Kamado DIY Charcoal Basket for under $15? What is the best Charcoal Basket?
Updated: Oct 16, 2022
If you read a lot of the reviews a Charcoal Basket is a must have. My Kamado Joe Classic II did not come with one. One of the most popular and a highly rated one is a Kick Ash Basket.
As you can see the Kick Ash Charcoal Basket is nearly $100 dollars. That can be a lot of money to shell out when you likely just spent near a grand on your Kamado. The Big Joe version is more expensive. Smoking meats can be an expensive hobby and I try to be budget conscious.
BBQGuys has their own version for $59.99 as as well as Kamado Joe which is $99.00 as of writing this article.
So what is my genius idea? A veggie steamer DIY Charcoal Basket.
My thoughts behind this working are... its stainless steel and made out of the same material as a charcoal basket just thinner. Stainless steel is rated to withstand constant temps of around 400 degrees and as high 700 degrees according to sources on the internet.
The veggie steamer has ample holes throughout as well the gaps between the petals. Those features should provide proper air flow to fuel the charcoal. The ash should in theory fall through the holes down to the fire box.
After all the holes are only slightly smaller than the cast iron plate at the bottom of the fire box. Ok well maybe they are about 1/4 the size but the difference is there is a lot more holes. The legs will raise the veggie steamer off of the cast iron plate allowing even more air flow. You can see the cast iron plate in the picture below.
The veggie steamer is flexible as well as expandable so it should conform to the bottom of the Joe. It even has a nice little ring that I can grab with my ash tool to pull it out of the Joe.
This is the smaller veggie steamer as you can see it doesn't quite fill up the base of the fire box. The base is around 8" unfolded. This does mostly fill the bottom but just misses out.
So I've loaded up the Joe with lump and let's see how it performed. I've tracked it using my Inkbird thermometer.
It held the desired temp at 220 degrees for around 6 hours which is PERFECT FOR LOW AND SLOW!!!! Yes!!!!! Success right? I've succeeded in finding a DIY Charcoal basket hack for under 15 dollars!
That was with both vents fully opened. I pulled the plug and shut it down after it lost temp around the 6 hour mark.
Needless to say I'm disappointed that my genius cheap hack didn't work as intended. I'm going to give it another go with the larger veggie steamer and see what the results are with that. The base of that is just over 10" and will cover the the fire box and the petals should be supported by the sides of the firebox providing more airflow. The Kick ash base is 9'' and the others don't specify but I'd imagine they have to have a similar base .
*Update* I was finally able to load some pictures of the clean up! My real life job keeps me very busy as well as my everyday normal life, so my fantasy blogger life with a successful website (please visit www.flavorflamebbq.com) featuring all the cool Kamado stuff does not sustain me. Yet! So until it does the updates get pushed to the back burner or in the case of the Kamado over the indirect heat side.
I filled the fire box full of lump and after only 6 hours I should of had lump left. The ash apparently had nowhere to go. Which caused it to not rise above the 220 degrees.
The good news is I was able to lift out the ash with little problems. The bad news is I was unable to shake that ash.
So how did it hold up?
It had discoloration. My little grabber ring melted away (must not had been stainless steel) also the long piece of metal that the ring was attached to was deformed.
You can see the ash does cake up in the holes in this picture. (My daughter did paint my toenails yellow btw) So with that conclusion I don't think increasing the veggie steamer size will make any type of better results.
Add that to the fact that things did in fact melt during this process.... I'm going to say this is an epic fail and total pass on doing the veggie steamer as a DIY charcoal basket hack for under $15.
So up next......? My wife's flower planter. It's winter the flowers are dead and she won't notice that its missing.
This is similar to the one I have outside. Amazon's description has it being powder coated. (likely vinyl) The description lists them as steel. (Likely galvanized} I've asked to be sure but if it's vinyl and galvanized they will also be a pass as they can give off toxic fumes.
Or maybe using this 3 pack of stainless colanders as a DIY hack. I think the mesh will cause the ash to clump much like the steamer will. However I think the mesh could be easily removed if it doesn't just burn up on the first cook on its own.
It's better in the long run and likely safer health wise to just spend a little more and go with BBQGuys version for $59.99. Let me know in the comments if you have tried any DIY hacks to save a buck or two. Or if you think the flower basket or colander will work?
Some items I used on this project that you may find useful:
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