Is the Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ worth the investment? We put it to the test to find out

It's stylish, versatile to cook on, and very fun to use. It also has an extremely hefty price tag. Our Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ review puts this investment grill to the test

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ review
(Image credit: Kamado Joe)
Ideal Home Verdict

It's a definite investment, but this focal-point charcoal BBQ is sure to impress guests. It makes a stylish addition to the patio, can be used as a grill, smoker, and outdoor oven, and is very fun to use. You'll just need some muscle to get its super-weighty build into position

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Its design will impress anyone who sees it

  • +

    Adds a stylish focal point to the patio

  • +

    It's very fun to use

  • +

    Versatile cooking – use as a grill, smoker, and outdoor oven

  • +

    The Series II airlift lid hinge is a great addition

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    An investment

  • -

    VERY heavy to move and assemble

  • -

    You will smell of smoke after charcoal grilling

Why you can trust Ideal Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II barbecue is instantly recognisable thanks to its distinctive egg-shaped body and bright red exterior. 

This is a charcoal BBQ, but one that offers plenty of versatility thanks to its thick-walled ceramic interior that allows it to double as a grill, smoker, and outdoor oven. 

The Kamado BBQ comes in a range of sizes and specifications, from the smallest 30cm diameter Joe Jr to the 46cm Classic Joe and the largest 61cm Big Joe, and there's no doubt that adding one of these grills to your outdoor set-up is bound to impress guests – it's clear from a glance that this barbecue means business.

However, it isn't just the smokey cook that might make your eyes water. This BBQ has a price tag that might well make you wince too. So is it worth the investment? We put the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ to the test to see if it deserves a spot in our guide to the best BBQs.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ: specifications

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Dimensions (lid closed and side tables extended): H122 x W118 x D71cm
  • Cooking area: Diameter 46cm
  • Wheels: 4
  • Weight: 105kg
  • Assembly: 2 (strong) person self-assembly
  • Colour options: Red

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ

(Image credit: Kamado Joe)
amy lockwood
Amy Lockwood

Amy is one of the Ideal Home team's product testing experts and spent two days in a field in Somerset putting multiple bestselling BBQs through their paces. She unboxed and assembled the Kamado Joe Classic Joe to test the ease of self-assembly, then fired up the heat to grill a range of foodstuffs including halloumi and vegetable skewers, sausages, burgers, and even a spatchcock chicken. 

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ: unboxing and assembly

The first thing to note about this barbecue is that it's heavy. And we mean REALLY heavy. 

At 105kg in weight you're going to need two very strong people to lift this barbecue into position, and they're probably still not going to want to carry it very far. 

We decided to try and save our backs by unpacking the contents of the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II box where it was delivered to lighten the load.

After several oohs and ahhs as the shiny red egg exterior was revealed, we got to work taking out the contents inside the egg casing – and yes, it was a little bit like Easter for grown-ups, especially when you undo the big silver catch on the front of the egg and the airlift hinge magically raises the lid for you.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

Revealed inside the egg are the assembly instructions – hurray! – as well as all of the Kamado Joe's accessories and inner components. 

We removed the grill sections and then the five ceramic sections which we would later use to build the barbecue's internal firebox. These weighed a considerable amount by themselves – and we were a little nervous of dropping and smashing them on the paved courtyard – so this was a careful, if simple, job. 

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

We were hopeful that after the Classic Joe's contents were removed it would be lighter work to lift the egg-shaped body out from the box so we could set it onto its wheeled cast iron frame. We were wrong. 

There's no escaping the fact that you're going to need some muscle to move this BBQ. Hand grips are also few and far between, with one person having to lift from the very low fire grate at the base.

However, some brute force got the egg onto its stand, which – thanks to its wheels –
made things a little easier to manouevre. Although, having an exceptionally heavy egg balanced on a relatively dainty-looking metal frame made us a little nervous, and the wheels aren't the most robust over uneven ground (and would definitely struggle on grass) so it still required some concerted effort to roll the BBQ into position without it toppling. Once in place, the wheels lock to prevent it from rolling – but you're still going to want this BBQ on flat ground for peace of mind.

Opening the lid of the egg also makes the body wobble a little on the stand which was a little troubling to begin with. Next upgrade can we have a sturdier base please Kamado Joe?

Overall, I think it's fair to say that this is not a portable barbecue or one that you're going to want to move often.

The Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ assembled and on its base

(Image credit: Future)

Egg finally in position, next up came assembling the interior and adding the side shelves. 

As a welcome reward for all of the manhandling, the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II has the least assembly stages of any BBQ we assembled on our testing days, with just 10 steps from unboxing to grilling. Instructions were clear, with very detailed pictures, however, the instruction booklet is (unnecessarily) small so we did need to peer quite closely to see how it all slotted together.

In fact, building the interior all felt surprisingly basic considering the high-end look of the exterior. The trickiest part was in assembling the five ceramic sections that create the round firebox. They simply slot into place, but they're heavy, and you'll need gloves to prevent fingers from getting squashed. It took two of us to try and hold them all in place in order to fit the circular metal frame over the top to secure them in place.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

All in all, it only took two people 45 minutes to build this BBQ, so it was the quickest barbecue we built across the Ideal Home team's two-day barbecue building. The only downside is the weight – if you're not fit and able-bodied, and don't have the services of two people who are, this BBQ is going to be very difficult to self-assemble.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ: design

There's no denying that this BBQ looks extremely impressive once it's set up. The shiny bright red egg catches the light and is sure to make visitors to your garden ooh and ahh. 

It does only come in one colour – so you're going to need to like red – but its eye-catching design makes for a great focal point on the patio. This is lucky, because once it's in place you're not going to want to move it far!

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

We were particuarly impressed with how easily the powder-coated steel side shelves were attached – simply slot into place with no screwing – and they're a great practical addition to the egg, with plenty of robust prep space and four super useful hooks on each shelf for hanging utensils. Even better, unlike other BBQs, the tongs and spatula come included in the box.

The grill sections also fitted nicely, and the BBQ comes with two ceramic heat deflectors which allow you to slow cook or make pizza in the oven – a great addition.

We were also super impressed by the already-mentioned airlift hinge. This is an upgrade on the Series I, which came without, and made lifting and closing the lid both heavy work and led to the lid being liable to close quickly and trap fingers. The airlift design means the lid on the Series II floats open like magic and drops down with a soft close.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

We also loved the dimpled exterior texture which is a great design detail that adds to the high-end feel of the BBQ egg.

The only part that we felt let the design down – apart from the relatively insubstantial frame and its fairly small wheels – was the ash tray, which feels rather cheap and badly designed compared to the quality of the rest of the build. But, it's a small detail and one that's hidden at the base of the egg.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ: performance

Previous to firing up the Kamado Joe we'd been testing gas barbecues, and there's no denying a charcoal grill is a little more labour intensive to get going, but it also makes for a more authentic outdoor cooking experience. 

Slightly annoyingly, after building the Kamado Joe as per the instructions and admiring our handiwork, we then realised we needed to remove the grill and ceramic heat deflectors in order to load up the ceramic fire box with charcoal. 

But, that done, and some firelighters added, it didn't take too long for the coals to catch light and the flames to start rolling. Kamado Joe recommends burning for 10 minutes and then leaving the lid down for another 10 to get the coals glowing. At this point, plenty of smoke will start billowing from the top vent, so you won't want this BBQ too close to the house, or your neighbour's windows. 

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

It took 25 minutes for the BBQ to reach 250 degrees, with the in-built thermometer in the lid making it an easy job to watch the temperature rise. Although, after a typical British downpour we did find there was fogging on the thermometer dial after the rain.

Grilling felt pretty exciting compared to gas BBQ cooking, with plenty of smoke and sizzling, and all of our sausage and burger taste-testers were thoroughly impressed with the smokey charring that the Kamado Joe delivered.

The only downside was that the fairly widely spaced grill meant we lost a few peppers from our halloumi and roasted vegetable skewers into the BBQ interior – and once lost it was impossible to get them out.

The ceramic body regulates the temperature very efficiently and retained the heat really well compared to all other barbecues we tested. We did find that – like pretty much all BBQs – the food in the centre cooked faster, so it just takes a little attention to moving food around on the grill for an even cook.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II tried and tested

(Image credit: Future)

Adding the ceramic heat deflectors to the BBQ means you can engage in more slow cooking, with the benefit that you can just add one half-plate if you want to grill at the same time as you slow cook – perfect for slow roasting an ear of corn on the cob or a side dish whilst you flame grill a steak.

In practice, this took a lot of trial and error to get the temperature right. But this is the joy of charcoal cooking. It's more labour intensive – and yes, you will for sure smell of smoke after grilling unlike with a gas barbecue – but the hands-on cooking experience is definitely a highlight for those who enjoy mastering a new skill. And in our taste tests, practice really does pay off and delivered some really delicious outdoor cooked food.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II

(Image credit: Kamado Joe)

Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ: verdict

There are a couple of downsides to the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ. Firstly, it's weighty – very weighty – and both set-up and manouevre will prove a little problematic if you're not blessed with the ability to lift its 104kg weight with ease.

Secondly, it's very expensive. This isn't a barbecue that most of us will be able to buy on a whim. It's an investment, and likely to be a very considered purchase. 

It's also a BBQ that comes with a fairly steep learning curve in order to be able to maximise its grilling power to its full potential. But then, that's also what we like about it. 

If you want the ability to whip up the occasional BBQ when friends come over, then we say opt for a quick, easy, and convenient gas barbecue, like the entry-level Weber Q series, that won't leave you smelling of smoke or shuffling hot coals around for the perfect flames.

However, if you're an enthusiastic outdoor chef who is happy to linger over preparing alfresco meals – potentially all year round thanks to that heat-retaining ceramic shell – and you're willing to put in some practice to master your fire skills, then we think the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II BBQ could have your name on it.

Based on our brief time testing its powers, we soon came to realise that time spent mastering the Kamado Joe's smokey charms meant some very delicious chargrilled food was conjured up. So if authentic smokey gourmet outdoor cooking sounds right up your street, and you want a professional-looking outdoor oven that will easily become the focal point of outdoor gatherings, then we highly recommend adding this design-led grill to your wishlist.

Kamado Joe Classic Joe BBQ Series II: how we tested

For the purposes of this review the Ideal Home team spent two days in a field in Somerset putting a range of bestselling barbecues through their paces. 

We unboxed and assembled each BBQ to test the ease of self-assembly, then fired up the heat on each one to grill a range of foodstuffs including halloumi and vegetable skewers, sausages, burgers, and even a spatchcock chicken. We also debated design details, compared specifications and price points, and came up with our verdicts on value for money.

Click here to find out more about how we review products on Ideal Home.

Amy Lockwood
Ecommerce Editor

After studying Print Design at Winchester School of Art, Amy spent multiple years working in the interior industry, including styling and visual merchandising for many well-known brands. She’s now Ecommerce Editor at Ideal Home, offering expert advice on the best products for decorating your home and ensuring it functions smoothly. That includes sourcing stylish yet affordable furniture – from the best sofa beds for combining style, comfort, and function, to the best artificial Christmas trees for a stress-free festive season – helping our readers to find the best mattress for their sleep style, and testing top-rated dehumidifiers and air purifiers to narrow down the best-in-class.