Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe – which is the better kamado? It seems like this debate has been raging for years now, but in light of new product developments, maybe it’s time to wonder: is there finally a clear winner between these kamado giants? And if so, which kamado king will wear the crown?
In this article, we’ll provide a head-to-head comparison of the Big Green Egg vs the Kamado Joe across 10 categories for review as we examine build quality, innovation, owner satisfaction, average reviews, overall price to value, and more, so put your grilling apron on and let’s get cooking!
Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe – Current Products
Before we get into the head-to-head comparison, it’s important to know what’s currently available from each kamado manufacturer since recent updates will play a role in our results. As it stands now, here are each company’s latest kamado’s.
Big Green Egg
Big Green Egg currently offers SEVEN sizes of kamados, they are: The Big Green Egg Mini, Minimax, Small, Medium, Large, XLarge, and 2XL.
You can see every version of the BGE lineup on the official “How do you like your Eggs?” webpage where you can check out full specs, cooking grill dimensions, available accessories, etc.
The takeaway here is that Big Green Egg offers a kamado for every need. Additionally, outside of the size variations, but for minor updates over the years, the BGE kamado hasn’t changed much since it’s release in 1974. It’s a quality kamado, beloved in the passionate Egghead Community, and continues to be one of the best selling kamados on the market.
Like Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe is a retailer that offers a variety of sizes in its kamado lineup. Currently on it’s third major update, the Kamado Joe III lineup is comprised of 3 versions: the Kamado Joe Classic III, Big Joe III, and Pro Joe III. There is also the Kamado Joe Junior.
Additionally, prior versions of the Kamado Joe lineup (particularly the wildly popular Kamado Joe II variations are still widely being sold).
The takeaway here is that, although Kamado Joe doesn’t offer the same breath of size variations as the Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe does offer the most popular size options AND has continued to innovate the kamado technology itself over the years. We’ll see the impact of this in our head-to-head ratings below.
10 Head to Head Comparisons of Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe
In this section we’ll compare the Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe kamados across the spectrum of 10 categories. Our goal is to see which kamado maker will emerge as the winner of this long debate.
Who will wear the crown as King of the Kamado’s?
Let’s find out!
1 – History
The concept of kamado cooking is said to have originated in China over 3,000 years ago and KamadoJim has a great little writeup about the history of the kamado grill. It seems that after World War II, American GI’s brought the kamado grill concept to the US and then in 1974 it was commercialized by a US Serviceman named Ed Fisher who launched The Big Green Egg brand in Atlanta, GA.
Conversely, Kamado Joe didn’t come onto the market until 2009 and although the brand has captured a large chuck of the kamado market since then, it doesn’t have near the history of the Big Green Egg.
Winner: Big Green Egg
2 – Build Quality
Kamados have become so popular that the marketplace is filled with all sorts of kamados – you see them everywhere now and it seems like everyone and their brother has a knockoff version to sell you.
Don’t be fooled into buying a lesser quality kamado – not only may you have problems with the lifespan of the ceramic (i.e. the exterior kamado shell that holds in the heat), or the firebox (interior rings) may crack, or it may not cook evenly, or the kamado company may go out of business all together!
Instead understand that the purchase of a kamado is an investment – an investment into your personal cooking enjoyment and your family’s outdoor lifestyle. Buy a quality kamado and you can expect it to last for a decade or more. Buy a crappy one and you may well have to replace it in a year or two.
BOTH the Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe are classified in the industry as top of the line kamados for a reason – they are both well built and capable of providing superior performance over the long term.
This is not to say that the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe haven’t had minor quality control issues in the past, they have. However both companies have continued to improve their products to fix those issues (building with better quality ceramics, improving the hinges, creating a new firebox, etc, etc). As a result, both companies have developed a reputation for high end build quality.
3 – Popularity
Given that Big Green Egg has been on the market since 1974 and the Kamado Joe brand is still only about a decade old, there’s really no comparison on this one – ARMIES of EGGHEADS cannot be denied and I wouldn’t dare to argue with them.
Consider these articles about the Big Green Egg Phenomenon…
- “How The Big Green Egg Became so Popular” – Atlanta Magazine
- “The Cult of the Big Green Egg” – NY Times
- “Here’s Why the Big Green Egg Attracts a Loyal Following” – TB Times
Additionally there are countless online forums, Facebook groups, and Reddit threads about the Big Green Egg, and while Kamado Joe has some forums, Facebook groups, and Reddit threads, there’s really no comparison – Big Green Egg still appears to be the most popular brand of kamado in the US.
BTW, another quirky way you can tell is by looking at the swag that people buy on Amazon – there’s a ton for Big Green Egg and not much for Kamado Joe…yet.
Winner – Big Green Egg
4 – Owner Satisfaction AND Brand Loyalty
Gee whiz, it looks like the battle of Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe isn’t much of a contest is it? So far the BGE is running away with this. Should we just crown BGE and be done with it?
Not so fast, because here’s where things start to get interesting.
When it comes to Owner Satisfaction, both Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg claim top spots in the kamado community and owner satisfaction is very high for both brands. Whichever brand you buy you’ll probably end up being satisfied too (at least in terms of overall quality if not overall price to value, but more on that below).
HOWEVER, when it comes to brand loyalty, one thing we can clearly see in the online world is that…
LOTS of people end up switching from Big Green Egg to Kamado Joe, but not many seem to switch from Kamado Joe to Big Green Egg.
I’m guessing the very reason YOU are reading this article is because you’re trying to decide between the two brands. Even the Egghead forums are filled with this question and if you peruse through the threads you’ll see countless stories about how loyal Eggheads made the switch to Kamado Joe (here’s one example of many) and are very happy. You can also find numerous articles online from folks who’ve debated the question and ended up deciding in favor of the Kamado Joe (for example, this article, and this one).
Perhaps the best testament to this is that, in less than a decade, Kamado Joe has become a fierce rival to Big Green Egg and the phrase “Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe” is one of the most popular search term when people shop for a kamado.
Because of all these trends, I would submit to you that Owner Satisfaction is likely a TIE between the two brands, but Brand Loyalty swings in favor of the Kamado Joe (because again, many people have switched from BGE to KJ, but you rarely hear about the switch from KJ to BGE).
Winner: Kamado Joe
5 – Innovation of the Kamado
As we discussed above in the first two categories, both Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe have spearheaded innovations in the kamado market. Ed Fisher and his Big Green Egg company are one of the big reasons why kamados have become so popular in the US and Mr. Fisher was one of the first to turn the 3,000 year old kamado concept into a commercialized product as a result of his innovative ideas. Over the years, Big Green Egg has continued to improve its product (with stronger ceramics, a patented vent door and hinge cap, updated hinges, and more). As such we would be remiss if we didn’t give the Big Green Egg its due as a leading innovator in the kamado world.
As for Kamado Joe, from the early days of the company, it sought to compete with Big Green Egg by producing at least a similar kamado cooker (thus the Kamado Joe Classic 1st Generation – which used to come in red or black). But since it’s launch in 2009, Kamado Joe hasn’t been satisfied with merely producing a similar product – instead the company has continued to innovate in order to try to create a superior kamado.
Kamado Joe has done more innovations of the overall kamado itself in the last 10 years than Big Green Egg has done in over 40.
Consider the following innovations just to the kamado cooker that Kamado Joe is responsible for…
- Divide and Conquer Flexible Cooking System – an incredible feature that allowed us to cook both indirect and direct at the same time;
- Kontrol Tower Top Vent – for more precise temperature control and better rain/moisture intrusion prevention.
- Multi-panel Firebox – to help prevent cracks in the interior fire box.
- Counterbalanced Air Lift Hinge – a safety feature that helps prevent the heavy lid from falling and cracking a problem that used to plague Big Green Eggs.
- Slide-out Ash Drawer – for easier cleaning.
- The New SlōRoller redesign as part of the Kamado Joe III launch that is designed to perfect the taste and texture of food on low-and-slow cooks.
In fact the new Kamado Joe III is such a game changer in terms of innovation of the kamado cooker that the launch of this product alone may well push the scales in favor of Kamado Joe.
You can read my full review of the new Kamado Joe III here…
For all these reasons, we must conclude…
Winner: Kamado Joe
6 – Innovation of Accessories
This category too offers little competition.
Nobody can argue that Kamado Joe has produced more impactful accessory innovations than Big Green Egg.
This is not to say that Big Green Egg doesn’t have great accessories because they do and you can read about 200+ Big Green Egg accessories in this article. However Kamado Joe is the KING of Kamado Accessories.
Here are just a few GAME-CHANGER Accessories that Kamado Joe is responsible for (click any pick to learn more)…
And we haven’t even mentioned the wide variation of cooking surfaces that Kamado Joe offers that go beyond just the standard stainless steel grates most kamados come with.
Kamado Joe has innovated all of the following…
The Kamado Joe accessories are so popular that Egghead Forums are filled with articles about Big Green Egg owners retrofitting their eggs in order to use Kamado Joe accessories in their BGE’s.
In addition to the cooking accessories, Kamado Joe has a boatload of other accessories including some great “Big Block” Lump Charcoal, an Ash Basket, a handy electric Firestarter, and more and more and more.
So who’s the winner of the kamado accessories innovation category?
Winner: Kamado Joe
7 – Availability
The score is currently 3-2 in favor of Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg. Is Kamado Joe gonna run away with this game now? Ah, not so fast.
One of the reasons why Big Green Egg is still so popular is that you can find the Big Green Egg in more places – from big box stores to pool supply stores to outdoor kitchen makers and scores of local shops, it seems like Big Green Egg is everywhere. In a 15 mile radius of my house in the Tampa area there are more than 10 dealers selling the Big Green Egg. For Kamado Joe there are only 3.
In fact, there are so many retailers selling the Big Green Egg that the company has them ranked by service capabilities using Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum rankings.
- To find a Big Green Egg dealer in your area you can use this search tool.
- To find a Kamado Joe dealer in your area, you can use this search tool.
But the story doesn’t end with just brick and mortar stores – after all, we live in an online shopping world don’t we? And yet, but for the occassional special packages offered by BGE, normally can’t buy the Big Green Egg online.
So the bottom line here is that Big Green Egg rules the ‘shop in person’ world, while Kamado Joe rules the online world. The result then is…
8 – Summary of Respected Reviewers
If you’re read my blog before, you know I don’t claim to be something I’m not – I’m just an Average Joe like you and the purpose of this blog is to share ‘practical solutions to real life problems.’ Since most people are not made of money, if you’re considering spending a grand or more on buying a kamado, then you’ll probably want to do your research like I did and you’ll want some honest answers to the Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe question.
I’ve written a separate article about my personal viewpoint on the debate, but one of the things I try to do on this blog is provide you with links to OTHER quality reviews and opinions. I think that’s relevant to our head-to-head debate here too. Here are some of the most popular opinion pieces on Google that talk about the Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe question…
- BBQ Guys: Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe (Winner: Tie)
- BBQDryRubs: The Best Kamado (Winner: Kamado Joe)
- Exchange Bar & Grill : Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg (Winner: Kamado Joe)
- GrillItRight: Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg (Winner: Kamado Joe)
- BBQ Queens: Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg (Winner: Kamado Joe)
- SeriouslySmoked: Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe Review (Winner: Kamado Joe)
It seems pretty clear…
Winner: Kamado Joe
9 – Customer Complaints
You can’t be a market leader without having some customer complaints. Both Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe have had a few over the years.
Both Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg are known for providing top notch customer support in the event of an issue and both feature some of the best warranties in the kamado market.
- Here is the Big Green Egg Warranty Info and their Customer Support Contact info.
- Here is the Kamado Joe Warranty info and their Customer Support Contact info.
10 – Overall Price to Value
We’ve made it to the last head-to-head comparison category, perhaps the most important one of all – in the battle of Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe which kamado offers the best price to value?
One of the ways that Kamado Joe captured so much of the kamado market from Big Green Egg is because Kamado Joe not only priced their comparable size kamados well below the price of a similar Big Green Egg, but Kamado Joe also provided a number of free accessories with its grills (including the amazing Divide and Conquer cooking system, nest, ash tool, and more).
Since then Big Green Egg prices have come down. Although if you review the forums noted above that talked about the Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe debate, you’ll see that most people still feel that Kamado Joe offers the better overall value.
Now it should be noted that with the release of the Kamado Joe III, the prices for Kamado Joes of a similar size are now higher in some cases than a Big Green Egg, HOWEVER it’s important to see what’s included in the package.
- Kamado Joe III’s come standard with the SloRoller insert, the Divide and Conquer Cooking System, Ash Basket, Ash Tools, Kontrol Tower, Heat Deflectors, and more.
- If you went with a Big Green Egg of comparable size, you’d have to buy some, if not all, of these highly useful accessories after the fact (which could add as much as $500 or more to your purchase price).
When we talk in terms of Price to Value, this is the reason most people switch from the Big Green Egg to the Kamado Joe…
The fact is that Kamado Joe gives you more of what you really need in your kamado (particularly in terms of the ability to cook in a wider variety of ways out of the box without the need to retrofit anything).
Because of these factors, the winner of price to value is…
Winner: Kamado Joe
Who is the Overall Winner – Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe?
If you’re keeping score in our Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe 10 Head-to-Head Comparisons, it ends up as 5 wins for Kamado Joe, 2 for Big Green Egg, and 3 Ties.
Now as I’ve written about before, whether you purchase a Kamado Joe or a Big Green Egg, you’ll probably be happy. Both kamado’s are superior options in the world of kamado cooking. Over the years I’ve purchased both a Big Green Egg and a Kamado Joe and I do like them both, HOWEVER last year I ended up giving my Big Green Egg away to a neighbor and now cook exclusively on my Kamado Joe.
Why did I give away my Egg?
Because I just wasn’t using it as much as my Kamado Joe.
With all the innovations that are built in to the Kamado Joe it’s just an easier to use kamado.
That counts for something in my book. I got tired of fiddling around with retrofitting the Egg to make it work like a Kamado Joe.
I just want to cook and Kamado Joe allows me to cook on a kamado grill easier than a Big Green Egg does.
And with the amazing new innovations of the Kamado Joe III, there really is no longer any debate.
The Kamado Joe is the KING OF KAMADO GRILLS.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
What about YOU?
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