If you’re into grilling, you’ve probably heard the question before: Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe? These two ceramic grills are pretty similar, but there are some key differences in terms of quality and design that are worth knowing about if you’re thinking about buying one. Both of these grills are top-notch, but how do they compare head to head? I did some digging and checked out all the ceramic cookers out there to figure out which one comes out on top.
The Kamado Joe is often considered to be a superior grill to the Big Green Egg due to its higher quality components and continuous innovation. There are several differences between the two grills, and the Kamado Joe tends to come out ahead in most categories. While the Big Green Egg was the first ceramic cooker on the market and therefore has a well-known name, it has not evolved as much as the Kamado Joe in recent years, leading the Kamado Joe to become known as the “best kamado grill.”
In recent years, the Big Green Egg has made some improvements, but still trails the Kamado Joe in quality and design. The Egg and the Joe have many similarities, but I wanted to highlight the differences. There are 17 important differences between the two eggs. Let’s explore them all.
- The Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe are both popular ceramic grills that are known for their ability to produce high-quality barbecues.
- Many people consider the Kamado Joe to be a superior grill to the Big Green Egg due to its higher quality components and continuous innovation.
- The Big Green Egg was the original ceramic cooker on the market, but it has lagged behind the Kamado Joe in terms of quality and design in recent years.
- There are approximately a dozen differences between the two grills, with the Kamado Joe often coming out ahead in head-to-head comparisons.
- Some of the key differences between the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe include the materials used in construction, the design of the grill and accessories, and the overall performance of the grill.
17 Major Differences
First, there are a few different models of Kamado Joe. There’s the Classic 2 and the Classic 3. I’ll compare both models with the BGE. The other thing worth noting, the BGE has made some minor improvements, so I will point out the new and old features in case you encounter both.
|Difference||Big Green Egg||Kamado Joe|
|Grill||Standard grill||Divide and Conquer grilling system|
|Accessories||Sold à la carte||All accessories included|
|Price||Similar to Kamado Joe with basic accessories added||Kamado Joe Classic 3 is more expensive, but includes more components|
|Lid||Spring assisted hinge (improved on newer models)||Air lift hinge that takes 96% of weight when opening|
|Ash Disposal||Harder to clean, requires ash tool||Easy to clean with pull out ash drawer|
|Chimney||Less stable design (improved on newer models)||Superior design and performance|
|Stand||Pieced together, less stable||Custom welded, wider, and more stable|
|Handle and Side Table||Wooden handle and side bench||Durable molded plastic handle and side bench (Classic 3 includes retractable metal side table)|
|Lid Seal||Felt material||Oven grade wire mesh|
|Lid Alignment||Off by 1/4 inch||Perfectly aligned|
|Lid Lock||No latch||Reinforced with latch to lock lid|
|Wheels||Bigger wheels||Smaller wheels, but with metal wheel locks|
|Firebox||Ceramic fire ring and fire box in one piece||Multi-panel fire box that can be separated, fire ring with stainless steel outer ring|
|Thermometer||Smaller hood-mounted thermometer||Larger, easier to read hood thermometer|
|Setup||Takes over an hour to set up||Takes 20-30 minutes to set up|
|Packaging||Standard cardboard and foam||Double-strength cardboard with wooden panels on top and bottom to prevent shipping damage|
|Availability||Only available at certain stores||Widely available in stores and online from multiple retailers|
Grill Capacity – Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe
|Big Green EGG 2XL||check||29″ / 73.66 cm||14-16||20||35-40|
|Kamado Joe Big Joe III||check||24″ / 60.96 cm||11||12||24|
|Big Green EGG XL||check||24″ / 60.96 cm||11||12||24|
|Kamado Joe Big Joe II||check||24″ / 60.96 cm||11||12||24|
|Big Green EGG Large||check||18 1/4″ / 46.99 cm||6||7||12|
|Kamado Joe Classic III||check||18 1/4″ / 46.99 cm||6||7||12|
|Kamado Joe Classic II||check||18″ / 45.72 cm||5||6||11|
|Kamado Joe (Joe Jr)||check||13.5″ / 34.29 cm||1||1||4|
|Big Green EGG Medium||check||15″ / 38 cm||3||4||6|
|Big Green EGG Small||check||13″ / 33 cm||1||1||4|
|Big Green EGG MiniMax||check||13″ / 33.02 cm||1||1||4|
|Big Green EGG Mini||check||10″ / 25.4 cm||2 Breasts||–||3|
Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe Differences
When it comes to ceramic grills, the Big Green Egg (BGE) and Kamado Joe are two of the most popular options out there. But how do they stack up against each other? Here are some of the key differences between the two grills:
- Grill: The Kamado Joe has a feature called the Divide and Conquer grilling system, which allows you to cook at different levels. The BGE, on the other hand, only has a standard grill that cooks at one level.
- Accessories: The Kamado Joe comes with all the accessories you need, while the BGE is sold à la carte and gives you the option of buying a basic egg at a cheaper price without the ceramic trays, shelves, and other extras.
- Price: The Kamado Joe Series 2 is more expensive than the BGE, but once you add on the basic BGE accessories, the price is similar. The Kamado Joe Classic 3 is more expensive than both the KJ2 and BGE, but it comes with additional components like a rotisserie, a pizza stone, and a slow roller for extra smoke generation.
- Lid: The Kamado Joe has a better lid system than the BGE. Ceramic grills are very heavy, but the Kamado Joe has an air lift hinge that takes 96% of the weight when opening and keeps it open. The older BGE model has a spring assisted hinge that slams down if you let go and always requires one hand on the handle. The new BGE model has copied the Joe’s hinge and it’s a major improvement, but the Kamado Joe’s lid is still much smoother and better quality.
- Ash Disposal: The Kamado Joe series is easy to clean with a pull-out ash drawer. The BGE is harder to clean and requires you to scrape out the ash with an ash tool.
- Chimney: Until recently, the BGE and the Joe had different chimneys/vents on top of the units. The Kamado Joe’s chimney has always been far superior in design and performance to the less stable BGE chimney. The BGE now has a similar design to the Joe’s chimney.
- Stand: The Kamado Joe has a stronger and better quality base stand than the BGE. The Joe’s stand is custom welded, wider, and more stable. The BGE has a suitable stand that is pieced together, but the Kamado Joe’s stand definitely comes out on top when compared to the BGE.
- Handle and Side Table: The BGE has a nice wooden handle on the lid and a wooden side bench. The Kamado Joe’s handle and side benches are made of a more durable molded plastic. The Kamado Joe Classic 3 even has a retractable metal side table.
- Lid Seal: The lid seals on the BGE and Kamado Joe are different. The BGE seal is made of a felt material while the Kamado Joe’s lid seal is made from an oven grade wire mesh.
- Lid Alignment: The lid alignment on the BGE is off by 1/4 inch, while the Joe’s lid is perfectly aligned.
- Lid Lock: The Kamado Joe’s lid is reinforced with a latch to lock the lid. The BGE has no lid latch.
- Wheels: The BGE has bigger wheels than the Kamado Joe, but the wheel locks on the BGE are made of plastic while the Kamado Joe has metal wheel locks.
- Firebox: Above the firebox, the BGE has a ceramic fire ring
- Thermometer: The Kamado Joe has a larger and easier to read hood-mounted thermometer compared to the BGE.
- Setup: The Kamado Joe is much easier to set up, taking 20-30 minutes, while the BGE takes over an hour to assemble.
- Packaging: The Kamado Joe comes in stronger, safer packaging with double-strength cardboard and wooden panels to prevent shipping damage, while the BGE is delivered in standard cardboard and foam.
- Availability: The Big Green Egg is only available at select stores, while the Kamado Joe is widely available in stores and online from multiple retailers. The Big Green Egg is only available at certain stores, whereas the Kamado Joe is widely available in stores and can be purchased online from Amazon, BBQ Guys and more.
BGE vs Joe – What’s Included?
The most well-known difference between the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe has always been the BGE’s à la carte style. The Kamado Joe comes with everything included, but the BGE can be custom designed with many configurations. When you buy a BGE, included is the Egg, a cooking grid and a built-in thermometer. Anything else is an add-on. This allows you to configure your ceramic grill however you want, because not everyone needs all the extras. Many people like the option of having a simple setup with a BGE built into a bench, so there’s no need for a stand or a side bench.
What Comes With a Big Green Egg?
When you buy a Big Green Egg, the basic price comes with a simple setup that’s good enough to get you started on some basic charcoal roasting, smoking and grilling. If you want to do more, then you will need to purchase the accessories separately.
BGE – What’s Included:
- 1 x Ceramic EGG
- 1x Grill grate
- 1 x Built-in Thermometer
BGE – What’s NOT Included:
Kamado Joe – What’s Included?
The Kamado Joe is more expensive than the BGE but comes with more accessories. Included with the Kamado Joe:
- Side Tables
- Pizza/baking stone
- Divide and Conquer Grill
- Heat Deflectors
- Cooking Rack
- Slow Roller Smoke Generator (KJ Classic 3)
- Charcoal Basket
Kamado Divide-And-Conquer System
Continued innovation sets the Kamado Joe apart when comparing the different ceramic grills. The Kamado Joe’s Divide-and-Conquer grill is a real game-changer because it allows you to cook at different levels and grill with different heat zones at the same time. This is great if you want to cook vegetables in the cooler zone while grilling steaks in a hot zone. There is also the option of a grill expander which gives you even more cooking area.
The Lid System – Joe KO’s the Big Egg
Ceramic smokers are heavy, so a quality lid hinge will help disperse some weight from the kamado grill. The older Big Green Egg models had only a spring assisted hinge which required the use of two hands and you couldn’t stop midway otherwise the lid would fall down. One thing that sets the Kamado Joe apart from the Big Green Egg is the air lift hinge. The Kamado hinge allows you to lift the heavy lid with one finger, because the air lift hinge takes 96% of the weight. You can also stop halfway and the lid won’t slam down.
The newer BGE models have followed Kamado Joe’s innovation and replaced the spring hinge with an air lift hinge. The new BGE hinge is an improvement from the old one, but it still doesn’t match the smoothness and quality of the Kamado Joe air assisted hinge.
The Chimney – Which is Better?
The chimney on the Kamado Joe has always been well designed, very practical and weather proof. The newer BGE models have a re-designed chimney similar to the Kamado Joe chimney design, but as in most categories, the BGE cannot match up to the quality of Joe’s components. A common complaint with the older Big Green Egg chimney was it would flip whenever you opened the lid, but they have fixed this problem with the newer BGE models. The old Egg chimney cap was made from ceramic whereas the Kamado Joe chimney is constructed with cast iron.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Thanks to the convenient slide-out ash draw, the Kamado Joe is much easier to clean than the Big Green Egg. The BGE has a mesh screen and sliding door that opens, and then you have to stick the ash tool inside and scrape out the ash. Kamado Joe has an ash draw that allows you to simply pull out the stainless steel draw and dump the ashes. The Kamado Joe has a patent on the ash drawer, which makes it difficult for the BGE to copy the design.
Price Difference: Kamado Joe vs BGE
When you compare a similar sized Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg with the same accessories, then the price of the two is very similar. When comparing the price of the Kamado Joe and the Big Green Egg, much depends on the model, size and accessories. The Kamado Joe Classic 3 is more expensive than the other Kamado Joe models and the Big Green Egg, but has a lot of extra accessories. If you compare a Big Green Egg with a Kamado Joe Classic 2, then a good comparison can be done. The Kamado Joe Classic 2 and the Big Green Egg are comparable if you add on similar BGE accessories. A basic BGE would be cheaper, but if you were to add-on accessories to match the BGE Kamado Joe Classic 2 accessories, the price is similar.
For a price comparison, check the ACE Hardware website. ACE sells Big Green Eggs and Kamado Joe’s.
- Kamado Joe Classic 2 – 24 inch – All Accessories included – $1,899.00 (latest)
- Big Green Egg- 24 inch – No Accessories- $1,249.99 (check latest price)
- Big Green Egg- 24 inch – ( Basic Accessories) $1,825 (check latest price)
Once I added accessories onto the Big Green Egg to match the Kamado Joe extras. They were:
- Green Egg Nest (stand) – $179.99 (check latest price)
- Side Tables (mates) – 2 x $139 (check latest price)
- Heat Deflector (ConvEggtor) – $119.99 (check latest price)
- Big Green Egg- 24 inch – $1,249.99 (check latest price)
Total: Big Green Egg- 24 inch – Accessory Add-on’s – $1,825
So Who Wins? Joe or the Egg?
When comparing the two ceramic grills, it’s hard not to make the Kamado Joe the winner. Although the Big Green Egg has been around longer, it stagnated for many years. The Kamado Joe has built upon what the BGE could achieve, but then taken ceramic grills to the next level by continuing to innovate and make kamado-style cookers exciting. The BGE is developing by correcting some components, but it still doesn’t match the quality of the Kamado Joe series.
The Big Green Egg vs The Competition
Although kamado style cookers have been around for centuries, the Big Green Egg has been around since 1974. The BGE had the share of the market for many years and could enjoy little or no competition. However, in recent years we have seen Kamado Joe, Primo Char-Griller Akorn and many other ceramic grills which are giving the Big Green Egg some healthy competition.
How to Buy a Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe
Kamado style cookers are extremely heavy, so having it delivered to your home is a good idea, however, delivery costs can be steep. To find a dealer in your local area, check the Kamado Joe and BGE websites.
How to Buy a Kamado Joe Online
Kamado Joe’s are much easier to purchase online when compared to the Big Green Egg. Kamado Joe’s are available at the following major retailers.
How to Buy a Big Green Egg Online
A Big Green Egg is more difficult to buy online, however, search for a dealer in your local area and see if they have an online store with delivery.
Who Makes Better Meat? BGE or Joe?
Although there might be differences between the BGE and Kamado Joe, there is no difference in the taste and quality of the meat. I watched a YouTube comparison video where they cooked identical meat on a Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe. The meat tasted identical on both grills.
Kamado Joe – Why Is It So Good?
Kamado Joe has looked at the Big Green Egg and improved on several components and tried to set itself apart. The Kamado Joe has improved the lid, the all-inclusive package, the multi-level grill, the well-designed chimney and ash draw, the quality nest and side tables. Not only has the Kamado Joe improved these components, they have innovated and revolutionized some areas. The Kamado Joe is always looking to innovate and improve upon previous models. Big Green Egg may still have ‘the name’, but any review worth its weight cannot deny the Kamado Joe is a better product.
The Kamado Joe Classic 3 – The King
When the people at Kamado Joe sat down to make the Classic 3 Kamado Joe, they set out to make the best kamado grill that has ever been made. Kamado Joe Classic 3 has taken ceramic grills to the next level and is unmatched by any other kamado grill. The Classic 3 not only has all the components from previous models but also innovative features such as the Slow Roller Smoke Generator. The Slow Roller is a game-changer and has made the Classic 3 an extremely popular model.
The SloRoller: Kamado Joe’s Latest Innovation
When the Classic 3 Kamado Joe was being made, the company sought the best technology and the best science available to make the best grill on the market. In their quest to continue the innovation, Kamado Joe teamed up with a company called DESORA, a design team that was born at Harvard University. The partnership between Kamado Joe and DESORA could produce The SlōRoller. The SlōRoller has created a lot of excitement and is an attachment that sits under the grill, just above the firebox. The SlōRoller creates smoke circles at the top of the grill and concentrates the heat and then disperses it evenly to the top of the grill.
The Big Green Egg – Is It Any Good?
The Big Green Egg is still an amazing grill, easy to use and will continue to be hugely popular. Some people just prefer the green color and the trusted name that has been around for decades. Although there are differences with some Joe and BGE components, both cookers are amazing grills. The two ceramic smokers have many similarities, but you can’t go wrong with either grill.
Joe and the Egg – Similarities
The Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg are similar in that they are:
- Water resistant
- Weather proof
- Ability to smoke
- Ability to bake
- Ability to Roast
- Ability to grill
- Can cook and extremely high temperatures (750+°F)
- Retains moisture
- Fuel Efficient (14-16 hours)
Similarities – High Temperatures
They design Kamado style cookers such as the Kamado Joe and BGE in such a way that heat can circulate and cook in the 750°f range, which gives you the option of cooking pizza. Ceramic dome shaped grills produce a lot of moisture thanks to the design, therefore don’t require water pans.
Grilling on a Kamado vs BGE
The BGE and Kamado Joe cookers allow you to grill steaks over a direct flame at high temperatures. The BGE has a standard grill grate, but the Kamado Joe has a multi-level grill grate that allows you to grill at different levels. Kamado Joe’s grilling flexibility gives you more options when cooking vegetables or meat with different thicknesses.
Charcoal For BGE and Kamado Joe
Lump charcoal works best in a kamado grill. Charcoal briquettes produce more ash in a kamado and can choke out the flame. Lump charcoal burns hotter and tastes better. Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe produce their own lump charcoal, but it’s unnecessary to use their specific brands. The Big Green Egg Lump Charcoal has been a popular brand of lump for many years. However, to buy BGE lump, as there as several brands on the market that perform better than the BGE lump. If you want to find out which is the best lump charcoal, read my article: Which Lump Hardwood Charcoal Burns the Best?
How to Light a Kamado Grill
There is no difference when lighting the two ceramic grills. The Big Green Egg has its own igniter, which is a handy tool but unnecessary. A charcoal chimney is the best way to light any charcoal fire and allows the coals to fully tonight before dumping in the firebox.
Temperature Control in Kamado Cookers
There is a steep learning curve with kamado-style cookers, and they can be difficult to control. As always, it’s recommended to do a few dry runs before attempting to cook food. Start out by cooking cheaper cuts of meat like burgers, chicken wings, etc. Don’t attempt a brisket or any of the big meats until you can control your kamado.
Best Wood for BGE and Kamado Joe
When you’re wanting to use your Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe as a smoker, wood chunks work best on ceramic cookers. Wood chips and other forms of wood will burn too easily, whereas chunks will produce a steady flow of smoke and will only need topping-up every few hours. Scatter the wood chunks over the hot coals and keep a consistent flow of smoke rolling for most of the cook.
Where To Put The Wood – Over Or Under?
What are Ceramic Kamado Cookers?
Kamado translates to ‘stove’ in Japanese and this style of cooker has been around for centuries. The dome-shaped design is thousands of years old and the people of Japan discovered that ceramic cooking materials make great insulators.