Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

Can't decide between Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg? We compared them for you.
Last updated: April 24, 2020
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Can't decide between Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg? We compared them for you.
51 Hours of Research
8 Experts Interviewed
190 Reviews Analyzed

There are a wide variety of grill types out there, some of which look quite similar to each other. This is true when comparing the Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg models. These two grills have similar sizes and shapes, plus they have some of the same features. So, how do you know which one is the right one for you?

Well, the best way to figure out which one you want is to break down each unit and look at exactly what it has to offer. Then compare the features for each grill, looking at things like ease of use, materials, cleaning, warranty, and anything else you can think of. To make this process even easier, we’ve compared a Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg models in just this fashion. This way, you know exactly what you’re getting with each brand.

Brands comparison

When comparing the Kamado Joe grill vs Big Green Egg, the first thing we’re going to look at is the brands themselves. Both of these companies use the kamado-style grill that originated in China around 1000 BC and earned their kamado name in Japan in about 300 BC. Many of the features have remained the same, though a few extras have been added.

The makers of Kamado Joe decided they wanted a better grill for their weekend grill sessions. They worked together to create their first high-quality Kamado Joe grill, with smart features and innovative accessories, while still maintaining the old-fashioned ceramic design. They have two main product lines, Classic and Big Joe, some of which come with or without a cart.

Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

Big Green Egg was founded by Ed Fisher, who opened up his first store in 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia. At first, this company imported kamado grills from Japan and China but eventually decided to use their knowledge of these types of grills and combine this with some new production techniques and upgraded materials to create a new and better product. They began with special ceramics developed by NASA and went from there.

Big Green Egg has only one line of BGE grills, though there is a wide range of sized to choose from, which we’ll describe in greater detail below.

Models available

The next thing we’re going to look at in our brand comparisons is the grill models each brand has to offer.

For the Kamado Joe grills, there are 2 lines available, each of which has a few grill models to choose from.

Big Joe line – Big Joe II (with or without cart), Big Joe III

Classic line – Classic I, Classic II (with or without cart), Classic III

There is also a Joe JR that includes a cast-iron stand for those in need of a small-capacity model, plus the Pro Joe, which is their huge professional grill for large groups where a lot of food needs to be grilled.

The Big Green Egg has only one product line but it includes a wide range of grill sizes for you to choose from. Going smallest to biggest, these include the Mini, Minimax, Small, Medium, Large, XLarge, and 2XL. These come with a variety of kits, including the Original Kit, Built-in Kit, and Ultimate Kit, depending on where and how you plan to use your Egg.

Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg: comparison of the top models

Though there are various sizes and models you can choose from when doing a comparison for these two brands, we’ve decided to use 2 of the larger models for our Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe reviews. These grilling beasts will have many of the same features as the smaller models, though in a larger size, so even if you prefer a smaller model, this should still give you all the information you need to make an informed choice on which brand to buy.

Kamado Joe Big Joe II vs XLarge Big Green Egg

Kamado Joe Big Joe IIXLarge Big Green Egg
Cooking area452 sq. in.452 sq. in.
Diameter24 in.24 in.
Dimensions36 x 28.2 x 36.2 in.32 x 27 x 33 in.
Weight372 lbs.219 lbs.
Warranty5-year on metal parts; 3-year on heat deflector; 1-year on thermometer and gaskets; lifetime on ceramics5-year on metal parts; 1-year on thermometer and gaskets; lifetime on ceramics

Cooking area

The first thing we’re going to look at when comparing the Kamado Joe Big Joe II vs Big Green Egg XL grills is the size of the cooking area on each model. This is important because you need to know that you have room to feed everyone in your household on a regular day. If you like to feed large groups of friends or family, your grill needs to accommodate the extra food as well.

Both the Big Joe and BGE XL have cooking surfaces of 24 inches in diameter or 452 sq. inches. This means they can both cook the same amount of food. This includes 24 burgers, 12 steaks, 12 racks of ribs, or even 2 whole 20-pound turkeys. Of course, the setup of the grates changes the cooking area. The Kamado Joe includes the Divide and Conquer cooking rack system, which allows you to set each of the grill halves at different heights when needed. This allows you to use both direct and indirect heat, which is especially useful when trying to cook meats and sides at the same time.

The Big Green Egg has standard grilling grates that only have one height position, so you can’t alter them in any way. This limits your cooking ability a bit.

Construction

Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

The construction of these two grills is quite similar. Both Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg use high-fire ceramics with a glaze for the body of the grill. They both use stainless steel for their cooking grates, so they are durable and strong, resisting rust and lasting for years.

Both of these models use cast iron for the fire grates as well. These are perforated so the charcoal can get the airflow it needs to keep everything burning properly. You can also remove these grates in both models whenever needed for cleaning.

There some important differences in the construction of these grills that do set these two models apart, though. The first is the seal, which is made of upgraded fiberglass on the Big Joe II. This allows for the proper alignment, keeping the heat in the grill where it belongs. The BGE XL uses felt instead, changing the alignment to quarter-inch, which isn’t nearly as tight of a seal.

Thermometer

A good thermometer is a must on any grill. This will ensure that you always know how hot the grill is, so you can maintain that temperature for the perfect results. The Kamado Joe Big Joe II has a large thermometer built right into the lid. The size of it makes it easy to read, so you don’t need to squint or lean in too close to the grill to see how hot that charcoal is burning.

The XLarge Big Green Egg model has its thermometer located in about the same spot as the one on the Big Joe II but it is much smaller at about half the size. This makes it much more difficult to read the temperature on the BGE thermometer. It still keeps track of the proper temperature, though, so it’s still useful. It just isn’t as convenient and easy to use during the grilling process.

Lid and hinge

Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

The thick ceramic lids on kamado grills can be quite heavy. If they are dropped down when closing them they could crack, which will affect their ability to lock the heat and smoke in the grill. That’s why a good lid and hinge system is a must on this type of unit.

The Kamado Joe model has updated their products, adding an easy-close lid to the design. This lid includes an innovative air-lift hinge, which reduces the weight of the lid by 96%, so you can lift it with only a finger if you want to show off. This hinge also prevents the lid from slamming down when you let go. Instead, it stays exactly where it is when you let go, even if it’s half-open.

The Big Green Egg has no such mechanism on its hinge. If you open it up all the way and then let go, it will drop immediately, slamming down and possibly cracking the ceramic or crushing any fingers that may be in the way. This also limits what you can do when you open the grill since you need one hand to keep it open, leaving you only one hand to deal with whatever you’re cooking.

Air vent

The air vent is one of the most important features on any grill and these two models are no exception. The air vent settings control the airflow in the grill. Too much and the coals get too hot, while too little reduces the heat or puts it out altogether.

The Big Joe II uses aluminum for the air vent, which resists rust, even during the rainiest days. This air vent includes small airflow regulators on the sides, plus it can be opened on the top for higher amounts of airflow when needed. This gives you plenty of airflow options.

The air vent on the XLarge BGE is made of cast iron, which is quite strong, though it doesn’t resist rust. Of course, the corrosion only happens on the surface of the air vent, which is easy to brush off when needed, though it is still a hassle. The air vent lets you regulate the amount of airflow to meet your cooking needs. The downside is that every time you open the lid of the Egg, the top air vent shifts, so you need to reset it again when the lid is closed.

Weight and dimensions

Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

The size and weight of your kamado grill are something to consider, especially if you have limited space to put it. The bigger the model is, the harder it will be to fit it where you want it.

The Kamado Joe Big Joe II has dimensions of 36 x 28.2 x 36.2 inches. This is quite big, so it may not fit well on an apartment balcony, though it likely won’t be an issue for those with large patios or backyards. It is also pretty heavy at 372 pounds, so you’ll probably need some help getting it positioned where you want it and likely won’t want to move it again once you have it in place.

The XLarge Big Green Egg is a bit smaller in its dimensions at 32 x 27 x 33 inches. This won’t make it any easier to fit it in those small spaces than it would be for the Big Joe II but it does take up a little bit less space. The Egg is also much lighter than the Kamado Joe at 219 pounds. This is still pretty heavy, so you won’t want to take it to a friend’s place for a barbecue or on a weekend camping trip, though it may be a bit easier to move if needed.

Stands, shelves, and other accessories available

Both of these grill models have similar accessories, though they aren’t identical. For the stands, the Kamado Joe’s is a bit sturdier, with thick welded steel used for its construction. The Egg’s steel is thinner, with screws that hold the pieces together. Though still functional, it isn’t quite as strong.

The side shelves on the Big Joe II are made of plastic, which is weather-resistant and quite durable, though they aren’t the most visually and texturally appealing. This is where the XLarge Big Green Egg wins, due to the wooden shelves that look and feel great. These shelves include an anti-slip coating, too, so you won’t have to worry about anything you put on them sliding around.

The wheels on the Egg are larger as well, though they include plastic locks, which aren’t very strong. The Kamado Joe has smaller wheels that are still functional, plus come with strong metal locks.

Both brands include an ash tool and a grid gripper with their grills, so they are equally matched up in the extras department.

Cleaning and maintenance

Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

Cleaning and maintenance is another important thing to look into when comparing Kamado Joe grills vs Big Green Egg models. The Big Joe II makes cleaning your unit pretty easy. They have an ash drawer located behind the bottom air vent, which you can remove and dump whenever you like, even in the middle of cooking. This makes cleanup simple and easy.

The Egg doesn’t have a removable ash drawer. Instead, you need to remove the ash by hand, or rather with an ash rake. You also need to put an ash container under the hole to catch the ashes that you’re raking out of the unit. This manual ash cleanup can be a bit dirty, though the process is easy enough.

Pricing

When it comes to Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg prices, there is one main thing to consider, which is what exactly is included with the unit. If you look at the Big Joe II, which includes the ceramic grill, wheeled cart, side shelves, grill gripper, and ash tool, the cost on their website is $1899.00.

The Big Green Egg XL with the Original Kit that also includes the ceramic grill, stand, grill gripper, and ash tool, is much more expensive at $2599.00 on the BGE website. This is a difference of $700 for similar grills. The BGE does include an extra convEGGtor for more versatility in your cooking but this piece isn’t worth the extra money on its own.

Even if you go with the XL BGE with the simple built-in kit, which has a table nest instead of the stand and shelves, it still costs over $2000, so simplifying your Egg doesn’t save you money, especially if you want all those extras later. You’ll need to buy them separately, which could even end up costing you more in the long run.

Warranty

The warranty for Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg grills is quite similar. They both have a lifetime warranty on the ceramics, 5-year coverage on the metal parts, and 1-year warranties on the thermometer and the gaskets.

Kamado Joe also adds an extra bit of coverage to their grills. This is a 3-year warranty on the heat deflector, which adds a bit more security to your grill when you’re using it. The more areas that are covered by the warranty, the more peace of mind you’ll have when using it and the more often you’ll feel safe to do so.

Final thoughts

Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg Grills: Which Brand Is Right for You?

The Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg grills have a lot of similarities. Both use the original kamado design of the ceramic cooking chamber, charcoal for the fuel, and inner grates for grilling the food. They also both feature air vents and thermometers to control and maintain the temperature, plus they have identical grate cooking area dimensions.

Though the XLarge Big Green Egg is a fine model, the Kamado Joe Big Joe II adds a bit more detail to their grills to make them more versatile and easier to use. This includes the addition of features like the Divide and Conquer grill grates that allow two cooking heights at once, the air-lift hinge that prevents the lid from slamming closed, and the upgraded air vent for even more airflow control.

The Kamado Joe also includes a removable ash drawer for easy cleaning, plus their grills are cheaper and offer a bit more in terms of warranty than the Big Green Egg models. All in all, if you like the Egg, it’s a decent grill that gets the job done, but, in our opinion, the Kamado Joe grills just have a bit more to offer.

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