Page: 4 of 5

Big grills and grill/smoker combos

Reviewers don't recommend high-end charcoal grills very often; most say that a moderately priced kettle grill is all the average user needs. These expensive grills are geared toward expert grillers who require precise temperature control and a comprehensive set of features and accessories.

Big Green Egg (*Est. $750) is the class leader, though it's a bit different than most charcoal grills. Big Green Egg (named for its distinctive shape) is a Kamado-style grill, its design based on a traditional Japanese cooking vessel whose oblong shape offers excellent temperature control. You can cook at very low or very high temperatures, and the settings are accurate enough that you can bake in this grill or use it as a smoker. Its cooking grate is completely sealed by the grill's ceramic exterior, and the Egg can cook for hours on only a few coals. The exterior surface remains cool to the touch, even as the grill reaches high cooking temperatures. Grilling experts love Big Green Egg; at food-focused sites like, long discussion threads are devoted to its praise.

Versatility is one of Big Green Egg's hallmarks; it can grill, smoke and even bake a variety of dishes quickly and efficiently. However, two downsides surface in user discussions of this high-end grill: First, its ceramic components can chip. Second, you have to buy all accessories -- even a stand or cart -- separately. This a la carte approach can run the price up quickly. Big Green Egg is sold in four sizes (five if you count the Mini, covered in our section on portable charcoal grills) ranging from small to extra large. All Eggs are covered by a lifetime warranty but only when purchased from an authorized dealer (authorized retailers are listed on the company's website).

Weber's luxury charcoal grill is the Weber Ranch Kettle (*Est. $1,275), but reviewers say it doesn't perform as well as other grills in this lofty price range. The Ranch Kettle offers 1,104 square inches of cooking space and a heavy steel cooking grate. Aside from these differences, however, not much separates the Weber Ranch Kettle from a regular Weber One-Touch charcoal grill. You'll find the same ash cleaning and venting system, and the pricey Ranch Kettle lacks conveniences like side tables and an adjustable coal grate.

Back to top