Big Green Egg Continues to Set the Bar for Charcoal Grilling

Send off summer with the platonic ideal of the backyard grill

August 31, 2023 12:19 pm
Big Green Egg Hero
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When it comes to grilling, I’m more of a “steak and veggie” guy instead of a low and slow, spend-several-hours-on-a-brisket smoker. I love firing up the barbecue year-round, but I prefer it to be a dinnertime activity rather than an all-day affair. I’ve used a range of grills over the years, from the smaller, table-top charcoal Webers to large propane-driven rigs. I spent the last year with a pellet grill, but have to say that in my short time with the Big Green Egg, I’m back to charcoal, and probably back for good. 

Grilling Accessories to Heat Up Your Backyard BBQ This Summer
Even over-the-shoulder grill watchers can learn a thing or two

Big Green Egg specs

The Egg comes in seven sizes, and mine is a large, which falls somewhere slightly above middle-of-the-pack. It’s a fine size for our small crew and the occasional dinner party. The 262 square inches of cooking real estate is plenty and stays well-heated throughout the entire cooking session. 

There are two gateways to control temperature — a lid opener at the top, and the main airflow tab at the bottom (where you also clean out ash). The Egg is famously a big ceramic cylinder, which holds heat remarkably well for long periods of time. (This heat retention also means it will take a long time to cool down). 

The company says the grill’s included thermometer will read accurately up to 700 degrees, and I’m honestly convinced you could get this thing even higher than that. One of my next efforts is to get a pizza stone and try to replicate the wood-fired pizza process at home (with charcoal, of course). 

First impressions

The large version of the Egg is 162 pounds with all of the components inside. You will feel every ounce of that heft when you move it to its final location. The setup is fairly simple, but you may want a second person on standby to help lift it.

Before my first grill, I watched a number of videos from YouTube University about best practices for first use and ongoing maintenance. Fortunately, several experts have already done all the trial and error in lighting an Egg, maintaining temperature and the process of “burping” an Egg before opening it. They even dial in specific results based on various proteins and other items, so you can get moving with a good plan in place.

The company recommends doing the first 2-3 grilling sessions between 300-400 degrees to help the seal between the lid and the grill base set, so I did a couple of rounds of burgers, all of which came out quite nicely. Understanding how the Egg retains heat is crucial because if you light it and walk away, you can come back to 500 degrees and an overheated grill.

I also found that in windy conditions, the grill can be tough to light, especially if you don’t have starter assistance (either from a torch or paraffin cube). Wind sort of gets trapped in the interior and can put out a flame before the charcoals have a chance to light. I found you need 5-7 minutes to let the charcoal light before closing the grill and letting it do the rest of the work.

Accessories matter

Sure, you could acquire a Big Green Egg and just use it as is. It’s a fine grill and will consistently put out good food. However, this is a case where the ecosystem of accessories built around the grill actually makes a difference.

Anyone looking to wheel this thing around will need the “Nest,” which supports the Egg in a wheeled setup with an available handle add-on. There are also attachable side tables, which add a needed level of utility to the grilling setup. Looking for more grilling real estate? There’s an expanding stacker for more space. When it comes time for cleanup, the ash tool and dustpan specifically designed for the Egg’s opening makes life so much easier.

I’ve tried a number of these, and they really do elevate the experience. Using an Egg becomes an event in itself, and having at least a few of these accessories on hand makes it a much more pleasant activity.


Once assembled, and after an initial grill, the Big Green Egg is fairly easy to use, and that’s what I love about it. The most interaction I need to have beyond managing the food is adjusting to airflow openers to control temperature, and adding in charcoal from time to time. The food really picks up the flavor of whichever charcoal you’re using, and the grill seems to get better the more you use it.

There is far less cleanup and maintenance than my prior pellet grill, and certainly fewer moving parts than a propane barbecue. It’s the sum of the parts that officially makes me an Egg convert and look forward to years of great grilling.

Labor Day Grill Sales

A Big Green Egg is certainly an investment, and if you’re not prepared to make that expenditure, there are some other solid grills out there at more budget-friendly prices. 

Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

The dome grill a lot of us grew up with remains an old standby, and still one of the best value-to-performance options on the market. While it’s now a bit dated and doesn’t have as many of the bells and whistles as more current grills, it still makes for high-quality, low-maintenance barbecue sessions time after time.

Victory 35-Inch Wood Pellet Grill
Victory 35-Inch Wood Pellet Grill

Fans of “low and slow” cooking love pellet grills because the ability to control small temperature changes is much more robust. This option from Victory has a 29 lb. hopper, ideal for long days smoking big cuts and has four casters for easy mobility (a low-key win for those without a stationary grilling space).

Z Grills Backyard Warrior 7002C2E
Z Grills Backyard Warrior 7002C2E

When done right, pellet grills can also reach mid-range and higher temps for quick searing and grilling, such as with this triple-rack grill from Z Grills. What users love here is the consistency in temperature over a wider margin when doing large cuts and portions for big parties.

Royal Gourmet Black and Silver 4-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill
Royal Gourmet Black and Silver 4-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill

In wide open spaces, an open-top grill reduces weight and typically offers more grilling real estate compared to traditional closed models. This four-burner grill puts out 48,000 BTUs in total and combines a grill and griddle setup to make you the instant winner of a block party or tailgate.

Everdure 54″ Freestanding Charcoal Grill
Everdure 54″ Freestanding Charcoal Grill

Serious grillers need a serious rig, and that’s exactly what this large beast delivers. Best placed on a large patio with plenty of ventilation, this ultra-flexible grill provides a traditional grill rack along with a rotisserie attachment to run two full chickens at once. Further, with a built-in ignition system, you can be up and grilling in as little as ten minutes.


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