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Help! Need some advice on a new grill!

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    Help! Need some advice on a new grill!


    I'm looking for some advice and your opinions on possibly upgrading my pellet grill. I currently own a Louisiana CS-420 grill with an upgraded DigiQueII thermostat with meat probe. I've used it to smoke a number things (wings, salmon, brisket, pork butt ribs and bacon) and all have turned out quite well but this was my first smoker and I think there is some room for improvement with my grill.

    There are a couple of reasons I am thinking of upgrading:

    1. I live in Toronto, Canada and I find the electronics and general operation of my unit a tad finicky AND the grill goes through a lot of pellets during our winter months.

    2. Last summer a friend of mine had us over for some pork butt which he smoked on his BGE which tasted amazing - very moist and great smokey flavour! So I went out and purchased a 12" a-maze-n-tube-smoker - which I ALWAYS use no matter what I am smoking - and still can't get the same flavour as in my friend's BGE.

    3. Although it can get to +500F I do not use it as a grill and there is no added flavour when grilling (virtually no smoke). My wife would love to make pizzas on a grill!

    However, I do like the ease of use of my CS-420 with my upgraded digital control board + meat probe...

    I've read a lot of positive reviews on the Prmo XL and am hoping to score a used one in my area or get a good deal on a floor model. My main reason is it's thick ceramic wall which will be most beneficial when I use it in the winter. I also like the idea of getting more smoke flavour in my foods and using it to grill steaks and pizzas.

    My question/concern is does a kamado grill have the same ease of use as my pellet grill in terms of temp control? What's the lowest temp and how difficult is it to keep a low temp?

    Also, does anyone recommend getting an automatic temp control such as a IQ120 kit or a Rock's Bar-B-Que?


    * grabs some popcorn and burnt ends, waits for responses *

    I am thinking along these same lines... have a pellet grill, love the convenience but looking for more


      I have heard great things about the BBQ guru, I am going to order one right away to test out. I grill low tech on a Weber one touch and the constant fiddling with the temp always annoys me. I live in Calgary, so I completely understand the issues with the cold weather. Hopefully the BBQ guru works like it is supposed to (all reviews I have read have been very positive). The Party Q is another option for this.


        While there are more accomplished kamado cooks here than I,and, as I just got my Akorn a couple weeks ago, I can recommend them highly from a newbie point of view. If we weren't starting a house this spring, I would get a Primo. However, since money is tight, and not knowing if I would like kamado cooking, I got the Akorn.

        As far as temp control is concerned, the temp is pretty easy to control via the vents. I did 2 test burns to play with temps and the techniques needed to reach and maintain the temp I wanted. At -10F, I had zero issues maintaining my temps. Just start closing down the vents about 100 degrees from your target temp. There are many you tube videos that can help. As most of the kamados are similar in concept, the basic techniques are applicable to all.

        I can keep a steady temp of 225 for hours and hours on just a half load of charcoal. This is with the ambient air temps at 0 to -12F. The same holds true for baking temps of 350-400(bread).

        Having never used a pellet grill, I can't vouch for their ease of use. However, I CAN vouch for the kamado's ease of use. They are easy to use. Once I reach the temp, its pretty much set and forget.

        For searing, these bad boys get HOT. They sear as well or better than the char broiler I use at work.

        As far as auto temp controls are concerned, I haven't used one. My kamado is easy enough to use without the added expense.


          The Blue Goose... I have a large BGE. I've owned it for 4 years now. Meathead says a Primo XL is superior to the round shape of the BGE. His claim is that you can do 2-zone cooking on the oval shape better. There are many reasons to make a ceramic cooking device part of your outdoor cooking options. 1) at the end of your long term ownership of a ceramic grill, smoker, pizza oven, bread oven and wok it will be the least expensive item you can buy. Most inexpensive grills those around $600 or less need to be replaced every 3 or 5 years. The same is true of inexpensive smokers. The majority of people that bought BGE's when they first hit the market still own them. You rarely see many ceramic cookers for sale used. If you divide your owner ship over 15 or 20 years it is dirt cheap. 2) you will lots of money by burning ALOT less coal, brickettes or pellets. When I do a low and slow cook I fill the fire box to the very top. I'm guessing maybe 5 or 6 pounds of lump coal. Big chunks at the bottom, then a couple of layers of medium chucks, then I fill to the brim with small chunks. I recently smoked 2-8.5lb butts and it was an 18 hour cook. Once I closed the dome I never had to open it until my Maverick said it was within 10 degrees of my desired temp. I never had to add lump and when the cook was done I still had about 20% of my lump that was not burned. I used that on my next cook. 3) from what I've heard... Ceramic's are the thing to have to cook in real cold climates. They retain the heat much better in cold or wet weather. 4) your wife wants to make pizza. An outdoor ceramic is by far superior than you kitchen oven for cooking pizza. Most Pizzaria's cook pizza at 650 to 800 degrees. You kitchen oven can not get passed 550 degrees. It takes me about 4 or 5 minutes to cook a pizza on my BGE at about 700 to 750 degrees. 5) baking bread in a ceramic cooker is easier and better than cooking it in your kitchen oven. You kitchen oven temp controlled will average your desired cooking temp. It will get 10 degrees hotter than you set the dial at then shut off until gets 10 degrees below that temp and then turn back on. So you have a 20 degrees heat variance. In a ceramic after you learn to control the temp well, you have no more than about a 3 to 5 degrees variance for a half hour cook. 6) temp control and ease of use... I've never owned or used a pellet smoker. However I hear they are very easy to set them up and walk away with your Maverick 733 monitor in hand. Controlling the BGE at 200 to 325 degrees is a piece of cake once you get the hang of it. I feel comfortable going to bed for 8 hours during and overnight low and slow cook. 7) cooking Chinese food in your kitchen sucks because you can't get a wok hot enough on your stove. Chinese restaurants get their wok's to 800 degrees. That is an easy task on a ceramic grill. 8) temp control devices for ceramic cookers... I've never felt the need for one. Many Eggheads swear by them but I feel very confident I know my egg well enough that I don't need one. My Maverick 733 tells me when the cooking temp is too low or too high. However Max recently got me interested in the BBQ Dragon that us basically a blower to increase your heat RAPIDLY. I'm going to add that to my BGE tool chest. So the story is... They are fairly expensive to buy if you just look at then as just a grill or a smoker. But after you amortize that cost over long period of time and factor in the savings of not burning as much coal, brickettes and pellets... They are a very inexpensive cooking device.


          • Breadhead
            Breadhead commented
            Editing a comment
            Strat50... I look forward to helping you when you get a ceramic. They are like any other cooking devices there is a learning curve. When you get one fire that baby up and don't cook anything. Spend a few days learning how to control your temps. Start at 200 degrees and when you can keep it there for 3 hours move it to 225 and progress on up. Keep notes about where you had your top and bottom vest at each temp. I control my temps most at the bottom vent. If you are moving both vents around you will not be able to repeat it as consistently. Being a real Chef I'm sure you will you love having a ceramic as one of your outdoor cooking devices. Feel free to ask me anything about a ceramic cooker.

          • Strat50
            Strat50 commented
            Editing a comment
            I did two test fires last week . Both lasted about a half day. I ran every temp and combination of temps my diseased chef's mind could come up with, as per your earlier answer a couple weeks back. I'd fire, hold, extinguish, and repeat till I had a feel. Tonight, a simple tri-tip fajitas. Tomorrow will be a low and slow combination pork and pastrami cook. Should be fun.

          • The Blue Goose
            The Blue Goose commented
            Editing a comment
            Wartface, thank you for your reply. You make some very good arguments for spending the money on a kamado grill. I like the idea of keeping my next grill for a very, very long time and also the versatility it offers. I am leaning towards a Primo oval just because they do have the ability to do a 2-zone cook and I could theoretically use half the grill for small meals...

          Huskee... Help!


            Hey Blue Goose, welcome to the pit!

            I'd have to agree with those that have commented so far. A kamado is generally easy to set once you get the hang of it. Like most cookers the more you use it the more familiar you will be with it. I've had my BGE for about a year now and I've used it over the winter. I did a brisket last weekend at -24C with a wind chill of -34C and it worked perfectly. It tends to use more coal than in warmer outside temps but not so much that I'd run out after 8hrs. The only thing you need to watch when doing a low and slow when it's really cold is that they have so much humidity inside the cooker that the water will condense and freeze up the bottom vent after you snuff out the fire. Many times I've had to thaw the vent with a torch and once I had to light the left over coal from the bottom because the lid was also froze. I have a BBQ Guru and probably use it about 50% of the time. Like others have said it's not needed but since I have it I use it for long cooks .. just an added security I guess. I don't have a pellet grill but I don't think a kamado will be a set it and forget it cooker like a pellet cooker you just dial in the temp and let it go. With the Guru though, it's close.

            You really can't go wrong with any of the kamado's .. let us know which you go for!
            Last edited by cdd315; February 4, 2015, 09:29 PM. Reason: Spelling


              I just finished a simple cook for beef Fajitas on my Akorn(yeah, I know..lol). I used a tri-tip with just salt and pepper for a rub. It was sublime. So was the bell pepper I roasted for the Fajitas tacos I would make from some of the meat. The outside temp was -4F, and the cook was easy and flawless. Fresh avocado, cilantro, the previously roasted peppers, and the meat made SUBLIME tacos! A squeeze of lime, and a dash of chipoltle tabasco completed a simple, but tasty cook.


                I don't do long cooks on my Akorn anymore but I use it all of the time to roast veggies and side dishes while I'm cooking on one of my other grills.



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