Grilling is a favorite pastime all around the globe and so many brands today have come up with great grills. One of the more popular brands on the global market by far is Char Griller.
While Char Griller usually sticks to larger grill sizes like most brands, they do have some mini grills that are quite powerful. Like their Akorn Jr grill. This is one of the best ceramic grills and it’s exactly half the size of their very popular Akorn grill in everything from grilling space to price, but that doesn’t mean it’s only half as good.
If you’re looking at getting a mini grill for camping, keeping in an apartment, this grill review will benefit you. In this review, you’ll find all the information from how it cooks, the ease of assembly, and whether or not it lives up to its reputation.
Design and Build
The Akorn Jr has a sturdy and durable construction. It’s a ceramic grill which makes it more fragile than some other grill types, but it has a thick metal outside to help protect it. Still, you should definitely avoid knocking it over or dropping it when you move it anywhere. The ceramic inside could crack and then the grill would be ruined.
This mini grill measures 20 inches wide, 25 inches high, and 20 inches deep. The grate inside has a diameter of 14 inches and you can easily remove the center if you want to add a smoking stone should you choose to. The temperature range is from 200 Fahrenheit to 700 Fahrenheit and it heats up pretty quickly, so be prepared.
While many grills these days are designed to be pleasing to the eye or fit certain aesthetics, the Akorn Jr makes no such attempt. In fact, it resembles a large egg more than it resembles a grill. You certainly won’t be showing off your stylish grill to newcomers, but it cooks really well and is a high quality grill, so you still have something to show off.
Like we mentioned above, this is a ceramic clay grill. It replicates the same grills used in restaurants that use ceramic clay ovens for their meat or pizzas, but on a much smaller scale. The ceramic cooking interior is protected by a protective wall of 22-gauge steel. The steel layers both protect and help insulate the grill during transport or grilling.
Again, we wouldn’t recommend being rough with this grill as the ceramic certainly won’t survive a tumble down the stairs, but the layers of steel will keep it safe whenever you move it.
The Akorn Jr is a grill that features a Kamado design which means it will generally have less cooking space to begin with. However, this grill actually holds its own just fine for it’s portable size. With 153 inches of grilling space and measuring 14 inches in diameter, you’ll be able to fit around 8 average hamburger patties, 6 chicken breasts, or a rack of lamb without too much struggle.
This Char Griller Akorn Jr grill is pretty well made so there isn’t much to complain about, but one thing to be aware of is that it does not have wheels. While it’s only 38 pounds and comes with two easy handles for carrying, it would certainly be nice if the grill had wheels for moving around a porch or even dragging out to a campsite. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with only carrying this grill back and forth from wherever you take it, so be prepared for a small workout.
How does this mini grill perform? That’s the real question. The Char Griller Akorn Jr grill itself is pretty easy to assemble and prepare for your first grill. All the complicated parts are already put together so by the time you get it all out of the box, the only things you have to do are screw on the legs, attach the hinge lid, and put on those handles. All in all, it should take less than 20 minutes before your grill is ready to go.
Temperature control is a breeze, thanks to both top and bottom vents. But because this Char Griller Akorn Jr grill is so well insulated, once it reaches a high temperature, it can be difficult to bring it back down because of its heat retention. As such, make sure to increase the temperature little by little so that you don’t end up having to wait a long time for a too-hot grill to cool back down.
One big advantage to this char griller is that it is incredibly fuel efficient. You can do an entire cook on just one load of charcoal so if you ever want to take this grill camping, you won’t have to lug in a huge bag of charcoal with it.
In terms of how much grilling space there is, we feel like it’s pretty decent. For a mini grill that does such a great job, 153 inches of grilling space is sufficient. It won’t be ideal if you’re cooking for a large group, but it will easily take care of a small family night. For the price range, the grilling space is a little on the low side, but we don’t think that’s necessarily a reason to turn away from the Akorn Jr.
This char griller really does cook well. If it can be cooked on charcoal, it can be cooked in this grill, whether that’s pizza, chicken, or hamburgers. The iron grate adds perfect searing marks to your food and the end results are always delicious.
The taste from this char griller is fantastic too. Perfectly mimicking the taste from professional ceramic clay grills, any food you cook on this grill will come out with that same delicious taste from your favorite five star restaurant. It uses a slightly different method to create the same heat and result, but food comes out as tasty as ever whether you use the Akorn Jr or the regular Akorn Kamado.
Care and Maintenance
Like all grills, the Akorn Jr char griller needs regular care and maintenance. Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult and there isn’t a huge amount of space that needs maintaining. You’ll have to wait until the grill has completely cooled down which, due to the excellent insulation on this grill, can take quite a while. Once you’re sure you won’t get burned, you can easily remove and empty the ashtray.
As this grill comes with cast iron grates that aren’t coated in porcelain, you’ll have to take a little extra time in cleaning them. It is possible to purchase the stainless steel grate that fits the Kamado Joe Jr (also produced and sold by Char Griller), but this is an extra cost and won’t produce the same sear marks.
You’ll have to take good care of the cast iron grate or it will rust, but a quick search of how to care for cast iron materials should suffice. It’s pretty basic as all you really need to do after each use is scrub off any stuck debris and rub the cast iron grate down with canola oil or something similar. With regular and basic maintenance, your grill (and cast iron grates) should last a long time.
Overall, this grill is easy to clean and its quality design means it’s easy to put everything back together,
With all big purchases, it’s always a good idea to know what type of warranty you’ll get. Char Griller offers a five year warranty on both the lid and the exterior of the grill to cover the possibility of it rusting. Any manufacturing defects are covered for one year. You can contact Char Griller through Facebook, call, or email to claim your warranty.
Who Do We Recommend This Grill For?
Mini grills aren’t built to provide food for large parties or big grilling events, so it’s important to keep in mind what you’re planning on using this grill for. If you often cook for lots of people or just have a large family, we recommend you skip the Akorn Jr and opt for the full sized Akorn Kamado grill instead.
If you are looking for a charcoal grill that would be great for a couple of people or something that is portable enough for camping, then the Akorn Jr is a pretty great option. It’s small enough to easily fit in your car and can be great fun for a quick little evening grill. It also does well for those who already have a large grill, but want to add just a little more grilling space to their current set up.
Families that live in apartments but enjoy grilling will love this grill too. It’s small and easy to store so as long as you are allowed to cook with charcoal on the premises, the Akorn Jr would be a great choice. It’s also great for those who have never used a Kamado grill and are just getting started.
When you purchase the Akorn Jr grill, you’ll get a few things in the box. You’ll find, of course, the lid and body to the grill that will need to be put together, but you’ll also find three handles (two for carrying and one for the lid), three legs, an ashtray, the firebox, the 14 inch cast iron grate with a removable center piece, the top vent, and a small box with all the nuts, bolts, and screws you’ll need for assembly.
The grill also comes with a full owner’s manual and set-up instructions that are pretty easy to follow.
It is possible to find and purchase extra accessories if you decide you want to. You can purchase a different grate (like the Kamado Joe Jr we mentioned above) or a smoking stone. Because this is a mini grill though, you’ll have to pay attention to the sizes or you risk not fitting the stone in the grill.
You can also find rain protectors for your grill or a temperature controller if you want to upgrade a bit. All of these will come at an extra cost though, so if you’re really committed to them, it’s probably a better idea to purchase a grill that already includes such accessories.
The Akorn Jr grill by Char Griller is perfect for those who are looking to try out a Kamado-type grill or for small households. It’s easy to store which makes it great for apartments and can even be taken out camping. There are some flaws to the design as with all grills, but for someone looking to add just a bit of grilling to their life, the Akorn Jr is a high quality grill that will definitely get you started in a good direction.