Help! Kamado Joe Charcoal advice

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Original poster
Aug 15, 2019
So I’m a nube when it comes to the smoker—but I figured it was going to be the only way to get the kind of BBQ I was after up here in Flanders, NJ. I’ve done three briskets and two pork shoulders sp far in my new Kamado Joe and all have come out way way too smoky for my taste. My brother uses a green egg and says I should use a more mild charcoal. I’ve been using the Royal Oak from Tractor Supply and/or Big Green Egg lump (oak). To that I’ve added no more than 2-3 pieces of hardwood (apple or hickory). I’ve cleaned the smoker between smokes and been careful to let my firebox really burn for 30 minutes hot before adding the meat and knocking the temp back. By the way, I’m also really struggling to maintain my low temperatures— last night the thing went out on me in the middle of a pork shoulder — had to transfer to my oven at 2am. On the other hand—it seems much less smokey.

Do we agree with my brother that the charcoal is what’s causing my too Smokey taste and temp issues? It’s a brand new Kamado- covered-cleaned between uses....I also use a ThermoWorks “smoke” thermometer which seems fairly accurate. Thoughts on my struggle?
Try your next cook without any smoke wood and see what you think. This hobby has a lot of trial and error, but sure is fun! As far as milder charcoal, my humble opinion is that most charcoal on the market have similar flavors, unless it's that crap that has lighter fluid in it.
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Lump charcoal won't add much flavor if fully carbonized. I'd bet you a dozen donuts you're putting your wood chunks on top of your charcoal. Try burying your chunks under the charcoal. They'll preheat and burn cleaner, giving the wood flavor you want. Also, don't put water in the water pan if your smoker has one. My wife won't eat Q if I use the water pan, saying it's too smokey.
Watch the smoke coming out of the vent, should be thin and blue. If you are seeing white smoke, that means fire not burning hot enough and that smoke gives off that nasty over smoked taste, it is really creosote. Try adding the wood a little at a time. The meat takes on the smoke for only a few hours. Finish off the cook with charcoal that has been already lit. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.