Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Charcoal cookers (such as Weber Kettles)
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12x7
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:32 pm

Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by 12x7 » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:30 pm

I've owned a KJ classic for awhile now and was looking for a second Kamado that I could move around so recently I bought an Akorn.

Here's a review comparing the two.

Assembly
The Kamado Joe is far easier to put together. You just push the legs/trollery together and put in a few screws then get a mate to help you lift the Kamado into the trolley. This can be done in about 10 minutes. A few minutes more you have put in the fire box, fire ring, fire grate and then put on the top damper. Finished in about 20 minutes.

The Akorn is quite a bit more fiddley to build the trolley and you screw it to the body etc. All up it takes about two hours to put together.

I noticed the bottom dampener slider is bit of a loose fit so like others have done I took it off and added some Nomex Kamado gasket tape to improve the seal.

KJ = 20 mins vs Akorn 120 mins

Cleaning the grill etc for first use
The KJ uses stainless steel grates and they are pretty easy to get ready. Just wash them in warm soapy water. This may take you 20 min.

The Akorn main grate is cast iron. Like all cast iron grates you should season and wash. So you need to wash, then hand dry and then season the grate with oil. All up this may take you an hour.

CharGriller then recommends you season the grate and Kamado to burn off any chemical residue from manufacture by heating the Kamado to 400F for an hour.

KJ= 20 min vs Akorn 120 min

So when you compare the time to get a KJ vs Akorn ready for the first cook the KJ wins by a long way of 40 min vs 240 min for the Akorn.

Cooking Area
The first thing you notice about a KJ vs the Akorn is the different way the cooking areas are set-up.

Comparing the main grill cooking area KJ = 254 sq” vs Akorn 302 sq” @20% more cooking space than KJ. If you add the griller extenders the KJ goes up to 406 sq” vs 422 sq” for the Akorn, about 4% larger. Where the KJ shines is if you fully deck out the KJ Divide and Conquer and the KJ cooking area goes up a massive 660 sq” which is nearly double the Akorn single grate of 302 sq” You can have many types of grates for the KJ vs the limited options for the Akorn. All this extra flexibility comes at a cost as the extra grates etc aren’t cheap. The Akorn larger main grate is more useful if you like to cook on a single level eg a large rack of ribs or a large piece of meat where more diameter is better than capacity in a vertical direction.

Akorn is better when comparing the space provided by the main grate and the KJ is better if you want more flexibility.

Ease of adding charcoal during the cook.
If you are doing direct both are about the same.

The KJ is easier if you have a defector as you can take out the whole grill and deflector assembly by grabbing the sides and lifting it out. With the Akorn you have to take out the grill, then the deflector. They both can be extremely hot and easy to drop and break or burn yourself.

Temperature control
Both are very good. Each has their quirks to make sure there is no air leakage. Eg make sure the dome aligned properly and is sitting properly on the lower base for the KJ and the Akorn the upper and lower dampers are sealed properly.

Typical for any KJ being ceramic you need to take it nice and slow to bring up the temps or you will crack the firebox and ring. No problem here with the Akorn being metal you can hit the high temps fast. I did notice a sticker in the Akorn saying porcelain interior withstands HIGH HEAT. I haven’t quite worked out which parts of the Akorn are porcelain, maybe they are talking about the smoking stone?

Both hold temperatures very well if you have no air leaks. Easy to do a low slow cook for 12 plus hours and frugal with the lump charcoal. This also means it takes both of them some time to cool down which is a plus or minus depending on what you are cooking.

Both Kamado exteriors can get hot to touch.

If you like to get to a fairly hot temp fast the Akorn is better. If you are cooking low and slow both are the same.

Moving the cooker
Being made of ceramic the KJ base weight is 86kg vs the Akorn 50kg so you have to be a lot more careful moving the KJ around compared to the Akorn. For the KJ if you have any cracks in the firebox and ring the vibration from moving can split them. For the Akorn the cast iron grate is the weakness. Don't drop or it will smash. If you like to move your Kamado around any metal Kamado is safer than a ceramic.

Build Quality
Both Kamados look good. The question is would you pay more for the KJ quality vs the Akorn?

Cooking Quality
Both cook great food from pulled pork to sizzling steaks.

Price
Akorn: For $499 you get the Kamado, trolley, grill extender, deflector, side tables and the cover.
KJ Classic: For @$1,700 you get the Kamado, trolley, grill extender, deflector, side tables and the cover.

Longevity
A bit unknown which will last longer? ie rusting away vs the other cracking and crumbling away

Weber OTG Kettle vs Akorn review
If you are a first time charcoal bbq'er and wondering which cooker to buy this review may help.
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=16218
Last edited by 12x7 on Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:37 am, edited 5 times in total.


Gumb

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by Gumb » Sun Sep 13, 2015 7:05 pm

Nice report. The only thing I'd add is that you don't need to spend $1700 for a good ceramic kamado with all the added goodies. Maybe for a KJ from BBQs Galore costs $1700 but Smoke King BBQs is $950 for the same thing.

12x7
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:32 pm

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by 12x7 » Sun Sep 13, 2015 7:43 pm

Gumb wrote:Nice report. The only thing I'd add is that you don't need to spend $1700 for a good ceramic kamado with all the added goodies. Maybe for a KJ from BBQs Galore costs $1700 but Smoke King BBQs is $950 for the same thing.
There's a few bands on pricing.

Metal Kamados - The now defunct BBQG Dragons and the Akorn which may go the same way around the $300-$500 mark, the Chinese import ceramics such as Smoke Kings and the no longer sold Bear Grills around the $1,000 mark and then the named brand ceramics such as Kamado Joe, Primo, Saffire starting around the $1,500 mark and then the sky's the limit ceramics.

It is a bit like cars, they all can drive you around town but people like a bit of variety eg Toyota, Mazada, BMW, Audi and Lamborghini and Ferrari.

I keep hoping we can still have all this variety in the range of Kamados we can buy.

Gumb

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by Gumb » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:06 pm

The only difference between a Smoke Kings and BBqs Galores kamado Joe is the mark up on price.

O2zi3
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by O2zi3 » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:55 pm

They are similar, not the same.

Classic Joe 18", Smokeking 21", big Joe 24"

I have a big joe which i got a good deal on. If i had my time again i would look very closely at the Smoke kings as they appear good value.

Further differences:

1. The heat deflectors on the Joes are the best i have seen because they fit so perfectly = very even temp (with only a 2cm gap or so around the edge). The non circular heat deflectors will have hot spots and cold spots.
2. the divide and conquer system is really good on the joes....i think everyone else is trying to copy it
3. The top grill is level with the opening on the joes...the smoke king 1s appear below the edge of the BBQ. This may not seem like a big deal (and it isnt really) but thats a PITA, making it a little less user friendly when using the entire grill surface. (i can slide things on and off easily, not so smokekings)....im only going by the pictures on the website

I guess the main advantage on the joes is that u can go and look and them easily, so u know what u are getting. I find it kinda annoying that everytime Kamado Joe is mentioned, someone pipes up that smokekings are the same and cheaper EVERYTIME

Gumb

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by Gumb » Thu Oct 29, 2015 6:30 pm

You will find that the Classic Joe (18") and the Smoke king are the same size. The difference is in whether you measure the grill (18") or the outside of the base (21"). So when someone asks for input on which is the better option, I'm going to tell them the Smoke King is by a mile because of all the extras you have to buy with a Joe but are included in the Smoke king.

Sorry if that annoys you.

O2zi3
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by O2zi3 » Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:55 pm

Whatever mate. You said they were the same and they are not. You constantly push 1 over the other when u own neither.

Gumb

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by Gumb » Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:04 pm

Mate, I have no axe to grind and to do a fair comparison, which you seem to think you have the right to do and not me, then by your logic, you would have to own both. But guess what, neither of us do. You asserted that one is larger than the other which is wrong, so that means you haven't seen the Smoke King and your assumption that one is better than the other is also invalid, by your logic.

I have the Chinese knock off, like the Smoke King and it's called a a Royal. It's a Saffire clone. About 30 people in here bought them when they were sold by Pinnacle Suppliers in Ballarat 2-3 years ago (check the thread about them). They have held up for 3 years and there have been no complaints from anyone in here who has one. I've seen the Joe and there is no difference except in price. If you want to pay a lot more charged by a large chain, go for it. I have no problem with your decision and that's your choice but I will keep advising people to support someone else who has taken a punt and imported a kamado which is equally as good and has lots of extras for a far cheaper price. Unless you work for BBQs Galore, I can't see why you'd be teed off about it.

O2zi3
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by O2zi3 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:37 pm

Not teed off. Just i feel u have/had an agenda that is not transparent. Whether its is true or not, i dunno. It seems to only come out when KJ is mentioned. U may not own a smokekings but i assume u have touched/used 1 for u to be so gushing about them. I personally wouldn't recommend anything unless i have had first hand experience, but thats just me.

i dont work or have any affiliation with BBQ galore, except i got my big joe from there for $1500....which i feel is/was a good deal, not comparable with many things on the market, as there are not many this big.

I may have been wrong about the size, but my other observations i feel are valid. I felt your advice, while with good intentions, is/was misleading....from experience with the product you are comparing to. I'll go again as they are not the same

- split circular heat deflector vs 1 piece non circular means i can cook indirectly and directly at the same time (reverse sear as an example) with even heat distribution if using the whole thing
- divide and conquer is brilliant (i think smoke kings were doing something similar as well as other manufacturers) = three levels of cooking is easy + the whole thing comes out as 1 unit
-top grill level with the BBQ opening (not below it)
-firebox divider which helps with my first point

I dont want to promote KJ over smoke kings......i just want people to make their own choice, based on some facts. Im not sure the things i mentioned are worth the price premium TBH, but the way u post...they dont even exist. That is my beef (of the non bbq variety)

Groovy Gorilla
Posts: 371
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:56 am

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by Groovy Gorilla » Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:52 pm

For me living near the ocean its always about the rust
Image
chilling while grilling

O2zi3
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by O2zi3 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 5:52 pm

Groovy Gorilla wrote:For me living near the ocean its always about the rust
this is a good point... im about 1km for the ocean. I havent noticed any rust on my KJ yet, my webber has died (the grill bits anyway) and my gasser too is dead from rust.

my KJ grates live on the fence (not in the bbq) exposed to everything...its really good quality stainless ( american made which is heaps better than anything made in this region, from my experience with my tools)

The concern would lie with the hinge mechanism...mine appears ok atm (touch wood) but if theres a corner to be cut it would be the quality of the hinge imo

12x7
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:32 pm

Re: Akorn vs Kamado Joe Classic review

Post by 12x7 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 12:18 am

O2zi3 wrote:
The concern would lie with the hinge mechanism...mine appears ok atm (touch wood) but if theres a corner to be cut it would be the quality of the hinge imo
It may sound counterproductive but don't clean the outside of the Kamado and leave the thin grease splatter that can get on it.

I use a cover to keep the weather off my KJ but the outside is getting a bit dirty but it seems to keep things from rusting.

The hinges are powder coated galvanised iron and the stand /trolley is powdered coated cast iron.

I think run a rust perspective the weakest link for a KJ is if you chip the power coat on the trolley and you don't put some grease or something on it and rust gets in. But mind you it is not terminal as you can buy another trolley or get some sand paper and sand off the rust and repaint.


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