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What is Kamado Grill?

12 Mins read
what is kamado grill

What is Kamado Grill? This question often arises when people encounter this unique and versatile cooking device for the first time. A Kamado Grill is a traditional Japanese charcoal grill that has gained popularity around the world for its exceptional cooking capabilities and distinct design. Derived from the word “kamado,” meaning “stove” or “cooking range” in Japanese, this ancient cooking vessel has a fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. 

Today, Kamado Grills have evolved into modern marvels, combining age-old craftsmanship with innovative features, making them a favorite choice among culinary enthusiasts and professional chefs alike. Let’s delve deeper into the world of Kamado Grills and explore the wonders they bring to the art of outdoor cooking.

What is Kamado Grill?

A Kamado Grill is a versatile and highly efficient cooking device that originated in Japan. Its name, “kamado,” translates to “stove” or “cooking range” in Japanese, reflecting its primary function. However, the Kamado Grill has evolved and gained worldwide popularity for its exceptional cooking capabilities.

The history of the Kamado Grill can be traced back thousands of years to ancient China, where it was first developed. The design was then adopted and refined by the Japanese, who transformed it into the iconic charcoal-fired ceramic grill we know today. The Kamado Grill’s construction typically consists of a thick ceramic shell that retains heat and distributes it evenly throughout the cooking chamber.

One of the defining features of a Kamado Grill is its excellent insulation. The ceramic walls provide superb heat retention, allowing for precise temperature control and prolonged cooking times. This insulation also results in efficient fuel usage, as the grill requires less charcoal compared to other types of grills.

The versatility of the Kamado Grill is another key aspect that sets it apart. With adjustable vents and dampers, users can regulate the airflow to control the temperature inside the grill. This flexibility enables a wide range of cooking techniques, including grilling, smoking, roasting, baking, and even pizza-making. Whether you’re searing steaks at high temperatures or slow-cooking a tender brisket, the Kamado Grill can handle it all.

In addition to its exceptional cooking capabilities, the Kamado Grill’s unique design has contributed to its popularity. The spherical shape and ceramic construction promote efficient heat circulation, ensuring even cooking throughout the grill. The tight seal created by the ceramic lid locks in moisture and flavors, resulting in succulent and flavorful dishes.

Furthermore, Kamado Grills often come equipped with various accessories and features that enhance the cooking experience. These can include multi-level cooking grates, heat deflectors, temperature gauges, ash drawers, and side shelves for added convenience.

While traditional Kamado Grills were primarily charcoal-fired, modern versions have introduced additional fuel options, such as gas and electric. This adaptability allows users to choose the fuel type that best suits their preferences and cooking needs.

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What Are Kamado Grills Made With?

Kamado grills are typically made with a combination of materials, with the primary component being ceramic. The use of ceramic in Kamado grills is what sets them apart from other types of grills and contributes to their exceptional heat retention and cooking capabilities.

The ceramic used in Kamado grills is usually a high-quality, heat-resistant material known for its durability and ability to withstand extreme temperatures. It is often sourced from natural clay deposits and then processed and fired at high temperatures to create a strong and sturdy ceramic shell.

The thickness of the ceramic shell can vary, but it is generally thicker compared to other grills. This thickness helps to trap heat and maintain a stable temperature inside the grill, allowing for efficient and even cooking.

In addition to the ceramic shell, Kamado grills also feature other components made from different materials. These may include:

Metal Components: While the main body of the grill is ceramic, Kamado grills incorporate various metal parts for structural support and functionality. These can include stainless steel or cast iron components, such as grates, vents, hinges, and hardware.

Heat-Resistant Gaskets: To create an airtight seal between the ceramic lid and base, Kamado grills often use heat-resistant gaskets. These gaskets are typically made from materials like fiberglass or felt, which can withstand high temperatures without degrading or melting.

Wooden Accents: Some Kamado grills may feature wooden accents, such as handles or side shelves, to add aesthetic appeal and provide convenient surfaces for food preparation or serving. The type of wood used can vary, with popular choices including bamboo or teak, known for their durability and resistance to moisture.

Heat Deflectors: Many Kamado grills come with heat deflectors or plates that help distribute heat evenly and prevent direct flames from reaching the food. These deflectors are often made from materials like ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron.

It’s worth noting that while ceramic is the predominant material used in Kamado grills, there are also variations available that utilize different materials. For example, some manufacturers offer Kamado grills with a stainless steel or cast iron exterior, while still incorporating ceramic components for heat retention and insulation.

What Fuel Do Kamado Grills Need?

Kamado grills are designed to work with various types of fuel, providing users with flexibility in choosing their preferred cooking method. The most commonly used fuel for Kamado grills is charcoal, specifically lump charcoal or natural hardwood charcoal.

Charcoal is favored for its ability to produce high heat and impart a distinct smoky flavor to grilled foods. Lump charcoal is made by burning wood in the absence of oxygen, resulting in charred pieces of natural hardwood. It is free from additives and chemicals, making it a popular choice for those seeking a more natural grilling experience. Natural hardwood charcoal, on the other hand, is produced by carbonizing hardwood in a controlled environment. It offers similar benefits to lump charcoal in terms of flavor and heat output.

One of the advantages of using charcoal in Kamado grills is its long burn time. Charcoal provides steady heat and can maintain consistent temperatures for extended periods, allowing for slow and low cooking as well as high-temperature searing.

In addition to charcoal, Kamado grills can also be fueled by other options:

Wood: Some Kamado grill enthusiasts prefer using chunks or chips of hardwood for a more intense smoky flavor. Wood chunks or chips are often soaked in water before use to create smoke that enhances the taste of grilled food.

Charcoal Briquettes: While not as commonly used as lump charcoal, charcoal briquettes can be used in Kamado grills. These compressed charcoal blocks are typically made from a mixture of charcoal, binders, and fillers. They tend to burn longer and at a more consistent temperature than lump charcoal but may produce a less intense smoky flavor.

Gas: Certain Kamado grill models offer the option to use propane or natural gas as a fuel source. These grills come with gas burners that provide quick ignition and precise temperature control. Gas-powered Kamado grills are convenient for those who prefer the ease of gas grilling without sacrificing the unique features of a Kamado grill.

It’s important to note that different fuels may require specific techniques or accessories to optimize their usage in a Kamado grill. For example, the addition of a heat deflector or diffuser can be beneficial when using charcoal or wood for indirect cooking or smoking.

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How does a Kamado grill work?

A Kamado grill operates on a simple yet effective principle that allows for precise temperature control and versatile cooking methods. Understanding how a Kamado grill works can help users make the most out of this unique cooking device. Here’s a detailed explanation of how a Kamado grill functions:

Airflow Control: Kamado grills feature adjustable vents or dampers, typically located at the bottom and top of the grill. These vents allow for airflow regulation, which plays a crucial role in controlling the temperature inside the grill. By adjusting the vents, users can increase or decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the charcoal, thus affecting the intensity of the fire and heat output.

Charcoal Placement: The charcoal is placed in the lower section of the grill, known as the firebox or charcoal basket. To achieve different cooking methods, such as direct grilling or indirect smoking, charcoal can be arranged accordingly. For direct grilling, the charcoal is spread evenly across the firebox. For indirect cooking, the charcoal can be piled on one side or along the edges, leaving a space in the center for the heat to circulate.

Lighting the Charcoal: Before starting the cooking process, the charcoal needs to be ignited. There are various methods to light the charcoal, including using a chimney starter, electric starters, or lighter cubes. Once the charcoal is lit, it will gradually burn and reach the desired cooking temperature.

Heat Retention: One of the key features of a Kamado grill is its excellent heat retention. The thick ceramic walls of the grill trap and distribute heat evenly, creating a stable and consistent cooking environment. The ceramic construction acts as insulation, preventing heat loss and enabling efficient fuel usage.

Temperature Control: Adjustable vents or dampers play a crucial role in temperature control. By opening the vents, more oxygen is allowed to enter the grill, increasing the heat. Closing the vents restricts airflow, reducing the temperature. The combination of the vents and the ceramic construction enables precise temperature control, allowing users to maintain specific cooking temperatures for extended periods.

Cooking Techniques: The versatility of a Kamado grill allows for a wide range of cooking techniques. By adjusting the vents and manipulating the charcoal placement, users can achieve different cooking methods. Direct grilling involves placing the food directly above the hot charcoal, ideal for searing steaks or grilling burgers. Indirect cooking, on the other hand, involves placing the food away from the direct heat, allowing for slow and low cooking or smoking. By using heat deflectors or plates, the heat is diffused, creating an indirect cooking zone.

Lid Operation: The ceramic lid of a Kamado grill plays a crucial role in retaining heat and moisture. It creates a seal when closed, preventing heat and smoke from escaping, while also trapping moisture, resulting in juicy and flavorful dishes. The lid can be opened or closed to adjust the airflow and control the temperature inside the grill.

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What Are the Benefits of a Kamado Grill?

Kamado grills offer a multitude of benefits that make them a popular choice among grilling enthusiasts and professional chefs. Here are the key advantages of using a Kamado grill:

Versatility: One of the significant benefits of a Kamado grill is its versatility in cooking techniques. Whether you want to grill, smoke, roast, bake, or even cook pizza, a Kamado grill can handle it all. The ability to maintain precise temperature control and adjust the airflow allows for a wide range of cooking options, making it a versatile all-in-one cooking device.

Excellent Heat Retention: Kamado grills are renowned for their superior heat retention capabilities. The thick ceramic walls of the grill trap and distribute heat evenly, creating a stable cooking environment. This allows for consistent and efficient cooking, whether you’re searing steaks at high temperatures or slow-cooking a tender piece of meat for hours. The exceptional heat retention also contributes to fuel efficiency, as Kamado grills require less charcoal compared to other grill types.

Precise Temperature Control: The adjustable vents or dampers in a Kamado grill enable precise temperature control. By regulating the airflow, users can increase or decrease the heat inside the grill, allowing for accurate adjustments to match specific cooking requirements. This level of control is particularly beneficial for achieving desired doneness levels or executing intricate cooking techniques.

Moisture Retention: The ceramic construction and airtight seal of a Kamado grill’s lid help retain moisture during the cooking process. The result is succulent and juicy dishes, as the moisture is locked in, preventing them from drying out. This is particularly advantageous when cooking large cuts of meat or poultry that benefit from the enhanced flavor and tenderness imparted by the Kamado grill.

Enhanced Flavor: The combination of high heat and the use of natural lump charcoal or hardwood imparts a distinct smoky flavor to the food cooked on a Kamado grill. This flavor profile adds depth and complexity to grilled dishes, enhancing the overall culinary experience.

Durability: Kamado grills are constructed using high-quality materials, such as ceramic and stainless steel. The sturdy ceramic shell and metal components ensure durability and longevity, allowing the grill to withstand the rigors of outdoor cooking. With proper care and maintenance, a Kamado grill can last for many years, making it a worthwhile investment.

Aesthetics: In addition to their cooking prowess, Kamado grills also offer aesthetic appeal. The spherical shape, ceramic construction, and often sleek design elements make them visually appealing additions to outdoor spaces. They can serve as a centerpiece and conversation starter, adding a touch of elegance to backyard gatherings or outdoor kitchens.

What Kamado Grill Parts Are There?

A Kamado grill consists of several essential parts that work together to create a versatile and efficient cooking device. Here are the key components typically found in a Kamado grill:

Ceramic Shell: The ceramic shell forms the main body of the Kamado grill. It is made of thick ceramic material known for its excellent heat retention properties. The ceramic shell provides insulation and ensures even distribution of heat throughout the cooking chamber.

Firebox: The firebox is the lower section of the Kamado grill where the charcoal or fuel source is placed. It holds the fuel and provides the base for the fire.

Cooking Grates: Kamado grills come with cooking grates, typically made of stainless steel or cast iron. These grates provide the surface on which the food is placed for grilling, roasting, or smoking. Some grills may offer multi-level cooking grates to accommodate different cooking needs.

Vent or Damper: Kamado grills have adjustable vents or dampers, usually located at the bottom and top of the grill. These vents control the airflow and play a crucial role in temperature regulation. By adjusting the vents, users can increase or decrease the oxygen supply, thus affecting the intensity of the fire and heat output.

Lid: The lid of a Kamado grill is typically made of ceramic and forms the top section of the grill. It is designed to create an airtight seal when closed, trapping heat and smoke inside the cooking chamber. The lid also helps retain moisture, resulting in juicy and flavorful dishes.

Hinge: The hinge connects the lid to the base of the Kamado grill, allowing for easy opening and closing. It is typically made of durable metal and is designed to withstand the weight of the lid.

Thermometer: Many Kamado grills come equipped with a built-in thermometer. This allows users to monitor and maintain the cooking temperature inside the grill without the need for additional temperature probes or gadgets.

Heat Deflector or Plate: Some Kamado grills include a heat deflector or plate. This component is placed above the charcoal, creating an indirect cooking zone. It helps diffuse heat and prevents direct flames from reaching the food, allowing for gentle and even cooking.

Ash Drawer: To facilitate easy ash removal, some Kamado grills feature an ash drawer or ash pan. This removable tray collects the ash and allows for convenient cleanup after cooking.

Side Shelves or Tables: Many Kamado grills offer side shelves or tables attached to the grill. These provide additional workspace for food preparation, holding utensils, or placing ingredients and condiments during the cooking process.

Wheels or Casters: For mobility and ease of positioning, Kamado grills often have wheels or casters attached to the base. This allows users to move the grill around their outdoor space with relative ease.

It’s worth noting that specific models or brands of Kamado grills may have additional features or accessories, such as rotisserie kits, smoking chip containers, or adjustable racks. These extra components further enhance the functionality and versatility of the Kamado grill.

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How to use a Kamado grill?

Using a Kamado grill involves several steps to ensure proper operation and optimal cooking results. Here is a detailed guide on how to use a Kamado grill effectively:

Set up the Grill:

Choose a suitable location for the grill, ensuring it is placed on a stable and fire-resistant surface.

Ensure proper ventilation and maintain a safe distance from flammable objects.

If your Kamado grill has wheels or casters, lock them to secure the grill in place.

Prepare the Charcoal:

Determine the amount of charcoal needed based on the cooking time and desired temperature.

Arrange the charcoal in the firebox, leaving enough space for airflow.

If using natural lump charcoal, light it using a chimney starter or lighter cubes. If using charcoal briquettes, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for lighting.

Control the Airflow:

Adjust the vents or dampers to control the airflow and temperature inside the grill.

Opening the vents allows more oxygen in, increasing the heat, while closing them restricts airflow, reducing the temperature.

Start with the vents fully open to ignite and establish the fire, then adjust them gradually for the desired temperature.

Preheat the Grill:

Close the lid and allow the grill to preheat. This helps stabilize the temperature and ensures the cooking surface is evenly heated.

Monitor the temperature using the built-in thermometer or a separate temperature probe if needed.

Prepare the Food:

Season or marinate the food according to your recipe or preference.

If desired, soak wood chunks or chips in water for added smoky flavor.

Cooking Techniques:

Direct Grilling: For direct grilling, place the food directly over the hot charcoal. Adjust the vents to maintain the desired temperature.

Indirect Cooking/Smoking: For indirect cooking or smoking, place a heat deflector or plate between the charcoal and the food. This creates an indirect cooking zone. Adjust the vents to achieve the desired temperature and allow the smoke to circulate the food.

Cooking Tips:

Avoid constantly opening the lid during cooking, as it releases heat and extends the cooking time.

Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of meats for accurate doneness.

For longer cooking sessions, you may need to add additional charcoal as needed.


Once finished cooking, close the vents to extinguish the fire and allow the remaining charcoal to cool.

Use heat-resistant gloves or tongs to remove the ashes from the firebox and dispose of them safely.

Clean the cooking grates and other removable parts using a grill brush or sponge.

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About author
As the founder and chief editor of Scills Grill, I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut. I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I use various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. Peter Cobbetts is the president and founder of Scills Grill, with over 15 years' experience in barbecue. He's an exceptional pitmaster and grill expert who specializes in smoking briskets, pork shoulders - using charcoal, wood or propane grills/smokers - as well as reviewing kitchen appliances such as grills, smokers etc., having tried out almost every model available on the market.
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