If versatility is your chief requirement of a grill, many reviewers recommend the Big Green Egg. This kamado-type grill can sear, cook or smoke foods, and many report excellent results. Many reviewers say it makes a great gift. True, it's pricey, but for fans (and their numbers are legion) such drawbacks are minor.
Sears, grills or cooks to perfection. Reviewers are virtually unanimous in their praise of the Big Green Egg's cooking ability. Chef and author Adam Perry Lang, whose evaluation appears in Men's Journal, says the grill cooks fish "beautifully," while Victoria Sanderson, reporting in The Toronto Star, says it produced the best barbecued meat she ever tasted. Users, too, applaud its performance. One notes that she and her husband have enjoyed chicken, shrimp, pork tenderloin, blackened salmon, steaks, and vegetable skewers, while others report cooking desserts, pizza and pretzels with great results. One dissenter complains that food doesn't have a sufficiently "smoky" flavor.
Trouble-free operation. The Big Green Egg is convenient, according to users, some of whom report that they now do more outdoor cooking than ever before. One user says she puts meat on in the morning and lets it cook all day, while Adam Perry Lang comments in Men's Journal that the grill is so insulated, "you could grill on the coldest day of the year with no effect on temperature." About.com's Derrick Riches says the cooking surface of the large size can hold a 20-pound turkey. Reviewers also say the grill is easy to clean. One user did find it hard to get the temperature above 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use caution when opening! We found very few comments about the Big Green Egg regarding safety, but one in particular deserves attention. Writing in Men's Journal, Adam Perry Lang cautions users to close the bottom damper before opening the lid, so the rush of oxygen doesn't spike the temperature -- "unless you don't want eyebrows," he quips. On the positive side, About.com's Derrick Riches says the Big Green Egg has "excellent ventilation." He also mentions that the model can be shut as a way to snuff out remaining charcoal, and that the ceramic shell is so thick, you don't have to worry about cracking if you use it on a cold day.
Expensive, but delivers the goods. Although the Big Green Egg is expensive, The Toronto Star's Vicky Sanderson points out that it is exceedingly durable, with a "double-walled ceramic construction" designed not to rust, scratch or dent. Users agree, with one comparing it to a tank, and another calling it the Cadillac of grills and smokers. Derrick Riches says the Big Green Egg is the only outdoor cooking product you'll ever need, adding, "It will probably last longer than you will." Annual maintenance involves removing and brushing off internal parts. The Big Green Egg's warranty is lifetime for ceramic parts and five years for metal parts.
1. Men's Journal
Adam Perry Lang, the author of the cookbook "Serious Barbecue," tests six charcoal grills and rates each one on a score of 1 to 10. His highest rating of 9 goes to Big Green Egg. He says, "the grill surface is really nice -- it cooked fish beautifully."
Review: The Charcoal Experiment, Steve Mazzucchi, July 29 , 2009
Derrick Riches names the Big Green Egg one of his picks for 2013, praising its ability to hold low heat for a long time. He does not describe how he tests grills, but his bio notes that he is a grilling expert who has cooked on hundreds of models.
Review: Top 10 Charcoal Grills, Derrick Riches, Not dated
3. The Toronto Star
Vicky Sanderson recommends a handful of grills including the Big Green Egg, which prepared the "best barbecued meat" she ever tasted. She does not say she tested the grill herself, but notes that the manufacturer's Canadian distributor cooked steak and chicken for her.
Review: Barbeque Season is Heating Up, Vicky Sanderson, May 16, 2009
The Big Green Egg earns 95 points out of 100 from more than 20 reviews on Viewpoints.com. Users say it cooks well and is durable and fun, although a few say it's pricey. The large size earns 96 points on this website, but with fewer than 10 reviews.
Review: Big Green Egg Charcoal Grill and Smoker Extra Large Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of July 2013
5. The New York Times
John T. Edge reports how the Big Green Egg is winning fans across the country, with more and more retailers stocking the product, and sales growing among consumers as well as restaurant owners. Users are quoted, although there is no formal testing of the product.
Review: Green Eggs and Hamburgers, John T. Edge, July 12, 2011