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Big Joe II vs Classic III?


AaronD
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I’m purchasing a Kamado Joe with a gift card - and the retailer doesn’t carry a Big Joe III so I’m limited to purchasing a Classic III or a Big Joe II.  Appreciate any thoughts on whether you’d go for the size of the Big Joe II or with the expanded features of the Classic III?

 

With my current setup  (standard Weber kettle and a Smokey Mountain) I’m typically cooking for 4-6 people ….sometimes more when entertaining but nothing too crazy.  My biggest concern with smaller size is the ability to create dual cook zones which I do often.

 

Appreciate any thoughts!

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:welcome: AaronD.  If you cook for 4-6 regularly and for more occasionally, I'd go for the Big Joe II.  Others may disagree, of course.  I cook on a Primo Oval XL, most often for just 2, and find that the extra space really helps when cooking in extra large round pans or skillets with long handles. But I also own a Kamado Joe Jr. which is fine when grilling small batch meals or smaller poultry.

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Tough decision...I have a Weber Summit Kamado (24") and would never go back to an 18"....I also do a lot of dual zone cooking with a "Slow N Sear" type setup with raised coals up under the cooking grate.  I only have a single grill and it needs to do EVERYTHING.  If I had a dedicated smoker I would probably be OK with an 18" again.  As mentioned, everyone's cooking style has a lot of influence.

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I have the Classic III and typically cook for 2-4. It’s fine for that, but really only if cooking 1 thing. If you want to cook more than 1 item at a time, like indirect steak on one side and direct veggies on the other, it’s way too limited, IMO. I bought the grate extender, which gives me another level, but if you need to access food underneath the extender, it’s pretty tight. There are better, aftermarket extenders that swivel, making them more convenient, or at least seemingly so - I don’t have one.

 

Like you, I have multiple grills (Kettle, gasser and PBC) and often use my KJ in conjunction with others - most often the gasser. Even when reverse searing steaks, I’ll slow cook on the KJ and then sear using the gasser’s sear burner. In effect, I use a separate grill as my 2nd zone. Even though you’ll see lots of YouTubers doing a 2 zone cook on the Classic, if you look closely, you’ll see just how cramped and impractical everything is, at least for my taste.

 

I opted for the Classic III because I knew I had other options when I need more space and I was building a new outdoor kitchen and the Big Joe’s cutout requirement was deeper than my countertop. If keeping it in the stock cart or building something with a deeper countertop, I would have opted for the Big Joe.

 

I will add that it’s very easy to take the Classic III from low and slow to searing hot quickly. While my kitchen was being built, I didn’t have the gasser, and I did a number of reverse sear steak cooks with outstanding results. So if you don’t truly need 2 zones at the same time, you can get by with the Classic. The 2 zone issue is less about being able to create 2 zones and more about it being impractical because of the limited space in each zone.

 

Either way, you’ll love your KJ! I know I love mine!

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Welcome, @AaronD!  

 

There are a few threads on this forum about pretty much your question.  The only points you haven't seen so far is that the Big Joe will burn more lump for any given cook.  If you're using the whole grill, that's expected.  But if you're doing a small cook (a couple hamburgers, for instance) it's a bit much.  But you already have some options for those cooks, and either of these will be able to carry some of the unburned lump to the next cook.  So not a huge issue, IMO.  Also, the version 3 of either grill is optimized for use of the Slo-Roller, so you might see some benefit with that, if you were thinking of that as an important part of the grill. (I don't, it's a great grill for me without it, YMMV).

 

Whichever you choose, I'm sure you'll be happy with the grill.  Both great choices. 

 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/8/2022 at 4:24 PM, Boater said:

  The only points you haven't seen so far is that the Big Joe will burn more lump for any given cook.  If you're using the whole grill, that's expected.  But if you're doing a small cook (a couple hamburgers, for instance) it's a bit much. 

 

Can confirm.  I went for BJ2 for the rare occasions when I want to throw a 20lb brisket on without folding it over something, or cook for a large group (when I also use my UDS and Akorn) but for just me or 2 people, it's a bit of a waste, and I find myself using the smaller grills more than I thought I still would.  Definitely go through a disproportionate amount of lump per pound of food due to needing to heat up that large dome even if just to cook something relatively small for myself.

 

I don't regret the BJ2 - but in hindsight I may have gone with a KJC3.  But it's totally all about how you plan to use it.  Having the extra room for dual-zone on the BJ is priceless... for the rare occasions I need it.  If you need it more than rarely, then it may be worth it.

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Went from KJ classic III to the Weber Kamado about a week ago. 

KJ classic can't even fit 2 racks of baby backs without cutting them I half. 

 

MUCH better grilling options on the Weber. Low n slow about the same. 

Much prefer the WSk over KJ. 

 

Go big. Wish I did 1st.

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12 hours ago, Mikeyboyeee said:

 

KJ classic can't even fit 2 racks of baby backs without cutting them I half. 

 

Here's a thread that might argue with that statement.  Granted these look like St. Louis ribs vs baby backs, ut aren't STL larger?  If you're doing full spares then two might be pushing it, but someone in this thread shows two full racks and two half racks on the main grate.  I'm also able to get two full racks on my Akorn, which I believe is similar in size to the KJC.  

 

 

 

Also, this more recent one from a KJ3:
 

 

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In those 2 pics above note that the meat hanging past the deflector plates will cook much faster than what's over the deflector due to the deflector blocking and radiating heat and the gap between  the deflector and grill walls  will be much hotter due to the air being hotter, one of the reasons the dome temp is hotter. tip when I do ribs I cut off the portion that will be past the deflectors and use them as grill treats for the griller( I tell my wife it's quality control).

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 5/26/2022 at 11:06 AM, len440 said:

In those 2 pics above note that the meat hanging past the deflector plates will cook much faster than what's over the deflector due to the deflector blocking and radiating heat and the gap between  the deflector and grill walls  will be much hotter due to the air being hotter, one of the reasons the dome temp is hotter. tip when I do ribs I cut off the portion that will be past the deflectors and use them as grill treats for the griller( I tell my wife it's quality control).

 

I used the sloroller on the Classic III for the ribs, so there weren't any scorched spots or dry ends. It just took forever with so much meat on there. I routinely get two full slabs of baby backs on there with no issue. You can also get creative and do something like this...

 

IMG_20210327_142349_899.thumb.jpg.aac7fc141a19a65111e73417f538705a.jpg

 

I've done it with all three rolled up, as well, forming a triangle. Came out great, and they were also a nice conversation piece. I called it big boy sushi.

 

EDIT: In fairness, I also have the BJ II, and it's a great product, but once I got the classic III, it only gets used for the briskets, more than 2 pork butts. Or three racks laying flat. I've had to replace the deflector plates 3 times in it, unfortunately. I can get 2 10 lb pork butts on the class III with great results, and the sloroller won't crack or shatter (to my knowledge.) Good luck keeping it clean though...

Edited by wallawu
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/7/2022 at 11:47 PM, wallawu said:

 

I used the sloroller on the Classic III for the ribs, so there weren't any scorched spots or dry ends. It just took forever with so much meat on there. I routinely get two full slabs of baby backs on there with no issue. You can also get creative and do something like this...

 

IMG_20210327_142349_899.thumb.jpg.aac7fc141a19a65111e73417f538705a.jpg

 

I've done it with all three rolled up, as well, forming a triangle. Came out great, and they were also a nice conversation piece. I called it big boy sushi.

 

EDIT: In fairness, I also have the BJ II, and it's a great product, but once I got the classic III, it only gets used for the briskets, more than 2 pork butts. Or three racks laying flat. I've had to replace the deflector plates 3 times in it, unfortunately. I can get 2 10 lb pork butts on the class III with great results, and the sloroller won't crack or shatter (to my knowledge.) Good luck keeping it clean though...

Can I ask how/why you've had to replace 3 deflector plates on the BJ? 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/22/2022 at 9:43 AM, GS1397 said:

Can I ask how/why you've had to replace 3 deflector plates on the BJ? 

Certainly! I'd love to give you a solid answer on that, but I really don't for sure. The first ones that lasted through most cooks were treated the worst. Never covered them or used a drip pan, just flipped them every time I cooked. Once they got noticeable cracks, it just took one time above 350 to do them in. After replacing one of them I started treating them a little better, covering them with aluminum foil. Did 4 pork butts one day and got out there to a mess. One of them just collapsed in there. Guessing again here, but I think that the 4 butts kept the grate temp down while the fire below was really going hot, and it couldn't hold up. In my opinion they should be a little thicker. I always have a spare on hand now.

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