Kamado grills: the vertical ceramic smoker

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 31, 2022

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A kamado is a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal fueled cook stove. Modern versions of the cooker are produced and sold internationally. They are often marketed as grills for outdoor use.

Kamado grills are adapted from ancient Japanese grills (of the same name). These were used to cook rice and other Japanese delicacies but are really popular now for smoking.

This type of grill is perfect for low and slow cooking. Therefore, it essentially also makes it a smoker grill.

It’s actually in our post about the Blaze Kamado grill that you can check out.

The Kamado grill became famous in America after World War II. When US servicemen came to Japan, they adopted some Japanese traditions.

The egg-shaped design of the grill, its convenience, and its efficiency quickly captured the hearts of Americans. So, it became an American classic that is well-known throughout the country.

Although it’s technically a grill, the Kamado Joe BJ24RH Big Joe is used as a smoker to smoke the most delicious foods.

These Kamado Joe grills are made of ceramic and thus heat retention is excellent that’s why people love it for long smokes.

How they work

Kamado grills work very similarly to other vertical smokers. You start it up by igniting the charcoal fuel at the bottom of the grill.

Then you place the heat diffuser on top. Next, cover the smoldering charcoal fuel beneath.

Afterward, set the grill grates and racks and close the lid. Then, open the air vents in order to enable the heat source to keep producing heat for smoking the meat.

Advantages

  • Kamado grills are excellent grills because of their ability to hit temperatures over 400° Celsius.
  • They’re quite durable because they’re made of ceramic materials and will not easily crumble even when exposed to the elements.
  • Kamado smoker grills also have good insulation and as a result, they have a better temperature retention capacity than most other grills in the market.

Disadvantages

  • The popularity of kamado grills also caused them to be more expensive than other grills, but the materials cost to manufacture each kamado grill is also a factor in its pricey nature.
  • The ceramic body of the grill cannot handle impact very well so these are grills you definitely don’t want to move around a lot.
  • They’re quite heavy and require 2 or more people to carry them, especially when you need to move them around.

What is so great about a Kamado grill?

I know, people praise the Kamado grills quite a lot. So, what’s so great about them?

It has much thicker walls compared to other types, allowing for better heat retention and efficient cooking. The key to great cooking is to pre-heat the Kamado. The grill is extremely stable.

All you have to do is ensure that the grill has enough charcoal and oxygen. This way the grill cooks at low or high temperatures evenly.

Finally, a Kamado grill is very durable because it’s often made from ceramic compounds. 

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.