Update: Now beyond six years and this is one of the most popular articles on my site! Glad it has helped so many. I upgraded the gasket and fire grate in my BGE and it is well worth doing so.
Update: After more than a year of Big Green Egg ownership, I have learned a few things. Article corrected, updated, and otherwise edited. Thanks to MacDude (Jeff Hoover) for reminding me to go back and look at this.
As anyone who reads this weblog knows, I’m having an absolute blast with my Big Green Egg. A number of folks have expressed interest in purchasing an Egg and were curious what suggestions I might have. So, here goes…
The Big Green Egg is effectively a ceramic oven with a firebox below the cooking surface. It has top and bottom vents, both of which can be adjusted to control both temperature, humidity and smoke concentrations.
The big advantage to a ceramic cooker vs. a gas or metal kettle grill is that you have amazing control over the temperature while burning fuel surprisingly efficiently. The ceramic acts as a heat ballast and the BGE is both super efficient and extremely temperature stable. Because of the design, it also tends to use burn less fuel, drawing less air and, hence, loses less moisture during the cooking process. While this also means less smoke production, the smoke tends to stay in the cooking area longer and at lower temperatures.
Kamado also makes similar cookers ; more expensive but likely worth it if tiles are your thing (the amazon reviews are very negative, but not exactly a huge sample size). If I had known about the Kamado prior to getting the BGE, I would still go with the BGE for reasons of practicality. The Kamado is beautiful, no doubt, but the BGE is simply much more practical when dropped into a table. Primo makes ceramic cookers with a very similar design to the BGE. I like the oval shape, but I don’t like that their marketing materials imply competitor’s do not have certain features or capabilities that they clearly do.
The BGE comes in several sizes. I have a large BGE that features a 18″ cooking surface, stands 30 inches high, 21 inches wide and weighs around 140 lbs (yes. 140 lbs. It is hard to move). The large and extra large eggs have spring assisted lid lifters. While it can kill you if you don’t follow the assembly instructions, it ensures smooth operation while in use.
To give an idea of how large of a grilling surface 18″ really is, the large egg just fits a 21 lbs turkey standing upright. It could fit a larger bird that isn’t propped on a can of Fosters, but not much larger. I have successfully cooked 40 lbs of pork butt and a 27+ pound turkey, but it was cramped. It is also large enough to handle a whole 8.5 lbs salmon with head and tail removed.
The key to success with a BGE is patience and never opening the lid during cooking unless you have to apply a baste or adjust something. Seriously. You should never have to open it to check for “done” unless visual inspection is the only way to tell. A properly tuned BGE will happily maintain a particular temperature for hours as long as you don’t open the lid. As soon as you open the lid, the inrush of air will cause the fire to rapidly change profile, typically getting a lot hotter and changing the burn pattern such that you are going to have to retune the vents to whatever temperature you need.
Or get a Stoker. Which brings us to the list of the accessories you will need…. First and foremost, you will need at least two digital probe style thermometers. I use a couple of Polder thermometers. though it isn’t because I find them to be better than any other model. I will probably move to Taylor as their probe replacement policy is more reasonable (the probes die with any flare up — rare on a BGE, but it does happens — or if the cable is damaged, which can be easy to do where it enters the probe).
The BGE has a little hole through which one probe is inserted to monitor the interior ambient temperature while the other probe is inserted into the thickest part of the food to determine internal temperature. Ambient and internal temperature control are the key control variables when cooking meats and fish. The BGE comes with a typical probe style analog grill thermometer. I knocked mine out of calibration the first time I used the BGE because I didn’t know what the helL I was doing. In particular, I lit the egg with both vents open and didn’t close them until the internal temperature shot through 1,000 degrees. This fried the included thermometer and the felt seal on the egg. Stupid me. Both are cheaply replaceable, but having a probe thermometer with hi/lo alarms is incredibly useful.
Alternatively, go with a device like the Stoker. It is a little computer that can control a fan attached to the BGE while monitoring a probe installed within the BGE to maintain a particular cooking temperature. A Stoker can also monitor probes and control multiple fans, including monitoring probes inserted into food. Awesome device. The combination of a Stoker and a BGE enables one to easily slow cook meats for upwards of 20 hours at a temperature around 200 degrees without having to intervene, add fuel or otherwise worry about it.
When ordering your BGE, get it from a local dealer if at all possible. The BGE site has a list of dealers though you’ll likely want to call around to appliance places to see if they can order it for you. We got ours through University Electrric (Bay Area) at a significant discount versus other sources.
Other useful tools. Many links lead to Outdoor Home. They seem to have reasonable prices on an awesome selection of tools and, better yet, are from my home state. I have ordered from them a few times and never had a problem.
In the first picture, the BGE is sitting in a large Big Green Egg cart. It is a raw cedar cart that I sanded and used a redwood stain deck sealer on. You really want some kind of cart or stand for the BGE. Given the Egg’s weight, it is relatively stable on its own. Having the egg in a nest is much much better (I used it for a couple of weeks without the table) as a BGE will break if it is knocked over. The work surface adjacent to the grill is critical when lifting in/out things like 20+ lbs turkeys. I dropped a couple of screw hooks into the end to hold other tools, of which you are going to need several.
You will want an electric coal starter. Any other method requires that you burn the coals a bit to eliminate any starter remnants and a chimney starter inside the egg just gets really really hot and wastes fuel. The linked product is funny — box says “extremely safe” and instructions say “don’t leave it plugged in for more than 10 minutes ’cause it might ‘splode!”. Alternatively, use a chimney starter externally to the egg with newspaper coiled underneath as the starter fuel. Never use lighter fluid. Not in the egg or externally on charcoal.
My BGE came with an adjustable metal top along with the traditional green ceramic top. The adjustable metal top is critical to achieving perfect temperature/humidty/smoke control. Frankly, the green ceramic top is useless for all but keeping rain out. My ceramic top broke recently (knocked it off a table) and I doubt I’ll replace it.
You will likely want to pick up a grid lifter as it makes it possible to lift in/out the entire cooking grid, food and all. Some foods — fish, for example — tend to like to stick to the grid and being able to pull the hot grid out and deal with it outside of the BGE is critical to removing the food intact. Likewise, anything — like whole salmon butterflied — that has piles of stuff on top is much easier to simply assemble on the grid and later place into the BGE. Two grid lifters is even more useful in that trying to lift a cooking grid with 20lbs of pork on it is damned hard with one hand.
For cooking bread and/or pizza, there is a baking stone. Given that the grilling grid is inserted in the egg a couple of inches below the hinged lid, I would also suggest getting some refractory bricks to boost the height of the stone. I am likely going to pick up a second baking stone as the first one is now thoroughly gunked up from using it to block direct heat while slow cooking meat. Works really well, but totally trashes the stone.
You will also want a long handled tong. These are 12" tongs from Amazon (no idea of the quality of that one). 18″ is even better. Longer the better. Solid construction critical. You’ll need this for dealing with the BGE when cooking at high heat. Reaching into it is exactly like reaching into a hot oven — very hot!
I also have an ash tool. It really isn’t necessary save for that it is perfectly shaped for scraping out ashes and kicking things around. It also fits in between the fire box and the outside wall of the egg which is quite useful for scraping out all the ashes without having to take everything out of the egg. Your firebox will likely eventually crack — mine has not yet (that I have noticed) — as it expands and contracts during cooking. While it makes it hard to take out and put back, such a crack does not impact cooing performance.
As for fuel, I use Lazarri’s Mesquite or Lump Charcoal. For smoke, I’ll use a combination of store bought hickory chips (I miss having a forest full o’ hickory trees like I did in the midwest!) and green fruit tree wood. Usually Apricot as my Apricot tree is growing like a weed and constantly needs to be trimmed back. For any relatively fast cooking — less than 2 hours — the type of wood doesn’t make a huge amount of difference (unless you are using rosemary which imparts one hell of a lot of flavor quickly). For longer smokes, wood type can impart distinctive flavors.
As I have learned, the above was crap. I now exclusively use hardwood chunk charcoal. I typically by either BBQ Galore’s store brand or BGE brand chunk charcoal. In any case, I never use Lazarri’s Mesquite Charcoal as mesquite imparts way too much smoke to be useful for anything but very short, high heat, cooking sessions. If I could find Lazarri’s chunk hardwood, I would use it. Lazarri’s quality is excellent, it is just that mesquite is useless to me.
For smoke production, I typically choose a relatively mild wood like Apple or Alder. I will often soak it in red wine and water, with maybe a bit of bourbon. For slow smokes, you really don’t want to use more than several lumps of smoking wood — big lumps, not chips — spread throughout the coals so they burn at different times. Trust me, you’ll get plenty of smoky flavor.
It is quite easy to produce truly obscene quantities of smoke and a really sour / disgusting smoke flavor. Start light. Ramp up as you gain experience.
I will often smoke with rosemary wood. Yes, rosemary wood. It grows like a weed around here and our neighbor has a slew of rosemary shrubs — woody branches and all — around the corner. Nothing like a rosemary smoke so intense that the chicken meat turns pink 1/4″ below the surface! But, again, “intense” does not mean “rosemary wood based fire”.
Oh, and you’ll need some good beer. Until you are comfortable with your temperature control skills, you’ll be spending a lot of time hovering over the temperature probes monitoring and adjusting constantly. Or tequila. A nice sipping tequila over ice with a touch of fresh meyer’s does one good.
Now that I have gained confidence, I use the Stoker for any cook longer than 2 hours and will commonly let a cook run overnight and through the workday with nothing but an occasional check of a web page. I sleep with confidence through cooks at this point — very different than the every two hour checkup when I was first starting. For sub 2 hour cooks, I just use a probe thermometer, set the vents, and let it go. The BGE will maintain a steady temperature quite nicely without having to do anything more than slightly adjust a vent ever 45 minutes or so.
Unless it is a cook where internal food temp just isn’t an issue (like a 20 hour pork butt — after 20 hours at 220 degrees, the food will be safe to eat and it will be delicious!), I always cook with one or two probes in the food. The best way to produce an incredibly juicy steak or turkey is to bring the internal temperature up to about 8 or 10 degrees below the target temp, then cover it for 10 minutes.
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2006 at 1:30 am and is filed under Big Green Egg. Food. Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response. or trackback from your own site.
117 Responses to “So you wanna buy a Big Green Egg?”
- David says:
The deed is done. Thanks for all the useful info and tips. I ordered the Large size with the side tables in a “nest”. Should have it on Sunday!
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for ours, since we’re already overextended with house repairs, yard repairs, and the obligatory, “oh-my-god-we’re-having-another-baby-in-7-weeks” spending. But there’s no question that when we do invest in a new grill, this is undoubtably the way we’ll go. Your helpful posts, not to mention all of your cooking demos, have definitely sold me on it! Maybe the folks at BGE should be offering you a cut, lol.
Ok, here’s a big question. You’ve touted the BGE as being fabulous for slow cooking. How is it for obviously faster fare like burgers and steak? It is overkill or perfection?
This deserves a post of its own…
Well my first attempt last night was chicken breasts. I put nothing on them but salt and pepper and followed the guidelines to cook them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. They didn’t have that bbq’d look at the end of the time. I actually thought they weren’t cooked yet because they weren’t blackened and dry! I cut into the thickest one, and it was perfect. I thought, this must be a mistake and cut into all the rest of them too. Every single one was perfect. The coolest thing about the egg is you can so precisely adjust the temperature with the sliding doors/vents. And I started it with newspaper! Unbelievable. Thanks again, bbum!
Forgot to mention that they tasted amazing too! My wife couldn’t believe I was watching the Big Green Egg DVD until late late last night. I thought that including that with the cooker was a nice touch too!
Funny, I haven’t watched the DVD yet and I really don’t refer to the book much, either. Pretty much all of my recipes and usage is derived from the results of google searches.
A word of caution; if you leave the top and bottom vent fully open, the interior of the egg can easily reach temperatures of 1,500 degrees. Won’t hurt the egg, but it’ll kill any probe thermometer unless it is rated for that range! My included BGE thermometer died a quick death the first time I lit the egg (without reading the instructions and, thus, quickly making several mistakes — too much fuel, vents fully open, cooking with lid open, etc…).
Matthew Saroff says:
The BGE sounds like overkill for someone like me who is just getting into grilling and smoking. I’m using a cheap kettle grill, and a cheap bullet smoker, which does OK.
At some point I would be tempted. What is the typical price for a BGE?
Matthew Saroff says:
Another question: Can you cold smoke in that thing?
Cool site, have been on BGE Forum for about 4 yearts, mostly lurking. Do you post there and if so what handle?
[…] Late Saturday afternoon, I preheated the Big Green Egg to about 225 degrees using lump charcoal and big chunks of maple as fuel. Once the temperature stabilized, I dropped the boston butt in an aluminum pan (to keep the drippings off the coals), inserted a probe and shoved it in the Egg. […]
[…] Tomorrow is my birthday. 37 years. 37 raises an obvious question. Does 37 lbs of boston butt fit on the Big Green Egg? Or, because that was all they had, does 35 lbs of boston butt fit on my large BGE? I know I can do a single butt well. Can I do 4 well? […]
[…] A friend, MacDude, asked me for some details on buying a Big Green Egg. This spurred me to update my So you wanna buy a Big Green Egg? article with information I have learned since I wrote that early last year. […]
I’ve had one for maybe 10 years. Actually, I got a medium used. It pays to live in the same city of BGE HQ. My wife was skeptical in paying that much for a BGE ($245). Remember that was a long time ago. She tried a steak and she was a convert. I still laugh the first time I did a turkey. After a couple of hours I checked the turkey and it was pink. I thought it was raw, but then found out that this is how meat supposed to look like when smoked. Yeah Yeah I was a rookie. The turkey was awesome and very moist. Because of the BGE, we only eat meat if it is done on it. It is tough during the winter, but it doesn’t take long to light up the charcoal and cook. Steak get seared at 800 degrees. I love the sizzle. Hamburgers come out awesome and my 9 yo picky eater gobbles them up. Replacement parts have been covered under warranty. One thing I recommend is getting the big wooden table. I had the nest and it sometimes hard to move around the deck. The table is lot more stable. If your handy, there are plans on BGE’s website. For those who are gas griller, “It ain’t barbeque if you can’t taste the wood”. Enjoy your BGE.
What is your experience with gasket replacement for Egg, using fibreglass gasket, such as made by Rutland?
Suggested to remove both upper and lower gaskets and install on lower position only. Ace Hardware has sold several with very good results at $9.95.
What say you?
My gasket is pretty much completely gone. I need to replace it, at this point, but am completely torn between the fiberglass solution like a Rutland gasket and going with the original egg gasket that, obviously, wears out relatively quickly when cooking at high temperatures.
The fiberglass solution sounds great and I hear many reports of it working very well. At the same time, fiberglass fibers are really really bad for you. Extremely bad. And I haven’t seen a fiberglass rope that didn’t drop particulate matter when under stress.
The original felt style gasket is obviously supported and safe, but there is an additional disadvantage in that it doesn’t provided as much “give” and, thus, will never seal completely when you have various sensor cables running into the egg.
So… I haven’t solved the problem yet! But I’m thinking about it. Any other suggestions?
Great blog. We’ve had a large BGE for 6 months. Wife got me a stoker this weekend for our anniversary. Used it on Ribs yesterday, smoking baked beans and hot dogs today (yes, smoke hot dogs for an hour at 200. You’ll never boil them again).
We’ve been using the egg as a wood-fired pizza oven. Use the plate setter and the pizza stone, get the internal temp to around 800 and homemade pizza is incredible.
Obviously I am frying the gasket when we do this. Any updates on gasket replacement?
Hey, how do you get the BGE up to a steady 800? The supplied thermometer goes to 750, so how do you measure above this without risking damaging the thermometer? I’d really like to try to make a pizza like;
WE’re thinking about getting a BGE, but I’m a little paranoid about putting it on our wooden deck, but I see in the picks that it can sit in a wooden table. How is this possible? Basically, I just don’t want my house to burn down. What’s the scoop on this?
Even driving the egg up to 800 degrees or so, the outside doesn’t get that hot. And the fire is very well contained — you only have to worry about burning embers coming out when you are cleaning the firebox.
For example, I have *zero* char marks on my wooden table. My egg is sitting on three of the little egg feet — just visible in some of the photos.
BGE also makes a very nice stand which is a metal stand for the BGE with a couple of side tables. Quite nice, though I like the egg table better because that big workarea to the side is very very handy.
In any case, having anything that burns stuff on a wooden deck carries inherent risk. My experience is that the BGE is much less of a risk than your standard kettle grill (my brother in law has cooked with a standard kettle grill for years on a wooden deck without problem).
For a while, I had my egg sitting on a really big concrete tile. Actually worked quite well and looked good, too.
Great site. Mouthwatering pics. Question. When using your BGE as a grill, do you find it inconvenient for the grid to be so far below the opening? It’s several inches lower. Do you ever rais it somehow? If so, how?
I have raised the grid on a couple of bricks occasionally, but not often.
When I use the BGE as a grill — regardless of cooking over a hot or cool fire — I almost never flip the grilled items. The flavors seems much better with the lid closed as the food seems to lose less moisture. Best damned london broils ever. If I’m going for that “criss-cross” grill mark effect, it only requires four flips.
Anyway — I don’t find it to be that big of a deal. There is still plenty of space to get a spatula under the food. The only foods that are problematic are relatively large, flat, and flaky foods (salmon fillets) where you really need to get under ’em flat and likely from multiple sides.
I am planning to purchase a large BGE very soon. Do you have any recommendations on what to smoke 1st with the least difficulty? I am not sure if the local place will have the stoker you recommended or the digital probes. Any suggestions with instructions would be appreciated. I really like brisket, ribs, boston butt, and turkey. Thanks
I’d go for ribs or beer butt chicken. Both are relatively short cooks and semi-forgiving on temperature fluctuations, thus allowing you to perfect your temperature control skills.
You really don’t need a stoker for anything less than about 6 hours. The BGE does an amazing job of maintaining temperature and consistent burn rate, as long as you don’t mess with it too much, use good fuel, and don’t leave the vents wide open.
I just burned up my gasket. Any word on a safe alternative to the rutland gaskets?
“The big advantage to a ceramic cooker vs. a gas or metal kettle grill is that you have amazing control over the temperature while burning fuel surprisingly efficiently” – Absolutely Right. Fuel efficiency is the need of the hour and its great to hear that this cooker gives energy efficiency. What a Great Story!
What about your table. Did you build or buy?
The table was purchased and is, I believe, a Big Green Egg manufactured
What a fun read–I definitely need the networked turkey option. Nice to see another total geek out there working towards culinary excellence…
Anyway, I’m having a very hard time deciding between the large and the extra-large BGE. I prefer the look and size of the large, but don’t will sacrifice aesthetic and footprint for function if I have to. We are a family of four, and frequently have another family of four over for dinner. We often do things like salmon filets, steaks, etc. along with potatoes, corn, whatever. My existing Weber is 425 square inches, the large BGE is something like 250, and the XL is around 450 I think. I have never said, “Man, I wish I had less grill space”, but I also don’t want to have a huge grill if I don’t need it.
I’ve gone so far as to cut 18″ and 24″ circles out of cardboard, but hoped you might give your thoughts on the size options, and how large of a group you typically feed.
Thanks and keep up the good work!
I’m seriously considering upgrading to the XL. Both because it has more surface area and because — I think, but really need to double-check — there is more distance from the grilling surface to the top of the dome, thus allowing for taller birds and more interesting stacked configurations.
However, the various accessories for the XL BGE — of which you’ll most likely want the plate setter — are significantly more expensive.
Still, though, the Large is an amazing cooking device and I have done up to a 27 lbs turkey or up to 40 lbs of pork butt at once.
Have you done any meals that involve, for example, both veggies and meat? How do you deal with the different needs for heat, and have you tried doing something like ears of corn on the extender shelf, and meats below? Results?
More directly, do you feel you could easily cook for eight or ten people on the large, or would you feel like you were having to juggle to make it happen?
P.S. The other thing I wonder about in the L vs. XL question is shape. The L is still tall and skinny–the XL is short and fat. Do you suppose there is any problem with draw, i.e. the XL having a cooler zone to the edges as the heat rises up through the center, or is the retention such that the whole thing heats like an oven? Newbie questions, I know, but who wants to spend $1000 and find out that it doesn’t work as well or is too small?
Honestly, I haven’t done that many meals that involve both veggies and meat. But that is because I’m a rank amateur of full meal, limited tools, cooking.
My mom, on the other hand, cranked out some awesome full meal menus within days of acquiring a medium sized big green egg. It isn’t hard, but you’ll want to avoid things that require high heat on one side and low heat on the other. Mostly, you vary the different ingredients by time given the relatively constant temperature within the egg. Or, as my mom has schooled me, use an open dutch oven to contain parts of the meal and put other parts directly on the grill.
Frankly, the XL would give you the option of having direct heat on one side of the grill and indirect on the other, unlike the Large or smaller. I believe — I haven’t cooked on one yet.
In terms of heating, you definitely get hot zones due to drafting, but not anywhere near the degree of a Weber. With the vents closed and the egg running at a lower temperature it really acts more like an oven than a grill.
Got the large BGE on Friday. Did a beer can chicken that night with homebrew, pizza Saturday, burgers (kids) and steaks (us) tonight. What a blast. I can see where the stoker would be a lot of fun. I also notice that although the marketing says, “heats up in minutes”, the true temperature stability is much more evident once the ceramics have had a chance to come up to temp also. The porcelain coated cooking grid is a joke–chips every time I touch it with the BGE tongs, but nonetheless I love it and would buy the BGE again twice if given the chance! Perhaps I’ll try their cast iron grid. My buddy said, “I think there are going to be a lot of dead chickens this summer.” ‘Nuff said.
Great info! I’m leaning towards getting the Large BGE for my husband. We live in a very, very windy area with extreme gusting. Would the Large be stable in the Nest. I’m afraid of it toppling… Thanks for any advice.
Not sure what anyone else would say, but I’d say that it would take hurricane force winds to knock it over, and I’m not even sure that would do it. They aren’t kidding about it weighing 140#. I think it is more stable in the nest than on the included ceramic feet, because the footprint is bigger. If you had trouble with it rolling in the wind, you could set each wheel in something round, like a large o-ring, to act as a brake.
As an aside, I had first looked at a local dealer and then found these on the web for several hundred dollars less. BGE says you get no warranty if you buy from someone on the internet (you gotta love that–they don’t have control over their distributors, so they make the customer pick up the slack?). Anyway, if you get one on the web, you shouldn’t mention that to BGE–I would say it was a gift or just don’t register until if/when you need warranty service, then tell them you lost the invoice. I took the time to call around to local authorized dealers, though, and was very pleased to find one very close by whose prices were better than any I found on the web! I did have to pay sales tax, but I’ll gladly do that to be able to support a competitive local shop, and to have no questions about warranty down the road.
Best of luck, and have fun with it. Tonight we did pizza and cobbler. Then we sat around the BGE chiminea afterwards. Very nice.
No, they definitely won’t blow over in the wind, but an egg-in-a-nest will roll around in a storm!
BGE doesn’t support mail order sales of eggs because there is way too much potential from breakage due to improper shipping practices. When BGE delivers to a dealer, they do so through relatively slow, ground based deliver, typically with the product on palettes and otherwise packaged by BGE. Even then, there is some breakage and dealers are instructed to both inspect the major pieces of the egg upon sale and are generally very supportive after the sale.
With mail order, there is no telling what may happen to the egg between the dealer and the recipient. A non-committed dealer may repackage the egg to minimize shipping costs and then may choose a cheap shipping method that results in more breakage and more dissatisfied customers.
BMC’s [indirect] advice of calling around to local authorized dealers is good. Most areas will have more than one and at least one will be in the business because they love the BGE, not because it is a money maker. They’ll usually provide reasonable costs and will generally provide awesome support.
Thanks so much for the terrific advice! So far I’ve only found one local store that carries the BGE (Barbecues Galore) and the sales people weren’t very helpful/BGE knowledgeable. But now that I feel secure in purchasing, I’ll continue the search in earnest. I think my hubby is going to be very happy!!
BBQ Galore is likely going to be slightly expensive for the actual BGE, but their house brand hardwood lump charcoal is actually very very good (newly so — they changed suppliers in the last couple of years.).
– never use kingsford or the like. Unless you like burning wax or other glues as a part of your fuel.
– always use lump, but avoid mesquite for anything but shorter, hotter, cooks as the mesquite flavor will quickly be overwhelming
After reading Chile Pepper magazine for several years, I decided to buy a BGE. Contacted my “local” dealer in Hilo, HI and he suggested I start with the large BGE as I was thinking small for 2 people. Got the large one and LOVE it. Took a few tries to get the hang of the egg. but now I use it almost nightly, planked brie cheese, shrimp, steaks, grilled veggies. planked Salmon and a perfect beautiful Turkey. Never had so much fun cooking on a grill.
Thanks for a great post.
[…] weblog this thing”. So, here it is — with some additional edits, too. Like my “So you wanna buy a big green egg” post, I’ll likely edit this over the coming years, […]
I almost did the BGE, but went with a Kamado instead. My guess is that both do great. I believe the Kamado has thicker walls, and ways much more–perhaps unfortunately–per size of cooking surface. I am able to easily cook pork butts for 20 hours or more at temps as low as 170, and–to answer a poster above–am also able to cook big steaks at over 700 degrees. This type of cooking, regardless of which brand or model you buy, is fabulous.
I need help … someone in my condo backed over my beloved medium egg with a pick up truck. It fell out of its nest and need the two inner pieces, a new lid and a new band … can you recommend the best online store or store (I’m in Jersey City, NJ)? Do you think it’s worth fixing if the green outer shell is okay?
@Greg The Kamados are beautiful and, from what I understand, they perform pretty much identically. The Kamado is considerably heavier and more expensive. There is also another brand called Primo that seems to be a lower cost copy of the Big Green Egg. Slightly different materials, but similar performance. I have no experience with the Primo and couldn’t indicate anything about quality.
@Mike OUCH! That is truly unfortunate. I have oft ordered parts from Outdoor Home (http://www.outdoorhome.com/productcart/pc/viewcategories.asp ) and they carried all the bits you mentioned the last I checked. Any local dealer should be able to get a hold of parts, too. The prices are generally pretty consistent from dealer to dealer, but you might be able to find a bargain here or there. You’ll have to price out what you need to see if it is cheaper to repair than replace. Or you could use this as an excuse to get a larger BGE.
After more carefully evaluating the egg, I only need the inside bottom piece and the green top … Phew. Thanks for the website advice … I should be grilling again by Football season …
Hey Mike — If you have homeowner’s insurance, you might be covered for the cost of a new BGE.
[…] suddenly transitioning from done to overdone in seconds. The Cobb is as relaxing to cook on as the Big Green Egg; put the food in, configure for appropriate temperature, and wait patiently with beer in […]
I am a died in the wool offset vertical smoker kind of guy. went looking for one of good(heavy duty) quality and ran into this guy in a grill store who spent the better part of 45 minutes giving features and advantages of big green egg. I looked at the large and extra large and believe that the XL fits my need but my wife looked at though she was going to stroke at $1100.00 for a grill and then another couple hundred for cart and accessories. I looked at the large and extra large and believe that the XL fits my needs. I was expecting to spend $500-$700 but I must be convinced to do this amount. I mostly do ribs and chicken, usually 9 slabs or ribs and four chickens. Family cook-outs and stuff. Will the large at $800.00 or so do this amount or am I looking at the XL?
I have done four chickens on my Large, without a problem. 9 slabs of ribs might be hard if you are talking about full sized pork ribs (not the baby-back), but I’d bet you could do it with two cooking grids, one above the other (which I have used to do 40 lbs of pork shoulder at one time).
The BGE is awesomely versatile. You can use it to smoke, bake, grill, sear, etc…
Great advice for newbies! Couple “very newbie” questions: Calibration info for the temp guage (egg temp guage) did not come with my new egg, know where I can find this or have instructions on how to do it? Secondly, local retailer did not have plate setter or drip pan accessories available….any thoughts on where to purchase and type to get, best material, etc? thanks.
Interesting Blog. Saw my first BGE yesterday a a local fair. Very interesting but I did notice that the vendor had assembled several Eggs and in almost every case the top and bottom BANDS that retain the bottom and top domes were fastened with bolts tightly enough to bend the bolt so that it would be unusable or difficult to remove if necessary. This tension also bent the tabs on the BAND. Is this much tension necessary to retain the dome? I can imagine that if either band was too loose the band could slip off either the top or the bottom and the top dome might come off when opened. Possible serious safety hazzard. What is your experience?
@Brad You can calibrate the thermometer by sticking the end of it in boiling water. The BGE temp gauge will be destroyed if you let the egg run over about 800 degrees — but that is too hot to be useful for cooking anyway. As for parts and accessories, I have often ordered from Outdoor Home (http://www.outdoorhome.com ). No idea if they are the cheapest or the best, but they have always delivered what I wanted in a timely fashion without hassle.
@Larry The bolts on the band really are tightened down that tight on purpose. Sounds like they might have been over tightened a bit, but given that they were display models, it wouldn’t surprise me if the vendor was going for the overly cautious route (i.e. don’t want the thing coming apart with atypically rough handling). Mine are almost as tight and I have never needed to remove them, nor is my dome at all loose.
Thank you. I can work with that. Beer butt chicken for first BGE grilling this weekend!
Ok, total noob here. I’ve been screwed over by another Kompany that manufactures ceramic cookers, and now I’m looking to purchase something else, once I get my deposit back (assuming my credit card company is able to do so). Anyhow, the main selling feature for us was the ability to start the grill using our natural gas hookup. This appealed to us because we could just light the gas, and go back inside for a bit during the winter, and then only go in and out when necessary (rather than what’s required to use a Weber in the wintertime). Can this be done with a BGE?
Appreciate your help, folks!
The BGE is purely a charcoal — hardwood chunk charcoal — based cooker. However, it is trivial to start the coals in a BGE. I typically use an electric charcoal starter. Takes 8 minutes. Set a timer. Done. Alternatively, you can use charcoal starter chunks — little wax molded bits of wood shavings — and not have to worry about the timer at all. Works great. No fuss. Never doesn’t work.
I have cooked with the BGE during heavy rainstorms and the relative cold of winter in the SF bay area (it does freeze here). The BGE is remarkably convenient in this context; open the vents, drop in the electric starter or starter waxy thing and be done with it.
Thanks so much! Seems like a good fit for us, even without the gas starter ability. Next step is to go look at one (in the flesh, per se) and hopefully see a demo of some kind. Of course, I’m not planning on doing anything until I get my dispute with the other Kompany resolved.
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Great site as a new BGE owner! I have had it for 4 days and I have cooked ribs, steaks, burgers/hot dogs, asparagus, mushrooms and a cedar planked salmon! Thats a lot of eating but I just cant stop cooking on it!
A couple of questions for the expert.
1.) I guess I let it get too hot and during my last cooking experience (about 2 hours ago!) the gasket melted right off the BGE. I ended up pulling the whole thing off because it was burning inside the grill. I am out of commission now so what do I do. I am thinking about paying the dealer to come out and help me “fix” it and make sure I put the thing together correctly. I purchased the XL BGE and the table and it was crazy putting it together!
2.) When a put the charcoal in and the little starters should I let them burn for a few minutes and then close the lid. I may have closed the lid to early once and boy was it smokin!
Thanks for any help!
Welcome to BGE ownership! I know the feeling — ate way too much when my parent’s recently got an egg!
To answer your questions:
(1) I fried my ring the first weekend I had the egg and have yet to actually replace it. I have the replacement ring, but haven’t gotten around to dealing with it. You can buy replacements from your BGE dealer. They aren’t hard to install, but if you can convince the dealer to give you a hand that’d give you a good demonstration on exactly how to do it for the next time! Because there will be a next time!
In general, though, you should try to avoid running up the temperature that much. The most common cause is the daisy wheel flopping open when you lift the lid. I try to make sure the vent door is open only as much as needed — controlling the temperature almost exclusively with the daisy wheel.
(2) Yes — let the starters burn for a bit and let the coals get a bit lit up before closing the lid. I found that it works better. Also, use hardwood chunk charcoal if you can. The Egg burns differently than a kettle grill and hardwood lump works much better. Personally, I use an electric starter to avoid *any* taint from the starter blocks.
I’m another BGE user for about a year and a half. I’ve tried about evey lighting method out there; fire starters, newspapers, electric starters, charcoal holders. What I finally ended up using is a MAPP torch, about $35-40 dollars at Lowes, Home Depot or Ace Hardware. It’s easy and quick. The only down side is that much head causes some woods to spark when lighting. Another thing I’ve had success with for a long cook is to put some hotter burning lump in the bottom like Cowboys and get that going, Then lay or pour the rest of the lump on top after the intitial lump is going strong. This keeps down the straight down burn that sometimes happens. I can usually get about 16 hours of burn before I have to stir the charcoal. I found some really good charcoal at Ingles called Natures Grilling Mesquite Charcoal. It runs about $3.50 for a 6.6 lb bag. I can get up to a twenty hour cook with one bag. I keep a bag of Cowboy for short hot cooks. I have used BGE charcoal and like it but do not find it particularly superior to other brands that I have tried.
I’ve been a BGE owner for over two years and have enjoyed every meal with it. For getting it fired up, I’ve tried torches and electric starters, but the easiest method I’ve settled on over the last year has been to just use one paper towel with a little bit of vegetable oil on it. I’ll put the coal in the BGE by hand, wipe my coal dusted hands with the paper, wad it up under the pile and light it from below with one of those fireplace lighters or a long fireplace match. I don’t really seem to need to worry too much about how things are stacked as long as there are a couple of smaller chunks around the paper.
There’s constant hand washing going on while cooking and this is just getting a little extra mileage out of one of the times I wash and chances are if you don’t want to get your hands dirty you’re probably cooking with gas anyway – like my wife who says “I just want to click the button. ” In all the fires I’ve started this way it’s only died once on me, and I can generally count on a full temp fire 8 -10 min from start.
Oh, and lump is the only way to go in an egg. Along with all the other advantages noted here, one of my favorite things about the better lump charcoals is the really small amount of ash that is left over after a burn. It feels like good practice to keep the chamber below the firebox clear, but if I let it go for a couple runs, I’ll only find t a cup or two of ash to remove.
I love my BGE. Had it for about a year. Usually no problems, but I sometime have trouble with getting it hot. The fire has ‘caught.’ Everything is open. But the temperature stays at 125 to 150 degrees. I’ll be darned if I can gigure out why. What am I doing wrong?
@roy — that sounds like your thermometer is shot as it is pretty much impossible to maintain 125 to 150 in the dome. I find that about 180 to 200 to be a minimum, and that is hard to maintain. If you have let the egg run up to jet engine temperatures (as I did the first time I lit mine), two things will happen: you’ll burn off the gasket (which I did) and you’ll destroy the thermometer (which I also did). I still need to replace my gasket.
@Brad — I have had great success with an electric starter, but have burned two out by plugging it in and forgetting about it for too long. Next time I cook, I’ll give your method a shot. Sounds like a winner. I totally agree about the lump charcoal. It burns clean and, as long as it is good quality, long.
@Everyone — until they change the contents, avoid Trader Joes and Whole Foods brand lump charcoal. Extremely inconsistent burn times and quality.
I have a hard time getting my egg up to 700 degrees and keeping it there. I have thoroughly cleaned ashes out and vent holes. I have top daisy wheel lid completely off and I have to keep the lid open.
Then when I close the lid (with the top off) the temp might get to 600 -625, but soon the flame goes out and the temp recedes to 400 – 450. I am using a lot of good lump and a Digi- Que on at full blast for air circ.
The only thing left to try is eliminating all the little pieces of lump (The Big Green Egg Lump has quite a few smaller pieces in the bag)