Kamado is name for grill, or range- in fact, it’s the Japanese word for stove. These grills have a rich history, and even a Wikipedia page! All Kamado grills, regardless of brand, work off these principles:
- Kamado Grills are a word burning vessel, no gas here (unless you have an Icon Ceramic Grill with the optional gas insert, of course!)
- The walls are extremely thick, which provides perfect insulation for long cooking times
- There are two vents, one at the top and one at the bottom, for temperature control
A Kamado grill might sound like a typical grill, because it mostly is. However, you can smoke and grill in a single pit. You can smoke for 12 hours at 225°, or get crazy hot at 900° for the perfect sear on a steak. The main key with Komado grills is air flow. Most on the market come with a big ceramic insert that rests between the burning coals and the grilling surface. This ceramic piece pushes the heat around the edges, protecting the food.
If you’d rather cook with direct heat, you can yank the ceramic insert out for live-fire grilling. Owning a Kamado grill is like having 2-in-1, but even better, most our Icon Ceramic Grills have an optional gas insert. If you like switching between the two, an Icon Ceramic Grill may be the ideal choice for you!
Get Started: Smoking
- Dump some charcoal into the main chamber and arrange it into a peak (it doesn’t have to be a perfect peak, sloppy is just fine)
- Optional: Top your peak off with a fire-starter (tumbleweeds or fatwood are commonly used- but use whatever fits your tastes)
- Let the fire burn a good 15-30 minutes for a solid start. Your looking for good embers, thin smoke from the top vent (not pillowing dark gray).
- This process is called a top-down burn, and it does just that! Your fire will start at the top peak you created, and slowly burn it’s way down to the edges. A good top-down peak can last you up to 12 hours or more, thanks to the Kamado’s thick insulation and precise air control.
- With the fire burning, it’s time to add the smoking stone insert (the piece that diverts the heat away from the food), then the grill grate itself.
- Wait 5-10 minutes for the fire to regain it’s footing. The insert snuffs it a bit).
- Add your food.
Get Started: Grilling
This is much easier than smoking, and requires less precision. If you grill frequently you probably already have a process you like, and you can do just that. Here’s some tips for grilling:
- A lot of people like using a chimney starter
- For lots of heat, dump more charcoal into the main chamber, use multiple fire-starters.
- You want the entire chamber filled with hot embers, and top-down isn’t important while grilling.
- As with smoking, you’ll want your charcoal to burn about 15-30 minutes. An old saying was to “let the lighter fluid burn off”, but we aren’t using lighter fluid here- however, waiting just as important.
- You’re looking for coals that are burning, not just scorching and throwing black smoke.
- When you see a fire you like, add your grill-gate and food.
For the most part, cooking with a Kamado grill is a set it and forget it process. The setting it part can be a little tough. To control the temperature, the Kamado uses two ports: one at the top, and one at the bottom.
If you grill, this should be a pretty familiar setup. The principle is simple: the bottom port controls how much air you let in, while the top port controls how much air (and smoke) you let out. Most of the time, you use the bottom port to ease your Kamado to the temperature you’re looking for. Set it, wait 15 minutes and see if you need further adjustment.
The top exhaust controls how much air is released, which affects things like temperature and how much smoke is contained in the pit. When the temperature is dialed in, most people just about close the top. If you notice your smoke start to dwindle (usually a couple hours in), open the top port up a bit. In about 10-15 minutes you’ll notice smoke trail out the top, then you can just about close the port again.
It sounds like a lot of adjustments: it is and isn’t. When you start the process, you may have to make multiple small adjustments, but over a 12 hour timeline the Kamado basically manages itself.
Stop by our store in Olathe and view our Icon Kamado Grills in person! With the optional gas insert, you can not only use charcoal, but gas with your Kamado grill!