How to Use a Kamado Grill [Settings, Temperature Control, Ignition & More]


From temperature control to seasoning to airflow, learn everything you need to know to become a master of your Kamado or Big Green Egg grill.

How do you use a Kamado grill?

A truly unique range of grills, the Kamado and Big Green Eggs grills offer a completely different cooking experience than your usual gas or charcoal grill.

With their ceramic construction and heavy insulation, they’re great for creating intense layers of high-temperature smoke to infuse your meat with rich flavors.

This can make it daunting to use for beginners and take some getting used to.

Also, here are 4 important steps YOU should keep in mind when using your Kamado grill.

Ready to become a Kamado Master?

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How to light a Kamado Grill

One of the best things about a Kamado grill is that it allows YOU to cook over the fire.

You have the ability to shape your coals, stack them finely, and keep the coals burning while you cook the meat.

However, this comes with its own challenges, and learning how to keep the temperature of the fire at the right level for good kamado cooking can be a skill.

As with charcoal grilling, kamado grilling can be done directly over a hot fire or smoked slowly and slowly.

Both are excellent grilling methods specific to different styles of cooking, but each requires very different settings. If you know how to do both, you’ll quickly master kamado cooking.

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Direct grilling is exactly what it sounds like. It is grilled directly over the fire. It’s perfect for nicely seared meats and grill marks, as well as simple grilled dishes like burgers and hot dogs.

The problem with direct grilling is that it’s perfect for meats that only need short bursts of heat to cook.

However, in some cases we need something lower and slower that will cook the meat without exposing it to ridiculous temperatures.

This is where indirect grilling comes into play. Often referred to as 2-zone cooking, it involves setting two heating zones on the grill surface.

The first zone is over the fire, but without food. In the other zone put the meat, but without heat directly below. This allows the heat from your fire to create ambient heat, just like you would in an oven cooking your meat.

The difference to direct roasting is that the meat WILL NOT be exposed to high temperatures. This preserves its juices without drying or burning the skin.

In preparation for indirect grilling, place a generous amount of charcoal in the main chamber of your grill. Arrange the embers into a jagged point and place the lighters about a third down in the stack. Do not use lighter fluid.

It may take a while for the charcoal to reach the desired temperature, also place the lid on the grill and allow the coals to heat up. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes, but use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your grill. You’ll also want your coals to have settled down a bit and become embers rather than raging flames.

This style of lighting is called top-down because that’s exactly what it is: your fire is lit by starting at the top of the fire and burning down. This is because it usually takes longer(sometimes up to 10-12 hours) before you need to start refilling your coals. This is especially true for Kamado grills because the insulation is so good.

Once the grill is ready, add your grill stone accessory(this usually comes with your Kamado grill) which effectively deflects the heat. Don’t forget to set up your cooking grate.

Allow a few more minutes for the fire to stabilize(each opening of the grill lid changes the temperature of your grill) before placing your food in the indirect zone of your grill.

The direct grill setup is much simpler and very similar to the charcoal grill.

When grilling, it’s okay to be a little more flexible with the charring, so I tend to place them in a charcoal chimney before transferring them to the cookbox. No need to go top to bottom. We just want to have a good supply of charcoal on the go as soon as possible.

Place a generous amount of coals in the chamber and run through several lighters. We want high heat fast.

Close the lid and wait until the grill temperature has reached the desired temperature before inserting the grill and placing the food on the surface.

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How to control the temperature of the Kamado grill

When grilling, the Kamado Grill is mostly set and forgotten and does not require constant control or monitoring.

Your grill has an inlet flap at the bottom and an outlet flap at the top. This allows air to enter the grill at the bottom and exit at the top. These dampers are adjustable, allowing YOU to control the airflow through your grill. The more oxygen you adjust, the more you leave in your grill, creating heat.

This may take some getting used to, but you’ll quickly get used to how your grill responds to changes in damper settings. Check out my guide to using air vents here and consider getting a temperature controller here.

Once your grill has reached the desired temperature, you can often set the top hatch to close quickly. This should hold the temperature well, but if you notice it starting to drop you can open it slightly to try and get everything working again.

Better not to think too much though. This can often be left alone and doesn’t require constant touch-ups, as tempting as that may be!

How to use a Kamado flapper

One of the most important accessories for your Kamado grill is the baffle plate.

This round, plate-shaped tool helps protect your food from flames, ensuring your meat is cooked indirectly rather than being exposed to roaring flames.

It is in the form of a hooked insert that sits under the cooking grates and allows the hooks to be attached to the edge of the cookbox.

They’re especially useful when making pizza in your kamado, as you don’t want the flames to char the bottom of the crust.

I also recommend placing a drip tray on top of the baffle plate and under the cooking grates when cooking meat. This catches fat residue from the meat as it cooks without dripping onto the coals.

How to cool a kamado grill

When you are finished with your grill, close the inlet regulator on the bottom of your grill. This prevents more oxygen from entering the grill, cutting off some of the fuel the flames need to sustain.

YOU should see the temperature on the built-in temperature gauge begin to drop. Once the temperature drops below 400°F, close the exhaust damper on the top of the grill, but leave it slightly open to prevent smoke build-up.

Once the cookbox dome feels complete, you can either cover it or remove the cooking grates for cleaning .

It takes a while to get to the grill as Kamado grills tend to retain heat very well, especially the Kamado Joe Classic models .

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