Which Is Better: A Big Green Egg or a Kamado Joe?

Kamado Joe and the Big Green Egg have been duking it out for more than a decade in hopes of claiming the title of the “Best Kamado Grill in North America.” There are certainly passionate fans on both sides who are ready to declare a winner. You can’t blame them, these are highly versatile grills with even higher price tags. Investing big bucks in one is sure to stir the passions of anyone who is desperately afraid to avoid a case of buyer’s remorse.

There’s been enough noise and bother on the topic that we decided it was time to take an objective look at which is better the Big Green Egg or the Kamado Joe. This starts with a quick look at their history, their, material build quality, and their long-term cost of ownership.

Big Green Egg’s History

Big Green Egg can trace its roots back to Atlanta Georgia where in 1974 the founder Ed Fisher created a way to replicate the popular ceramic earthenware kamado grills found in China and Japan. His original models were made from fragile ceramics that couldn’t stand the rigors of backyard grilling. Undeterred Ed reinvented the Big Green Egg using NASA’s space-age ceramics, which gave the grills the wherewithal to compete with modern metal grills.

Kamado Joe’s History

Kamado Joe was also based out of Atlanta, Georgia, and was incorporated in 2009 by Bobby Brennan and Kerry Coker in an attempt to modernize kamado grills. As the company grew it embraced innovation in updating its designs and accessories. While they might have started off peaking at Big Green Egg’s paper, they have since evolved into their own unique identity as a high-end Kamado grill manufacturer.

Where Are Big Green Egg & Kamado Joe Grills Made?

Today Big Green Egg is manufactured in Mexico, which helps reduce labor costs. Though some opponents claim that the manufacturing standards are not as high as they once were. On the consumer level, there are fewer manufacturing costs and tariff costs passed on in the price tag.

Today Kamado Joe grills are made in Yixing, China. Though they made every effort to find the best manufacturing facility that could consistently meet their exacting material build quality specifications. So, there aren’t any quality concerns. Though international tensions between China and the United States as well as supply chain delays can be a factor in cost and availability.

Big Green Egg Material Build Quality

It took Big Green Egg a little while to innovate their material engineering to use space-age ceramics. Once they got it right, they stuck to their guns, and despite a slightly higher manufacturing defect rate, they are still very high-quality kamado grills.

Inside you’ll find that the lower fire ring is a solid piece of ceramic. This is convenient for times when you need to deep clean the grill. However, it also makes it more prone to fracturing. Especially if you like high-heat grilling, or you are smoking and accidentally spill the water pan onto the lower fire ring. Once fractured it has a reputation for disintegrating, which grossly affects the Big Green Egg’s performance.

The gasket on the Big Green Egg does leave a little bit to be desired. It doesn’t seal as tight as the Kamado Joe and doesn’t have as long of a lifespan. There are also a lot of screwed components that might need the screws replaced as the grill ages.

The stand for the Big Green Egg is good. Though with most models you have to buy it separately, which you have to factor into the overall cost.

Kamado Joe’s Material Build Quality

While they’ll never admit it, Kamado Joe’s founders must have looked over every square inch of the Big Green Egg for ways in which they could beat the established brand on material build quality. These are things that you might not catch with a casual eye.

For instance, Kamado Joe recently updated their lower fire ring to be made from three to four ceramic pieces with joints. While this does add time to the deep cleaning process, the joints allow for expansion, which makes them last 50 to 100% longer without cracking than the single ceramic ring of the Big Green Egg.

The gasket on Kamado Joes is also made from a flexible metal mesh. This allows it to flex and seal better than the Big Green Egg. Most, but not all of their models come with a cart base included in the price. They also tend to use welded construction in a lot of the places where you find screws in the Big Green Egg.

Big Green Egg Warranty

EachBig Green Egg comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty for materials and workmanship on all ceramic components. This includes the dome, base, damper top, firebox, and fire ring. Though if something like the fire ring is damaged by normal use, and not a manufacturer defect, the warranty doesn’t apply.

Kamado Joe Warranty

Kamado Joe offers a similar Limited Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer’s defects with their ceramic components. Then they also add 5 years of coverage for metal components, and 3 years of coverage for heat deflectors and pizza stones. They even provide 2 years of coverage on the stand.

The Best Kamado Joe Accessories

Kamado Joe’s efforts to modernize kamado grills for the masses have helped them evolve to provide a vast array of innovative kamado accessories. This includes things like:

  • The Joetisserie which allows you to convert your Kamado Joe into a highly efficient rotisserie.
  • The DoJo pizza stone and collar system for making great backyard wood-fired pizzas.
  • Their Divide & Conquer system, lets you use half the grill as a griddle, soapstone, pizza stone, or smoker while using the other side as a traditional grill.
  • Their soapstone is arguably superior to any traditional cast iron griddle.
  • Their vegetable grate lets you char vegetables directly over the flame without the risk of them falling down into the charcoal.
  • Their iKamand control and monitoring system.

The Best Big Green Egg Accessories

Big Green Egg was a little stubborn about embracing accessories, but after watching Kamado Joe’s accessories start to gobble up their market share, they’ve done their best to play catch-up. Some of their best accessories include:

The Half-Moon convEGGtor replicates the Kamado Joe Soapstone but has drawn some criticism for being a little too fragile in the larger models.

The Half Moon Perforated Cooking Grid which does a great job of letting you flame grill vegetables and seafood.

The Half Moon Cast Iron Plancha Griddle which lets you transform the Big Green Egg into a cast iron griddle.

They also offer pizza stones and Dutch ovens, which shows they’re making a concerted effort to expand their accessories. Though these are things you can get in many kitchen supply stores for less than Big Green Egg is selling them for.

Conclusion

Both the Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe are worthy of investing in. They both have high-end material build quality and a reputation for being incredibly versatile.

These days Kamado Joe Grills tend to be 15 to 25% more expensive than Big Green Egg models of the same size. Which further muddies the waters on which is best. If you can afford the slightly higher price and the model you want is in stock, then the Kamado Joe is likely going to have a lower long-term cost of ownership and will provide you with access to a more diverse array of high-quality accessories.

These factors give Kamado Joe a slight edge over the Big Green Egg for the time being.

 

 

 

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