The 18-inch Big Green Egg is not strictly a smoker -- this 140-pound ceramic Kamado-style grill can do anything from smoking a roast to baking a pizza. It is so well insulated and well vented, reviewers say, that it can cook at 700 degrees Fahrenheit or at 150 degrees. The lower range appeals to barbeque fans because you want a long, slow process that tenderizes the meat. The Big Green Egg also has a lifetime guarantee on its body, which is so thick that you end up using less charcoal to keep it going. Reviewers note one distinct disadvantage: the Big Green Egg requires you to take the meat off the grill to add more coals, and in one test, experts found that the lack of a water pan meant the meat came out drier than in other smokers. This heavy smoker is stationary unless you buy a wheeled "nest" (Est. $125). If you want to spend less, the Weber Smokey Mountain (*Est. $300 for 18.5-inch size) gets top rating in reviews.
The best recent review of the Big Green Egg is featured in Cook's Illustrated magazine, where experts test it and two other smokers. While reviewers for AmazingRibs.com, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine magazines, and About.com all have vast experience with smokers and grills, none subject the Big Green Egg to head-to-head testing. AmazingRibs.com, generally the go-to source for smoker reviews, words its report so strangely that it isn't clear whether the Big Green Egg was tested at all. About 60 owner reviews are posted at Buzzillions.com.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Cook's Illustrated magazine's editors test three smokers, including the Big Green Egg. They have some reservations about it, however, particularly the Big Green Egg's "cramped cooking surface" and "the lack of a water pan, which yielded markedly drier meats."
Review: Smokers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, July 2010
About.com's guide to barbecues and grilling is a credible expert on grills and smokers; here he reviews the large Big Green Egg, giving it an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars. He says the ceramic smoker's ability to retain heat and maintain a constant temperature, as well as its excellent ventilation that allows for good temperature control, are both advantages. The only downsides he notes are its cost and the fact that you have to purchase a wheeled stand for it separately. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Big Green Egg -- Large, Derrick Riches
3. Fine Cooking
Reviewer Charles Miller says he used the Big Green Egg for a winter and found it good at producing smoky flavor in chickens. This is a short review, though, and the Big Green Egg is not compared against other smokers.
Review: Worth Owning: The Big Green Egg, Charles Miller
4. Food & Wine Magazine
Grilling expert Steven Raichlen rates the Big Green Egg last in this roundup of seven grills. But they are judged on their overall performance as grills, not necessarily as smokers. And there's no indication that there was formalized, comparative testing.
Review: Steve Raichlen's Favorite Grills, Steven Raichlen
Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn reviews smokers of all kinds and at all price ranges, but the Big Green Egg review does not have as much detail as some of his others. It's unclear whether this review is based on hands-on use. He does mention that if you need to add charcoal, you'll have to lift the meat out first.
Review: Buying Guide, Reviews, and Ratings of Charcoal Smokers, Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn
More than 360 owner reviews give the Big Green Egg (in different sizes) an average score of 4.9 out of 5, and none rates it lower than 4 out of 5. However, not all the reviewers describe the Big Green Egg as a smoker. It's a versatile product and people use it for a variety of reasons, such as for searing steaks, which is entirely different than smoking a pork roast for six hours.
Review: Big Green Egg Large Heavy Duty (w/Spring Band) 18.25-inch Grid -- LHDA, Contributors to Buzzillions.com