Kamado Joe Review: 4 AMAZING Grills to Consider in 2020

Are you a serious barbecue enthusiast who’s thinking about buying a kamado grill?

If so, you’ve probably heard the name “Kamado Joe” once or twice.

This brand is one of the leaders in the industry, and with good reason.

To find out why, take a look at this Kamado Joe review.

At a glance: here are the 4 grills reviewed in this guide

Things To Consider Before Investing in a Kamado Joe Grill

Kamado grills are characterized by their egg-like shape and reinforced construction, which allows them to retain heat better than their traditional charcoal-fueled counterparts. During the cooking process, the lid on a kamado grill is typically closed. This technique helps to keep the heat and smoke inside the cooking chamber, making these units a good choice for smoking and other low-and-slow methods.

While some kamado grills might be constructed of heavy-gauge steel, they usually feature a ceramic construction. That’s because the earliest kamado grills were made of clay when they originated in Asia more than 4,000 years ago. The ceramic models are quite heavy, so it’s difficult to find a kamado grill that’s suitable for camping or tailgating. Moreover, these grills typically offer only 300 to 500 square inches of cooking space. If you’re looking for a grill that you can travel with, or one that can serve a multitude of people at once, then you might want to consider a pellet smoker or gas grill instead.

One last thing to be aware of when shopping for kamado grills is the price. These units are more expensive than similarly sized gas or charcoal grills. Thanks to their sturdy construction, however, they’re built to withstand long years of frequent use.

If you still think a kamado grill would make a great addition to your outdoor kitchen, here are some of the features you should take into account.

Cost

As we just mentioned, kamado grills run on the pricey side. Make sure you know in advance what you’re willing to spend.

Size

Think about what you’ll be using the grill for, and how many people you’ll be serving. Some larger units come equipped with secondary shelves that increase the amount of cooking space. As a rule of thumb, an average-sized family should be able to get by with about 400 square inches.

Lid

The lid on a kamado grill should fit securely, with no gaps around the edges. Whenever possible, try to find a grill with a locking lid. This will ensure that the top of the grill stays securely in place while the fire is going.

Temperature Control

Superb heat retention is one of the key selling points for a kamado grill. If yours is doing its job properly, you’ll be able to maintain your desired temperature for as long as possible. It helps if you have easy access to the fire box, so that you can add more fuel as needed. You should also look for a built-in thermometer in the lid of the grill.

Efficiency

Another nice thing about kamado grills is their fuel efficiency. Since the lid is usually closed throughout the cooking process, they don’t burn through as much charcoal as a traditional steel grill would. The extra-thick walls mean you won’t have to start a large fire to achieve positive results.

Extras

Shelving and tool hooks always come in handy. You might also look for wheels with locking casters, handles for ease of transport, and a diffuser plate to help distribute the heat more evenly.

Warranty

Many manufacturers will back up their parts with a warranty. These can be in place for anywhere from one to ten years. Some companies also offer lifetime technical support for their products. Make sure you know what’s offered before you plunk down your cash.

Kamado Joe Review: What’s In The Box?

Here’s what you’ll find when you unwrap the products that we’ve listed below.

#1 Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

  • Premium ceramic grill with cast iron cart design
  • Stainless steel cooking grates offering 254 square inches of cooking space
  • Four locking wheels
  • Sturdy lid with lock and built-in thermometer
  • Wire mesh fiberglass gasket
  • Ash removal system
  • Two folding side shelves with tool hooks
  • “Grill Gripper” and ash tool
  • Warranty packages on ceramic and metal parts, thermometer, and gaskets

Pros:

  • Arrives fully assembled and packed securely
  • Excellent heat retention
  • User-friendly
  • Secure locking lid

Cons:

  • Some missing parts reported in shipping
  • Very heavy

Check Price on Amazon

#2 Classic II Stand-Alone Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23NRHC Classic II Stand-Alone Grill, Blaze Red, 18 inch

  • Premium ceramic grill with three “feet” for stability
  • Stainless steel cooking grates offering 256 square inches of cooking space (a 24″ model offering 452 square inches is also available)
  • Sturdy lid with lock and built-in thermometer
  • Ash removal system
  • Warranty packages on ceramic and metal parts, thermometer, and gaskets

Pros:

  • Stand-alone design means it can be easily installed in most outdoor kitchens
  • Multi-level cooking surface for versatility
  • Easy to assemble
  • Secure locking lid

Cons:

  • Too heavy for one person to lift
  • Difficult to transport
  • Lack of shelving

Check Price on Amazon

#3 Classic Joe Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RH Classic I Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

  • Premium ceramic grill with sturdy cart design
  • Stainless steel cooking grates offering 254 square inches of cooking space
  • Sturdy lid with built-in thermometer
  • Heat deflector plate
  • Ash removal system
  • Two folding side shelves with tool hooks
  • “Grill Gripper” and ash tool
  • Lifetime warranty on ceramic parts

Pros:

  • Heat deflector plate included
  • Lower price point than updated versions
  • Generous warranty on ceramic body
  • Great temperature control

Cons:

  • No lock on lid
  • Shelves are not high quality
  • Requires two people for assembly

Check Price on Amazon

#4 Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RHCI-A, Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

  • Premium ceramic grill with galvanized steel cart design
  • Stainless steel cooking grates offering 254 square inches of cooking space
  • Sturdy locking lid with built-in thermometer
  • “SloRoller” insert for cooking at low temperatures
  • Three-tier cooking system
  • Ash removal system
  • Two folding side shelves with tool hooks
  • Round lower storage shelf
  • Warranty packages on ceramic and metal parts, thermometer, and gaskets

Pros:

  • Sophisticated three-tier cooking system for versatility
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Turns out excellent smoked meats
  • Attractive design

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Relatively small cooking area for the price

Check Price on Amazon

Kamado Joe Review: Features & Benefits

Now that we’ve filled you in on the basic specifications, let’s take a closer look at the Kamado Joe models. In this section, we’ll see if these units hold up to the criteria we introduced earlier.

#1 Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Cost

The Classic II isn’t the most expensive model on our list, but it hardly qualifies as a bargain buy. For a ceramic kamado grill, however, it’s set at a reasonable price. If you have a relatively high budget, you should take a closer look at the Classic II.

Size

The grilling surface of the Classic II measures 18 inches in diameter. That gives you about 256 square inches to work with on the main surface. Fortunately, there are expanders available that can increase the cooking space to as much as 660 square inches. Also, the “Divide and Conquer” interior design allows you to cook more than one ingredient at once—even if they need to be cooked at different temperatures.

Finally, note that this unit is quite cumbersome and requires at least two people to put it together. That’s true of just about every ceramic grill, but it’s worth mentioning here nonetheless.

Lid

The lid on this grill fits snugly in place, and can be secured with the built-in lock. It also features air-lift suspension, so you don’t have to worry about the lid slamming and cracking if you lose your grip.

Temperature Control

The Classic II holds its heat exceptionally well, even when compared to other ceramic grills. It can heat to the desired temperature in about 15 minutes, and is capable of reaching temperatures in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Efficiency

The thick-walled construction and secure lid work wonders at keeping your fuel costs low. Since it’s also a relatively small grill, you can also use a small amount of charcoal to start, depending on what you’re cooking.

Extras

In addition to the built-in thermometer, the Classic II features two foldable side shelves that can be used for prep or storage. The wheels are outfitted with locking casters, and the ash cleanout system is simple to use. A set of grate gripping tools and an ash tool are also included.

Warranty

Kamado Joe offers a five-year warranty on its metal parts, a three-year warranty on any heat deflectors or pizza stones, and a one-year warranty on the thermometer and gaskets. Those policies apply to the Classic II, but be aware that some models might have different warranty packages in place.

Check Price on Amazon

#2 Classic II Stand-Alone Grill

Cost

This unit is slightly pricier than the Classic II. Still, if you’re looking for a kamado grill that can be built directly into an existing outdoor dining space, it’s probably your best bet.

Size

The Stand-Alone is available in two sizes: 18″ and 24″. Both feature the same “Divide and Conquer” technology as the regular Classic II, and the larger model offers up to 1056 square inches of cooking space when the grill expander and both grates are in position. If you’re looking for a versatile unit that can accommodate larger crowds, you might want to give this model a try.

Lid

First of all, it should be noted that the stainless steel latch on this lid isn’t as reliable as some of the locks on other models. On the plus side, the two halves do fit together well, and the patented top vent does a superb job at maintaining the airflow.

Temperature Control

Like the Classic II, the Stand-Alone offers a temperature range of 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. That gives you a tremendous number of options regarding the types of food that you’re able to prepare. The fire box is easily accessible, too, so you should have no problem adding more charcoal to the grill as needed.

Efficiency

Since this unit is a virtual clone of the Classic II, you can expect it to perform just as well in this department. Note that if you invest in the larger unit, you’ll naturally be using more fuel, especially when the grill extender and additional grates are added.

Extras

The thick wire mesh fiberglass gaskets on this unit could qualify as extras, particularly since they contribute directly to the higher cost. Aside from the built-in thermometer and stand-alone quality of the grill, however, there aren’t many bells and whistles to speak of. Also, be aware that the Stand-Alone offers nothing in the way of storage and prep space.

Warranty

You can expect the same 5-3-1 warranty rules to apply to the Stand-Alone grill. The gaskets are advertised as being exceptionally long-lasting, so with any luck, you won’t be needing the guarantee for those aspects.

Check Price on Amazon

#3 Classic Joe Grill

Cost

If cost is your primary concern, you should look at the Classic Joe grill first. Since this is one of the older models, it’s set at a lower price point than the other units on our list. The trade-off? The technology isn’t quite as sophisticated.

Size

Again, the grilling grates measure 18 inches in diameter, giving you 256 square inches of cooking space. If you use the grill expander, you’ll get 406 square inches; with both sets of grates, you end up with 508 square inches. With the grill expander and both sets of grates, you can increase the total cooking area to 660 square inches.

Lid

The hinged lid of the Classic Joe features an airlock component to keep it from slamming shut. While the lid doesn’t come equipped with a lock, it does offer an adjustable top vent to help maximize airflow.

Temperature Control

The included heat deflector plate gives this unit some of the most impressive temperature control you’ll find in a kamado grill. The configuration makes it easy for you to add more fuel to the fire box, and the exterior stays relatively cool throughout the cooking process.

Efficiency

This model is more elongated than the Classic II or the Stand-Alone, so it burns through fuel at a slightly higher rate. However, it’s still a ceramic kamado grill, so it’s more efficient than a stainless steel model would be.

Extras

In addition to the built-in lid thermometer, the Classic Joe comes equipped with four sturdy legs with wheels for maneuverability. Two folding side shelves with hooks give you a handy place to store your tools and condiments while you work. You’ll also receive an ash disbursement tool and a set of grate grippers with your purchase.

Warranty

The ceramic parts on the Classic Joe carry a lifetime warranty. This is a generous perk that surpasses Kamado Joe’s usual warranty. The guarantee on metal components, gaskets, and thermometers is the same as the other models listed here.

Check Price on Amazon

#4 Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

Cost

This upgraded version of the Classic Joe grill is the most expensive model in our roundup. It’s pricey even by ceramic kamado grill standards, so before you make an investment, be sure you’ll take advantage of everything that it has to offer.

Size

The Classic Joe III measures 18 inches in diameter. While it offers the same amount of cooking space as the other 18-inch units on our list, its cart-style design is more streamlined, giving your deck or patio a roomier appearance.

Lid

The lid on this grill has a secure fit and a locking latch, similar to the Classic II models. The “Air Lift” hinge gives you greater control when you’re attempting to lift it—a handy benefit, since the whole unit is so heavy.

Temperature Control

The sophisticated technology and heavy construction of the Classic Joe III gives it a definite edge in this category. A built-in thermometer helps you keep an eye on the grill’s progress, and the fire box is easy to access.

Efficiency

Like its earlier counterpart, the Classic Joe III has an elongated shape that makes it considerably less fuel-efficient than the other grills in our roundup. Since it also costs more upfront, you might want to consider another option if you’re working with a tight budget.

Extras

Two side shelves flank the grilling area of this model, and the rolling cart design offers an additional shelf underneath. Kamado Joe also advertises a patented “SloRoller” smoke technology for this model. This insert controls the airflow inside the cooking chamber for maximum heat and moisture retention at lower temperatures. For high-heat cooking applications, you can swap out the SloRoller for a heat diffuser plate.

Warranty

Any metal parts are under warranty for five years, while the SloRoller should be covered for three. The thermometer and gaskets fall under Kamado Joe’s one-year warranty plan.

Check Price on Amazon

Unpacking the Kamado Joe Grills

We took to the road to find out what consumers were saying about the Kamado Joe grills. Here’s what we were able to find out.

The attractive design, durability, and versatility were praised above all, especially in the Classic Joe models. Many users claimed that this was likely to be the last grill they’d ever buy, because they were so sturdy that they wouldn’t need to be replaced. Consumers were also satisfied with the heat retention and fuel efficiency of these units, and claimed that they were especially effective when used for smoking meats.

Possible Alternatives to Kamado Joe Grills

If you’ve taken a look at the above criteria and decided that a Kamado Joe grill isn’t for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of other kamado grills on the market, and one of them is likely to suit you just fine. Here’s a look at three of the most popular ones, complete with head-to-head matchups in the major categories.

#1 Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker

Unlike the Kamado Joe models, grills in the Char-Griller Akorn series feature a durable steel construction. While this costs them some points in the heat retention department, they’re also far less expensive.

Char-Griller vs. Kamado Joe

  • Value—Char-Griller
  • Size—Char-Griller
  • Lid—Kamado Joe
  • Temperature Control—Kamado Joe
  • Efficiency—Kamado Joe
  • Extras—Tie
  • Warranty—Char-Griller

If you’re looking for a kamado grill at a bargain price, check out the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker today.

#2 Big Green Egg (Large)

This unit is a close competitor to the Kamado Joe Classic II Stand-Alone. Multiple accessories and add-ons are available.

Big Green Egg vs. Kamado Joe

  • Value—Big Green Egg
  • Size—Big Green Egg (by a small margin)
  • Lid—Kamado Joe
  • Temperature Control—Kamado Joe
  • Efficiency—Big Green Egg
  • Extras—Kamado Joe (more are available from Big Green Egg at an additional price)
  • Warranty—Kamado Joe

If you’re looking for a grill that can be installed anywhere and accommodates plenty of bonus features, go ahead and give the Big Green Egg a try. 

#3 21″ Supreme Komodo Kamado Grill

Komodo Kamado is a high roller in the industry, turning out flashy and durable units at luxury prices.

Supreme Komodo Kamado vs. Kamado Joe

  • Value—Kamado Joe
  • Size—Komodo Kamado
  • Lid—Komodo Kamado
  • Temperature Control—Komodo Kamado
  • Efficiency—Komodo Kamado
  • Extras—Komodo Kamado
  • Warranty—Komodo Kamado

Check out the 21″ Supreme if you have deep pockets and a desire to invest in an eye-catching grill with a limited lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line

If it’s a kamado grill you’re looking for, these Kamado Joe models deliver. The thick-walled ceramic construction, thoughtful design, and tight-fitting lids are all characteristic of the best kamado grills. Best of all, while they’re certainly not cheap, they’re more affordable than many similar models.

Whichever grill you choose, we hope it brings you a lifetime of enjoyment. Click here to take a closer look at the Kamado Joe offerings.

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