Approximately six years ago, I was at a friend’s house celebrating his birthday. I’ll never forget when we walked out onto his deck and I unknowingly, laid my eyes upon the first ceramic grill I’d ever seen.
“What in the hell is that?”, I asked.
“Are you serious? You’ve never seen a Big Green Egg before?”, my friend replied, looking utterly perplexed as if I had suddenly grown a second head.
I didn’t have the first clue what a Big Green Egg was and as any loyal “Egghead” would, he began to rattle off reason after reason as to why it’s “the best grill ever.”
Not thinking much of it, I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed another drink, and continued to mingle at the party. Later that evening however, he served that fateful pulled pork he had smoked over ten hours and I’ll never forget my reaction after that first bite.
“WHOA. This pulled pork came from that Big Green Egg thing out back?”
“Looking ridiculously smug, he replied, “Sure did. Not bad, huh?”
Not bad?! It was borderline life-changing. I still talk about that pork today. It was mind blowing. Between the perfectly done bark and the delicate smoke flavor, it was some of the best pulled pork I had ever had and it was at that moment that I knew I needed to have one of those “Big Green Egg things.” Whatever they were.
Fast forward six years and I’m now the proud owner of a Kamado Joe Classic and NOT a Big Green Egg. So what happened, you ask? We’ll let’s dive in and I’ll explain exactly why I chose the Kamado Joe over the Big Green Egg.
First things first, the price
You’ll begin to notice a common theme here at Kamado Jim if you stick around long enough. I’m pretty frugal. My wife would beg to differ and just calls me outright cheap, but I prefer to go with the term “frugal”. It works for Warren Buffett and he isn’t exactly living a life of despair.
**Update – July 2016** You’ll see the original paragraph below regarding the deal I received on my Kamado Joe has been struck through as that deal is no longer valid, unfortunately. The good news is that I have since changed my Kamado Joe dealer of choice to the next best thing – Amazon.com! They’re selling the 18″ model for only $999 with free shipping that can be scheduled at your convenience.
Semantics aside, I was able to get a better price (as compared to the Big Green Egg) on my Kamado Joe by purchasing via Wayfair.com. As a new customer, not only did I receive 10% off their price of $950, but I also received a small “reward” or store credit to the tune of $35 which I could use on a future purchase. Also, they didn’t charge me for tax and shipping which could be substantial given the price and weight of the Kamado Joe (you can get the same deal here!). As an extra added bonus, I received an additional 10% off due to a slight backorder from the Kamado Joe warehouse. Needless to say, I cannot praise Wayfair customer service enough. I’d do business with them again in a heartbeat.
All in all, I saved nearly $200 off retail bringing my total, out of pocket cost to $768. From the research I’ve done, you simply cannot get a comparably sized Big Green Egg for less than that, unless you’re able to take advantage of the demo egg deal at EGGtoberfest.
I REALLY don’t appreciate being nickel and dimed
If you’re looking to purchase a Big Green Egg, you’ll quickly realize you actually need to purchase nearly a dozen essential items in order to fully complete your grilling and smoking setup.
The Kamado Joe comes with the grill, a heat deflector, an ash tool, the “Divide & Conquer” flexible cooking system, and a grate removal tool. Everything you need to grill and smoke except the charcoal.
The Big Green Egg, on the other hand, comes with, well, the grill. That’s it. Every other item is an additional cost which really begins to add up quickly. When it’s all said and done, you’re going to come out ahead financially if you purchase a Kamado Joe.
In my opinion, the Big Green Egg is an excellent grill and smoker, however being a larger and more established brand compared to Kamado Joe, I’m not sure they’ve really had the incentive to focus on further research, development, and most importantly, innovation.
Kamado Joe, on the other hand, being an upstart for all intents and purposes, has an absolute monster of a competitor to compete with and has been forced to deliver an innovative product if they want a chance to successfully compete in the Kamado market.
Here are just two of those innovations that sold me on the Kamado Joe:
First, the Kamado Joe Divide and Conquer flexible cooking system, which I mentioned earlier, is an absolutely brilliant idea. It splits your grill grate into two separate pieces giving you the ability to get your food either closer to or further away from the heat source as needed.
My absolute favorite innovation that Kamado Joe brought to the market however, is the removable ash drawer. Coming from a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker which had to be completely disassembled after each cook in order to be properly cleaned, the removable ash drawer on the Kamado Joe simply lets me pull out the drawer, dump the contents, replace it, and be done with it. This feature alone saves me a good 20 minutes at the end of every cook and with a young baby to help care for, every minute counts.
Before purchasing the Kamado Joe, I can’t begin to tell you how many reviews I read and how many YouTube videos I watched. Being a pretty sizable investment, I didn’t want to take a chance on a potential piece of junk product.
As it turns out though, Kamado Joe employees and even the owner himself, Bobby Brennan, can be found all over the Kamado Joe forum and their sister forum over at Kamado Guru. Everywhere you look, they’re pleasing customers left and right and I encountered dozens of posts from customers simply raving about how wonderfully they’ve been treated by the Kamado Joe customer service team.
Speaking of which, I actually had an issue with the nuts that secured the handle to the dome when my grill arrived and after searching for a solution online, I found a post from Bobby Brennan himself that did the trick. I think it’s pretty cool that the owner of the company is that invested and involved in the operations of the company and I’m proud to support it.
I don’t follow the herd
There’s no doubt that the Big Green Egg brand has been wildly successful since it emerged in 1974. As you undoubtedly know, they have a cult-like following (and I mean that in the nicest way possible)…and that’s exactly what led me to look elsewhere for my new ceramic grill. Despite popularity, doing / buying what everyone else does just isn’t my style. I can’t explain the core reason why I’ve always been that way because honestly, I haven’t a clue. I must just be a sucker for the underdog.
In the end though, it doesn’t really matter that I chose the Kamado Joe instead of the Big Green Egg. That’s the beauty of Kamado style grills; recipes are completely interchangeable and no matter which brand you decide to purchase, you can rest assured that you’re going to turn out some ridiculously delicious barbecued food!
If you’ve been persuaded and want to get your hands on a Kamado Joe however, make sure to use this deal to get it with free shipping!