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Big Green Egg
Bottom Line

If you want the best smoker you can buy, but don't want to fill up your back yard with multiple grills, the Big Green Egg is the top choice, say experts. This kamado-type grill can smoke, sear and cook foods -- it even bakes -- and owners report excellent results.

Pros
  • Very versatile
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Extremely durable; solidly built
  • Comes in seven sizes
Cons
  • Difficult to find info on pricing
  • Must use caution when opening lid

Breaking it down

Performance

Smokes, grills and cooks to perfection. Reviewers are virtually unanimous in their praise of the Big Green Egg's smoking ability due to a design that offers superior heat control. In expert tests, it excels not only as a smoker, but in grilling various meats, cooking brick-oven pizza and even baking cinnamon rolls. Owners also applaud its performance, saying that they use it for everything when cooking during the warm months and that it will smoke anything -- several give it particular kudos for smoking fish, especially salmon, and we saw a number of comments about smoking hams for Easter. The large version offers 262 square inches of cooking surface, meaning that you can cook several different types of food at once, and users say they like that they can do so without the flavors blending. It comes in six additional sizes -- Mini, Minimax, Small, Medium, X-Large and XX-Large.

Ease of use

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. Many say that once they mastered cooking on this smoker, it became so easy that they now do more outdoor cooking than ever before. A few say they put the meat on in the morning before going to work and let it cook all day. Then, when you're done, just shut it to snuff out the charcoal. Reviewers say the louvered top is easy to clean because it's removable, and that the interior just wipes down thanks to the glazed ceramic material. The egg can be used year-round even in cold weather without fear of it cracking.

Durability/safety

Use caution when opening. We found very few comments about the Big Green Egg regarding safety, but one in particular deserves attention. You must carefully vent or "burp" the Egg before opening to avoid backdrafts and flashbacks that could ruin your meat or take off your eyebrows. However, if used properly, this will not be an issue. We recommend a close read of the instructions before use.

As for durability, it doesn't get much better than this: Buy it and it will last forever. Having said that, the Big Green Egg is expensive and it's not easy to figure out exactly how much it costs. The Eggs have no suggested retail prices and 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 $850 for the basic unit in large; delivery, assembly and additional accessories may up the cost to $1,200 or more. It must sit on a specially designed table or "nest;" those can run from $165 to $500 and are sold separately. One 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.

Our Sources

1. SeriousEats.com

The Big Green Egg and Beyond: The 10 Best Kamado Smokers and Grills, Max Good, Not Dated

Max Good includes the big green egg in this roundup of the best kamado cookers, calling it the "Weber of kamados" and noting that it popularized this type of cookers in the U.S. A link in the brief discussion of the Egg takes you to a more thorough review at AmazingRibs.com, a barbecue website that Good maintains.

2. Lifehacker.com

Five Best Grills, Alan Henry, May 27, 2016

The Big Green Egg is No. 2 in this "Best Grill" roundup based on a poll of LifeHacker.com 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.

3. The Guardian

The best BBQs reviewed: Britain gets a taste for 'low and slow' cooking, Kit Buchan, July 13, 2014

In this round up of grills, focusing on low, slow cooking, for the British paper The Guardian, American chef Neil Rankin names his top five picks, including the Big Green Egg. Rankin says that it can cook for 20 hours at a low, consistent temperature with just a handful of charcoal. He also notes that it's pricey, but says it's a purchase for life.

4. Wired

The Big Green Egg: A Whole New World of Grilling to Explore, Nicole Wakelin, June 14, 2012

Nicole Wakelin gives the Big Green Egg a thorough tryout, starting with baking -- brick-oven 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. Although this is an older review, the design of the egg has not changed since it was published.

5. Good Housekeeping

The Big Green Egg: The Ultimate Charcoal Grill, Paul Hope, April 29, 2011

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.

6. GearDiary.com

Big Green Egg vs. Primo XL: Kamado Dragons Face Off in the Ceramic Grill Octagon, Chris Chamberlain, June 4, 2012

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-shaped grilling surface and versatile grill extension features.

7. Food & Wine Magazine

Steve Raichlen's Favorite Grills, Steven Raichlen, Not Dated

The Big Green Egg is one of two smokers that barbecue expert Steven Raichlen names as one of his favorites. While this isn't a review, per se, if anyone knows grills and smokers, it's Raichlen. He notes that it's a particularly good choice for chicken and is impressed that, " One reason: It can go from 225° (for slow-smoking) to 700° (for searing) in minutes."