For many, the Big Green Egg is the Weber of Kamados. They introduced Kamado cookers to the USA and are often viewed as the industry standard. The Large Egg is big enough for a 20 pound turkey and has an 18" diameter grate. Made in Mexico the BGE design is simple, it is built to last, and it has a limited lifetime warranty.
Round Kamados work as good as or better than standard charcoal grills for most recipes. They are, by design, excellent ovens and smokers because once the ceramic settles at the desired temperature, it stays there for hours. Eggs make great pizza ovens. Remove the grate and you can do Brazilian and Tandoori style cooking on long skewers, all standing vertically in a circle around the small, superhot fire. Open the bottom damper, remove the top damper completely, and turn your Egg into a roaring furnace with a column of flame shooting out the dome for searing thin steaks and burgers. (Shown above right. Use caution if you try this method.)
But they cannot be set up for true 2-zone cooking, an essential technique easily done on other charcoal grills by piling coal to one side to create a direct and indirect zone simultaneously. A few exceptions exist, such as Primo's Oval Kamados. Click here to read more about Kamado and ceramic grills and smokers.
2-zones provide rapid temperature control, enabling cooks to slide foods back and forth from cool to hot zones for crisping skin and reverse sear steaks. Most Kamado aficionados concede the best way to create different heat zones in their cookers is moving foods closer to or further from the coal. This is typically accomplished using the many accessories available from BGE and third party manufacturers.
In 2018 Big Green Egg introduced EGGspander for the Large model only. EGGspander is an optional insert that facilitates multi-level cooking. It comes in a variety of configurations. AmazingRibs.com moderator, John Bowlsby (aka "Spinaker") bought the basic 5-piece model for $160 and says it works pretty good when used properly. "For two zone cooking, I have found that the set up works quite well. Last night, I reverse seared a 16-ounce ribeye using the raised grate and a ceramic half-moon deflector. Over the fire, I used the half-moon stainless grate for searing. The two-zone set up preformed very well. I was reading about 250 F on the indirect side while I was at around 450 F right over my small, hot fire. One thing to keep in mind, is to keep the fire small, too much fire and your two-zone set up can become a single-zone rather quickly. The longer you cook in the two-zone configuration, the harder it can be to maintain, just by the nature of the ceramic body heating up. If you are doing thick steaks and chops, it is a great option for Egg owners. Some Egg Heads, myself included, have been a bit envious of being able to do true two-zone cooking like some other Kamados can. The EGGspander allows for two-zone cooking for Egg Heads, it's not perfect but I can't argue with my results. It was too long coming, but I am happy it's here."
Another useful device that is a match made in heaven for kamados is the BBQ Dragon, a well-made, battery operated, clip on, variable speed fan that can convert a charcoal bed from quiet gray to rip roaring red hot in a matter of minutes. Very good for switching gears from low and slow to searing hot. We recommend using an ancillary charcoal grill for direct heat when doing 2-zone recipes. It can be a lot less expensive than buying a bunch of add-ons and much easier than trying to move hot, greasy parts around in the middle of a cook.
There is one indispensable device called the "Plate Setter" for all sizes except the Mini Egg. It's a flat ceramic disk that sits directly over the charcoal. It absorbs and radiates heat so you have indirect radiant heat, but there is still no way to get convection heat as you can by building the fire on the side of a Primo Oval. The plate also prevents grease from spattering during the cook, which many believe produces a clean, less bitter flavor.
The exterior has an easy-to-clean green glaze bonded to the ceramic. The manufacturer claims that the modern ceramic material will not become brittle and can withstand 2,000°F, but we wouldn't recommend knocking it over whether hot or cold. Ceramic is very susceptible to cracking.
The base holds an inner fire pit in the bottom of which is a charcoal grate. There's a sliding damper on the outside for air to enter below the charcoal.
Above the fire pit is a fire ring, and that's where the cooking grate rests. There are two metal bands that go around the top outside circumference of the base and the bottom of the lid and they are hinged together. Optional side tables can be attached to the bands. The lips of the lid and the base are covered with special felt for a good tight seal. On top of the lid there is a topper that controls exhaust and an optional "Dual Function Metal Top" with a dial that allows for more precise air control.
The vents can be left open for hotter cooking, or closed nearly shut to keep your charcoal smoldering for hours. Some owners claim if you set it up properly you will not need to add charcoal for 24 hours during a typical 225°F cooking session. You could put a pork shoulder in with a small amount of lit charcoal on top of some unlit charcoal, close it, and come back in 12 hours to a succulent clod of pulled pork. If you do have to add charcoal, you must lift out the meat and the grate to do it. That's a bit of a pain.
There's a dedicated forum of BGE users and it has a wealth of information like this: "Tighten the bolts on the stands after the Egg has been used five times" and "If you have a problem with grease sticking the felt shut when it's cold, slip a Weber paraffin charcoal lighter cube in the bottom and wait for the warmth to release the opening. Then change the gaskets."
Replacements for all parts are easily available. On the negative side, we have heard that gaskets need to be replaced after a few years, parts are expensive, and that customer service could be better.
Eggs are not sold on the internet and their prices are not quoted at their website, but they have a lot of dealers coast to coast. Our posted price does not include a stand.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
The Big Green Egg is the most popular of the ceramic cookers, and it was the first to effectively penetrate the US market. It has a devoted following of enthusiastic users.
In addition to several sizes of cookers, they sell various accessories and seasonings. They are not sold at big box stores or online but are available at a large number of independent outlets.