How to Use a Kamado Grill The Complete Guide

A kamado grill is the ideal grill for people who are particular about getting authentic smoke flavor when grilling. Unlike other grills, a kamado grill isn’t like anything you’ve used as they are a complete game-changer. What even makes it stand out more is that there isn’t a thing you can’t cook on it. A kamado is so versatile that you can use it to grill, roast, smoke, and do everything in-between. This article will guide you on how to use a kamado from A-Z. So, if you are a complete beginner with no idea how to get started with a kamado, you are in the right place.

How to Use Kamado Grill

As you already know, the kamado is so versatile. So, firstly in this guide, we would be looking at how to start up the kamado. We would also look at how to regulate the temperature and monitor the temperature. Next, we would look at the different ways the kamado can be used.

How to Start up a Kamado Grill?

When it comes to lighting the charcoal in a kamado, there are lots of ways you can do it. However, we recommend using these three methods as they are the safest and most efficient:

Electric or Looftlighter Starter

The easiest way to light a kamado is by using an electric starter. Moreover, it is a safer option because it eliminates the possibility of a harmful chemical residue in the charcoal which can affect the flavor and taste of the food you want to grill. Holding a powered heat source over charcoal has been around for decades, and the best part is that they are also simple to operate.

The electric looftlighter ignites the charcoal by blowing heated air onto the charcoal. It makes use of a powerful fan and superheated air which when combined heats the charcoal till it fires up. And to be honest, it is a pretty cool way to start up a kamado, as it wouldn’t stress you, and take forever.

Pyramid Method

Another strategy you can use to quickly start up a kamado is by using the good old classic strategy of charcoal stacking. As the name implies, stack up the charcoal in a pile like a pyramid. And when you want to start up the charcoal, insert two or three fire starters at the top or middle of the pyramid.

When the pyramid ignites, it can easily ignite the rest of the charcoal because they are closely and tightly packed and there is enough ventilation to keep the charcoal burning. The pyramid method of igniting charcoal is very effective as you wouldn’t need to touch anything after lighting up the charcoal.

Chimney Starter

Lastly, you have the option of using a chimney starter to start up a kamado. Although using a chimney starter is a traditional way to start a charcoal grill, it is pretty effective in doing it. Well, it is so effective because of its design. A chimney starter has a cylinder metal with a handle on one side and a grate that is about ¾ of the way down the cylinder body.

To use a chimney starter, fill the large side of the cylinder with charcoal and on the other side stuff small newspaper, or any material that quickly ignites, but nothing chemical. Light up the paper, and in no time the charcoal will be on fire. Once you have a nice smolder, carefully pour the coal into the firebox of the kamado and you are all good.

How to Regulate and Monitor a Kamado Grill Temperature

Now that you know how to light up a kamado, our next area of discussion is how to regulate and monitor the temperature of the grill. Using a kamado is easy, but when you don’t know how to control the temperature or monitor it you will end up with burnt food, or a cold grill. So, use these tips to keep your grill at optimum temperature.

How to Regulate the Temperature

Since a kamado grill uses charcoal as its fuel source, do not expect anything digital or sophisticated. The temperature of a kamado is regulated using the good old fashion way of opening and closing vents, as well as adding or removing charcoal. The following tips will guide you better on how to regulate the temperature on a kamado grill:

  • Open or Close the Vent and Lid

For the charcoal to burn you need oxygen that is why a kamado is designed with vents and a lid. If you need to increase the temperature of the kamado, open the vents of the kamado, and to reduce the temperature close the vents. The vent regulates the flow of air into and out of the kamado, and it is key to regulating the temperature.

When you start up the kamado, leave the bottom vent all the way open, and the lid open to allow the charcoal to ignite properly. After about 10 minutes, you can then close the lid, but leave the bottom and top vent fully open. You can then start closing the vent when the temperature is about 50°F or 28°C.

  • Add or Remove Charcoal

Sometimes, opening or closing the lid of the kamado may not be enough to achieve the desired temperature you are trying to achieve. In such a scenario, opt-in to add or remove charcoal in the kamado to increase or reduce the temperature as the case may be.

More charcoal in the kamado means more coal ablaze which equals higher temperature. Similarly, less charcoal in the kamado means less coal ablaze, which equals lower temperature.

How to Monitor the Temperature

Regulating the temperature of a grill that uses charcoal as its fuel source is not easy. And to keep it constant and precise can be a real pain, this is why it is important to constantly monitor the temperature. Note that a kamado works so well because they are well insulated, so they can harness most of the heat produced by the charcoal. So, it is very important to be careful when increasing the temperature of the kamado, as once it is up, it doesn’t go down as fast.

So, the easiest way to get to the right and precise temperature is to slowly and patiently work your way there. But because a kamado is made of ceramics which is very good at holding a temperature, you still need to keep an eye on things. While most kamados have a thermometer on the lid, it is often not enough to monitor the temperature precisely.

Think about it, your food is down on the grate, and the thermometer is up on the lid, as such you wouldn’t get a precise reading. The best way to monitor the temperature is by getting a third-party digital thermometer with probes. By mounting the probes of the thermometer on the grate inside the kamado you will be able to effectively monitor the temperature.

How to set up a Kamado Grill for Different Ways to Cook

Now that you are familiar with the basics of using a kamado, we can now move to the bone of contention. In this section, we would give you tips on what you need to set up the kamado for different ways of cooking.

Baking

First, on our list, we are going to be looking at how to use a kamado to bake. Don’t look so surprised, because with how well a kamado can hold a temperature, it is the best for baking. And with little or no effort, you can set up a kamado for baking using the easy steps below:

  • Load the firebox full with a mix of old and new charcoal
  • Importantly, ensure you place a heat deflector right about the fire ring
  • You can also use a pizza stone as a heat deflector
  • The optimal temperature for baking with a kamado is 149°C to 232°C (300°F to 450°F)
  • Ensure to open the bottom and top vents halfway till you achieve the target temperature, then adjust accordingly
  • Always preheat the kamado for about 10 minutes with the lid closed before baking
  • Note, smoking wood are not recommended when setting up a kamado for baking

Roasting

Roasting is the act of cooking over an open fire. While a kamado may not be your first choice when you want to roast, they can get the job done excellently. Use the guideline below to set up a kamado for roasting:

  • Load the firebox full with a mix of new and old charcoal
  • You will also need to place a heat deflector above the fire ring when you want to use a kamado to roast
  • And above the deflector, place the grate
  • Though it is optional, we recommend you place a drip pan below the grate
  • As soon as the kamado is fired up, the optimal temperature for roasting with a kamado is 149°C to 232°C (300°F to 450°F)
  • To attain your target temperature, leave the bottom and top vent halfway open, then adjust it accordingly and then close the lid
  • For best result, make use of a small amount of smoking wood

Searing

Searing is a cooking technique where the surface of the food is briefly cooked at high temperatures to form brown crusts. And because of how well a kamado can sustain a constant temperature, they are effective at searing. Follow the steps below if you want to use a kamado to sear

  • Load the kamado full with old or new charcoal, or mainly new to achieve a higher temperature
  • A heat deflector is not needed when setting up a kamado for searing
  • So, place the grate on the rack above the fire ring
  • To create two grilling zones, place half the grate on the lower level and half on the upper level
  • The optimal temperature for searing with a kamado is 260°C to 399°C (500°F to 750°F)
  • For the charcoal to properly ignite, leave the lid open for the first 10 minutes, as well as the bottom and top vent, then close accordingly when ignited
  • Close the lid, but don’t leave the food on the grate for too long at a high temperature

Grilling

The most common use of a kamado is for grilling. The steps below explain how to set up a kamado for grilling:

  • Load the kamado full with old or new charcoal, but mainly new for higher temperature
  • A heat deflector is not needed when setting up a kamado for grilling
  • Place the grate on the rack above the fire ring
  • To create two grilling zones, place half the grate on the lower level and half on the upper level
  • The optimal temperature for grilling with a kamado is 204°C to 316°C (400°F to 600°F)
  • Leave the bottom and top vent fully open to let the charcoal properly ignite, then adjust accordingly
  • The lid should be closed till the kamado attains the desired temperature, then open for the short grilling sessions

Smoking

Another common use of a kamado is smoking. The best use of a kamado is to smoke. This is because a kamado can effectively hold a temperature of a sustained period.

  • Load the kamado firebox full with only new charcoal
  • You will also need to place a heat deflector above the fire ring when you want to use a kamado grill to smoke
  • You also need to place a grate above the heat deflector and a drip pan below it
  • A water pan is not required
  • The optimal temperature for smoking with a kamado is 149°C to 232°C (300°F to 445°F)
  • Leave the bottom and top vent fully open to let the charcoal properly ignite, then adjust accordingly
  • You can make use of a few chunks of smoking wood, which should be added at the beginning

Conclusion

Now that you know how to use the kamado, it’s time to make that masterpiece. Note that it is rewarding to own and use a kamado. If you don’t already have a kamado, then you need to read our review on the best kamado grills. So, best of luck on your next grill-out. And please feel free to hit me up with your inquiry and comments.

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