Skip to Content

Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough? (Explained)

Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough? (Explained)

Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough

A Kamado Joe that preheats slowly, struggles to get up to 450-degrees, or just won’t get hot enough, is usually linked to ash buildup in the lower recesses of the firebox.

Kamado Joe uses a multi-piece firebox with four ceramic side panels and a lower ceramic O-ring to support the charcoal fire.

At the bottom, you’ll find the ash catcher and the damper assembly with a size of “Wings.” Over the course of many cook sessions, small ash particles can build up behind these wings and in the recesses of the lower firebox, which impedes normal airflow from the lower damper.

When this happens, the only remedy is to carefully uninstall the multi-piece firebox components to give the Kamado Joe a good cleaning.

When properly cleaned out, a Kamado Joe is rated to produce a maximum temperature of up to 750 degrees.

Though there are techniques that can be used to pump the heat up even higher from there.

Most Kamado Joes should preheat to a temperature of 450 to 500 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes with the lower damper wide open and the lid vent at halfway or more.

Though it might take a little longer if you have the heat deflectors installed.

If you need to speed the preheating process for some reason, and you know that the lower firebox of the Kamado Joe is reasonably clean, you might want to boost the airflow going into the lower damper.

This can be done with a small hand fan or a bellows like you would use to manually pump up a camping air mattress.


Why Is My Kamado Joe Not Getting Hot Enough?

Ash buildup in the lower portion of the firebox is the most common culprit causing a Kamado Grill to not get hot enough.

This can impede the necessary airflow needed to support vigorous combustion.

It’s the sort of thing that can creep up on you if you’ve been doing a lot of smoking and other low-temperature cooks. Wood chips that burn rapidly are the most common cause of ash buildup in these areas.

They tend to make a very tiny ash particle that floats around rather than sinking down into the ash catcher.

If your Kamado Joe hasn’t been cleaned in a while, or you see signs of a lot of fine ash buildup in the bottom, you will need to perform a thorough deep cleaning.

This calls for carefully removing all the firebox components, including the four ceramic side wall sections and the lower ceramic O-ring, as well as the ash catcher.

Take your time cleaning all the ash out of the lower recesses of the Kamado Joe.

Then carefully reassemble the firebox and give it a test fire. The grill should heat up quickly and easily get to temperatures over 450 degrees.

How Hot Should a Kamado Joe Get To?

A Kamado Joe should be able to get up to 750 degrees.

Though this requires a nicely clean lower firebox, a wide-open lower damper, a fully open lid vent, and premium jumbo lump charcoal.


How To Get Kamado Joe Hotter?

Getting a Kamado Joe hotter starts with making sure the lower firebox is clean enough to provide good airflow.

You then need to build a coal bed from premium jumbo lump charcoal, which burns hotter and faster than charcoal briquettes.

Leave the heat deflectors out, and open the lower damper all the way before lighting the fire.

Once it’s lit, close and latch the dome lid. Set the upper vent wide open.

You can then boost the airflow going into the lower damper with a small hand fan of a camping air mattress bellows.

This forced air approach ensures that the charcoal has all the oxygen it needs to support vigorous combustion.


How Long to Get Kamado Joe Hot?

A Kamado Joe should be able to get up to 450 to 500 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes.

This is assuming you have the lower damper all the way open, the heat deflectors aren’t installed, and you are using jumbo lump charcoal.


Best Charcoal to Use for Higher Heat in Kamado Joe?

Premium jumbo lump charcoal is the best charcoal to produce a hot burning fire in a Kamado Joe.

It is made from real, unprocessed hardwood, and has a lot of minute surface area to promote airflow around the coal bed.

Adding a handful of dry wood chips to the top of a pile of jumbo lump charcoal might also help boost combustion early in the preheating process.


Final Thoughts

If your Kamado Joe is not getting hot enough, preheats slowly, or barely manages to get up to 450-degrees, you are probably dealing with an ash buildup problem in the lower recesses of the firebox.

This typically requires removing the multi-piece firebox with four ceramic side panels and a lower ceramic O-ring to deep clean all the fly ash out of the bottom of your Kamado Joe.

This will prevent the ash from impeding the normal airflow coming in from the lower damper.

With a properly cleaned firebox, a Kamado Joe can safely produce a maximum temperature of up to 750 degrees.

Though this temperature can be excessively high. Typically a Kamado Joe will preheat to around 450 to 500 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes.

You can speed the preheating process by using jumbo lump charcoal. Then set the lower damper wide open and the lid vent at halfway or more.

This is a direct flame setup. You might have a slightly longer preheating time if you have the heat deflectors installed for cooking with indirect heat.