An Expert Guide to Big Green Egg vs. Kamado Joe

Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe are the two biggest players in the kamado grill scene, but what's the difference? Grill Expert Travis Hill breaks it down!

Close up of some burning wood on a grill.

Photo courtesy of Kamado Joe

So many head-to-head championship bouts have come and gone in the world of grills—gas vs. charcoal, portable vs. built-in, and stainless steel vs. cast iron. However, today we are faced with an entirely different yet equally important question: Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe.

An Abbreviated Kamado History

For over 3,000 years, kamado cookers and kamado-style cooking have been a way of life in many countries. Kamado cooking, meaning "stove" in Japanese, is done in ceramic clay pots. Over the years, the style has been adapted and refined while never losing sight of the original idea because of its amazing heat-retention abilities and moisture-maintaining atmosphere that results from cooking in enclosed ceramics.

Big Green Egg

BGE is the "OG" of modern ceramic grills. Founded in 1974 by Ed Fisher, the Big Green Egg company has transformed this age-old cooking technique into something incredibly beautiful. By using the new ceramic and cast-iron technologies we have today, BGE has been able to transform these amazing ancient cooking techniques into a durable, versatile, and easy-to-use one-stop-shop for everything you could think to cook.

The Base

Inside base of a Big Green Egg grill.

Photo by Travis Hill

The base is the first thing you see when you open your Big Green Egg (besides the grill grate), and it is what holds everything together. The base is a one-piece ceramic bowl that sits on a multitude of surfaces; a lot of tables and stands are offered as an add-on or accessory from BGE.

Heat Convector

A big green egg grill open.

Photo by Travis Hill

The BGE's heat convector or "convEGGtor” is one of the focal points of this cooker. It is designed to facilitate indirect cooking in the Big Green Egg by providing a heat-directing barrier between the food and the fire, transforming your Egg into an outdoor convection oven. The design of the convEGGtor, in tandem with the thermal properties of the Egg, encapsulates the heat and allows it to efficiently radiate throughout the dome while preventing the flames and heat from over-cooking the food.

Regulator and Vents

The regulator or "rEGGulator” is a newer addition to the BGE. It is made of cast iron and is critical for controlling the cooking temperature. We all know that two things control your cook: fuel and airflow. The reEGGulator does a great job of making it easy to control your airflow. The cover also acts as a rain guard, which eliminates the need for a ceramic damper top.

Expert tip: It is very important to ensure the least amount of water possible makes it into your ceramic kamado cooker. With ceramics, once water gets in, it stays in, and the only way to get the water out without cracking your ceramic bowl is to burn it off slow and low.

There is also a sliding two-way vent system at the bottom of the BGE base, which slides open and shut to bring in the air as well. The double vent slides include a mesh vent and a solid stainless steel vent for even more control over your air.

A vent system on a Big Green Egg Grill.

Photo by Travis Hill

Thermometer

The high-quality, stainless-steel temperature gauge with a three-inch dial monitors the temperatures inside the dome of an Egg, allowing you to achieve and maintain precise cooking temperatures.

Accessories

BGE offsets its stand-alone cooker with a wide variety of toys. This is one of the best things about Big Green Egg. There is an accessory for just about anything you can think of when it comes to cooking. From “eggspanders” to dutch ovens, from grill gloves to digital thermometers, BGE has the right tool you need for any style of cooking.

There are also many carts and tabletop platforms for your Egg. Many of these tables come with a large amount of storage and locking doors to keep your cooking gear secure and clean.

Kamado Joe

Is there any way to improve on the already improved Kamado grill? Yes, there is, and Bobby Brennan and Kerry Coker did just that when they launched Kamado Joe in Atlanta, Georgia back in 2009. By bringing even more innovation to the demand for better grilling, these two re-set the bar; and that bar became etched in ceramics!

Base and Firebox

The base of the Kamado Joe Classic comes with multi-panel ceramic pieces that fit around the charcoal fire basket to form its own unique firebox. This is important because this system allows the heat from your Kamado Joe to expand and contract properly without putting unnecessary stress on the ceramics.

Hinge Locking System

A hinge system on a Kamado Joe Grill.

Photo by Travis Hill

There are two hinge locking systems on the front and the back of the Kamado Joe. The front has a latch that locks the dome onto the two gaskets on the top of the base, which keeps the heat in and aids in continuous heat convection. The back part of the dome is held up by an air-lift hinge system that helps stabilize and hold the top dome as it is raised to any position you desire.

Divide and Conquer

The Divide and Conquer system is the heart of this amazing cooker. This three-tier cooking system with half-moon cooking grids gives you incredible versatility when cooking and lets you cook multiple in styles at one time. With the multi-layered tiers, you can expand your cooking upward—whether that’s cooking pork with indirect heat and more direct flames under your steak or lightly cooking vegetables on one side of the space and using the other as a char-griller for your burgers.

A metal grate inside a Kamado Joe Grill.

Photo by Travis Hill

The Slōroller

The Slōroller sits on top of the fire ring to cone upwards with a convector fitting on top to form a hyperbolic smoke chamber, turning your grill into a smoker. The Slōroller consists of a base and top heat deflector to maximize the smoke circulation. This Harvard engineering design generates up to 20 times more smoke circulation than a normal smoker.

This incredible design, along with the Divide and Conquer three-tier system, offers “double” indirect heat, which, in my experience, allows you to cook a brisket so that all the fat is rendered and an irresistible dark bark. This indirect cooking method has the potential to unlock so many culinary treasures!

Regulator and Vents

The “Kontrol” tower top vent is designed to stay set, even while the lid is open. This dye-cast aluminum regulator is able to slide completely open or closed with the fine-tune slide door. The sliding door has white lines underneath to stay precise and hold your cooking temperatures. The roof on the Kontrol tower regulator protects the inside of your ceramic charcoal grill from the rain and elements. There is only one bottom slide vent; however, there is a mounting port for their innovative iKamand air control fan.

A side shelf on a Kamado Joe Grill.

Photo by Travis Hill

Thermometer and Side Shelves

The thermometer is clearly marked with the necessary temperature ranges for any type of cooking you are looking to do. The classic Kamado Joes come with two collapsible aluminum side shelves for that much-needed cooking surface while grilling. The side tables also come with grill hooks to be able to keep everything close at hand.

Ash Drawer and Cart

The patented slide-out ash drawer is a unique accessory that comes with the classic Kamado Joe. This allows you to clean up the burnt-off ash without using any scraping tool. The cart with the Kamado Joe Classic Three series is constructed with galvanized steel and has a built-in shelf designed to hold Kamado Joe accessories like the Slōroller. The cart also has an area to hold temperature probe wires when using a temperature control accessory like the iKamand.

Accessories

The accessory options for the Kamado Joe are not as abundant as BGE, given the fact that the Kamado Joes come with a lot more gadgets included to take your cooking to more versatile levels. For what Kamado Joe lacks in the volume of accessories, they make up for in practical tools and great ceramic add-ons, including but not limited to pizza stones, rotisseries, half-moon deflectors, air control modules like the iKamand, and a Bluetooth-enabled fan system to control your airflow from your mobile device. Kamado Joe has a firm handle on practical and effortless grilling and smoking which is embodied in their kamado innovation.

So, Which Is Better?

The Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe come with a standard kamado cooking system—a ceramic bowl, heat deflector, cooking grid, and ceramic lid. They both use lump charcoal and allow you to cook at different temperatures.

Kamado Joe Pros

  • Four inches taller than the BGE
  • Includes a cart to hold your cooker
  • Multi-piece ceramic fire box held together by a steel fire ring so the ceramics can contract and expand
  • Comes with the complete Slōroller smoking system and the Divide and Conquer three-tier rack and grate system
  • Patented pull-out ash drawer
  • Marked two-side open regulator
  • Two collapsible side tables

Kamado Joe Cons

  • More limited accessories
  • The regulator is aluminum

The Big Green Egg Pros

  • Comes with everything you need to start grilling
  • Access to every accessory you will ever need to bring your cooking to the next level
  • Easy-to-set-up charcoal grate, ceramic fire bowl, and ceramic fire ring
  • Good improvements to the cast-iron rEGGulator

The Big Green Egg Cons

  • Only a basic setup for the same price as the Kamado Joe
  • Need to buy a cart and the EGGspander system (the comparable three-tier rack system) separately

Both BGE and Kamado Joe come with a limited lifetime warranty, which is broken down into warranty periods. These two, three, and five-year warranty periods cover everything from metal parts, heat deflectors, and electronic components defects.

Being comfortable with your purchase is paramount, and the way to achieve this is to get everything you need for a price that makes sense. To spend the money on either one of these two kamado-style grills, you want to ensure that every component is covered under a spelled out warranty, and a guarantee and great customer service match that warranty. For more information, reach out to a Grills Expert here on Curated.

And the Winner Is...

Comparing the Big Green Egg Large and the Kamado Joe Classic Three series has been fun and exciting; there are so many different options for cooking techniques and accessories to enable you to dominate either kamado grill.

Personally, my pick is the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series Three. This ceramic grill/smoker comes with everything you need to dive into all levels and styles of grilling immediately. It has four extra inches of height than the comparable BGE Large and comes with a cart and side tables ready to go. Kamado Joe’s overall innovation and commitment to excellence are everything I want out of a ceramic grill.

When picking between these two modern classics, you must weigh what cooking means to you and how you want to hone your craft. Determining what you want in your grilling system is the first step. The best kamado grill, in my opinion, is the one that fits all of your needs and desires. I hope this article has given you a better insight into that decision so you can make your choice with a little more confidence.

If you are looking to get set up with your own Kamado Joe or a different grill altogether, chat with me, your Grill Expert here on Curated. Talk soon!

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Written By
So happy to meet y'all! My name is Travis, and was raised on Central Texas BBQ. My father was the one who taught me how to cook over an open fire when I was just a young lad; Made sure I knew the two ingredients for authentic Texas-style BBQ; Oak and fire. Since then, I have always had that passion...

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