In a nutshell

This enormous, professional-quality, ceramic charcoal barbecue was awarded a BBC Gardeners' World Magazine Best Buy for its versatility and impressive cooking results. The grill can be split into two levels, it has a revolutionary smoker and can be used to slow cook and roast, with delicious results. It also has an accurate thermometer, a special hinge to lighten the load of the lid, and a cart and ash catcher.

What we tested

  • Assembly
    A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
  • Value for money
    A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
  • Ease of cooking
    A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
  • Cooking results
    A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
Overall Rating
A star rating of 4.8 out of 5.


  • High quality ceramic components
  • Very versatile - smokes, roasts, slow cooks and grills
  • Great fun to cook with
  • Excels at smoking
  • Excels at slow cooking
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty


  • Expensive
  • Heavy and takes up a lot of room
  • Needs a bit of getting used to

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Is the Kamado Joe Classic III charcoal barbecue easy to assemble?

The Kamado Joe III is huge. It arrives on a pallet, so you need to be ready to receive it plus, you’ll need a reasonable amount of space to lay everything out so you can do the build easily. However, it’s neatly packed, with the interior pieces carefully encased in polystyrene inside the barbecue.
The cart takes about 20 minutes to assemble and the instructions are a clear diagram but two people are needed to lift the grill onto the cart. Once on the cart the grill is easily moveable and the wheels are good quality.
Instructions for the main body are another clear diagram and it's best to tackle this one step at a time, starting at the bottom and working your way up. The ash tray goes in first and is lined up with the opening so you can clean the grill easily. Then the fire box base and the firebox wall pieces, (which look like heavy ceramic petals) followed by the charcoal basket, the Slōroller Hyperbolic Chamber and the Divide and Conquer flexible cooking system and grates. There are also two deflector plates for cooking and finally, two extra shelves that hook on easily and can be folded flat when not in use. The assembly process takes about an hour all together.

What is the Kamado Joe Classic III charcoal barbecue like to use?

Coals are easy to add and this barbecue lights really easily. It has good airflow and the coals are protected from breezes and the wind. The cooking surface is an impressive 61 cm diameter and can also be split on two levels. Grilling is simple, both on the grill and on the deflector plates but where this barbecue really impresses is with its other functions. This barbecue can hit soaring temperatures above 300°C (572°F) and maintain them for hours. This means it can be used for roasting and slow cooking rather than just straightforward grilling. You can even reverse sear items by setting up half the grill with a rack and the other half with a deflector plate, cooking your ingredients on indirect heat first and then adding the final sear and grill marks at the end. It also has a smoker - the Slōroller - which sends smoke around the inside of the grill for near-perfect smoke rings on your meat. This is a great barbecue for experimentation.

How does the Kamado Joe Classic III charcoal barbecue cook?

This barbecue has excellent heat distribution, with direct heat across the entire surface of the grill. In our test it cooked perfect, golden potatoes, which didn't stick or burn, and the same was true of our unoiled courgettes. Aubergine charred well and cooked through until it was soft but most impressively, it also cooked a beautiful, slow-roasted leg of lamb. This barbecue excels at the basics, and if anything, is even better at more complex cooking processes like roasting and smoking.

Is the Kamado Joe Classic III charcoal barbecue good value for money?

Our one quibble with this model is its price. It is expensive. However, it's a high spec product, that's well made and covers several cooking processes at once, with more than enough features and functions to cover everything you need. Once purchased, you won't need another barbecue or smoker for the rest of your life. It's an investment piece and with all this considered, it's good value for money, but if you're looking for a simple barbie to just chuck some sausages on, we advise you look elsewhere.

Who is the Big Joe III charcoal barbecue useful for?

This barbecue is best placed for catering big meals and big gatherings - our tester even recommends cooking the Christmas turkey in it. This behemoth barbecue would suit anyone with a passion for cooking and experimenting with food, keen amateur chefs, even professionals on their day off and is a highly capable model ideal for barbecue aficionados.


For more reviews, read our round-up of the best charcoal BBQs.

Product Specifications

BrandKamado Joe
NameKamado Joe Classic III
ModelClassic III
Barbecue typeCharcoal
Fuel typeCharcoal
Grill area61
Cooking featuresAir vents, chimney, temperature gauge and tool hooks
AssemblySelf assembly
Lifetime WarrantyYes