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How to use a Kamado – A Beginners Guide

Kamado Joe Big Joe III

How to use a Kamado – A Beginners Guide

Kamado Joe Big Joe II 24-Inch Dual cooking area
Kamado Joe Big Joe II 24-Inch

Are you ready to dive into the world of Kamado-style cooking? The Kamado is an ancient Japanese ceramic grill design that has become one of the fastest growing trends within the grilling community. In this article, we will show you what a kamado is, provide tips and tricks on how to use it as well show you the benefits of using one.

What is a Kamado grill?

A Kamado is a Japanese term for a round ceramic or clay cooking vessel that uses charcoal as its primary source of fuel, with the addition of wood for smoking. Amazingly kamado use dates back more than 3,000 years!

Modern kamado brands use a combination of terracotta, high-temperature ceramics, and crushed lava rock to make a grill that can tolerate temperatures that are more than 750⁰F without cracking from the severe heat or temperature fluctuations.

Broil King Keg 5000
Broil King Keg 5000

Kamado fuel source

The Kamado is only fueled by charcoal which comes in two main types briquettes or lump charcoal.  Briquettes are cheaper to buy but they don’t produce a lot of heat, especially compared to how much ash they create. It is more expensive to buy lump charcoal but it is considered a much better option since you can cook for longer periods, it heats up very fast and it can maintain high temperatures for long hours.

Coyote Asado
Coyote Asado

Tips & tricks of using a Kamado grill

Lighting up the Kamado

There are at least two viable methods of lighting up the Kamado. The first is by using an electric starter which may be quite pricey but you won’t have the headache of frequently buying new tinder.  This method works by leaving the grill’s lid and air vents open, the charcoal is placed in the firebox, and the electric starter can be put on the charcoal. 

You can also use lighter cubes to fire up the charcoal which is the cheaper method. You only need to open the lid and the air vents, add some charcoal to the firebox, and a lighter cube. Once the charcoal turns grey, close the lid for the grill to rise to the desired temperatures.

best 5 kamado grills

Controlling the temperature

Once your kamado is fired up, it gets warmer and warmer as time goes by. So to control and keep the temperature at the desired level you need to learn how to control the airflow. The more oxygen you let into the kamado the higher the temperatures get since the charcoal is burning faster and vice versa. 

If for example, you want to grill for a long period at low temperatures, you initially put a little amount of charcoal in the firebox and continue adding as you go. The grill’s lid should always be closed when you start grilling to maintain the desired temperatures. You may open the lid every once in a while to check on your meat but be conscious that this will drop the temperature.

Another way of controlling temperature is by having multiple heating zones where you place charcoal on different zones of the firebox. The closer the meat is to the heat, the faster it will cook. This means you can simultaneously cook a meal that requires slower cooking with less heat at the same time as one that requires higher temperatures and fast cooking.

What can you cook in a Kamado?

Most people would agree that ceramic grills are among the best types of grills to cook with. They are highly versatile as you can pretty much grill, smoke, and bake anything you like. Among the best things you can cook on your Kamado are; chicken, steak, burgers, pizza, ribs, briskets, sweet potatoes, and so much more. Check out these recipes and try them out on your Kamado.

Benefits of using a Kamado grill

  • Excellent heat retention: Ceramic grills insulation is so strong that almost no heat is lost when cooking.
  • Fuel efficiency: The ceramic walls of the kamado grill are poor heat conductors therefore most heat is preserved making it use less fuel.
  • Versatile cooking: With the help of certain accessories, Kamado grills are capable of grilling, smoking, and baking.
  • Minimal moisture loss: Once you put the right settings on the air vent, the food becomes insulated from any dry air thereby keeping it moist and succulent.
  • Amazing flavor: Kamado grills infuse the food with a delicious flavor, especially if you add wood chips to ramp up the smokiness. 
Kamado Joe Big Joe II Kamado Joe Big Joe III Kamado Joe Joe Jr Coyote Asado Broil King Keg 5000
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Kamado grills have evolved for thousands of years and to this day they still rely on the amazing heat retention properties of ceramics and the Japanese venting systems called mushikamado. These qualities make a Kamado of today an all-in-one versatile grill that can bake, grill, smoke, and sear. 

As you get more and more comfortable with your Kamado grill, you will be stunned at all the kinds of foods this grill can make. Kamado tends to be quite pricey but the amazing results of this style of cooking are worth every bit of your dollar.

best 5 kamado grills