The cultural phenomenon that has formed around the Big Green Egg since its 1970s debut is iconic indeed.
Let’s just say that this ceramic beast of a charcoal grill and smoker has hatched numerous copycat cookers and die-hard devotees who call themselves Eggheads.
We can, however, evaluate its performance and help you answer the question: Does anyone really need a $1,000-plus kamado grill?
For that price, you might expect an actual fossilized dinosaur egg, not a grill that looks like one. After all, some of our top-rated gas models cost a quarter of that price. And you can snag one of the best kettle- or barrel-style charcoal grills from our tests for as little as $100.
But the Big Green Egg isn’t trying to be an alternative to traditional grills and, frankly, its design has little in common with them anyway.
Rather than adjusting gas burners or arranging charcoal briquettes as you would in a conventional charcoal grill to concentrate heat, you fill a kamado grill's lower hemisphere to capacity with lump hardwood charcoal. Once the coals are going, the design starts to make sense: Cast-ceramic walls an inch thick and a heavy lid with a heatproof gasket team up to trap heat. That allows you to use the dampers to precisely control the temperature.
"The Big Green Egg was the only widely known kamado grill for years," says Mark Allwood, a market analyst who oversees grills for Consumer Reports. "But in the past few years, we've seen lots of kamado models from other brands trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Egg." (The category gets its name from the ancient Japanese cooking urn.)