Sep 01, 2023
The Big Green Egg review: Why this charcoal cooker is the GHI’s highest
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article. The famous egg-shaped cooker is our outdoor dining must-buy this summer! It may sound like the plot of a Pixar film, but
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
The famous egg-shaped cooker is our outdoor dining must-buy this summer!
It may sound like the plot of a Pixar film, but a big green egg is slowly taking over the world. Thankfully for grill fans everywhere, this isn’t a cartoon tale but the story of the stratospheric rise of a green dome-shaped BBQ.
Inspired by an Asian clay cooker called a ‘kamado’, the Big Green Egg is a charcoal grill that set out to "redefine barbecue" and took the grilling world by storm. It even has its own loyal fanbase called ‘Eggheads’.
Of course, one question remains – is it worth the hype (and the investment)? Our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute put the classic large Big Green Egg to the test to find out. Let’s take a closer look at this rising BBQ star and find out why it’s the ultimate alfresco must-have.
Aside from its distinctive look, the Big Green Egg is a seriously versatile piece of kit. It’s a charcoal grill and oven that can be used to smoke, roast and bake. That means you can cook BBQ classics such as burgers, chicken skewers and sausages, but also pizzas, stews, and even desserts, all from the comfort of your back garden.
Plus, it’s fuelled by natural lump charcoal and, as all BBQ pros know, charcoal grills are renowned for creating satisfying, smoky flavour.
It can also be used as a low and slow cooker – that means cooking with a low heat over a long period. This method is ideal for cooking BBQ favourites such as pork shoulder, lamb shank and brisket. Picture it – you light and load your Big Green Egg in the morning, leave it to do its thing and 12 hours later you have a showstopping piece of meat for your dinner party.
Unlike a lot of conventional BBQs, the Big Green Egg also has a variety of stands and sizes available, so you can pick one that fits your space and style. It comes in three sizes, ranging from a 33cm grill zone to an epic 61cm. There’s the transportable camping-ready MiniMax, the original Large Big Green Egg and the XL Big Green Egg for epic family feasts. You can also buy different bases, from a pop-up foldable stand to a premium mahogany table.
Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty and self-cleaning abilities, both perks that help it stand out from the BBQ crowd.
Starting at £795 for the smallest model and going up to an eye-watering £3,945 for the XL version with the modular nest and expansion cabinet stand, there’s no denying it's quite the investment. The high price of the Big Green Egg comes down to three things: materials, versatility and reputation.
It’s made of shuttle-quality ceramic that’s treated with a protective green glaze, and then baked at 1,300C for several hours. The brand is supremely confident in its craftsmanship, hence the lifetime warranty.
However, whether it's worth the hefty price tag really comes down to how often you’ll cook with it and whether you’ll make use of the features that set it apart from other cheaper charcoal grills on the market. If you only fire up the barbie a couple of times a year to throw on some burgers and halloumi, this probably isn’t the model for you.
It’s also worth noting that investing in a stand can rack up your Big Green Egg bill, so be sure to consider this before buying.
To get cooking, you simply fill the Firebox with natural lumpwood charcoal. Be sure to avoid any charcoal that contains chemicals as this can affect the taste of your food and the Big Green Egg’s ceramics.
Next, you need to add a fire starter followed by a few more charcoal pieces on top – a charcoal garnish for your firelighter, if you will. Open the draft door fully for 10 minutes and wait for your charcoal to glow. Then it’s time to open the other vent, aptly named the ‘reggulator’ and – patience please – wait up to five minutes for your Egg to be sufficiently heated. Finally, add your cooking surface and you’re ready to start the art of barbecuing.
Short ribs, fish tacos, dan dan noodles, beef massaman, flatbreads, beef ragu, sticky toffee pudding. Should we go on?
The beauty of the Big Green Egg is that it can also be used an oven, so your dining options are limitless. It should come as no surprise that it even has its own cookbook.
If you’re intrigued by its restaurant-quality food potential, look at the Big Green Egg recipe page or the recipe playlist on its YouTube channel, where you’ll also find highlights from ‘Eggtoberfest’. No, we’re not joking. This multifunctional BBQ really does have its own festival.
Very. In fact, the fuss-free clean-up was one of our favourite things about it. For the Big Green Egg to ‘self-clean’, you simply fire it up as normal, close the dome and let it burn at 300C for a solid 20 minutes. Any leftover food scraps will be burnt to ash, ready for you to collect from the fire grate through the draft door at the bottom. Just be sure to leave the vents open while cleaning is in progress.
Our expert found the self-clean process a doddle and highly effective, but if any super stubborn food residue remains you can use a scrubber brush to remove it. For the Egg’s ceramic outer surface, be sure to use a soft non-abrasive cloth to avoid damaging its signature hunter green finish.
When it comes to cleaning the grill plate, our expert found that a quick brush and wipe down was all it needed.
The large Big Green Egg comes with a fire ring, fire grate, stainless steel cooking grid, firebox, a thermometer gauge for the dome, and the ‘convEGGtor’ (a heat-directing barrier placed between the food and fire to turn it into an outdoor convection oven). The portable pick MiniMax model also comes with a sturdy carrier, so you’re all set for your next BBQ camping adventure.
However, there are a host of other Big Green Egg accessories available, ranging from custom stainless steel BBQ tools and wire flexible skewers to a dishwasher-safe paella pan and a handy Bluetooth dome temperature gauge for checking your Egg’s heat from a distance.
Which accessories are worth investing in – and yes, many of them come with a hefty price tag – really comes down to which dishes you want to make. It’s worth noting that you can cook a lot of different things on the included cooking grid, but there are a couple of accessories that have caught our eye. The baking stone opens you up to a world of options including pizza and post-dinner brownies, while the vertical poultry roaster is an exciting buy for any chicken enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for full feast potential, you can also try the ‘Eggspander system’ range where you can stack more levels onto your Egg to create more grilling space. These additional levels are a game-changer if you want to upgrade the smaller MiniMax Egg, or you want the option to cook a whole array of dishes on the large Big Green Egg without having to pay an extra £520 for the XL model.
Our GHI expert first assessed how easy the set-up instructions were to follow and then they got grilling.
They cooked sausages, chicken breasts, sirloin steak and burgers, as well as meat-free alternatives including vegan sausages, vegan burgers, corn on the cob and vegetable kebabs, to see how they fared. They judged it on how evenly the food was browned, presence of sear marks and of course, how the food tasted. Once the feast was complete, they checked how easy it is to clean.
They also scrutinised the BBQ’s design, checking how sturdy it felt in use, how heavy the lid was, or whether the handles overheated during cooking. Finally, they assessed the Big Green Egg’s overall performance, considering everything from how long it took to preheat to the accuracy of the temperature gauge.
Scoring a mighty 96/100 overall, it’s safe to say that our expert was thoroughly impressed by this charcoal cooker. Let’s find out why.
It gives delicious results
The Big Green Egg scored 10/10 on almost every single one of our food tests. Our burgers and sausages were evenly cooked, juicy and full of flavour, with enticing char marks. It also made light work of a whole roast chicken, cooking it in just one hour, with golden, crisp skin and moist meat. And it cooked our medium rare sirloin steak to perfection, locking in the fat for extra flavour, with a charred, smoky finish on the surface.
It’s a real smoke show
Our expert found it to be just as good as a quality, traditional smoker. It did take eight hours to smoke our pork, but such is the nature of smoking meat. The reward for their patience? Tender, melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork with a lovely oak flavour. A real BBQ game-changer.
The spectacular self-cleaning
If you dread the post-BBQ clean-up, we have good news. Our expert found cleaning the Big Green Egg to be a breeze. They just closed the dome, left the vents open, and let it do all the hard work. The only manual cleaning required was brushing the grill plate, and that also proved to be a quick, fuss-free task.
The grill hot spots
Our expert noticed the grill had some ‘hot spots’. These little pockets of heat on the grill’s surface can mean your food doesn’t cook evenly, leaving some areas overcooked and others still raw. There weren’t any major issues with the hot spots during cooking, but our expert noted the edges of one slice of bread were under-toasted, while another slice was a touch burnt in the centre.
This model weighs 73kg. That’s not an issue if you’re planning on keeping it in the same spot all year round, but if you want something portable, it may not be for you. It requires two or more people to lift it – something to keep in mind.
From start to finish, the Big Green Egg is an exceptional buy. The dome took just 20 minutes to heat up and the 46cm grill surface has enough space for multiple burgers at a time. Plus, the grill bars are tightly packed, so you won’t have to worry about any sausages being lost to the charcoal. The lid opens with one hand and the exterior didn’t get too hot, making it ideal for gardens with little ones or pets around.
It is undeniably expensive, especially once you factor in the natural charcoal, accessories and purchasing a stand. But it created delicious results that reflected its high price-tag, and we can’t fault its flawless meat-cooking abilities.
All in all, the large Big Green Egg is an innovative piece of kit that’s a must for anyone who loves alfresco dining and best-in-class BBQs and is prepared to invest. It performed better than any BBQ the GHI has tested to date, so this is one headline-maker that’s definitely worthy of the hype.
Heidi Lauth Beasley is one of our resident homes writers, specialising in product reviews for everything from smoothie makers and coffee machines to barbecues and bedding. Originally from Dorset, Heidi’s simple pleasures include finding new and unique ways to rid her life of stray pet hairs and telling anyone who’ll listen that tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant. Heidi has an MA in Creative Writing for Brunel University and was previously a restaurant critic for The Infatuation London. Her specialist subjects included natural wine bars, handmade pasta spots and restaurant accessibility. She has also written for The Sunday Times Style and OpenTable. She is currently working on her debut novel. Heidi lives in Tottenham with an exceptionally sassy house rabbit called Gatsby. At the weekend, you’ll usually find her reading on her terrace or attempting to convert her friends to sparkling red wine.
Senior Homes Tester
Blossom is our Senior Homes Tester. Passionate about finding the best home products and appliances for our readers, she has tested everything from blenders to pizza ovens. Blossom enjoys delving into the intricacies of products and refining testing protocols for hundreds of items. Innovative items like robot vacuum cleaners and wine coolers are among her favourite tests to date, and her most notable accomplishment is toasting 360 slices of bread in a determined bid to find the best toaster. In her free time, Blossom openly admits to being a music geek and indulges her creative side through crocheting, baking, singing and writing.
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The best summer duvets, according to the GHI"""It gives delicious results It’s a real smoke show The spectacular self-cleaning The cons The grill hot spots It’s heavy Senior Homes Tester