The Big Green Egg® is a BBQ smoker, grill, pizza oven and even a tandoor all in one. In fact it has to be one of the most versatile pieces of outdoor cooking equipment that I’ve ever experienced.
It has adjustable dampers both top and bottom that makes for easy temperature control and a fast start time, your EGG® will be up above 220°F in 10 minutes! The maximum temperature achievable is in excess of 700°F which is ideal for pizza or a nice piece of tandoori chicken.
I have an Egg at home, it was the first kamado I ever bought and I have to say that it does more or less everything that the marketing blurb states, and let's face it, it really is marketed well.
I’ve done some supremely moist burgers and seared salmon on the grill, and to test the smoker I’ve tried the traditional favorites of brisket and ribs. So barbecue grill smoker it is, but is it the world's best?
Moisture retention is also a key feature, the cooking process is different to a conventional water smoker and the manufacturers state that there’s actually no need for a water pan at all. I prefer to put a water pan in especially when doing pulled pork because I believe it helps create a sauna effect that helps bring the meat up to the preferred internal temperature that much quicker. See my pulled pork barbecue recipe for more on this point.
The key benefits are that food cooks quicker, remains moist, there’s no need for constant tending of the charcoal and the EGG® is remarkably economical in its charcoal consumption. It's this that differentiates a kamado from other kettle style smokers.
The claim that the Egg is ready to cook on in 10 minutes is marginally optimistic but certainly by 15 minutes I was up to the benchmark smoking temperature of 225°F or 110°C and with the top and bottom vents fully open the temperature gauge just kept on climbing 10 degrees every minute until I was at a good grilling temperature.
A recipe book is included in the pack however my one complaint is that there’s no instructions about how to control the temperature so having played with it, here’s what I’ve found out.
The Egg comes in five different sizes differentiated by the diameter of grilling area for cooking:-
The versatility of the Egg (or ceramic barbecue in general) is one of it's key selling points. The Big Green Egg range has a additional ceramic deflector plate (called the plate setter) that sits under the cooking grate so protecting your food from direct heat. In other words it is by using the plate setter that you can cook indirectly and use it as a smoker or oven.
That said, do beware that there is no plate setter for the XL Egg so this particular unit can only be used for direct grilling.
The plate setter, isn't unique to the Egg, most other kamados provide one however some my not include it in the price so watch out for this.
The Primo Oval for example uses a different style of deflector plate to deliver the indirect cooking capability and I think that this design is much better. Use this link to read more about the differences of the Primo versus Big Green Egg.
For a second opinion, click here to learn more about the differences between the Primo and Big Green Egg (courtesy of ShoppersChoice.com)
Other nice touches to the Egg include a ceramic lid that you can place over the top when your grill is not in use. This works not only to protect your top damper from seizing, it also acts as a great cork when you want to cut the fire at the end of the cookout.
The bottom damper also has a secondary perforated cover to protect you from hot ash during the cookout. A nice safety feature.
TIP - When you remove the top damper at the end of a cookout always leave it in the open position. After a few cookouts it will get tar in it that can "clog it up", it comes loose again when it warms up and it is so much easier to warm everything up when the dampers are open.
TIP - When placing the damper on the top it's tempting to place it so that the embossed Big Green Egg mark is neatly facing you but won't help when cooking. When you turn your food, if the damper is positioned as I've described then it will slide into the fully open position when you open the lid so when you close the lid your fire and temperature will race ahead and (unless you notice) present you with a burnt offering. Place the damper on top with the hinge immediately infront of you and it won't lose its aperture setting when the lid is opened.
If there is a negative with the Big Green Egg for me
it’s the size of the cooking area albeit since I bought mine they have now introduced the XXL. It's not so bad for grilling because you can work in batches and grilling time isn't generally long but when cooking large quantities "low and slow" I'm back to the big hunk of metal that is my offset smoker.
The single biggest negative overall however has to be the price! Big Green Egg do not sell over the internet so you've got to buy one through one of their agents. They say that this is because they have no control of the distribution and increases the risk of damage. I say it's so that they can protect their profit.
My Egg arrived through the official distributor on the back of a standard expedited freight carrier, nothing special, so I'm pretty sure that their argument is a complete red herring.
That said, I've checked prices with other manufacturers and you do have to be careful to understand what is provided in the package and what you have to pay for as an extra.
My other niggle is that the quality of the casters on the nest is no better than average, it's a minor point but so simple for the manufacturer to fix.
The ceramic has a lifetime guarantee but there's nothing for the metalwork so no wonder the casters are second rate. The nest is still a more robust effort than the one that comes with the Kamado Joe but the outstanding nest award has to go to Monolith because of its lower centre of gravity.
Finally (and this isn't just confined to the Big Green Egg), the temperature gauge easily fills up with condensation if left outside in situ.
Note:- Prior to purchase I was also a concerned about the weight of the BBQ because the brochure states the weight and it looked heavy to me. My (large) Big Green Egg was delivered on a pallet boxed up and stretch wrapped by a lorry with tail lift and pump truck so full marks for first impressions. I was able to load the Egg into its nest on my own and follow the well written instructions to be cooking within the hour.
It possibly is the "World’s Best Smoker and Grill" but it’s actually a mighty fine tandoor too! Load it with charcoal,
crank it up and if you’re into Indian food then you’re in for a treat.
I’ve done my best ever tandoori chicken breast on the grill, I’ve done
naan bread, and with a few skewers (and some heat resistant gloves!)
some wicked chicken tikka. The original Indian clay tandoors cook at
high temperatures and a ceramic barbecue mimics it beautifully.
That said, whilst I thoroughly enjoy cooking on my Egg, if I knew what I know now and had my time again I'd probably buy a Primo Oval for better versatility or a Monolith / Kamado Joe on price.
Consider all the options before parting with what is a sizable chunk of cash. When making your buying decision, do ensure that you are comparing like for like and whether you get all the kit for a barbecue grill smoker in the base price or whether there are extras. Other top brands include:-