Kamado Joe produces some excellent grills, and we’re huge fans of their gear, but when it comes to getting the right grill for you, the most expensive isn’t always the best choice.
If you’re struggling to choose between the Kamado Joe II’s reliable workhorse or the shiny new Kamado Joe III, we’re here to help with a complete breakdown and comparison of the two lines.
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What’s the difference between the Kamado Joe II vs III?
The Kamado Joe Classic II and its chubby brother, the Big Joe II, are some of the most popular kamado grills on the market, and with good reason.
From their excellent build quality to their ability to hold a consistent airflow and temperature, the Kamado Joe II line has developed a reputation for uncompromising quality. So how do you improve on excellence?
Well, as a company that prides itself on innovation, Kamado Joe found a way to pack even more into their Classic and Big Joe III.
We’ll be going into more detail later in the article, but for a brief overview, here are some of the innovative new features you can find in the Kamado Joe III line:
- The upgraded Divide and Conquer cooking system – The Classic II had a two-tier system, so it probably made sense that the Classic III move to the three-tier system. The new design provides 510 square inches of cooking space or 864 square inches in the Big Joe III.
- A heavy-duty cart – Made from corrosion-resistant heavy-duty galvanized steel, the new cart has thicker legs and a new shelf for extra storage.
- Stainless steel charcoal basket – The new basket shape is more conical, which packs the coal in tighter, improving fuel efficiency. It also has a divider, which allows you to set up a 2-zone cooking method using the Divide and Conquer cooking system.
- A newly elongated shape – Combined with the upgraded Divide and Conquer cooking system, the new body of the Classic III and Big Joe III nearly doubles the cooking area compared to the basic Classic II.
- The SlōRoller hyperbolic chamber insert – An optional addition to the Joe that turns it from primarily a grill into a smoker that is “20 times more effective” than the Classic II.
You’ll find all of these features on both the Classic III and the Big Joe III. The Big Joe line is an enlarged version of the Classic with significantly more cooking space for when you need to cook for a crowd.
So which one should I get?
However, if you are looking for peak performance, are interested in smoking as much as grilling in your Kamado, or just want the largest amount of cooking space possible, the innovations you’ll find on the Classic III and Big Joe III are really going to benefit you.
What’s new with the Kamado Joe III?
If the upgrades tempt you on both the Kamado Joe III and the Big Joe III, and they are very alluring, here is a complete breakdown of what they are and how they work:
Slōroller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber Insert
Probably the most significant addition to the Kamado Joe III line is the SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber Insert.
This takes the place of the old heat deflector used in the Classic II
Unfortunately, SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber Insert is a bit of a mouthful and doesn’t really tell you much about what it does.
The SlōRoller helps circulate heat and smoke in a way that mimics a more traditional smoker. This means that if you’re looking for a kamado grill that works for both grill and smoking, you should get better results from the III line than you would with a II.
I’m not 100% convinced the extra cost is worth it though. The II with the heat deflector still making an excellent smoker.
One thing to note is that smoking with the SlōRoller system requires you to keep the temperature below 500°F (260℃) to avoid stripping the Teflon coating from the cast aluminum insert.
3-tier Divide & Conquer cooking system
The 3-Tier Divide & Conquer Cooking System provides you with more cooking surface, 510 square inches in the Classic III or 864 square inches in the Big Joe III, but that’s not all it does.
The movable half-moon trays can be arranged at different heights to cook at different temperatures, and they’re made of different materials to suit different foods.
The Kamado Joe Classic III can hold up to six cooking grates and two heat deflectors, so you might choose to have a cast-iron half grate for searing steak, a non-stick one for cooking fish, and a few heat deflectors to make sure nothing overcooks.
While there more possible combinations than the Classic II, the Classic III uses the same accessories as its predecessor.
Stainless steel charcoal basket
More of a redesign than real innovation, the new stainless steel charcoal basket packs in the coals a little tighter, improving fuel efficiency.
It also has a divider in the center that lets to pack in your fuel asymmetrically. Combining this with the 3-Tier Divide & Conquer cooking system gives you greater control over the temperature at which different foods cook.
The new heavy-duty cart and elongated shape
The cart on the Classic III and Big Joe III has been upgraded to heavy-duty galvanized steel with more robust, thicker legs. They still come with solid little casters on the bottom for extra mobility.
The side shelves have also been upgraded to powder-coated aluminum, to enhance their durability.
The Classic III shape has also changed, becoming more elongated to give you the room to fit in more cooking space and the 3-Tier Divide & Conquer cooking system.
What’s stayed the same?
Not everything about the Kamado Joe Classic III and Big Joe III has radically changed. Some of the things that pitmasters love about these grills have stayed precisely the same, including:
The Kontrol Tower
A variation of the traditional top vent found in all kamado-style grills, the Kontrol Tower is the primary method of controlling the temperature inside your Kamado Joe.
What makes the Kontrol Tower special is that it protects the vent from wind and rain, and you won’t have to reset your vent every time you open the lid.
The AMP Firebox
A traditional issue with ceramic kamado ovens is that the intense heat can cause the grill’s bottom to crack. Kamado Joe has overcome this problem by splitting the firebox into five separate pieces.
The firebox sections can then expand and contract when they are heated, without cracking the base of your grill.
The Air Lift Hinge
The enormous ceramic lid on most Kamado Joe grills is not light. The Air Lift hinge not only makes it easier to lift by reducing the weight by about 96%, but it also gives it a soft close. This stops the lid from slamming down to crack itself or your fingers.
One of the best things about the Kamado Joe line is how versatile their grills are. Kamado Joe has built on this versatility by producing a range of excellent accessories. Some of our favorites include:
The JoeTisserie turns your Kamado Joe into a rotisserie chicken cooking machine!
A motorized, stainless-steel rotisserie with a 120V motor, the JoeTisserie can spin up to 40lbs of meat, cooking it perfectly while keeping it nice and juicy.
The Kamado Joe electric starter makes getting your grill lit so much easier. The 600W element is specially angled to sit in the Kamado Joe range’s base, and its three-loop design increases its surface contact with the coals, making getting them lit quick and easy.
Best of all, it comes with a full three-year warranty.
Much like the JoeTisserie, the DōJoe converts your kamado grill into something far more versatile. The cast-iron wedge sits between the lid and body of your Kamado Joe Classic grill and.
Combined with heat deflectors and a ceramic pizza stone, the DōJoe lets you cook restaurant quality pizza without investing in another piece of expensive cooking equipment.
What are the standout features of the Kamado Joe III?
To make things as simple as possible, here are some of the most exciting and innovative features of the new Kamado Joe III line:
- The Slōroller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber makes the III range a far more effective smoker than the II was.
- All the same build quality and standout features of the II line are still there and still excellent.
- The new 3-tier Divide & Conquer cooking system, combined with the new stainless steel charcoal basket, make it easier than ever to cook at different temperatures inside your kamado grill.
- The elongated shape means the Classic III and Big Joe III now have a lot more cooking space.
- The cart and side shelves have been upgraded to be more durable and more corrosion and heat resistant than those found on the II range.
So is the Joe III worth the extra money?
The answer to this boils down to, if the features we’ve listed above sound like they are going to make cooking with the Kamado Joe III easier and more fun, then yes, it’s worth every penny.
However, if none of the innovations above sound like they will make much difference, the Classic II and the Big Joe II are still excellent grills, and you won’t be missing out on anything by choosing one over the III line.