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People often migrate from gas cooking to charcoal cooking, in part, because of the taste. The flavor is what separates the two fuel types.
Kamado grills, in particular, provide an excellent cooking environment – which is why they have become so popular.
A kamado grill creates that consistent cooking environment and will allow the cook to prepare anything that you could normally prepare on a grill, smoker, or even an oven.
Since they use hardwood lump charcoal you have a much wider range of flavor and smoking possibilities than with almost any other type of grill. One of the leaders in the modern Kamado grill is Blaze – and specifically their 20″ Kamado grill.
We’ll take a closer look at Blaze’s Kamado grill and go over its strengths, limitations, and more!
What Makes the Blaze Kamado Unique?
Traditional kamado grills have a couple of defining characteristics. First is their distinct egg shape; second, the egg-shaped cooking chamber is typically made of ceramics. While extremely heavy, the ceramics do an undeniably good job of insulating the cooker and making it easy to dial in a precise temperature.
The Blaze Kamado has the traditional egg shape – that’s what makes it a kamado! Where Blaze’s product is unique in the material used to construct the cooker. It’s made out of rust-proof cast aluminum that is forged to stand the test of time.
Cast aluminum is also much lighter than ceramic – a comparable ceramic grill would weigh close to 300 pounds. The Blaze Cast Aluminum Kamado weighs only 161 pounds.
We’ll get into more of the reasons why Blaze chose to go the cast aluminum route below!
Blaze Kamado Grill Review
The Blaze Kamado is a unique kamado grill that brings all the benefits of traditional ceramic kamado grills, enhances them, and adds to them.
Whereas most kamado grills are ceramic, the Blaze Kamado is made from cast aluminum and is up to an inch-and-a-quarter thick in some places.
This all-aluminum design provides unmatched levels of robustness and durability to the amazing temperature and heat retention that Kamado grills are known for.
From The Top…
These grills are hefty, no question. So Blaze’s decision to pre-install a hinged lid with assisted lift. This makes the grill easy to open and close securely.
The 304 stainless hinge hardware means not only will it not bend or distort easily, but it won’t rust, so you can have it stored outside with confidence. If you live in an area where it rains or snows routinely throughout the year, knowing you won’t have to replace the hinge hardware on your grill can be a pleasant change of pace.
Since one of the main attractions of the Blaze Kamado is its ability to control the temperature to a very fine degree, that means you can’t have a lot of heat loss.
The tongue-and-groove fit of the lid and the cooking vessel ensures that there is minimal loss of heat or smoke and that the airflow inside is unaffected by the outside weather.
This lid fit also removes the need for a gasket, as you would see in a ceramic kamado. One less thing to worry about, and one less thing to have to spend money on in the future. Win-win.
One of the most common pain points with ceramic kamados is the exhaust cap – which controls your airflow and therefore temperature. It’s typically made of inferior plastics on a ceramic grill – but the exhaust cap on the Blaze Kamado is molded cast aluminum, so you won’t ever have to deal with the hassle of a faulty exhaust cap.
…To The Bottom…
The all-metal construction means the Blaze Kamado is non-porous, and thus will not absorb the flavors and tastes of anything you cook on the grill. Your grill will stay hotter, longer, and more of that wonderful smokey flavor will have time to cool and condense on the food, giving it the taste you are after.
Feel free to use any sort of ignition fluid, material, or device to start your coals, you do not have to worry about the unit absorbing any of that flavor into the housing or combustion chamber.
This all-metal design also means the grill is more robust and durable overall. Especially compared to modern ceramics, which are definitely far more advanced than their Asian counterparts from a thousand years ago, but are still delicate in many ways and prone to breaking under certain circumstances.
The silver finish and stainless accents really make the whole appearance look modern and sleek.
…And Everything In Between
With a 20” diameter cooking surface that consists of hex-shaped stainless steel grill grates that produce perfect sear marks and char lines, while aiding the heat retention even further. The cast molded exhaust cap allows the best way to regulate the heat, without the usual risk of falling and breaking.
This exhaust cap will give the user precise control over the internal temperature, though it does have a learning curve that will take a little practice to get really good at. But, like with anything, you only get better by using it more.
Beneath the main cooking grate, and nearly doubling your cooking area, there is an 18-inch multi-purpose grate that can be used for grilling as well. Being closer to the primary heat sources, it is a good place to put a final sear on the meat, or anything that may need a higher degree of heat than the top rack.
Additionally, it can hold liquid like broth or drippings used for additional moisture and flavor, or wet wood for additional smoke production. With both of these grates being stainless steel, cleanup is a breeze.
Even though the Blaze Kamado uses hardwood lump charcoal, there really is no way the cleanup could be any simpler. There is a full-width ash pan that just lifts out.
This is arguably one of the greatest improvements that the Blaze Kamado grill has over its ceramic competitors. The lift-out ash pan means there is no more scraping the ashes out manually. Since the interior is the same cast aluminum surface as the outside, dirt and debris simply have a hard time adhering to the aircraft-quality metal.
Cook Outside Year-Round
Not only is the inside easy to clean and low maintenance, but the outside is as well. It stands up to the wettest and coldest weather you can throw at it, and it will still let you cook in most of it!
The plenty thick cast aluminum construction retains heat just as well as ceramic kamado grills, and with the tight fit of the lid and vent, you can grill, roast, bake, and even smoke for more of the year than ever before. The heat retention and cooking ability of the Blaze Kamado won’t let a little snow rain on your parade.
Buy It For Life
While the price point of a Blaze Kamado certainly isn’t in the “impulse buy” category, you still want to make sure that you are getting a good value for your money. With the Blaze Kamado, there really is no better feature than the lifetime warranty.
Blaze backs their Kamado grills fully with a lifetime warranty from defects in workmanship or manufacturing, on every single part from the body to the hinges. Make sure you register within 30 days of purchase though, that is their one catch for covering your new Kamado grill.
What Is A Kamado Grill?
What we recognize currently as a “kamado” grill is actually a method of cooking that goes back thousands of years in Asia. The earliest examples are made of clay and date to older than 1,000BCE.
It revolves around a large jar-shaped vessel usually constructed from ceramic material and has a removable dome-shaped lid. The lid will contain a vent or damper of some sort to facilitate air movement. The word “kamado” is Japanese and translates roughly to “cooking stove”.
The kamado grill was introduced to the US, for all intents and purposes, following World War II. Members of the military had seen them used extensively overseas and had brought some back. Recently they have seen a surge of popularity as a result of the artisan barbecue and smoking communities.
Since they have such masterful control over the temperature, they can rival some of the most expensive digitally controlled electric smokers, and produce dishes that are like nothing else you have had from a grill.
The use of ceramics brings advantages like heat retention and airflow precision. Kamado grills will retain the heat for quite some time, allowing them to be used for much longer and lower temperature cooking, like smoking and baking.
They can be held at consistent temperatures starting around 200 degrees for as long as they have sufficient charcoal and air. Because of this precise airflow management and temperature control, kamado grills often find function as a wood-fired oven surrogate, being used to roast or bake just about anything from meats to bread, pizzas, and cakes.
How Are Kamado Grills Different From Other Grills?
The main differences can be summed up by saying that a kamado grill looks differently, feels differently, and most importantly, works differently than a conventional grill whether it is gas or charcoal.
First of all, and probably the most notable factor is their shape. They are not shaped like any other grill you have likely used in your life. They are generally shaped like a large ellipsoid, or egg, with the top being hinged or otherwise removable, to allow access to the interior. Inside they will have a round grill surface similar to the one you would see inside any other charcoal grill. There may or may not be other dividers or heat reflectors to assist with indirect cooking or smoking, depending on the options of the grill or dealer.
Another difference that is immediately noticeable, is the weight. They are quite dense and are frequently much heavier than expected. Small ones can clock in around a hundred pounds, while large ones may be in the 500-pound range.
Because of their size, they often come with or have available as an option, a stand or nest that will support the grill and allow it to be moved or repositioned. When looking at a larger grill, be sure you can either move it yourself or be able to get a stand for it.
Beyond the obvious appearance differences in appearance or weight, kamado grills will operate in a different way than your traditional charcoal grill. With a conventional charcoal grill, you need to buy conventional charcoal, which is less consistent and efficient than hardwood lump, and it does not last as long. The food is cooked over the burning coals, utilizing the direct heat from the coals as the cooking heat.
A kamado grill uses its thermal mass to absorb a large portion of the heat energy generated by the burning coal and radiates it back in a uniform fashion to the food.
To do this, a kamado grill needs large amounts of mass. In most models, this is why they are made from incredibly thick ceramic materials. The Blaze Kamado is actually made from a single piece of cast aluminum, so not only do you get the benefits of the radiant heat, you have less weight and no porous interior for odor or taste to cling to.
Since they have a vent at the bottom, and a vent to damper at the top, they are able to precisely control the air movement inside the cooking vessel. This allows for extremely consistent temperature regulation since the vessel itself helps buffer against sudden temperature changes by absorbing and releasing heat from its mass. Once they are preheated they can offer incredible temperature stability.
Final Thoughts On the Blaze Aluminum Kamado
It’s in our opinion their kamado is one of the highest performing grills on the market, regardless of shell material. While it’s expensive, we find that it’s a fair price for how good it is.