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So ive been cooking in my primo for almost 8 months or so and i really love it! The one thing i keep having a hard time with is actual smoke for cooks. Normally what i will do in regards to getting my grill ready for a 250 -300 degree smoke (brisket,pork,etc) is as follows in order:

-load up charcoal in the xl
-bury a torn in half lighter cube in 2 spots of grill, left and right side.
-use a weedburner to light these cubes and let the flame sit a minute until it catches fire
-i let it burn for about 5-8 minutes with the lid open to ensure the flame keeps going etc. *The bottom vent is fully open
-once that time has elapsed i close the lid, ensure all vents are wide open and let it come up to temp for a bit, which usually happens pretty fast
-once i am close to my target i will begin the setup for low and slow. I open the grill, i add 4-6 chunks of wood close to each area i lit, i also add some soaked wood chips to area i lit as well. I then begin to assemble deflector plates and get them in place. By this point i am ready to let it come up to temp again as the plates drop the temp a bit. 
-Once i am close to target again i begin to dial down vents, bottom i close and just use daisy wheel to open 1/4 of the way.. Bottom vent is open about a finger width. 
-Things are looking great by this point, temp is good, ive got good smoke, so i put meat on.
-This is where things get a little frustrating, the smoke truly only lasts about 30 min - 1hr. It seems the chips get going good but chunks never really smoke to a good level. 

A little backstory to this is that i used to smoke on a weber smokey mountain, which i know has better smoking capabilities and i can add more wood and stoke fire as necessary once meat is on. But i was hoping for some better smoke from the primo than i am getting.

Ive also deviated from this method a bit by only lighting one area, and putting the defelctor plates on immediately after i have the lid open for 5-8 minutes and i still have some smoke issues.

Any insight to my technique? Any thoughts in what i can change or that i am doing wrong?

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agree with the smoking pot method.  A kamado is like the swiss army knife of BBQ.  It does low and slow, grilling and high heat cooks.  It does well...but there are other cookers better for specific tasks.  It basically comes down to convenience and cost over top quality, multiple cookers.

There are however, techniques that you can adopt that will get you pretty darn close. The smoking pot is a great tool for wood flavor on a kamado.  Adding that has saved me from an offset and so far a pellet grill purchase.

I am happy to hear that you are loving your primo!  Kamado cooking is amazing!

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I had a nice long response describing my experience moving from WSM to insulated cabinet to Kamado with smoke pot. Forum wouldn't let me post for some reason. 

Summary: smoke quality matters. WSM and dedicated smokers don't necessarily get you better smoke, but make it easier to get more thick, white smoke if that's what you want. I like the flavor of clean smoke, and find Kamado with smoke pot to be dead simple and give me the flavor profile I prefer.


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I typically wait for the heavy white smoke to dissipate and wait for the more bluish/lighter smoke before I put my meat on. I prefer the profile much better that way. Are you wanting more of the heavy white smoke?

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

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  • 1 month later...

I bury wood chunks in the charcoal prior to lighting, and scatter wood chips of the same flavor throughout the charcoal as sell.  I have learned the burn pattern and make sure one or two chunks are near where I light the starter cubes.  I don't get as good a smoke as a side-burner, but it does very well.

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  • 4 months later...

I cooked on an XL for some years and never had a problem with smoke.  Yes, learning the burn pattern helped immensely.  I never used chips.  All they do is clutter up a lump pile.  If you smoke one cook with hickory and spread hickory chips in the lump pile, and then you want to use oak or maple or any other wood, then you've got a heckuva job getting the chips of the previous cook out of the lump pile.  I'll stick with chunks, thank you very much.

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When I'm doing low and slow, I follow this method:

  1. Load cooker with lump
  2. Place 1 side of the deflector plates and grates in and light the lump
  3. Place just the grates in on the other side and close 
  4. Adjust the vents and start getting to temp
  5. Once I hit temp I pull the grate out and place my chunks (2-4) directly on the coals 
  6. Place the other deflector and grate back in and let come back to temp

You're going to have to watch the smoke and once you start to see the thin blue color appear that's when I place the meat on. I have never had an issue with not enough smoke using these steps. Good Luck.

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What exactly are you trying to improve? Longer lasting smoke? Clean smoke profile? Both?


You might try just simply adding more chunks, I normally use 5-8 fist size chunks for 3-4 hrs of smoke. I lay some on top of the lump, some I bury. Smoke pot will get you a both a long clean smoke depending on capacity. Thin smoke is the goal, billowing smoke is not. John's video on smoke might answer your questions. Keep experimenting, you'll get it.


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  • 2 years later...

Just found this thread and I have the same background from a WSM and am having the same experience with my Primo (oval not kamado).

While I know it’s sacrilege, I started a cook this morning and when I see the smoke die down a bit, I’m using a poker to sneak under the grate and deflector plates to disturb the coals and wood chunks. I know this is going to burn the coals faster and I’m having to cook and control a higher heat (260-270 range) but it is helping to relight the wood for a fuller smoke. I don’t want billowing yellow smoke at all, but do want more than the thin blue. My WSM did produce a stronger smoke flavor (which I like) and the ~10 or so cooks on my Primo have been more mild with thinner smoke rings. 

I’m going to research the smoke pot, but wanted to add my experience here as well. 


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