps the Original Kamado. It would at least give you the same taste but with much more room.

The unusual egg-shaped Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill may not look like your regular charcoal barbecue grill and smoker but it’s getting rave reviews from a lot of users. Kamado style cooking is a traditional cooking method that uses clay ovens to help retain heat. The charcoal-fueled Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker is designed and constructed to be lighter, more durable, easier to use, and more affordable than traditional ceramic Kamados. This barbecue grill and smoker can cook burgers, hotdogs, pork, steaks, chicken, pizza and other foods to perfection.

Video – Char-Griller AKORN JR. Kamado Grill and Smoker

 

 

Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Features

 

– 153 Square inch primary cooking area with cast iron grates.

– Insulated design means more heat uses less charcoal and less airflow means insulated heat for juicy meat.

– Easy dump ash pan for fast and simple cleanup.

– Body is constructed of 22 gauge Steel, exterior finish is powder coated Steel, interior finish is porcelain coated Steel.

– Precise temperature control with the dual damper controls and built in temperature gauge allows for accurate measurement.

 

Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Colors

 

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Red
Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Black

 

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker RedAkorn Jr Kamado Kooker Black

 

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Our Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Review

 

Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. And, this is definitely something Char-Griller believe in because their products occupy the entire spectrum of Grill designs. From Charcoal, to Gas, to Propane, to portable and all the way up to huge big chunks of backyard Metal. Yes, they’ve got them all. As well as offering variety, they also know how build on previous successful designs by providing cut-price but similar alternatives. This is where the Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill comes in. It’s a smaller version of their popular Akorn Kamado Grill, and it’s on the market price is around half the price of the original.

Video – New BBQ..Jr Akorn Kamado Kooker

 

 

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Performance

This unique, egg-shaped grill and smoker is inspired by the ancient Kamado style of cooking. The Kamado Kooker is fashioned out of heavy steel instead of the traditional clay oven or ceramic cooker. It is specially designed to be more long-lasting and convenient to use without sacrificing performance and affordability.

Foods cooked in the Kamado Kooker are juicier and tastier than those cooked on ordinary grills. It really does mimic the taste of Ceramic Oven and Clay Oven food. Given that these Ceramic Grills and Clay Grills cost thousands it’s one hell of an achievement. It does this by heat retention. Clay is a natural insulator so are Ceramics. But, while these materials assist in the creation of beautiful tasting food you’d find at restaurants, they are also a lot of money.

Char-Griller worked out that you can get the same heat retention from thick Triple-Wrapped Steel and their own brand of Ceramics they invented in a laboratory. So they were able to get the price down while still creating the most wonderfully succulent Clay Oven Pizza’s Kebabs and Steaks. The original Kamado does exactly the same thing so if you want one of these you’ll have to decide between space and price. The original costs double the price of this, but this only has half the space. Which is more important?

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Features

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Size/Design

One thing this has in common with the original Kamado is its rugged looks. Notice that I didn’t say ‘good looks’. These are not the most aesthetically pleasing Grills. But they’re not supposed to be either. They’re built to mimic the internal environment of hugely expensive restaurant Ceramic Clay Ovens, to produce foods like Pizza, Steaks, Ribs and Vegetables to the succulent amazing tasting standard that only Clay Ovens can achieve. So, you get a thick egg-shaped layer of Steel as the outward shell, making it look like one of those early NASA Spacecrafts.

On the inside it’s covered in cutting edge Ceramics Char-Griller invented for the Original Kamado. This is where they get the insulation from in place of Clay. The construction is fascinating and very impressive until you get to the smaller points. There’s no Wheels. They’ve provided a Stand and some Handles, so you can pick it up. We’re talking 38 pounds, so I think Wheels were needed. Also, the stand looks quite flimsy like it’s not going to last a long time. Because of this I’ve mixed emotions about the design. Great imitation of restaurant clay Ovens at a fraction of the price, but not very user friendly.

Video – Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Unboxing

 

 

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Assembly

It comes completely assembled apart from the Lid, the Handles and the Stand which you’ll have to screw in. But, this is a very simple job. One of the shortest assemblies on the market right now. Takes about 15 minutes.

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Quick and Even Cooking

The Kamado Kooker is designed to ensure even heating throughout the entire cooking surface. The fire comes from the lower part of the grill and heats up the entire grill body. The dome-like shape of the cooker allows uniform distribution of the heat, so you can grill foods evenly. Thanks to the cooker’s double insulation, you can maximize the temperature while using less fuel.

Video – Kamado Joe Jr Smoked short ribs rack.

 

 

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Temperature Control

This barbecue grill and smoker allows you to control the temperature. You can grill your foods at very high temperatures or barbecue them slowly at a low temperature. A built-in thermometer allows you to monitor the cooker’s temperature levels.

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Cooking Space

It comes in at half the price of the original Kamado and guess what; they split the size down the middle too. You get 153 Square Inches of primary cooking space which is exactly half of the 306 Square Inches on the original. People liked the original because it cooked great Clay Oven food, but they could have done with more room, so will a half the size model be popular? It’s kinda small especially as even in this price range you can get Grills upward of 200 Square Inches.

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Cast Iron Grates.

Superb and excellent at dispersing heat quickly around the cooking surface. These help with fast cooking times but the Kamado already had those with the insulation and heat retention provided by the Ceramics. The Cast Iron Grates here were put in more to help with the evenness of Grilling. Cast Iron is better than Steel at maintaining heat at an even temperature all the way along the cooking surface. So, you aren’t going to get well done Steaks on the outside and rare on the inside. Everything will be how you like it.

Video – Cleaning Kamado Acorn Jr Grill and Reseason Cast Iron Grate

 

 

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Dampers

They fitted Dampers to regulate the Air-Flow to enable Smoking and use of these will take a little time to learn. So, this is not something you’ll be Smoking with right off the bat. You need to put a bit of time in here to learn what works best on a low heat. The way I do it is this: For Smoked Steaks I set the Grill to between 200 and 230 degrees and then I close the top Damper and 3/4 close the bottom Damper. For Chicken, Burgers and things like Ribs I close both Dampers 3/4’s of the way. Experiment. Work out what works and what doesn’t. To get the terrific Smoked Clay Oven experience, take your time.

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Dampers

Is The Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker A Versatile Cooker?

The Kamado Kooker by Char-Griller is extremely versatile. It can be used for grilling, barbecuing and smoking. You can also use it to bake pizza as well as bread.
The cooker’s double insulation allows very high temperatures to be achieved. It is equipped with a damper or airflow control that can be precisely set to achieve the ideal temperature you need, whether it’s for smoking meats, grilling a steak, or baking a pizza.

Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Damper Adjustments

Conclusion

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 but don’t expect the Akorn to last forever. But if you’re curious about Kamados and have been waiting for the right time and price, this could be it.

$123.27
$159.00
27 new from $123.27
Amazon.com
Free shipping
$145.57
$149.00
1 new from $145.57
Amazon.com
Free shipping
Last updated on July 13, 2018 3:25 am

Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Customer Reviews

 

“This grill has had some mixed comments, so I wanted to weigh-in with hopefully an accurate and objective review. First, I love it. Grilling is in my DNA. My grandfather manufactured the first Hasty-Bake for Grant Hastings after WWII, so quality grilling is something I know about. Hasty-Bakes are a classic. This is my first venture into the Kamando arena, and I’m so glad I chose this one. I don’t need the large size, so the Jr. is perfect for a couple stakes, some chicken, couple pieces of fish, rack of lamb, etc. (for probably 1-3 people)

There are a lot of comments on putting the Akorn Jr. together. I’m the guy who will assemble something 180-degrees backwards every time. On this assembly, it took 30-minutes, and I didn’t have to un-do anything! Instructions were clear and accurate. I don’t doubt other’s experiences with mis-aligned parts – some have photos – but this one went together perfectly with just a large-size phillips. The handle is the only tricky part because of the configuration of the part as you can see in the photos, but I noodled around and found the holes on both sides with a little extra work compared to the other parts. I can’t say enough about the clarity and accuracy of the instructions. If you follow them, in about 30-minutes, you’ll be lighting a fire.

The comments about off-gassing are addressed in the instructions: 1-Hour at 400, and I found that to be accurate. Best to not be around the thing for that hour – you can really smell the chemicals burning off, but after an hour, it settles right down and after 90-minutes (up to 600), I was cooking chicken and steak with zero particle flavor whatsoever.

The color fading comments – well, that’s expected at 700-degrees! Yes, it fades to a slight burnt-orange hue (or maybe just less bright), but no big deal. It’s a very pretty unit and fun to cook on.

I saw a small Green Egg at a hardware store ($600), and noticed it is much heavier. I don’t know if Char-Griller engineered the Akorn Jr. to efficiency, or if there is a reason or advantage to the extra thickness and weight. I’m not going to pay $350 more to find out! This seems to hold heat just fine. When you lift the lid, you’re going to lose temperature, but that’s on any grill. That’s grilling technique.

I’m very happy with the purchase and will have many great meals from this unit. I did notice the stone is out of stock (June 2017) at the company, don’t know if that is a long-term thing or not. I ordered a 9″ stone from Amazon, which will suffice fine for my needs. Also, the cover for the Jr. doesn’t appear on the website, so either the garage or a good ol’ trash bag will have to suffice. I’m in Colorado so we get more drizzle than downpours, so I should be fine on protecting it. (Can’t wait to fire this thing up during a good snowstorm! That will be FUN :)” …. Read More

Kamado Style Grilling

“Just put this little guy through its paces and I absolutely love it. I’ve been cooking with a primo xl kamado for years and wanted something that I could take camping. It’s not perfect, but once it’s set it is really super.

I’ll give you the things to watch out for first:
1. The assembly was very easy with the exception of the handle, which was really pretty frustrating. Get someone else to help you hold it in place (it’s three separate pieces) while you tighten the screws and use a flat-head screwdriver instead of the recommended nut driver (there’s almost no space to get the nut driver on the head, and the angle that the hole in the handle base makes it nearly impossible to get any grip) and it’ll be a lot easier on you.

2. Burn through a load of charcoal before you cook with the unit, it puts off some pretty noxious smells the first time you heat it up.

3. Don’t expect it to look like you just bought it after you run it full blast. The paint on mine looks pretty faded/oxidized after bringing it up to 700 degrees a couple of times. Personally, I don’t care but I know some folks take tremendous pride in the aesthetics of their rigs.

4. There’s definitely a learning curve to using a kamado (any kamado, not just this one), so if you’re not experienced be prepared to do some experimenting and tweaking. It’s not at all the same as cooking with a “standard” charcoal grill.

Ok, the good:

1. It’s a kamado that you can haul around without worrying about the weight or breakage!!! It’s steel, not ceramic. For you experienced kamado users out there, you know what I mean. For new kamado users just trust me (my primo weighs 200 pounds unloaded)
2. Its easy to get it to 700 degrees rather easily. Pizza!!
3. I was disappointed that there didn’t seem to be one of the heat deflector ceramic stones, but there’s an available accessory sheet that comes in the box, and there’s a stone available evidently (I haven’t ordered it yet)
4. It cools down quickly. I don’t have any specific numbers but once you close off the vents it only takes an hour or two to completely shut down the coals and cool off
5. The 14′ grate is large enough to cook a decent amount of food
6. Because it’s enclosed, you don’t need to worry about the wind (we had 20mph sustained winds all weekend and it had no affect). This is a kamado advantage.
7. It seems surprisingly well built. I have to say I didn’t have super high expectations given the price but I am impressed with the engineering and apparent quality. I’ve only had it for a few days and cooked twice with it but I’ll be surprised if I have any issues.” …. Read More

Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Customer Reviews

 

Video – Full User Review (Char-Griller Akorn Jr.)

 

 

Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill Review Verdict

 

The Char-Griller Akorn Jr Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill has exactly the same design and successes as the Original Akorn Kamado but also, its failures. The big things are taken care of. This Grill makes absolutely outstanding food that really does taste like it just came out of a Ceramic Oven costing thousands. It does it by insulating with thick Steel and new Ceramics made by Char-Griller. So mainly the design, but also the Grates are a good Cast Iron build. The Dampers and the design enable you to Smoke as well as Grill which adds a degree of variety here. Results in Smoking are great, but it’ll take time to learn.

For food, it’s up there with the best Weber Grills. Unfortunately, the Handles and Stand seem like a last-minute thing that they just threw on there. They look and feel flimsy. It could have done with Wheels and the size is half that of the original Kamado. Although it’s half the price too. Can you put up with the not so good Stand and Handles, for restaurant standard Ceramic Grilling? Can you put up with the size? If so you should buy it. If not then look for something else, perhaps the Original Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill. It would at least give you the same taste but with much more room.

Video – Is The Akron Jr. Kamado Grill Better Than A Gas Grill For RV and Fisherman?

 

 

Video – Smoked BBQ Whole Chicken on Akorn Jr.

 

 

Video – Slow and Low Chuck Roast -Poor Mans Brisket on Akorn Jr

 

 

Video – The Most Delicious Oxtail ( Akorn jr )