What is a Kamado Grill and How Does it Work ?

A ceramic kamado grill is a smoker, an oven and a grill all in one. Kamado grills are fueled with charcoal, and thanks to their properties they’re the best for slow meat cooking ( especially large slabs of meat like ribs or a whole chicken ).

It’s a versatile grill that you can use not only for grilling but also for baking, like pizza, or long slow meat smoking ( smoker ). Kamado grills are great at holding heat and smoke inside which has an incredible impact on the food’s flavor.

After reaching the right cooking temperature ( 10-15 minutes ), all you have to do is properly control the temperature thanks to the air vents located on the top and the bottom of the grill. That way you can easily hold the desired temperature inside the grill for a long time while using much less fuel than in a traditional charcoal grill.

The entire structure of the grill is very well thought-out and made of the right materials. On the outside, there’s a surface that is resistant to overheating, whereas on the inside there are ceramic walls that are great at holding the heat inside the grill.

Their greatest advantage is undoubtedly their even heat distribution, the ability to cook for a long time, lower charcoal consumption, a solid structure and a great aroma and flavor of meat.

The history of Kamado Grills

kamado grill history

For many thousand years, clay vessels have been used by people to prepare food. To this day, clay pots can be found all around the globe, and some of the oldest vessels are dated by archaeologists to 3000-4000 and were found in Asia, China to be exact. Many believe that these round clay containers are the beginnings of the modern kamado technology. Today good Kamados are made in a different way, fragile clay was replaced with more durable ceramic materials.

In many places around the world, these vessels have evolved in many different ways. For example, the Japanese „mushi-kamado” and „Tandoor” came straight from India. They were devices made to prepare different kinds of food, in Japan they were used to prepare rice or other food during great ceremonies. Mushi-Kamado is a clay container with a round cover, usually used in Japan.

Today, several innovative changes have been introduced to this technology compared to those days. Moving elements were added such as doors or air vents to make temperature control easier. Hinged lids were implemented, as well as high-quality grates and most of all, regular wood was replaced with more efficient charcoal. The materials Kamado grills are made of have also changed, clay was replaced with much more durable ceramic materials.

Based on many sources, one can learn that the name „Kamado” comes from the Japanese and it means „the place for a clay cauldron”. Today this word has become a general term for ceramic grills. According to the historical fasts, the first such ceramic grill in USA was made after second world war.

What do Kamado grills look like today?

kamado joe

The modern Kamados have been upgraded, all thanks to the modern advanced technology and availability of different materials. Plenty of elements have been implemented such as air vents, hinges, ash tray or thermometer in order to increase the comfort and efficiency of cooking on a kamado grill.

Most modern kamados are made of ceramics. The main advantage of ceramics is their great temperature retention inside the grill for truly many hours at lower charcoal consumption. They are also versatile because you can not only grill with them but also roast or slowly sear meat at lower temperatures. They reach and steadily retain temperatures within the range of 225 degrees all the way to 750 degrees +/-

Elements of better quality such as air vents allow for a much better and steady temperature control than in the older versions of kamado.

The ceramics are also much more durable than, for example, clay, which often simply cracks.

kamado elements

Undoubtedly, ceramic grills are the best kamado grills in terms of temperature control, durability and versatility. Their downside is high prices, although they are worth that kind of money because it’s definitely an investment for years to come.

Beside the ceramic kamado grills, there are also others, like made of aluminum cast or stainless steel. All the other types of kamado are pretty much the same in terms of temperature control. A significant difference, however, is durability and mobility.

Ceramic grills are very heavy, but very durable and corrosion resistant. ( one just has to avoid dropping or hitting them in order not to damage the ceramics ). Aluminum cast or stainless steel kamado grills, on the other hand, are much lighter which makes them more mobile. The downside, however, is being prone to corrosion when it comes to the stainless steel kamados.

Of course, other types of kamado are significantly cheaper than ceramic kamados. However, I’d advise everyone with experience with kamado to invest their money in a truly decent ceramic kamado grill.

You will find plenty of different ceramic grills on the market at different price ranges. It might be hard to tell the difference between them, especially for someone who is just starting on their journey with kamado. That’s why, if you want to pick a new kamado grill, I have prepared a kamado grill buyers guide for you, which will make it much easier for you to make the decision on what grill to buy that you would be satisfied with.

Fuel

A Kamado Grill is meant to only cook with charcoal. For the fans of the smoke food flavor, this is perfect. Of course, you can enhance the flavor even more by adding wood chips to the hot charcoal.

The air-tight structure of kamado retains nearly all the smoke inside the grill which makes it possible to cook incredibly tasty and aromatic food. If you love food made on a traditional charcoal grill but would still like to try something new then I really recommend a kamado grill. It will certainly be a very interesting and tasty new experience that won’t leave you disappointed.

Upsides & Downsides of Kamado Grills ?

kamado buyers guide

Of course there are two sides to every coin, when it comes to kamado, one side is positive which means plenty of upsides and great solutions that you will find in kamado. The other side, on the other hand, is the downsides, just like with everything else, you will find some flaws here as well.

  • Ceramic grills are very heavy which makes them hard to move from one place to another. It is also worth noting that ceramics are prone to cracking in the event that the grill is tipped over or dropped. If you take good care of your grill, however, it will be your long-term investment for truly many years.
  • When it comes to steel kamados, the upside is that steel doesn’t crack. The downside, however, is that steel is prone to rust and doesn’t retain temperature as well as ceramics.
  • Ceramic kamados are great at holding temperature and can handle large temperature differences well. Which is what makes them very good at cooler places, If you want to cook food in the winter then a ceramic grill will be good for that.
  • Another upside or downside, depending on the situation, is how the grill heats up. Thicker ceramic walls take long to heat up, but once they do, it takes a lot of time for them to cool down. That’s why when you’re cooking food you should try not to exceed the temperature required to cook your food, otherwise you will have to wait a long time before your kamado grill cools down a bit.

What about indirect cooking?

In other types of grills it is possible to split the cooking area into two zones for example ( directly over the source of fire and far from the source of heat ). That way you can move the food from a very hot direct source of heat to a milder indirect source of heat.

When it comes to kamado, it is not possible to create two such zones, like with a standard charcoal or gas grill for example. Those who cook with a kamado, on the other hand, handle this kind of situation by adjusting the distance between the food and the hot charcoal.

It requires accessories or extra grates that make it possible to set the food closer or further away. Sadly, it isn’t a comfortable solution, like in a standard charcoal grill for example.

Conclusions

I hope that now you know a lot about the history of Kamado and about how they look and work today. Kamado grills are a very effective, efficient and versatile tool that will allow you to prepare different food of very rich flavor quickly and easily.

As someone who loves cooking on a grill, I really recommend the kamado cooking style to you. It will certainly be a new, interesting and very good experience for you.

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