FAQs Kamados

What is a kamado?

A kamado is an ovoid shaped coal kiln, generally made out of ceramic that is works with vegetal coal and allows huge kitchen versatility, since you can cook in it with either slow fire or high temperatures.

How did the kamado come to Europe?

The origins of the kamado are uncertain, but it’s believed to have originated in China 3.000 years ago. From there, it is thought to have passed through Japan, where it was named kamado and where it suffered several modifications until it acquired its actual shape. When the World War II was over, outstanding American troops at the Country of the Rising Sun got astonished by the excellent qualities of the kamado and so they started to import them to the United States and some decades later started to sell their own kamados to occidental countries, and that’s how we, in Europe, got to know them.

Is its usage widespread?

Nowadays quite a lot of brands commercialize kamados all around the globe, but its fortune is yet uneven depending on the country, and so, in places such as the USA, Canada or north European nations such as Holland or Germany, its success is huge and they are easy to find either at particular homes and professional kitchens. Meanwhile, in other countries such as the south European ones, we are yet starting to get to know kamados. In addition, its cost is generally high in order to match its quality, especially if we compare it to simple garden barbecues that don’t provide the possibilities a kamado does, which gives them a hint of exclusivity and restricts its usage to certain purchase power customers, high level restaurants, prestigious chefs or true kitchen enthusiasts that value its features and are willing to make a small economic effort in order to purchase one. Nevertheless, the tendency is starting to change thanks to the spread of its virtues over the internet and a slight cheapening due high brand competition.

Which materials is it made of?

Original kamados were made out of hand shaped baked clay, a fragile and brittle material which has currently being replaced in medium and high quality kamados by high output ceramic compounds –as for example cordierite-, which keeps the heat-resistant features the first kamados came with, but greatly incrementing its strength and resistance. Besides the mentioned materials, there have been recently launched new kamados made out of metal, which are very resistant to collisions but in the long run may present some corrosion problems that can shorten its useful life. It is also worth mentioning that, even though they share the same shape, metallic kamados loose and important quantity of its original features as the performance in basic tasks is inferior to ceramic ones, as for example, heat holding or heat transmission, so they spoil or over-dry the food and also spoil its flavor with an unpleasant metallic taste.

Which are the main elements of a kamado?

Roughly, the main kamado elements are:

  • The body, split in two parts: the base and the dome, both of them joint by a hinge and sealed by an insulation joint most times made out of felt that helps prevent heat leakage.
  • The inside or “box of fire”, found at the bottom of the base and that is meant to keep the embers inside of it, as its name suggests.
  • The ventilation ducts, which consists on a bottom door and a metallic hood at the upper part of the dome, both of them with adjustable opening and destined to create a chimney effect in order to adjust the temperature.
  • The baffle, a ceramic disc meant to be placed over the embers in order to allow you to cook with slow fire.
  • The grill, over which to place the food. There are different types of grills made out of different materials.

Besides these essential parts, kamado manufacturers offer an infinity of accessories designed to facilitate any task related to its usage and maintenance, from integrated thermometers meant to help you keep a meticulous control of the temperature, to barrows and legs in order to make its transportation possible, we can also find pokers, ashtrays to stir or remove the cinders, pegs to prevent getting burned when holding the grill, any type of grill, griddles and special stands for roasting of birds, ribs, fish, vegetables, etc.

In short, why is a kamado better than a grill, barbecue or conventional oven? What’s the difference?

The main uniqueness of kamados in spite of other kitchen tools is its closed structure and the fact that it is made with refractory materials such as ceramic. The combination between these two features prevent heat leakages, keeping the heat inside and making them more efficient kitchen tools than others, as they are able to work for several hours with a single coal load thus wasting over 40% less fuel than other devices. In addition, thanks to its peculiar design the kamado cooks the food with surrounding heat that seals the aliments and reduces juice loss. This feature also makes them cleaner, as it prevents fat or water from dropping over the embers thus not generating that much smoke, but more importantly you will achieve better results, so the cooked plates will be more tender and juicy and will keep its flavor, color and smell intact.

Is it difficult to cook with a kamado?

It can seem difficult at first sight, but its functioning is really simple and it all it takes to get to know them is a bit of practice. You just need to ignite the coal inside of the kamado, close the dome, adjust the opening of the ventilation ducts in order to regulate the temperature and once the thermometer is stable at the wished point, introduce the food, close the dome again and just wait the predetermined time so the food reaches its fair point of cooking, the rest depends on the chef’s imagination!

Which kind of plates and food can be cooked in it?

One of the main virtues of the kamado is its huge versatility, since it can, due its peculiar design, be used as a grill, barbecue, oven or smoker, because they allow different cooking styles, from direct fire roasting to smoking, stewing, baking, slow cooking… Having all of this in mind, we can assert that kamados can cook barely any kind of plate or food: red meat, birds, hunt, fish and shellfish, vegetables, stews, soups and broths, potages, paellas, confectionery recipes, pizzas and a long et cetera.

Is it able to cook several kinds of aliments all at once or do the favors get too mixed?

As long as the temperature required for its cooking is the same in every aliment and the size of the grill or griddle allows it, there is no inconvenience in cooking different aliments at the same time. Nevertheless, even if it sounds obvious, if any of those aliments require less cooking time you will have to remove it before.

Are there any specific recipes to cook with kamados?

Is not that there are specific recipes but because of its extraordinary polyvalence kamados are able to perform different modalities of cooking and so make infinite recipes. On the internet and of course on this page you will find numerous examples of recipes for any kind of food and at any level of difficulty.

Is it possible to cook smoked food with a kamado?

Kamados are excellent smokers, to perform this cooking modality you will just need to reach a low stable temperature. The exact temperature will vary depending on the recipe. Then you add either wooden splinters or aromatic herbs over the embers, which will create white smoke that, once the dome is closed, will surround and impregnate the food with the chosen aroma. The key in this process is the wood choice, which must be dry and free of tannin, resin or chemical additives. Each aliment or recipe will adapt better to a particular kind of wood, but this is not a problem since there is a huge amount of brands that sell different types and so they are not difficult to find.

Which fuel does it need?

Technically, kamados can work with different fuels, but the most recommendable is, no doubt about it, 100% natural vegetal coal. This fuel stands out because of its energetic efficiency, its easy ignition, its huge calorific power and its cleanness, as it generates less smoke and cinders than any other kind of fuel. Because of its efficiency you will need less quantity than if using other fuels, and the unburned coal is re-usable, which makes it more economic as well. It also improves the favor of our recipes as it’s made out of solid carbonized wood that transmits really nice aroma. It is also environmentally friendly and doesn’t contain chemical additives, so it’s healthy and won’t spoil the flavor of your food.

Can I use firewood in my kamado or just coal?

Theoretically you can use it, but it is not advisable, because it causes a lot of trouble compared to vegetal coal. It certainly possesses great calorific power, but its combustion is slower and takes it more time to create embers, it is also less stable, its fire less homogenized and it can contain humidity that would reduce its efficiency and generate more smoke or even worse, resins that would spoil the favor of your food. Because of all of these reasons and other not mentioned ones, the ideal fuel for a kamado is vegetal coal. If you wish to add an smoked hint to your plate, you will just need to add some splinters to the embers. There are numerous kinds available at the market that will provide the desired aroma to your plates while avoiding the inconveniences just mentioned.

Does it consume much fuel?

The unique kamado design prevents from heat leakage thus keeping the heat inside, and so it needs less fuel to work at full capacity, making it a high-efficiency kitchen tool. The vegetal coal used in kamados has bigger calorific power and gets burned out slower than other type of fuels, which, added to the already mentioned feature translates into important fuel afford compared to conventional grills, barbecues or wood-fired ovens. As an example, on a low temperature kitchen session, kamados can work interruptedly for about 24 hours with a single coal load.

Is it difficult to ignite the fire? Does it take long?

It is not difficult at all. Because of its peculiar closed shape and the chimney effect generated inside, fire ignition and making the embers is quicker in kamados than in other types of grills, coal ovens or wood-fire ovens. You just need to ignite the coal, open the ventilation ducts as much as possible and, once you have created embers, regulate the chimney to get a stable temperature at the wished point. This task won’t take you longer than 15 minutes and can be assisted by blowtorches, hot air guns, electric resistances, chimneys that hold the embers or ignition pickups in order to accelerate the process.

Can I use coal briquettes or liquid igniters to start the fire?

The usage of coal briquettes or liquid igniters on a kamado is not recommendable at all, since they contain several chemical additives such as nitrates or petroleum sub-products that would pollute the flavor of your food and could ruin a plate no matter how good the food and the cooking is. If you want to shorten the ignition process by using igniters make sure they are ecological and additive free.

Does the kamado generate much smoke?

Absolutely not. Excluding its usage as a smoker (this modality it will generate a small white smoke column) kamado generates very little smoke. This is because, unlike traditional grills and barbecues, in the kamado the aliments get cooked by surrounding heat that seals them retaining the natural juices inside. This way you prevent fat dripping over the embers almost completely, which is the main source of smoke and smell in other kitchen tools.

How do you regulate its temperature?

Unlike other kitchen tools provided with a thermostat, in kamados temperature gets regulated manually. You just need to adjust the opening of its ventilation ducts in order to regulate the chimney and so allow either more or less amount of oxygen inside of it. This will increase or decrease ember combustion and so will do with the inner kamado temperature.

What maximum temperature can a kamado reach?

A kamado’s temperature range is very wide and can vary due exterior temperature, the kind of fuel or the model or brand; but its temperature generally oscillates between 50-100ºC for cooking smoked plates, fish, sea food or slow kitchen with indirect fire and 450-500ºC is the maximum temperature kamados can reach, which can be useful for its pyrolytic cleaning, for example.

How can you check and manage the inner temperature in order to make different recipes?

Except for some rare cases, every average quality kamado comes with an integrated thermometer that will help us control the inner temperature of our kamado. The thermometer is placed at the over the dome and its usage is crucial when after igniting the coal we intend to stabilize the kamado at the needed temperature for a particular recipe by adjusting the ventilation ducts. Once we obtain the needed temperature and it is stable, the thermometer is not that necessary anymore since the kamado will keep working at that temperature until we finish cooking and proceed to turn the kamado off.

Are kamados dangerous due the high temperatures they reach?

Its characteristic closed dome and its ceramic materials make kamados are very secure kitchen tools compared to others, its outer part doesn’t overheat excessively during the kamado performance and since you usually cook with the dome closed no embers jump out. Nevertheless, cooking with a kamado involves fire, so we need to take some precautions in order to prevent accidents from happening.

What is the baffle and where is it placed?

The baffle is a heat-resistant flat disc that should be placed over the embers in order to cook with indirect fire. In other words, it is a barrier between the embers and the food that prevents direct fire from reaching the food, which transforms kamados into convection ovens in which food gets cooked due the hot air flowing around inside the kamado.

In which ways do kamados transmit heat?

Thermodynamics distinguishes three type of heat transmission:

  • Conduction: heat transmission between to points of a substance that have different temperatures.
  • Radiation: the heat a substance at high temperature emits.
  • Convection: the heat a liquid or gas fluid transmits.

The kamado usage involves these three transmission types: conduction because even though ceramics are not the best kind of heat conductors, the temperature reached close to the inner part is transmitted through the walls; radiation because the embers emit heat; and, when practicing indirect fire cooking thanks to the baffle, convection happens, and so hot air flows around inside of the kamado sealing and cooking the food.


Even though kamados are meant to be used outside, can I use my kamado inside my house?

Can it be used in winter or under bad weather?

Absolutely. Kamados allow its usage under any temperature, are resistant to water and since they are closed with a dome they are not affected by wind, so you can cook with them under bad weather. In any case, if it is left outdoors when not in use, it is recommended to cover them with its bag.

What is the so called “flashback effect”?

In order to seize its energetic efficiency, kamados are meant to cook with its dome closed all the time and only opened when required to add, move or remove the food. If the kamado has being in use for a little while and we open the dome abruptly, the sudden oxygen entrance can cause a big flare called “flashback effect”. In order to prevent this, we just need to open the dome in two times: first we open the dome slightly so we have a small opening, we keep it like that for a few seconds and then we can open it completely.

How can I turn my kamado off once I finish cooking?

In order to turn your kamado off you will just need to extinguish the fire by closing the ventilation ducts so there’s no oxygen entrance and so the coal stops combusting. If you have been cooking at high temperature, it’s convenient to close the kamado’s door completely and leave the upper ventilation duct half opened for about 30 minutes, because if in this case you close the chimney completely it could overheat and damage the ceramic by causing cracks. When a prudent amount of time has passed, we proceed to close the upper ventilation duct completely so the embers extinguish.

If the coal isn’t completely consumed, can I re-use it?

Of course. In fact, this is one of the advantages of a kamado along with its little fuel consume. In order to re-use the unburned coal, you just need to stir it with a poker once turned off, so the smallest cinders fall to the bottom of the vase and don’t stop the air from flowing freely through the coal when turned on again, which could extinguish the fire. The next time you cook you will just need to add some more coal in order to complete the load and then ignite it as usual.

How do I clean my kamado?

Its cleaning is a really easy task because it can reach really high temperatures and so it works as a pyrolytic oven in which the residues stuck to its walls decompose and become embers. Because of this, in order to clean its walls you will just need to remove the cinders by using the ashtray or door that kamados usually have at the bottom of its base. Concerning its exterior cleaning, you will just need to wipe it with wet rag over the surface, since it has a varnish or paint top coat. At last, in order to clean its grills, baffles, pizza stones and other accessories we just need to descale the dirt with a hard bristles brush or a plastic spatula so we prevent scratches and other kinds of damage, and once you’ve done this you just wipe it with a wet rag as you would on the exterior. All of this tasks must be executed when the kamado is cold and avoiding the usage of abrasive elements or chemical cleaning products.

What is pyrolysis?

Pyrolysis is a chemical process that decomposes organic matter into carbon dioxide and water by using really high temperatures and so the organic matter evaporates and the inorganic one becomes cinders. This process is used nowadays, as well a other systems, to clean ovens because it decomposes dirt, fat and food residues.

How frequently should I clean my kamado?

There’s no established periodicity and we can guide ourselves by our common sense. Because of the self-cleaning properties of these kitchen tools, fat residues will be removed by residual heat, and thus, you will only need to clean the grills and the outer surface and to remove the cinders regularly so they don’t stop the air flow, which could impede the embers combustion.

Does it require much maintenance?

The design of a kamado is simple and compact, and generally, good quality ones are made out of resistant materials meant to last for a whole life. Because of this, its maintenance requires just to check periodically if the nuts and screws are still tight and haven’t loosen grip with its usage; to lubricate the articulated elements such as the hinges with lubricating oil; and when we observe that the isolating felt joints are very deteriorated and don’t work as they should anymore, we should replace them with the replacements provided by the manufacturers.

When not in use, how should I store my kamado? Shall I disassemble it?

El kamado es un instrumento de cocina con gran resistencia a la intemperie, con lo que, después de cada uso, basta con cubrirlo, una vez frío, con las fundas protectoras que los diferentes fabricantes suministran con este fin. Si el período de inactividad va a ser muy prolongado, éste puede almacenarse cubierto con su funda en un espacio cerrado, libre de polvo y de humedad, pero no se recomienda su desmontaje porque esta operación podría implicar una fatiga innecesaria de sus materiales.

Can I move it?

Of course. Even the heavy ones since they usually have wheels or are assembled over a wagon, so moving it from one place to another is an easy task and doesn’t require big effort. Nevertheless, if you are going to move it, you should take some precautions such as grabbing it by its fixed parts and not the articulated ones, choosing flat and compact paths and if it doesn’t have wheels it should be moved by several people and not just one person at a time.

Which type of kamado should I purchase?

This question doesn’t have a precise answer, but we strongly recommend to purchase ceramic kamados as they are infinitively better than the ones made out of metal or other materials. There are some things to have in mind before buying a kamado since its price is high in comparison to other kitchen tools: if we are normally going to cook for a lot of few people and, consequently, if we need a big or small kamado; if we are going to have it fixed in one place or if we plan to move it with certain frequency, and so if we should choose a kamado with or without wheels; which usage we are going to give it and so which accessories we will need either included on the purchase or bought separately; what coverage the guarantee offers; and, even, depending on our aesthetic taste, which designs and colors offers each brand.

Which accessories are recommendable for a kamado beginner?

As in the case of the model or brand to choose, the accessories chosen will vary depending on personal taste and necessities. The essential kamado elements are the crock, the inside, its upper and lower ventilation ducts, the baffle, an integrated thermometer, the rack or cooking surface, a cinder poker and pegs to hold the grills. Apart from this elements, which are normally included in the basic kamado equipment, there’s an infinite range of accessories to satisfy our personal cooking taste and the usage we mean to give to the kamado: special stands to cook birds or ribs; griddles to cook fish, seafood or vegetables; electric roasters; pizza stones and cutters; wooden oven shovels; woks; paellas; and recipients for stews, bread baking or confectionary recipes.

What shall I do when I get my kamado?

A precaution you should follow right after receiving your kamado is checking meticulously that is has arrived in perfect conditions and with all the accessories and pieces it should. There could have been mistakes during its packaging and transportation and so it is important to check that everything came as it should so we can send a complaint to the distributor or manufacturer as soon as possible in case it didn’t.

Does it require previous assembling?

It depends on the model and brand. In many cases kamados arrive ready for its usage and don’t require any assembling task. In other cases they require the assembly of some pieces, but this task isn’t usually too difficult if we follow the instructions of the manual provided by the manufacturer and follow them step by step.

Is is very fragile?

Absolutely not. Good quality kamados are made out of resistant materials that if used properly are meant to last for an entire life and pass through generations. Cracks or breakages at its crock should only be caused by a bad usage of the kamado, handing it improperly and letting it fall or get hit, or using it in such a way that it causes it to overheat or to change its temperature abruptly; which are the most common incidents since its metal elements are stainless steel and so difficult to damage.

How many years does a kamado guarantee cover?

Naturally, guarantee conditions vary from one brand to another, so you should check which coverage does each of them offer, but in high qualitiy cases, they could have a life long guarantee for the ceramic elements as long as its breakage or deterioration hasn’t been caused by hits, falls or bad usage. For the remaining parts, no matter if they are isolation joints or metal elements, the guarantee will last for a determined number of years that will vary between brands (but the most basic guarantee lasts two years). Having said all of this, we can assure that, if following the proper maintenance, good quality kamados are made to last for an entire life.