Looking for tip - Char-Griller Akorn Kamado

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by dburne, May 21, 2016.

  1. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Hey gang,

    So I recently became disabled and retired a few years sooner than planned, the wife and I have moved and downsized. My Oklahoma Joe was just too bulky for our new home, so I have sadly gotten rid of it and recently picked up a Char-Griller Akorn Kamado grill and smoker.

    Coming from an offset smoker, this concept is very new to me. I will probably start just using it to grill burger and steaks, but soon would like to get back  into smoking meats again, mainly butt and ribs.

    So I am looking for any tips here, as I am not clear on how to proceed with this thing to do some low temp smoking.

    First I see there are some accessories I might want to get, like the stone smoking plate and drip pan, and maybe the rack to put the meats on?

    The directions show for low temp smoking to put about a lb of lump charcoal with some soaked wood  in and light it from the top, and control the temps with the dampers. But seems to me a lb of charcoal is not going to last for a 5+ hour smoking process? I know with my previous offset smoker I could go through 10+ lbs of charcoal easily on longer smokes. I know this unit is insulated and am sure that helps, but I can see me having to take the meat and rack off to replenish the charcoal during the smoke?

    I realize this unit I have is probably not ideal for smoking meats, but it is what I have for now and I would love to get back into smoking some good ribs and boston butts.

    Any tips would sure be greatly appreciated!
  2. The Akorn is very efficient and doesn't use much charcoal. I recommend using lump charcoal in your Akorn. Just fill up the firebox for your cook, it doesn't go to waste, you just add a little more for the next cook. It is very easy to get one up to temp but it is very difficult to lower the temp, if you overshoot your goal. For low a slow, I recommend jut starting a small spot, one lighter stick, in the middle of the charcoal pile. Leave the lid open for about 5 minutes, to get it started good, then close the lid with both vents wide open. When you get about 50° from your target temp shut the top and bottom vents almost completely, only about 1/8th inch open. Let the temp stabilize and then adjust with only the top vent, for your desired temp.

    The hardest thing to do with an Akorn is to not chase the temps. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the grill to stabilize after a vent change.There are several good videos on YouTube about cooking with the Akorn and this forum http://www.kamadoguru.com/ offers a wealth on knowledge about Kamado and Akorn cooking. Good luck and you will really enjoy your Akorn, once you get used to it. I have had one for almost 4 years now.
  3. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Thanks so much for the tips!
    Just to clarify when I fill it up with the lump charcoal does it actually rest on the edges against the bucket or do I need to just build a pile in middle on top of charcoal grate?

    Last edited: May 22, 2016
  4. Yes, don't worry about it touching the side of the firebox. Do you have the diffuser plate for it?  This, or something similar, is a must for doing low and slow. I fill mine up to just below the tabs for the Stone, if I am doing low and slow, I want a gap between the fire and the stone. If I am doing direct grilling I don't worry about the level. The main grill is so far from the fire it doesn't really matter.

    I actually have some grills that sit right on the fire ring, to get as close to the fire as possible, for doing high temp searing, That is the setup I use for doing reverse sear steak and searing my Sous Vide cooks.
  5. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Yes I have that smoking stone on order should have it in next few days.

    Thanks so much for the tips that really helps me out! I also have the rib rack coming too.
  6. Hey dburne,

    We'll learn together, I just got one a few days ago. Have only cooked burgers so far but have run it empty trying to get the feel for it. I'm pretty amazed by how miserly the Akorn is using charcoal. Yesterday I ran it 11 hours including the burger cook for a few minutes @ 450, this morning when I dumped the ash pan, I bet I could have carried 11 hours of ash in both hands. Look for the video on lighting it with an alcohol soaked cotton ball, another thing I was amazed by. First time I lit it with about a dozen lumps from a chimney and quickly saw that was way too much unless one wants grilling temps fast. Yesterday was a test to see how it ran on the ATC, fairly pleased. You can see on this graph that after I ran it up for the burgers it took around 2 hours to cool back down. Lesson there is get control early on the way up and not let it go over where you want to cook. https://myflameboss.com/cooks/23759

    Another thing I'm seeing so far is that it is generally acceptable to use the top vent as a control mechanism on this type of cooker.

    Good luck and please share your experiences with it.
  7. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Sounds good thanks damascusmaker!

    Yes I have cooked burgers and brats so far but really looking forward to doing a smoke with it soon. My smokin stone and rib rack should be here soon.

  8. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I am a relatively new Akorn user myself and I agree with all the advice above.   Be patient with the start up.  Like mentioned above you shut both vents almost completely when you are at about half way to your target smoking temp.  Then you just have to wait it out until it settles in where you want it.   Just the slightest vent adjustment can make a huge difference but you have to be patient because that adjustment can take 15-20 minutes sometimes to take affect.  But once you are locked in, the thing is a rock and the efficiency of charcoal use is incredible.
  9. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Thanks so much guys. I have been watching some of the videos on youtube, and am amazed how long one can smoke on not a heck of a lot of lump charcoal with some hickory blocks thrown in.

    Really looking forward to my first smoke on this thing!

    It has been too long since I last smoked some meat.

    My smoking stone is scheduled to arrive later today, I may have to try some ribs here before many more days pass.
  10. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Question for you guys, how many racks of spare ribs should I be able to fit on this Akorn?

    I am thinking 2 may be about all I will get on there, perhaps 3 if I push it utilizing the top rack that sits above the grate  as well?
  11. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    It depends if they are whole spares or trimmed down to St. Louis style.  You can do two probably on the grate and put one up on the top rack.  just beware that the top rack may be a little hotter so the might cook a little faster  You can also use a rib rack if you want to jam a bunch of them in there.
  12. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Thanks so much for the info! I have the rib rack on order for it but it won't be here until early June I think. Good to know I can get more on it.

    Thanks ,
  13. I only do Baby Back ribs and I have done 3 racks easily, without a rib rack, on mine. The most I have ever done is 6 racks, with a rib rack and using the swing out grate. That was alot of ribs and I wasn't really happy with the way all of them came out. I think 3 racks is about optimum for the Akorn.
  14. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Thanks so much, I think for us three racks will be plenty - might have an occasion to do 4 but will also have the rib rack for those times,
  15. Pizza on the new Akorn. Un-cooked from a local joint. 400 to start, 500 and done 8 minutes later. Onboard thermometer temps, I know from previous testing the grill level is much hotter.

    Maybe the best pizza I ever had! Great smoky taste.

    Learned to make sure grill is level next time. Several chunks of wood at the hot spot of the fire.

    Preheating the CI pizza pan.

    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  16. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Sweet that pizza looks great!
    I will have to put that on my list to try.
    I have received my smokin stone and rib rack. Should be trying my first smoke on the Akorm here very soon.
  17. comosmoker

    comosmoker Smoke Blower

    Hello all!  Didn't see this thread until this morning.  I love my Akorn, but every cook/smoke is a new learning experience.  I learn something new every time if fire it up.  I have also learned that patience is a virtue.  I also have an offset smoker (Brinkman Trailmaster) which was my first smoker.  What I love about the Akorn is that, after curing, it needed zero modifications.  Well, a couple strips of foil on the latches to tighten it up during the smoke.  And, I know I will need to replace the seals at some point.  But, beyond that, the Akorn is by far much easier to use and way easier to control the temps.  My lump charcoal use has been cut in half.  It is a very efficient grill.  Not saying that everything I have cooked has turned out perfect.  I did some chicken wings a couple weekends ago and I over cooked them....badly!  Like I said, every cook is a new learning experience.  At times, I still get too much charcoal lit, the grill gets too hot, too quick and it is very difficult to get temps back down after you overshoot.  I have only cooked low and slow on it and I am really looking forward to grilling on it very soon.  

    Nice looking pizza pie there, damascusmaker!!  Can't wait to do one of my own!!
  18. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Nice thanks for the tip using foil on the latches. I thought it had a little slack there. Been having fun grilling steaks chops and burgers on it so far and playing with the dampers.

    Looking forward to my first smoke. Only have to decide between couple butts or ribs for my first attempt.
  19. CoMo did you see the video on youtube about how to lower temps? I've been lucky so far and got control on the way up. Really like the cotton ball lighting trick.

    "How To Quickly Reduce Temperature In An Overheated Kamado"

  20. comosmoker

    comosmoker Smoke Blower

    Didn't mean to leave you hanging there damascusmaker!!  I did see a few videos on  how to reduce the temps.  I have since been using an all natural stick starter to light the coals.  It works great and I don't have that overshoot on temp, unless I accidentally let it happen.  

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