How to bake pizza in a kamado

A kamado grill is a very versatile cooking appliance. There is very little you cannot do with a kamado except for doing the dishes. Grilling, baking, smoking low and slow, no problem at all. Still, we like to experiment a bit with our Kamado Joe. With a bit of tinkering, so much more can be done.

We regularly get the question of how to bake pizzas in a kamado. Your kamado is not only an excellent grill but also a perfect pizza oven.

If you look at the shape of a wood-fired pizza oven at a pizzeria, you see the same dome shape. The thick ceramic wall makes it complete. So you would think that you simply put a pizza stone on the grates and that you can then bake pizzas. If you do, you’ll be disappointed with a black bottom, white crust and cheese that hasn’t melted yet. You can do better than that, and we’re going to tell you how.

If you look at an authentic pizza oven, you will see that hot air flows over the stone over the pizza stone. This way, the pizza stone absorbs heat, which then transfers to the pizza placed on it. The pizza is thus heated from above and below. This way, you get the correct distribution of the heat.

So we have to imitate this effect with the kamado. But the problem is, aside from the shape of the lid and the build material, that your kamado doesn’t work like that pizza oven. The heat comes from under the pizza stone. This is therefore constantly heated, even when the pizza is on it. There is heat in the lid, but the distance between the lid and the pizza is just too high to get enough heat on the pizza.

We can only describe the result as disappointing. If you don’t set the bar very high for yourself, you will be satisfied with an inferior pizza, or next time, you will just get your pizza from the pizzeria. And that is a shame.

The solution is straightforward. To make your kamado look more like a pizza oven, we need to make sure that the pizza stone is not heated directly and that the distance between the pizza and the lid is reduced. We are going to explain how you can do this.

How to reach high temperatures on a kamado

Let’s start at the beginning. For a high temperature, you need dry fuel and enough oxygen. So, first of all, make sure you don’t have any small remnants of charcoal at the bottom of the kamado and remove the ashes.

This is very easy to do with the Kamado Joe. The Classic 3 comes standard with a coal basket that you empty. Then you empty the ash pan, and you are assured of a good flow of oxygen.

Then fill your kamado with a small number of solid pieces of charcoal. If the pieces are too small, you close off the oxygen flow too much. When the charcoal is too big, it takes too long till you have a glowing core.

We fill the firebox about one third with charcoal and light it. As soon as you have a glowing core of charcoal, you can continue to set up your kamado.

How to turn a kamado into a pizza oven

What we want is that all that heat at the bottom of your kamado ends up in the lid as easily as possible. And preferably without the pizza stone, which is placed halfway, becoming too hot from below.

For this, we use the divide and conquer system, the accessory rack and your plate setters that come standard with a Kamado Joe. All you need afterwards is, of course, a pizza stone and something that allows you to create space between your plate setters and the pizza stone.

The shape of each kamado kettle is the same. It is narrower at the bottom than at the top. So if we get the plate setter as high as possible in the kettle, there is more space next to the plate setter for the hot air to pass.

Place the accessory rack in the highest position in the divide and conquer system.

Place your platesetters on it. That’s where your kamado is the widest.

To get the pizza stone as high as possible in the lid, we place 3 stainless steel corner pieces on the plate setter. Then we place the pizza stone on top. This way, we have also ensured that no direct heat gets under the pizza stone.

You can use something else instead of the stainless steel corner pieces. A few wads of aluminium foil or 2 bricks.

At what temperature do you bake pizza in a kamado

You have now built a kamado pizza oven. Close the lid, open the bottom air slide and the top vent, and wait until the temperature in the lid is approximately 300°C (572F).

By the way, this is the only time we actually use the thermometer in the lid. The thermometer is now in the perfect place. Just above the pizza stone.

Once you have reached the desired temperature, you will really notice the benefits of a kamado. When the ceramic is up to temperature, it retains that heat for a long time. This way, you can bake at least 8 to 10 pizzas.

Which pizza dough do you use for a kamado pizza

After years of practice, we now have the perfect pizza dough recipe for this temperature. Each temperature requires its own pizza recipe. The difference is mainly in the amount of water in the dough.

We make an American version of a Roman pizza. A Roman pizza is slightly crispier than a Neapolitan pizza. This dough contains sugar to get a better browning. That’s the American thing about this pizza. In our opinion, this is the perfect dough for a kamado preparation.

If you prefer authentic Neapolitan pizzas that are a bit softer, make dough with a more considerable percentage of water. But then you also need a higher kettle temperature. If you do not do this, the dough will not lose its moisture quickly enough, and you will have a white and soft pizza.

Baking pizza on a kamado

So make your pizza according to our recipe and slide the pizza on the stone. Close the lid and wait for the pizza to bake.

You don’t have to open your kamado every time to check how far the pizza is. You can occasionally just look through the open top vent to see if everything is going well. When you see the edges getting browned and the cheese lightly grilled, the pizza is ready.

This is the pizza you’ve been waiting for.

All the tips for baking pizza on a kamado

  • Start with a clean kamado. Remove ashes and pieces of charcoal that are too small. This ensures a good flow of oxygen and higher temperatures.
  • Use dry and firm pieces of charcoal. If the charcoal first has to ensure that all moisture evaporates, you will not get the heat high enough. Larger pieces of charcoal again ensure a better flow of oxygen. To large, and it takes too long to reach the desired temperature.
  • Do not fill your firebox with too much charcoal. More charcoal does not mean a higher temperature because that extra charcoal closes off the flow of oxygen.
  • Wait for the kamado and pizza stone to heat up properly. Kamado barbecues take time to heat up. And if you bake pizzas when your pizza stone is not yet hot enough, the dough will stick to the stone. Be patient and wait at least half an hour to 45 minutes until the thermometer reads 300°C (572F).
  • Keep the kamado closed as much as possible during baking and between the pizzas. If you want to know what your pizza looks like, take a quick look through the open top vent. Don’t go too close with your eye above the hole, or you will lose your eyebrows at some point. You have been warned.
  • Know what dough you are using. Each dough has its own preparation method. Start with our pizza dough recipe before experimenting further. If you buy ready-made pizza dough, check the packaging at which heat the dough should be baked.
  • Don’t overfill your pizza with sauce, meat, and vegetables. Everything takes time to warm up. All the while, all those ingredients are working to expel moisture. If the pizza is too thick, you will get a wet pizza base. For this reason, also cut the meat and vegetables nice and thin. Then the moisture can get out faster.
  • Once you have mastered this way of baking pizza, you can continue experimenting with different types of pizza dough and toppings. We got a lot out of the book Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri. This book really has everything you need to know about pizza with dozens of great recipes.

Now that you know how to make a great pizza, you can do it yourself. Let us know if it worked. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes and @kamadojoe so we can see what you’ve made.

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