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Large vs. Extra Large Big Green Egg

I am trying to decide whether to go with the large or extra large Big Green Egg.
Will cook mostly for the family and an occasional party. Will keep my gas and charcoal Webers as 'overflow' grills for the parties. I'm curious if there are any drawbacks to getting the extra-large.

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  1. Have you been to the Big Green Egg forums? Either the original forums at http://www.greeneggers.com or the new "official" forums at http://eggheadforum.com

    Lots of helpful info there from people that are very knowledgable on the eggs.

    We have 2 larges and the benefit to me over just having the XL is the fact that we can do things that require different temps at the same time. But then, once we got our first Egg we basically quit using our other grills. Once in awhile we use the hibachi if we are just grilling some dogs.

    17 Replies
    1. re: rasputina

      Thanks! I'll check out the forums and see what the conventional wisdom is. I am now leaning toward the Large egg and will keep the old 2 grills too. If the large egg is good enough for the Eggtoberfest and 200 cookers, it must have an adequate cooking surface. My local retailer says they sell apx. 4:1 large to x-large.

      1. re: rbierman

        I have a large. It has a number of attachments which increase the amount of cooking area. For example, I can do 4 whole chickens or 5 or 6 racks of ribs or a 15lb turkey. I still have my gas which I still use particularly during the week. IMHO, the XL is way too big for home use. Also in Canada the XL is a lot more expensive than the Large. The BGE forums (there are now two of them) are a great source of information. I think you will find that most members will say that a large is way to go. In short I agree with every thing Rasputina says above.

        1. re: LJS2

          Thanks for your feedback! I joined the BGE forum and am now getting a large volume of information to go through. Many of the dedicated Big Green Egg people are egging me on towards the XL. (pun intended) It's a big choice and the cost difference here is about. $300 more for an XL. My justification would be that I pay about $7,000 per year in property tax on our house and have little to show for it (not even a slab of ribs) why should the $300 hinder my pursuit of BBQ excellence! Still, I am investigating to see if there may be other drawbacks in the XL that may not necessarily be obvious ie) fuel consumption and performance. They say it will use a little more lump charcoal, but nominal. Choices, choices.

      2. re: rasputina

        I always hear that people claim that they replace their regular grill with green big egg. Exactly what can big green egg can do? I understand that it is a great insulator heater and it can maintain its heat/warmth for a long period of time, so I suppose it can save fuel and reduce attention for slow/long cooking, but what can it do for regular grilling like hamburgers and steaks (5-15 minutes)

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          The Big Green Egg can do everything from maintain low temps like 220 for over 24 hours on one load of charcoal to sear steaks or cook pizza at over 800 degrees. It shines at the extremes of low and high. I don't think it does anything special to hamburgers or hot dogs. It's great at roasting chickens and turkeys though and maintaining a moist bird. It's also superb at maintaining temp in the snow. I know a lot of people on other boards that live in a cold climate that rave about it's cooking ability in winter. I live in the South so I have no personal experience using it in that climate.

          1. re: rasputina

            Is it easy to control the heat output for Big Green Egg? I mean if I have a gas grill. It will be easy to just turn the knob for controlling the flame.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              As with any fire heat is determined by fuel and oxygen. You control how much fuel you use and oxygen is controlled by the damper at the bottom and then exhaust on the top dome. In the egg there is also the radiant heat from the ceramic.

              1. re: rasputina

                <You control how much fuel you use and oxygen is controlled by the damper at the bottom and then exhaust on the top dome.>

                Right, but does it work well in your experience?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Well yes I think it works very well, otherwise we wouldn't have bought a second egg. But I'm not a gas grill user. So I'm not comparing it to that.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    There is a bit of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it controlling the temperature is one of the eggs virtues. That said, the notion that you can light the coals and be grilling roasting or smoking in 10 or 15 minutes is a myth. That is one of the reasons I still hold on to my gas grill.

                    1. re: LJS2

                      Thanks rasputina and LJ32. I am not into barbecue right now, but I can see myself trying to perfect that skill in a few years (after getting my own house). So I was wondering how Big Green Egg fits into that picture.

                      By barbecue, I am refering to the Southern slow barbecue.... not the Western Coast barbecue (which is more like grilling).

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Chem
                      The BGE works incredibly well at holding low and slow temperatures for extended periods of time and also creating roaring torch heats when you want to go that direction. It has a learning curve and technique matters from frequency of cleaning, choice of charcoal, how to build/layer the charcoal, whether to include a hardwood log into the base of the stack or simply toss a few knobs of wood chunks for flavoring, how to light the fire, how to accelerate to cooking temp and when to throttle air flow down, as well as what sort of grill, griddle, rack, rack extender, direct, indirect, water pan, options to employ. It can be as simple a cooking platform as any charcoal grill, or as complex and responsive as you wish to take it.

                      Going back to the original question, in the nearly 3 years with our large BGE, I think we've only had a handful of occasions when I wished it were an XL version. Otherwise the large version has allowed enough space to do a full packer cut brisket (albeit with some creative trimming), two pork butts simultaneously, a huge 3" porterhouse to feed 8, our 14" paella pan, multiple racks of ribs, whole turkeys, etc.

                      If I had to choose again would stay with the large version and frankly add a second one as the only real shortcoming of the BGE is that it is difficult to try to create multi-temperature cooking zones......while gas grilles and large kettles allow you to set up horizontal temperature zones, the BGE more readily achieves temperature differences vertically requiring some after market racks and elevated grid supports to pursue. Having a second cooking station would simplify that effort.

                      Why have we enjoyed the BGE so much compared to the nearly dozen other charcoal and gas grilles, electric smoker and offset smoker that have been a part of our lives since the family's first grill in the '60's? Versatility and ability to control the results. Our very first pork butt, resulting from 12 or 14 hours of overnight smoking was an epiphany. My wife the baker has perfected a pizza recipe and approach to BGE baking that replicates the wood fired oven flavor and texture of our favorite Italian trattoria from our ex-pat days living in Trastevere. We smoke Griggstown marinated poisson for exquisite dinners or apps that stay moist without any special heroics, and recently have been playing with Myron Mixon's recipe for cupcake chicken thighs that are are wonderful combinations of moist brinedflavors layered wit smoke flavors, heavy rub spicesand finished with a BBQ glaze that is amazing.

                      Out of all the previous grilles and smoker devices, many of which worked fine and some which were complete losers (including a build it yourself Sears gas grille that required a hacksaw and sheet metal crimper to fit into an assembled state and then leaked more heat than it directed to the cook surface); none of those measure up to the versatility and performance options of the BGE.

                      Admittedly this is the first and only experience I have had with komodo type ceramic grille/smokers so perhaps this performance applies to that entire genre of devices but the choice of the BGE brand came from my wife in presenting ours as a gift and frankly could not be happier with her choice. She just wood smoked a pan of our end of the season garden tomatoes to create a fire roasted tomatoe sauce that is extraordinary. Sorry to sound like a commercial for the Egg but finding something that "works" and exceeds expectations, is such a pleasure that it's difficult not to be a bit effusive in its praise.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                The BGE also reportedly retains moisture within the cooking chamber, although smoke escapes through the top vent, and fresh air enters through the bottom. I'm not really sure how this claim is proven, but they say the outcome is moist meat.

                1. re: rbierman

                  Well I have had a large BGE for close to 10 years at this point and would not be without one. Retaining moisture is definitely one of its strong points. Hot air loves absorbing moisture. The larger the volume of dry hot air that passes over the food, the more moisture will be taken from the food. Steel is a good conductor of heat and therefor heat passes through it very quickly. So, to keep the internal cooking area at a given temperature in a non insulated steel cooker, a large volume of dry hot air has to be continuously introduced to the cooking chamber throughout the cook. Ceramics are a poor conductor of heat which is why Kilns are made of ceramics. After the chamber of the ceramic BGE reaches the cooking temperature, very little additional heat has to be generated to maintain the temp. A dramatically lower volume of dry heat passing over the food during the duration of the cook results in less moisture being removed from the food.

                  (Easy learning curve) Professional barbecue folks can smoke with just about anything but most of them have thousands of hours experience smoking just about everything there is to smoke. Most folks don't have that kind of experience and thats where the moisture retaining properties of the BGE really help because drying out food during the smoking process is one of the most common mistakes folks make and its really hard to do that with the BGE.

                  (Convenience) Because of the heat retention qualities of the ceramics, once the BGE temp stabilizes after start up, its holds a temp extremely well and really is a set it and forget cooker even when the ambient temp changes significantly.

                  (Grilling/Searing) The Naked Wiz (Ceramic cooker expert) has measured temps in the area of 1200 degrees. I bought a heavy weight cast iron cooking grate for the egg. I throw on the steaks when the grate starts to glow red. I have never seen anything grill a steak as well and the oak lump charcoal really adds a nice flavor.

                  I know some folks say that charcoal does not add flavor. I have a good Weber gas grill
                  and have done comparisons with identical steaks, cut from the same section of the same whole strip loin and their is no comparison.

                  For my family the large is more than big enough.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  You raise an important point. If the BGE is going to be used only for grilling burgers and steaks then there are better far less expesive charcoal alternatives such as the weber kettle which served me well for 10+ years before I replaced it with the egg. The BGEs strong points are its versitality and its sturdiness. You can do low and slow for 10-20 hours one day, steaks grilled at 650F the next and roasts the day after. It is not affected by the weather at all. I live in Canada and have had no problems doing any of these cooks in the dead of winter.

                  1. re: LJS2

                    Based on my recent reading on the BGE forum, I think nearly all the "Eggers" are interested in a significant amount of slow cooking. Burgers and steaks can be cooked very good an a lot of grills.

                    1. re: rbierman

                      You'll love your egg! Great for slow cooking, baking, fantastic pizza, smoking, and great steaks and burgers. If you are into cooking with a wok, it gets the wok superhot, just like in the chinese restaurants, and you get that special taste from high cooking
                      I had a large and sold it as I use the medium and mini more often as there is usually the two of us. The large can cook large amounts and there are accessories that you can buy to triple your cooking space. The extra large is big and the lid is very heavy. Being a woman it is hard for me to lift. If you entertain often you may want to think about getting the XL. There is an accessory you can buy for that so you can only use a small amt. of hardwood charcoal which is nice when there are just a few.
                      Hardwood charcoal can be saved by closing down your vents and putting on your ceramic cap. When you are real to cook again just jiggle the ash and relight your leftover charcoal. Remember....absolutely no chemical charcoal should be used or any light fluid as it will make your Egg retain that taste for all your future cooks.
                      It's also nice to be able to cook on even the coldest days. Lowest for me was -21 and it held the heat perfectly.
                      There definately is a learning curve but with practice it doesn't take long to achieve.
                      Oh yes, my Weber gas grill sat on the deck for 3 years, and I finally gave it to one of the kids.

              3. Primo Oval XL ............Made in the USA

                Fun!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Uncle Bob

                  Most eggheads have two . . and so will you eventually. Like owning different cars, sometimes you need the truck, and sometimes you will want the roadster.

                  My small BGE is perfect for the two of us when we don't have a need for/ or want to waste all of the fuel required of the large, for a quick /simple cook for two.

                  Also, I find that having two BGE's is more satisfying, and does the job better than limiting fuel use of the large or xt large with an accessory.

                2. One thing most grills (Weber) can do and the standard BGE can't is a two level fire---hot on one side and cool on the other. Aftermarket accessory dealer Ceramic Grill Store offers XL Ang-L Brackets which allow you do this for the XL only, making the XL far more versatile. You can also in effect use it as a small cooker, conserving charcoal. www.ceramicgrillstore.com/anglebracke...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mwhitmore

                    we use the plate setter for indirect.

                    1. re: rasputina

                      I have heard of people going to a masonry supply house and getting 1/2 thickness fire bricks (very cheap) and doing similar things to get indirect heat so I agree it can be done on a LG BGE.