Kamado Grills FAQ
Kamado grills have been around for quite some time — seriously, these things got their start centuries ago in ancient China — but we know many of you still have pressing questions about this type of grilling. To help clear up any confusion or uncertainties, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about kamado cookers along with answers from our dedicated team of BBQ experts. We touched on everything from safety to maintenance so you can be fully confident the next time you research or use kamados.
For further help or answers to questions not listed here, call one of our kamado grill experts at 1-877-743-2269!
Why buy a kamado grill online?
Our Kamado or Ceramic Grills include the brands Kamado Joe, Primo, and Grill Dome. We carry a very large selection of Big Green Egg similar grills for your outdoor kitchen, which makes for versatility in your outdoor cooking and looks great in your outdoor kitchen. So let us help you create the perfect BBQ grilling solution for your outdoor cooking needs. Our ceramic grill knowledge and customer satisfaction commitment is second to none.
What is a kamado grill and what are they used for?
The concept of a ceramic grill was first introduced over 3,000 years ago in Asia. Some of the oldest clay cooking vessels have been found in China, and eventually the clay was replaced by ceramics. The modern concept of a kamado grill was first introduced in the USA after the Second World War. The name "kamado" is, in fact, the Japanese word for "stove" or "cooking range". Today, kamado is a general term for a ceramic grill and they have many uses such as smoking, baking, roasting, and grilling.
What is the difference between a kamado grill and a conventional charcoal grill?
Most kamado grills have a ceramic body. The ceramics have superior heat retaining characteristics as opposed to metal charcoal grills. The enclosed design of a kamado grill has better flavor because smoke and moisture is well contained inside the grill, allowing it to penetrate the food more deeply. The start up time is also significantly less with a kamado grill, it's ready for cooking in 15 minutes. Weatherproof ceramics also won't rust and the surface stays cooler than metal grills.
There are many different styles of kamado grills. How do I know which one I should buy?
There are a few important factors to consider. If versatility is important, consider what accessories the brand offers. Most kamado brands have accessories such as extended cooking racks, drip pans, and pizza stones. Primo has a firebox divider accessory, which is useful for indirect cooking. Kamados also come in different shapes and sizes as well, and you should consider what size is best for you. Grill Dome produces their grills in five different colors, so that is something to consider as well.
Do I cook with the lid up or down?
Kamado grills are designed to cook with the lid down unless adding, removing, or turning your food. Cooking with the lid down will ensure you hold in all the heat and moisture to produce the best tasting food.
I've heard the kamado grills are good for smoking. Do they also work well for hamburgers, steaks, and other types of food?
Yes, kamado grills are incredibly versatile! They are great for all types of grilling applications.
Why is natural lump charcoal recommended for kamados?
Natural lump charcoal is recommended because it burns more efficiently and hotter than briquettes. Natural charcoal is made from charred hardwoods like oak, hickory, and maple, so it also contributes better flavor. Since it burns more efficiently, less charcoal is needed so natural charcoal is also more economical. There are no chemicals, produces little ash, and is environmentally sustainable.
What is the best way to light a kamado grill?
We recommend using an electric charcoal starter. They are easy to use and can have your charcoal lit in 60 seconds. Another option is to use a charcoal chimney starter. Simply fill the top with charcoal, newspaper in the bottom, and light. Using lighter fluid or other flammable liquids with your kamado is not recommended. Lighter fluids will soak into the ceramic and can produce an odor when used in kamados.
Is it hard to cook with a kamado grill?
It's very easy to use a kamado, but there is a slight learning curve. Kamados are very forgiving grills but they take some time to get used to. It's completely different than cooking with a conventional charcoal grill. Ceramic kamado grills are very efficient in maintaining temperatures, and once you reach your desired temperature constant tending is not required. If the grill gets hotter than your desired temperature, it can be difficult to lower the temperature because of the nature of ceramics.
Is a kamado grill safe to use during inclement weather?
Yes, as long as it is safe to be outdoors you can use your kamado grill. Ceramic kamados are not affected by cold weather or rain although using a grill cover is recommended to protect your kamado when not in use.
I've heard about kamado flashback. What is it, and how can I avoid it?
This happens when the charcoal inside the kamado grill is highly starved of oxygen. When the lid is opened, the sudden burst of oxygen can ignite, causing a fireball. Bear in mind that this is actually pretty uncommon. The safest way to approach using your kamado is to always assume these conditions exist, and to take proper precaution by burping the kamado.
Burping my kamado...? How do I do that?
Burping is simple, but safety is a must — keep in mind that you’re removing any possible flashback conditions within the grill. First, check that your bottom vent is open: you'll want fresh air entering the kamado. Then, while standing back and to the side, lift the lid 1 to 2 inches and wait a moment for air to fill the grilling chamber. Once the charcoal has plenty of freely-circulating oxygen to combust, you may open the lid fully and get back to grilling. Remember to always burp your kamado. Every temperature, every time!
Do I have to use lump charcoal in my kamado?
In a ceramic grill? Absolutely. In a metal one, technically no — but you should. The problem (well, the biggest problem) with briquette charcoal is that it typically contains chemical additives and accelerants, such as lighter fluid. Great for starting fire! Terrible flavor in your food. Once your kamado walls have soaked it up — which won’t take long — it's there to stay. Another thing to consider is that briquette charcoal produces way more ash than lump. This is an issue for your kamado, because they rely on airflow for temperature precision. The more ash to deal with, the less clean airflow your kamado has... and the less accurate your heat will be. Both problems are avoided entirely with quality lump charcoal.
Will the ceramic of my kamado break down over time?
Eventually. But kamados are long-lived grills, built upon cooking techniques that have seen thousands of years of use. Heating and cooling will expand and contract your ceramic, forming microcracks. Over time, frequent cycling can exacerbate them — and extreme temperatures can make this happen faster. That said, interior ceramic fireboxes have become more commonplace in the last few years; they’re designed to take the damage and spare your kamado. Models with interior fire boxes will last an incredibly long time.
Will I have to tighten my kamado’s band? If so, how often?
It's a good idea to do this yearly. Much like ceramic, heating and cooling the seal will loosen it over time. To do this, tighten all bolts down with a wrench, and then — nope, that's it. This keeps the lift assist hinge nice and steady, and prevents the lid from falling out. We probably don't have to tell you that the last thing that treats ceramic gently is an abrupt impact. Keep that band appropriately tight, and enjoy your peace of mind.
How do I clean my kamado? How often should I?
This depends on your ash volume, which depends on the quality (and type — you're using lump charcoal, right?) of your fuel. Clean ashes out after every use, or when ash begins to disturb airflow. Shop vacs are great for this, but some kamados now feature removable ash pans to make cleanup that much easier. Meanwhile, collected grease and drippings should be burned off and removed every so often. Simply burn a small load of charcoal within your kamado to 600 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This will effectively clean off any combustible material left on the ceramic.
Can I use a water pan in my kamado?
Absolutely! Be very careful to not spill it in the bottom of your grill. Although it depends on the model for where to set your water pan, many brands carry a deflector plate system where the pan can safely rest.