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Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review By PelletHopper  May 15, 2013

Cost: $1000 CAD

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

Kamado Joe Ceramic Grills Inc. is an American company based in Georgia.  Back in 2009 Kamado Joe Ceramic Grills Inc offered the BBQ world a new ceramic kamado type cooker, that I assume was intended to compete head on with the big name equivalents such as Grill Dome and Big Green Egg.  There are other notables competing in the same BBQ space too, so Kamado Joe knew what they were up against, and I guess formulated a marketing plan to compete with the big boys.   As of this date, they offer 5 different models, the Classic 18 being the topic of my focus.  Like any BBQ enthusiast, I have cooked with assorted types of ceramic grills, and am familiar with all the great features that these products can offer.  The biggest and greatest feature being a wide temperature range, and at the high end of the range being very hot.  Also these temperatures are easily controlled.  These types of cookers are also known for having sturdy and long lasting materials, meaning these cookers last a long time.  Sometimes, even willed to someone special.  The Kamado Joe classic 18 is no different.

The Kamado Joe Classic 18 comes in a red and black model.  As the name implies, you get an 18″ diameter cooking surface which gives you 256 sq inches of room.  Unlike gas BBQ’s, you won’t get the much vaunted hot and warm burner zones.  People actually complain about that.  Cooking on the Kamado Joe is honestly no different than an a Big Green Egg or Primo ceramic etc….. You fire up the lump charcoal, adjust the vents for good airflow, wait until you get the right heat for the job to be done.  They handle and feel like any other ceramic cooker, as much as you can “handle” one of these.  The “Joe’s” components are all made of either cast iron or stainless steel and doesn’t feel clumsy.  I will review the Kamado Joe Classic 18 grill based on the following metrics.

Kamado Joe Classic 18 grill Review Metrics

Shipping and Packaging

Depending on how you receive your Kamado Joe Classic, it might of already been assembled by dealer so this metric may be of no value.  If you receive the unassembled unit, then this applies.  The cooker will be shipped in 2 boxes, hopefully packed on a skid.  This is heavy stuff, physically and metaphorically.  I believe that the Kamado Joe engineering team did the right amount of thinking.  They did a great job in packaging the cooker as well as making the assembly quite tolerable.  Even the box is made out of a special cardboard, which is thicker and “bump resistant”, those are my words, not an industry term.  This ceramic grill is well packages.  I say great job Kamado Joe.  Score: 10 [10]

Ease of assembly and instructions

Like most Kamado style cookers, there isn’t much assembly to be done.  You have to unpack the 2 boxes, and as I mentioned above, this is heavy stuff.  The level of effort is minimal, the instructions were easy.  Mostly because all that had to be done was basic.  Lifting and tightening.  Good job Kamado Joe again. Score: 10 [10]

Design, build and manufacturing quality

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

The Kamado Joe ceramic grill uses the same design features as all it’s brethren.  Vent on top,  vent on bottom.  Oxygen is fed to fuel source at different rates, producing different amounts of heat units.  I’m sure there is a BTU number in there somewhere for this grill, it would vary with the amount of charcoal I guess.  The design is tried and trued, and Kamado Joe just leverages the technology, the simple technology and puts it’s finesse on it.  The finesse comes in the form of quality components.  Either stainless steel, or powder coated cast and galvanized iron.  They also use stained bamboo wood.  Nothing sticks out as being “Made in Pearl Valley China” here.  Having said that, the reality is they are made in Yixing China.   Regardless of where they are made, there is a quality side to this product.  The manufacturing of the components and the ceramic grill look top notch.  The Joe has an excellent gasket which looked like it would last a long time.  I would even go so far as to say that the gasket looked better than it’s closest competitions gasket. The ceramic glaze on the shell looks tough and will likely be looking great in 10 years. The stainless steel cooking grate has a hinged flap / door.  This is a great feature, it lets you easily add wood chips or more charcoal.  An easy access portal!   The vents which move a lot of hot air, are understandably built of out cast iron, which is another positive.  The stand, albeit suitable, has small wheels, and seems a tad flimsy for something that weighs 188+ lbs.  I like that it is movable, but to me, the stand is not %100 there.  I would suggest firming up the legs and shipping them with bulkier sturdier looking caster wheels.  The side tables I found a bit weak too.  One of them came off the grill when I raised it.  So care must be taken when being raised.  By contrast to the BGE, the Kamado Joe does come in multiple colours.  You can buy a “Joe” in Black or Red, giving the consumer some options to match the deck furniture :)  Overall, I’d say good job Kamado Joe, this is a top notch Kamado grill.  Score: 8 [10]

Kamado Joe Classic ease of use

All Kamado style cookers are simple to use. Pour in your charcoal, light it, and setup your vents for optimum airflow.  The Kamado Joe is no different. It lights quickly and reaches high temperatures very quickly.  Kamado Joe claims that they “feature a unique, dual-disc top vent”.  The top disc is used for lower temperature cooking and the bottom disc is used for grilling.  Any cooking which requires higher heat.  This does give you very good temperature control.  It takes a bit of fidgeting around, it’s not like you have a thermostat that you set.  But it’s easy enough to figure out.  The thermometer which is quite large, is accurate.  I compared it to my trusted oven thermometer.  Not sure why anyone would burn briquettes, but if you do, you will have to clean out the ashes more often than you would with lump charcoal.  Cleaning the Kamado Joe Classic is no different than any other kamado style cooker, except that with a Joe you get an “ash tool” which is helpful.  As well as any unburned lump charcoal can be reused if not completely burned.  This is because shutting down the Kamado is so effective that all burning fuel is chocked off very effectively and the burn process halts.  As I mentioned earlier, I really like the hinged door on the grill which simplifies some BBQ’ing tasks.  You can add more charcoal, wood chips.  The Kamdo Joe offers a very unique heat deflector or flame diffuser, this lets you cook your food over an indirect heat source.  The standard deflector gives you the option of raising and lowering the deflector.  If you go all out and get the “BigJoe Heat Deflector” you are off into a whole different world of Kamado cooking.  The BigJoe lets you not only change the height of your deflector, but remove one of the split halves so you can grill over on half and cook on an indirect heat source on the other.  This split deflector is akin to what you get with the Primo Oval product, very cool Kamado Joe Inc.  You can’t cook a whole hog or suckling pig, but you can do a darn nice burger and ribs, pizza, small hip of beef if you get the big Joe.  Kamado Joe Classic, it is easy to use, temperature control is excellent.  Score: 9 [10]

Reliability and durability

Aside from swinging on it with an ax, the only thing that can break on this unit are the wheels.  There is a chance that the glazing on the ceramic shell might fade or chip.  The cast iron components are solid.  Cast or galvanized iron rarely cracks, nor does stainless steel.  This is a solid unit, but I have to factor the wheels in to this score.  I can see someone who is never happy with where they place there Kamado Joe on the deck, and are constantly moving it.  I haven’t used the Joe enough to say this for sure, but I don’t think the wheels are meant for a lot of moving about. But from what I hear, the company stands behind it’s product and supports it’s clients very well.  Score: 8 [10]

Smoke quality

Comparing smoke from lump charcoal to real wood is a time old debate. Pellet heads vs. lump heads. But 9 times out of 10, when you want good smoke from a Kamado style cooker, you have to add wood chips / pellets.  The Kamado Joe Classic grill provides the right temperature to produce smoke, using good quality wood chips or pellets. The Kamado Joe Classic is able to keep the temperatures down to 200 F and below. That is definitely not a cold smoke, and on the edge of not being a warm smoke, which I would place in the 165 F range.  If you leave the lid open a crack, you can get a cooler temperature, but bypasses the venting system and you loose your temperature control.  The Kamado when stocked with wood chips produces a nice smoke at 200 F.  As compared to a wood based BBQ of some sort, wood pellets would not have to be replaced every hour or so.  I have left mine on for days for cold smoke runs.  With the Joe, you would have to add more wood every hour or two.  Nothing terribly wrong with that.   The smoke from the Joe is not the same smoke you would get from a real wood smoker.   It’s a combination lump charcoal and real wood smoke.  The imparted flavor is different, but pleasant good quality smoke.   Score: 8 [10]


The Kamado Joe Classic ROCK’s when it comes to grilling and searing.  Leave the lid closed, adjust your lower vent and watch the heat rise. With good charcoal, you can get your Kamado Joe Classic up to 750 F and in many cases hotter.  Then place your carefully marinated T-Bones right in the middle.  The Kamado Joe does very well here.  Score: 10 [10]

Low and slow

Because of the excellent temperature control, you can setup your vents just right and walk away.  You can get down to the low 200 F range, or if your careful close 10 150 F and leave it there for many hours.  You can add some wood chips to the mixture and get a low and slow with smoke.  The Kamado Joe Classic does very well here too, adding another feather in it’s cap for this cookers versatility.  The Kamado Joe Classic handles this test well.   Score: 9 [10]

Food cooking and taste

This is truly where it all comes down to.  If your BBQ looks like hell, all rusted and resting on a slant, would your guests care if it was the finest chicken and ribs they have ever tasted? What if you could have good looking and great tasting all in one?  The Kamado Joe when used with top quality wood lump charcoal imparts a great charcoal taste to whatever is cooked. The higher the heat, the shorter the cooking time the less flavor. So the foods that are low and slow have more BBQ flavor than say a grilled mango which is grilled for 2 minutes.  The taste is great, and might tip the really great scale if wood is added. But that doesn’t count for this test.  Kamado Joe Classics food taste pretty darn good.  Score: 8 [10]

Price and Value

The Kamado Joe Classic chimes in at $1000, which is a number that turns people away from the soon to be “cult of the BGE”. The BGE (Big Green Egg) offers a) cult status, b) great product c) warranty. All of this comes at a price. The Kamado Joe Classic comes with quality and a great price. The warranty is nothing to snuff at either. Starting with the lifetime warranty on ceramic parts. All the metal parts are good for 5 years. The thermometer and gaskets are good for one year. I think bang for buck, this is a very good value. You will find cheaper kamado style ceramic cookers. They are there to be had. The Joe is a BGE without the cult, and an even better name. If you ask me. I deem this Kamado style cooker as the best value out on the market today.  Score: 10 [10]

The Kamado Joe Classic – The Final Word

When you shop for a BBQ, something to put on your patio, you try to satisfy a couple of requirements.  It has to look acceptable.  You don’t want a MIR space station lookalike, you don’t want something that looks like a particle accelerator either.  You want something that looks nice, produces great food and is safe.  The Kamado joe isn’t ugly, it’s a ceramic red or black egg.  It produces wonderful food and is as safe as any other cooker in it’s category.  Value price wise, I think it is the leader of the pack.  It has scored a valiant %91, which ranks this unit at the top.  There are massive GBE vs. KJ (Kamado Joe) debates on BBQ forums.  I love these.  At the end of the day,  you pay for what you want.  Grill Dome makes a fantastic product and has been around for a longtime. Yahoo was there before Google came along.  And Google is now the most used search engine on the planet.  KJ is heading that way, and I know why.


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17 Responses to Kamado Joe Classic Grill Review

  1. Jan June 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Hello Mr. PelletHopper

    How nice of you to do this review. I am buying my husband a bbq for his 50th birthday this july and I want to buy him a charcoal bbq. I don’t know very much about them, neither does my son, so I am using the internet and found your site. If my husband likes to cook with charcoal, should I buy something like this kamado joe or something else. I know of the big green egg, our neighbour has one, and it smells great. What’s the difference between the two bbq’s? Any suggestions will be rewarded with great recipes ;)


    • the bandit July 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Lucky him. No one else answered, so I thought I would. Both the big green egg or the kamado joe are fantastic charoal bbq’s and smokers. If you don’t want to spend so much, I might recommend the weber kettle. It’s under $200 and is a great charcoal bbq for the money.

  2. Ranjit July 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    What an excellent review… possible because it was just exactly what I wanted to hear…
    We live in the north of Scotland in the UK… and have just placed an order for a Kamado Joe…

    So looking forward to unpacking, putting it together and enjoying some real tasty food…

    Thanks and best regards,


    • rocker July 3, 2013 at 7:00 am #

      Hi Ranjit

      I glad you liked the review. I think you will like your Kamado Joe as much as I did. You will have to get familiar with the top and bottom vents which take a bit of playing around with to get the right temperatures, and then you are set. I want to hear how much you enjoy your Kamado Joe so please write back in a couple of months once you’ve burned off a couple of bags of charcoal.


  3. Derek July 29, 2013 at 8:15 am #


    Great review. I like these types of bbq’s but don’t own one. I see a lot of green eggs where I live and would really like to see a kamado joe vs green egg type comparison. I know I can’t come right out and ask for one, but can I suggest that it would be an interesting comparison.

    I don’t own any charcoal bbq, but am thinking of getting a kamado joe. Just not sure if I should spend the extra money and go for a green egg.

    Kind regards

  4. Reginald August 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    The Kamado Joe is a super great kamado. I own a kamado joe and a Primo kamado, not the oval XL. The Primo kamado is still head and shoulders above those Chinese knock-offs you find in the large departemental stores.

    On the Primo Kamado, the “cast iron” top vent is thin, cheap, and the “finish” flakes off (cause everyone knows cast iron is just a painted on finish, apparently), it doesn’t seal up nearly as well as the kamado Joe, it feels chintzy compared to the kamado Joe as well. The primo kamado doesn’t have a gasket to seal it to the unit like the kamado Joe does but it does have a hokey bolt and nut assembly that only serves to chew up the surrounding ceramic. I had to add a washer to prevent it from scratching the ceramics. Re. the quality of the ceramics on the Primo kamado, I can’t comment on that. All I know is the ceramics on the primo kamado sure as shit doesn’t look or feel to be as good as the kamado Joe, and it seems like it never properly cured or baked… I dunno…

    On the primo kamado, the bottom vent is tight, rough, and has some silicone sealant to keep it from leaking. Also it doesn’t close fully without a little english being applied. The lid/hinge assembly on the Primo Kamado isn’t as strong or well engineered as the kamdo Joe so the lid is heavier to lift and rocks the whole unit back a bit if you don’t lift it slowly… When its up it makes the unit back-heavy and makes me just a tad nervous… and finally and the most egregious wrong of them all, it doesn’t seem to hold a temp as well… I can Cadillac my kamado Joe along at whatever temp I want, it holds a 225F and a 250F all the live long day… The Primo kamado seems to creep up slowly after I feel it should be stable, but it does seem to hold its temp longer after the fire goes out making it a pain in the ass to wait until its cool enough to wheel it into the garage. I don’t feel this is due to a superior ceramic compound holding the heat better and longer so much as it is a function of the leaky vents allowing it to smoulder along for a long period of time… But what do I know, I’m usually cook half cut on bourbon :)

  5. Dana August 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    The kamado joe is a super great bbq. I can leave it at 200-225 and it will hold that temperature perfectly for hours. Maybe even over 10 hours. When I shut it down, I can snuff out the fire easily and reuse my charcoal. Great kamado. And it’s cheaper than the big green egg or grill dome.

    Great review

    Ci senor!

    Amarillo NM

  6. ted September 13, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    I want one, just not sure if I should get the saphire which is cheaper, or the joe which is the middle or the big green egg which is the most expensive. You review helped, but it doesn’t sound like the joe is any better than the egg. So if the joe is cheaper, and is almost as good why not? But the saphire kamado is even cheaper.

  7. ethan bourque September 16, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    the only difference between the 2 dominante kamado bbq’s, the kamado joe and the big green egg, is price. The kamado joe is what I own, but is no better or worse than the egg. Your review does a good job of describing the joe, and I agree with your points. In this market, there is the one really high end kamado, the komodo, then everything else. The everything else is the egg and the joe. Trailing behind is possibly the primo oval. Everyone else is playing catch up.


  8. bigfoot March 31, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    My neighbor owns a Joe, I own a BGE. I’m sad to say the only real different between the two is the price. I’m envious of my neighbors deal, we both bought our smokers the same summer. His Joe was considerably cheaper and came with more options, place setter, racks. They both make truly great bbq’d foods though.I like your review, just wanted to say that I think the Joe and egg are pretty much the same value despite the slight difference in price. Based on the lifetime warranty that I get with my bge. The joe doesn’t offer a lifetime waranty.

    • Bernard March 31, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

      Hi Bigfoot, just thought I’d advise you that the Kamado Joe has a lifetime warranty as well, so there is no difference in that respect to the big green egg.


  9. Claude Giroux May 26, 2014 at 7:10 am #


    I have owned a kamado joe for 3 year now. It is great, and cost me less than a big green egg. I agree that the kamado joe is just as good as the egg, but cheaper. The accessories it comes with when you buy the base model are great, and all you need unless you want the extra racks.

    Good review

  10. Fred J June 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    I am a green egg fan. As a matter of fact I got a couple rack on the grill presently. It cooks great for the past 43 years
    and still going great. Needless to say its a clay hibachi long before it’s name changed to Green Egg. Thanks for many years of great cooking. I have cooked on thing thousand of times. The orig price of this #5 pot was $169.00 in 1970. Got me money worth.

  11. Zsolt July 3, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    I own the big kamado joe 24 , and bought the eucalyptus table . It is works very well and I have no complaints. It heats up for cooking very fast . I donnt know if its better than big green egg, but this was a good price and cheaper than the large big green egg. They table is really nice.

  12. Betty Joe Curry September 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Has anyone bought a used Joe? Was originally bought in 02/2014 $1400.00 owner is need of selling it has been used four times.Is there any way to transfer the warrenty? What should I look for?bjhcurry

    • Pellet Hopper September 28, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      Hi Betty Joe

      Its rare that you see a used Kamado Joe for sale. I have personally only seen one ever for sale used in this part of the world. Most people like them so much that the just don’t want to part with them. But if you find one that is for sale, there are only a couple of things to look for. The most important thing to look at is the ceramic shell. Look on the outside glazing for cracks. That could be caused from falling over, being hit with something… god knows what. But a cracked kamado shell is bad, and renders the unit not completely, but almost worthless. The vents, and top daisywheel vents should open and close smoothly. The hinge and hinge springs should be in good shape, not broken. The strap that goes around the top and bottom shell should be secure, and again not showing signs of cracking the ceramics.

      With respect to warranty’s, they are almost always non transferable, and apply to the original owner.
      Here is the link to the kamado joe warranty info, but doesn’t say original owner. If you talk to a Joe dealer, they will tell you the warranty is only for the original owner. Any one know otherwise, please let me know. This is to the best of my knowledge.

      If you used kamado joe looks healthy, and is a good price, take it. They last for a long time and have thousands of great cooks in them before the big carbon based molecules deteriorate.

      Pellet Hopper

    • Dan September 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      I’m in western canada, and I’m trying to buy a brand new kamado joe. I’m looking at the big joe which retails for around 1799 plus HST. That is still cheaper than a loaded Primo or the large green egg. So if you can find a used one that is in good shape, I’d snap it up. I don’t own a Joe, but have been trying to. I don’t know why there aren’t any, but the two dealers I’ve gone to have said they haven’t had any the whole summer. Odd.

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