Is a Kamado BBQ better than a Kettle BBQ?
Here are some counter arguments against the main recommendations I see for buying a kamado.
They use less charcoal.
In Ireland a generic branded Kamado such as the Bono or Luna costs about €900 for the equivalent of a €300 Weber Kettle in terms of grate size. That €600 saving would pay for approximately 300kgs of premium charcoal which would last me a couple of years at least. So, in terms of using less fuel even if they used no fuel, they would take 2 years to repay you. If they use half the fuel, it will take 4 years, etc.
There is very little research on the web that I can find to prove a Kamado is more efficient than a kettle BBQ. However, almost every article I read says it is – so maybe all that anecdotal evidence stacks up.
They cook food faster.
In terms of the food cooking quicker - food will cook at the same speed in any oven if all else is equal - so if it cooks faster in a Kamado that can only be an effect of higher temperatures. If you do hot and fast and want to go over 300c that could be an advantage - or for pizza etc. However, I don't see how something like pulled pork could be any faster in a kamado than a kettle.
They hold temperature better.
In terms of temperature control - I have a barrel BBQ and a large kettle. Both sit at whatever temp I want them at. The barrel will stay at 100c for 12 hours or more. The kettle not so much - it needs topping up every 4 hours (although the snake method could help with this). I rarely see anyone on BBQ advice forums struggling with temps on any BBQ other than a kamado - every day someone is asking how to bring the heat down on one.
Food tastes better from a kamado.
If you can cook better on a kamado (keep temp, control temp, etc) then your food will taste better, but there is nothing about a kamado that will intrinsically make your food taste better. If it is the same food, cooked over the same charcoal, at the same temp then it will taste the same. Maybe a kamado creates less smoke as it is more efficient so the food might taste less smoky? But charcoal creates little or no smoke/flavour anyway.
So should you buy one?
There is also the weight of a kamado to consider. They are huge, unwieldy, immobile, and made of a material that will break if it falls.
All of that is not to convince you not to buy one. I just feel there are an awful lot of people who have never used anything else who love telling others how great they are. They are great - but they are also just another BBQ that has a unique selling point of being way more efficient than a kettle. They also arguably are more suited to Irish and UK weather conditions - but I don't have enough experience cooking in the wind with one to say for sure.
One thing I will say for definite is that if you can't afford a kamado don't feel you are missing out. You are definitely not losing out on the BBQ experience by buying a Weber, a ProQ or even an Ugly Drum Smoker.