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Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle (Explained)

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Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle

The Kamado Joe Jr. can do a lot of things that the Weber Kettle does and more. Though the price points between these two grills are very different. This has a lot of people wondering which one is the best charcoal grill for them. 

The Weber Kettle is the classic charcoal grill that leads the way in backyard cooking.

Though for all the decades they have been in the marketplace Weber has done very little innovating to optimize the versatility of their iconic grill.

Though in recent years Weber and some aftermarket accessory manufacturers have been making a concerted effort to come up with optional extras that let you do things like bake food-fired pizza or improvise the kettle as a smoker.

Kamado Joe has made a strong name for itself since the early days by embracing innovation. Including coming up with creative ways to optimize the performance and versatility of the Kamado Joe Jr.

This includes accessories like the soapstone to replicate a griddle, the sear plate and even a charcoal basket that optimizes the airflow to boost the combustion of the lump charcoal.

Is the Kamado Joe Jr Worth It?

A Kamado Joe Jr. is worth investing in if you are looking for a versatile grill and smoker in one.

Especially if you love to cook outdoors, and you only need to grill for yourself and perhaps one or two other people.

The impressive thermal efficiency and radiant heating of a properly preheated Kamado Joe also mean you will use roughly 35 to 40% less charcoal per cook compared to traditional charcoal grills.

This is one of those small savings that can add up over time to boost the long-term return on investment.

A Kamado Joe Jr. might not be the best investment if you only grill once a weekend, as it would take a long time to show a return on your investment. If you need to cook for more than just a family of three, you might want to invest in one of Kamado Joe’s larger models.

Is a Weber Kettle Worth It?

The Weber Kettle is an iconic American grill that has remained popular for decades thanks to its value, versatility, and inherent quality.

Though these days the Weber Kettle tends to be more on an entry-level charcoal grill. It does a good job of grilling meat over direct flame. Though typically struggles with indirect heating and smoking.

One knock against the Weber Kettle is that the chrome-plated grill grates are prone to scratching.

This can make them sticky, as well as lead to ugly corrosion issues. You might be able to stave this problem off by cleaning the grill grates with a stiff nylon bristle grill brush instead of steel wool or wire.

Though you will still probably need to buy one or two replacement grates in the life of the grill.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Accessories

Kamado Joe has been very innovative with the impressive lineup of accessories for the Joe Jr. compared to Weber who up until recently has been very stubborn about embracing accessories.

There are even other manufacturers who make accessories to fit a Weber Kettle, who are ahead of Weber in this niche.

The top accessories to consider adding to the Kamado Joe Jr.

Include the charcoal basket, the soapstone, and the sear plate. You can also find cordierite pizza stones that will hold up well to the high heat potential of a Joe Jr.

The soapstone is great for reverse searing or any time that you want to use your Joe Jr. as a griddle.

You can even improvise it with the heat deflector that comes with the Joe Jr. for double indirect heating.

The sear plate is a thicker, beefier grill grate with tiny slots in between the rungs.

It maximizes the amount of contact between the meat and the metal to make great grill marks. It also lets the grease and rendered fat fall away, instead of pooling up like they can do when searing on the solid, smooth soapstone

The Weber Kettle has a few handy, relatively new accessories. Several universal rotisseries are designed specifically for the 22-inch diameter of their most popular model.

The best Weber compatible rotisserie units have a built-in collar that marries the bottom firebox of the Kettle and the lid. It adds some much-needed height and helps hold in the heat for more accurate heat control.

This is something that can’t be said about the Kamado Joe Jr.

Weber also has a variety of special grill grates. Many have hinges in the chrome-plated steel.

This lets you add wood chips and charcoal for times when you want to use the Weber Kettle as an improvised smoker.

Though you these grates are usually better served with the 26-inch version of the classic Weber Kettle.

Weber made it a point to produce a split charcoal basket. This lets you strategically build a coal bed near one side of the firebox and keep it there.

You can even get a pair to create dual heat zones, or to do things like roast a bone-in leg of lamb on both sides, without placing it over direct flame.

One of the newest accessories for the Weber Kettle is a Kettlepizza accessory collar.

Though it’s not offered by Weber themselves. It’s essentially a collar that marries the lip of the kettle firebox to the lid.

There is a mouth port in the collar that gives you direct access to an interior pizza stone, transforming it into a miniature wood-fired pizza oven.

It’s a great little accessory for outdoor pizza lovers. Just make sure to look for a model that has a cordierite pizza stone. This material handles high heat and close proximity to flame, without cracking, better than classical ceramic pizza stones.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Portability

When it comes to disassembly, and weight, the Weber Kettle is more portable than the Kamado Joe Jr.

However, the three-legged base can become prone to wobbling and chronically feeling loose if you move the Weber Kettle around a lot.

One of the big problems with using a Weber Kettle as a portable grill is that there really is no good way to put out the coals to start cooling the grill down before bringing it back home.

The kettle damper and vents are a little too leaky to quickly suffocate the coals.

If you dare to pour water into the firebox to put out the lingering charcoal, it makes a corrosive poultice that can drastically shorten the life of the steel firebox.

Adding the charcoal basket accessory to the 68-pound Kamado Joe Jr. is one of the best ways to optimize its portability.

It lets you pull the burning coals out of the firebox to extinguish them without the long amount of time it takes to suffocate them when left in the firebox.

This is handy, since pouring even a small amount of water into the ceramic firebox of a Kamado Joe Jr. can crack and badly damage it.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Price

The Kamado Joe Jr. ranges in price from $349 to $399, whereas the classic 22-inch Weber Kettle grill can usually be found for as low as $99 to as much as $189, depending on sales and accessory bundles.

Though you can use the Kamado Joe Jr. as a slow and low smoker, which is something that the Weber Kettle struggles to do.

Most people would argue that the Kamado Joe Jr has more accessories and also makes a better-grilled pizza than the classic Weber Kettle.

So, while you might pay more for the Kamado Joe Jr. you are getting at least double the versatility. With responsible care, it can potentially last twice as long as a Weber Kettle.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Dimensions

The Kamado Joe Jr. has a 13.5” diameter grill grate for 148 square inches of grilling space, compared to the 22-inch diameter, 380 square inch grill grates on the classic Weber Kettle.

This means that in a direct flame application, you can grill more than twice as much food at one time on the Weber Kettle.

Though to use the Weber Kettle for indirect heating, where you need to develop the coal bed on one side of the firebox, the available square inches are roughly the same.

The Kamado Joe Jr. also does a better job of evenly smoking food with the heat deflector installed.

Whereas the Weber Kettle requires you to rotate the food multiple times when improvised as a smoker to ensure even doneness.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Fuel

The Kamado Joe Jr. works best when the flame is fueled by jumbo lump charcoal, whereas the Weber Kettle burns the same with either briquettes or lump charcoal.

You can also use lighter fluid or other accelerants to start the charcoal in a Weber Kettle.

Though if you use lighter fluid with a Kamado Joe you will notice a butane aroma in the porous ceramic grill body, which can linger for several cooks.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Heat Retention

The Kamado Joe Jr’s ceramic construction and engineering give it far better heat retention as well as superior thermal efficiency compared to the Weber Kettle.

The exterior of the Kamado Joe doesn’t get overly hot, whereas the Weber Kettle can get so hot as to burn a curious child’s hand.

Kamado Joe Jr vs Weber Kettle Longevity

When properly, and diligently cared for, the Kamado Joe Jr. will live up to 20 years or more, while the Weber Kettle has a realistic lifespan of 10 to perhaps 12 years at most. The interior components can be a different factor, depending on how you use each of these grills.

The ceramic O-ring and multi-panel ceramic firebox of a Kamado Joe will typically suffer a few cracks in the course of 3 to 5 years.

Though these components are covered by the warranty for the first five years.

The Weber Kettle has outdated chrome-plated steel grill grates, which are easy to scuff and quickly become prone to Rust and corrosion.

You might need to replace them every 18 to 24 months to keep your grill grates safely clean.

The tripod cart base is also likely to have problems before the kettle’s firebox does.

If you use the Weber Kettle as a portable grill, you should expect to have to replace the cart base at least every three to five years.

Final Thoughts

There are some distinct similarities and differences between the Kamado Joe Jr. and the Weber Kettle. The ceramic construction of the Kamado Joe and the Weber Kettle’s enamel-coated steel have high material build quality.

Though with proper care the Kamado Joe Jr. will have a longer lifespan. Though the Kamado Joe has double the price tag and doubles the potential lifespan.

The Kamado Joe Jr. is more versatile in that it can be used as a direct flame grill, as well as an indirect heating smoker. It also has more accessories available.

Weber has long been stubborn about developing accessories for their classic kettle grill.

To the point that there are accessory manufacturers who outshine them. Though you can still improvise a Weber Kettle for making pizza, using a universal rotisserie with a collar, or even improvising as a smoker.

When it comes to portability, the Weber Kettle is easier to take to the beach or haul to a tailgating party.

It’s also less fragile than the ceramic Kamado Joe Jr. The Weber can also cook more food over a direct flame at one time.

When it comes to choosing a winner, it really comes down to the model that best fits your grilling style.

If you are looking for an entry-level, affordable grill that will primarily be used for grilling burgers, steaks, and brats over direct flame, the Weber Kettle might be the best charcoal grill to meet your needs.

If you are looking for a versatile two-in-one grill and smoker that is a long-term investment in making a wide range of foods, then the Kamado Joe Jr. is going to be the best charcoal grill to meet your needs.