Kamado Joe Classic I Review: Good Entry-Level Option?

Kamado Joe Classic I Review

Kamado’s are hands-down a great barbecue. They’re versatile, durable and make some darn good food. But, they’re pretty pricey…

Overall, Kamado Joe is one of the best value for money options out there. Their innovation just isn’t seen in any other kamado on the market and their packages mean you’re good to go without buying a whole heap of accessories too.

And, the Classic I is the most affordable option in the Kamado Joe range. Yes, it doesn’t have quite as many features as the mid and upper-tiered Classic II and III. So, is it worth it?

In this Kamado Joe Classic I review, we’ll go over all the features and specs of this entry-level kamado. Plus, talk about it’s real-life performance to help you decide if it’s the right barbecue for you.

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The Quick Version: Our Kamado Joe Classic I Review

The Classic I is the entry-level model of the popular Kamado Joe’s range of high-fired ceramic kamados.

Coming complete with the highly demanded Divide and Conquer Cooking System, Kontrol Tower, slide out ash drawer, and, ingenious Advanced-Multi Panel firebox, everything you need to grill, smoke, bake and roast is included in the base price. And, the results are next-level!

By doing the basics well, the Classic I provides great value for money without sacrificing on the quality needed for durability and superior performance. It’s still covered by the same Kamado Joe warranty as their upgraded kamados, is built just as solidly, and, doesn’t feel like you’re using a cheaper alternative.

For anyone on a budget, or, who’s looking for a value for money kamado, the Classic I couldn’t be a better solution!

But, if you’re interested in seeing what the next level up gets you, check out our Kamado Joe I vs II comparison.

Features of the Kamado Joe Classic I

Construction:

  • Thick-walled, heat-resistant ceramic shell
  • Stainless steel grates
  • Felt gasket for airtight seal
  • 6 piece firebox minimizes breakages
  • Cast iron grate with locking wheels

Ease of use:

  • Two tier 18″ multi-level grate design offers versatility
  • Cast iron Kontrol Tower air vent
  • Slide out ash tray
  • Two folding side racks with tool hooks

Included extras:

  • Grill gripper
  • Ash tool

In-Depth Review of the Kamado Joe Classic I

Kamado Joe is a well-established player in the kamado market. Competing with the industry favorite, The Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe have relied on using innovation to help them stand out from the crowd.

And, that they have done!

Not only are Kamado Joe’s attractively-priced, they’ve taken one of the most traditional forms of outdoor cooking and made it easier and more versatile while letting you add advanced features like WiFi and electronically-controlled rotisseries.

They’re 110% our favorite kamado out there. And, their fans agree. Durable, high-quality and just overall better, Kamado Joe still manages to be one of the best value for money kamados on the market.

The Classic I is Kamado Joe’s entry-level model. It doesn’t have a lot of the extra features that the more expensive Classic II and Classic III offer. But, the Classic I still gives you the top quality you need for easy cooking and a long lasting investment at a very competitive price. Let’s get into the details.

Construction

The build of any kamado is absolutely key to it’s performance. And, the Classic I is made from what you want – thick-walled ceramic with a heat-resistant, porcelain-glazed exterior. It’s high-quality. It holds the heat in well for a 360° cook, and, it’s performance is hardly affected by a bit of bad weather.

At the bottom, you’ve got one of Kamado Joe’s best features, their AMP (Advanced Multi-Panel) firebox. Kamado firebox’s are generally one-piece and are prone to breaking because it holds such a hot fire. So, Kamado Joe decided to split their firebox into 6 removable pieces, giving it room to expand and contract without cracking. It’s simple but will probably save you money and a headache in the long-run.

Above that, you’ve got rust-resistant stainless steel grates. They’re easy to clean and ultra-durable. But, the Classic I also comes with the two-tiered Divide and Conquer Cooking System.

Basically, Divide and Conquer lets you set up half plates at different heights with different surfaces so you’ve got more space and more flexibility with what you cook. So, you can sear a steak close to the fire and grill some sides further away from the heat. It adds a lot of versatility but we’ll talk about it more later.

Giving the Classic I a tight seal, it’s got a felt gasket. It’s not as good as the mesh fiberglass one of the II and III ranges (it’ll need replacing before one of those would). But, it still does a decent job of holding in the heat and smoke and is similar to what you’d find on other kamados anyway.

Capacity

The Kamado Joe Classic I holds an 18″ cooking grate. Using just that, you’ll have 256 square inches of cooking space. It’s not huge. But, more than enough to fit a few steaks, burgers, or a whole heap of sausages or wings.

Because the Classic I comes with the Divide and Conquer Cooking System, you’ve got more options than that. You can actually set up 2 full grates (you’ll need to buy 2 more half plates) inside the Classic I to give you around about 508 square inches of space. And, there’s an optional grill expander you can get that’ll take the maximum total up to 660 square inches.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to how much the Classic I can hold. You’re only really limited by the width of the unit.

The Big Joe I is better if you want to smoke whole briskets. But, you can definitely entertain guests with the Classic I.

Smoking Performance

Smoking on the Kamado Joe Classic I is simply beautiful! It’s easy and doesn’t need much in the way of babysitting.

The heat deflector plates you need to transform it to the indirect heat you need for smoking are included and because it holds the heat so well, once you’ve got the temperature to where you want it, it stays there without much effort.

The Kontrol Vent you use to control the temperature on the Classic I is a little different from the upgrade offered on the Classic II and III. It’s made from cast iron so is good quality, but, doesn’t block the rain and wind like the more expensive models do. Overall, we’re still really happy with how easy and effective the Kontrol Vent is to use. And, when you consider the price on the unit, it’s really decent.

One word of warning when you’re smoking on the Classic I, or any other heavy-sided ceramic kamado, try not to overshoot the temperature! The walls are so thick that if you overheat it, it does take a while to cool down to a low and slow temperature again.

Grilling Performance

Grilling on the Classic I is really straight forward. It’s as easy as getting some charcoal going (KJ Big Block is ideal because it’s low ash), throwing it in, adding the grates and putting your meat on when it’s had a bit of time to warm up.

The grill marks are on point. You can get the grill really nice and hot. And, the results are just phenomenal.

But, grilling a steak isn’t the only thing you can do. Because the lid is ceramic too, it’ll radiate heat back onto the food for all-round cooking. This means it’s perfect for baking and roasting too, It’ll also turn out an amazing pizza, even without the DoJoe accessory.

Included Extras

One great thing about the whole Kamado Joe range is that you don’t need to buy any extras (except charcoal and meat of course) to grill, smoke, bake, roast, or cook anything on them.

The Classic I comes with the Divide and Conquer grates, the heat deflectors, side tables, grate gripper and ash tool.

If you’re not storing it undercover, definitely grab a cover to keep it protected from the weather. You might even be able to grab it as a package like this one with the Classic I plus cover here.

Warranty and Customer Service

We told you the Kamado Joe quality was good. And, incase you didn’t believe us, here’s the warranty to prove it.

The Classic I’s ceramic body is covered by a limited lifetime warranty (like for as long as you own the grill), there’s 5 years on the metals, 3 years on heat deflectors and 1 year on the thermometer and gasket.

Plus, Kamado Joe’s customer service is next to none. They’re great and have built the reputation to prove it.

Optional Extras

No, you don’t NEED any extras to cook just about anything on the Kamado Joe Classic I.

But, if you’re an extra kind of person or like being able to add extra pieces to your kit over time, KJ have an awesome range of add-ons.

So, for the Classic I you can get:

  • A whole range of different cooking surfaces that can be used with the Divide and Conquer
  • Pizza stones
  • Grill cover
  • JoeTisserie – To turn the Classic i into a rotisserie
  • DoJoe – An open pizza oven that’s the real deal!
  • iKamand – Uses WiFi to turn the traditional kamado into a smart device where you can set, monitor and adjust the cooking temperature from your phone
  • SloRoller – An included extra with the Classic III. It creates an Hyperbolic Smoke Chamber for even better results smoking.

They’re all good add-ons and aren’t too expensive. The DoJoe is definitely our favorite because #welovepizza. It just makes it that bit easier to get the pizzas in, out and watch them cook. Guests have a lot of fun with it when they’re around too.

Cleaning the Kamado Joe Classic I

Any ceramic kamado is one of the easiest types of barbecues to clean. Just as you’d except, scrape down the grates after using them. And, empty the ash which thanks to KJ’s slide out ash tray, can’t be easier.

Once or twice a year, depending on how often you use it, you’re going to need to do a more rigorous clean. The video below shows you how.

Pros of the Kamado Joe Classic I

  • Affordable price for a very high quality kamado
  • Includes everything you need to smoke, grill, bake and roast
  • Expandable capacity
  • Divide and Conquer Cooking System gives you flexibility with how you cook
  • Kontrol Tower makes precise temperature control achievable
  • Stainless steel cooking grates are durable and rust-resistant
  • AMP firebox reduces likelihood of your firebox needing replacing due to cracking from high heat
  • Slide out ash tray makes cleaning very easy
  • Incredible warranty

Cons of the Kamado Joe Classic I

  • Lid is very heavy – this model doesn’t have KJ’s famous Air Lift Hinge (you’d need to upgrade to the Classic II)
  • Felt gasket does the job but will need replacing after probably a few years (again, Classic II has a longer lasting one)

Specs for the Kamado Joe Classic I

Barbecue material: Glazed ceramic

Grate material: 304 stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 256 sq. in. but expandable with extra grates and/or grill expander

Fuel type: Charcoal

Temperature Range: 225°F – 750°F

Price guide: $$$

Model: Classic I

Dimensions: 46.5″ W x 48.5″ H x 30.12″ D

Weight: 188lbs

Warranty: Lifetime on ceramics, 5 years on metals, 3 years on heat deflector, 1 year on thermometer and gasket

FAQs About the Kamado Joe Classic I

Q. Do I get the lifetime warranty if I buy the Classic I on Amazon?

As far as we know, yes. After purchasing on Amazon people have registered their warranty with KJ without any issues.

Q. How long does one load of charcoal last in the Kamado Joe Classic I?

Of course it depends on how much you load up. But full, you should be getting about 18 hours of smoke time from one load of quality charcoal.

Q. How easy/hard is it to clean the ash out?

KJ makes this really easy with their pull out ash drawer. You literally slide it out, use the included racking tool to clear the ash out and put it back in. Every 6-12 months you’d do a more thorough clean where you remove the firebox and sweep out the inside.

Q. Can I add more fuel while cooking on the Classic I?

Not without removing the meat and grates. Kamados are designed to be stocked once and left to do their thing and you should be able to do that, even for longer cooks.

Our Verdict on the Kamado Joe Classic I Review

Kamado Joe really does lead the market when it comes to high-quality, functional kamados. And, their most basic Classic I brings a more affordable, yet still great quality option to anyone who’s looking for unbeatable value for money.

With features like stainless steel cooking grates, the versatile Divide and Conquer Cooking System, a slide out ash drawer and KJ’s ingenious AMP firebox, the Classic I doesn’t have a lot in the way of extras. But, it does more than just the basics really really well. Because of that, cooking on the Classic I is effective, simple and the results really speak for themselves.

Perfect for anyone looking for an affordable yet quality kamado that’s got everything you need and will last, the Kamado Joe Classic I is the go-to option.

But, if you’re looking for something with a little more, take a look at our Kamado Joe I vs II comparison to see what next-level upgrades you can get.

Like What You See, But Want More Space or Extra Features?

Up-Size to the Kamado Joe Big Joe I

  • Larger 24″ grate size
  • 452 square inches on a single grate with option to add to it using accessories
  • Large enough to fit a whole brisket (may have to drape it over a bowl depending on the size)
  • Plus the same must-have features of the Classic I

Get More With the Kamado Joe Classic II

  • Weather and rust-proof Kontrol Tower top vent
  • Air Lift Hinge reduces dome weight by 96%
  • Fiberglass mesh gasket lasts longer than anything else on the market
  • Stainless steel latch for tightest seal
  • Plus the same must-have Classic I features