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Kamado Joe Classic 3 vs 2 (2021): Charcoal Grill and Smoker Comparison

Kamado Joe has always been one of the more innovative brands in the world of kamado grills. The Kamado Joe Classic 2 is a versatile and feature-packed charcoal grill and smoker that’s also easy to use, so it’s no surprise that it is one of the most popular grills in the market. With the Kamado Joe Classic 3, the brand further enhanced their Classic grill line and introduced new features such as the SlōRoller and more quality of life improvements. Should you upgrade to the newer Kamado Joe Classic 3? If you’re a first time buyer, which grill is better for you? We compare the two to help you make an informed decision.

Kamado Joe Classic 3 vs 2 Comparison Chart

ModelKamado Joe Classic 3Kamado Joe Classic 2
 Kamado Joe KJ15040921 Classic III 18 inch Charcoal Grill, Blaze RedKamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Dimensions50.5 x 46.5 x 30 inches48.5 x 46.5 x 28 inches
Weight262.5 lbs232 lbs
Heat Range225°F – 750°F
500°F for SloRoller
225°F – 750°F
MaterialCeramicCeramic
Cooking Surface18″ diameter18″ diameter
Multi-tier Cooking System3 tiers2 tiers
RacksStainless steelStainless steel
Side TableAluminum w/ hooksMarine grade plastic w/ hooks
SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke ChamberYesNo
CartHeavy duty rolling cart with shelf and locking castersSteel rolling cart with locking casters

Design

The Kamado Joe Classic 3 is slightly bigger and heavier than the Kamado Joe Classic 2.

kamado joe classic 3 vs 2 design
The biggest difference in design between the Kamado Joe Classic 3 (left) and Classic 2 (left) is the Classic 3’s heavy duty cart roller.

Both kamado grills have an aesthetically pleasing red-coated, egg-shaped ceramic chamber that will definitely stand out in your backyard. Size-wise, they are similar, but the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is slightly taller and deeper, to accommodate its new and improved 3-tier Divide and Conquer system (more on that later). It is also heavier, weighing 262.5 lbs to the 232 lbs of the Kamado Joe Classic 2.

One of the improvements that come with the overall design of the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is that it now comes with a heavy duty galvanized steel cart. This is an improvement over the thinner and wiry cast iron cart of the Classic 2. The Kamado Joe Classic 3 also comes with side tables that are made from aluminum. In comparison, the Kamado Joe Classic 2 has marine grade plastic side tables. Both of them are built to last, but these design improvements on the Kamado Joe Classic 3 will definitely help make it last much longer.

Aside from those improvements, the Kamado Joe Classic 3 retained most of the external design features of the Classic 2, such as the Kontrol Tower Top Vent, built-in thermometer, ash drawer and lower vent, an air lift hinge, fiberglass mesh gasket and steel latch.

Check out our Weber vs Kamado Joe grill comparison

Cooking Features

The Kamado Joe Classic 3 comes with a 3-tier Divide and Conquer cooking system as opposed to the 2-tiered system of the Classic 2.

With the SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber, smoking with the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is improved.

The Kamado Joe Classic 2 has always been a grill first and smoker second, however, that changes with the Kamado Joe Classic 3 because of its SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber. With this new technology, the Classic 3 is now more effective when it comes to smoking. The SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber distributes smoke and heat more evenly and effectively, so your food will have a stronger flavor. For those who love to smoke their foods, upgrading to the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is worth it just for this feature alone.

Kamado Joe’s Divide and Conquer cooking system is one of the features that sets it apart from other kamado style grills. With this cooking system, you can cook various types of foods at the same time. The Kamado Joe Classic 2 has a 2-tier system and the Kamado Joe Classic 3 improves upon that by making it a 3-tiered system, to give you more space for cooking. Needless to say, this 3-tier system is more versatile and a better overall cooking system.

Performance

Both are great at grilling, but the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is more versatile than the Classic 2 due to its charcoal basket with a divider.

The Kamado Joe Classic 3 (left) and Classic 2 (right) both come with the Kontrol Tower Top Vent, a built-in thermometer, fiberglass mesh gasket and a steel latch.

Because of its SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber, the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is definitely the better smoker. But when it comes to good old-fashioned grilling, the two kamado grills are quite similar, with a slight edge to the Kamado Joe Classic 3 when it comes to versatility.

They are both great at retaining heat and the built-in thermometer is accurate. You can adjust their temperatures using the top and bottom vent. The top vent is better for adjusting the temperature in smaller increments while the bottom vent is great if you want a drastic change in temperature.

One change that comes with the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is that instead of having charcoal grates at the bottom, it now has a charcoal basket. This charcoal basket greatly improves fuel efficiency and it also has a divider in the center, so you can set up two cooking zones with different temperatures. This is especially helpful if you want to cook different types of foods at different temps.

Ease of Use and Maintenance

The Kamado Joe Classic 3 and 2 are both easy to put together.

The Kamado Joe Classic 3 (left) now comes with a charcoal basket as opposed to the charcoal grate that comes with the Kamado Joe Classic 2 (right).

Both Kamado Joe grills are heavy, with the two of them weighing well over 200 lbs, so you’ll want a buddy with you when setting these up for the first time. After that, the setup process gets progressively easier. The instructions are easy to follow and even if you are not the best at putting things together, these grills will only take around 30 mins to an hour to assemble.

Once assembled, both grills are easy to use. However, it might take awhile to get used to them, specifically, the temperature controls. As mentioned earlier, you can control the temperature of the two grills using the top and bottom vent. As you use the grills more, you’ll get used to it.

Both the Kamado Joe Classic 3 and Classic 2 domes are heavy, but their patented Air Lift Hinge make it easy to lift them. This Air Lift Hinge also prevents the lid from crashing down and potentially damaging the grills.

When it comes to maintenance, you shouldn’t have a problem with either. Both of them come with sliding ash drawers that are easy to clean. As for the grates, it’s better to let the food sticking to them burn and just scrub off anything that remains.

Verdict

It’s worth it to buy the Kamado Joe Classic 3 over the Classic 2 if it’s your first kamado grill.

With new features such as its SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber, 3-tiered Divide and Conquer system and an overall better design, the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is worth the money. If you’re buying your first kamado grill, the Kamado Joe Classic 3 will give you a better overall cooking experience than the Kamado Joe Classic 2. That said, the Kamado Joe Classic 2 is still an excellent kamado style grill. If you already have it, we don’t really recommend upgrading, unless you also use it a lot to smoke. If that’s the case, then upgrading to the Kamado Joe Classic 3 is worth it.

FAQs

📌 What is the difference between the Kamado Joe Classic 2 and 3?

There are quite a few improvements that come with the Kamado Joe Classic 3, but the biggest is the inclusion of the SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber. This new tech allows the Classic 3 to be a more effective smoker than the Classic 2.

📌 What’s the difference between the Kamado Joe Classic and Big Joe?

The biggest difference between the Classic and Big Joe lines of kamado grills is the cooking surface, with the Big Joe grills having a larger cooking surface than Classic grills.

📌 Should I get the Kamado Joe Classic or Big Joe?

It depends on how much space you need for your grill. If you want a bigger grill with more cooking space, you should get the Big Joe. Otherwise, you should go with the Classic line.

📌 Can you smoke on a Kamado Joe?

Yes, Kamado Joe grills can also be used as smokers. The Kamado Joe Classic 3 and Big Joe 3 come with the new SlōRoller Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber that’s designed to improve their smoking capability.

Last update on 2021-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.