This summer, I tweeted that I had Big Green Egg envy, word that reached Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ and Big Green Egg’s official chef. He convinced the company to ship me their top of the line (with the cypress wood table, which is awesome if you can afford it). I really wanted to cook with one because I’d heard such great things about it. (He’s @DrBBQ on twitter, and a hearty #FF to him).

After we corresponded, I’d read about these ceramic charcoal heated ovens in The New York Times, generically called kamado cookers.  I accepted his offer enthusiastically.  So: Full disclosure: they sent it to me free; I told them I’d love to use it and write about it but to know that if I didn’t like it or didn’t think it was worth the money, I would write this. This is a major investment. For the extra large egg, my nearest dealer charges $1,200 for the egg, $150 for the nest it stands in, and you’d want a shelf/heat deflector if you wanted to do any low temperature smoking, which you definitely want to do.

You can watch my review but the short answer is this: It’s an extraordinary cooking tool. My only caveat is the price, and I can’t advise anyone on that; it is what it is.

I can say that for the maiden voyage, I smoked a pork belly for traditional bacon. I smoked hams and briskets as shown in the video at 250 degrees F. This grill will get up to 700 degrees F and I made pizza using the pizza stone (cha-ching!) and it was indeed amazing. It did a fabulous job on a whole chicken.

This much should be clear: You do not need this if you just grill steaks and burgers and barbecued chicken. Webers do just fine with that.  But for consistent low temperature cooking (200 to 250 degrees) over many hours, the Big Green Egg works astonishingly well.  For extremely high heat cooking, it can’t be beat.  For hot smoking, amazing. As I say in the video, it does all it claims to do; whether or not that is worth the cost is up to you.

For more info visit the Big Green Egg website.

My Video Review on the Big Green Egg

 

I also grilled beef heart, above, over high heat, and served it with a vinaigrette. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

If you liked this post on the Big Green Egg, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

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33 Wonderful responses to “Big Green Egg Review”

  • Ray Lampe

    Very nice Michael! Thanks for the plugs. But I gotta tell you I laughed because you have the temp gauge on the side. Most of us have it above the handle. All good and thanks again!

    • Barry Lazar

      Hi – I have used the BGE a few times and think its works great but not for pizzas for a crowd. The high heat drops off quickly when I make more than a few. If I am cooking outside, I’d rather make pizzas over an open grill. I find charcoal or wood works best as a consistent high heat source for this. BGE is best for low heat consistent cooking, particularly in summer’s seasons when the temperature drops. The thick ceramic material retains heats beautifully. Price wise, still too much.

      • Jason

        Barry – that’s very odd. When coking multiple pizzas, we usually have the problem of keeping the heat (particularly the stone) from getting too high. I think you need to start with a much larger load of lump.

    • ruhlman

      I know I kind of screwed it up! but it worked out better, the side the thermometer is on I can see from outside the gate so I don’t have to walk all the way around the front to see what temp.

      eager to do the christmas roast beast on it in a few days.

  • Jeff

    I/We received a large BGE for a wedding present from friends that knew of my love for real Texas Brisket.
    The main attribute that the BGE brings to the table is versatility.
    It can do it all but from high heat grilling and Pizza Oven like heat to low and slow for hours on end.
    It also should be pointed out how efficient it is with relatively small amounts of hardwood charcoal and when you are finished all vents are closed and any remaining fuel can be reused at a future time.
    One small problem I had was the burning off of the standard factory gasket after a Pizza baking party .
    The factory quickly replaced it with a high heat Nomex version that I installed and it works great.
    Welcome to the BGE cult.

  • Paul C

    I’ve had BGE envy for years now…. as somebody who does a lot of low heat cooking ( BBQ ) and a lot of high heat cooking ( bread, pizza ) it’s pretty much the perfect tool. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to justify the price in my head and I’ve read enough about ‘cheaper’ versions that just don’t cut it to go down that route.

    Can you try cooking a few loaves of bread in it and post your results? I’d be curious to see what you think of it for that. Also would you say it was as good as a traditional wood fired oven for the pizza ?

    Have you heard of a tool called the stoker? it can be used to control draft and heat in a BGE and is supposed to make the whole thing extremely accurate. It’s also wifi and can be controlled from PC/iPad.

  • Chris Hart

    I’ve owned many grills/smokers. Large BGE is one of my favorites and a definite keeper. A very versatile piece of equipment. My favorite way to use it is to cook pork butts low and slow overnight. I get a full nights sleep even when the temp is below freezing outside. Great time of year to buy them, often retailers discount them to move them out of stock before winter

  • Yogi

    I bought the Primo Oval, and have had nothing but good times with it. Same idea, different shape, same results. Our family favorite is tri-tip, spice rubbed and slow cooked for 3 1/2 – 4 hours.

  • metrazol

    My parents found one of these in the yard of a house they rented. First time they used it, they had no idea what to do. Turns out half a bag of charcoal will incinerate two chickens in under 30 minutes. They were very juicy, once you got past the quarter inch of ash…

  • Guy

    I’ve been competing the BBQ world for about a year and a half (I’m just “labor”; “management” is provided by a skilled pitmaster) — there is no doubt that the BGE is all over at competitions, along with Weber Smokey Mountain (bullet) smokers, and the occasional Weber kettle just for doing chicken. There are also many other types of smokers, some huge, some custom-built, etc.

    One of our partners demo’d a Kamado Joe grill last year — it seemed pretty good too. I liked the Primo Oval I saw at one contest — it had a split grate, so you could actually do something indirect (fire one one side, meat on the other).

    I’ve always viewed these as a “step up” from the Weber smokers — in the grand view of the smoker world, you have the cheap $50 or so smokers from you local home center; Weber smokers at, say, $280 to $360, some pellet smokers in the $600 to $1000 range, ceramics at $800 and up, and then you get into the big ones. We compete with a Good One “Rodeo”, which is sizable, uses a lot of fuel, and hold temps in a very stable manner.

  • EdTheRed

    I’ve had an XL BGE for about two months. Love it. Used it for a turkey on Thanksgiving, and then a pork shoulder and a whole brisked (done pastrami-style, but with a Montreal Smoked Meat-style spice rub) over the weekend (at the same time – man it’s got a big cooking surface). Love that it will just go and go and go for hours on end with little or no adjustment, and zero additional charcoal needed.

    I’ve only attempted pizza on it once, and ran into a couple of issues, which lead me to a couple of high-temp baking issues:
    1) I’ve got a metal peel, which raw dough sticks to, regardless of how much semolina and/or spray oil I use…for my oven, I just use parchment, but the BGE gets too hot for parchment (lesson learned the hard way on the first pizza). Had to switch to using a big wooden cutting board as a peel.

    2) I used the indirect heat shield plate turned upside down (right-side up?) as directed, so it would serve as a pizza stone, but it turns out you really need *both* the shield *and* a stone, because the heat from all those coals winds up being too much for the bottom crust. Had to put a stone on top of the grill grate after I scorched a couple pies.

    That said, just by removing the cap entirely, that thing shoots up to 700+ degrees in a matter of minutes. Unbelievable!

  • G Denby

    I note you have a link on winter grilling. The only tip for winter Egging is have a shovel to dig thru the snow drifts. In the middle of howling -40F windchill, you will be able to open an Egg full of ribs, and feel like its summer again!

  • Dave

    Welcome to the cult of the Big Green Egg! I got mine as an unexpected anniversary gift 6 years ago and have been extremely happy with it – it bakes, it roasts, it smokes, and it sears like no grill I’ve ever had. Enjoy!

  • ATN654

    We got our BGE on Craigslist and for $600 (an screaming bargain considering the seller only used it twice). I thought my husband was insane, but after making the most delicious smoked Thanksgiving turkey 2 years ago, I am a total convert. There is a bit of a learning curve with high temp baking (yes, you really do need that heat shield), it bakes beautiful bread too. And low temp cooking (<250F) can be a bit tricky too. But having the BGE in addition to an oven has been a lifesaver for Turkey Day (well any big holiday/party day) and really worth the price.

  • J Slinky

    Have had a BGE for years, have worn out various parts and replaced them easily… I recieved mine as a gift and would have NEVER thought that it would be so differant than other grills. Wow was I surprised! Easy to get to temp in a short time, can snuff out the coals and relight them, cook for two or an army…. I have tried tons of cuts of meat and almost all were successful. I’m new to your blog and would love to see updates on some BGE conquests…

  • Ralph Ewton

    I have cooked for years on a Kamado 7 (from kamado.com). I have met and enjoyed the people who make these, so may be a bit prejudiced. Nothing mentioned in previous posts here bests my experience with the Kamado. Anyway, not pushing, but readers might want to know there are other possibilities and prices in the ceramic cooker area. And, in general, the Kamado/BGE cultural interchange is pretty civil. The online sites and forums (fora?) for both have a lot of useful info. R

    • frans vandepas

      Hi Michael, check out the Komodo kamado the rolls royce under the ceramics. I used to have eggs sold them. They are very good though.Frans

    • Captain Spaulding

      What’s the warranty like on the Kamado?

      BGE offers a lifetime warranty on the ceramics. Those two words are priceless in my book. Their customer service is fantastic.

  • E. Nassar

    For my money, I would rather spend it on a new Immersion Circulator (my eBay one is getting old) and a Vitamix. I smoke brisket and shoulder a lot, but I use a standard $200 chargriller with a big side smoke/fire box. I’ve had it for over 8 years now and it works great if you know what you are doing and comes equipped with cast iron grates for everyday grilling. Like Michael said, I am sure the BGE works exactly as advertised, but IMO it is an expensive toy and I have way too many of these ahead of it on my wish list.

  • Tim

    16 racks of ribs for my sons graduation, 10 hours at 75 degrees – that’s what convinced me that the BGE is truly amazing.

  • Aaron

    I LOVE my BGE and use it all the time, you can fire it up quick and sear off some tasty meat and veg or use it low and slow for 18+ hours. Pair it up with a BBQ Guru computer and you can make even more magic!!

  • Sally

    The best grill out there – especially for low temp cooking – is hands down the Portable Kitchen. It’s less than $300 and it lasts forever. Everyone in my family has a PK Grill. Our original PK is over 30 years old. http://pkgrills.com/

  • CopyKat Recipes

    I got one of these this summer, and I love it. I have had a very nice gas grill for awhile now, but this makes grilling, and smoking new again. I couldn’t believe how easy it is to use this grill. The only weird thing I have noticed is that about 2 hours into cooking sometimes, the BGE shoots up in temperature, and I have had to adjust. Don’t know why this happens, but this is the best kitchen/food related purchase I have made this year.

  • Mike

    This is a great review, but comes well over a year after you helped convince me to get a BGE! I emailed you in August 2010 to get your opinion on the BGE. At that time, you didn’t have any experience with the BGE and steered me to a friend of yours who has one and gave it a resounding endorsement. I’ve had my egg for two years now and it is the best at exactly what you mentioned. I do bacon, brisket, slow cooked lamb, chickens, and the Thanksgiving turkey. With my aftermarket computer control, I can maintain temperatures below 200 degrees F and do a cold smoke! So, I’m glad you made the conversion!

  • John Rountree

    I have owned and used my BGE for more than 12 years! To those who say it is too expensive I will point out that it has a lifetime warranty., so buy it while you are still young! I have no doubt that other ceramic cookers do a good job too, but I have the Egg and I’m not shopping around. One caveat on winter grilling. When you are done grilling (in the winter) place a small piece of wood (or something) between the two halves. Otherwise the moisture trapped in the felt seal can freeze the two halves together. It is not too much fun on a cold day to drop lit fire starters down the chimney in an attempt to thaw the seal. Speaking of moisture, everyone who has enjoyed grilled or smoked meat from the BGE says the same thing: the BGE does not dry out meat when you cook it.

  • fg

    Glad to see the review. Have you made bread yet? It is close enough to a brick oven for us that we have put off that purchase for our back yard.

    Have you experimented with how low you can go with smoking? I’ve maintained a fire at 150 degrees for smoking hot dogs. What re your thoughts on using it as an almost cold smoker for charcuterie items?

  • big green eggic

    I have owned a big green egg for 2 years now and I love it! I cook 2-3 times per week on it; everything from burgers and steaks to low n slow briskets. If you want to smoke something for 10-15 hours the Egg can’t be beat!

  • John

    I’m wondering the same thing as FG, how does bread come out? I would think it ends up being “smokey” and I don’t know if I want that in my bread

    • ruhlman

      haven’t had good luck with bread, or actually the only time I tried bread and haphazardly at that, no reason can’t be done well.

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