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Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg: Innovation or Original?

Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg is without a doubt, the biggest kamado manufacturer in the world. They took this original earthenware oven and made it one of the best solutions for a grill and smoke in one barbecue.

Enter Kamado Joe. They’ve taken what’s great and added a whole heap of innovative features to earn themselves a whole heap of popularity.

And now you’re looking to buy one? Which one’s best? You can’t go wrong with the original, right? But, is the Kamado Joe a better buy with all those fancy features? Do you even need them?

We answer these questions plus more to help you decide which way to go, green or red, the Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe.

In this Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg comparison, we’ll cover what the quality is like, what’s in the box, what they’re like to cook on, the different models available plus their price points and more.

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Table of Contents

Our Pick: Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg is great. But, Kamado Joe is better.

Kamado Joe have taken what’s already incredible about this versatile grill and smoker and solved pretty much every pet peeve customers have had to build a kamado that’s well… just better.

A better gasket, better chimney vent, better firebox and better hinge have reduced breakages, cut replacement cost, given you weather-resistant grilling, and, made it easier to open that darn heavy lid.

AND, all of those extras plus a stand and a 2 or 3-tier cooking system are INCLUDED in the base price.

Kamado Joe is incredible value for an incredibly innovative product that’s just as durable as the original.

A Quick Comparison of Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg

Kamado Joe

Big Green Egg

Inclusive package pricing

Buy all components separately (although some packages are available these days)

6 piece firebox for reduced cracking

Single piece firebox

Air Lift Hinge in Series II and III (reduces dome weight by 96%)

Spring Loaded Hinge

Durable wire mesh gasket in Series II and III

Standard felt gasket

Advanced add-ons available like the Do-Joe pizza oven, Joe-Tisserie rotisserie and remote management iKamand

A Bit About the Big Green Egg

Back in the 1970’s, American serviceman and entrepreneur, Ed Fisher, began importing a simple domed clay cooker after discovering how great food that was cooked in them tasted.

They quickly became a popular backyard barbecue.

But, the original design was fragile and not durable enough to withstand the elements. So, Ed set out to improve the design, developing what we now know as the Big Green Egg (or BGE), a super strong, very durable cooker that offers better heat retention than any other bbq on the market.

Since then, the product line has grown to include 7 different sizes and the Big Green Egg has become the name in kamado cooking.

A Bit About Kamado Joe

Come 2009 and co-founders Bobby Brennan and Kerry Coker decided to follow their dreams and design “the Ferrari of grilling”.

They took the standard kamado and have added innovation after innovation to improve any and every common fault with the design of these durable cookers.

Firebox cracking? Fixed.

Gasket not lasting? Fixed.

Lid too heavy? Fixed.

And the list goes on…

By listening to customer feedback and never being satisfied with good enough, Kamado Joe has become a strong BGE competitor with a loyal following of die-hard users.

Build Quality

With high-fired ceramic shells, the exterior of both the Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe is excellent.

BGE does claim to use a ceramic that’s NASA pioneered. But, upon inspection, there doesn’t appear to be any notable difference in the shell of either of these brands. Both are thick, cool to touch and very durable.

The Big Green Egg is manufactured in Mexico while Kamado Joe comes from China.

There is a difference in the build quality of both when you look at the accessory parts.

The BGE has a standard felt gasket while the Kamado Joe has an upgraded wire mesh fibreglass gasket (with the exception of the KJ I-series which have felt too). Not only will the fibreglass version well outlast the felt on the BGE, together with it’s stainless steel latch, it provides a tighter seal.

Inside, the firebox of the BGE (which is known for cracking) is made from a single piece of ceramic.

There is a slit down the middle to handle the expansion and contraction of the ceramic as it heats and cools. But, it’s not as durable as Kamado Joe’s 6-piece AMP firebox that allows for so much more movement.

With the BGE, you’re getting a standard spring-loaded hinge. And, while it works well, it’s no comparison to Kamado Joe’s AirLift hinge that reduces the dome weight by a whopping 96%.

You can literally open a Kamado Joe lid with your pinky.

One last quaity-related thing that’s worth mentioning is the cart.

The Kamado Joe’s (with the exception of the stand-alone models), all come with a heavy-duty, premium galvanized steel cart. It’s welded together for durability and handles the weight of the KJ without any issues.

The Big Green Egg doesn’t come standard with the cart.

They’ve designed it to be sold separately so that you can build a BGE into an outdoor kitchen. But, you can get cart or table packages these days.

The branded carts that you can get though are screwed together.

They’re still strong enough to handle the weight. But, the workmanship isn’t as quality as with Kamado Joe.

Size and Cooking Capacity

Kamado Joe’s are available in 3 different sizes. Or, if you go Big Green Egg, you get a choice of 7.

Remember that the 2 or 3 level (depending on which series) Divide and Conquer System comes standard with the Kamado Joe’s. So, you’re roughly doubling or tripling your cooking space without having to invest in a larger barbecue overall.

You can get the split level cooking system for the Big Green Egg. But, it’s an extra that’s sold separately and will add to the cost.

Included Extras

The original idea behind the Big Green Egg is that you buy whatever size EGG you’re after and add on the accessories that you’d like. You can actually get some BGE packages these days.

But, an EGG out of the box only includes the shell, firebox, charcoal grate and regular cooking rack.

If you want multi-level cooking, that’s extra. If you want to smoke as well as grill, you’ll need the heat defelctor, that’s extra. Upgraded weather-resistant top vent, extra. A table or stand to hold your EGG, that’s extra.

It’s not a bad concept if you like knowing that you’re only paying for exactly what you actually want. But, the extra pieces can add a lot to the overall cost.

For a very versatile package out of the box, there’s absolutely no beating the value of the Kamado Joe.

Even the cheaper and more comparable to the BGE, Series I (Classic I and Big Joe I) come with a 2-tier Divide and Conquer Cooking System, stainless steel charcoal basket, premium cart and folding side shelves not to mention their ingenious 6-piece AMP firebox.

But, move up to the Series II or Series III and you’re getting the weather-resistant top vent that doesn’t move when you open and close the dome, the amazing AirLift Hinge and wire mesh fibreglass gasket with stainless steel latch for a better and more durable seal.

The Series-III adds to the features again with a powder-coated cart, 3-tier Divide and Conquer Cooking System and the SlōRoller hyperbolic insert. This optimizes airflow to create recirculating waves of smoke for even smokier smoked meats.

It’s really something else and has all those extras as standard.

Another thing worth mentioning about Kamado Joe’s Divide and Conquer is that the levels all come with split racks they call half-moons.

This means that on the 2-tier, you can essentially have 4 different cooking surfaces to mix and match. Or, 6 on the 3-tier version. It’s the ultimate in versatility.

Available Accessories

As we’ve already mentioned, all the extras for the BGE are sold separately.

You can grab their convEGGtor for indirect cooking and smoking, the EGGspander for multi-level cooking, baking stones, perfect fit cookware, and of course, a range of nests and tables.

Kamado Joe also have a good range of accessories available. And, their high level of innovation is again seen in those.

Turn your KJ into a rotisserie with the Joe-Tisserie, a pizza oven with the DoJoe, or a smart temperature controlled barbecue with the iKamand.

Warranty

Both the BGE and Kamado Joe have similar and impressive warranties.

On the BGE, there’s a limited lifetime warranty on the cereamic shell. 3 years on other ceramics (like the heat deflector). 5 years on the metal. And, 1 year on wood, plastic, gasket and other components.

Kamado Joe is the same, except for there being 2 years on non-ceramic, non-metal components.

If you are using either of these grills commerically, the standard warranty doesn’t apply. Instead, you’re covered by a blanket 1 year warranty period. Check the BGE and KJ websites for up to date information about this.

Price

On the surface, the Big Green Egg can seem like a cheaper option than the KJ. But, once you add all the extras that are included with the Kamado Joe, KJ’s value really stands out. It’s pretty unbeatable.

If you’re trying to keep the cost low, check out the Kamado Joe Classic I.

It doesn’t have all the fancy features that the Classic II and Classic III have. But, with a standard chimney cap and gasket, it’s pretty on par with the BGE. But, you get the 2-tier Divide and Conquer cooking system plus a stand thrown in.

You can read our full review of the Kamado Joe Classic I here.

Comparison of the Most Popular KJ and BGE Packages

18" grate diameter

18.25" grate diameter

256 square inches on one grate

262 square inches on one grate

2-tier Divide and Conquer racks

Single level rack

231 pounds

182 pounds

Air Lift Hinge (reduces dome weight by 96%)

Spring Loaded Hinge

6 piece firebox

Single piece firebox

Included accessories

  • Divide and Conquer multi-level cooking

  • Heat deflector

  • Durable wire mesh gasket

  • Weather-resistant top vent

  • Patented ash drawer

  • Grill gripper

  • Ash tool

Included accessories

  • Standard grate

  • Heat deflector

  • Felt gasket

  • Standard ceramic chimney cap

  • Grill gripper

  • Ash tool

  • 1 x bag lump charcoal

Limited lifetime warranty on ceramics

Limited lifetime warranty on ceramics

Our Verdict On The Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg might be the original. But, the innovation that Kamado Joe has done has really set this kamado cooker apart from all the competition.

Kamado Joe provides unbeatable value on features that actually make kamado cooking easier and more versatile while upping the capacity inside your dome.

Oh yeah, you will be happy if you go BGE!

They’re a great quality grill and smoker that will give you a lifetime of good meals. But, buying a Kamado Joe means you’ll get that plus all those nice to have extras for the same kind of price.