Kamado Joe Classic III Review
Kamado Joe Classic III Review
February 7, 2020
If you’re considering adventuring beyond a gas grill, one of the most commonly considered additions to the backyard is a kamado grill. Because they’re fueled with charcoal, they infuse a deep, rich smoky flavor to your cooks that you just can’t get from a traditional gas grill. They have the versatility to sear steaks at an exceptionally high heat or go low and slow with long duration cooks like brisket. Kamados do all of that while being incredibly easy to use and the Kamado Joe Classic III is no exception.
We have been using the Kamado Joe Classic III 18" grill for approximately six months and it quickly became our most commonly used grill at home in the city. I’m using it at least once a week and our cooks have spanned steaks (done both indirect and direct sears), smoked homemade bacon, pork butts done low and slow overnight, roasted chickens on the rotisserie and we have even baked a tourtiere pie in it! That has definitely tested out the main benefit of kamados which is that you can smoke, grill, roast, sear or even bake on them - incredibly versatile.
- The grill is made with heat resistant ceramic that is incredibly good at retaining heat for extended periods of time. This allows you to do low and slow cooks at temperatures as low as 225˚F, but it’s also a strong enough material to support high heats of up to 700˚F.
- The circular grill grate is 18 inches in diameter allowing you to fit almost any protein on the grill including a large packer or multiple pork butts
- Three tier divide and conquer system comes with both stainless steel grates and ceramic inserts. This system allows you to control the distance between your coals and your proteins, the ability to cook both direct and indirect at the same time and it also provides up to 580 square inches of grilling space
- Fibreglass mesh gasket that allows for the dome to be locked shut with a stainless steel latch to seal in all the heat, smoke and moisture for your cooks.
- Built in thermometer to monitor cooking temps
- There are two side shelves made of metal that can be easily folded away
- A SloRoller system that promotes even circulation and air flow throughout the Kamado Joe Classic III when cooking at temperatures below 500F
- Hinge system that eliminates most of the weight when opening and closing the dome and also prevents the dome from being slammed shut.
- The Kamado Joe Classic III sits on a galvanized cart with four lockable wheels that allow for the grill to be moved easily notwithstanding its heavy weight.
What we like about Kamado’s in general
- While you’re giving up a little convenience by switching over from a gas grill to a charcoal fueled kamado, you’re going to get a rich smoky flavor in your cooks that will really elevate the quality of the food coming off your grill. After all, BBQ isn’t just about convenience, it’s about creating amazing food that brings together friends and family to create memories.
- Kamado’s are great at maintaining constant temperatures over extended periods of time and are almost unaffected by the ambient temperature outside (including Canadian winters!). One of the secrets to great BBQ is steady temperature control which is incredibly easy with these kinds of grills given their thick ceramic construction.
- Kamado’s have the ability to hold temperature for 15+ hrs without having to replenish the charcoal. In comparison, when we have done long cooks on more conventional charcoal grills (like our weber kettle), we have had to replenish the charcoal every few hours in order to maintain temps.
- Kamado’s are way easier to use than traditional stick burner smokers but deliver a similar flavor profile. With a Kamado you just ignite your coals and a full basket of charcoal should be able to maintain a temp of 200-300˚F for up to 15+ hours. Once you get your vents dialed in, you can just walk away and check in on your cook every couple of hours to see how things are tracking. There’s no complex fire management like there is on a stick burner and there’s no need to continually replenish your charcoal every few hours like on some entry level charcoal grills (like the weber kettle).
What we like about the Kamado Joe Classic III.
The main thing we like about the Kamado Joe relative to the Green Egg is that as a company they seem to be more focused on continued innovation around their product. Let’s be honest, no grill is perfect, but the Kamado Joe Classic III has a few improvements over the Green Egg that make it a better choice in my mind.
- The gasket that seals the dome of the Kamado Joe Classic III to the bottom is a fibreglass mesh as opposed to felt on the Green Egg. This makes for a more durable seal, particularity in cold climates. We know Green Egg owners that have had the moisture from their cooks get into the felt gasket causing the dome to freeze shut once it cools down. The fibreglass mesh gasket on the Kamado Joe Classic III will prevent this from happening.
- The vent on the top of the dome of the Kamado Joe Classic III is made of die cast aluminum and will never rust. When compared to the Green Egg, its top vent is made of cast iron. While there is no material difference in the function, you need to remove the cast iron vent from the Green Egg after your cook and keep it dry to prevent it from rusting. This just seems like an oversight that the Kamado Joe Classic III has fixed.
- There is a built in ash tray at the bottom of the grill that makes for easy disposal of ash after cooks. This is a better system than the Green Egg that requires you to scrape the ash out of the bottom vent of the grill into whatever you want to dispose of it with.
- And last but not least, it’s more affordable than a green egg. At the time of writing this article, the Kamado Joe Classic III retailed for $1,599 and that included the divide and conquer system. The egg on the other hand was $1,799 and it didn’t come with their equivalent system of the divided and conquer.
Drawbacks to the Kamado Joe Classic III
- Like any kamado, the Kamado Joe Classic III takes between 12-15 minutes to warm up to temperature. The process of igniting charcoal and getting your grill to temp certainly takes longer than turning the dial on a gas grill. Once you’re used to dealing with the additional warm up time, you can change the way you prep dinner by firing up your kamado first and then prepping your food. Usually by the time we’re done prepping our food, the grill is up to temp and ready to go.
- Change between temperatures can take some time on kamado grills. For example, when we’re doing reverse seared steaks, once we finish the indirect part of the cook where our grill is at 225˚F, it usually takes 5 minutes to get the coals ripping hot to finish the steaks off with a sear.
- Even with all three tiers of the divide and conquer system being utilized, it’s still only 510 square inches of grilling space. If you’re planning on throwing large parties and doing more than a single brisket or a few pork butts, you may want to consider getting the Big Joe as opposed to the Kamado Joe Classic III
Kamado Joe also has a comprehensive set of accessories that go well beyond what other kamados on the market offer. Here are a few of our favorite options:
- Cast iron grills grates and griddle. If you want your grill grates to give you a deeper sear or if you’re looking to do bacon or pancakes on the grill, these cast iron inserts fit into the 3-tier divide and conquer system to allow you to do that.
- The Joetisserie. This is a grill insert that fits between the dome and the base of the grill and that turns the kamado into a rotisserie spit. This is the perfect accessory if you’re thinking about grilling a prime rib or doing roast chickens. You’ll need to plug the Joetisserie into an electrical outlet to power the unit so keep that in mind and make sure you have easy access to a plug.
- The DoJoe. This is a grill insert that essentially turns your Kamado Joe Classic III into a pizza oven. Similar to the Joetisserie, the insert fits between the dome and the base of the grill and creates a small opening allowing you to slide in pizzas onto a stone using a pizza peel.
- iKamand. This turns your Kamado into something more akin to a charcoal powered oven that you can control remotely via WiFi. The iKamand connects to the bottom vent on your grill and using KJ’s smart phone app you can monitor the internal temp of your proteins and change the temp of your grill from anywhere will a wifi or cell phone connection. Fans in the iKamand ensure there is enough airflow in your grill to maintain your desired temp. If you like the simplicity of cooking with pellet grills where you just set the temperature and walk away, this accessory is for you.