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Kamado barbecue basics: let’s get started! – BBQ tips for beginners.

For those new to kamado barbecue who are still struggling with temperature control or that one new flavour combination, to the experienced pitmasters who know how to grill every piece of meat to perfection; the kamado barbecue offers something for everyone. And yes, whether it’s the warmth of summer, the freshness of autumn or the cold of winter, with a kamado BBQ you can literally tackle any season.

Barbecuing, BBQing, grilling – whatever you call it, it is a favourite activity all over the world. Nothing beats the sound of sizzling meat, fish or those perfectly grilled vegetables over a glowing hot grill. The crackling flames instantly bring that unique atmosphere of fun and relaxed moments with friends and family.

Are you new to the world of kamado barbecue and could use some help? Then we have some BBQ tips that will not only get you started with the kamado barbecue basics, but will also ensure that you get more out of your barbecue immediately.

What is a kamado grill

A kamado grill is not just any grill; it is a versatile, ceramic charcoal grill that originated in Japan. Designed based on the traditional Asian clay oven, the grill has a round shape with a lid.

The kamado grill is wildly popular thanks to its versatility, ease of use and maintenance. It has the ability to reach high temperatures, ideal for quick grilling of meat, fish or vegetables. But the kamado grill can also maintain lower temperatures, perfect for slow smoking or cooking your ingredients. A kamado grill is actually a barbecue, a (pizza) oven, a smoking area and a roasting pan all in one.

Thanks to the accessories, you can also bake pizzas and pies in your kamado grill or use the barbecue as a plancha. The thick ceramic double wall insulates the kamado excellently, allowing precise temperature control and maintenance. The tight-fitting lid ensures that the heat is retained, improving the flavour of your dish.

Advantages of cooking on the kamado

From faster cooking times to maintaining juiciness in your dishes, a kamado makes cooking not only easier, but also more fun! The unique ceramic construction sets the kamado apart from other kettle-shaped barbecues. Heat is radiated inwards, promoting efficiency, while temperature control is effortless thanks to the even heating of the entire ceramic bowl. But what makes a kamado so special and what are the benefits of cooking on the kamado?

You use less charcoal:

the kamado has excellent insulation thanks to its ceramic construction and double wall. This construction helps retain heat and minimises heat loss, burning charcoal more efficiently. Ideal for dishes with long cooking times, and ultimately for your wallet too!

Super good heat retention and distribution:

the kamado retains and distributes heat evenly, resulting in consistent and delicious dishes, whatever the weather conditions. So you can enjoy your kamado all year round.

A delicious smoky flavour:

Charcoal gives dishes that distinctive smoky flavour that we barbecue lovers love. You can add even more (smoky) flavour to your dish by using a smoker box, for example.

A lot of accessories available:

On the kamado, you can really conjure all cooking techniques out of your top hat with the right accessories. From juicy chicken on the spit to mouth-watering stews and perfect sandwiches from the plancha!

By using the vents on the bottom and top, you are in control of your kamado and everything prepared on it.


With a kamado, you don’t have to worry about a glowing surface like with a traditional barbecue. The fire is confined to a small area, allowing you to barbecue with peace of mind, even if the garden is full of family or friends.


The exterior of Kamado grill is treated with a baked-in glaze. The coating not only gives a stylish look, but also ensures a long life for your kamado as a result.

Fully closable:

Thanks to its full sealing, the kamado not only retains the heat, but also the characteristic smoke flavour. As a result, you create the most delicious barbecue flavour imaginable.

Little maintenance:

With a little care, your kamado will last for years, by simply cleaning after barbecuing and regularly renewing the charcoal. Avoid aggressive cleaning agents! (You can read all about the maintenance of your kamado here: link to maintenance tips)

The different sizes of ceramic BBQs

When it comes to choosing your new ceramic BBQ, it is tempting to think in terms of size. But let’s share a valuable insight: the ideal barbecue is not only determined by its size, but mainly by how you plan to use it. Do you plan to cook only fish or meat on it? Or do you also want it to hold vegetables or perhaps a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven at the same time? Do you have a compact balcony or an expansive garden?

Also ask yourself the question what type of barbecuer you are! Are you the simple barbecuer and only light it with parties or celebrations, or are you the pitmaster who can be found behind his kamado every weekend? With all these considerations in mind, Grill Guru offers a wide range of ceramic BBQs perfectly tailored to different needs and preferences. Check out our sizes of ceramic BBQs here.

Grill Guru will be happy to give you a hand in deciding which size ceramic BBQ suits you best! Take the test here!

How does a kamado barbecue work?

But how does it work inside with air circulation and temperature control?

In a Kamado barbecue, air circulation is controlled by adjustable vents (sliders) at the bottom and top (daisy wheel). The lower air inlets allow you to regulate the amount of air going to the charcoal. The more air, the higher the temperature, and vice versa. The daisy wheel at the top of the kamado barbecue allows hot air and smoke to escape. By adjusting this opening, you can manage the discharge of hot air.

The ceramic walls of the Kamado barbecue act as insulation, retaining heat well. This makes it possible to reach both high and low temperatures and easily keep that temperature even. To increase the temperature, open the slider at the bottom and also the daisy wheel. This increases the supply of air, which speeds up charcoal combustion and thus raises the temperature.

For lower temperatures, reduce the air supply. This reduces the burning rate of the charcoal, lowering the temperature. The tight-fitting lid also helps maintain heat and retain moisture, which is important for keeping meat juicy while cooking.

When you are done barbecuing, the easiest way is to close the 2 vents and the lid. No more oxygen will enter, so the fire will go out.

Filling your kamado barbecue: how much charcoal should I use? 

How much charcoal is needed for your kamado barbecue can vary from brand to brand, but a general rule is to fill the firebox to the brim. Do you have a charcoal basket? Then feel free to fill it all the way up as well. Regardless of your cooking plans – whether you grill quickly at high heat or smoke slowly at low temperature – the amount of charcoal remains the same. The surplus? You just save that for next time.

Make sure you use large pieces of charcoal, as this will allow more oxygen to flow through it, making your kamado barbecue heat up faster. Small pieces or charcoal grit can obstruct the airflow, causing your kamado to heat up slowly. When filling, immediately make a dimple for your kindling wicks in the charcoal; this will help them ignite more smoothly as soon as you light them. Only light the kindling wicks in the kamado.

Choose charcoal over briquettes in your kamado. Charcoal made from heated and dried wood burns hotter and gives that authentic smoke flavour that every BBQ lover appreciates. Always use fresh charcoal because charcoal absorbs moisture – if you have stored it in winter, it gets damp, is difficult to light and just doesn’t come up to temperature. Then store the charcoal inside the house and not in the shed.

Using too much charcoal can cause your kamado to overheat, making the temperature difficult to control. After all, you don’t want your perfect steak to turn into a charred piece of meat! On the other hand, if you use too little charcoal, your kamado won’t get hot enough and burn for much less time. That means those ribs you’ve been looking forward to so much might not get fully cooked!

Lighting the kamado grill: 

Lighting your kamado grill is the first step to a successful barbecue! After filling your kamado with charcoal, as explained earlier, it’s time to light things up.

Whether you choose kindling wicks or the quick One Minute Lighter, getting the fire lit properly is essential. Start by opening the vent at the bottom to allow enough air to flow through the charcoal. Next, light the kindling wicks or put the Grill Guru One Minute Lighter to work.

For optimal heating of your kamado grill, it is important to let enough oxygen through, by opening the vent at the bottom. After about 5-10 minutes, the flame will be extinguished and you can close the lid of the kamado grill. Just be patient now, until the coals are the right colour: no longer black, but a nice grey hue, and all flames have disappeared. This can take about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the kamado grill. The grey coals indicate that your fire is ready for use.

Als je kamado de ideale temperatuur van 180-200 graden Celsius heeft bereikt voor het grillen, kun je de Margrietschijf en het ventilatierooster aan de onderkant aanpassen om de temperatuur stabiel te houden. En als de temperatuur te veel schommelt, speel dan een beetje met de schuifjes om het te corrigeren. 

Controlling temperature with my kamado: how do I achieve the desired temperature?

Controlling the temperature of your kamado is crucial for the perfect barbecue. With the ventilation grid at the bottom and the daisy wheel on top, you can very precisely adjust the temperature for each dish.

More air means higher temperatures because your charcoal will burn faster. Less air, on the other hand, makes for a cooler barbecue. Use the ventilation grid for larger temperature differences and the daisy wheel for fine-tuning.

  • For low temperatures up to 120 °C, turn both the Daisy wheel and the ventilation grid almost closed.
  • Temperatures from 120 °C to 180 °C? A small opening is enough.
  • For 180 °C to 250 °C, keep the vent below small and turn the Daisy wheel half-open.
  • And for the really hot stuff from 250 °C to 350 °C, both can be fully open.

The built-in thermometer gives you a good idea of the temperature. Try to keep the lid closed for the most stable temperature, as opening adds extra oxygen and can push up the heat.

Once you find the right setting, the temperature stays pretty constant. But remember, every kamado is slightly different. So feel free to play around with the settings until you know exactly what works best for your kamado grill. Barbecuing is a skill you develop with time and patience, so take the time to experiment and enjoy every meal you make.

Easy recipes on the kamado

Whether you are a seasoned grill guru or just starting to explore cooking on the kamado, there are always some easy recipes you can make quickly on the kamado. Especially if you are just starting to cook on the kamado, these easy recipes are a must for playing with temperatures and different cooking techniques (Hyperlink to blog on cooking techniques)

Baking pizza on the kamado:

What could be tastier than a homemade pizza? With the kamado, you can easily prepare a delicious pizza. Roll out the pizza dough, top it with your favourite toppings and place it on the pizza stone in the kamado. Close the lid and let the heat of the kamado ensure a crispy crust and melting cheese. In no time, you will be enjoying an authentic Italian pizza! Find everything you need to know about baking pizza on the kamado here.

Picanha on the kamado:

The picanha, also known as tail steak, is a popular cut of meat that is perfect for cooking on the kamado. Marinate the meat with some spices of your choice, place your plate setter and place the picanha on your grill rack. The indirect heat of the kamado will cook the meat slowly and give it that delicious smoky flavour we all love. Once your picanha is perfectly cooked? Then give it another quick sear on high heat for that irresistible BBQ crust.

Salmon on cedar plank:

Salmon is always a good idea, especially when prepared on a cedar plank. Soak the plank in water beforehand and place the salmon on it. Place the plank with the salmon on the grid of the kamado and close the lid. The cedar wood gives the salmon a subtle smoky flavour and keeps it deliciously juicy. Add some lemon juice and dill for extra flavour.

Sweet potatoes roasting between the coals:

The kamado is suitable not only for meat and fish dishes, but also for vegetarian options such as puffed sweet potatoes. Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminium foil and place them between the hot coals in the kamado. Let them cook for about 45 minutes until they are nice and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Serve with crème fraîche and some fresh herbs.

Tomato soup from the Dutch Oven:

A Dutch Oven is a must-have accessory for any Grill Guru because you can make endless dishes with it, including tomato soup! Heat some oil in the Dutch Oven on the grid of the kamado and sauté onion, garlic, carrot and celery in it. Add fresh tomatoes, a stock cube and herbs. Simmer over low heat until all the flavours are well blended. Stem the soup smooth with a hand blender. Serve with a dash of cream and some fresh basil.


With this introduction to the versatile world of kamado barbecue, from handy BBQ tips to tasty BBQ recipes and how to accurately control kamado temperature, you are now ready to put your grilling guru skills into practice. The kamado BBQ, a ceramic BBQ that excels for its flexibility and efficiency with charcoal, offers plenty of opportunities to experiment and create unforgettable meals.

Whether you opt for the traditional barbecue experience, easy dishes on the grill guru, or venture into the art of low and slow on your kamado; every moment offers a chance to discover something new. So, grab that charcoal, light your kamado and turn every meal into a feast!


What makes the Kamado barbecue different from a traditional grill?

Kamados offer excellent heat retention and versatility, making them ideal for a variety of cooking styles.

How often should I change the charcoal?

The frequency depends on how often you use the Kamado, but it is usually recommended to replace it after 3 or 4 times.

Are there any recipes specifically designed for Kamados?

Absolutely! Countless recipes have been adapted to the unique cooking conditions of Kamados. You can find more delicious recipes here.

Where can I buy a Grill Guru?

Kamados are available from specialist barbecue shops and online retailers.

How do I prevent temperature fluctuations in my Grill Guru?

Adjust the air supply slowly using the ventilation grids to maintain a stable temperature. Avoid quick, large adjustments.

Best way to use smoking wood?

Add soaked wood chips or dry wood chunks to the charcoal for extra smoke flavour. Chips for shorter smoking time, chunks for longer.

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