What Size Kamado Joe Do I Need – Kamado Joe Size Comparison

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Ever since its outset, Kamado Joe is considered the king of the coals for many good reasons. However, with their wide lineups, it’s quite confusing which model to choose.

Whether it’s the Classic Joe or the Big Joe, both the series come in several sizes with distinctive features and functionalities. 

On that note, I took the plunge to answer the most-asked question on this crowd-pleasing BBQ grill- what size Kamado Joe do I need?

So, let’s get started-

What Size Kamado Joe Do You Need – Get The Right Size For You

Do you know the key difference between the Classic Joe and Big Joe series? It all lies in the size.

Yes, you read it right. People who have a large fire pit in the backyard garden always prefer the Big Joe series because of their spacious cooking surfaces.

On the flip side, Classic Joe suits well even in a small apartment. If you are not cooking a large batch of food, any model from Classic Joe will work just fine for you.

The biggest Big Joe comes with a 24″ diameter, requiring almost twice the space of a Classic Joe with an 18″ diameter. 

Apart from the space around the cooking surface, they also differ in price. It follows the natural rule- the smaller the size, the less expensive the KJ is.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Size Comparison Chart

Key FeaturesClassic Joe IClassic Joe IIClassic Joe III
Dimensions18″D x 18.11″W x 48″H18″D x 18.11″W x 36″H30″D x 46.5″W x 50.5″H
Item Weight188 Pounds250 Pounds232 Pounds
Cooking Area250 square inches250 square inches250 square inches
Divide & Conquer2 Tier2 Tier3 Tier
HingeStandardAir Lift™Air Lift™
GasketStandard FeltWire Mesh FiberglassWire Mesh Fiberglass
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The Kamado Classic series has three models, l, ll, and lll. First, let’s compare their prime specifications in detail along with ease of use so that you can choose the right BBQ grill.

As you can see from the comparison chart, they offer the same cooking surface. So, apparently, all three generations from Classic Joe might look similar.

But the major differences lie in the hinge, gasket, weight, and temperature control.

The KJ Classic l is an 18″ ceramic charcoal grill that features a heat-resistant shell. You can grill at 225-750° F based on your grilling requirements. 

Among the three models from the Classic series, it’s the most lightweight one as well.

However, the Classic l doesn’t include any Airlift Hinge or Kontrol Tower Top Vent like the Classic ll and lll. 

As a result, the Classic second and third generations offer better heat and smoke control. 

Especially, the Classic Joe lll provides unbeatable accuracy and heat distribution, thanks to the Kontrol Tower Top Vent and the charcoal basket.

Talking about the Airlift Hinge, the Classic Joe ll and lll let you open the lid at any angle you want. You don’t even need to hold the lid yourself.

On the contrary, the Classic l lacks this feature. That’s why you have to open the lid all the way while flipping food inside.

Naturally, it makes the grill lose a considerable amount of heat which badly affects the overall heat output.

Another major difference is in the material of the gasket. The Classic l and ll are way ahead in this regard as they use fiberglass in making the edges of their lids.

The Classic l, however, features Felt in the gasket which is not as long-lasting as fiberglass.

Nevertheless, the KJ Classic series came with its best product when they launched the Classic Joe lll with the revolutionary SloRoller

Because of the SloRoller, you can use the grill just like a smoker. In fact, it spreads heat in a rolling motion by recirculating smoky waves around the food.

That’s why the food gets infused with utterly delicious smoky essence, thanks to the even heat distribution. 

Also, the 3-Tier Divide and Conquer cooking system of Classic Joe lll offers 3 different heights for grilling. 

Compared to the 2-Tier system of Classic l and ll, it’s way more upgraded to let you grill more accurately. 

Last, but not least, they differ in price range which is pretty obvious though. The KJ Classic lll is the most expensive grill in this lineup with so many upgrades in features. 

Along with the SloRoller and 3 different grilling levels, you also get a stainless steel charcoal basket to create separated cooking zones.

If you can sacrifice these upgrades, the Classic ll is also quite good for the price.

But all things considered, the Classic Joe lll will be the most efficient buy out of the three if you can afford it. 

Nonetheless, you can also go with the Classic l if you stick to basic grilling and don’t need any additional features.

Kamado Joe Big Joe Size Comparison Chart

Key FeaturesBig Joe IBig Joe IIBig Joe III
Dimensions18″D x 18.11″W x 54″H18″D x 18.11″W x 39.37″H18″D x 18.11″W x 54″H
Weight250 Pounds394 Pounds445 Pounds
Cooking Area450 square inches450 square inches450 square inches
Charcoal BasketNoNoYes
Top VentDaisy WheelKontrol Tower®Kontrol Tower®
Side ShelvesStandard HDPE SideStandard HDPE SidePremium Aluminum Side Shelves
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Since you are sold on the Big Joe series from the famous Kamado Joe, let’s break down their three models to check which one comes out as the winner.

First thing first, all Big Joe grills have a 24″ diameter which makes them considerably bigger than the Classic series.

So, they are pretty similar in dimensions offering 450 square inches of grilling area.

Besides, the cooking temperature ranges from 225°-750° F for all three models. So, what makes them different from each other? 

It’s pretty much the same as the Classic series. The Big Joe lll includes SloRoller Insert which creates rolling smoke around the food. 

Therefore, you get an enhanced smoky flavor with better heat control. Also, the food gets way better in taste and texture without being subjected to any hotspots.

In fact, the Big Joe lll is the most versatile and innovative charcoal grill or Kamado Joe not only because of its largest cooking space but also for other reasons.

Aside from the SloRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber, it features Cyclonic Airflow Technology for even heat spread.

Whether you aim at low-and-slow cooking at 500° F or prefer searing at a really high temperature, the Kontrol Tower Top Vent provides precise heat and airflow control. 

Although the Big Joe ll also has a similar Top Vent design, it lacks the 3-Tier cooking system.

The 3-Tier Divide & Conquer cooking policy in the Big Joe lll allows cooking at different temperatures simultaneously. 

However, the Felt gasket in the Big Joe l certainly offers a decent seal in locking heat and moisture inside.

But the double-thick wire mesh fiberglass gasket in the second and third generation of Big Joe provides 10 times better sealing than regular gaskets.

On the same note, the Air Lift Hinge makes it possible for Big Joe ll and ll to lift the lid easily. It reduces the dome weight to a notable extent. Unfortunately, the first generation of Big Joe lacks this feature.

When you are grilling, ash cleaning is one of the tedious tasks for sure. And Kamado Joe made it easier than ever with the stainless steel kamado joe charcoal basket in their Big Joe lll model.

It’s surely an exclusive add-on as the ash gets filtered naturally through the basket bar.

However, you must have a handsome budget to own the Big Joe lll. It’s a bit expensive compared to its predecessors.

But is the extra cost worth it? Sure it is. Alongside the latest SloRoller technology, they are also equipped with aluminum side shelves with premium powder coating.

Whereas the first two generations from Big Joe come with standard HDPE shelves. Above all, you also get a heavy-duty cart in Big Joe lll made of galvanized steel. 

Get a Big Joe lll once and you don’t need to bother buying any grilling gear again!

Also Read: Kamado Joe Accessory Storage Solutions for Every Grill Master

How To Choose The Right Size Kamado Joe For You – Buyer’s Guide

Purchasing any size of a ceramic charcoal grill is usually decided by some crucial factors- who are you cooking for, what are you cooking, what’s your budget, etc. 

Besides, some other aspects should be taken into consideration to make a wise buying decision. 

That being said, here I narrowed down the features you must check out before deciding on the best Kamado grill size and model for your budget.

Cooking Surface

Well, this is the basic feature of a ceramic grill you should look into. If you are someone who hosts large gatherings quite often and cooks for the crowd, you shouldn’t compromise with the cooking surface.

In that case, the Big Joe series works best for you. Being significantly bigger than the Classic Joes, a Big Joe model offers around 450 square inches of cooking surface housing 22 burgers, 8 chickens, or 5 briskets at a time.

On the contrary, Classic Joes are notably smaller in diameter having 250 square inches of grilling area.

If you only cook for your small family,  Classic Joes are enough though.


As I already mentioned, the Classic Joe series comes with an 18″ diameter whereas the Big Joe models have a 24″ diameter. 

Resultantly, the latter occupy more space. You need a large patio or a backyard fireplace to place a Big Joe Kamado grill. So, if you live in a small apartment, it’s better to own a Classic Kamado Joe.

Ease of Use

Honestly speaking, the ease of use of a BBQ grill depends on some advanced features.

For example, the third generation models from KJ are equipped with some exclusive upgrades such as the SloRoller insert, Air Lift Hinge, half moon deflector plate, charcoal basket, etc.

As a result, it’s easier to control heat and smoke easily while using those grills. These advanced features make the Classic Joe lll and the Big Joe lll quite a powerful cooking tool.

Further to the above, the lower storage shelf in the cart is an exclusive add-on that the Classic Joe/Big Joe l and ll lack.

Although you need a certain level of expertise to make the best use of these specs. So, if you are just beginning your journey in Kamado-style cooking, stick to the first-generation models, Big Joe or Classic Joe l.


Although all Kamado grills are made to last, the Classic Joe/ Big Joe lll is more durable than the rest.

They are designed with powder-coated aluminum side shelves and carts to deliver extra strength.

Moreover, the fiberglass gasket offers a longer lifespan to both second and third-generation grills compared to  Classic and Big Joe l.

Heat and Smoke Control

One of the most important features of a charcoal grill is the heat and smoke output. If you cannot maintain a precise temperature throughout, the end result will not be pleasant. 

With the SloRoler Hyperbolic insert, Classic  Joe lll and Big Joe lll create a rolling smoky wave around the food. This certainly enhances the flavor profile. 

Moreover, the Air Lift Hinge lets you lift the lid at any angle in Big Joe/ Classic Joe ll and lll. 

But you don’t get it in a first-generation grill. So, lifting the lid all the way in the middle of a grilling session causes more heat loss in those grills.

Cost Effectiveness 

First, decide on your budget and it will automatically tell you which size of Kamado you should go for.

All I can suggest is to invest wisely. The third-generation Kamados are undoubtedly the most expensive ones. And thankfully, they are worth the cost of providing the latest technical features.

But do you truly need those add-ons? If you never plan to turn your Kamado grill into an efficient smoker, why spend much for a Big Joe/ Classic Joe lll?

A first-generation model is more than enough for traditional grilling. 

Is an 18-inch Kamado big enough?

Yes, it is. An 18-inch Classic Kamado grill offers around 250 square inches of cooking space that lets you cook for 2-15 people. 

Is the Kamado Big Joe worth it?

Absolutely yes. It is worth every penny with the SloRoller insert that forces smoke through the center of the food. Resultantly, it improves the taste and texture of the food to a great extent.

Also, the 3-Tier Divide & Conquer cooking policy lets you cook at different temperatures at a time.

How big is the Big Joe 3?

Having a 24″ diameter, the Big Joe lll is the largest Kamado grill with the dimensions of 18″D× 18.11″W× 54″H.

It offers 450 square inches of grilling surface weighing 445 pounds. 

What size is the Classic Joe 1?

The Kamado Classic Joe l has the dimensions of 18″ D× 18.11″ W× 48″ H. It offers 250 square inches of cooking area with a weight of 188 pounds.

How much does a Kamado Joe Classic II weigh?

The Kamado Joe Classic ll weighs 250 pounds. As you can see, it’s heavier than its predecessor Classic l.

What is the cooking area of the Kamado Big Joe 3?

The Kamado Big Joe lll offers a larger cooking area than the Classic Joe grills. It has 450 square inches of wide grilling surface.

How many chickens can you fit in a Kamado Joe?

Usually, you can fit 8 chickens in a Big Joe at a time using the main cooking grate.


Hey, did you find this guide helpful?  Did it answer your query correctly on what size Kamado Joe you should go for?

Actually, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for a charcoal grill. You should decide based on your budget, backyard place, and grilling needs.

To grill for a large batch of people,  a Big Joe lll is always recommended. Plus, it will be an asset for your upcoming days as a third-generation Kamado Joe is nearly indestructible. 

But if you have a shoestring budget and need less cooking space, you can just go with the Classic Joe l.

Happy grilling.

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