Barrel Kamado (BK) vs Kamado Joe (KJ) vs Big Green Egg (BGE)
We understand when something new comes along – it takes time to understand it. So we compare market leaders, side by side, with the Barrel Kamado.
Even if you are an occasional outdoor cook, this machine is quick to get you started so that you can produce fantastic results.
For the more serious enthusiasts, this will give you sublime control and options.
- 5 vent air control, – unparalleled control over airflow, Smoke direction and heat flows within the kamado!
- cast iron and ceramic internals, – no need to upgrade later – start with quality – it lasts.
- super-insulated walls, – always cool to the touch – safe with small children and pets.
- greatly increased cook space, a barrel inherently has a lot of space – this can accommodate 4 cooking levels.
- flexible cooking configurations, divide the cooking environment vertically and horizontally, and then direct the heat and smoke.
- Oak not only looks fantastic it lasts for hundreds of years. English warships built 500 years ago still survive today.
- The Bordeaux wine barrel can also be a useful table when the kamado is not in use – pull up a chair and have a glass of Bordeaux wine.
- Designed to last – made with over-engineered stainless steel components – you won’t want to cover this up from the rain.
and all in a package that defies logic ~ fire in wood.
In this post, we compare everything we can from these other manufactures. They are compared with similar size kamados from the two leading brands. We list their features and explain their benefits. We hope to inform those wishing to get the best product for their outdoor cooking experience.
|The Hinge is an important component of the kamado. Here there are three different designs. We look at each and describe the features and their benefits. We give each a score with the winner listed first and the score in Green. We feel the KJ is the overall winner as their hinge does provide the greatest control. We like the robustness of the BK and the fact it can be adjusted without tools. The hinge of the Big Green Egg works however, there are complaints of rust.|
|Kamado Joe Classic – they used a counterbalance hinge designed and manufactured by WeberKnapp something they call AirLift. Their specification says it allowed kamado Joe to reduce the lid’s weight by about 95%.. Like the BK the torque is adjustable to accommodate the lid weight variance. Maximum operating force to lift the lid is 10 lbs. Below 10° and above 60° the lid can move on its own. However, it is still in a controlled fashion. WeberKnapp says supported life is 50k operations. You will need tools to adjust the torque. This is the winner out of the three we review here. Something to note - there are reports of issues with the new hinge - see here for further details..Owners Hinge comments I think it is probably OK for most people - there will always be anomalies. KamadoJoe is good at resolving issues for customers.|
|The lid on the BK is heavy approx. 50~60kgs. Whilst the mass is welcome when we are cooking (residual thermal heat)- the user needs help by way of a spring assisted hinge. The hinge is embedded into the refractory and further secured to the barrel itself. Using two large stainless springs with two stainless turnbuckles provides stability and torque adjustment. The lid can be easily opened, however, the user must maintain control of the lid until it is fully open or fully closed. It is for this reason we marked it down. The hinge is very robust and few moving parts its a simple design with an estimated working life-span of something like 500k operations. Another plus is there are no bands holding the lid. Nothing to rust or work loose.|
|Big Green Egg has had little innovation since its inception. Then in 2007 it moved to a cantilever design which moves the lid back as it is opened providing better access to the grill surface. The two springs assist with the weight of the lid. BGE requires and uses the weight of its lid to keep a seal with the base. Whilst the KJ and the BK use stainless catch to ensure secure pull down. There are many reports of rusting and bands either snapping or working loose and the ceramic lid falling out of the metal bands. There are replacement hinges available from the BGE website - although these are expensive.|
|One of the most used parts on a kamado is arguably the handle. Here is a brief description of each. Difficult to decide on the best one as it may be a matter of personal taste. But we will point out any notable features.|
|Barrel Kamado uses a solid alloy bar this keeps weight down whilst providing a strong weather resistant handle. Plenty of room to grab hold of even with BBQ gloves and it feels very secure. The bar is 19mm and always cool to the touch. The handle is secured with stainless steel bolts , these are embedded in the refractory and bolted through the barrel.|
|Big Green Egg gets second place because of their un-inspiring handle design and durability of materials. On the plus side their use of wood which is naturally recyclable and sustainable material is a nice touch. Although the design is basic it is a surprisingly comfortable handle to use. There are reports online of people saying that their handles work loose and starts to look tired quickly, however bolts are external so can be maintained. More recent designs are larger so they can be used with BBQ gloves.|
|A very similar design to the Big Green Egg. The issue here is Plastic... I guess where you stand with the use of plastic will influence you on this one. We believe we should be moving away from plastic. However, in their defence it is a good quality and will last a long time. Once again BBQ glove friendly. Comes in third because of plastic.|
|All three have easy to read thermometers. The biggest is on the Kamado Joe. All three are simple bi-metal thermometers and are used as rough guide. These types of thermometer suffer from the several limitations. 1. Accuracy is within +/- 5°c , they measure a single point within the kamado , this can lead to significant inaccuracies. We recommend using at minimum 2 probe digital to supplement the thermometer shipped with your kamado. As a rough guide they are OK - you can get a reassuring feedback that all is well inside the kamado.|
|Kamado Joe has the largest thermometer and wins top spot. Great for the quick glance to make sure all is well - Generally.
|The thermometer on the BK appears better made using stainless case and glass lens and has a robust feel to it. However, its not the largest here. It is sufficient - but alway use probes for accurate results.|
|Big Green Egg has various thermometers, to be fair their latest one is larger. Once again most users would opt for a digital probe thermometer.|