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The Big Green Egg has been around for more than 50 years, and for a long while, it was the only kamado-style grill on the market. Kamado grills have a long history, though, and the guys from the Big Green Egg didn’t invent them. In recent years, many newcomers have tried to update the kamado design and create a worthy competitor to the Big Green Egg.
We’ve researched the competition, and found that Kamado Joe is the best alternative to the Big Green when it comes to kamado-style grills. Even though the company was founded only in 2011, Kamado Joe grills have already gathered a faithful fan base. So what makes kamado girls so special, and is Kamado Joe as good, better, or worse than the Big Green Egg? This is the question we’ll try to answer today.
First, we’ll review three awesome Kamado Joe grills. Then, we’ll talk about the features of the Big Green Egg. In the end, we’ll compare the two to see who wins the battle.
The Kamado Joe Classic II is definitely the most popular grill from the Kamado Joe line. This particular model has come out as the favorite of many enthusiasts across the world, and there are some good reasons for this.
First of all, the Kamado Joe Classic II is ready to use right out of the box. You get everything you need to start grilling, no additional accessories or mods required. Moreover, Kamado Joe has really made a lot of little improvements on their Classic II series that make their already amazing original Kamado Joe grill even better.
All Kamado Joe grills are kamado-style grills, and every real kamado grill must have a heavy ceramic shell that retains heat. Kamado Joe does offer this, which is one of the reasons why we love their grills. But this is not all they have to offer.
Inside the grill, there is a firebox made of multiple ceramic pieces. The breaks between pieces allow room for expansion that happens at high temperatures, thus making the firebox much more durable than one-piece versions.
Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill comes with its own stand or “nest” as they call it, some useful side shelves, and flexible cooking grids inside. We also love the updated all-aluminum adjustable vent at the top. This model measures 18 inches in diameter, which is simply the most versatile size. You can still cook for multiple people and fit a large cut of meat in there, but the grill is not overly large.
Premium 18″ Ceramic Grill with Cast Iron Cart & Locking Wheels – The Kamado Joe Classic II gives the perfect cooking size of 18 inches along with its Premium cart that comes with the purchase of your grill, including locking casters and wheels.
2-Tier Divide & Conquer - Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System transforms the humble grill grate into the most powerful cooking tool in your arsenal. The revolutionary multi-level, half-moon design frees you to cook different foods in different styles at different temperatures—all at the same time
Kontrol Tower Top Vent - Maintains consistent air setting for precise airflow management during dome opening and closing. Constructed of powder coated cast aluminum, the patent pending dual-adjustment top vent is rain resistant and allows you to smoke from 225F all the way to searing at 750F.
Air Lift Hinge – The air lift hinge significantly reduces dome weight. The grill dome can be lifted with a single finger giving the most comfortable grilling experience there is.
AMP (Advanced Multi-Panel) FireBox – The patent pending six-piece design eliminates breakage and increases grill efficiency.
The Kamado Joe Big Joe II grill is the perfect fit for anyone with a “go big or go home” attitude. If you like the Kamado Joe classic, but feel a little constrained by its size – the Big Joe grill takes out all the stops. It offers so much space inside that you can make literally anything you like. A giant brisket? No problem. A full rack of ribs or a whole turkey? Easy peasy.
Other than the difference in size, the Big Joe grill is pretty much the same as the standard Kamado Joe grill. We chose the stand-alone version as our favorite. The stand-alone Big Joe doesn’t come with a stand, but instead just with three small feet that keep the grill stable on the ground. We found that this is really all you need with this huge grill. It is also really heavy, so having it standing on the ground instead of propped up on legs seems much safer.
In the case of Big Joe, the Air Lift Hinge added to the Big Joe II grill really makes a big difference. As we already mentioned, this grill is really heavy, and lifting the lid by yourself would be a real pain. With the innovative hinge, the lid feels as if it was 10 times lighter and the weight issue becomes nonexistent!
The Kamado Joe Jr. Charcoal Grill is perfect for those looking for a smaller ceramic grill than the standard size. But why should you want a smaller grill when you can get the bigger one? It’s true, they are both heavy, and a ceramic grill is never really portable. However, with 13.5 inches in diameter, we found that the Kamado Joe Jr is a great little grill to have in your backyard.
If you’d like to cook on a ceramic grill, but don’t really cook for lots of people on a regular basis, this size is right for you. It’s also great if you want a ceramic grill as a secondary grill. They are perfect for long, slow roasts, after all, so you can have your Kamado Joe making a roast while you do something else on a gas grill, for example.
In any case, the Kamado Joe Jr is just as good as other Kamado Joe grills. Despite the smaller size, nothing is missing. The adjustable and rain-resistant vent on top for perfect airflow control, the built-in thermometer, the quality grilling grates – it’s all there. As a nice addition, the Junior comes with a stable cast-iron nest to put it in.
The Big Green Egg was the only kamado-style grill available on the market for many years. They haven’t changed the design of their grills in ages either. That’s not bad since the Big Green Egg was very well made to begin with.
However, the newcomers on the market like Kamado Joe have tried to modernize the kamado design. At least in the case of Kamado Joe, we must say this project was a success. Kamado Joe grills feature a heavy ceramic shell that is very similar to that of the Big Green Egg (but red instead). What makes Kamado Joe stand out are the little improvements they made.
Kamado Joe’s patented Air Lift Hinge, for example, makes a lot of difference in the overall experience of using the grill. While it takes quite a bit of strength to lift the lid of the Big Green Egg, with Kamado Joe it feels light as a feather. Additionally, Kamado Joe now features a new fiberglass gasket on their grills which surpasses the one used on the Big Green Egg both in terms of effectiveness and durability.
Another point that might sway buyers towards Kamado Joe are the accessories included with the grill. Although it depends on the dealer, the Big Green Egg usually doesn’t come with anything included besides the essential parts, although you can buy a wide range of accessories separately. Kamado Joe, on the other hand, offers full packages that include the stand, the side shelves and some other cute surprises.
In conclusion, we are not disputing that the Big Green Egg is a good grill. It definitely is. However, it seems that Kamado Joe is a quality alternative that is definitely worth a shot!