The Fundamentals of Smoke and Kamado Grilling

Smoke is the taste that can’t be mimicked or faked. It transforms even the most lowly of meats, adds complexity, makes a meal worth remembering. Because the Kamado Joe is charcoal fueled, everything you cook in it will come away subtly changed by smoke, no matter which technique you use. Smoke is the flavor we’re all chasing.

A Little Wood Goes a Long Way

The secret to successful smoking in your kamado is remembering that less is more. There’s no need to load up your firebox with smoking wood; it only takes a few chunks to impart flavor. You don’t need to see smoke coming from the grill to be confident that smoke is infusing your food. Too much smoking wood may give your food a bitter, acrid taste. 

Leave Liquids Out

The innovative shape and air-circulating design of the kamado creates a moist cooking environment that will produce tender, flavorful meats. There’s no need to add a pan of water or liquid during the smoking process as the Kamado Joe does not require extra humidity for temperature control.

Smoke is an Art, Not a Science

When it comes to smoking foods, there are no hard rules, only suggestions. Every decision you make—from the type of wood to the spice rub to the length of smoking time—is driven by your palate and preferences. Different types of wood produce different aromas and taste or flavor intensities. High-intensity woods, like hickory and mesquite, make a natural pairing for beef, while light-intensity fruitwoods bring out the sweetness of pork. Some people prefer a punch of powerful flavor and others prefer just a kiss of smoke—you will discover your own taste in time, but it’s best to start with less and add more.

Starting Out

Preference and experience should guide you when adding smoking wood to your firebox, but here’s a quick rule of thumb for starting out: 1 chunk for poultry and fish (because they absorb smoke at a higher rate than beef or pork); 2–4 chunks for cuts of meat that are larger than 6 pounds (such as butts, brisket, ribs). Add more to your taste.

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.