Big Green Egg alternatives?
I had my heart set on a large Big Green Egg, and have been waiting until my finances are in such condition as to make it reasonable. But then, I started hearing that some of the other ceramic grill manufacturers are catching up and, in fact, may have surpassed the original BGE at around the same pricepoint. In particular, Primo offers oval-shaped grills that offer a lot more surface area and Grill Dome offers BGE clones that use thicker ceramic, all stainless-steel hardware and have a lifetime warranty on all parts (not just the ceramic), plus they're available in neat colors.
Anyone have any experience comparing the original BGE to any of the competitors?
Both of the companies you listed make great products. However unless you live the SE USA Grill Dome is not a great option. Freight has become really expensive and they have a limited dealer network. They are a nice product.
The Primos is made in the USA. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the Oval but many love it. Primos makes a round as well as an oval and while their dealer network is not as large as BGE they do have enough dealers that support shouldn't be an issue for most.
Having had such positive experiences with performance and support from BGE I'm still an Egg Head but you really can't go wrong with Primos.
Thanks. That's my suspicion on the Grill Dome - the fact that there are no dealers at all in my region (Colorado) makes me hesitant to commit to it, when I have a great BGE dealer right down the street. Plus there are so many BGE accessories/replacement parts available, and I'm not sure Grill Dome has that.
I like the concept of the Primo oval, but practically speaking I'm not sure I need that much room. A large BGE seems sufficient, and since Primos are roughly the same price as the BGE for their round model I'm not sure there's much reason to go that direction.
Check out the Broil King Keg. It is a kamado with double steel walls with insulation in between. Much cheaper than the egg and no ceramic to crack. You can grill or smoke. One load of lump can burn 18 hours on low and slow.
It started out as the Bubba Keg then after some improvements they changed the name to Big Steel Keg and the the company got bought by OMC and they changed the name to Broil King Keg. I mention this because it is a little confusing if you are looking into it.
I checked out the Broil King Keg, and it seems to sell for about the same price as a large BGE now (at Amazon and Cabela's). I wonder if that's caused by the corporate changes. If it's the same price, then I'm not sure there's much benefit. I've also heard from one source that it's more difficult to control the temp on a Keg than a BGE.
The prices on the BKK (BKK4000) are all over the place. I bought the Big Steel Keg (version 2) at ACE for $500 2 years ago. The Broil King Keg has a scaled down version BKK2000 that is selling for around $300. That model does not have wheels, the trailer hitch, the side tables or the cast iron grate. You really need to try and find a sale or a floor model to get a good deal.
The BSK that I got was sealed very well and I have no problems holding temps from 220 on up. Some people have gotten ones that are not sealed as well and you have to get some high temp silicone for the top and bottom vents. Some people go farther and get temp fan controllers like the BBQ Guru and other types.
This site will tell you everything you want to know about BSK and BKK as well as the version one Bubba. The members are pretty honest and will admit the flaws as well as the advantages. I personally would not pay more than $550 for a keg.
I think the Primos have come down in price.
The main advantage the kegs have over ceramics is price and no danger of ceramic breaking.
The outside is cooler to the touch compared to ceramics also.
Either way I think you are on the right track. I totally got sick of trying to do low and slow on the Weber and what I have read about offsets is that they are hard to control as well.
As a bonus you can smoke in cold weather.
Once you start ribs, butts, briskets and pizza (at 800 and done in 5 minutes) you will never regret buying a Kamado.
I have an egg and like it a lot. However the price has gone up -a lot- since I bought mine. My local costco (in Southern Ontario) was carrying a ceramic cooker that was about half of the cost of a similar sized egg. I would certainly consider that. I also agree that the Primo oval is a nice alternative. If money is no object, go with the egg but there are now some worthy competitors that merit a look.
There are plenty of choices out there that are cheaper than the Big Green Egg. Much of the hype behind the Big Green Egg is marketing then, in turn, the consumers' placebo effect. I'm not saying the Big Green Egg is a bad product. I am, however, saying that there are many products out there that can help you turn out just as good food or better than the Big Green Egg.
Maybe if you shared what your goal with the Big Green Egg is, other products that are much cheaper could be suggested.
This is not directed at anyone in particular, but I think many of us as cooks/consumers often mistakenly think that a particular cooking tool or piece of equipment will make us a better cook. I see a presentation for a particular product then taste the food that came off that product and think "Man! That is amazing! If I get this product, I'll be able to turn out yummy food like this!" This is, of course, a logical fallacy. Becoming a better cook makes me a better cook. A Big Green Egg won't make me a better cook. There is no substitute for cooking ability.
It has been suggested that the BGE makes food more moist and more flavorful. Due to its ceramics or something like that.
My primary goals are (a) to have a very efficient smoker that will maintain temp for long periods (e.g. overnight), and (b) to have a charcoal grill for searing steaks and such on weekends when I have time to deal with charcoal (I have a gas grill for weeknight grilling when time is of the essence). I would also potentially use it as a pizza oven on occasion. I like that it can do all of these things well.
I currently have a cheapo offset smoker (Charbroil) which is frustrating to use because it's practically impossible to maintain an even temperature due to the thin metal and many air leaks (making the vents only marginally effective). I think I have the skills to make some great BBQ, but I think I've hit the limits of my smoker. I could get a Weber Smoky Mountain instead, but I'm thinking that the BGE would (a) last longer and (b) kill several birds with one stone by also providing a charcoal grill and brick oven(ish) option. Plus they look neat.
Quantity isn't really an issue; I've never felt limited by my current smoker, and the max I ever really do is maybe a pork butt and a couple of small chickens at a time. I believe I could easily fit that on a large BGE (or equivalent).
"I'm thinking that the BGE would (a) last longer and (b) kill several birds with one stone..."
Bingo! That's exactly the thinking that drove me to the BGE. If you are just grilling, there are cheaper options that work just as well. If you are smoking a bunch of meat all the time, you'd want a dedicated smoker. But if you are doing all of the above, the BGE is great.
BTW - if you are really looking at just doing one butt or a couple of chickens, you might want to look at the medium BGE. The grid is just 15 inches across, but it can still handle a pizza, or 4 steaks, or 2 butts.
Much of the hype behind the Big Green Egg is marketing then, in turn, the consumers' placebo effect.
Every one has and is of course entitled to their opinion. That certainly doesn't make them accurate.
Before I bought a BGE my line of thought wasn't all that different. Having spent many years in professional kitchens and having had the privilege of working with a lot of products I would say the BGE is nothing short of awesome. I'd say the same about a few other ceramic cookers and yes they do cook better than many other grills depending on what technique you want to utilize. This makes me a better cook in the same way a sharp knife improves my ability. The real benefit of ceramic cookers is they are both awesome grills and smokers/slow cookers and the ceramic retains moisture not to mention ceramic cookers can sear a steak at temps that will exceed many other grills and they make killer pizza!
@ Monopod Some of the Large BGE parts will work on the GD but I think Primos or BGE are better options. I would avoid the less expensive ceramics at Costco however some Costco's are carrying the BGE.
I have had a large BGE for about 10 years. I have been very happy with it quality wise. The only part that has required replacement was the fire grate where the goals sit. The original was ceramic. It was a replaced by a stainless steel plate. I am still using my original felt liner thought I know I should replace that My primary use for the BGE is for smoking (pork butts for pulled pork, brisket, ribs, etc.)
I have looked at alternatives online and the Bubba Keg/Broil King stainless steel unit seemed like a good alternative at a somewhat lower price. The insulated stainless seemed to get all the advantages of the ceramic with a lighter product and at a lower cost. That being said, all of these products are pretty limited by cooking area. If I wanted to cook quantity, i would probably look at a square electric heated smoker with wood chunks. Not sure how good the taste would be compared to the charcoal/wood chunk flavor from the BGE but with proper care on temperature, etc. who knows.