Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Which Is Better?

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Which Is Better?

If you’re looking for a new smoker, you might be unsure which brand to go with. What is the best pellet grill for you? Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe? This is a topic that has sparked heated debate for years. Choosing between a Kamado Joe Classic and a Big Joe grill might be difficult. How can you choose between two high-quality companies with devoted fans?

So, while this is a difficult issue to answer, we’re here to assist you. We’ll evaluate these two grills in this blog article and offer our opinion on which one is better: Kamado Joe Classic vs Big Joe. Continue reading to find out more!

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe

What Is Kamado Joe Classic?

Kamado Joe Classic is a ceramic charcoal BBQ grill with an attractive, classic design. It’s designed to cook food at low temperatures and takes relatively long periods of time. It is available in different sizes: we tested the Large model (34 × 23 × 26 inches). One of its special features is the ability to heat up fast and keep temperatures steady. This way it saves energy and makes maintaining cooking temperature easy for you.

The kamado grills are gaining popularity mostly among dedicated barbecue enthusiasts who want to be able to control the ambient temperature precisely. Because they retain heat well, kamados also do great at smoking—you can add soaked wood chips (or even chunks) without worrying about over-smoking the food.

The History Of Kamado Joe Classic

The Classic Kamado Joe was first introduced in 2012. The company has made a number of design improvements to the grill since then, and it is now also available as a Big Joe (30 × 17 inches) and Junior (24.5 × 16.5 inches). There are several color options to choose from, one is red with black stripes – the model we received for testing.

In the current market, the Classic Kamado Joe continues to get the dominant share of sales among the company’s products. Kamado Joe is just one of many kamado companies that have appeared in recent years. Other well-known boutique grill makers include Big Green Egg, Primo Grills, Grill Dome, Broil King Baron, and Napoleon Rogue.

What Is Kamado Big Joe?

Big Joe is the bigger edition of Kamado Joe. It’s meant for larger families or gatherings, and you can cook up to 100 pounds of food at once on it.

The Big Joe has a lot in common with its smaller relative: it’s shaped like an egg, retains heat well, and has three vent holes to control the airflow inside the grill. The size difference also means that there are some design tweaks—the grate rests higher above the coals now, which reduces cooking times even further (and might improve your ability to regulate heat).

The History Of Big Joe

The Big Joe brand has been around since the early 90s. It was created by a company called American Fireglass Corporation, which now specializes in decorative glass countertops and fireplace inserts. As you can imagine from their main business, they also manufacture fire pits and chimineas as well as kamado-style grills.

American Fireglass Corp has been manufacturing Big Joe grills for over 30 years now. In 2015 Kamado Joe acquired the rights to sell Big Joes in North America and started producing them under its own label. 

Nowadays, in the market, the brand Big Joe still remained popular, although the company shifted the manufacturing of these grills to China.

What Makes The Big Joe Special?

Compared to other kamados, the Big Joe can produce a very high maximum temperature (700°F). This makes it great for searing steaks and grilling pizza. While this is also possible on other models, it needs much more time and experience.

The Big Joe has an ash catcher that slides out from under the body. You could call this feature “optional”, as you don’t really need it once your grill is seasoned. But it’s still good to have because it makes cleanup easier and you won’t burn yourself reaching underneath every time something sticks or burns on the coals. The ash catcher can be installed/removed in less than a minute.

What Is So Great About The Kamado Joe Classic?

The Kamado Joe Classic is a well-made kamado grill, and very popular as such. Unlike many of its competitors, it’s made from extremely durable materials (high-grade stainless steel and ceramic). Also, the build quality is top-notch: all components fit together perfectly and there are no sharp edges or misaligned parts anywhere on the grill.

Kamado grills do not produce as much smoke as conventional charcoal grills because they use indirect heat – the flame never directly touches your food. To contain this heat, all kamados feature a built-in airflow system consisting of vents and dampers. The Big Joe has three damper lids: one at the bottom and two on top (for exhaust and insulation). The lower damper is fully open by default (but can be closed to increase the temperature inside the grill), and the top vents are half-closed.

The Classic has an elegant appearance which is further enhanced by its black color, giving it a classy look like many stainless steel kitchen appliances.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: The Comparison – Key Differences 

The Kamado Joe Classic and Big Joe are essentially the same grill but still have some differences.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Design

  • Big Joe:

Kamado Joe Big Joe has an ash catcher that slides out from under the body. You could call this feature “optional”, as you don’t really need it once your grill is seasoned. But it’s still good to have because it makes cleanup easier and you won’t burn yourself reaching underneath every time something sticks or burns on the coals. The ash catcher can be installed/removed in less than a minute.

  • Kamado Joe Classic:

The Kamado Joe Classic is extremely well built and durable. It features a stainless steel body with ceramic material on the grill surface. The lower damper is fully open by default (but can be closed to increase the temperature inside the grill), and the top vents are half-closed.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Capacity

  • Big Joe:

The Big Joe is a large grill, as it has a cooking surface of 256 square inches (which can hold up to 18 burgers at once). This means you’ll have no problem grilling for your family and friends at the same time. If necessary, you can even cook two whole turkeys on this grill.

  • Kamado Joe Classic:

The Kamado Joe Classic features a slightly smaller cooking area – 240 sq. inches. While it may not look like much on paper, trust me that you will be able to fit enough food for everyone in there (especially if you’re cooking something like ribs or chicken wings). The main difference between the two grills here is that the Classic is slightly deeper than its counterpart (6 vs 5 inches). This allows for a larger amount of charcoal and makes the grill even more durable.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Fuel Usage

  • Big Joe:

The Big Joe features an efficient design that allows it to hold 20 pounds of charcoal. You should use natural briquettes (about 6 pounds) or lump charcoal (about 8 pounds). Using this amount of fuel, you’ll be able to get about 12-14 hours of cooking time on the grill (you don’t need to worry about running out of fuel quickly).

  • Kamado Joe Classic:

The Kamado Joe Classic has a slightly smaller firebox that holds up to 18 pounds of fuel. The overall average cooking time will be about 10 hours, although the exact duration depends on the type and amount of food you’re cooking. But again, there’s no need to worry because you’ll have coals until the next day in most cases.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Divide & Conquer System

  • Big Joe:

The Divide & Conquer system of the Big Joe allows you to cook a wide range of different food types with just one grill. You can use two grates for high-temperature searing, lower grates for slow cooking and warming, and several accessories so you can use them as a smoker or an oven if necessary.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

The Kamado Joe features only one grate so it’s not possible to divide between two types of cooking surfaces. The classic design doesn’t allow for any other modifications either – while some people may think this is a downside, others will appreciate the simplicity behind this solution.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Price

  • Big Joe: 

The Big Joe Classic costs 799 USD which is also it is MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) according to the Kamado Joe website. Online stores sell it at lower prices, but you should pay attention because some shops charge extra for accessories like ash tools or grill covers (you get them both with the purchase). The Classic version has the same price tag since it’s exactly the same grill except for the size difference.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

A smaller version of this charcoal-fueled grill is priced at 629 USD according to KJ Grilling website. This includes several important accessories (cover, ash tool, LP hose), which means you won’t have to pay extra.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Temperature Control 

  • Big Joe:

The airflow system of the Big Joe enables you to control the cooking temperature very precisely so it’s on par with gas grills in this regard. The excellent insulation of this unit ensures that heat is spread throughout the entire grill, creating a delicious smoky flavor on your food.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

The smaller size and more compact shape created some limitations when it comes to the insulation of the Kamado Joe classic. However, its performance is still better than most other charcoal grills out there – you can expect hot temperatures of up to 700°F easily, which is enough even for searing steaks.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Side Shelves

  • Big Joe:

As you can probably tell by now, the Big Joe is a very spacious grill that will accommodate your whole party. It’s one of the most affordable models in Kamado Joe’s product line, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to get more features without having to spend too much money.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

The smaller size is pretty noticeable when it comes down to this aspect – side shelves are not included on the classic or any other version of Kamado Joe grills. This may be a downside for some people, but others will appreciate the simplicity behind this design solution. 

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Size & Portability

  • Big Joe:

Because it has double steel-banded rims with oversized tires around the perimeter, it’s very easy to move the Big Joe around. It not only has a pretty compact shape, but it also weighs much less than the Classic model (around 110 lbs vs 150 lbs).

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

The small size doesn’t affect its portability, so you shouldn’t have any trouble moving it around in your yard or in your garage before using it. The weight of the KJ classic is 165 lbs which, compared to other charcoal grills out there, is just average.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Grill Cart

  • Big Joe: 

This is a very useful feature that will help you move your grill around with ease. The steel cart can handle up to 300 lbs which means it’s more than suitable for the Big Joe.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

If you don’t need a grill cart, then this won’t be a big deal for you. However, if you want a feature like this one on your new Kamado Joe purchase, then you’ll have to go with the larger size models only.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Grilling Experience

  • Big Joe:

Both Kamado Joe grills are equipped with a patented adjustable airflow system that allows you to control the heat inside at all times. This means you can sear steaks, veggies, and even pizza when cooking over charcoal for example. You’ll have no problem getting your desired surface temperatures here because it’s extremely easy to control the airflow system on both Kamado Joe grills.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

As mentioned in the design section, the lower damper is fully open by default (but can be closed if needed), while the top vents are half-closed. There is only one knob that controls the whole airflow system – this makes operation very simple.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Insulation 

  • Big Joe:

It’s not the most insulated grill out there, but you won’t have to worry about meat getting cold while waiting for your vegetables to cook through. The Big Joe holds the heat inside well (mostly thanks to that thick ceramic material) and it will take a bit longer than usual before cooking temperatures drop significantly.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

This is another feature where the classic version shares the same level of insulation with other Kamado Joe grills. Vegetables may take slightly longer than usual to be cooked through but this shouldn’t be much of an issue – just don’t forget to preheat your grill!

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Cleaning System

  • Big Joe: 

Some people like the outside of their grill to be shiny and clean, but this inside surface is where all the flavor comes from. With an easy removal system for both metal grates and domes, you can simply scrub them with a good brush and put everything back into place without any effort.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

The cleaning method is exactly the same when it comes to the classic models so if you liked it on other Kamado Joe grills, then you’ll love it here too. The convenience of gliding your hand in between the two layers of ceramic material is not something many competitors can offer at such a price range.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Security System

  • Big Joe: 

To let out some extra heat, there are three holes on the bottom of the Joe classic. Not only do they help with airflow, but also contribute to fire safety by releasing most of the coals that may be still burning after you finish cooking.

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

This is another feature that both grills share in common which means it’s not something you should worry about when buying your new Kamado Joe grill. There are no reports of these holes ever causing any trouble so this shouldn’t be an issue for anyone at all.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Warranty

  • Big Joe: 

With a 3- warranty on all parts that don’t involve the cooking surface and a 5-year warranty on the entire grill itself, you can be sure that Kamado Joe grills are durable enough to last you for many years. 

  • Kamado Joe Classic: 

The 3- warranty on non-cooking surfaces is standard across all Kamado Joe models, so it’s not surprising here. The lifetime warranty against defects in materials or workmanship is still an excellent feature that shows how confident they are with their products. While the overall durability will be about the same compared to other grills out there, people often complain about getting rusty grates after a couple of years.

Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe: Materials 

  • Big Joe: 

The Big Joe uses high-grade stainless steel and ceramic for its primary components such as the cooking grate, firepot, and outer shell. Ceramic materials do not rust or corrode like other metals – they are extremely durable and able to withstand high temperatures without degrading their quality. This makes them perfect for grills.

  • Kamado Joe Classic:

The Kamado Joe Classic features only stainless steel materials for its body. The ceramic material is limited to the grill surface, although it’s very thick and high-quality too. Some people complain about the paint peeling off after some time, but this has nothing to do with the quality of materials used in the manufacturing process. Any cheap appliance will have this problem if you don’t use proper care while operating it.

A Few Words on Kamado Joe’s

Feel free to skip on to the following section if you already know everything there is to know about Kamado Joe’s.

But, to give you a quick overview, Kamado Joe is a leading manufacturer of high-quality ceramic kamados. With their brilliant red exterior, they compete with the industry leader, The Big Green Egg, and have incorporated revolutionary features that much outperform the competition. You can also acquire a wide choice of add-ons, including pizzeria inserts, rotisseries, and automatic temperature regulators.

Kamados are one of the most adaptable grills available. Grilling, smoking, frying, roasting, and searing are all skills they have, and they make some of the best pizza we’ve ever had. They’re also incredibly fuel-efficient charcoal burners thanks to their design, and because they’re of such high quality, they should easily survive their normally quite long warranties.

A firebox is located at the base of their thick, ceramic shells. Above that, a mixture of heat deflectors and grates allows you to set it up for direct, high-heat grilling or indirect, low-and-slow smoking. The temperature is controlled via the top vent, and when properly set up, they can burn for many hours without assistance.

What Is The Difference Between The Models Of Kamado Joe?

  • Kamado Joe Classic III & Big Joe III:

The Big Joe II is slightly more expensive than the Classic III, but it actually offers multiple advantages over the smaller model. The main difference between these two grills is that the Classic III has a capacity of 20,000 BTUs whereas the Big Joe II can go up to 25,000 BTUs.

Moreover, the Big Joe has more advanced features than the Classic III which includes two cooking grids, a charcoal basket, an ash drawer, and a charcoal removal system. If you’re looking for something more heavy-duty with a bigger capacity, then this model is what you should be opting for instead.

  • Kamado Joe Classic II & Big Joe II:

The only difference between the Big Joe II and the Classic II is that they are two different sizes. The Classic III is slightly more expensive than the Big Joe II but it has a smaller capacity, whereas the Classic III is bigger in size so it offers more cooking space.

  • Kamado Joe Classic I & Big Joe I:

Again, both grills are different sizes. The Big Joe is bigger than the Classic I model and it offers more cooking space for larger cookouts, whereas the Classic I is smaller but still big enough to cook for a good number of people.

What Are The Different Sizes Of Kamado Joe’s?

You have two size options with Kamado Joe, regardless of the model (I, II, or III) you choose: the 18′′ Classic or the 24′′ Big Joe.

In its most basic configuration, the Classic has an 18-inch cooking grate that provides 256 square inches of cooking space. The Big Joe has a 24′′ cooking grate, giving it a total surface of 452 square inches, an increase of 85 percent.

But here’s where things become a little complicated.

  • In Series I and II, 2-Tier Divide and Conquer 

The I and II series comes with the 2-Tier Divide and Conquer® Cooking System. This means you get 2 levels on which you can set up different half-moon plates for the same total capacity but different cooking conditions e.g. one direct and one indirect heat.

But, you can also set the half-moon grates down the bottom and the full grate up the top so you’ve essentially doubled your cooking space, taking the 18″ Classic I and II’s capacity to 508 square inches. The Big Joe I and Big Joe II upped to 904 square inches by using the double full grate option.

  • In Series III, 3-Tier Divide, and Conquer

A 3-Tier Divide and Conquer cooking mechanism is included with the premium Classic III. On the Classic III, this increases your overall cooking space to 510 square inches, and on the Big Joe III, it increases to 864 square inches.

You can fit a maximum of 6 half-moons plus 2 heat deflectors on the 3-tiered Divide and Conquer. 4 half-moons with the SloRoller insert, or 4 half-moons and the SloRoller insert. To be clear, the base Kamado Joe III models only come with two half-moons, two heat deflectors, and the SloRoller. If you wish to use the bigger capacity, you’ll need to purchase more grates.

  • Grill Expander for Series I, II, and III, as well as the Classic and Big Joe

And, just when you think you’ve had your fill of possibilities, there’s even a grill expander available as an optional extra. It comes in two sizes: basic (18′′) and Big Joe (24′′). This, however, applies to all models: I, II, and III.

The Classic Grill Expander adds 151 square inches to the normal grill grate. In addition, the Big Joe Grill Expander expands the grill by 152 square inches.

Which Kamado Joe Size Should I Get?

  • Kamado Joe 18″ Classic:

One reasonable-sized entire brisket may be accommodated per rack in the 18′′ Classic versions. You could fit two in the two-rack arrangement. 2 huge pig butts, chickens, or even a moderately large turkey might be be cooked.

In terms of smaller cuts, a complete rack should provide roughly 10 burger patties or steaks. So, ten if you want high-intensity direct heat. Stack two grates and rotate the burgers to start on high heat and finish further away.

Basically, the Classic has enough capacity to cook for a family of five and occasionally entertain. However, if you plan on hosting a large gathering, you’ll need to get creative with your space utilization. Alternatively, cook in batches.

  • Kamado Joe 24″ Big Joe:

Because of Big Joe’s increased width, two full briskets may be put flat across a single grate. Three or four pork butts, three or four chickens, or one extremely large turkey are also recommended.

Up to eight pork butts have been reported to fit in Big Joe’s. However, the kamado will have to deal with a lot of oil! Also, if you’re using the grill expander, you won’t have enough height to clear the bigger slices. At the end of the day, it’s a huge grill, and even if you’re not utilizing it to its full potential, having the extra space is wonderful.

The Big Joe can fit up to 21 patties or medium-sized steaks on a single rack for cooking burgers or steaks. You could layer racks to fit even more if you’re comfortable with indirect cooking to finish.

So, Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe, Which Is Better?

If you want a more affordable grill with the same level of quality, then go for the Classic model. There are some features that can’t be found on this model but it still offers most of the benefits that come along with owning a Kamado Joe cooker.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an upgrade over other models, then the Big Joe is what you should be opting for. It’s slightly more expensive than all other Kamado Joe grills but it has more advanced features including better insulation and bigger cooking space.

Conclusion On Kamado Joe Classic Vs Big Joe

In conclusion, the Kamado Joe Classic vs Big Joe – both are high-quality grills that will give you years of service. However, there are some key differences between these two grills that might make one a better fit for your needs than the other. The Kamado Joe Classic is smaller and lighter, making it a good option if you want something portable. It also has an innovative airflow system that ensures even heat distribution and prevents flare-ups. The Big Joe is larger and heavier, but it comes with many more features, including a built-in thermometer, side shelves, and tool hooks. So, Kamado Joe Classic vs Big Joe, which grill is right for you? Hope that through this blog you can choose the best grill for your need.

 

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