The Big Green Egg Is a Smoker, Grill, and Oven All in One — But Is It Worth the Money?
Egg-shaped, dimpled, and green: Is it the future offspring of some gargantuan bird? No, it’s the Big Green Egg. Now, the Big Green Egg is expensive. Which, of course, begs the question: Is it worth the money? Before I answer that, there’s a lot to go over. And I should say I have a Big Green Egg — however, I consider myself fairly neutral, as far as Egg fandom goes (more on that below).
What Is the Big Green Egg?
The Big Green Egg is a popular type of kamado grill, which is named after the traditional Japanese kamado — an egg-shaped wood- or charcoal-fueled cooker made from a ceramic material, such as clay. The kamado grill can be used for grilling, smoking, roasting, and more. The unique, oval shape (and accessories, like a firebox divider) allows you to easily create direct and indirect cooking zones, so you can move food closer to or further from heat, setting things up to cook more slowly, if needed. Other accessories, like a heat deflector, turn the Egg into an outdoor convection oven.
The Big Green Egg generated nearly $20 million in sales last year in the U.S., and while it isn’t the only ceramic outdoor cooker on the market, or even the most egg-spensive (sorry!), it has an incredibly loyal following. Self-described “Eggheads” swap recipes and banter online and try to convert other backyard cooks to the advantages of the Egg.
Read more: 5 Things to Know About the Iconic Big Green Egg
How Does the Big Green Egg Work?
Starting the Egg is actually pretty easy! The company sells its own lump charcoal (do not use regular briquettes), which is what I use with mine. I also have their natural charcoal starters, which make it a cinch to light the charcoal (just nestle a couple into the lump charcoal, light ’em, and let them do the rest of the work for you). You can also use regular charcoal chimney starter. Once the fire is going, the thick ceramic walls and lid trap heat, allowing it to get incredibly hot. An adjustable drawer at the bottom and cap at the top of the Egg control the amount of air entering the fire box and flowing through the cooking chamber. In turn, this regulates the temperature of the Egg. The bigger the openings, the higher the temperature. (For more of an Egg how-to, this video is very helpful.)
The Egg’s heat adjustability is its biggest asset. As explained in this article, here’s how you can harness the Egg’s temperature control for various cooking methods: “By adjusting the vents on the top and bottom of the Egg you get perfect heat control, allowing you to cook hot and fast (crusty-but-rare T-bones!) or low and slow (falling-off-the-bone baby backs!). With the heat cranked up, it can double as a pizza oven; lower the heat and it can be used as a smoker. Barbecue brisket and pulled pork are yours! You’ll be amazed by the fact that whatever meat you’re cooking it’ll come out moist and tender.”
There is, besides its versatility, a huge advantage of the Egg: how fuel-efficient it is. The charcoal burns so well and evenly, I don’t even have to replenish it every time. Once I’m done for the evening, I close all the vents, depriving the fire of oxygen and quickly extinguishing it. The next time I grill, I just poke at the charcoal left over from the last grill session and rake the small amount of ash out through the vent at the bottom. Then, I add a few more lumps of fuel, relight, and we’re good to go. It is a no-mess, no-fuss situation. And I love that the Egg is self-contained, with no gross grease trap to clean out (like with a gas grill) and no mountains of ash to dispose of (like with a charcoal grill).
I will caution, though: Because Egg’s thick ceramic walls trap the heat almost like an oven, this style of grilling is different. And it can be intimidating for the novice: Kamados get hot quickly and can be difficult to cool down once you overshoot your desired temperature. That is to say, don’t get discouraged if there’s a learning curve.
How Much Does a Big Green Egg Cost?
Pros and Cons of a Big Green Egg
- Its ability to retain heat and seal in moisture.
- Its versatility.
- Its fuel-efficiency.
Should You Get a Big Green Egg?
It depends! If you get one, you may never need to buy a smoker or any other grill. And the more you tinker with it, the more you’ll love it and the more comfortable you’ll get with it. However, it is expensive. I really do recommend the Big Green Egg, but ideally only if you’re already a serious griller. And if you know you’ll be using it a ton and have time to tinker and learn with it.
Do you have a Big Green Egg? Let us know in the comments!