Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg are both ceramic grills. They both feature the Kamado design that has been available in the United States since the 1970s – and in Japan for generations before.
The Kamado grill features an oval-shaped cooking chamber to maximize temperature control. As the heat rises from the fuel, it surrounds your food with all-around cooking benefits similar to a convection oven.
They also include split-level cooking systems, lightweight cast aluminum, and additional accessories that make it fun to use this grilling option.
Kamado Joe is one of the fastest-growing brands in this grilling space right now. Big Green Egg is consistently the largest, most significant, and most famous brand in the world of Kamado grilling.
Both manufacturers have a reputation for providing high-quality customer service. You can expect world-class craftsmanship and high-quality products when choosing Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg.
A direct comparison of the two brands can help you to discover if one option holds a competitive edge against the other for your needs.
Grilling Models Available from Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg
Kamado Joe provides consumers with six grilling options from which to choose, including a junior design that is only 13.5 inches in diameter. Three models, including the Pro Joe, the Big Joe II, and the Big Joe III, offer a 24-inch diameter.
You can also choose from the Classic line of products from Kamado Joe, which provides about 18 inches (or slightly more) for a grill diameter to use.
Big Green Egg provides three different “junior size” options to consider. The MiniMax and the Small are both 13 inches in diameter, while the Mini is a practical 10 inches for portable grilling needs.
You can also step up to the Big Green Egg 2XL to receive a grill with a 29-inch diameter. The Medium is 15 inches, while the Large is 18.25 inches, and the XL is 24 inches.
Supplies can be limited at all size levels because of manufacturing limits. Since the price of the smallest ceramic grills is comparable to the largest propane models today, you may need to pre-order if you have a specific preference. The miniature models tend to sell out first.
You may also need to purchase your new ceramic grill from Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg from an authorized retailer. Even though some models are available online, it is almost more comfortable for most people to find what they need locally.
Kamado Joe works with several retailers to provide all available models.
Big Green Egg breaks their dealers into four different categories: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
Bronze Dealers must provide at least three EGG sizes before receiving this designation. They must also offer branded charcoal and access to at least 60 popular accessories.
Silver Dealers must offer four EGG sizes, 95 popular accessories, and at least one cooking island, table, or modular nest system.
Gold Dealers must offer five sizes, branded sauces and seasonings, and 115 EGGcessories in addition to the previous requirements.
Platinum Dealers must offer six size options, 150 or more of the best accessories, and two cooking islands, modular nest systems, or tables.
Cooking with Kamado Joe: Versatility at Your Fingertips
Kamado Joe provides you with everything you need to start grilling immediately out of the box. The core package includes the flexible rack system the company calls “Divide and Conquer.” It is a half-moon modular component that uses indirect heating, staggered grilling heights, and lots of versatility to make almost anything. This system even lets you make pizza or use a rotisserie attachment.
The Kamado features an air-lift hinge that holds the heavy lid in place while you check on what you’re grilling. An included wire-mesh gasket offers durability so that you won’t have the top drop on your fingers. It is one of the best innovations to come into this sector for a long time.
Here’s a complete overview of what you can expect to receive when choosing Kamado Joe over Big Green Egg for your grilling needs.
Features to Expect with a Kamada Joe Grill
- The Air Lift Hinge takes away over 90% of the weight from the lid.
- The tower vent uses cast aluminum to provide consistent airflow, retain positioning, and temperature consistency.
- A wire-mesh fiberglass gasket gives you an airtight seal.
- Several innovative accessories are available for an added charge.
- The multi-level Divide and Conquer cooking system provides dozens of different ways to prepare your favorite foods.
Cooking with Big Green Egg: Guaranteed Quality
Big Green Egg has had to step up their game in recent years with the increases in quality that competitors have brought to the marketplace. You can now find several packages available that include the base of the grill, a lifter, heat deflectors, and lump charcoal heating.
Although it is still more expensive to choose this brand, the price gap is closing rapidly. When you use the grill, the basic features are what you’d expect from a kamado design. It doesn’t include a rain vent cap with the basic model, while the spring-assisted dome does wear out over time.
You can find a variety of branded accessories for this grill, although all of them must come from an authorized retailer. It helps to see if you have a retailer near your home before buying this grill to ensure that you can enjoy the design to its fullest extent.
Features to Expect with a Big Green Egg Grill
- You receive the one-level basic cooking system when purchasing the initial unit.
- It uses the felt gasket design that has been part of the industry for generations to protect the grill.
- The heavy lid gets a boost from the spring-assisted hinge, although it doesn’t hold in place effortlessly.
- The top rain vent is available for a Big Green Egg grill, although it sells separately from the initial unit.
- You can also purchase an expanding cooking system (Eggspander), which is also separate from the initial cost.
The Story of the Mushikamado with Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg
Kamado Joe is a story of innovation. During the 2008 global recession, this brand established itself as an innovative ceramic grill that would change how you approached making food. As customers started giving them feedback about what improvements would make their product more effective, annual revisions help the grill to continue pushing the industry further.
The co-founders of the brand are Bobby Brennan and Kerry Coker. They were living the corporate dream in German manufacturing before starting this adventure. Instead of settling for a product that was good enough, over a decade of innovation makes their line of grills one of the best investments you can make today.
Big Green Egg started from a foundation of awareness that began in World War II. Soldiers from the Americas and Europe who fought in the Pacific Theater found the simple joys of the mushikamado almost immediately.
Several service members tried to bring home their grills purchased when overseas. A few of them were successful, and a handful of soldiers even tried to secure an import license. Ed Fisher was the first person who didn’t take no for an answer after falling in love with the Kamado design.
He started importing them to his store in Atlanta, GA, in the 1970s. There was a recession at the time then as well, and he decided to paint the grills different colors to give them more awareness. The most popular option was green. When Fisher started privately manufacturing his own grills in the 1990s, he kept the green color.
You won’t find as many changes happening with the Big Green Egg. It uses the traditional approach because it works. That quality speaks for itself.
Kamado Joe Review: Stunning Heat Retention
The similarities of a Kamado Joe mushikamado compared to the Big Green Egg end with the initial design. Both grills look like a slightly deformed egg had a baby with a golf ball. When you put the red from a Kamado Joe next to the green of the Egg, it looks like Santa Claus is coming to town.
When you invest in a Kamado Joe, you receive a smoker and grill hybrid that gives you the most versatility in the marketplace today. You have so many different options available to use with its unique system that you have multiple levels and layers of flavor to enjoy right out of the box.
The entire grill gets constructed of dense ceramic. That means the thick walls of the firebox retain heat all day for you if needed. You can use the bottom vent on the mushikamado to regulate temperatures on a macro scale (up to 100°F increments), while the top vent gives you more control.
You’ll notice immediately that it doesn’t take as much charcoal to cook your favorite foods with a Kamado Joe. Once you reach the temperature you prefer, the grill keeps it there until all of your items are ready.
Several different grates and plates are part of the half-moon design. You can turn your Kamado Joe into a griddle, a searing plate, or the perfect pizza oven. The crust blisters perfectly in just minutes while giving you that chewy top with a touch of smoky flavor that you can’t get from commercial, mass production kitchens.
Ceramic heat deflectors magnify the results you can achieve. You can also place the grate in its lowest position to get an outstanding sear on all of your favorite cuts of meat.
Most people will find that the Classic II is the right size for the family with its 18-inch diameter.
The red color may be different than other grills in this category, but the Kamado Joe stands out in a good way. It’s like when you see a sports car pass you on the road – the event draws your attention.
Even the side shelves that help with food preparation have hooks that enable you to hang all of your favorite tools.
The ash collector with this mushikamado uses a drawer design that slides in and out near the bottom vent. When the grill cools, remove it to dump out what remains instead of using a rake to take care of the work.
Although ceramic grills of almost any design can provide similar benefits, the stay-put lid that you receive with a Kamado Joe is a game-changing innovation. You won’t believe how easy it is to cook all of your favorite foods with this investment.
Big Green Egg Review: Here’s What You Should Know
These ceramic grills use lump charcoal to produce the heat needed for cooking your favorite foods. That means you can avoid the impurities and soot that can develop around items when using briquettes.
You get to avoid using the products that contain lighter fluid already that could contaminate the foods you eat.
The Big Green Egg can hold an even temperature for over 18 hours without needing to add more fuel to your fire. Heat levels can exceed 600°F in the unit, giving your foods a professional sear equal to what you’d receive at a three-star restaurant.
You can bake cookies, pies, and pizzas in the Big Green Egg if you want. The ceramic design’s insulative qualities make it a lot easier to smoke brisket, have ribs that melt off the bone, or impart stunning flavors to seafood without drying out the ingredients.
Getting the initial flame started takes a little practice, but it is similar to starting a campfire.
The flames like to burst from the lid when you open it. A “burping” technique helps to calm the fire enough so that you can work on your food. You’re going to start wanting to experiment with various recipes, spices, and rubs.
If you invest in one of the larger models, you can expect to receive a grill that weighs more than 200 pounds. That weight is comparable to what you’d receive from a large smoker, traditional briquette charcoal, or a massive propane model.
Although you may not get all of the features in the box, you can slowly invest in new accessories to expand what is possible with your home grilling. These grills can last for decades without seeing a reduction in quality with appropriate maintenance.
What makes the Big Green Egg such an attractive option is that it is more than a grill. It is also a community.
You can find thousands of like-minded enthusiasts who can help you to learn how to use your new grill. There are meetups, recipe exchanges, spice ideas, cookbooks, and much more to discover when you start using an Egg for your favorite foods.
People in this community call themselves “Eggheads.” They look out for each other. Ribs and chicken are essential, but it is also about the brotherhood or sisterhood you develop with others.
Pros and Cons of Using Ceramic Grills
Egg smokers have been in use for over 3,000 years. It was one of the first inventions that humans considered when moving fire away from a pit for cooking needs.
Several societies used this method of grilling over the years, although the Japanese culture is responsible for taking this technology to the next level. The use of ceramics to create heat retention is one of the most practical ways to improve the quality of cooking while using fewer materials.
If you are thinking about a mushikamado right now, here are a few pros and cons to consider when deciding if a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg is suitable for your home.
List of the Advantages of Using a Ceramic Grill
1. You are not stuck with one cooking temperature.
The ceramic grill design can function at whatever temperature levels you prefer for cooking your favorite items. You can even cold-smoke foods with this technology! It is possible to make jerky, fry eggs on a griddle, or slow-cook a brisket until it is tender, moist, and flavorful. There are no limits to the creativity you can express when grilling this way.
2. It is an efficient method of smoking food.
You won’t find another smoker operating at this high of an efficiency level in the marketplace right now. You can smoke an entire brisket on a single lump charcoal application. Since you receive all-day support for your temperature, you can grill simultaneously to create impressive results that no other grill offers.
3. Seals on the grill retain more moisture.
The under-rated secret to success when using a ceramic grill is its seals. When combined with the heavy-duty ceramic insulation, virtually no moisture escapes from a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg. That means your meat loses less weight because it can retain its texture better. Other smokers and grills can make your proteins dehydrated and tough to chew without trying to make jerky.
4. You can choke off a fire rapidly with this technology.
Once you have finished working with your food, the design of a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg allows you to close the dampers immediately. The fire chokes off from the lack of oxygen since the seals prevent air from escaping or entering. This benefit reduces the amount of fuel you need for each session, reducing your overall cost. It won’t make up for the added price of a ceramic grill, but it is still an excellent benefit to consider.
5. Ceramic grills operate at any temperature.
The insulative qualities of a ceramic grill enable it to work at whatever temperature you have outside. Their performance doesn’t degrade, even if you expose it to extreme cold. You could smoke a beautiful snake in brutal Antarctica without a problem thanks to the heavy-duty ceramic incorporated into the design. That means you can grill at home all year long without worrying about whether the snow wants to fly.
6. Plenty of accessories are available for ceramic grills.
Ceramic grills are a versatile way to prepare food. You can find griddle plates, rotisseries, and char-grillers to expand your methods. These options can help you to even out a hot spot, alter how smoke comes around your meat, and function at high temperatures. Rib racks are a fantastic choice for this technology because you can space out the items appropriately while having room to smoke with your favorite baste.
7. It takes less time to clean a ceramic grill.
You really don’t need to clean a ceramic grill that often. Most owners take care of this chore about once per year, and some don’t even do it that often. You can find people who love their Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg who have never given it a thorough cleaning! Although you may want to give your grates a quick scrape, that’s usually the extent of the work that you must manage when investing in this technology.
List of the Disadvantages of Using a Ceramic Grill
1. The cost of a ceramic grill is something to consider.
Unless you can settle for one of the miniature models of a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg, you could be spending over $2,000 to get one with enough room to feed your family. That’s a significant investment for many households today, especially since many are trying to recover from the latest recession to hit the economy. When the choice is between a fantastic grill or groceries in the refrigerator, most people will choose the second option.
2. Ceramic grills are remarkably heavy.
When someone tells you that a heavy-duty ceramic grill can retain heat, it is because the insulative qualities require a significant amount of product. The bigger models from both manufacturers are well over 200 pounds. Even the miniature models are much heavier than a portable charcoal or propane grill. That means you won’t get the portability you want if your goal is to have grilled food when camping.
3. It takes time to learn how to use a ceramic grill.
Ceramic grills require an entirely different set of processes to follow if you want to create perfect food. If your lump charcoal is only a little off, your brisket might turn into something bitter and inedible. Using it for baked goods can be a frustrating experience, even with the help of a supportive community offering advice. Expect it to take at least a couple of months of practice before you are ready to host social events with items made with a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg.
4. You don’t get much versatility once you start cooking.
Although the Kamado Joe reduces this disadvantage somewhat with its unique interior design for grates and griddles, ceramic grills are a one-trick pony. Once you start doing something that day with it, you cannot transition to another task without significant risk. Red-hot ceramic requires welding gloves to manage, and exposure to moisture at those heat levels from the environment can cause the charcoal to spit. It only takes one time trying to swap the deflector plate while hot to change your mind!
5. Cooling processes take forever with a ceramic grill.
You can choke out the fire in a ceramic grill without much difficulty. Opening the lid works well for immediate temperature regulation. When you over-stoke your fire, trying to get it back to your preferred grilling temps can take a surprisingly long time. Although some models offer regulators that can adjust levels by 25 to 100 degrees with each adjustment, the response time is still muted compared to other grilling opportunities.
6. Ceramic grills need more time to cook standard fare.
You can expect a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg to take about 45 minutes to reach the appropriate temperature for small meats. That means you need to plan for about an hour to prep your hot dogs, steak, shrimp, or chicken. If you don’t do any low-and-slow grilling with ribs, turkey, pulled pork, or brisket, the time and monetary expense may not make it a worthwhile option to consider. It takes a lot of patience to manage the temperature appropriately, especially for sensitive items.
Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg: Which Is Better?
Ceramic grills are a surprisingly excellent addition to any porch, patio, deck, or backyard.
You could purchase a mushikamado from Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg and feel good about the investment. Both grills have a proven track record of success. You will like experimenting with the various foods you love to explore the unique flavor profiles that come with this technology.
Kamado Joe is the brand to choose if you want to take a non-traditional approach to find your fire.
The professional series retails for $3,699 direct from the manufacturer. Some retailers may provide a better deal if you do some searching online for the best price. The Joe Jr. ® model is priced at $400. Most families can find a model between the two to meet their needs, which means an average investment of about $1,500 is needed to bring a Kamado Joe product home.
It is a little challenging to find an authorized dealer for the Big Green Egg mushikamado. Online sales are almost non-existent for this brand. If you do find someone selling this product, it may not be backed with the warranty or protections you want for an investment of this size.
The Mini model retails for about $400. If you decide to step up to the XXL model to enjoy a premium experience, you can expect to pay about $3,900 for it.
Either way, you are going to enjoy the grilling experiences provided by Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg. The only way to settle this debate is for you to pick the model that you prefer. Since the performance is equal, the choice is one between tradition vs. innovation.
It’s not often when there are comparisons where there isn’t a “wrong” answer. When looking at Kamado Joe vs. Big Green Egg, you can choose either one and be happy!