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Kamado Grilling: Everything You Need to Know

Kamado, “stove” or “cooking range” in Japanese, is a term used for ceramic grills. They are used in all types of outdoor cooking, including grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking.  

Ceramic is used in many kamados because of its ability to retain uniform heat and moisture. The most famous, and most popular, kamado brand, Big Green Egg, began in the United States in 1974. Since that time, many other kamado brands and styles have emerged, such as these by Pit Boss.

Since this grill style has a long and growing list of fans, we’re here to tell you what’s so special about them!

How They Cook

Kamados are fueled by lump charcoal, which burns hotter for longer periods of time than standard briquettes. The ceramic lining of the grill can withstand temperatures up to and above 750 degrees without cracking.

Lump charcoal produces relatively little ash, which allows the grill to cook for up to 12 hours unattended. Closing the lid and allowing the vents to control air flow (and thus temperature) helps the kamado cook in several different ways.

 

The ceramic domes inside the grills hold heat and send it back toward the food, which allows food to cook from above and below, instead of just below, as in standard grilling.

The concept of keeping the heat contained is the same as it was when people were cooking in clay pots over 3000 years ago. In fact, some websites call the kamado an outdoor oven, since you can also make exceptional pizzas and bread!

Advantages

  • Set it and forget it convenience
  • Quick start-up (usually 15 minutes)
  • Smoke flavor penetrates the food better, since heat and moisture are sealed inside the grill.
  • Ceramic doesn’t rust
  • Versatile cooking style
  • Widely available accessories

Disadvantages

  • Extended cool-down period
  • 2 zone cooking can be tricky (particularly in round kamado grills)
  • Fragile
  • Heavy and not very portable
  • Sealed cooking area can cause flashover
  • More expensive than gas or charcoal grills

Other Kamado Tips

  • Never use lighter fluid to light your kamado (or any grill). It will damage the porous interior and affect the flavor of your food.
  • Light the grill and slowly bring it to the temp you desire. It’s much easier to bring the temperature up than to bring it down if you overshoot.

Do you have a kamado review or tip to share? Make sure you let us know in the comments!

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