So, you’ve decided you need a new grill but aren’t sure if the Kamado Joe Classic is right for you? You can look online, check out the reviews and visit forums, but chances are you’re going to end up with a lot of information and still no kamado. We’ve found that sometimes, instead of helping us make a decision, information overload leads to purchase-paralysis.
As with everything in life, a grill is very much a personal choice and what’s good for the gander isn’t necessarily good for the (cooked) goose. But we can honestly say that the Kamado Joe Classic is one of the best grills we have ever seen.
We have invited Tyler Kirkland from the Kamado Joe group to write a review of his Kamado Joe Classic 2016 - Don't forget to check out the amazing food photos Tyler submitted at the bottom!
KAMADO JOE CLASSIC II ON AMAZON
"I fell in love with Kamado-style cooking after I purchased an Akorn Jr. and smoked my first pork butt. The ease of temperature control, the longevity of the lump, and the feeling that I just cooked something delicious had me addicted. Little did I know that that little powerhouse Jr. was a gateway to bigger and better things. I did a lot of cooks on that little powerhouse, even drove it 600 miles to make amazing ribs for my family. It was when I was looking for other Kamado options, and talking to my dad about his Green Egg, that I discovered the Kamado Joe. After reading about the innovation, warranty, and the success people have on a Kamado Joe, I knew I needed one.
My time finally came, and I have to say that I will never go back. My "gasser" is collecting rust by the trash can. I sold my propane tanks, bought 100 lbs of lump, and spend my weekends creating new cuisines. I am absolutely amazed by the versatility of the Kamado Joe (I have a classic, 2016 version). I have been able to achieve long (~24 hour) low-and-slow smokes, have made cast iron cornbread, pizzas, smashburgers, paella, plank seafood, and brownies! This grill is everything I ever hoped for in an outdoor kitchen.
That is to say, cooking on a true ceramic Kamado-style grill comes with a learning curve and some knowledge about airflow management. It took me a few tries to get it right. I had to answer the questions of "how much lump do I light?", "What's the right amount of wood?", and "what's the best setting for these vents?" I wasn't a master at first, but luckily the internet is rife with videos and forums on how to get it right. The other concern is the ceramic: how does it stand up to extreme temperature changes? The answer to that is that you need to be patient. Ditch the lighter fluid, ditch the briquettes, and take it slow. My Kamado Joe managed to crack the firebox, which was disheartening to say the least. Fortunately, as an owner, you are blessed with what I regard as an above-standard warranty. Less than a week later, I had a redesigned firebox on my doorstep. The moral of this story is that you need to be curious and patient when it comes to learning how to cook on a ceramic Kamado-style grill. Also realize that it's ceramic, and fragile.
When it comes to Kamado Joe, specifically, I have to say that their innovation, community, and support are second-to-none. While the price-point of the grill might seem high to some, I have to say that it's worth every penny.
I can't specifically speak to the new, redesigned, 2017 models, as I don't own one (yet), but I can say that the company has redesigned the hinge for "air lift" and is working on releasing a temperature controller for stress-free long haul cooking. If anything, Kamado Joe is known for their innovation and desire to advance this style of grill to the next stage. They have designed the "divide and conquer" system, allowing you to split the grill in numerous configurations for indirect, direct, high, low, and multiple cooking surface applications. Be prepared: you're going to want the accessories (I'm looking at you, JOETisserie!), but they aren't exactly inexpensive. Owning a Kamado Joe is an investment of time and money, but that is all drawn from inspiration and a love for the craft.
To put it simply:
Pros: Versatile, innovative, addictive.
Cons: Learning curve, (mostly) fragile, pricey (but worth it).
If you are considering a Kamado-style grill to add to your outdoor kitchen, you can't go wrong with a Kamado Joe. Get the Junior for a family of two or portability, a classic for a family of 5 (like mine), or a Big Joe if you plan on cooking a lot of food at once. Once you get it all set up, register the warranty and find your nearest JoeNation chapter and enjoy the experience! You won't regret it."
Tyler has kindly supplied us with some great photos of dish's he has cooked with his Kamado Joe and we must say the look AMAZING:
That was a great review by Tyler with some very useful insights. If you were on the fence about getting a Kamado Joe then I'm sure this review has helped.
If you would like to submit a review of your smoker or grill then please get in touch via the contact form on the "Contact Us" page. We would love to hear from you.
Now we come onto our review of the Joe Classic II and then we have a solid buyers guide which takes you through everything you need to know before hitting the Buy button.
One of the best grills we have seen
Kamado Joe Classic II, Blaze Red
Cost-wise, the Kamado Joe Classic is definitely one of the more expensive grills available but we think it’s worth it. If you want something cheaper and cheerful just to get yourself grilling then maybe look at a pellet smoker of electric smoker.However, in order for you to make up your own mind, we’re going to look at its features, what it offers and how well it grills, and see if the premium price is indeed justified.
However, in order for you to make up your own mind, we’re going to look at its features, what it offers and how well it grills, and see if the premium price is indeed justified.
In case you didn’t know, the name ‘Kamado’ is a Japanese term for a circular clay or ceramic cooking vessel which uses wood and / or charcoal to cook food. In other words, you’re not going to ask for the latest Kamado grill; you’re going to ask for one of the brands that fall under the term ‘kamado’. Whilst there are other smokers, such as the weber smokey mountain which may offer a similar cooking experience, the way you control heat and smoke is fundamentally different.
Whilst there are other smokers, such as the weber smokey mountain which may offer a similar cooking experience, the way you control heat and smoke is fundamentally different.
What's Included With The Standard Kamado Joe Deal?
Besides the grill your box will also include an ash tool, a grill gripper, a slide-out ash drawer, a thermometer, and wheels.
The grill expander is quite simply that. A raised grid that provides you with additional cooking and grilling room, and allows you to grill your food closer to the dome ceramic’s radiating heat and up the dome.
The three legs have a metal semi-circle that enables it to set at the lower grid.
When set, the grill expander is held securely in place so you know the cooking platform is stable, and not a safety risk in any way. Looking at the front of the grill expander you’ll see a small space, which might have you thinking it’s a defect, but on the contrary, it allows access to the lower grid’s hinged portion.
The heat deflector is made up of two parts, and it’s a great accessory for pizza stone baking and indirect cooking. The fact that the heat deflector is in two parts means you can set it up in different ways.
If, for example, you’re wanting to position it for cooking pizza, adjust the main grid so it’s higher, to maintain a drip pan for low and indirect grilling. It also allows for indirect grilling with a raised barrier, making it possible to increase the smoke and heat that reaches the food.
Most of the Classic range comes with a pizza stone measuring 9/16th inches thick and 15 inches in diameter. This high-impact ceramic stone distributes heat and absorbs excess moisture for a perfectly cooked pizza with a crispy crust but take note, the heat deflector and stone must be used together so as not to burn the pizza.
Your Classic Joe pretty much arrives with everything you need to start grilling straight away, but there are some awesome optional accessories available, like the eucalyptus and stainless steel tables, grill covers, a chicken stand, fire starter cubes and a rib rack.
How Easy Is The Kamado Joe To Assemble?
Depending on where you purchase your grill, it may, or may not, come assembled. If yours does arrive and some assembly is required, fear not because the Classic Joe is pretty darn easy to put together. The instructions, which are included, are easy to follow and the only tools you’ll need is a 14mm open end wrench and a 6mm Allen wrench to secure the bands. Oh, and an ice cold brewsky, if you’re so inclined.
What's It Like To Use The Grill?
The Kamado Joe is known for its versatile grill, which is understandable. The Classic makes quick work of ribs, and grilling at a slow and easy 250 F is no problem at all. Temperature management is straightforward and if you’ve used a ceramic grill before you’ll have no problem figuring out how to use it.
The ceramic build of the Kamado Classic also contributes to how well the grill works.
As far as basic cooking and grilling are concerned the Classic Joe is your go-to grill, but it can also handle more complex and ‘exotic’ dishes, like baked brie.
Using the grill expander makes the grilling process straightforward, and if you’re wondering whether you’ll be able to grill whole chickens and large turkeys, the simple answer is yes.
The Classic makes it easy to grill and cook poultry with little seasoning: just grill at 350, wait until the temperature reaches 160 F internally and you’re set.
Preparing steaks is also a no-brainer.
There are a lot of ways to grill steaks, and one of the more popular and effective methods is to sear it at a high temperature, let the meat rest for 20 minutes or so and then roast it at 400 F. Grilling is straightforward, and you should get the hang of it pretty quickly, without any hassles, which is what you’re wanting from a grill.
Or you can go for a reverse sear without any problems at all as its easy to control the temp on the Classic Joe.
One of the reasons cooking with the grill is so simple is the well thought out design. A good example of this is the side table hinge mechanism; one of the more common complaints with grills is that when you lift the side table hinge it comes off quickly, but with the Classic it doesn’t. Just lift it with both hands or at the center of the outer edge, and the mechanism is easy to assemble too; just put the pins in the slot and you’re good to go.
What Is The Quality Of The Grill Parts?
The Upper Vent And Exterior
The upper vent is made of a powder coated cast iron and the top of the grill has a gasket to keep it in position. Because the grill’s top has the same dimensions as the vent’s opening, there’s no need for you to remove it when grilling at high temperatures. Open the side and you have the vent at its widest setting, and it shuts down tightly putting out any fires once you’re done grilling.
The body is made from a fire resistant ceramic material, and the surface also has a heat resistant coating. There’s a built-in thermometer with a 150 to 900°F range and the 3-1/8″ dial ensures it’s visible and the nut and washer keep it in position. Because the stem is 2-3/8″ long you don’t have to worry about incorrect readings or food been ruined.
The grill interior has a fire grate, fire ring and a fire box. There are three equally spaced notches along the fire ring; this is where the heat deflector is situated. Before you use the grill make sure the fire ring is set up one with one of the notches at the back, which enables the heat deflector to receive the cooking grate correctly.
The cooking grid is stainless steel and the front section is hinged, making it easier to add wood chips to the fire.
The gasket is also well-designed and, as other reviews have pointed out, holds well even when grilling at high temperatures. A feature unique to the Classic is the gasket layer between the cooker and the bands, apart from the gasket that’s situated between the shell and the band.
The Metal Parts
The Kamado Classic Joe is made of stainless steel, including the hinge springs, cap nuts, screws, draft door and the cooking grid. Most versions of the Classic range have stainless steel support rails and side shelves. A few of the models have a powder coated galvanized steel, including the handle frame, the hinges and bands.
The cart, fire grate and top vent are all cast iron and the grill gripper and the ash tool are both stainless steel. Something else worth mentioning is the lower vent. Like the other metal parts it’s constructed from 304 stainless steel and slides in easily, without any hitches.
The cart has two main parts, and putting them together involves nothing more than combining the four vertical components at the top with the four components at the bottom sockets. These are also made from powder-coated cast iron and have a couple of locking casters.
The wheel casters have a diameter of 2-7/8 inches and you should be able to move the grill easily enough. You’ll also notice that the footprint is one of the widest you’ll come across. Not only does this add to the aesthetics but it makes the unit more stable.
So far a lot attention has been paid to the metal components, and deservedly so, but even the non-metal aspects deserve a mention.
Most models’ ash tool handle, handle and side tables are made out of bamboo; they’re well made and thought out. The black variant has a teak finish, while the others are laminated. Regardless of which one you order the handle is pretty large and easy to grip.
What Do Other People Say About The Grill?
Overall reviews are very positive, getting 4 or 5 star ratings from buyers. One review simply reads the grill “does it all” and that it’s built to last. Another reviewer says grilling is easy and the food tastes great even with very little seasoning added. Another happy customer says it offers great value for money and it can handle any type of cooking or grilling.
There are loads of other reviews online, and the general consensus is that the Kamado Joe Classic is a good investment. As is always the case, there are a few negative reviews here and there, but the majority of people are very happy.
How Is The Classic Different From The Kamado Big Joe?
The main difference is size; the Classic is an 18” grill while the Big Joe is 24”, and the Big Joe allows you to grill at higher temperatures. It’s also more expensive. Unless your cooking for 20+ people you’ll find the size of the classic to be fine.
What Warranty Is Offered With The Kamado Joe Classic?
The Classic Series offers a limited lifetime warranty for the ceramic components and a five-year warranty on the metal components. The heat reflector has a three-year warranty and a one year warranty on the thermometer and other parts and accessories.
Can The Grill Cook In Cold Weather?
Yes – The ceramic cover gives the grill ample insulation so if you can easily cook slow cook smoked ribs all year round.
Why Is The Kamado More Expensive Than Other Kamado Grills Available?
This is due to the high-quality materials used (ceramic) in its construction and the larger cooking area. Other kamados may be cheaper but with that, expect to be scratching your head over why the temperature keeps fluctuating wildly.
The Kamado Joe Classic is one of the most highly rated grills online and for once we’ve got a product that lives up to the hype. It’s versatile, feature-packed and durable.
It’s not the cheapest grill available but why would you settle for a cheaper option when the Classic offers such great value for money?
Bottom line: we have no problem recommending the Classic Joe. In terms of what you get, we feel it’s money well spent and when it comes to the taste, no other Kamado cooker will leave you feeling more satisfied.
Once you have purchased your Kamado Joe they have a great selection of videos showing you how to get the best out of your grill. This is one of the best: