Get the answers to all your hot Kamado grill frequently asked questions in my Kamado grill FAQ. Learn more with the Grilling Life Q&A.
If you’ve ever spotted a funky, round, egg-looking grill on someone’s back patio and weren’t quite sure what type of grill it was, congrats! You’ve seen a kamado.
Kamado grills are incredibly versatile and can be used for much more than grilling. You can bake, roast, and even smoke food in one!
But what exactly makes a kamado grill a kamado? And how do they work?
If you’re like most backyard barbecue dabblers, you might not know much about these ancient cooking tools or how they work.
And when I say ancient, I mean it — current-day kamados are based on Chinese clay cooking vessels developed more than 3,000 years ago!
While a kamado’s unique shape may feel more intimidating than your typical charcoal grill, once you get past a short learning curve these powerful grills are a breeze to use. It’s no wonder they’re gaining popularity among grillers across the country.
If you’re interested in trying one out for yourself, we put together this kamado grill FAQ guide to help!
In this FAQ guide, we’ll cover what exactly a kamado grill is, how they work, how to safely use, clean, and maintain one, and some must-have kamado grilling accessories.
As with all of our FAQ guides, we’ll leave you with a few parting thoughts and send you on your way, hopefully, better informed about kamado grills than you were when you started reading.
Be sure to check back on this guide often, as we update the answer with new info and add new questions!
Time to fire up this kamado grill FAQ guide!
In This Article, We’ll Explore:
Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.
What Is a Kamado Grill?
A kamado grill is a charcoal-powered grill, usually oval-shaped and with a ceramic body, making it sturdy, efficient, and excellent at heat retention.
Why Choose a Kamado Grill?
Kamado grills offer more versatility than traditional charcoal grills, with the ability to smoke, barbecue, grill, bake, and roast food. They are better than traditional charcoal grills at producing and maintaining heat for longer periods of time. Plus, they’re long-lasting and look great in any backyard.
How Does a Kamado Grill Work?
With a kamado grill, charcoal is placed in the base of the grill, with vents on both the top and bottom used to increase or decrease the temperature. Heat and smoke travel through the chamber toward the top vent, while the grill’s ceramic body traps and radiates heat for even cooking.
What Is the Difference Between a Kamado Grill & a Standard Charcoal Grill?
The primary difference between a kamado and a standard grill is their construction. Kamados are made from ceramic or porcelain, while traditional charcoal grills are typically made from metal. The kamado’s ceramic body and enclosed structure mean it can start up faster and contain heat, smoke, and moisture better than a standard grill — which equals more quality results.
Is It Hard to Cook With a Kamado Grill?
No, kamado grills are not hard to cook with. As with any new appliance, there will be a bit of a learning curve as you get used to a kamado, especially when it comes to adjusting to how hot and efficient it runs. However, once you’ve gotten used to that, grilling is as easy as firing it up and tossing your food in.
How Far From My Home Should I Place My Kamado Grill?
You should be sure to keep your kamado grill at least 10 feet from your house or any other flammable structures, including railings, enclosures, overhangs. You’ll also want to keep any combustible materials far from your grill, and of course, never, ever grill inside.
Are Kamado Grills Good for Smoking?
Yes, kamado grills are great for smoking foods! Thanks to their awesome heat retention and insulation, and their dual heat vents, kamado grills allow you the fine temperature control and fuel efficiency required for a proper smoke. Kamado grills can maintain the low and slow temps needed for a very long time.
Are Kamado Grills Only for Smoking Foods?
No, kamado grills are not only good for smoking foods. While kamado grills are great at smoking food, that’s not all they’re good for! Kamado grills are great at low and slow cooking, direct heat cooking, raised direct heat cooking, and indirect heat cooking. You can barbecue or grill all sorts of food on them, including steaks and burgers.
In What Ways Can You Cook on a Kamado?
Kamado grills are incredibly versatile, and there are many different ways to cook on them. You can roast and smoke at low to medium indirect heat (225°-450°F), grill and sear at high direct heat (400°-750°F), and bake at high indirect heat (500°-750°F).
Can I Use a Water Pan in My Kamado?
Yes, you can use a water pan in a kamado! Just take care not to spill any water into the bottom of your grill which will put out the fire. Some models of kamado grills will come with a deflector plate where you can place your water pan without fear of spilling.
Do You Need to Season a New Kamado Grill?
No, you do not need to season a new kamado grill. Your kamado grill has already been brought to extremely high temperatures during its manufacturing, so there’s no need to season your kamado grill before using it. It is a good idea to season new grill grates though.
This will also be the perfect opportunity to do a test run without any food the first time you light it to get accustomed to starting a fire and adjusting the temperature with the air vents.
How Do You Prep a Kamado for Cooking?
You can prep a kamado for cooking by first making sure your kamado is clean, with debris-free grates and no ash in the bottom.
Then grab your supplies, so you have everything ready to go. Cooking tools, a thermometer, fuel, a way to light your fire, flavored wood if you plan on smoking, and protective clothing like heatproof gloves and an apron.
When you’re ready to go, open your grill’s lid and vents, stack your charcoal, and light it up!
Why Is Natural Lump Charcoal Recommended for Kamados?
Lump charcoal is recommended since it’s free from additives and accelerants that can give food a nasty flavor, burns efficiently, and produces far less ash that can muck up the kamado’s airflow. Lump charcoal burns hotter than briquettes and is made from natural hardwoods, so it produces better flavors.
Do I Have to Use Lump Charcoal in My Kamado?
You should always use lump charcoal in a ceramic grill. Without lump charcoal, your food may wind up with an unpleasant flavor from the additives in briquettes. It won’t take long for the porous walls of your kamado to absorb these additives, and there is no getting rid of them.
It can also become challenging to control the temperature with excess ash from briquettes preventing proper airflow.
Can I Use Lighter Fluid to Light Charcoal in a Kamado?
You should absolutely not use lighter fluid in a kamado. Since kamado grills are made of ceramic, the porous walls will absorb the chemical flavor and smells from lighter fluid like a sponge and make your food taste off. Once these chemicals are absorbed, they are there to stay.
How Much Lump Charcoal Should You Use?
It’s a good idea to use a full load of coals every time you use your kamado grill, so you don’t run out of fuel halfway through cooking.
Don’t worry about wasting your lump charcoal by doing this. It’s easy to snuff the fire out when you’re done with your cook simply by closing the vents and cutting off the oxygen. The coals will go out and you can reuse the leftover lump the next time you cook.
What’s the Best Way to Configure Your Coals on a Kamado?
The best way to way to configure your coals on a kamado is to make a pile with a broad base and a peak that’s level with the top of your kamado’s firebox. Make sure it reaches just below the holes in your kamados fire ring otherwise you may block the airflow.
Put your larger pieces of lump at the bottom of the pile to help with airflow and to prevent smaller pieces from falling through the fire grate. Build your way up from there.
What Is the Best Way to Light a Kamado Grill?
The best way to light a kamado grill is by using an electric charcoal starter. It is your fastest and surest bet to get your fuel lit quickly, but a charcoal chimney starter will work as well. Just fill the chimney with lump charcoal, add newspaper to the bottom, and light it.
My recommended electric charcoal start is the Looftlighter Charcoal Electric Lighter & Firestarter
How Long Does It Take To Start a Kamado Grill?
It should take around 30 to 45 minutes for your kamado grill to start up and reach your desired temperature. Patience is key when starting your kamado grill but the results are worth the wait.
How Can I Tell When My Coals Are Ready for Cooking?
The easiest, more accurate, and least painful way to tell that your coals are ready for cooking is by using a thermometer (recommended), although you can also use your hand.
Hold your hand a few inches above the charcoal with your palm facing down — if you can hold it there for more than 11 seconds, your coals are at low heat (225°-250°F). If you can keep your hand for eight to 10 seconds, your grill is at medium-low heat (250°-325°F), and six to seven seconds indicates medium heat (325°-375°F).
If you can only stand to hold your hand over the coals for four to five seconds, your coals are at medium-high heat (375°-450°F), while one to three seconds signifies high heat (450°-650°F).
Do I Cook on a Kamado Grill With the Lid Up or Down?
Kamado grills are meant to be used with the lid down, except when you’re putting your food on, taking it off, and flipping it over. Keeping the lid down makes sure your grill can keep all of its valuable heat and moisture inside, giving you the best results.
Of course, there will be times when you leave the lid open. A blazing hot and fast sear is a good example.
How Do You Control the Temperature in a Kamado?
You control the temperature in a kamado by using your kamado’s lower and upper vents. Start with the bottom vent wide open when lighting your kamado to let in a good amount of air, then slide it almost closed so there’s just a small opening once you’re close to your desired temps.
Leave the top vent wide open and only adjust it if your kamado is still running too hot after adjusting your bottom vent.
If you need to bring the temperature up, open the bottom vent up a bit more, and close it if you need to decrease the temp.
For a more in-depth look at controlling the heat, you can read my guide on Using Grill Vents Correctly – Controlling Temperature With Vents
Can You Cook Using Two-Zone Grilling on a Kamado?
Yes, you can cook using two-zone grilling on a kamado. Because of the oval shape of these grills, it’s not as easy to use the two-zone grilling method on a kamado grill, but there are accessories that can make it a lot easier.
A ceramic heat deflection plate placed across half of your grill will allow you to use two-zone grilling without interfering with your charcoal. There are also dual layered cooking grates that will help you create a dual-zone environment.
What Is the Difference Between Direct & Indirect Cooking?
Direct cooking requires you to place your food right over the fire, so the food can be cooked with the heat coming directly from the source. With indirect cooking, you’ll put your food away from the fire with the lid closed, which means it’ll cook via convection heat from the hot air and smoke circulating through the grill.
What Is the Maximum Temperature of a Kamado?
Most kamado grills can easily reach upwards of 665°F. Many may even be able to reach much higher temperatures, but it’s rarely necessary for cooking and can actually make your grill’s components less durable.
Is Kamado Flashback a Real Thing? What Is It, and How Can I Avoid It?
Kamado flashback occurs when you open the lid when cooking, and the sudden intake of oxygen meets the charcoal and ignites into a fireball. While it doesn’t happen often, it’s best to err on the side of caution, assume the potential for flashbacks exists, and “burp” your kamado.
How Do I Burp My Kamado?
To burp your kamado and eliminate the risk of flashback (see above), first open the bottom vent. Then, stand off to the side as far as you can, lift the lid an inch or two, and allow air to fill the grilling chamber for about 10 seconds. Once oxygen has slowly started circulating inside your grill, you can slowly lift the lid the rest of the way and safely go about your grilling.
Is It Hard to Lower the Temperature on a Kamado Grill?
Since kamado grills are excellent at retaining temperature, overshooting your goal temp and bringing it back down can be tricky and time-consuming. Instead, slowly and steadily ease your way up to your target temperature. It may not be the fastest way to get grilling, but it’s much quicker than waiting for a kamado to cool down!
What Grill Grates Are Best for a Kamado?
The best grill grates for your kamado will be the ones that don’t impede airflow and heat but are durable enough to withstand plenty of cooking.
Cast iron grates are incredibly durable and great at heat distribution and retention but are usually pretty pricy and high maintenance. For a lower-cost option, steel and stainless-steel grates will protect your wallet but are way less durable.
How Do You Clean Kamado Grill Grates?
The best way to clean your kamado grill’s grates is to scrape off any remaining food or debris with a stainless steel or brass-bristled grill brush just after you finish cooking, and when the gunk is still warm. If food is really stuck on, you can dip your brush in some soapy water during this process.
Once your grates are cool, you can brush them again, rub any remaining debris off with a damp paper towel or cloth, and then lightly apply cooking or vegetable oil.
For a more in-depth look at cleaning your grill’s grates, you can read this guide How To Clean Grill Grates – The Ultimate Guide On Grill Grate Cleaning And Care
How Do You Put Out the Coals on a Kamado?
To put out the coals in your kamado, close both air vents and the lid, then simply wait. This will starve the coals of oxygen and eventually cause them to burn out, but it will take a while. Be prepared to wait up to 24 hours for your coals to die down and cool completely.
Never use water to put them out since the sudden temperature drop could damage the body of your grill.
Can Charcoal Be Reused in a Kamado?
Yes, charcoal can be reused in a kamado. Since you’re using lump charcoal in your kamado (you are using lump charcoal as we told you, right?), you can reuse it. Just empty out the residual ash and re-light any charcoal pieces leftover for your next grilling session.
Can You Use a Kamado Grill in Rainy or Cold Weather?
Yes, you can use a kamado grill in rainy or cold weather. Kamado grills’ sturdy, insulated body means they’ll work just fine in rainy or chilly weather. Just make sure the forecast is safe enough for you to actually be outside grilling, and make sure to put a cover over the grill to protect it when not in use!
Will the Ceramic of a Kamado Break Down Over Time?
Eventually, yes, the ceramic of a kamado will break down over time. The process of heating and cooling your kamado grill will cause the ceramic to expand and contract, creating tiny cracks. However, many modern kamado grills come with a ceramic interior firebox that will handle most of the damage and help your grill last for decades if taken care of.
Will I Have to Tighten My Kamado’s Band Every So Often?
Yes, tightening the band on a yearly basis will help counteract the heating and cooling process that can cause the seal on your grill to loosen over time. When you’re ready to tighten the band, all you need to do is make sure all of the bolts are tightened and secured with a wrench.
How Often Should I Clean My Kamado Grill?
You should clean your kamado grill by scraping any large bits of food degree after every grilling session, while the grill is still warm. You should also empty the ashes out of your kamado grill after every time you cook and burn off accumulated food drippings and grease every few uses.
How Do I Clean My Kamado Grill?
To clean the ashes out of your kamado grill, you can either use a scrapping tool, shop vac, or simply dump out the removable ash pan, if you have one. To get rid of built-up grease and drippings, you’ll want to do a “clean burn” by occasionally burning a small load of charcoal without any food at around 600°F for 30 minutes or so.
How Long Do Kamado Grills Last?
Most kamado grills made with quality ceramic and stainless steel come with a life expectancy (and warranty) of five years with many offering a limited lifetime warranty, but there’s no reason your grills can’t last much longer than that with proper care and maintenance. Treat your kamado right, and it’ll last you a lifetime of grilling!
My oldest Kamado (Big Green Egg) is 15 years old and still going strong. I plan on passing it down to my daughter one day.
Kamado Grill Tools & Accessory Must Haves
To make sure your kamado runs smoothly and lasts for years, you’ll want to have these accessories on hand each time you cook.
A Charcoal Chimney Starter
Since your kamado gets its firepower from charcoal, you’ll need a charcoal chimney starter to get it burning efficiently.
You check out my recommended Charcoal Chimney Starters here: 10 Best Charcoal Chimney Starters
You can also read my charcoal chimney user guide here: Charcoal Chimney Starter Instructions, The Best Way To Light Your Grill
Kamado grills get hot, so you’ll want a pair of quality heat-resistant gloves to use while moving your food in and out or adjusting the vents. You can find our picks for the best heat-proof gloves.
You check out my recommended Heat-Resistant Glove here: Best Heat Resistant Gloves For Grilling
Your grill is a powerful tool on its own, but grilling tools like tongs and a spatula are essential to complete the experience.
Here are some great Grilling Toolset options: Grilling Toolsets
While the hand test is a handy trick, to truly get a good read on your grill and food’s temperature, you’ll need a great thermometer. Check out our recommendations for the best leave-in thermometers.
Check out my recommended Instant Read Thermometers here: 10 Best Instant Read Thermometers
Check out my recommended Digital, Dual-Probe Smoker & Grill Thermometers here: 10 Best Digital Meat Thermometers
A Good Grill Brush
Thoroughly cleaning your kamado grill will ensure it stays in good shape and your food always turns out delicious. Look for a bristle-free brush to ensure no stray bristles end up in your food — you can find our picks and recommendations 10 Best Bristle Free Grill Brushes
A Kamado Grill Cover
Covering your grill when it’s not in use will help keep it clean and free of dirt, moisture, tree sap, and all the other fun messes that can happen outside. Plus, if your area gets snow, all you need to do to grill in winter is whip the cover off — no brushing or shoveling required.
A Kamado Grill Cooking Guide
If you’re new to kamado cooking or just want some inspiration beyond your typical burgers and steaks, a recipe guide like the one found on this site will come in handy. Kamado Cooking – The Complete Guide To The Ceramic BBQ
Kamado Grill FAQ Final Thoughts
There are plenty of reasons why kamado grills are growing in popularity across the country. While a bit more expensive than your typical charcoal grill, kamados offer powerful, flexible cooking options in a sturdy, efficient package that can last you a lifetime with proper care and usage.
Hopefully, after reading our kamado grill FAQ guide, you’ve learned a bit more about these unique grills, how to use one, how to maintain one, and why you should add one to your own backyard cooking toolbelt.
A quality kamado grill will cost more than you might be used to paying for a grill, but we recommend the investment if you’re serious about versatility and grilling power. Plus, you’ll get your money’s worth by also using your kamado for baking, roasting, and smoking food!
If you have any lingering questions about kamado grills or thought of something we didn’t cover in this guide, let us know by sending us an email or dropping a comment in the section below. We’ll do what we can to find you an answer, and you might even see your contribution added to this guide!
As with all of our FAQ guides, be sure to check back as we add questions and update the answers with new information.
Disclosure: At The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs. If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission. This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue. Your support is truly appreciated.
A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!
I have personally tested over 150+ Grills and Smokers and hundreds of grilling thermometers, temperature controllers, grill brushes, grilling tools, fire starters, and other BBQ products.