Primo Grills Buyers' Guide

George Samaras, a Greek yacht captain, had recently moved to America with his wife when his father-in-law served roasted turkey from a kamado grill on Thanksgiving Day. For Samaras, the juicy and flavorful turkey was revolutionary; he purchased a kamado grill and spoke frequently of it to his friends and family back in Greece. When the manufacturer declined to allow Samaras to distribute the grills in Greece, he decided to cut out the middle man and create his own.

Despite ceramic engineers telling him it was impossible, Samaras spent several years perfecting his ceramic blend and grill design, and founded Primo Ceramic Grills in 1996, choosing the Italian word for 'best' as his company and product name. Several years later, Samaras introduced the oval-shaped grill, which revolutionized the ceramic grill market and firmly established Primo as a major manufacturer.


Kamado grills have a long history in Japan, with hundreds of years of innovations culminating in the design Primo uses today. The original kamado was a clay hearth built into Japanese homes that iron cooking vessels were set down into with stoke holes near the floor.1 This soon evolved into the mushikamado, a device used to grill meats and cook rice, using charcoal as a fuel. The mushikamado design was brought over to the U.S. after World War II, with the name soon shortened to 'kamado'.

Modern ceramic grills are made up of several parts. The ceramic exterior makes up the base and lid, and features metal bands and hinges. The inside of the grill uses a firebox, which is basically a ceramic liner that holds the charcoal. Some manufacturers still use a fire ring, which raises the grill grates higher over the charcoal, but Primo now makes the grill grates reversible to sit at differing heights when needed.

The design of the kamado was largely unchanged until George Samaras introduced the oval shape of his new grill in 2002. The oval shape allows the user to divide the grill into two distinct zones, so you can grill with high heat on one side of the grill while you roast or bake on lower heat only inches away on the other side. This is accomplished with a firebox divider, which allows you to fill only one side of the firebox with charcoal, or a heat deflector shield, a ceramic piece that shields one or both sides of the grill from direct heat, instead radiating heat up to the food indirectly.

Why Ceramic?

Instead of radiating heat outward as metal grills do, ceramic grills retain the heat produced by charcoal and ceramic's insulating properties help prevent burns by keeping the exterior cooler to the touch. Primo grills are made with a high-quality ceramic blend for durability and moisture retention, resulting in tender and juicy steak, chicken, and seafood. You never have to worry about seasoning a ceramic grill or covering it to prevent rust.

Another great advantage to a Primo commercial outdoor grill is its versatility. Every Primo grill is capable of grilling, smoking, baking, and roasting simply by adjusting the cooking configuration and air flow through the adjustable vents. Primo offers various accessories, including racks and utensils and tools, to make it possible to switch between cooking styles. Primo's tables and carts make installation easy, and covers are available to keep your grill clean when not in use.

Available Primo Grills

Primo makes commercial outdoor grills in two main styles: round kamado and oval. The kamado design is only available in one size, while the oval design is available in multiple sizes. Below is some information on each Primo grill model:

  • Oval XL Grill
  • This grill is the largest available with the patented oval design that allows for true two-zone cooking. This model can cook up to 200 pounds of food at once, allowing high output for commercial kitchens. The cast iron grates are reversible with extension legs on one side, allowing you to cook a variety of food at different heat levels.

    • Two-zone cooking made possible with oval design
    • 400-square-inch cooking surface
    • Cook 15 to 25 steaks at once
    • Cast iron top vent
    • Reversible grates
    • Exterior thermometer
    • 150- to 850-degree F temperature range.

  • Oval LG Grill
  • The Oval LG grill features 300 square inches of grill space, allowing you to cook 10 to 20 steaks at once. The easy-to-read thermometer is mounted on the lid, and the cast iron chimney rack and lower vent allow you to control the air flow to adjust the temperature as needed. A firebox divider or heat deflector shield, sold separately, can establish two-zone cooking to allow you to cook a variety of foods.

    • Oval shape permits two-zone cooking
    • 300-square-inch cooking area can cook 10 to 20 steaks
    • Cast iron top vent
    • Reversible grates
    • Easy-to-read thermometer
    • 150- to 850-degree F temperature range.

  • Oval Junior Grill
  • With 210 square inches of cooking space, the Oval Junior Grill is the smallest grill available from Primo. This size allows you to cook eight to 15 steaks at once and features reversible cast iron grates for versatility. This grill can reach temperatures as high as 850 degrees F.

    • 210-square-inch cooking area
    • Easy-read thermometer on lid
    • Cooks eight to 15 steaks or two 14-pound turkeys at once
    • Reversible grates
    • Cast iron vent
    • 150- to 850-degree F temperature range.

  • Jack Daniels Edition
  • The Jack Daniels Grill is a special edition of the Oval XL, with all of the same features in addition to the highly recognizable Jack Daniels logo on the lid of the grill. With the ability to cook 15 to 25 steaks at a time, this model can keep up with high-volume demands. With standard reversible grates and an optional heat deflector shield and firebox divider, the Jack Daniels grill offers versatility for cooking a variety of food items at once.

    • Patented oval design allows for two-zone cooking for maximum efficiency
    • Jack Daniels logo on lid
    • 400-square-inch cooking area, allowing you to cook 15 to 25 steaks at a time
    • Reversible grates
    • Cast iron top vent
    • Thermometer mounted on lid
    • 150- to 850-degree F temperature range.

  • Kamado Grill
  • The Primo Kamado Grill is based on the traditional round Japanese design. The reversible grate lets you control how close your food is to the heat source, and optional accessories such as a heat deflector shield or baking stone allow you to make use of your kamado to bake and smoke as well as grill.

    • 280 square inch cooking area
    • Ergonomic handle
    • Cast iron vent
    • Top-mounted thermometer
    • Reversible grate
    • Optional accessories include rack system, cradle stand, side tables, ash tool, and grate lifter.

1. Locher, Mira. Traditional Japanese Architecture. Accessed October 2015.