Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg | Who makes the best ceramic grill?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  August 6, 2021

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The two most popular brands in the ceramic grill market are the Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe.

These are the top ceramic grills used by professionals around the world and they truly are phenomenal grills. I dreamed of owning one for years before I was eventually able to afford one.

And believe me, it’s worth the price. Ceramic grills are in a league of their own and allow you to take your grilling and smoking game to the next level.

Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg what is the best ceramic grill?

Just like me, I’m sure you’re trying to decide between two of the top brands. I did loads of research and tested out a few grills before I finally made my decision.

Which of these brands offers more for less? I’ve detailed my findings below to help you make the right choice for your needs and budget.

I will also share my choice and the reasons for it. The final decision, though, is yours. Will you buy the Big Green Egg, or the Kamado Joe?

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To get started, I’ve briefly identified some of the key characteristics of this type of grill, and how each of the brands matches up in the table below.

Characteristics Big Green Egg Kamado Joe
Ash cleaning system
Accessories
Hinges
Top air vent
Lid gasket 
Stand
Side shelves
Quality of workmanship
Unboxing and assembly
Available sizes
Price
Warranty
Cooking results

Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg detailed comparison

Now let’s dive deeper into each of the characteristics and find out what makes each of these grills so good, and perhaps better than the other.

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

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History

Big Green Egg – This is a much older manufacturer than its competitor. The brand was created in 1974, and it is responsible for promoting the Kamado-style grill in the USA. The Big Green Egg has become an icon of Kamado, and even beginners know about the Big Green Egg brand.

Kamado Joe – Kamado Joe is not as well known since it has only been on the market since 2009. However, this brand specializes in high-quality ceramic grills at AFFORDABLE prices. They have also innovated and developed many useful new features to update the Kamado-style grill.

Top features

Big Green Egg – When you look at the models from many years ago and compare them with modern models, they don’t differ that much. Sadly, Big Green Egg hasn’t introduced any significant changes or features to their grills in several years. While they do come with all of the essentials and are very high quality, the newer brands on the market are offering innovative new features that make them stand out against the BGE.

Kamado Joe – The focus of this brand is all about making high-quality Kamado grills with attention to detail, and useful modern features. The red ceramic Kamado grill comes with far more useful features than any other competitor. For example, it includes an airlift hinge, which means you can open the very heavy grill lid with just one finger.

Ash cleaning system

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Ceramic Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, ash removal system

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Big Green Egg – Generally, ash removal in Kamado grills isn’t a difficult task. Using an ash tool makes it easy to remove any ash that can be found at the bottom of a Big Green Egg. In a grill for this kind of money, however, I’d prefer to have something that’s a little more efficient; like a special ash drawer that can be removed any time and emptied fast.

Kamado Joe – This is an area where Kamado Joe excels. The manufacturers developed an innovative ash drawer that can easily be removed to toss the ash out. This is a convenient and effective solution that makes the cleaning process super simple.

Accessories

Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg both come with a very rich offering of accessories. In this regard, both manufacturers excel. At the official stores (and some unofficial stores too) you will find plenty of fun, useful, and interesting accessories. These are great for gifts, or for when you want to try something new with your grill.

For even more ideas, check out my 22 must-have BBQ smoking tools & accessories

Hinges

Big Green Egg – Sadly, Big Green Egg still only has a regular hinge. With such a heavy ceramic lid, users are advised to exercise caution when lifting it, and setting it down. Dropping the lid suddenly could even lead to damaging the ceramics.

Kamado Joe – The airlift hinge on the Kamado Joe range is one of the most innovative and useful solutions you will find in the grilling world. Ceramic grills are known for having really heavy lids. That’s why Kamado Joe has introduced the airlift technology that makes it possible to open and close the lid using minimal force. In fact, you could open your grill with just one finger!

Looking for replacements? Check out my post on the best BBQ Smoker Door Handles, Latches, Hinges and Gasket Sealers

Top air vent

Big Green Egg – The top air vent is made of cast iron which makes it very heavy despite its small size. Added to that, the cast iron is very prone to rust appearing on the surface. These cast iron elements are only a visual downside, as the rust is on the surface, and never penetrates the structure. Once the rust appears you just need to clean the surface thoroughly with a wire grill brush, and then coat it with a rust repellent paint.

Kamado Joe – Once again, the manufacturer comes to the rescue by introducing a 100% rust-resistant top air vent. It is made of aluminum, which is cast and coated with a rust-resistant layer. The incredibly lightweight top air vent offers broad adjustment options. You also have smaller vents on the side at your disposal, as well as the ability to remove the whole upper part, leaving a large opening.

Lid gasket

Most manufacturers install regular standard lid gaskets but Kamado Joe, being focused on quality, installs much better gaskets (wire mesh fiberglass gasket). Every gasket wears down over time and has to be replaced, but the Kamado Joe gaskets tend to last much longer than their standard counterparts.

Grill stand

Both models come with good quality stands that live up to their tasks.

But it is once again, the Kamado Joe that stands out by offering a solid, weighty stand. The structure of the stand on a Kamado Joe is impressive, and you can tell it won’t break easily. Another huge advantage of this stand is the extra space under the grill for accessories.

The Big Green Egg comes with a stand, but it is relatively simple in structure and is not as solid as the Kamado Joe’s.

Side shelves

Big Green Egg – The standard side shelves in Big Green Egg are made of wood which I personally like a lot. It is possible to buy slightly cheaper aluminum ones, but I recommend the wooden version because it is more useful and looks better, too.

Kamado Joe – Sadly, this is one of the few elements that I don’t like about this brand. I am aware that Kamado Joe had to cut costs on less important elements like side shelves for the sake of other, more innovative solutions. However, I would personally much rather have wooden side shelves than aluminum ones.

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Quality of workmanship

In both cases, you can expect a high quality of workmanship and ceramics. The Kamado Joe does stand out, though, with better attention to the “less visible”, yet still important, details. Either way, when buying any of those two brands, you are guaranteed good quality workmanship.

Unboxing & assembly

Both models require a similar amount of time to be assembled, but only Kamado Joe is easily available from online stores. When it comes to shipping, both models are well packed, but in my experience, the Kamado Joe was packed with extra caution and padding.

For help with setting up your Kamado Joe, this video is useful:

Available sizes

In this regard, Big Green Egg is the king. It comes in many different configurations – from the smallest models to the biggest 2XL models.

Kamado Joe also offers several different sizes, but their range is much more limited when compared to their competitor.

Price

The basic Big Green Egg is a grill that is not complete until you buy some accessories. These are sold separately which is why the price might seem much lower at first glance.

Meanwhile, the Kamado Joe comes with all the necessary accessories in its offering. If you calculate the price of the Big Green Egg with all the accessories that Kamado Joe comes with, it turns out that Kamado Joe offers much more at a similar or even slightly lower price.

Warranty

Both manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty for the ceramics – which are famous for their durability. When it comes to individual elements the situation is different, but in both cases you can expect a good, reliable warranty.

Cooking results

There is absolutely nothing to compare when it comes to the taste, texture, and success that comes with cooking with either of these two brands. Both represent the same level of excellence.

There is no difference in the food grilled with the Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe. They differ in price, features, and overall convenience of cooking, but the final results remain at the top level for both.

Conclusion: Big Green Egg vs Kamado Joe

So, which brand is the winner in my opinion?

Remember that the Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe that I compared today are the market leaders when it comes to Kamado grills.

And the truth is that regardless of which one you choose, you can expect a high-quality product that gives you great results in cooking. It’s only the tine details, individual features, and slightly difference in price that can impact your decision to choose one or the other.

Based on the above comparison, however, I personally love the Kamado Joe.

Why?

I really like the Big Green Egg, but being a leader means you must keep perfecting your product so that it’s always number one.

In recent years Kamado Joe has proven that they can give much more than Big Green Egg can for the same price, while also paying attention to the finer details.

What particularly caught my attention was the air lift hinge, the removable ash drawer, the aluminum top air vent, a better stand, and attention to detail all around. These features, at a fair price, are what made me choose the red ceramic grill from Kamado Joe for my personal use.

Not sure if you want to go for a electric smoker or a egg-shaped grill? Keep reading!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.