The Kamado grill, contrary to a popular belief, is a very easy to use, it just requires a little practice and understanding.
How to Light a Kamado Grill
Kamado Joe is a grill that runs on charcoal (also with wood chunk and smoke). It means that you have to light the charcoal every time in order to get the grill hot and start grill. It used to be a hard task, dirty and time consuming, but today things are different ways to get the charcoal burning fast and easily without toxic tinder with blow lighter or fire dish.
Which specific method will be the best for you is only up to you, but easiest and most effective and important are free of toxics.
Never use lighter fluid to light charcoal in a ceramic grill. It has plenty of downsides which is why it’s better to use one of the selected methods. Lighter fluid creates the strange order to foods.
Which charcoal is better for Kamado Joe?
Lump Charcoal is more expensive, burns faster, but it reaches much higher temperatures and produces way less ash, which is the main reason why it is better to use 100% Hardwood lump charcoal in a grill.
Briquettes (Coconut, tree wood or….), on the other hand, are much cheaper, burn longer, reach slightly lower temperatures, but they leave sometime much more ash which might get the holes clogged and lower the air flow which is important in case of long cooking like smoke.
Definitely, Lump charcoal is better because it reaches higher temperatures and produces much less ash than briquettes, the main downside of lump charcoal is only its price.
Method no. 1 – Charcoal Chimney: A chimney is a great way to light charcoal, it allows to get the charcoal burning fast and evenly in a short time.
Step 1 – Place some old newspapers on the bottom of the chimney, then put in as much charcoal as you need and set it on fire
Step 2 – Wait for a moment, usually 10-15 minutes, when the charcoal is ready and you can move it to the fire box in the kamado.
Step 3 – Then close the lid of the grill and manipulate the air vents to get your requested temperature.
Method no. 2 – Electric Starter (RJE Blow Lighter)
A little more expensive but self-sufficient starting method, a very effective way, and it works great when lighting charcoal in a kamado grill.
Step 1 – Open all the air vents, open the lid of the grill and pour charcoal into the firebox. Then put the electric blow lighter on the charcoal about 2-3 minutes.
Step 2 – Once you see that the charcoal is burning, take out the electric starter and you can add some more new charcoal to the hot charcoal so that the grill warms up faster.
Step 3 – You can close the lid of the grill now and close the upper air vent a little, leave the bottom one still opend all the way until you get your ideal temperature.
Method no. 3 – Lighter Cubes/ Fire Disc
Another method (Lighter Cubes/ Fire Disc ) consists of pouring the right amount of charcoal into the inside of a kamado grill, then just adding 1-2 lighter cubes. It is also a quick way to get the grill burning cheap, fast and without chemical additives.
Step 1 – Open the lid, all the air vents, pour in charcoal
Step 2 – Add lighter cubes (2 cubes is enough) and light them.
Step 3 – Wait for 10-15 minutes the charcoal will burn faster.
The best solution is lighter cubes and a charcoal chimney starter for economy solution but the blow lighter is most effective and faster way. But lighter cubes/ Fire disc is an advantage for outdoor or countryside area
Temperature Control in Kamado
So the charcoal is burning already and the temperature in the grill keeps getting hotter by the minute. The key thing is to keep the selected temperature? It may be a difficult task, but the truth is, it just requires a little practice and understanding few rules.
While cooking, you should always close the lid of the grill, only open it if you really have to. Avoid opening it every few seconds, it results in losing the heat fast and makes it impossible to maintain a temperature.
Temperature control in a Kamado Joe depends on two main factors – the amount of charcoal and the amount of oxygen through the air vents. Which means you should choose the right amount of charcoal and properly control the air vents in order to have a good control of the air flow.
The more charcoal in the grill, the higher temperature you will get, so if planning to cook for few hours at a low temperature then it’s a good idea to light a small amount of charcoal at first, and then add charcoal when it’s needed. If you want a higher temperature then you have to add a lot more charcoal.
How to deal with the air vents?
Charcoal burning requires oxygen. The more oxygen, the faster and hotter the charcoal burns, and it goes the same the other way, the less oxygen the longer the charcoal burns and the lower temperatures the grill reaches.
How to control a fixed temperature?
Step 1 – Chose the right amount of charcoal, which is already burning and close the lid of the grill and open all the air vents until the Kamado Joe gets close to the desired temperature (about 20-30 degrees away from the desired temperature).
Step 2 – Is the temperature inside the grill close to the desired one? If yes, then close the bottom air vent and leave the top air vent slightly open and keep checking if the temperature has stabilized for few minutes.
Step 3 – If the temperature is too hot then open the top air vent some more, but close the bottom one. If the temperature is too low, then close ¾ of the upper air vent and open the bottom air vent a little to increase the temperature.
Step 4 – Depending on food you cook in a high temperature or a low one, monitor the charcoal condition inside the grill.
Are you planning to smoking meat?
You should start cooking a little differently than usual and to start with a definitely smaller amount of charcoal. The grill will be warming up much longer this way, but once it gets hot, it will easily hold a fixed low temperature for many hours. Kamado grills are great at holding temperature (especially the ceramic ones).
You should also control the air vents accordingly so that you don’t provide too much oxygen and not make the charcoal burn faster. It is very important to choose the right amount of charcoal, too much of it will cause the temperature to be high and you mus wait for some of the charcoal to burn down so that the temperature drops on.
Cooking on a Kamado Grill
When you know the basics of temperature control and air vent control or check everything about your food, the desired temperature and what the rub to use. Now all that is left is to put all that knowledge into practical use, light the charcoal, preheat the grill and start cooking.
There is best way to learn how to cook on Kamado Joe than to simply experiment on your Kamado and learn how your grill works. You can find your own recipe, Kamado Joe allows grill lovers to make a difference and create their own taste.