The decision to buy a kamado grill will change grilling forever. Kamado grills have been around for thousands of years and provide an ideal way to cook.
What Brands Make Kamado Grills?
Shopping for a kamado grill is a challenge because there are many types and sizes of grills to choose between. Two of the most popular brands on the market are from Kamado Joe and The Big Green Egg. Today, we are going to explore the similarities and differences of these two smokers and help you determine which one will suit your cooking needs the best.
What is a Kamado Style Grill?
Kamado grills are ceramic cooking devices that originate from Asia where they are often used on street corners and in restaurants. In the United States, kamado grills have become very popular for smoking and grilling at home. Kamado style grills can use charcoal or wood as a heat source and feature adjustable vents to allow for controlling the airflow. A good design allows grill masters to maintain the right cooking temperature over long periods of time. The highest quality kamado grills provide decades of cooking perfection, ease of use, and consistently superior results.
What Makes The Big Green Egg Special?
Kamado grills came to the United States following World War 2, when American servicemembers saw the Japanese mushikamado grills popular across that country. The Big Green Egg originated in the 1970's and the company has established itself as an industry leader for quality, customer service, and excellent attention to product design. The name is because it looks like a green big egg. While not the first Kamado cooker in the States, Big Green Eggers are some of the most enthusiastic grill masters around. The community posts recipe ideas and innovative ways to cook every imaginable thing online. The Big Green Egg has built a loyal following of people not easily swayed by new-fangled approaches to cooking on a ceramic grill. These ceramic grills are instantly recognizable by the green hammered finish and the distinct egg shape.
What Sets the Kamado Joe Grill Apart?
Kamado Joe is a relative new-comer to the ceramic grilling world. The company has built a solid reputation for innovation, taking the classic kamado-style smoker to the next level. The major difference between these grills and the Big Green Egg grill are all about the approach to cooking. Kamado Joe grills feature two level Divide and Conquer racks for expert cooking of different proteins that require different heat at the same time. The venting system is more complex, yet still easy to use. One significant difference between the Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg is the accessories that are included. Big Green Egg leaves the decision to buy accessories up to the user, meaning that before you can use your grill, you may have to buy extra parts. Kamado Joe includes everything you need to get cooking right out of the box.
Is Kamado Joe as Good as Big Green Egg?
Both designs look similar, except that one is a ceramic green egg and the other is red. The similarities largely stop there. The Big Green Egg is a traditional style kamado grill. It features a single level of cooking surface with a top and bottom vent that are adjustable. The heavy lid uses a spring to prevent breakage.
The kamado grill from Kamado Joe's uses a two level grill rack and a special vent that keeps out rain and may make it easier for some grillers to maintain the perfect temperature. The lids of all models use an "air hinge" that lets you open and close the lid with one finger. This keeps the heavy, ceramic lid from closing too hard and cracking. Numerous add-ons are available for these grills to allow you the best options for grilling, smoking, roasting, or baking. They even make a rotisserie that you can cook up multiple chickens on at one time. The upper and lower vents make it easy to use lump charcoal and keep the heat even.
How Much is the Big Green Egg vs. Kamado Joe
Neither of the kamado grills here are cheap. Which is for the best, because you really wouldn't want cheap materials in a ceramic grill because the heat of the charcoal would make it crack. The Big Green Egg grill is initially less expensive, but you may have to buy additional accessories to cook the meat you want. The price is also dependant on the size of the grill. There is not much of a price difference between the two brands when looking at the Big Green Egg big sizes. You may spend more in the long run on a Big Green Egg to get the cooking options you want the most.
What is it like to Grill on an Egg Kamado?
For either brand, learning to control your heat is key. Both designs are capable of maintaining just the right temperature while cooking on charcoal, but you must first learn to use the vents in the best way. Once you have the technique down for keeping your temperature in a specific range, you can cook or grill anything imaginable on either a Big Green Egg or a kamado from Joe's.
Personally, we have used the Big Green Egg for many, many years to get the perfect smoke or grill flavor we seek. We have used it to test different types of charcoal and the Big Green Egg as always done everything we need it to do. It would take a lot for us to decide not to use out Big Green Egg anymore, but the features of the Kamado Joe's grills are certainly intriguing.
In particular, the top vent from Joe's is a unique design that will get you smoking and grilling at the best temperature with less practice. The Divide and Conquer rack system is really a great design that also makes it easy to add lump charcoal, a water pan, or to retrieve that chicken wing that got away. The grill is sturdy and well-made, but is obviously more complicated. Joe's also uses a split ceramic diffuser plate under the grill. The Big Green Egg uses a single piece ceramic diffuser beneath its non-adjustable grill. In some ways, the single plate is simpler to use, less messy, and may be more convenient when you have hot charcoal burning away. These small differences really come down to what the grill master is looking to do with an egg.
Is the Big Green Egg Better than Kamado Joe's Big Egg
Our experience is that the Big Green Egg is a little easier to learn to use, while the Kamado Joe's grill is a little more efficient with burning charcoal. Picking which one is best really comes down to deciding if a multi-level, but more complex system is what you need from an egg, or if the simplicity of the Big Green Egg will meet your needs.
Where the Big Green Egg really shines is the overall quality of the smoker. Big Green Egg smokers and grills from Kamado Joe's both carry a lifetime warranty to cover manufacturing defects. This means that as long as you treat your smoker right, you will never have to worry about it breaking. That can make a big decision easier when you are considering whether to go with an egg or a metal smoker.
Quick Overview of Kamado Joe vs Big Green Egg
|Big Green Egg
|Color / Materials
|Green / Single Piece Ceramic
|Red / Multi-Panel Ceramic
|Two or Three, Depending on Model #
|One-Finger Air Hinge
|Ceramic Chimney Cap
|Aluminum Control Tower
|Stainless Steel, Wire Wash
|Stainless Steel, Ash Collector
|Includes Ash Collector and Grill Grate Lifter
Either of these branded egg kamados will meet the needs of even the most discerning grill master. In some ways, the higher cost of the smoker from Kamado Joe's can be reasonably offset by the additional accessories the company includes over the Big Green Egg design. The versatility of the egg from Joe's really might be the perfect option if you plan to barbeque, smoke, or grill different meats at the same time on your egg. The simpler design of the Big Green Egg makes it a more approachable design, even if you must buy extra accessories before you next cook-off. Either way, buying one of these classic-style cookers will open up a world of culinary options. You may even find yourself randomly perusing the meat counter at your favorite store, just because you're thinking about what you want to smoke next.
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