Grilling and Searing Techniques

Grilling is the go-to technique for quick, delicious and consistent results on a Kamado Joe. Using high-quality charcoal, such as Big Block XL Charcoal [link here], will ensure a steady flame and unmatched flavor in everything you grill - from burgers to corn on the cob.

How to Grill

The beauty of cooking over flame is that it’s not complicated. You’re well-equipped for success with just our standard stainless-steel grate. But as you explore the kamado tradition and try new recipes or new techniques, you’ll find that certain surfaces make certain foods sing. They will earn a place in your kit—like every good tool does. 

  1. Top off or fill the firebox with charcoal. Light the charcoal in 1–2 places to help your grill heat as quickly as possible.
  2. Install one or two half-moon cooking grates. Leave the dome open for about 10 minutes, then close.
  3. Open the bottom vent and top vent fully until the Kamado Joe reaches target temperature for grilling, 400–600°F (205–315°C). Then close the top vent halfway to maintain, adjusting if necessary.
  4. Be sure to ‘burp’ the grill every time you open the dome to prevent dangerous flashback—a surge of white-hot heat caused by a rush of oxygen. Partially opening the dome (2–3 inches) and allowing heat to escape for about 5 seconds should prevent this.
  5. When the grill is hot enough, place your food on the grate and turn when necessary. Use tongs, not forks, to turn to prevent juices from escaping. 

When grilling with a Kamado Joe, the flexible cooking rack system allows you to set your half-moon grates in a two-level system for different cooking methods. You can either set your grates up as:

  • With both half-moon grates in the lower position
  • With one half-moon grate in top position and one in lower position 

How to Sear

Searing delivers the incredible color and flavor you think of when you picture a juicy steak or flame-finished scallops. Timing is key to mastering this high-heat technique. You’ll need to give the Kamado Joe enough time to reach the right temperature (500–750°F/260–400°C) for searing, so be sure to light your grill well in advance. With the grill rolling at such high temperatures, searing won’t take long. The goal is to seal in flavor and create a rich, brown char without burning the food. 

  1. One hour before you want to sear, start with a full firebox of fresh charcoal. Light the charcoal in 1–2 places to help your grill heat as quickly as possible. Install one or two half-moon grates in the lower position, closest to the coals. Leave the dome open for about 10 minutes and close once embers have begun to build.
  2. Open the bottom vent and top vent fully until the grill reaches 500°F (260°C) or above. Then close the top vent slightly to maintain.
  3. Be sure to ‘burp’ the grill every time you open the dome to prevent dangerous flashback—a surge of white-hot heat caused by a rush of oxygen. Opening the dome 2–3 inches and allowing heat to escape for about 5 seconds should prevent this.
  4. When the grill is hot enough, place food on the grate over the flame. Use tongs, not a fork, to turn to prevent juices from escaping. 

When searing with a Kamado Joe, the flexible cooking rack system allows you to set your half-moon grates in a two-level system for different cooking methods. You can either set your grates up as:

  • With both half-moon grates in the lower position
  • With one half-moon grate in top position and one in lower position

Grilling and searing are the key techniques to getting the most out of your Kamado Joe. Learn to master both and you’ll be cooking up a feast in no time.

To learn more about the fundamentals of Kamado Grilling, check out our blog here.