The Bottom Line
The cynic will tell you that this is a red (or black) version of the Big Green Egg. To be honest, the similarities are so great that the average person could probably not tell the difference between the two. The truth is that they cook the same, work the same, and the only real difference is how they are equipped. Kamado Joe has begun to look beyond just making extras into standard features and has started innovating, making them a more viable kamado solution.
- Ceramic shell holds heat for even cooking
- Excellent ventilation gives you great heat control
- Works great as a smoker
- Can be shut down to snuff out remaining charcoal
- Price tag
- 18-inch diameter cooking surface (255 square inches)
- Comes with stand (nest) and polyethylene side tables
- Top vent cap is cast iron - bottom vent is stainless steel
- Ceramic body with enameled steel parts
- Stainless steel cooking grates
- Spring loaded lid for easy lifting
- Removable ash catcher drawer
- Includes multi-level cooking grate system
- Made in China
Guide Review - Kamado Joe Classic 18-Inch Charcoal Grill
When I saw the first prototype for the Kamado Joe is was obvious that they were huge fans of the Big Green Egg. Kamado Joe has been praised as being a better value or derided as nothing more than a knockoff of the original. The starting proposition of this grill was that it would be every bit as good as the Egg but include the stand (or nest), side tables, and some upgrades for the same price as the Egg; basically a more complete package for the same price.
With some obviously deep pockets behind them, Kamado Joe proved to be a marketing powerhouse, but the kamado market is deeply saturated while relatively narrow. Reality set in, but Kamado Joe came back in 2014 with a few new innovations that are now standard on their charcoal grills. First up is the new, removable ash drawer.
On the typical kamado grill, you have to scoop out ashes from the bottom of the grill which is a little awkward and messy. Kamado Joe has added a removable ash drawer that can be simply pulled out and dumped.
The other new feature is what they are referring to as the Divide and Conquer Flexible Cooking System. Not the best name, but a pretty cool idea. In every kamado grill with the most basic setup, the cooking grate sits on a ceramic ring. You can add as an accessory a deflector plate (or plate setter) that allows the grill to do indirect cooking and lifts the cooking grate a few inches. Kamado Joe's Divide and Conquer is a special rack that sits inside the cooker onto which can be placed in at various levels -- a combination of half moon cooking grates and deflector plates. This increases the versatility of the grill and the entire unit grates and all can be lifted out in one piece to access the fire. This is now a standard feature on the Kamado Joe grills.
Most kamado grills do a fantastic job of high-temperature grilling and low and slow smoking and this model is no exception. The Kamado Joe Classic 18-inch has a lot of added features over the standard package Big Green Egg Large though these days there is a price difference.
The final decision is up to you.