If you’re familiar with the Kamado style grill, you know the subject of Kamado Joe (KJ) versus Big Green Egg (BGE) grills is a hotly debated one. At first glance, they’re similar looking enough to think it might not matter which one you choose. Colour scheme and minor body shape differences aside - cooking inside those big ceramic chambers must be just about identical, right? In asense - they do have much in common - but we’re going to dive into what sets them apart. Kamado Joe Classic and Big Joe grills are uniquely innovative, opening up a range of versatility in cooking that is difficult to reproduce.
Overall Build KJ and BGE are extremely well-built and sturdy. Both have massive, thick ceramic bodies and lids - they retain heat for hours on end with proper management of your fire and airflow. It’s in the details that you start to see the differences in the final product. The gasket that comes with the KJ and helps seal your cooking chamber when closing the lid is a mesh made of fibreglass and it is built to last. It stands up to repeated use far better than the felt gasket on the BGE.
Another small detail is the Air Lift Hinge, exclusive to KJ grills. Those thick ceramic lids we mentioned? They’re heavy. Really heavy. The hinge on the KJ does almost all of the work for you when checking on your cook - making it much easier to open and close. It’s a small quality-of-life feature that makes a difference on those long 14+ hour brisket cookouts.
Finally, while both the KJ and BGE are great all-weather grilling companions, the KJ’s Kontrol Tower Top Vent, comes with all models and adds an extra layer of protection from the elements. It covers the vent openings, preventing rain from entering the chamber, but still gives precise control over airflow.
Bonus tip: Kamado grills are THE best option if you love grilling in the winter. Charcoal grills do take longer to get going, but the heat retention of the ceramic bodies and design of the cooking chamber/firebox can stand up to fierce Maritime winter conditions with ease.
Cooking In general, Kamado grills are very versatile cooking devices. The range of temperatures you can operate within is 225 ℉ on the low-end, to 750 ℉+ (that’s extremely hot, most home ovens max out around 550 ℉). Lower temperatures are used for smoking larger/tougher cuts, like pork shoulders, briskets, and ribs.
While the higher temp ranges are perfect for the best sear on a steak you’ve ever seen, quickly roasting veggies, or handling any number of burgers & dogs. With a bit of practice on fire management and maintaining the ideal positions of the top and bottom vents based on what you’re preparing, you can cook just about anything.
The cooking chamber is another place KJ brings innovation into the equation, right out of the box. Their included Divide & Conquer® Flexible Cooking System is an adjustable 2-tiered system that gives you even more control over your cook. You can quickly sear a steak and some veggies on high heat, closer to the firebox, while your rack of ribs finishes on the raised tier at a lower temp.
The control over these zones is further expanded with the insertable heat deflector for indirect cooking. Couple these incredible features with the unmistakable & delicious flavour of charcoal-grilled/smoked food, and the KJ is a clear winner.
Bonus tip: To get the most out of your longer cooks, be sure to buy a few different types of hardwood chunks or chips. Adding wood to your Kamado cook imparts smoky deliciousness and is the best way to get the characteristic pink ‘smoke ring’ on the outer edge of your meat. We’ll talk more about the types of wood you should use based on what you’re cooking in future articles!
Accessories KJ has a great line of accessories for their grill products, many of which we carry! Pizza oven inserts, cast iron griddles, the famous JoeTisserie (that’s right, you can turn your Kamado grill into a rotisserie). While accessories are popular for Kamado style grills, KJ brings the same level of quality and attention to detail to their add-ons as they do for their grills. The available accessories add worthwhile, meaningful functionality to an already expanded set of cooking options.
Bottom Line When it comes right down to it, both KJ and BGE are great options and an incredible investment for those who truly enjoy the experience of grilling. We are extremely proud to carry Kamado Joe products, and it’s through their innovative approach to design and function that they maintain their edge against anyone else. Check out our full line of Kamado Joe products here.