Only a few brands in the world have gained worldwide recognition for excellence in charcoal grilling and smoking. The Weber Kettle and the Kamado Joe are two such brands that have always butted heads regarding superiority.
Weber has been a household name since forever, and the brand is already synonymous with charcoal grilling. However, Kamado Joe represents a line of hybrid charcoal grills that occupy a league of their own because they represent charcoal grills and smokers who have enjoyed technical innovations simply unavailable in ordinary grills.
Which one of these is the ideal fit for your patio or backyard? We listened to pitmasters around the world, and here’s what we found out.
A Master Among Commoners
The Weber Kettle weighs roughly 33 pounds and is considered the cornerstone of the Weber family of charcoal grills. What does this mean? The Weber Kettle possesses the most robust suite of characteristics that make it an efficient charcoal grill, and you will find the same features in other Weber charcoal grills.
There will be variations in size and portability, but there will be similarities in how these grills are made. For the classic pitmaster, the Weber Kettle is an optimal choice because it improves upon what ordinary grills can’t – mainly space and how much fuel you can add to the grill at a time.
Something as significant as the Weber Kettle will be ideal for cooking larger batches of meat – and heavier pieces, too. One of the drawbacks of using non-domed charcoal grills is you won’t be able to retain heat properly. Open grills are notorious for wasting heat, too.
- Weber Kettle users are quick to point out that the common complaint against the Weber series (maintaining a consistently high internal temperature inside the dome) can be remedied by adding more fuel.
The additional charcoal might be something to consider if you are cooking large quantities of meat for commercial purposes. Still, many Weber fans think it’s a minor expense compared to how much you have to shell out for a Kamado grill.
The Kamado line is pricier because they offer additional features. However, for the most part, the Weber community seems to be largely unimpressed with the benefits and cost ratio of Kamado grills.
- The Weber Kettle has a bare-bones vibe to it, so users admit that they had to invest in additional gear and trays if they want to maximize the use of the Weber Kettle. This should come as no surprise as pitmasters are constantly trying to push the boundaries of what they can accomplish with their charcoal grills.
We think that this would also be the case no matter what the brand of the charcoal girl – pit masters will continue to upgrade and buy more gear simply because they need to do more and accomplish more during weekend barbecue runs.
- Many Weber users have been using the same line of charcoal grills for decades. One user stated that he has been cooking on Weber grills for forty years, averaging one new charcoal grill every ten years. From this ratio alone, it appears that Weber grills last a very long time, indeed.
From the context of value for money, a decade of use is indeed very desirable. In contrast, some Kamado grill users state that they replace their grills every three to five years, at least 50% less longevity than Weber grills.
The Ferrari of the Grilling World?
There are many Kamado products on the market, so don’t get confused. Kamado Joe refers to a line of charcoal grills (minus the smoker feature) that directly competes with the likes of the Weber Kettle series.
From the outset, you will notice immediately the big difference in how these charcoal grills are constructed. The Kamado Joe is a ceramic charcoal grill with a much deeper reservoir and a huge dome. Both sides of the charcoal grill contribute to how much food you can cook.
Ceramic charcoal grills are considered the Ferrari of the grilling world because of their appearance and features. The use of ceramic as the core material for the construction also means that these charcoal grills would have de facto higher heat retention rates than charcoal grills made purely of conventional metal parts.
- Actual users of Kamado Joe warn new users that it will be a different ballgame when they use a ceramic grill for the first time. Precisely because there is ceramic involved, the heating process is going to be different.
Ceramic heats more slowly than pure metal but retain heat better for the same reason. New users may have to adjust their cooking times because it will take longer to reach the peak temperature necessary for some roasts and grilling sessions.
There is also some feedback that it is more difficult to tend to the fire when using a deeper grill like the Kamado Joe. But, again, if you do not mind a slight learning curve, these minor quirks should not discourage you from trying out something new.
- New users who shifted from the classic Weber Kettle stated that they couldn’t be happier with their purchases, and they are fully aware that there are some severe trade-offs with constructing something with ceramic. Ceramic is essentially clay, and clay can’t match the longevity of iron or steel. However, that’s not why they bought Kamado grills in the first place. These people wanted to experience how it would be like to cook at higher temperatures without the more common dips that resulted from having a purely metal grill. The old-timers also said that regulating temperature on a Kamado grill isn’t exactly rocket science. With a bit of learning, it will be easy to master how to control the grill temperature.
- And finally, Kamado users remind people that they are buying a grill that requires a different approach to cooking. Therefore, you have to change your mindset about grilling a little if you want to maximize the advantages of using a ceramic grill.
The main picture is from Amazon – Kamado Joe