Blog 5 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Kamado Grill

5 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Kamado Grill

07 March 2024

5 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Kamado Grill

Ready to embark on a journey of grilling greatness with your Kamado grill? Functioning as BBQs, smokers, and ovens, Kamado grills offer the ultimate cooking experience. Their precise temperature regulation, efficient insulation, and adjustable airflow control are perfect for various recipes, from mouthwatering slow-smoked briskets to high-heat grilling and baking desserts. Their unique design also ensures even heat distribution throughout the cooking chamber, leading to consistently delicious food infused with rich flavours and delectable textures. 

Thanks to their excellent insulation, Kamado grills use minimal charcoal, resulting in tender, flavoursome dishes. Whether you’re grilling, smoking, roasting, searing, or baking, these grills offer unmatched versatility and convenience. Plus, their fast ignition and easy cleanup make outdoor cooking a walk in the park, allowing you more time to kick back and enjoy exquisite meals with family and friends.

Now, let's explore five common beginner mistakes to avoid when using your Kamado grill.


Mistake #1 - Choosing Briquettes Over Lump Charcoal

Ah, the age-old debate: briquettes or lump charcoal? It's like choosing between a clunky old sedan and a sleek sports car. Sure, briquettes might seem like the easy, budget-friendly option, but trust us, they are a no-go for your Kamado grill. 

Briquettes tend to clog the fire grate and ventilation holes, hindering airflow and temperature control during cooking. This leads to uneven cooking, longer cooking times, and fluctuations in temperature that leave your food on the not-so-tasty side. 

Lump charcoal, on the other hand, is like the smooth operator of the grilling world. Made from natural hardwood, it burns cleaner and hotter while producing less ash, making cleanup easy. It’ll give your food that smoky kiss of flavour you're craving. Plus, it's an airflow champion, ensuring your grill stays cool even in the heat of a cooking battle. 

So, splurge a little on quality lump charcoal; your taste buds will thank you later!

Mistake #1 - Choosing Briquettes Over Lump Charcoal

Mistake #2 - Using Too Much Charcoal

Resist the urge to overload your Kamado grill with charcoal. Think of it like Goldilocks and the Three Bears — not too much, not too little, but just the right amount of charcoal. 

Too much charcoal, and you'll be playing a never-ending game of temperature tug-of-war. It will restrict airflow within the grill and complicate temperature control. The result is uneven heating and difficulty adjusting the temperature as needed.

For shorter cooks, such as when you want to cook burgers or sausages, filling the basket to only a quarter or half its capacity is generally the best way to go. This ensures sufficient airflow and easier temperature regulation. However, if you’re cooking food like briskets or pizza, filling the basket to its full capacity may be necessary for a longer cooking session. 

In saying this, don't skimp either – running out of fuel mid-cook is the griller's equivalent of a flat tyre on a road trip. If you run out of lump charcoal during cooking, you won't be able to heat the Kamado to the required internal temperature, no matter how wide you open the ventilation holes.

So, find that sweet spot, adjust your charcoal load like a seasoned pro, and you'll be grilling like a champ in no time.

Mistake #2 - Using Too Much Charcoal

Mistake #3 - Not Waiting for Clean Blue Smoke

Patience, grilling maestros, is the secret ingredient to success. In the rush to begin cooking and tuck into your delights, it's easy to overlook just how important smoke quality is. However, all this does is impact the flavour and safety of your food – and not in a good way!

Clean blue smoke is your holy grail, your golden ticket to flavour town. If you begin your grilling session before your kamado has clean blue smoke, this can lead to less than desirable flavour and potential food contamination. 

Use the Kamado grill’s vent adjustments to fine-tune the temperature sensors when you get close to your required cooking temperature. If you’re still seeing white smoke, this means your kamado isn’t ready for the all-important cook. 

Also, ensure you properly place smoking wood within the grill, such as below or on top of the charcoal. Doing this will help you infuse your food with the best flavour without impeding air circulation. 

So, take a deep breath and wait for that wispy blue smoke to signal that your grill is ready for action.

Mistake #3 - Not Waiting for Clean Blue Smoke

Mistake #4 - Opening the Lid Too Frequently

Ah, the Kamado lid lifters – forever tempted to lift the grill’s lid to check for even the slightest signs of progress. And, let’s face it, anyone who’s owned a grill of any sort has been guilty of this sin! 

But here’s the thing: whenever you do this, you’re allowing heat to escape from the grill, leading to temperature fluctuations and longer cooking times.

Instead of constantly lifting the lid for an eternity, the practical thing to do is use a probe thermometer to measure how cooked your food is. This will quickly show you what’s going on with your meat without losing heat from having the grill open for too long. And as an added bonus, it will also help to protect your hands from being burned!

When you do crack open that lid, remember to “burp” your grill gently. This lets you slightly release excess air pressure before fully opening it. Why should you do this? Because nobody likes a hot-headed explosion!

Mistake #4 - Opening the Lid Too Frequently

Mistake #5 - Using a Dirty Kamado

Last but certainly not least, let's talk about cleanliness. A clean grill is most definitely a happy grill! 

Unfortunately, many grilling newbies forget this because they’re in a hurry to begin cooking or simply overlook the significance of grill maintenance in the cooking process. Neglecting your Kamado grill's hygiene is like inviting a greasy, ash-covered monster to your backyard barbecue bash. 

If you don’t regularly clean the grill deflector plate and remove ash buildup, over time, this can restrict airflow within the grill, making it difficult to control the temperature and affecting the quality of your cooked food.

Take the time to give your grill a little TLC – sweep away the ash and scrub off the grime… it’s a little maintenance that goes a long way. Also, deep cleaning the grill periodically will help to remove stubborn grease and residue that may accumulate over time. 

These small but important steps will allow you to bask in the glow of a pristine cooking machine that will have you serving up a feast of consistently delicious meals!

Mistake #5 - Using a Dirty Kamado

A Final Word

While mastering the Kamado grill is not a super-difficult task, it does require patience, precision, and a sprinkle of TLC. Avoid these common beginner mistakes, and you’ll soon be creating a smorgasbord of BBQ delights. 

As you stoke the flames of your Kamado grill, envision the sizzle of perfectly seared steaks, the aroma of slow-smoked ribs, and the tantalising crackle of wood-fired pizzas. Each dish is an opportunity to hone your skills, refine your techniques, and unleash your inner grill master.

So, may your flames burn bright and your meat be juicy and tender. Happy grilling!