Kamado style grills have an exceptional reputation as both grills and smokers thanks to their ability to retain and circulate heat.
The main models from leading brands like
In this Victory Kamado Grill review, I’ll go over all the ins and outs of what is essentially a better insulated version of the classic charcoal kettle grill.
BBQ Guys sent me this grill for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Victory Kamado Grill & Smoker overview & first impressions
For those that don’t know, Victory Grills is the new line of products from the folks over at BBQGuys.com. Their claim is to offer best in class quality, performance, and features.
This 21 inch Grill is their first offering in the Kamado category which in my opinion is the perfect “Goldilocks” size because if it were any bigger, it would be a chore to move around. Any smaller and you sacrifice the ability to cook large cuts of meat.
That isn’t to say the darn thing isn’t heavy though. Weighing at 249lbs of a solid ceramic body and stainless steel components, it was a beast to unload and assemble.
The grill came bundled with some convenient, well-built accessories including:
- 2 Folding Shelves
- Grill Cover
- Stainless Steel Base with Locking Wheels
- Two Cooking Utensils
- 20 inch Diameter Cooking Grid w/ Stainless Steel Grates
Some companies make you pay extra for these features, but Victory includes it in the base model.
I couldn’t help but notice that an important feature was missing from the unit, which I’ll get into later.
Overall, it looked like a solidly constructed grill. There were no cracks in the ceramic base and inner core which holds the charcoal. The adjustable vents and lid lock also functioned smoothly upon an initial test.
- 2 bamboo folding shelves: Having these shelves is a must as it gives you plenty of space to rest food, spices, and utensils while you’re cooking. The shelves also have metal rods on the sides so you can hang your cooking tools on them when you’re not using them.
- Stainless steel base with big, locking wheels: Being able to maneuver a heavy grill like this with ease is a must. The base is also really sturdy and holds the grill in tight.
- Adjustable top and bottom vents: It’s not as sophisticated as some of the
Kamado Joevents I’ve seen, but it gets the job done.
- Folding stainless steel cooking grid: At 20 inches, there is enough space to cook a full size brisket, pork butt, turkey, or 2 racks of ribs. The grid has a foldable flap which allows you to add more charcoal or stir the lumps around without having to remove the entire thing mid-cook.
- Latching lid w/ spring assisted hinge: Allows you to close and lock the lid, seal in heat, and re-open the lid with little effort.
Victory 21-Inch Kamado Grill & Smoker specifications:
|Product Dimensions||49” H x 53.25” W x 33.25” D|
|Total Cooking Area||346 square inches|
|Price||Check Latest Price|
What I like:
- Superior insulation – With this grill being a giant ceramic bowl, it has the best insulation and heat retention of any grill I’ve ever used.
- Cooking surface area – For kettle-style grill, the cooking surface is large enough to cook all the favorites.
- Versatility – A kamado grill can cook anything a pellet grill can. With better flavor, in my opinion.
What I don’t like:
- Simplified cooking features – If you want to do anything like indirect or multi-zone cooking on this grill, you’ll have to pay extra for the accessories that will help you do it.
- Shallow bowl design – The cooking grid sits too low and close to where the charcoal rests. While great for high heat grilling and searing, it makes any type of indirect cooking quite cumbersome.
- The lid latch design – If a man (or woman) needs two arms to open the lid on a barbecue, then are we really doing backyard cooking here? What’s this world coming to?
Unboxing and setting up the Victory 21-Inch Kamado Grill
Due to its size and weight, the grill had to be forklifted into my garage from a truck. The box was packaged and sealed tightly onto the palette to prevent any movement during shipping.
From there, I needed assistance and a furniture dolly to move the palette into my living room. That way if it was accidentally dropped, it would land on the soft carpet instead of concrete.
Thankfully the grill wasn’t packaged in a traditional box where you would have to lift the thing or cut the sides with the box cutter to remove it.
After removing the tightly wound plastic wrap seal, each side of the box fell to the floor. The grill itself was resting on a sturdy, foam base with styrofoam casings. Inside the grill was a box with the accessories and more styrofoam protection for the inner ceramic shell which contains the charcoal.
The first step was building the steel base and connecting the wheels. Due to the weight of the grill and my t-rex sized arms, I needed assistance lifting the ceramic shell onto the base.
The lower vent, lid, and locking latch were already attached to the grill. All I needed to do was attach the folding shelves with some screws using tools that were already included in the box.
One misstep was the upper vent was missing a screw that is there to ensure it doesn’t fall off when the lid is open. Luckily the seal holds it in place pretty well on its own.
All in all, I’d say assembly took 20 minutes total.
Victory Kamado Grill build quality
The Victory Kamado Grill is constructed well, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it first class. There are some minor quality issues I noticed with things like bent shelving rods and the shelves themselves taking more effort to fold than necessary due to incorrectly sized parts.
Overall though, the important parts that affect cooking are top notch. Also, I haven’t experienced any chipping, peeling or scraping with any of the finishes like the bamboo shelves or the exterior grill paint.
My experience cooking on the Victory Kamado Grill
Controlling temperatures requires a learning period, but if you’ve ever used a kettle grill with top and bottom vents, then the fundamentals carry over to this grill.
The bottom vent which allows air to draw in is actually two vents in one. One allows the vent to be wide open where air passes through unobstructed. The other is perforated which blocks some of the air from passing through and ash from spilling out. You can choose to use either one or both to control temps.
The top vent allows heat to escape since heat rises. You can either adjust the vent on the lid to different settings, or remove the cap entirely for maximum airflow.
Putting out a fire requires both top and bottom vents to be fully closed with the lid latched shut. It may take some time, but eventually the flame will run out of air and go out.
You want to be careful when checking to see if the flame is out, because if it’s not and you open the lid, the flame could erupt rapidly as it consumes all of the air. To prevent this, simply open the vents, wait 15 seconds and slowly open the lid.
On the Victory Kamado Grill, I cooked a variety of classics including New York steaks, tri-tip, a brisket flat, burgers, and chicken wings. All of which were cooked with a flavorful, smokey char that is characteristic of charcoal grills.
I also purchased a pizza stone to see if the Kamado could double as a pizza oven. The results, however, were mixed.
The Kamado does get hot enough to cook the pizza properly, with the char you’d expect from a wood fired oven. Victory does make a deflector which is fitted for this grill, but it must be purchased separately.
Since the cooking grates sit so close to the fire, I would recommend purchasing a separate heat deflector to keep the flames away from touching the bottom of the stone.
Our dough cooked too fast, which didn’t allow the cheese on top to crust the way it does when cooked in a proper pizza oven. That’s not to say it can’t be achieved on this grill, you just need some extra tools to do it.
After cooking the pizza, I decided to use the pizza stone as a heat shield and cook another round of wings. Having the ability to cook the wings over indirect heat, I was able to get the best texture I’ve ever gotten on a grill.
The skin was crispy without drying out the wings which is a unique benefit of cooking them on a grill built like the Kamado. Due to the high temperatures and how heat is distributed, it can cook the wings much faster than a traditional gas or pellet grill.
Cleaning the grill
Cleaning a kamado grill is a little different from a regular grill. Since ceramic is porous, you do not want to clean the bowl with any type of grill cleaner or chemical. Luckily, due to the design and shape, there is minimal placement on this grill where it is exposed to grease.
So far, I’ve only had to dump excess charcoal into a bucket by removing the metal ash filter plate. Then, using the ash scraper (which is included), I scrape any residual ash which fell through the filter out the bottom vent and into a bucket. You can also use a shop vac if you have one handy.
You can clean the stainless steel cooking grid with a cleaner if you like, but remove it first before spraying onto the grates. The nice thing about a grill that can get as hot as this Kamado gets is that most of the excess debri is burned to a crisp after you’re done cooking, acting like a self cleaning oven. All I would have to do the next day is scrape away the burnt debri and wipe the grates with a tiny bit of cooking oil.
Testing the Victory Kamado Grill
During the initial burn off, I wanted to test two things:
- How hot I could get the grill
- How long I could hold a steady temperature
These two parameters are crucial to any person who wants a grill that can cook any style of BBQ, whether it’s hot and fast or low and slow.
Without overloading the grill with charcoal, I was able to get a max reading on the lid’s thermometer of 700°F with the bottom vent wide open and the top vent all the way off.
The next day, I got the grill up to 300°F and then closed the bottom and top vent half way so the grill was able to get enough air to prevent the flame from going out while not getting too much air to increase temperatures.
Incredibly, the grill was able to maintain that temp for 6 hours without needing additional fuel or adjusting the vents to increase airflow. While not as set it and forget it as a pellet grill, I would say 6 hours is darn near close.
For the record, I used a mix of lump charcoal and briquettes for the heat retention test. The lump charcoal tends to burn longer and lower than briquettes which were mainly for igniting the initial fire.
Alternatives to consider
As of now, the 21 inch is the only size Victory offers in the Kamado Grill category. However, you can always look at other Kamado brands such as
Should you buy the Victory Kamado Grill
In spite of a few minor issues, I cannot recommend this grill enough. If you’re a backyard cooking enthusiast who doesn’t mind sacrificing the smallest bit of convenience for a fun, flavorful cooking experience, then the Victory Kamado Grill is a must have addition to your collection.