- Reimagined, 2-in-1 kettle grill lets you switch between grilling and kamado-style cooking
- SloRoller hyperbolic ring insert uses Harvard science to promote even heat and smoke
- Comes with heavy-duty ceramic firebox inserts that transform the kettle into a kamado
- Half-moon, stainless steel rod cooking grates can be set in 2 tiers for versatile cooking
- Ash drawer and adjustable, hinged lid simplify your grilling experience
A charcoal kettle from a kamado grill brand? As unorthodox as that may sound, the Kamado Joe Kettle Joe charcoal grill is proof that it can be done — and done well. In fact, this fresh approach to the classic kettle grill that started it all is actually 2 grills in 1, with included inserts that make alternating between cooking styles remarkably simple. It’s the best of both worlds in a single, reasonably sized hybrid grill that lends versatility rarely seen in a charcoal kettle, all at one of Kamado Joe’s most accessible price points. This makes the Kettle Joe an excellent option for those who want to dip a toe into kamado cooking or don’t have the budget for a fully ceramic grill.
If those sound like bold statements, rest assured that we back them all up in this Kamado Joe Kettle Joe review. Our experts took a hard look at every aspect of the Kamado Joe kettle grill to get a better idea of its quality, performance, and features so you can have a complete picture before buying. And while the Kettle Joe is a bit pricier than other Entry-Level charcoal grills, you’ll soon see that the cooking flexibility you receive in return more than makes up for the difference in cost.
Keeping in line with other charcoal kettles, Kamado Joe swapped its usual ceramic grill body for porcelain-coated steel construction. This material has no problem handling high heat, plus the porcelain layer does a great job preventing rust and making the exterior easy to clean. Porcelain-coated steel is also lightweight compared with Kamado Joe’s ceramic, which is key considering you can take the Kettle Joe off its cart for portable grilling.
The Kettle Joe steps up its quality with durable stainless steel in the heavy-duty charcoal basket and rod cooking grates, the latter of which we love to see in an Entry-Level charcoal grill. The side shelves, meanwhile, are made of sturdy aluminum that holds cutting boards and serving trays with no problem. And while technically an accessory, the heavy-duty ceramic firebox inserts that line the charcoal basket boast the thick, high-quality ceramic that Kamado Joe uses in its regular kamado grills. The inserts not only simulate the awesome thermodynamics of kamado cooking (more on that below), but also protect the steel grill shell from heat to extend its lifespan. Best of all, Kamado Joe brings a strong warranty to the table: 5 years on all metal grill parts, and coverage on the ceramic inserts as long as the original purchaser owns the grill.
As a standard charcoal kettle grill, the Kettle Joe checks every box for cooking performance at both high and low temperatures. But where this groundbreaking grill really stands out is through the SloRoller hyperbolic ring and ceramic firebox inserts, a pair of included accessories that promote ideal low-and-slow conditions in ways ordinary kettles never could. We’ll start with the SloRoller, which Kamado Joe previously included with only its higher-end Classic III and Big Joe III models; that goes to show how much work it puts in as a smoking enhancer.
In simplest terms, the SloRoller is a modified heat deflector that offers true smoking capabilities and astonishingly even temperatures. Kamado Joe slightly redesigned the Classic III SloRoller to better fit this kettle grill, but the idea is the same: a squat, hourglass-shaped ring featuring strategic airflow holes, placed between the coal bed and cooking grates. The SloRoller sucks up heat and smoke from below, then continually circulates them in upward spirals from the airflow holes to evenly coat food in flavor. This cyclonic pattern of steady temperature and smoke production is especially useful for charcoal kettles, which sometimes produce uneven heat when the fuel settles to one side of the charcoal basket. It’s also backed by patented Harvard research on hyperbolic pressure chambers, though the gorgeous smoke rings and delicious results were all the proof we needed.
The ceramic firebox inserts left us equally impressed by their simplicity and effectiveness. True to their name, these ceramic plates slide into the charcoal basket to form a ring around the fuel in an admirable rendition of the kamado cooking experience. They essentially transform the kettle grill into a heat-retaining machine, leading to markedly stable temperatures that aren’t typically found in Entry-Level charcoal grills. That means legit low-and-slow cooking with no extra accessories or excessive time spent fine-tuning the airflow vents — a huge bonus in our book.
We were amazed by how easily the Kettle Joe grill morphed into a slow-cooking kamado, but we’re also glad to report it also functions on its own as a solid charcoal grill. Kamado Joe carried over the Top Kontrol Tower from its kamado collection, making it easy to manage airflow and temperatures in tandem with the bottom air vent. The 2-tiered, half-moon cooking surface is another Kamado Joe calling card, with the lower rack providing direct-flame searing and the upper grates serving for more indirect methods. Whether you keep them split, bring them to the same level, or sit them in the SloRoller insert, you’ll have 363 square inches of cooking space on stainless steel rods that are excellent at retaining heat. In our experience, the hardest part of cooking on a Kamado Joe Kettle Joe grill is deciding whether you’d rather the standard kettle experience or a glimpse into the world of ceramic kamados.
The SloRoller and ceramic firebox inserts undoubtedly steal the show among the Kettle Joe’s features, but we covered them in depth when discussing the grill’s (or should we say “the kamado’s?”) performance. Let’s instead look at some of the finer details that Kamado Joe included to make cooking as seamless as possible. Lifelong kettle users will be overjoyed to see a hinged lid; without it, you’d have to find a place to set down the lid when cooking — or resort to one-handed grilling. To fit the SloRoller insert within the lid, the hinge’s height is adjustable via a simple hand knob and locking pin. Now that's a design we can appreciate.
Where cleanup is concerned, Kamado Joe makes things easy with a removable ash bucket positioned directly below the charcoal basket. There are also side shelves for extra prep or storage space when grilling, and they fold down to reveal — surprise! — carrying handles for removing the Kettle Joe from the cart and taking it on the go. When left on its cart, the grill remains incredibly mobile thanks to the 4 caster wheels, 2 of which lock to hold the unit in place.
Between the casters stretches a bottom storage shelf, another sign that Kamado Joe values a convenient experience. One final note to that point: as a 22” charcoal grill, the Kettle Joe can fit both Kamado Joe half-moon accessories and add-ons for other 22” kettles. We’d say we’re surprised, but if this Kettle Joe review has proven one thing, it’s that Kamado Joe created a grill that’s much more than the standard charcoal kettle.