Our household is in the market for a new smoker, possibly a pizza oven (like Ooni or similar), and a charcoal grill. We have a gas grill & love the convenience of it, but after practically OD’ing on Turkish meats prepared over hot coals all summer I realized I really miss that charred flavor you don’t really get on the gas grill.
Furthermore, our electric smoker developed mold after not having been used for well over a year (and TBH - while it served its function it certainly wasn’t ‘all that’), and we could use an upgrade.
I’ve heard many folks wax poetic about the BGE and all of its functions, so I’m wondering if it wouldn’t make sense to practically get a 3-in-1 vs. 3 different things. Likely would cost the same in the end (?).
I cannot speak to the BGE other than as an observer. My next door neighbor has two (and an Ooni). It seems to be able to achieve very high temperatures. I have never known him to smoke on either.
For maximum versatility, I prefer a heavy steel offset smoker. You can obviously smoke, burning good sized pieces of wood, or you can build a fire in the bottom of the cooking chamber and use it as a grill or a pizza oven. I am not a fan of pellet smoker, “cooking with wax.”
To get some smoke flavor with your grill, you can use a little steel box that holds wood chips. It sits atop the flavorizer bars in mine.
You can make pizza with a BGE but an Ooni has a different temperature range so that for example Napolitanean style pizza is possible (but not on a BGE)
Interesting. A friend of mine hated her Ooni so much she got rid of it. Not to say there aren’t other pizza oven options/brands, but again - if I’m gonna spend my mortgage on a new device it had better serve more than one purpose.
The Ooni is not for me either. It makes nice micro-pizzas. The idea of cooking sequentially for a crowd is horrible to me. “Oh boy! I get to watch Mike eat his pizza! I get to eat after Dave, Marjorie, Anne, Peter, and Carol. I have time for two more drinks and plenty more hors d’oeuvres.”
I don’t have a BGE, but a neighbor does. I always wanted one, so we’ve talked a lot about them. As it stands today, he wouldn’t buy another one. It hasn’t held up to outside storage, even with the BGE cover. He complains about mold and cleaning. He likes to talk about how it CAN make pizza, and hold heat for a long time, but says his uses aren’t those. He also says maintaining CONSTANT heat isn’t easy, unless you also buy the $$ blower add-ons.
Why not buy a Texas Pit, and grill over the firebox?
I was interested in the Big Green Egg a little over 10 years ago. Then I discovered the Grill Dome, which has thicker walls, and thus uses less fuel. By adjusting the openings of the top and side vents you can control the temperature. Their website claims that the temperature goes up to 750 F, but I have never tried it. Last week I smoked a chicken (actually a guinea fowl) at an extremely low temperature for about 2 hours. Once the fire got going, I set both vents just a slit open. It was one of the best birds I ever cooked.
My brother has two BGEs, a big and a small. Great pizza, fantastic kababs, and so on. Really hard to beat charcoal-cooked kabab flavor (though people do approximate it with a smoking coal at the end).
However as with most things, you have to learn the thing. During the pandemic when I stayed with them for a long time, I’d do the prep and he would the grilling in the early days. Later he’d start the coals, but I’d gotten the hang of the grilling. By the end, I could start up the coals too.
It’s a learning process, like anything else. I messed up along the way, but it wasn’t the BGE’s fault There are definitely things you can get to improve your experience (he had a chimney and skewer racks, I ordered big kabab skewers and another rack, a small fan helped the coals, and so on).
(When they finally redid the yard, the plan was for a gas range and cooktop, plus the little egg for things he still wanted charcoal for. But he decided he preferred his two BGEs, so that’s what they kept.)
We have both a BGE and a Ooni 16.
The two are really complementary contraptions, and not substitutes.
The BGE is very versatile, as it allows you to grill, bake, and smoke effectively with just one contraption. It’s also fuel efficient, sturdy and well constructed with a life time warranty. The biggest downside (aside from price, which is relative) is that it is gawd awful heavy. Heavy as fuck. But for what it does, it does well.
The Ooni on the other hand is a one trick wonder. If you like making pizza at home, get an Ooni. It makes great pies. While the BGE can be used to make pizza, it is not really the right tool for it. Sort of like using scissors to dice carrots. You can do it, but it is not the most effective tool for the job. And just like the BGE, the Ooni is expensive (relatively speaking), but unlike the BGE it is nowhere as heavy (40 lb versus 200)
TL;DR the BGE is very versatile and heavy and the Ooni is perfect for pizza and not as heavy.
If you buy the Ooni 16 you can make regular pizzas and much faster (and IMO better) than with any other approach
if one is impatient/intolerant of how long it takes your oven to heat up,
you’ll be especially dis-happified with the Big Green Egg.
it is massive, it takes a very long time to heat up / preheat.
like 3 hours+
My brother in law got a Kamado Joe that appears to be the same as BGE but with a smaller price tag. He’s cooked up some awesome food with it, that’s the extent of my knowledge.
Check this link out-
Well, well. Looks like we might be gifted a used Primo XL. Perhaps we’ll start with that one - gets better reviews than the BGE. And for free? F yeah.
Your egg is broken.
While there may be different variables, size, lumps, how clean your egg is, etc., but it will reach operating temp in no more than 30 minutes, usually within 10-15.
Like I said above, much will depend on how much lump you’re using, how long you let your initial fire go until you shut the lid, how many coals are actually lit, whether or not you’re re-using previously lit lump, etc.
For example, using 2-3 firestarter squares (or the electric starter in my case), with the lid and draft door wide open, it takes about 6-7 minutes to get a solid flame going. At that point, you can spread around some of the lit coals to get a more even heating surface. Once you close the lid, the dome thermometer should rise to about 400-500 degrees somewhat quickly (about a minute). In my experience, it takes about 15 minutes from the time I light the egg until it’s up around 600-700.
yes, my electric oven also “reaches temperature” quickly.
but it is not preheated.
same with cast iron pans - the bottom get hot fast, the whole pan preheated, not so fast.
Or get the very best, a Komodo Kamado.
I upgraded from a large BGE a couple of years ago and was blown away by the quality and capabilities. I also have an Ooni, a FireMagic gas grill, and even an Orion cooker. The KK is just wonderful.
That is good to know. The half hour wait to get to me was crazy making.
For only about $1000 more than my car would fetch! It does truly look cool, and everyone gets to decide how to spend their own money, but that you could spend that much was a revelation. If you are playing at that level, you might ping Aaron Franklin about one of his smokers.
That’s like someone asking if they should get a Mercedes or BMW, and you come along say, nonchalantly, no less, “Why not a Rolls Royce?”
Major flex. Props to you.