When it comes to kamado grilling, a quality unit is the key to success. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro, you’ll want to invest in the best tool for the job. That’s where this AKORN vs Big Green Egg showdown comes in.
The AKORN is a kamado-style grill presented by Char-Griller. This brand has been in business since 1994 and offers a wide range of grills, smokers, and accessories. They pride themselves on combining affordability with longevity, particularly with models like the AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill.
The AKORN offers a few different sizing options, including a “JR.” version. The flagship model features 314 square inches of grilling space, plus a 133-square inch warming rack. It’s available in three exterior colors: blue, graphite, and red.
- Cooking Grates-Cast Iron
- Primary Cooking Surface-314 sq in
- Secondary Warming Rack-133 sq in
- Total Cooking Surface-447 sq in
- Great insulation
- Versatile unit
- Broad temperature range
- Affordable price point
- Cooking grates may require frequent replacement
- Some of the hardware is low-quality and prone to rusting
Big Green Egg
This company is widely regarded as the gold standard for kamado grills. Their products are sturdy and reliable, capable of producing results that are as head-turning as they are mouthwatering.
The Big Green Egg is available in a range of different sizes, from the Mini to the 2XL. Because the XL version is the closest in diameter to the AKORN, that’s the one we’ve decided to review here.
- Cooking Grates-Stainless Steel
- Primary Cooking Surface-452 sq in
- Secondary Warming Rack-N/A
- Total Cooking Surface-452 sq in
- Exceptionally durable construction
- Can be used as a stand-alone unit or as part of a built-in outdoor kitchen
- Reliable temperature control
- Customized accessories available for an additional price
- High price point
- Single-tier cooking system restricts the unit’s versatility
This section lists all the basic elements that the Akorn and Big Green Egg have in common, then looks at the particulars to see who comes out on top.
The Big Green Egg brand is known for its high prices. As a leader in the industry, it can get away with charging a bit more for the name recognition.
By contrast, Char-Griller represents a budget option. The AKORN isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s more affordable than the XL Big Green Egg. The trade-off in quality is barely noticeable, especially for the first few years of use (see Construction and Durability, below).
The discrepancy in cost is particularly evident when you factor in the accessories. The AKORN grill features several perks that don’t cost any extra, while Big Green Egg asks you to shell out (pun intended) more cash for basic offerings.
Construction and Durability
The AKORN’s main body is made of 22-gauge steel. The exterior finish is powder-coated, while the interior features porcelain enameling for added protection.
The Big Green Egg, on the other hand, offers a traditional ceramic construction. The signature green glaze on the exterior is actually a porcelain-enameled coating, which is moisture-resistant and helps to seal the heat inside the firebox.
Which of these construction styles is superior? Some would say that AKORN’s steel version is preferable because it won’t crack if you accidentally bang something against the firebox. This is a good point.
However, we’re partial to the traditional ceramic version offered by the Big Green Egg. As long as you’re careful with it, the body of the grill can withstand many long seasons of regular use. It also has more eye appeal, especially when built into a table or island.
Winner: Big Green Egg
Despite the Big Green Egg’s superior body construction, its primary cooking grids are made of stainless steel. Although steel is an effective heat conductor, it can be difficult to clean, especially if you wait too long to attend to the task after cooking.
AKORN’s grilling grates are fashioned out of cast iron. This gives them increased durability as well as superior heat retention. It also delivers better grill marks.
Remember that cast iron requires seasoning before the first use, and the process should be repeated every time the grates are cleaned. Fortunately, the material cleans up easily and doesn’t require any soap—just hot water and an abrasive sponge.
We should point out that Big Green Egg does offer cast iron cooking grates. However, like most of the brand’s desirable accessories, they’re sold separately. That means you’ll have to spend even more money for a benefit that AKORN offers for free.
In this category, a strong case can be made for both the AKORN and the Big Green Egg.
AKORN’s cooking surface measures 447 square inches in total. However, 133 square inches is taken up by the warming rack, and its utility is fairly limited. That means that the main grilling area offers just 314 square inches–enough to hold about 15 hamburger patties.
By contrast, the XL Big Green Egg doesn’t offer a secondary warming rack. Still, its grid measures 24 inches in diameter, giving it 462 square inches of primary grilling space. This is enough to hold 22 hamburger patties, 10 whole chickens, or 12 racks of ribs (assuming that the rib racks were placed in the smoker vertically).
The warming rack lends versatility to the AKORN model. However, since the Big Green Egg can cook more ingredients at once, it earns higher marks.
Winner: Big Green Egg
This is another tough race to call. AKORN offers a well-constructed model with superb insulation. The dampers are numbered, allowing users to keep a close eye on the airflow. The steel walls of the firebox are thick enough to keep the charcoal burning steadily, with minimal waste.
There’s certainly a case to be made for steel-walled kamado grills. They allow manufacturers to keep the prices low, as Char-Griller has discovered. If you can’t afford the Big Green Egg, you should be satisfied with the AKORN.
That said, there’s a reason that the Big Green Egg has stuck around for this long. Their units are renowned for their ceramic construction, which is able to hold its heat for hours on end. You can add a large piece of pork butt to the grill in the morning, set the dampers, and be rewarded with marvelous slow-cooked pulled pork in the evening.
Because we appreciate tradition as well as keen attention to detail, we would recommend the Big Green Egg over the AKORN when it comes to heat retention and distribution.
Winner: Big Green Egg
For the AKORN model, Char-Griller advertises a temperature range of 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Even by kamado grilling standards, these are impressive numbers. With a range this broad, the AKORN can be used for anything from slow-smoked beef brisket to grilled pizza.
What’s the temperature range on the Big Green Egg? If you follow the correct procedure, you should be able to hit temps from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
This gives the Egg a wider range than the AKORN, but the difference between the two is negligible. It should also be noted that it requires practice to hit the temperature you’re after, no matter which grill you’re using.
Winner: Big Green Egg
Now that we’ve finished that side-by-side comparison, let’s do an Akorn vs Big Green Egg showdown to help determine which one is better.
- Tripod design-The AKORN sits atop a tripod base with a lower shelf for storage. Two of the legs are outfitted with oversized wheels, making it easier to move the unit around the yard if necessary.
- Side Shelves-Each side of the AKORN is outfitted with a wing-shaped shelf for prep or storage. They’re also outfitted with tool hooks for added convenience.
- Affordability-This unit won’t set you back in the financial sense.
- Lightweight-The grill weighs in at just 90 pounds.
- Removable warming rack-This rack offers an additional 133 square inches to the cooking zone.
- Center grid plate-The main cooking grate has a removable center for adding more charcoal.
Big Green Egg
- Stationary base-The Big Green Egg has a flat bottom, which offers stability.
- Ceramic construction-The unit is modeled after traditional kamado grills, which were made of clay
- Optional accessories-A multitude of extras are available for purchase, from tool sets to customized tables
Use the AKORN if:
- You like to keep your hamburger buns and other bread products warm.
- You have a limited budget.
- You live in a colder climate and worry that a ceramic grill might crack if it’s not stored properly.
- You’re looking for a grill that comes with a built-in stand.
- You’d prefer to have a little extra space for tools and prep.
Buyers who want an all-in-one purchase should consider investing in the AKORN.
Use the Big Green Egg if:
- You want a traditional ceramic grill.
- You need a lot of grilling space.
- You’re planning to cook a wide variety of dishes on your kamado grill.
- You don’t mind purchasing a lot of the accessories separately.
Consider taking a closer look at the Big Green Egg if money is no object.