Selecting My First Kamado Grill

 #My Kamado Journey #Kamado Grill #Kamado Joe #Kamado Joe Jr. 


As someone deeply embedded in the barbecue community, I've tried my hand at various types of grills, from the swift convenience of gas grills to the smoky charm of pellet and kettle-style charcoal grills. However, nothing piqued my interest quite like the Kamado grill, famed for its versatility and efficiency in heat retention. It was time to explore this ancient style of cooking that promised to transform my backyard barbecues.

Criteria for Choosing a Kamado Grill

When it came to selecting my first Kamado grill, I had a clear vision of what I needed. It had to excel in thermal efficiency, offering both the inferno-like temperatures needed for a quick sear and the low, slow heat essential for smoking. On top of that, I wanted a grill that could handle everything from smoky ribs to a crispy wood-fired pizza—a true test of versatility. Size was also crucial; it had to be substantial enough to feed a family of four yet compatible with an array of cooking accessories to broaden my culinary horizons.

Research and Selection Process

I began by considering popular models known for their quality and user satisfaction: the Kamado Joe Jr., Big Green Egg Mini, and Big Green Egg MiniMax. It quickly became apparent that the Big Green Egg Mini wouldn't meet my needs with its modest 10-inch grate, which felt too restrictive for larger dishes like a rack of ribs or a spatchcock chicken. My focus then shifted to comparing the Kamado Joe Jr. and the Big Green Egg MiniMax, both sporting a more accommodating 13-inch diameter.

Decision Factors

After careful consideration, I chose the Kamado Joe Jr. for several compelling reasons:

  1. Community Support: There is a wealth of information and enthusiastic endorsements from other users, which promised a smoother learning curve.
  2. Accessory Availability: The market is flush with innovative add-ons that promised to enhance and diversify the grilling experience.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: At $499, the Kamado Joe Jr. was more affordably priced than the MiniMax, which is listed at $699.95.
  4. Brand Innovation: Kamado Joe consistently leads in innovation, something that could be beneficial as I potentially look to upgrade in the future.
  5. Local Deal: A serendipitous find on Craigslist led me to an unused Kamado Joe Jr. for just $300—a deal too good to pass up.

Side By Side Comparison

In the world of ceramic grills, the competition is fierce, with options like the Kamado Joe Jr., Big Green Egg Mini, Big Green Egg MiniMax, and the Kamado Joe Classic II leading the pack. Each of these models offers unique features and capabilities, catering to different grilling needs and preferences. In this side-by-side comparison, we'll delve into their design, performance, and overall value to help you determine which grill might be the perfect addition to your outdoor cooking arsenal.


Kamado Joe Jr.

Big Green Egg Mini

Big Green Egg MiniMax

Kamado Joe Classic II







Cooking Area

13.5 Inches Diameter

10 inch Diameter

13 Inch Diameter

18 Inch Diameter

Help & Content

A lot of available content


Some Accessories from Kamado Joe, lot's of 3rd party accessories

Lot's of 3rd party accessories

Lot's of 3rd party accessories

A lot of solid accessories from Kamado Joe, plus a lot of 3rd party accessories


77.2 lbs.

39 lbs

80 lbs

231.5 lbs

Dimensions (HxW)

27.5 in. x 20 in.

17 in. x 12 in.

20 in. x 16 in.

48.5 in. x 46.5 in.


Low Stand included, Optional wheeled cart with side trays

No Stand, Optional Low Carrier

Low Stand included, Optional Portable Nest

Premium Wheeled Stand Included with shelving and storage

Accessories Included

Grill Gripper, Ash Tool



Grill Gripper, Ash Tool

Big Enough for Small Family (4)

Yes. Seems big enough to fit a couple of steaks, and Spatchcock chicken, Possibly ribs or a smaller brisket

I don't think it is big enough, you might be able to get some things in there, but sounds like a chore.

Yes. Seems big enough to fit a couple of steaks, and Spatchcock chicken, Possibly ribs or a smaller brisket

Definitely, with capacity to spare, plus would be better suited for entertaining.


Seems like a good choice, Kamado Joe has a few accessories, there are many available, good enough size for a small family. In a pricing sweet spot, easy way to get into Kamado style cooking on a reputable brand.

I think this one is just too small, and when compare the price against the Kamado Joe Jr, just doesn't make sense.

This one is a contender, the price difference is a big deal, not sure if the increased cost is justified.

If price was no object, then this would be a good one, but jumping in at >$1000, seems like a lot. Big advantage with this one are the accessories (JoeTisserie, SloRoller, DoJoe Pizza), plus the improvements to heat management Control Tower Top.


Selecting the Kamado Joe Jr. felt like the right decision, blending budget-friendly pricing with robust capabilities and support. It struck the perfect balance between size and functionality, meeting my criteria and promising a rich and varied cooking experience.

The Winnner is...

My Kamado Joe Jr.

Check out my brand-new Kamado Joe Jr., still untouched and sporting a vibrant Cherry Red finish. I can’t wait to fire it up for the first burn-in and cook!

Looking Forward

I'm eagerly anticipating the journey ahead with my new Kamado Joe Jr. The initial setup and burn-in will be my first steps, followed closely by a series of cooking tests—beginning with either succulent chicken wings or a perfectly roasted spatchcock chicken. From there, the possibilities are endless: steaks, burgers, pizzas, and eventually, the challenge of fitting a brisket or a full rack of ribs on the grill.

I invite you to join me as I embark on this Kamado cooking adventure. Follow along, share your experiences, and let's exchange tips and recipes. Whether you're a seasoned Kamado user or considering one for the first time, there’s always something new to learn in the world of grilling.

This article not only guides prospective Kamado buyers but also kicks off a series of detailed culinary explorations that promise to be as educational as they are delicious.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Kamado Joe Jr.

Dive into these frequently asked questions to gain deeper insights into why the Kamado Joe Jr. stands out as an ideal choice for both novice and experienced grillers. Discover its features, benefits, and maintenance tips to enhance your grilling journey.

A Kamado grill is a versatile cooking appliance made from ceramic or other refractory materials, designed for both grilling and smoking. Its thick walls provide excellent insulation, making it great for maintaining temperatures, whether you're aiming for very high or very low heat.

I chose the Kamado Joe Jr. because it offers a great balance of size, price, and available accessories. It also has a strong community following, which helps in finding recipes and troubleshooting tips.

Absolutely! Its smaller size and simpler setup make it an excellent choice for beginners. Plus, there's plenty of online support from both the community and the manufacturer.

Yes, the Kamado Joe Jr. can comfortably cook a whole chicken either upright (using a beer can chicken method) or spatchcocked due to its 13-inch diameter.

Some key accessories include the heat deflector for smoking and indirect cooking, a cast iron grate for perfect sear marks, and a pizza stone for baking (Highly Recommend the Kamado Joe Jr. Soapstone)

The 13-inch diameter of the Kamado Joe Jr. is sufficient for most small family meals, like steaks, ribs, and pizzas. It’s compact yet versatile enough to manage a variety of dishes.

Regular maintenance includes cleaning the ash out after every few uses, checking the air vents for clogs, and occasionally checking the tightness of the band screws around the lid and base.

The Kamado Joe Jr. excels at high-temperature cooking, allowing you to easily reach temperatures up to 750°F, perfect for searing steaks and grilling burgers.

Yes, the ceramic construction provides excellent insulation, making it capable of grilling and smoking even in colder temperatures without significant heat loss.

The Kamado Joe Jr. offered a better value at a lower price point, and the availability of affordable accessories made it more appealing. Also, finding an unused model at a discounted price greatly influenced my decision.