Most people have a preference for using either gas or charcoal grills. That being said, have you ever considered getting a ceramic one?
Modern kamado-style barbeques have updated the traditional grills by using ceramic materials. As a result, they are versatile and offer many cooking options, combining as a smoker, oven, and a grill, all at the same time! They offer a completely different smoking experience.
Ceramic grills heat up much more quickly, and they maintain high temperatures for a long time while using charcoal efficiently. If you open the barbeque to add some cheese or sauce to your meat, the temperature will not lower for about 30 seconds. You can sear your meats, or cook them at a lower temperature, and they will always turn out juicy and taste delicious.
The ceramic grills cook from all sides at the same time, which is another advantage that separates them from the conventional ones.
The primo oval xl brings yet another innovation to the table – it is not round like the rest of its kind. Instead, it has a unique oval shape, allowing you to experience the authentic two-zone cooking.
This is a ceramic charcoal smoker grill made by Primo Ceramic Grills (Tucker, Georgia).
- Kamado type grill
- Durable design
- 400 square inches cooking area
- Premium ceramic construction
- Allows several cooking methods
- Outstanding insulation
- Excellent temperature and smoke control
- Easy to use
Before all of the other companies started producing Kamado smokers, if you didn’t get a Big Green Egg, you almost certainly bought a Primo Grill. While the rest of the manufacturers tried to copy the Egg’s success, Primo stepped out to offer some truly unique products.
Why Get It?
Primo Oval 400 is this manufacturer’s biggest model. Extra large round XLs are available from other companies as well, but none of them have an oval shape. Authentic 2-zone cooking experience is something that round shaped grills can’t accomplish.
With this model, you can operate two zones simultaneously. Grill vegetables on one half of the grill and a stake on the other half, all at the same time. Pile up the charcoal to one side, while the other one stays cooler and slide food from the cool to the hot side, and the other way round.
To fully separate the two zones, you can purchase an optional divider.
The porcelain-coated grates have a smart design – they are two-sided. One side keeps the cooking surface high, for indirect grilling, smoking, and roasting. Flip it over, and the surface will drop two inches closer to the coal, which is excellent for searing steaks or crisping chicken.
Another advantage to an oval shape is it maximizes capacity. You may have noticed that most foods are not round. So with the disc-shaped design, you lose a lot of space.
But that is not the case with the Primo XL! You can make effective use of the entire oval cooking surface. We’re talking about a large area of 400 square inches, which is enough space to cook roughly 15 large or 25 small steaks.
The smoker has a tall, domed lid, which is large enough to fit a monster turkey, five Boston butts, two smaller briskets, or even a small ostrich. The egg shape of this model is designed to radiate heat so you can use it as a convection oven. It is excellent for baking, as well as roasting, smoking, and barbequing.
The temperature range is from as low as 180 degrees (for smoking) to 500 degrees (to get a superior sear). For checking the internal temperature, you can use the in-lid thermometer. With the Primo cookers, you will reach the desired temperature faster, reduce the cooking time, and also save up on fuel.
Primo 400 is made from premium ceramic material with a scratch-resistant porcelain coating. The flare-ups rarely happen so you won’t need to worry about burning your food. Even though it’s a bit heavy, lifting the dome is not a difficult task thanks to the spring-loaded hinge.
The gasket is double heavy-duty felt, and the chimney cap is constructed from cast iron. This means that the lid is protected against damage when opening and closing it. Also, the temperature remains constant due to the superior sealing mechanism and excellent insulation.
The traditional daisy wheel makes it easy to control the smoke flow from the lower vent and through the entire cooker. The handles are made from the cool-touch material, but you should still use gloves or a potholder, to be on the safe side.
Setting up the product is straightforward – it is as simple as adding the firebox inserts and screwing the handle on. Despite its versatility, the Primo XL is user-friendly and intuitive to use.
Primo Ceramic Grills is the only ceramic grill manufacturer to offer a limited lifetime warranty. And that’s not all – you’ll also get:
- 20-year warranty on the ceramics,
- 5-year guarantee on the metal,
- 1-year warranty on the cast iron parts, and
- 30-days guarantee on the felt gaskets and the thermometer.
This charcoal smoker is a once-in-a-lifetime investment. It is guaranteed to last you for a very long time so you will be able to pass it on to your kids.
Without adding an accessory or two, you will not experience the authentic two-zone direct and indirect cooking. We’ve listed out some add-ons you may want to invest into.
- Stand – the manufacturer offers several table, stand, and tabletop configurations that will allow you to move the unit around more easily.
- Heat deflector plates – they prevent direct contact between the fire and your meal, which is excellent for low and slow smoking.
- Heat deflector racks – for the deflector plates to sit on.
- Firebox divider – split the firebox in two, which can come in handy to save up on coal when you’re smoking small quantities of food. It also allows you to have two cooking zones with different temperatures.
- Extension racks – using these, you will increase the cooking space to 680 square inches
- Two-sided iron griddle – has a smooth side and a grooved one. It converts your kamado into a flat-top barbeque, that retains much more heat than the original
- Cast iron grates – for faster cooking and phenomenal searing results
- Pizza stone – available in natural and glazed finishes, can also be used for baking bread
- Rib racks – to utilize the space entirely and smoke up to 14 ribs at once
- Grate cleaning bar – safe to use on porcelain-coated racks
- Ash tool – useful for stirring hot coal and raking ashes out of the vent door
- Grate/rack lifter – to safely lift cooking grids while they’re still hot
- Ceramic feet – for fire safety
Pros & Cons
- Easy setup
- Solid and durable
- Large cooking space
- 2-zone grilling experience
- Two-sided porcelain-coated grates
- Tall, domed lid that offers extra space
- Spring-loaded lid hinge
- Cool-touch handles
- Excellent insulation
- Shorter cooking time
- Supreme heat and smoke control
- Great for baking, roasting, smoking and barbequing
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Overall 76% 76%
“The Primo XL is so outstanding I don’t think I will have to buy another grill ever again! It is straightforward to use, functional, and the food tastes amazing. Couldn’t be happier, highly recommend it!”
What to Watch Out For
With a 230 pounds weight, this unit is definitely on the heavy side. You will need some help to lift it into space, and since it hasn’t got any wheels, it’s not easy to move around. Even with the grates and the firebox inserts removed, it will take at least 2-3 men for the assembly.
The downside to this model is you only get a bare-bones unit for the price. Out of the box, it includes two cast iron racks, the grill itself and the firebox. The company sells a bunch of neat optional accessories, and to fully utilize the smoker you will need to buy at least a couple of additional parts, at an extra cost.
The stand-alone unit is relatively expensive on its own and adding a table, and a couple of other accessories increases the price even more. That being said, the satisfied customers all over the USA claim that this cooker is worth every penny.
A Piece of Advice
Use the natural lump charcoal, not briquettes. They can’t achieve the long burn times and the high temperatures that you’ll get while using natural charcoal, which will affect the taste of your food and the entire performance.
When lighting the fire, never use lighter fluid or instant light charcoal. The ceramic material will absorb all of the chemicals from these substances, and your food will taste awful. Use none-chemical fire starters instead.
If you aim to cook low and slow, do not let the Primo get smoking hot. Because once it does, it will take hours to cool it down.
Primo Oval XL is an oven, smoker, and a barbeque all at the same time. It is made from the premium ceramic material and offers a lot of grilling space.
This model provides a lot of culinary possibilities and has a limited lifetime warranty. You will get a lot of use out of the Primo 400 and then be able to pass it on to your children.