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Kamado Joe Big Joe III Review — 4 Years and Still Going Strong

The Kamado Joe Big Joe III has had a lot of press, has a loyal and highly vocal following, gets good press and rave reviews, so can it live up to all the hype? Find out our thoughts after more than 2 years of ownership and use in our hands-on review.

Mark Jenner profile picture
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Last Updated: March 6, 2024

A Kamado Joe Big Joe III isolated on black, next to text describing this article as a review.

I’ve owned a Kamado Joe Classic for 8 or 9 years now, and for a long time, it was my favorite grill. Until I got my hands on a Kamado Joe Big Joe III, that is!

Some would say Kamado Joe (KJ) was already the King of ceramic BBQs, and that was before 2019 saw the release of the new version 3 range.

Already owning a Classic, I decided to buy the Big Joe III, and wow, am I glad I did! I loved the look of Kamado Joe’s new lineup and was excited by the new features and advances in grill technology they had made. So I just had to buy one.

But, what makes a Big Joe III so different and had me so excited, I hear you ask? Well, in this comprehensive Kamado Joe Big Joe III review, we are going to talk about all things Big Joe III. And trust me, he is BIG! But there is also a lot more to him than just his size, he is a great piece of kit that combines brains and brawn.

So, let’s jump in and discover what he’s all about and what we make of him after two years of ownership, hands-on testing, and use.

Ratings and Final Verdict

A kamado Joe Big Joe III on a paved patio, with lid open and side shelves up.
8.9
Scores Out of 10
Build Quality and Durability 9.0
Temperature Control and Stability 9.0
Ease of Use 8.0
Versatility and Cooking Performance 9.0
Cleaning and Maintenance 9.0
Features and Technology 9.0
Value for Money 9.0

After an extensive four-year period of owning and using the Big Joe III, it is one of my favorite grills and smokers that I use more often than any other device, and I own dozens of different pits now, so that’s saying something!

It’s a real joy to use, with excellent performance, the ability to maintain consistent temperatures for extended periods and a wide temperature range, allowing me to grill, sear, bake, smoke, roast, and more.

The innovative features such as the Sloroller Hyperbolic insert, the modular firebox, the ash basket, the fiberglass gaskets, and airlift hinge really do all enhance user experience over earlier models, making cooking more fun, results more consistent, and cleanup and maintenance easier.

Although the initial investment is significant, the quality of construction and the exceptional cooking results justify the cost. The top vent’s paint issue (it peels after some use) is a minor blemish on an otherwise stellar product. I can’t recommend it enough.

Pros

  • Beautiful looks and design.
  • Incredibly versatile: You can grill, smoke, sear, roast and bake.
  • Incredible efficiency and heat retention for consistent results and fuel economy.
  • Infinitely adjustable temperature control from approx. 200 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Large capacity for feeding many people at once.
  • Innovative SloRoller ensures even heat and smoke distribution for better cooks.
  • Flexible cooking system provides different heat zones and exchangeable cooking surfaces for even more versatility.
  • Air-lift hinge makes opening the heavy lid easy.
  • Easy clean up due to the removable ash collection tray.
  • Lifetime warranty on the ceramics.

Cons

  • Kontrol tower top vent paint started to peel after a few uses.
  • Kontrol tower top vent can clog with smoke and fat, making it hard to adjust until warmed through.
  • Price is high compared to many other ceramic cookers.

Who is This grill best Suited to?

It’s ideally suited to outdoor cooks who want to be able to do everything on a single piece of equipment instead of having separate grills, smokers, and outdoor ovens. It’s also our number one pick for best ceramic kamado grill and smoker, if this is the type of grill you’re decided on.

It’s also well suited to people who like to experiment with different heat zones, cooking surfaces, and cooking techniques because it comes with stainless steel grates, and you can add cast iron grates and griddles, soapstone, a rotisserie, DoJoe pizza oven insert, and more.

The Big Joe III is the better option than the Classic size, for those with large families or hosts with big crowds to entertain. You could get a whole suckling pig in here, or multiple briskets, or multiple pork butts.

Finally, it’s a grill for those who want to make a stamen! A big…BIG…red grill that really will be a talked about backyard feature.

Kamado Joe KJ15041021 Big Joe III 24-inch Charcoal Grill with Cart and Side Shelves

A premium, 24-inch ceramic kamado grill and smoker that can grill, smoke, sear, roast, and bake.

Kamado Joe Big Joe III isolated on white.

With Harvard-designed SloRoller Hyperbolic smoke chamber technology, air-lift hinge, Kontrol Tower top vent, 3-tier divide and conquer versatile cooking system, aluminum side shelves, and new design cart.

One of the most versatile outdoor cookers on the market!

Our Ratings Explained

Here is why we scored the Big Joe III, what we did in various categories, where it won and lost points.

Build Quality and Durability

I’m highly impressed with the Big Joe IIIs solid build. This grill is a tank, made from thick ceramic that holds heat like nothing else. The heavy-duty cart and wheels mean I can move it around easily, and it’s stable once in place. I did notice, though, that the paint on the top vent started peeling a bit after some use. It’s a minor issue that doesn’t affect how it cooks, but I expected a bit more in the paint department for the price.

Score: 9/10.

Temperature Control and Stability

Getting the temperature right is crucial for consisten results, and with the Big Joe III I can nail it every time. The thick insulated walls and top and bottom vents give me precise control, whether I’m smoking low and slow or searing steaks. But I’ve learned that if I let the temperature get too high, it takes a long while and a lot of work to cool down. It’s a learning curve, but it’s smooth sailing once you get the hang of it. I cannot give top scores, though, because many smokers and grills these days, you can turn a dial or push a few buttons, such as on pellet grills or gravity-fed smokers.

Score: 9/10.

Ease of Use

At first glance, this grill might be a bit daunting with learning to use vents to control and manage your fire and, hence, your cooking heat. Setting it up and getting used to it takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it and once you know, you know.

The airlift hinge makes opening and closing a heavy dome easy, the ash basket and ashtray makes clean up easier, and self-cleaning high heat burns also make clean up easier. For a charcoal grill, it’s as easy as it gets, but it will always be harder to use than an electric, pellet, or gravity-fed grill with their automated controls.

Score: 8/10.

Versatility and Cooking Performance

I’ve cooked everything on the Big Joe III, from breakfast to pies, and it never disappoints. The 3-Tier Divide & Conquer system is genius, allowing me to cook in various ways. I can roast indirect on one side while searing on the other, or set up for low and slow smoking with ease. And the SloRoller? It’s definitely increased the consistency when it comes to smoking and roasting. Everything comes out juicy and flavorful.

Score: 9/10.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Nobody likes cleaning, but the Big Joe III makes it easier than most charcoal grills. The charcoal basket and ash drawer mean I’m not spending hours cleaning up. It’s not exactly fun, but it’s simple enough that it’s not a chore. Regular maintenance of a few minutes after each cook keeps it ash free, looking good, and working perfectly, which is all I can ask for.

Score: 9/10.

Features and Technology

The features on this grill are top-notch for a charcoal grill. The airlift hinge? It lets me lift the heavy lid with a finger. And the Kontrol Tower keeps the temperature steady and doesn’t budge when I lift the lid. I did run into the issue with the paint peeling on the vent, which was a bummer. The ash basket, 3-tier cooking system, aluminum side shelves, and fibre glass gasket: These features make grilling much easier and more enjoyable.

Score: 9/10.

Value for Money

Yes, the Big Joe III is an investment. But it’s worth every penny for what you get – the build, features, and the incredible food. I’ve grilled on many BBQs, and this one stands out. Plus, the lifetime warranty on ceramics gives me peace of mind that I’m covered if anything goes wrong. It’s a solid investment for anyone serious about their grilling game.

Score: 9/10.

Why Trust Us

I have been using my Big Joe III at least once a week for over four years now. It’s the grill and smoker I use more than any other. I’ve used it to cook full English breakfasts, slow-smoke briskets and ribs overnight, cook entire roast dinners, and even baked pies. It’s incredibly versatile.

I have been BBQing and grilling obsessively since 2005, and writing for this site full-time since 2017, so I have a lot of experience. I can compare any product to the hundreds of others I have used over the years and know what to look for in a quality and capable grill.

All this enables me to give a well-rounded review that comes from experience and actually using the product, not just from reading spec sheets and other’s opinions.

General Overview and Review of Features

In 2019, Kamado Joe released their version III grill range, including the Classic Joe and the Big Joe. They are essentially the same design with the same functionality, but Big Joe III has a much larger grilling capacity at a whopping 24 inches in diameter (452 square inches) which makes it much bigger than the Classic III.

Coming with innovative features, huge grilling space, the possibility of simultaneous direct and indirect cooking methods, and new smoking technology with the SloRoller under his ceramic belt, it is a superior grill for sure.

The Kamado Joe Big Joe III is a taller grill than the preceding version 1 and 2 models, which now accommodates a 3-tier cooking system rather than the older two-tier.

The Big Joe III is made from a thick, heat-resistant ceramic shell combined with a fiberglass gasket that makes a tightly sealed grill that locks in heat and moisture, creating an incredibly fuel-efficient smoker that produces moist and flavorful food.

With a quoted temperature range of between 225 °F and 750 °F, this grill can smoke, roast, grill, sear and bake. It’s the Swiss army knife of outdoor cookers.

With the Big Joe III comes the revolutionary SloRoller Hyperbolic insert, that was developed by Harvard university engineers.

Looking down into a Kamado Big Joe III, at the Sloroller Hyperbolic insert.

The SloRoller creates recirculating waves inside the gill, distributing heat and smoke evenly throughout the cooking chamber, kissing all foods equally with smoke, and eliminating any heat spots for a more even cook.

Other standout features include:

Divide and Conquer Flexible Grilling System

The divide and conquer flexible grilling system allows you to insert different cooking surfaces at different heights to cook foods at different temperatures.

Big Joe III Divide and Conquer Flexible Cooking System photographed, with an SS, and cast iron gr.

Each tier is designed to accept half-racks for flexibility, so you can mix and match between stainless steel grates, cast iron grates, solid cast iron griddles, soapstones, and fish and vegetable grates. You can place grates on any of three height levels, meaning closer or further away from the coals.

I find this system combined with using the ceramic heat deflectors, means I can create direct and indirect heat zones and different temperatures, all within the same grill, for high heat searing proteins, and slow indirect cooking vegetables at the same time.

Or by placing both heat deflectors in at the same time, I can bake, roast, or smoke, as they block any direct, radiant heat.

It’s a great system that allows me to cook different ways, and at different temperatures within the same grill. And during my use over four years, I have come to love the flexibility it offers. It’s powerful and fun to use.

Fiberglass Gaskets

Close up of the KJ Big Joe III fiberglass gas.

A common complaint with ceramic kamado grills, and this includes previous versions of Kamado Joes, is that the felt gaskets between the lid and base wear out quite quickly and need replacing. They get sauce on them and burn, or just become dry, flat and crumble off over time. I have replaced them on my KJ Classic V1 3 times in 6 or so years.

The new fiberglass gaskets on the version 3 grills are way better. They have a very robust design, work perfectly to seal off the grill during use (combined with the stainless steel latch), and will not need to be replaced anywhere near as often as felt gaskets, if they ever need replacing at all.

I found the tight seal created also means smoke and heat are trapped inside the grill, only escaping via the top vent. So fuel efficiency is incredible — saving money — and food produced is more evenly cooked, evenly smoked, and remains moister than from other grills.

Air-lift Hinge

The air-lift hinge makes for an easy-open dome that you can open and close with one finger, despite it weighing hundreds of pounds.

I’ve mentioned the heft and weight of this grill a few times above, and the dome lid contributes a lot to this weight. But thanks to the air-lift hinge KJ have reduced the weight you lift when opening the dome lid by 96%, so even grandpa could lift it…with a single finger!

In my four years of use, this has worked very well. I did need to adjust it once at the start of last summer when it was juuuust about not holding itself open and falling gently shut. But a turn or two with a small spanner set it right again.

SloRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber

The Harvard-designed SloRoller Hyperbolic insert is advertised as working to ensure there are no hotspots, recirculating heat and smoke evenly throughout the cooking chamber, and creating even more smoky flavorful food than ever before.

Here is a video explaining what it’s designed to do:

I have used the SloRoller dozens of times since owning this grill. Overall, I have mixed views about it.

It definitely works to improve airflow and convection, recirculating heat and smoke to eliminate hotspots and cook more evenly. For example, smoke-roasted chicken has crispier skin that’s definitely more even across the entire bird than when cooked without the SloRoller.

However, when it comes to the smoke profile, I’m not sure there is much of a difference in taste compared to my previous cooks. My friends and family feel the same. The Kamado Joes are already fantastic smokers, so perhaps it’s just that any benefit is minimal? After all, not much improvement can be made to what was (or is) a fantastic smoker already.

Also, I’m sad to say there are a few other little annoyances when using the SloRoller, such as:

  • It has a maximum temp of 500 °F (260 °C). So you must constantly add and remove it as required. I’d be tempted to leave it in if it could withstand higher temperatures.
  • The top plate is made of metal and doesn’t do as good a job as the ceramic heat deflectors in eliminating direct, radiant heat if you go up past 450 °F. I feel the metal gets too hot, then radiates heat itself, and can cause the bottom of foods to burn. So you must flip foods if roasting that high. (Note: It’s rare that you ever roast up past 430 °F anyway, so it’s not too big a deal.)
  • It’s hard to clean! You cannot clean it like the rest of the grill, using a ‘high heat burn’ as it will melt. And if you use any hard, abrasive cleaning brush or pad, you will take off the paint. I recommend using a drip tray to help with this.

Weighing up the pros and cons, I would say if you have a version 1 or 2 Kamado Joe grill, it’s not worth buying and adding a SloRoller to your grill. However, it comes with the version 3 grills as standard, and if you have it, you may as well use it.

New Design Firebox and Charcoal Basket

The version III Kamado Joes comes with a thick, multi-part firebox that does away with any worries of cracking or damage due to expansion and cooling during use. And inside that goes a stainless steel charcoal basket that can be lifted out and shaken to separate ash and small pieces from unburnt charcoal to be used again and reduce cleaning time.

Kamado Joe Big Joe III Fire.

The new multi-piece firebox was created to fix the problem of the old, single-piece style cracking due to expansion and shrinking when heating and cooling. I’m pleased to say this works, as my experience — and those of countless other owners — is that it no longer cracks.

The new design charcoal basket is made from thick, durable stainless steel, and is seriously built to last.

KJ Big Joe III charcoal basket with divi.

The design is much like the Kick Ash Basket, designed in such a way that after a cook (and cooling), you can lift the whole thing to shake out all the ash and tiny pieces of charcoal, leaving you with only large unburned pieces of charcoal ready to reuse in your next cook. You can shake it where it is in the grill, and empty the ashes out with the ash drawer, or shake it over an ash bin. The choice is yours.

The charcoal basket also has a divider that effectively splits the basket in half. This is useful for getting a nice, deep bed of coal with only half the coal used for smaller cooks or for banking the coals up to one side, or the back of the grill, if you want to use the Joetisserie rotisserie attachment. You can also use it to have different heat zones, with only burning coals one side for a hot and cold zone.

Overall, I love the new basket and divider. It helps control heat during cooks and makes cleaning up and reusing charcoal much easier. Full marks for this design!

Removable Ash Tray

The removable ash tray sits just inside the bottom vent and collects ash that falls down through the charcoal basket for easy emptying.

Close up of the KJ Big Joe III removable ash t.

It’s a great little feature because you never need to use an ash vacuum to clean out your grill. After cooks, simply shake the charcoal basket, slide out the ashtray, and empty the ashes into a bin.

I find this feature truly does make clean up so much easier. You will learn to love it!

Kontrol Tower Top Vent

The Kontrol Tower top vent was added to give super-precise temperature control and a vent that does not move when you open and close the lid like in previous models.

KJ Big Joe III Kontrol Tower Top V.
You can see the pain on my Kontrol Tower has somewhat peeled, sadly.

I find the Kontrol tower top vent is a double-edged sword. It solved some problems seen on many other kamado-style cooker vents, but has introduced a couple of issues of its own.

Compared to other style vents, it prevents water (rain) from getting inside the grill. And it solved the issue of older, wheel-style top vents moving position when you opened and closed the grill lid.

However, it does have a tendency to gunk up, clog, and become hard to move after a few cooks. So you need to keep on top of cleaning it. But then, sadly, after just a few cleans the paint peels and makes it look less attractive. Luckily, most flaking is on the inside and happens through cleaning.

Kontrol Tower peeled paint interna.

Overall, the design and idea behind it is great, and it works well. But I feel Kamado Joe needs to find a better, higher heat paint for it or provide a stainless steel version that doesn’t need painting.

Aluminum Side Tables / Prep Areas

The new aluminum side shelves are an upgrade from the plastic ones on previous models.

Close up of the KJ Big Joe III aluminum side ta.
You can see here after 4 years of use, and scores of cooks, the improved side tables on the version 3 Kamados still look good as new!

Like most of KJs products, the Big Joe III has folding shelves that provide you with prepping areas / beverage resters for when you’ve gotta flip some meat.

Compared to previous models, the shelves are made with aluminum rather than marine-grade plastic. This is a good and needed upgrade because many people — including myself — would unintentionally melt the old ones by placing a hot pan or hot tools down on them.

So far, so good with the new design tables on my Big Joe III, there’s not a melt in sight! So this upgrade is a definite win.

Improved Cart

Version III Kamado Joes come with a premium, sturdy, powder-coated galvanized steel cart with four wheels, two lockable, so you can move the grill around and lock it in place.

Close up of the new and improved KJ Big Joe 3 c.

The old cart was a simple steel frame, functional to hold the grill, but it didn’t look great. The new cart just looks so much better and more befitting of such a premium product!

The addition of the lower shelf on the cart is also great, where you can store your SloRoller, or some half-moon grates when not in use. The wheels are strong and sturdy and allow you to move the grill about, with two of them locking to keep it in place when cooking.

I like the new cart. In comparison to the old one, it’s a giant leap forward. It’s a thumbs up from me.

Lid Thermometer Gauge

The thermometer in the domed lid hasn’t changed from previous models. It has a scale for Fahrenheit and Celsius, markings for smoking, bbq-roasting, and smokehouse searing, and measures from 150 °F to 900 °F.

Close up of the KJ Big Joe III lid thermometer ga.

I highly recommend calibrating your thermometer when it first arrives, after which it is perfectly usable, accurate enough, and does what it’s supposed to do. However, because the thermometer sits up in the lid, it’s always a fair few degrees out when compared to what’s happening at grate level. So I recommend purchasing and using a good digital smoker thermometer instead.

I’ve no complaints about the KJ lid thermometer. I use it sometimes. Just overall, I’m not a huge fan of lid thermometers and prefer to gain better accuracy by using a 3rd party digital one.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Dimensions with cart and shelves: 58.4” (W) x 53.7” (H) x 35.8” (D)
  • Weight: 487 lbs.
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Fuel Source: Charcoal
  • Heat Range: 225 °F – 750 °F (max of 500 °F when using SloRoller)
  • Cooking Surface: 24” diameter / 452 Sq. In.
  • Cooking Surface with 3-Tier Divide and Conquer: 864 square inches
  • Folding aluminum side shelves
Kamado Joe KJ15041021 Big Joe III 24-inch Charcoal Grill with Cart and Side Shelves

A premium, 24-inch ceramic kamado grill and smoker that can grill, smoke, sear, roast, and bake.

Kamado Joe Big Joe III isolated on white.

With Harvard-designed SloRoller Hyperbolic smoke chamber technology, air-lift hinge, Kontrol Tower top vent, 3-tier divide and conquer versatile cooking system, aluminum side shelves, and new design cart.

One of the most versatile outdoor cookers on the market!

Build, Use and Test Results

So we’ve taken a good look at the features. How easy is it to build, use, clean, and maintain? Let’s find out.

Unboxing and Assembly

My Kamado Joe Big Joe III arrived in two boxes, though as you can see, I also added a grill expander, cast iron reversible griddle, cast iron grate, and a bag of Big Block charcoal to my order.

The main, larger of the two cardboard boxes contained:

  • The ceramic grill body, with the lid already attached.
  • Charcoal basket and divider.
  • Multi-piece firebox and fire ring.
  • Divide and conquer 3-tier rack system.
  • X-ring accessory.
  • Deflector plates.
  • Half-moon stainless steel grill grates.
  • Kontrol Tower top vent.
  • Ash collector and slide-out ash drawer.
  • Aluminum side shelves.
  • SloRoller.
  • Ash tool.
  • Grill gripper.

The second and smaller of the two boxes the grill arrives in contains the powder-coated steel cart components.

Assembling the Big Joe III took me about 30 minutes. I won’t go into the details heavily as the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. But there are two things I have to mention.

One: You will need a couple of friends to help you lift the grill’s body into the cart. It is VERY heavy.

Two: I found the multi-part firebox a real pain in the a** to put together. You get most of them in, think you are finished, and just as you get the last couple in, an earlier falls out. But fear not; you can use a clever hack of tissue paper, as seen in the video below.

All in all though, it is easy to assemble, takes half hour or less, and then you are ready to get cooking.

Design and Build Quality

Wide angle view of Kamado Joe Big Joe III with the lid o.

The design instantly signals it’s a Kamado Joe grill, with its distinctive red color and egg shape. Yet, the version III stands out from previous models with numerous innovative features, making it a leader in its category.

There is no escaping the fact that this guy is well-built…and heavy! The build quality is a sight to behold as it is with all KJs, which is reflected in the lifetime warranty.

The firebox is a good 1.5 inches thick, the deflector plates are also thick and durable, and the charcoal grate and cooking grates are made of think stainless steel and are guaranteed to last.

The ash collector and ashtray are made of somewhat thin steel, and I can see this burning and wearing through after a few years use…though time will tell.

The fiberglass gasket is thick and durable, and the side shelves are very well made too.

Overall, the grill looks solid, feels solid, looks to last a lifetime, and is aesthetically pleasing and a real feature for the garden too. I’m impressed.

Ease of Use

Like many all-singing and all-dancing grills, it takes a bit of practice to understand and master, especially if you’ve never had a kamado grill before.

The thick ceramic walls and incredible heat retention mean you need to master temperature control more than you do on other grill types because bringing the temperature down is hard if you overshoot.

I’ve written a complete guide to using a kamado grill. Check it out to learn the ropes.

Ease of use is not difficult. It’s just a case of knowing what to do before you start, then gaining a little experience. Once you have, it’s quite easy to master. And once you do, you’ll never look back!

Smoking and Grilling Performance

The performance of the Kamado Joe Big Joe III is phenomenal. At the time of writing I own more than 20 grills and smokers and have had way more than that in the past as I shuffle things around for reviews and to gain experience.

Of all grills and smokers I have ever owned, this one is my favorite of all time, and that is because of its performance, versatility, and the quality of food I can create with it. The smoking and grilling capabilities of the Bog Joe III are superb. I cannot fault it. Here are a few things I have successfully cooked over the years:

Smoked Beef Ribs

Rubbed and then smoked straight through at 250 °F without wrapping, using the SloRoller:

The cooking was even, the moistness was incredible (despite how the photo might look!), and the smoke taste was pronounced yet balanced.

Pulled Pork

Two large pork butts, smoked right through without wrapping while using the SloRoller, but were regularly spritzed during the cook:

These were moist and delicious, and you can see in the third picture how much of a smoke ring the pork butts had at the end of the cook. This is NOT a sign of good bbq (as discussed in our article on the smoke ring) but it does go to show how much better smoking and smoke roasting is when using the SloRoller.

Surf and Turf: T-bone steak, Razor Clams and Crostini’s

Surf and turf is a favorite round mine, and the Big Joe shines when helping me create this dish.

Bavette and Crevettes

Bavette steak and crevettes being grilled in a KJ Big Joe .

Moroccan Style Pulled Lamb Shoulder

This was marinated in rose harissa and pomegranate molasses, before gently roasting until ready to pull:

Using a good quality lumpwood charcoal, and no smoking wood, ensured a moist, lightly smoked and not overpowered final result.

Baked Beef and Kidney Pies

This was a wonderful cook, involving using raw ingredients top make my own steak, ox tail, ox cheek, and kidney stuffing for the pies, as well as my own ‘bone marrow dumpling pastry’ pie cases.

Everything was smoked, braised, and eventually baked on the Big Joe III. I loved this cook!

Ribs, Chicken Pieces, Rolled Lamb Leg, Even Cold Smoked Bacon

Finally, you can see I’ve cooked ribs, chicken pieces, a rolled lamb leg, and even used the KJ Big Joe III to cold smoke 5 large pork bellies after curing them for bacon.

I hope this little lot above — which is just a small portion of what I’ve cooked on this grill over the years — goes to show you how versatile and just how good this thing cooks!

Temperature Control and Consistency

I find temperature control and consistency is excellent. After just 4 or 5 cooks, I had already learned how to hit and hold the grill at any temperature I choose.

Temperature is controlled by the use of the lower vent sliding door and a Kontrol Tower turning top vent on a chimney. Once you learn how to use the top and bottom vents properly, it becomes easy to dial in and hit any desired temperature between approximately 200 °F and 750 °F+.

And because the Kamado Joe Big Joe III has such thick ceramic walls, and is so well sealed, it stays at a stable temperature incredibly well, almost impervious to weather conditions.

Maintenance and Cleaning

The charcoal basket design makes it easy to clean your grill after use. Simply lift out the basket and shake to remove the ash and small coals, then brush the ash and debris into the slide-out ash drawer situated at the bottom of the grill. Then slide out the ash drawer and bin the contents. This couldn’t be easier.

To clean the grates, treat them as you would any other grill grates by using a good strong grill brush to clean right after use, or before use once the grates are warmed through.

Another great feature of the Kamado Joes is you can do a ‘high heat self-clean’ like you can in some ovens. Place all your items inside the grill, light it, and maintain a temperature of 550 °F for a minimum of 30 minutes. Then everything inside will be burned to ashes. Once the grill has cooled, brush this away, and everything comes out very clean, almost like new.

To clean the outside, you can simply wipe with a damp dishcloth, and use a little soap if you please, just make sure to rinse it afterward thoroughly.

Available Accessories

The Big Joe III comes with everything you need to grill and smoke a wide range of foods, but they also sell a whole range of Big Joe accessories to extend the functionality further still.

  • Cast iron griddle for full-face searing or cooking liquids such eggs and pancakes.
  • Joetisserie attachment that turns the Bog Joe III into a full-on rotisserie
  • DoJoe insert that turns the grill into a pizza oven.
  • Extra grates and a grill expander to expand the cooking surface area, filling up the 3-tier system if you regularly cook for large crowds.
  • Soapstone half-moon cooking surface, a somewhat popular cooking surface for high heat searing that you might also like to try out.

There’s also a half-moon cast iron grate, a pizza stone, a deep-dish pizza stone, chicken stand, rib rack, and a few other items that you can check out at this link to Kamado Big Joe accessories.

Reviews for the Kamado Joe Big Joe III

Here is the customer feedback at major online retailers for this grill:

  • kamdojoe.com: 4.6/5 from 272 reviews.
  • barbequesgalore.com: 4.9/5 from 98 reviews.

The Kamado Joe Big Joe III review on Grillseeker.com is mostly positive, with a few minor criticisms. They praise many of the unique features, particularly its new airlift hinge, which facilitates easy lifting of the heavy lid, and the accurate lid-mounted thermometer. The addition of a wire mesh gasket for improved sealing, and a removable ash tray for easy cleaning. The robust lineup of accessories, including the praised Joetisserie, further contributes to their positive assessment.

However, the review is not without its critiques. Despite its innovative design intended to prevent water ingress and maintain vent position, the Kontrol tower top vent tends to get gummed up after a few uses, requiring high-temperature cleaning that eventually leads to the peeling of its black coating. Additionally, the cooker’s lid latch has been noted as a weak point, with the reviewer experiencing breaks. However, Kamado Joe’s customer service promptly addressed this issue upon report.

Overall, the Kamado Joe Big Joe is recommended for those who entertain large groups, given its substantial cooking space and highly efficient fuel usage. The few issues mentioned are disappointing but don’t significantly detract from the overall positive experience with the grill.

Warranty and Support

KJ offers a lifetime warranty on the ceramic parts (just as long as you are the original owner), a 5-year warranty on the metal parts, a 3-year warranty on the heat deflectors and pizza stone and a 1-year warranty on the gasket and thermometer.

There are limitations to the warranty, but these are very fair and expected, and much better than most other warranties across the marketplace.

Summary / Final Verdict

Let’s sum up what I found during my tests:

What We Like

kamado joe big joe III bathed in sunlight, in front of a wooden fence, on a paved pa.

Most of all, I like the versatility. You can grill, smoke, sear, roast and bake on this beauty, and it does all of those things well.

I also love the innovative features such as the Sloroller, 3-tier flexible cooking system, slide out ash tray and more, that make cooking and cleanup easier, and the end results tastier.

Overall, I really like the design and looks. It’s a distinctive red iconic grill that will impress in itself, draw looks and comments from friends. It’s built to last, and every aspect of this grill is well thought out and effective.

The amount of grilling space is also impressive. The Big Joe III offers KJs biggest amount of space to date. You can potentially cook on over 850 square inches of space. You can feed a large crowd from that.

Finally, after registering your grill with Kamado Joe, you get a lifetime warranty on the ceramics and between 3 to 5 years on other parts. This takes away any worry about longevity.

What We Don’t Like

After a few uses, the top vent Kontrol Tower’s paint started to peel off, revealing the metal underneath. It also ‘gunk’s up’ occasionally, making it hard to turn and adjust until the grill is heated, freeing it up once more.

Close up of Kamado Joe Big Joe III kontrol tower top vent peel.
Kontrol tower top vent paint peels in short time, and occasionally ‘gunks up’ and gets stuck!

The Kontrol Tower is made of aluminum, so it will not corrode if exposed, but I would hope for better in such a high end grill. I have seen many people get warranty replacements, so hopefully by the time you read this it’s been improved upon.

One of this grills’ best features can also be a hindrance: The thick ceramic walls soak up heat and keep temperatures rock-solid stable. This is great for dependable, predictable cooking. However, if you overshoot a temperature, or cook on high heat before wanting to cook at a lower heat, it’s hard to drop the temperature and can take a long time.

Finally, the price is high compared to many other ceramic kamado cookers. However, you get what you pay for, and this grill is high-end, oozing quality, and packed with features.

Is this a Recommended Product?

All three kamado joe sizes side by side on a paved pa.

While it is pricier than many other grills available on the market, you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Big Joe III, and this timeless classic is in it with you for the long-haul.

A lifetime warranty is not given lightly, so you can rest assured that this grill is the best quality that you can get, and over the years will show value for money. And performance-wise, it’s amazing.

So if this guy is in your budget range, then we absolutely recommend it if you need the grilling space. You might never want for another grill with its versatility, and no matter how big your family gets, the Big Joe always has room at the Inn for hungry pilgrims.

If you like the sound of it, but you are questioning whether you need something so big, then you may prefer his smaller brother, who is essentially a mini-me of Big Joe, the Classic Joe III. Or perhaps even a Kamado Joe Jnr, the smallest of all three available sizes, if you’re never likely to cook for more than 2 people?

Kamado Joe KJ15041021 Big Joe III 24-inch Charcoal Grill with Cart and Side Shelves

A premium, 24-inch ceramic kamado grill and smoker that can grill, smoke, sear, roast, and bake.

Kamado Joe Big Joe III isolated on white.

With Harvard-designed SloRoller Hyperbolic smoke chamber technology, air-lift hinge, Kontrol Tower top vent, 3-tier divide and conquer versatile cooking system, aluminum side shelves, and new design cart.

One of the most versatile outdoor cookers on the market!

Alternative Products

In recent years, the kamado grill market has exploded. There are many competing products to the Kamado Joe lineup, including Big Green Egg, Primo Grills, Chargriller, Broil King, Vison Grills, and more.

In my humble opinion, Kamado Joe is still the best. They are a quality brand that seems to innovate and push the market forward. But having said that, other Kamado brands are still very, very good, and some come in at a lower cost, so they are definitely worth looking at.

Instead of me listing out a few grills with pros and cons here, I recommend you head over to our article on the best kamado grills where we take a deep dive look into the most recommended models on the market today

Conclusion

A saying has never been truer than you get what you pay for here. KJ grills are outstanding evidence of this when it comes to performance, quality, ease of use, smooth customer service, and, ultimately, tasty food.

However, there are things that you need to consider, such as whether you have the room, or need, for such a big grill, but if you do, we definitely rate this product for sure.

Do you have a Big Joe III, or maybe you have some burning questions about it that we haven’t entirely covered? Share your thoughts with your fellow readers and us in the comments below.

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Mark Jenner profile picture

Written By: Mark Jenner

I'm a BBQ fanatic and have been barbecuing and grilling since 2005. I founded FoodFireFriends in 2017 and have extensively written for the site since.

I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke whatever the weather, and I currently own over 30 grills and smokers of all varieties that I frequently cook on to produce epic food.

My goal with this site is to help as many people as possible enjoy and be good at doing the same.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar for Nick Brown Nick Brown says:

    Great article. I’ve had my Big Joe 3, use it all year round (once you’ve done Christmas turkey on the joetisserie there’s no turning back) and your experiences exactly reflect mine. Recently I’ve been doing incredible 20” pizzas on my KJ (pizza stone not dough Joe) and the high high heat has caused the glue on the gaskets to melt. The gaskets themselves seem ok but I’m going to have to find some kind of food safe heat resistant adhesive. Have you come across this problem?

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Hi Nick. I’ve never done pizzas on my BJIII. I have the pizza stone for the original classic, used it a few times and it worked well, but I have a large wood fired oven, and a Ooni Karu 16, so haven’t tried pizza in the BJ III.

      Assuming you use Facebook, I would advise to join the Kamado Joe group and post a question there concerning this, because with 70k members there is almost definitely going to be others who have experienced the same issue, and will be able to advise what product(s) they used for a more permanent fixing of the gaskets during high heat cooks.

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