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 -- it even bakes -- and owners report excellent results. There's a bit of a learning curve, some say, but, overall, it's so easy to use that even those who were confused at first say they mastered it quickly. The one downside: It's pricey and the price may be hard to determine as Big Green Egg is coy about suggested retail, and it's only sold at authorized, brick-and-mortar retailers.
Sears, grills and cooks to perfection. Reviewers are virtually unanimous in their praise of the Big Green Egg's cooking ability. Nicole Wakelin, writing for Wired.com, tried cooking wood-fired pizza, baking cinnamon rolls, grilling various meats, and, finally, smoking a five-pound brisket. Everything turned out perfectly, she says, noting, "The only difficult part of the process was smelling it cooking and having to wait for it to be done."
Owners 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.
Trouble-free operation. The Big Green Egg is very simple to use once you get the hang of it, which you will very quickly, according to users, some of whom report 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. Chris Chamberlain, reviewing the Egg for GearDiary.com, says the louvered top is easy to clean because it's removable, but it could theoretically fall off when opened. Reviewers also say the grill is easy to clean. It comes in five sizes -- mini, small, medium, large and extra-large -- for any size grilling need.
Use caution when opening! We found very few comments about the Big Green Egg regarding safety, but one in particular deserves attention. Chamberlain notes in his review of the Egg in GearDiary.com that "the rapid influx of air into the controlled environment can cause instant flame ups that could ruin your meat or more perilously, set your face on fire." This is not an unknown issue and Big Green Egg warns users to carefully vent or "burp" the Egg before opening to avoid backdrafts and flashbacks. 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 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. The Big Green Egg is expensive, but it's not easy to figure out exactly how much it costs. Big Green Egg has no suggested retail prices and it must be purchased at a brick and mortar store, so there are no online comparisons. Our research found that the large Egg sells for about $800 for the basic unit; delivery, assembly and additional accessories may run the cost to $1,200 or more. It must sit on a metal table or nest, and these can run from $165 to $500.
However, experts and owners say it's worth the price, pointing out that it's extremely durable with a double-walled ceramic construction that's designed not to rust, scratch or dent. 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.
A helpful suggestion about minimizing the cost of purchasing an Egg: We read a number of forum posts where owners bought a small or medium Egg secondhand on Craigslist or a similar classified site because the owner decided to upgrade to a larger size.
Nicole Wakelin gives the Big Green Egg a thorough tryout, starting with baking -- wood-fired pizza and cinnamon buns -- and moving on to various meats. All turned out perfectly and were delicious. She says there is a bit of a learning curve, but she had it down to a science within a week.
Review: The Big Green Egg: A Whole New World of Grilling to Explore, Nicole Wakelin, June 14, 2012
The Big Green Egg is No. 2 in this "Best Grill" roundup based on a poll of LifeHacker readers. It's accompanied by a review that gives an overview of what those who voted for the Egg like about it, such as its versatility and performance. The review notes that its availability is limited to dealers.
Review: Five Best Grills, Alan Henry, June 16, 2013
As its name implies, SmokingMeatForums.com is dedicated to discussing all things barbeque, from recipes and tips to product reviews. The Big Green Egg earns a perfect rating of 5 stars out of 5 in nearly 15 reviews. All agree that it performs excellently as both a smoker and a grill, but it's expensive.
Review: Big Green Egg Large Egg Reviews, Contributors to SmokingMeatForums.com, As of April 2014
4. Good Housekeeping
Paul Hope reviews the Big Green Egg for the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. Although this is an older review, Hope personally tests the grill and it has not changed since this was published. He says the Egg is a very high-performing grill for a variety of meats, but notes it's expensive.
Review: The Big Green Egg: The Ultimate Charcoal Grill, Paul Hope, April 29, 2011
The Big Green Egg in XL earns 96 points out of 100 from more than 30 reviews on Viewpoints.com. Users give it high marks for performance, ease of use and cleaning, and durability, saying it's well-designed. It gets lower marks for versatility.
Review: Big Green Egg Charcoal Grill and Smoker Extra Large Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of April 2014
Chris Chamberlain owns two ceramic smokers, a Big Green Egg and a Primo XL. He compares them with a detailed review of both products. He says he loves both, for various reasons, but prefers the Primo overall for its oval shape and versatile grill extension features.
Review: Big Green Egg vs. Primo XL: Kamado Dragons Face Off in the Ceramic Grill Octagon, Chris Chamberlain, June 4, 2012
Derrick Riches names the Big Green Egg one of his picks for 2013 in this top 10 roundup that includes a link to a detailed review of the product. It's a very positive overview, but there is no mention of product testing.
Review: Top 10 Charcoal Grills, Derrick Riches, Not Dated
This fan site for the Big Green Egg hosts forum discussion related to recipes, tips, troubleshooting and even an "Eggictionary." In this thread, started in March 2012, owners weigh in with the cost of their Big Green Egg and any accessories, delivery or assembly included in the price.
Review: How Much Did You Pay for Your Big Green Egg?, Contributors to EggHeadForum.com, As of April 2014
9. The New York Times
John T. Edge reports how the Big Green Egg is winning fans across the country, with sales growing among consumers as well as restaurant owners. Users are quoted, although there is no formal testing of the product. It's an older article, but the product has not changed since it was published.
Review: Green Eggs and Hamburgers, John T. Edge, July 12, 2011