How to Light your Kamado the first time

How to Light your Kamado the first time
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Firstly, if you’re reading this then you’ve most likely just purchased your first kamado, then congratulations! There are a few different ways to light the charcoal in your kamado. But before you do, there are couple of basics to think about before lighting your kamado for the first time. Consider:

  1. Is your kamado correctly setup for lighting the charcoal?
  2. Which type of fuel are you going to use?
  3. How will you light the charcoal?


1. Setting up your kamado for lighting the charcoal

Make sure that all the parts of your kamado are correctly installed. Depending on what type or size of kamado you have, this can include the fire box, fire ring and ash catcher. Once you have these in place, open the top and bottom vents fully.


The Kamado Bono Grande Red Ceramic Barbecue Grill
A fully setup Kamado Grill with firebox, deflectors and grills installed


2. The best fuel for your kamado

Hardwood lump charcoal is the best and only fuel to use in your kamado. Using alternatives like briquettes can result in different temperatures, bad tastes on your food and excessive messy ash.

Use lump wood charcoal in your kamado
Use lump wood charcoal in your kamado


3. What is the best way to light lump charcoal? How to light lump charcoal in your kamado:

There are several ways to light lump wood charcoal effectively. In my experience there are two great methods. If you’ve some time then I’d recommend using wood wool fire lighters. They’re cheap and take 15 minutes to get the charcoal lit. The other method is by use of an electric fire lighter.

One big thing to note however is that you shouldn’t ever use lighter fluid to get your charcoal lit. If you’d like to find out more, you can read my post about why you should NEVER use lighter fluid in your kamado grill.


Wood Wool Lighters in charcoal and ready to be lit.
Wood Wool Firelighters in the charcoal and ready to go


How to light lump charcoal in your kamado:

Now that you have your kamado correctly setup, some fresh lump wood charcoal and a lighting method, let’s get your kamado lit. Firstly, add some lump wood charcoal into your kamado. For your first cook, I’d suggest filling the firebox more or less to the brim as in the picture below.


The firebox in the kamado is full to the brim with charcoal
Fill the firebox to the brim with charcoal


Secondly, open the top and bottom vents fully. This allows the maximum airflow into the kamado and will assist the charcoal igniting. If you’re using wood wool lighters, insert 2 into the charcoal so that they’re just about covered by charcoal. Light them and leave them be for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, if you’re using an electric lighter, like a Texas Club Charcoal Lighter, heat the charcoal in two places, for about 5 minutes in total. You can tell that the charcoal is lit when the coals are turning grey and there’s little smoke coming off.


Lighting the Charcoal in my Kamado
Lighting the charcoal in my Kamado with an electric lighter


Finally, after a further 10 minutes and when the charcoal is visibly alight, add in the grill grates. Depending whether you’re cooking with direct or indirect heat, you may want to insert the heat deflectors too. Close the lid of the kamado and set your top and bottom vents as required.


How long does it take to light a kamado?

It takes roughly 30 minutes to light a kamado. This time includes lighting the charcoal and allowing the temperature to stabilise.

How to add charcoal to Kamado Joe?

You only want to add charcoal to your kamado when the kamado is completely cool. Open the lid of the kamado and remove any equipment such as the grill grates, cooking racks heat deflectors etc. Add as much charcoal as you need, light is as described above, insert the equipment again and away you go!

What are the best firelighters for Kamado Joe?

I like using wood-wool firelighters. They’re easy to use and stay lit for about 15 minutes. Also, they’re natural so won’t leave any bad tastes.
Also, here’s a really useful YouTube video from Kamado Joe which explains how to light a Kamado Joe.