Big Green Egg vs. a Gas BBQ
For those of you that know me you’ll know I love to entertain through serving great food. You’ll also know I’m not shy to try something new. Oh and I like a gadget or two.
I’ve been cooking seriously on BBQs for over 20 years. I’ve entertained small groups and large crowds of 40 or more people. I’ve mostly used gas BBQs for the last 20 years. About 5 years ago I treated myself to a Weber Summit S-650, Weber’s top of the range grill. It is a brilliant piece of kit and something we use all year round. You can’t fault it.
Then a couple of years ago my mother-in-law gave me a brochure on the Big Green Egg following a visit to Gog Magog Hills Farm. The Big Green Egg really took my fancy but having only recently spent a lot of money on the Weber, Helena wasn’t about to sign off buying an Egg as well.
Roll on February 2013 and Helena and I visited Gog Magog Hills Farm where we bumped in to Charlie, the managing director of the farm and a friend of ours. We got him to give us a quick run through of the Egg only because he was there and much to my surprise Helena was keen to get one. So here I am with both a large Big Green Egg and a Weber Summit S-650 (S-670 is the current equivalent), oh and a handful of other BBQ’s including the Cobb (charcoal and perfect for camping), a Weber Q 100(gas and perfect camping BBQ for two of us), Weber Q 200 (gas and perfect when there are more than the two of us) and also a tandoor oven, the TandooriQ.
So how do these two stack up against each other?
Starting them up
Gas is easy, turn it on and it’s lit. Leave it a little while to heat up and that’s it.
Charcoal though is a faff, well until you get an Egg. Just tip in some charcoal. Pop a special Big Green Egg lighter block in the middle and leave for 10 mins. Close the lid and let it warm up in 5 mins.
There’s very little time difference between the two being ready.
Gas is easiest until the bottle runs out. It’s much heavier then charcoal and you need tools.
Controlling the temperature
Gas is easy, surely. Just turn the knobs, low, medium and high. Agreed. However you only know how hot it really is when you start cooking. It’s easy then to adjust. While I have a thermometer on the Weber I don’t trust is like I trust the Big Green Egg.
The Big Green Egg is easy to control. You soon learn what combinations of the daisy wheel air vent on the top and the bottom door are required to get and hold a temperature.
For me I’m happier cooking on the Big Green Egg in terms of trusting the temperature. It’s ceramic build means heat is contained. The double wall construction of the Weber isn’t quite as good for maintaining the temperature.
Each of the grills has it’s strengths and weaknesses. The Egg excels at cooking low and slow, the Weber can’t really compete here. On the Weber though I can have the grill with either end at a different temperature.
I guess the easiest way for me to go through this is to list different dishes and say which grill I would cook them on and why:
- Sausages – The Weber if I’m being lazy but the Egg if I want them to be cooked perfectly and taste a little smoky.
- Burgers – The Egg every time. Sear them without huge flare-ups, get that smoky taste. Easy choice.
- Chicken drumsticks – The Egg, again it’s about cooking the chicken thoroughly without turning the outside to charcoal.
- Roasted chicken – this depends on whether I want a smoky flavour or not. The Egg gives a beautiful flavour but the rotisserie attachment on the Weber gives amazing results. Purely down to my personal flavour preference I’d say Weber but I’m moving more towards the Egg.
- Pulled pork or goat – the Egg every time. Cooking at 100C for hours on end is its forte.
- Beef brisket – the Egg gets that smoky flavour in there.
- Steaks – the Egg as its cast iron grid gets so hot.
- Suckling pig or lamb – the Weber and its rotisserie are perfect for this.
- Pizza, bread or baked desserts – no contest, the Egg is great at these. I wouldn’t even dream of attempting a loaf in my Weber.
- Roasted mini potatoes – the Weber on the cast iron plate. These are always a favourite in our house and the Weber does them so well.
- Roasted veg – a tie.
I’ve long been convinced by Weber’s flavourizer bars that vaporise and fats smoking the meat cooking above them. They give a great BBQ taste. Then I bought my Big Green Egg and boy was I missing out. Yes you can add wood chips to both the Weber and Big Green Egg and get the BBQ taste but the charcoal alone on the Big Green Egg make the food taste fabulous.
After 20 or so years of being a Gas BBQ fan I’ve been swayed.
Both of these BBQ’s can be fired up really high and effectively do most of the cleaning themselves. Yes they’ll both need their grids scrubbed. The Big Green Egg though does need its ash cleared out. This isn’t a huge deal but it can be messy if the winds blowing.
The Weber is the easiest but the Big Green Egg isn’t too much of a chore.
Both grills have limited lifetime warrantees. I’ve not broken a thing on my Weber in 5 years to need to try it out. So far so good on my Egg too.
Gas for the Weber isn’t cheap though. I think last time it was just shy of £26 to fill the 13Kg propane tank. I get through a couple or more a year but I use the BBQ a lot.
The Egg though uses charcoal, cheap right, wrong. You need to be buying lump wood charcoal not those awful reconstituted briquettes. If you don’t shop around restaurant grade charcoal will cost you £2 a kilo. I’m definitely spending more on charcoal then I ever did on gas. But then charcoal tastes better, it’s almost a seasoning for your meat.
The Big Green Egg costs more to cook on but it tastes better. All the justification I need.
Obviously this will depend on the size of BBQ you buy.
The Weber has a RRP of £2,999 but you can find it for £2,250 online. The Summit S-470 comes in just over £2,000.
The Big Green Egg in large with a table, cast iron grid, plate setter and baking stone is just over £1,700.
Both BBQs look great. The Weber in stainless steel is a thing of beauty. It’s a serious BBQ. Having said that when people walk into my garden the Big Green Egg is what all the conversation is about. It’s quirky and people are just intrigued. They’re less common and people aren’t sure what it is.
I’m lucky, I have both of these BBQ’s and I wouldn’t be without either of them personally. I love to entertain, to cook great food and for me I love doing this on a BBQ, no matter what the weather. The Christmas bird or joint dinner has always been cooked outside. It gives you your oven back for all the other bits and pieces.
The Big Green Egg for me is the most versatile and produces the most amazing flavours. Yes it costs more to run, yes it’s more effort to clean but the food quality is just better and it’s worth it. If I had to have just one of my BBQs it would be the Big Green Egg.