The Ceramic Kamado are amazingly versatile grills, they work great as a smoker with indirect cooking or just as well as a direct heating grill. With the right accessories you can even do both at the same time.
As with all charcoal or wood fueled grills or ovens, you will, over time, get to learn the best techniques for controlling the temperature that work for you and your grill.
A Kamado is a very unique piece of equipment and understanding its characteristics will help understand how to manage its temperature when cooking. A Kamados ceramic shell holds and reflects heat extremely well, making it extremely efficient compared to a standard grill. Airflow can be accurately controlled via the top and bottom vents on the grill allowing extremely accurate temperature control.
One tip that you will hear time and time again when it comes to temperature controlling any kamado is that its easy to raise the temperature but a lot harder to reduce it. Therefore, if you’re working towards a lower or specific temperature its important that you allow the kamados temperature to rise slowly to the desired temperature so you don’t end up overshooting it.
Another tip with regards to helping with the temperature control of your kamado is the fuel. It is important that you use a good quality hardwood lump charcoal, and especially not anything with additives or accelerants. It makes managing a consistent temperature much easier.
LIGHTING YOUR KAMADO
- Add as much charcoal to your grill as you need (Any unused charcoal that remains after your cook in the grill can be saved for next time by shutting down the grill so it burns out and you can just top it up next time).
Tip: Make sure you add more than enough charcoal for your cook so you don’t have to top it up mid-cook.
- Light the charcoal with a natural firelighter or two, nothing more is needed.
Do not use any of the following when lighting your grill:
1 . Lighters containing fuel accelerants
2. Lighting fluid
3. Pre heated charcoal such as that from a Chimney Starter.
These methods can, with the fluids, taint your cooks, but more importantly they can cause the grill to heat too rapidly and you will risk cracking the ceramic of the Kamado. Slow and gradual is essential with a Kamado.
- Keep the lid open and wait about 10-20 minutes for the charcoal to build a small bed of embers.
- Close the dome, fully open both bottom draft door and the top vent.
- When the temperature is approximately 25 degrees away from your target temperature you need to start adjusting the vents according to the type of cook you are doing.
LOW AND SLOW VENT SETTINGS
For ‘low and slow’, near fully close both vents, leaving the bottom draft vent open less than a fingers thickness and the top vent a small crescent. Let the kamado’s temperature settle then adjust the airflow accordingly. Remember though that even the smallest adjustment to the airflow will have a noticeable effect on the grills temperature.
HIGH TEMPERATURE VENT SETTINGS
For grilling, when nearing the desired temperature, close the top vent to ¼ open, let the kamados temperature settle then adjust the airflow via the top vent in small increments until you reach the desired temperature.
With your temperature settled. In order to increase the temperature, you want to do it gradually. With a Kamado, even the slightest increase in airflow will effect the temperature.
Simply adjust the air vents, top and bottom simultaneously to alter the airflow. The smaller the adjustments the better.
If you do make any adjustments to the air vents, give the grill time to adjust temperature wise before making any further changes.
LOWERING THE TEMPERATURE OF YOUR KAMADO
If you overshoot your target temperature, repeating the process of closing both vents for 5 minutes and then opening the lid for 30 seconds to remove the heat will eventually bring the temperature down.
Especially if you’re running the Kamado to a high temperature, always open the lid slightly for a few seconds to begin with to let some air in gradually rather than opening it fully immediately. This is to avoid a potential flashback which can occur when the Kamado gets a rush of oxygen. This is quite often referred to as ‘burping’.
Hopefully this article should give you the basics that you need to get started, and with practice you’ll get to know the best methods that work for you and you grill.