The Fundamentals of Distance and Kamado Grilling

When grilling or smoking with a Kamado Joe, how close or how far away you are from your heat source is an integral factor in the cooking process. Whether you’re grilling hot and fast or smoking low and slow, grilling distance is key.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Perhaps your first lesson about fire, heat and distance came from the great childhood s’more. Maybe you were patient in the pursuit of the ideal golden toast, and you held your marshmallow high over the fire, waiting. Maybe you craved the crispy char of a blackened outside, so you zipped yours in and out of the flame. Whatever path you chose to marshmallow bliss, the lessons learned about proximity to flame apply for your kamado, too.

There are three ways to cook over a fire: close and quick for direct heat, far and slow for indirect heat, and far and quick for direct heat. Typically, when you’re looking for good color and char, you’ll cook your food close to direct heat. A grill rack installed in the high position over direct heat delivers incredible flavor as your food cooks. If you want an extremely hot sear for foods like burgers and steaks, you’ll cook over direct coals with the grill rack in the low position. When you’d rather let a steady fire and flavorful smoke work their magic on foods like brisket, breads or ribs, you will position your food farther away to take advantage of indirect heat.

Two Ways at Once

Sometimes you’ll want to cook two different ways at the same time. That’s why we created the Divide & Conquer® flexible cooking system. Its innovative design allows you to create multi-level heat zones—so you can sear a steak and slow-roast your vegetables 

simultaneously. The beauty of this system rests in our signature half-moon design. First, the halved heat deflectors can either partially block heat to create two-temperature cooking zones, or completely cover the flame to produce the ideal indirect heat for baking, smoking and roasting. Using both heat deflectors effectively converts your kamado from a grill to a charcoal-fired oven—meaning that anything you cook in an indoor oven can also be cooked on your Kamado Joe. Installation is flexible, too, allowing you to move cooking grates and heat deflectors up and down for achieving different high and low temperatures.

Next, we’ve made our cooking surfaces half-moon shaped as well, giving you flexibility with what and when you cook. Use one surface for searing pork chops over open flame and another to roast sweet potatoes—at the same time.

How you get the right cook every time is all about the process of knowing the ins and outs of your grill, and with a Kamado Joe, we’ve put innovation forward to give you the most versatile cooking experience you can get with a kamado grill.

Good kamado cooking begins with a good foundation. Learn how to master the elements and control your grill – and you’ll be on your way to incredible flavor.

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