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see the original paragraph below regarding the deal I received on my Kamado Joe has been struck through as that deal is no longer valid, unfortunately.
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!
I agree with how you went about choosing the Joe over the Green Egg. The only thing you need to be aware of is that if you by your Joe from a unauthorized dealer the grill then has not warrant. I would hope that you would never need the warranty due to the high quality of the Joe, but if you you did need it Kamado Joe would not warrant it. It has to be purchased through a authorized dealer to get a warranty.
Kamado Jim says
That’s a great point, Bobby. Thanks for chiming in.
I should have mentioned that Wayfair is (or at least was) a licensed Kamado Joe dealer at the time of my purchase. They’ve been making a number of changes to their Kamado Joe offerings recently though (namely price), so I’m not certain if that still holds true, but I’ll reach out to them to see if I can confirm.
See Kamado Joe advertised at Home Depot for $699.00. Are they an authorized dealer?
The Kamado Pro that Home Depot sells for $699.00 is made by Vision. Looks similar to our Kamado Joe but is made real cheap. I wish they would sell the Kamado Joe.
PauL Schafer says
Hi, I just had to add my two cents – I must disagree about the Vision Grill being made real cheap. I’ve compared it to the others and see no difference and it also comes with all you need to start cooking. Plus their after sales service is great ( check online comments ). I bought one 3 years ago and there was a piece missing in the box, I called Vision and they shipped my part that very day. I’ve used it regularly in both hot summer weather and sub- zero winter and it works just fine. I do think the Egg is over priced (I too am frugal).
Does the Vision grill at Home Depot have all with it that the Kamado Joe comes with it? (Divide cooking racks, heat deflector etc
Paul Schafer says
Hi Frank, I can’t say what the Vision from Home Depot comes with. Mine came with a 1 inch thick lava stone for heat deflection or as a cooking surface, two flip up tables, two grills ( hinged so you can add charcoal if necessary ) and a cover. I know that Vision has several models and sizes so I don’t know if each model has it’s own inventory or if it is the same for all. I also want to point out that I am not trying to say that Vision is or is not the best. My reason for writing was because of the previous post stating that it was made cheap which it certainly is not. It is a well made Kamado.
Does it use regular charcoal or the lump coals
Kamado Jim says
Hi Frank- You can use any coal you’d like, however there are numerous advantages to using lump charcoal in your Kamado grill including being quicker to get up to temperature, less ash, and being more responsive to oxygen which makes it easier to control the temperature.
Paul Schafer says
The instructions I got with my unit said to use lump charcoal. I could be wrong but I would think that all the Kamado manufacturers say to use lump
Is there a cast iron grate for the Joe?
Kamado Jim says
Yes, and here’s the link to purchase it: http://amzn.to/1f1owMv
I have one and can tell you that there’s simply no better way to sear a steak. The grill marks you’ll get with one of those cast iron grates are a thing of beauty. Enjoy!
This is a great site! Lots of really good info. Perhaps someone can help me with a few questions.
I’m looking to get a Kamado Joe grill, but I’m finding the prices for the KJ are actually higher than the Big Green Egg. (stand alone KJ = $1,038 vs Stand alone BGE = $829 / BIGJOE = $1599 vs. XL BGE = $1,079). Wayfair doesn’t appear to be offering the 10% coupon any more as well…Am I missing something?
Also, I’ve been leaning towards the 24″ models but am concerned about the ability to get accessory for it. It seems most accessories are for the “regular” large models. Is this correct?
Mary E. says
I just saw the Kamado Joe at our Costco yesterday and their 24″ model is $1199 and includes all of the accessories. I’m not sure where you’re pricing it or if that is less than they typically sell for, but wanted you to know.
Were actually getting big green egg owners coming into our dealer to buy the divide to conquer for their BGE between one of our sales staff and a customer they made a new nickname, ” The Mean Joe Greene” lol
West w says
I’m calling BS on this article. I’m pretty sure someone within the company wrote this, and are making these bogus comments.
Kamado Jim says
No BS here. Just a very happy Kamado Joe customer. If you’re in the market to purchase a new Kamado grill, I urge you to give Kamado Joe a shot so you can see exactly why I’m such a fan.
Thanks for stopping by.
Twenty minutes plus to dump the ashes on a WSM? What are you smoking? You don’t have to spend $800+ on a ceramic grill or a knockoff to make good food.
Kamado Jim says
Cleaning the WSM is way more involved than cleaning the Kamado Joe. The WSM has to be disassembled, the ashes have to be thrown out, the water pan (which is full of grease) has to be cleaned out and scrubbed, dried, and stored, as does the tray that I’d put the WSM on for preventing grease from dripping on my patio. It was a major hassle and time suck.
Cleaning the Kamado Joe takes about 20 seconds: Pull out ask drawer and dump it in bin. No messy water pan to deal with either. Granted, I do have to pull out the fire box and sweep the ashes out from time to time, but I only do that a few times a year and can be done in about 30 minutes.
You’ve never actually owned a WSM or even seen one in the flesh. “Disaseembly” of the middle section is no more involved than taking the lid off. The entire 18″ middle section is like 10 lbs. Takes my wife less than a minute to “clean” my WSM including that dreaded water pan. Pro tip, use aluminum foil.
After 14-16 hour cooks it has never once dripped grease on the concrete it sits on. Not saying the WSM is the best thing ever but it performs similar to those that cost 3x as much.
You’re either paid by the manufactuer or have to make up “facts” about other setups to justify your over priced patio anchor.
Kamado Jim says
Please see this page for a picture of me with my WSM: http://kamadojim.com/about/
And to be perfectly honest, I wish I was paid by the manufacturer! As stated numerous times throughout this website, I’m simply a fan of their well-made and supported product. Believe what you’d like – it really makes no difference to me.
I also have a WSM and it is a very involved cleaning process. The water bowl and charcoal are a night mare to keep clean and the inside of the cylinder is always sooty or greasy.
I’m saving up for a kamado grill and I think I’m going to get a kamado joe. I live in the U.K. So quite limited but BGE are too expensive and certainly over here they are bought by people who have no clue about grilling or smoking food as a status piece. I’ve done a lot of research and even considered having a grilla kong delivered to my hotel when I’m in the states later this year and freight shipping it home to myself but think I’m going to buy the joe.
There’s always negativity on every blog/forum I for one have found this useful and it is actually in line with what everybody else says about the joe. Surely they’re not all being paid Jesse??!!
trying to find info. on Vision kamado here is the #’s on it
503548 B-K1C2A1-N1 saw at Sams $549 anybody have info on this one
Hi, I tried to look up the model of Vision grill from your post but was unable to see exactly which model you are talking about, so I will make some general comments. I have had a vision grill for a few years now – LOVE it! Their after sales service is great. The “M” series is smaller than the “B Series. While I can’t say with certainty that the construction is as good as other brands I can say that I can’t see a difference.
Hi! Just out of curiosity have you seen the Pit Boss Ceramic Smokers. If so what are your impressions. I saw their biggest model, which is about the size of the Big Joe at Costco. The price point for this unit is around $700.00. Thanks!
So I bought the KJ at Costco and compared to the BGE that my next door neighbor has and…
The BGE has a superior hing system – provided you have the room. The lid on the BGE will stay open at almost any angle – the KJ stays open only when it is fully opened- This can be a big deal if you don’t have the room to open the lid all the way. Ultimately the hinge system on the BGE is far superior, provided you have the extra room – meaning, it opens an extra 1.5″ down at the hing. So as the lid on the BGE opens, the hinge protrudes down – an important fact if you are building a stand.
The BGE has a superior venting system up top. Maybe my KJ is broken, but the top vent will spin when you open the lid – thus if you have it set perfect, you will need to readjust after opening the lid. Not so with the BGE.
The BGE plate setter is much easier to put in and remove. The KJ has two separate pieces and then almost need to be forced into place.
I personally believe the BGE is a superior piece of equipment and priced as such. Yes you get more with the KJ, and…yet, I wish I had spent the cash on the BGE.
You might want to contact the manufacturer – sounds like your hinge is not working properly or was installed wrong. On my KJ the hinge works at most angles (though not sure why I’d want to not have it fully opened or closed). My brother-in-law has a BGE and I noticed yesterday while he was smoking the Thanksgiving turkey, that the lid wasn’t closing right – turns out his hinge had broken after two years.
My point here is that you may wan to contact KJ about yours. Their customer services is pretty good.
Patrick G says
Nice article. I went back and forth, but I eventually went with a BGE for a couple of reasons:
1.) I didn’t need/want a nest. I already had plans in place to build my grill table, so I never did a cook where it wasn’t already in that table. I realize that KJ comes with one in the price and BGE charges extra, but that wasn’t a consideration for me.
2.) Firebox design. I don’t know if this is still the case, but BGE manufactured a “crack” into their firebox to prevent it from cracking and breaking. KJ might do that now, but I don’t think they were doing it in 2012 when I bought the BGE. Basically that split allows for a bit of expansion and contraction under heat, and you don’t get one of the most common problems with the old design, a crack/break.
3.) Customer service. While the customer service for KJ is probably ever bit as good, BGE has a great reputation for theirs with a lifetime warranty on ceramics. Case in point, my original plate setter/heat shield cracked and broke. They replaced it for free, no questions asked – I just drove over to my local BGE dealer and picked it up.
With all of that said, if I had to do it over, I’d be danged temped to go with the Kamado Joe first, although I’ve had nothing but success on the BGE. If something ever happens and I need/want another ceramic cooker, it will very likely be a Kamado Joe.
Joseph Echols says
I have so many grills and smokers, but I don’t have a Kamado Joe. I sure do want one though. I have a large BGE and I love it, but I also like the Traeger pellet grill/smoker as well. If any of you on here are ever in Raleigh, NC be sure to visit Kamodo Grill restaurant. It’s only a short distance from Costco and everything they cook there is cooked on KamadoJoe cookers. They gave me a tour of the kitchen and it was amazing. They have a website, but you’ll need to search for it if you’re interested. They also sell everything that KJ has. I just brought a Joetisserie that works well with my BGE. For years I simply had a hole in the ground I lined with an old water heater tank and I would get about 2 feet of coals in and add damp smoking wood wrap the meat (or whatever) in a paper bag with 2 plus of wet newspaper, set that on the smoking wood fashioned grate, cover everything with an old sign and seal the edges…about 18 hours later, uncover and there you have “pit cooked” turkey, Boston butt, or whatever. Salmon took about half the time to cook. Sorry to post so much on your site, but sure glad I stumbled on it.
John K says
I’d like to invest in a quality kamado grill that will last the test of time and your article was useful reading. In my case though, my patio is away from the house and open to the elements (on the altlantic coast) meaning the bbq could not be left there permanently – rather moved out temporarily in dry summer weather. And that move would be over uneven ground so even by wheelbarrow it would need to be lifted. How practical would that be for an 83kg beast like the classicjoe in your experience? Also, in UK/Europe I see we have a third choice which seems to be from a german outfit called monolith – wondered if you’d come across them?
Jerry Elmore says
I have a BGE and a Classic Joe. Hands down the KJ cooks at a more even temp and is easier to clean after a cook. Bonus it’s cheaper in here Kansas City and most if not all the accessories for BGE will fit the KJ if you just need a BGE fix.
I like both the BGE and the KJ so don’t misread my post. It’s just a fact the KJ cooks easier.
Thanks for the very informative article. Think that KJ will be my choice too. Price here for cheapest model is around 1180 EUR. BGE is about the same, but includes no accessories as said. Additional cost easily over 500 EUR to match KJ. Greetings from Finland!
Larry Shepherd says
It’s not a bad time to be in the market for a kamado. A lot of great grills out there at nice prices. I basically came down to the BGE, Kamado Joe and the Grilla Kong and went with the Kong after I called and asked a few questions to their customer service team, who were extremely helpful. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with either of these grills, but if you’re interested in the Kong you can check that out here – http://grillagrills.com/grills/kong-ceramic-kamado-grill/. My best friend has a Joe and he loves his, and I love my Kong. Like I said, not a bad time to be in the market!
I purchased a Kamado Joe through Costco a little less than a month ago. It had issues with the lid not being aligned with lower part of grill, ring around the gasket goes above the gasket in the rear instead of over it, gasket not properly installed. We opened a case but we did not get any feedback for a few days. I will skip a few details in this post, but I will include them in other reviews, and get to the point where they finally contacted us, we sent them pictures and then we received an email that they were sending parts to us. Yes parts that included gaskets and tension springs! This company expected us to disassemble and reassemble the grill. This job is for trained technicians not a customer, especially when the problem is with a brand new out of the box product. I write back and told them not to bother sending the parts as I will be returning the grill to Costco. Luckily, I bought the grill from Costco who stand behind what they sell. The answer from Kamado Joe was: sorry to hear that, have a wonderful day. This is the worst customer support I have ever experienced. Absolutely the worst. I will buy a different brand.