NEVER put Matchlight Briquettes or add a liquid fire starter to your Kamado. The ceramics could absorb it! Try using all-natural products.
I've read a couple of blogs, guides, or so called experts doing a comparison and they've mentioned Matchlight. Just light the bag it's easy! They probably have never cooked on a Kamado, maybe not even a grill, or perhaps even started a fire. My guess is it's probably someone in their moms basement that's much better at getting clicks and driving traffic to their website than I am.
Try to stick to an all natural briquette and buy a chimney starter. I'm going to stick with lump for now it's recommended for the Kamado. It will burn hotter and the Kamado is also used as a grill not just a traditional smoker. You want to get that nice sear right?
If you are using a Weber Kettle, Pit Barrell Cooker or the Akorn then you can use the Kingsford in the blue bag. That is what is recommended for the PBC.
What is the #1 ranked best selling brand lump charcoal on Amazon? Kamado Joe Big Block. Head over to the Kamado Joe Store on Amazon to grab some. Kingsford sits just outside of the top ten best sellers at #11.
This gentlemen is a little bit more "scientific" unfortunately I can only find 2 of the 4 videos so I don't think they have been completed all the way but this does show a great side by side comparison for many varieties. BBQit YouTube Videos below.
Part 1: 6 way lump test
Part 2 of the lump test
I recommend Royal Oak Brand for everyday cooks-it's inexpensive and can be found at a Walmart or other local grocery stores. It does rank fairly high compared to the expensive brands. Rumor has it they even make Big Green Eggs brand. Currently ranked #28 on the top selling list on Amazon.
I recommend Jealous Devil for the special cooks (brisket, tomahawk Ribeye)- Unless you live by a specialty store you may have to order it online. Amazon does have it cheaper than BBQGuys by 5 cents. Check out BBQ Guys Jealous Devil current pricing. It is currently ranked as #21 best selling lump charcoal on Amazon.
Wood Chips and Chunks
Don't carry a chip on your shoulder because you used the wrong type of wood or imparted too much smoke on your meat. Check out this chart for a handy go to guide and watch the Kamado Guru John Setzler's informational YouTube video below.
Over-smoking meats can ruin the cook with an acrid taste. Remember you want a thin blue smoke not the heavy smoke. The last thing you want is to have to throw out the meat from a creosote buildup making the meat bitter and not suitable for the family dog. That will really take a chunk out of the budget.
Here we go round the Mulberry bush going Plum Crazy looking for different types of wood. My local store only carries Hickory and a few others. Just like buying lump charcoal I have to get the specialty stuff online. Head over to BBQGuys.com for every flavor you can imagine, from Alder, Mulberry, Plum and Wild Cherry! I've only cooked on the smoker with the basic flavors so far but I'm willing to try something new. Amazon does carry the Western brand variety packs. Check them out below.
I have a chimney that I use for my Pit Barrel Cooker. I've used the heat gun method (I had one for my hockey sticks) but I'm an impatient guy when it comes to standing around. So I've started using the fire starters and I've tried a few different varieties. Check out the video on the left of a "scientific" experiment of lighting charcoal from Break it Yourself.
I load up my Kamado and place the fire starter(s) directly in the lump. Depending on how hot I want it to get depends on how many starters I use. Steaks for searing I add 3 in various locations vs. 1 for the low and slow method.
Check out the the 2nd video for the comparison on the starters from Smokingdadbbq. The reason I use the fire starter method is because I'm using that time to prep food. I may also be enjoying a nice cold beer or maybe a nice whiskey.