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- A kamado-style grill like the Big Green Egg, known by fans as ‘the BGE’, is the best all-around grill you can buy.
- We asked Barbecue University host Steven Raichlen why he loves the Big Green Egg so much.
- There are several comparable models on the market, but here are our favorite things about the BGE.
Whether you’re aiming for low and slow or hot and fast, there’s no charcoal (or wood-fired) grill that allows you to dial temperature quite like a kamado-style grill, first popularized in the west by the Big Green Egg (BGE) in 1974 (though the technology dates back, at least, to Qin Dynasty China).
That’s because its walls are three-quarter-inch ceramic stone. Ceramic retains and maintains heat more evenly than any other type of grill we’ve ever tested, and we’ve tested almost too many to count.
The BGE’s thick ceramic walls make it adept at nearly any task: from low-and-slow barbecue to fresh pizza cooked at a searing 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot-and-fast cooking with the Big Green Egg
While your average charcoal or gas grill maxes out at around 500 or 600 degrees Fahrenheit, a kamado-style ceramic grill like the Big Green Egg is heavily insulated, and can reach, withstand, and maintain an impressive amount of heat.
Author and TV host Steven Raichlen recommends getting the BGE to 600 or 700 degrees for regular grilling of steaks, burgers, and some vegetables.
And because the BGE gets well over 1,000 degrees, it’s more than sufficient for making genuine Neapolitan pizza (which requires, depending upon whom you ask, somewhere around 905 degrees of steady heat). There’s also no shortage of accessories for pizza-making, or anything else, really.
All of the control is based around the vents: one at the bottom and one at the top. Keeping them both wide open (recommended to start) will get the temperature soaring, while bringing them down will lower heat.
Low-and-slow cooking with the Big Green Egg
To cook low and slow with the BGE, you’ll start the grill with the same healthy helping of charcoal, but once your coals (at least the center ones) are lit, you’ll close the vents almost completely, leaving just a sliver for airflow.
This method works for all sorts of things from large roasts to stews, and, probably more popularly, smoking. You’ll still be hot-smoking, mind you (as opposed to cold-smoking, which requires lots of space and distance from heat so that temperatures stay well below 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
Turning down the BGE
Because the BGE is so well insulated, in part due to the ventilation system and the sealing gasket around the rim, you’ll be able to snuff out coals (or a fire) in short order by shutting the vents and the lid. By that measure, there’s hardly a safer charcoal grill around.
Cons but not deal breakers
The BGE‘s built-in thermometer, for one thing, leaves something to be desired. It maxes out at 750 degrees Fahrenheit, but you’ll find out quickly enough that this grill gets much, much hotter.
We’re also not thrilled with the lid, which could open more and make transferring (and viewing) food a little easier. This is one place where the BGE’s main competitor, the Kamado Joe, wins out.
You’ll also find that building the Big Green Egg yourself is a pain, especially setting the top so that it sits flush to the bottom when closed. We recommend paying for the white-glove service unless you really enjoy building, and moreover, problem solving.
The bottom line
The Big Green Egg is a cooking station fit for any and all outdoor feasts, and if you’re only going to own one grill — it really takes somewhere between seven and 10 grills to do everything you want — a kamado-style grill like this is the way to go.
There’s hardly anything it can’t do that another grill can, and where infusing smoke flavor is concerned, the BGE and the kamado method is second to none. Take good care of this grill and it will last several decades. Take not-so-great care of it, and you’ll still be backed (or at least helped a good deal) by a limited lifetime warranty.
Pros: Immaculate precision, great fuel economy, achieves and maintains a wide array of temperatures, limited lifetime warranty, accessories galore
Cons: Lid could open more, building is a pain (we recommend white-glove service), thermometer could bear wider range