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Cook's Illustrated Summer Grilling Issue Rates Large BGE Below Weber Smokey Mountain!

Yes, it's true.  Page 43 has the flawed review.  The last paragraph in part read: 

"Meanwhile, two others hovered comfortably in the 250-degree range from start to finish (LBGE & WSM).  One not only boasted exceptionally precise temperature control, but due to the excellent heat retention of its ceramic construction and vents that opened all the way, it was able to reach temperatures as high as 700 to 800 degrees, allowing it to double as a grill and brick oven.  However, it came up short on the basics: The single, 18-inch grate was cramped.  It also lacked a water reservoir, so meats turned out drier."

What kind of dumb BS is that?  You have to have a water bath in your rig for meat to remain moist?  It sounds like prejudice of the reviewer with their pre-conceived notions is showing. 

Flint, Michigan


  • rholtrholt Posts: 384
  • SmoothSmokeSmoothSmoke Posts: 141
    They're on Webers payroll man.  I've never seen Weber lose a review on ATK or Cooks Country.  It's absolute bollocks. 

    Check this ATK video review out for some laughs.

  • TjcoleyTjcoley Posts: 3,528
    I've never cooked a dry meat on the Egg, never using a water bath. Agree this was a prejudiced review. Egg produces some of the moistest cooks I ever had. As for the 'cramped grate' I've done 30 plus pounds of pulled pork on one level, and could have added another 20 plus pounds if I added a raised grate. +1Fred, it's a flawed review.
    It's not a science, it's an art. And it's flawed.
    - Camp Hill, PA
  • QDudeQDude Posts: 667
    I have had both cookers.  The egg is easier to control temps and produces the moistest meat I have ever eaten.  I liked the two WSM's that I owned but when I got my XL egg, it was a game changer for me.  No comparison!

    A northern Colorado Egghead since 2012!

    XL and a Small BGE.

  • EddieK76EddieK76 Posts: 415
    I've had both.  Can't say anything super nasty about the WSM outside of it's fuel consumption but come on....Apparently that reviewer didn't cook food on the Egg....
  • JustacookinJustacookin Posts: 279
    I Don't think any of us will be posting our eggs on Craigs list and running out and buy WSM. But I am pretty sure you could find many WSM owners that would trade for an egg and think you are crazy for trading. Just my 2 cents.
    XL & waiting for my Mini Max Bloomington MN.
  • Charlie tunaCharlie tuna Posts: 2,191
    I have owned and used both products and i have to agree the WSM turned out some very good BBQ most of the time, but does not compare with BGE results of EVERYTIME!  Any advertisment base magizine is slanted or bias to their major advertisers, don't get excited....
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 3,055
    edited May 2013

    Last summer they had a LBGE on the show as well.  They said it used "much less charcoal and didn't have to refill" as the only advantage.  "Didn't have a water pan and price" were the major get a plate setter and a foil pan then.

    In years past they have also said that briquettes are superior to lump charcoal because they're "easier to light", "last longer", and "no heat difference".

    I pretty much stay away from anything they do that is BBQ, Mexican, or any ethnic food.  Everything else on their show and in the magazine is usually pretty good......if nothing else, a good starter or technique.  Most of my recipes began with one of theirs.

    My parents subscribed to that magazine for about the first 5 yrs, then I did for years 5-10.......they started repeating a lot of things.  Things on the taste test and the equipment reviews would change quite a but as well over the years.  I think Cooks Country is the better of the two magazines.  But, I dropped the magazines..... still watch the TV shows though.  Overall, it's a good group, even though they do not know a thing about BBQ.

  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 8,347
    edited May 2013
    Friend saw my egg "in action" and bought one, his WSM is seldom used. Test cooking is not the same as day to day cooking. 
    +1 on @Austin_Egghead, the recipes have the show's local culture stamped on them, and that's not bad, just a fact.
    Delta B.C. - Move over coffee, this is job for alcohol!
  • Fred19FlintstoneFred19Flintstone Posts: 7,458
    It didn't take me long to figure out the egg is a superior cooker to anything else I've eggsperienced.  Certainly it was within the time a series of good objective test cooks would take to properly review cookers.  Cook's Illustrated is a superb magazine.  They are regarded very highly and rightly so.  That's why I was so surprised about the review.  Don't worry Cook's Illustrated, I'll still buy your magazine.  However, as Austin Egghead said, I'll take their opinions on BBQ with a grain of kosher salt.  
    Flint, Michigan
  • njlnjl Posts: 882
    I have to agree that the 18" cooking grid is a little cramped.  If you want water in the cook though, it's easy enough to pour some into a drip pan on the plate setter.

    How many seasons of use will you get out of each before they rust out?
  • Fred19FlintstoneFred19Flintstone Posts: 7,458
    njl said:
    I have to agree that the 18" cooking grid is a little cramped.  If you want water in the cook though, it's easy enough to pour some into a drip pan on the plate setter.

    How many seasons of use will you get out of each before they rust out?
    I have another question:  Which cooker would you rather be using in the harsh New England winter?  The superbly insulated Egg or the inefficient fuel hogging WSM?  From my experience, metal cookers are tougher to use in winter and you can count on the cooks taking longer.  This winter was my first with an Egg and I was pleasantly surprised that the cook times didn't change from those in warmer months.  I guess in New England you're supposed to hole up indoors and use the big clock thingy in the kitchen eggsclusively!
    Flint, Michigan
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 3,055

    There are some people that you can just not convince that a $800 grill is 4x better than a $200 grill.  They will not accept it even if they replace a $200 grill every two years.

    One thing to remember with America's Test Kitchen / Cooks Illustrated, is even though they do not accept advertising and are on PBS, they still need to SELL magazines, books, and DVDs.  From what I've seen over the years, they had leaned more and more to the "best buys" in everything from skillets, to knives, etc.  All-Clad and Calphalon were always their best on skillets, now it's T-Fal and other cheaper brands.  Wustof and Henkels were the top knives, now it's Victorinox.  I can't remember if it was ATK or CR, but recently someone gave a $70 "as seen on TV" blender a higher rating than the VitaMix.  (Blows my mind, as I can mix concrete in my VitaMix!)

    If they always pick the most expensive brand as the best, I can see a lot of subscribers asking themselves why they buy the magazine if they could just go and buy the most expensive item to get the best.  Seems like it would be better marketing if you could say that this magazine was saving you money.

    I have the utmost respect for the folks at ATK, so I really do not want to imply anything here.  But maybe that mindset of "this $700 blender is not 10x better than this $70 blender" plays into how they ranked the BGE.  If their subscriber base is mostly amateur / occasional BBQ'ers, then maybe the cheaper WSM is better for them.  Once they get serious, then they can get an Egg.

    Most people I know love the BGE, but I also know quite a few that bought it and did not care for it.  It's not what they were used to and they did not like the price they paid. 

  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,103
    I have lost respect for Cooks Illustrated for a number of reasons. As @stlcharcoal mentioned, they do have to sell magazines, and of all the magazines that I subscribe to (several, mostly food related), nobody pimps their product like the ATK folks do. There are several lines of publications, with quite a bit of overlap - CI, Cook's Country, the website(s), Editor's Best or something like that (premium online suibscription) etc. They have come up with many ways to make one believe that they are getting vastly superior unique content, but I don't feel that is true.

    I have been a CI subscriber for 7-8years (paper and online). SWMBO keeps threatening to cancel the subscription because I complain about it so much, but in the end I like holding and feeling paper in my hands when I'm reading, and I enjoy reading about food. Over the last few years, they have been rehashing a bunch of older recipes... Design Impostors along the line of "If you liked our 8hr Beef Wellington recipe youll love our 2hr version!" Many recipes have been repeated with minimal changes.

    In the end, as @Austin Egghead mantioned, they are a bunch of New Englanders (not a comment on New Englanders in general :) ) who are tainted by their own experience and culture. You can't make your own world view (food view, in this case) fit every scenario. There reviews on bbq related things have actually been pretty bogus - you should see the sauces and rubs they end up ranking highly... they are laughable. As for other ethnic foods, especially spicy ones, the CI recipes are woefully bland and unzingy. 

    OK, I'll stop ranting now:) 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.

    For "bang for the buck" Webers do rank rather high.   Good cookers and cheap.



    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • ChubbyChubby Posts: 2,956
    edited May 2013



     @ stlcharcoal

    I do readily admit a being BGE user and Fan Boy for years many years now... but I also agree with just about everything you said!

    While I do not agree with their conclusions (specifically the water pan issue)...I see how they arrived at them.  I've spoken to Chris Kimball a few times at book signings and to Bridgett once on ATK Radio on a call in. Both admitted to liking the BGE... but the first thing out of Chris's mouth was the cost over a Weber Kettle or Smokey Mtn.

    I think there's almost always been a strong bias toward the "cost vs benefit"  when they do comparisons.

    Otherwise (except for their tendency of re packaging and re selling the same content under different names)...over the years...I've learned a ton  from their shows and books.

    Never agreed with their Lump vs Briquettes comparisons either...but once again...I see how they could get their results...(based on their use of the product).



    I spent most of my money on good bourbon, and bad women...the rest, I just wasted!!
  • SteveWPBFLSteveWPBFL Posts: 1,325
    I LIKED my Weber. I LOVE my Egg! 'nuff said.
  • bbrawlerbbrawler Posts: 31
    Water pans??? We don't need no stinkin' water pans... That cat obviously had no idea what we was doing OR he's on the take.
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 9,859
    edited May 2013
    I think the WSM is a fine cooker and turns out some great Q.  That being said, the fact that they said the food turned out drier on the egg is simply untrue.  Water pan or not...the egg is going to retain more moisture if cooked to the same internal temperature.  The only way the food would turn out dry on the egg is if they didn't cook to temp and probably had the egg cooking at a much higher cooking temperature. 

    I also wonder if they were cooking without a plate setter.  If they were, then I think this is somewhat BGE's fault...the plate setter should come standard with the egg!  I recall another test somewhere and they were doing a comparison for smoking, but had no plate setter for the egg. 

    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 

  • R2Egg2QR2Egg2Q Posts: 1,981
    Lots of folks use the WSMs in competitions and I believe the majority of them don't put water in their "water reservoir" but use sand, foil balls, or just cover it with foil and they do great. If using water in the water pan was as important as the folks at CI think it is I'm sure there would be a lot more water being used by competitors. I have an 18" WSM that I bought at a Home Depot close out for $48 a couple of years ago and I've never put water in it. Granted I only use it a couple times a year as my Eggs are my primary go-to cookers.
    XL, Large, Small, Mini Eggs, Humphrey's Weekender, Superior Smokers SS-Two, MAK 1-Star General, Hasty Bake Gourmet, Santa Maria Grill, Thai Charcoal cooker, Webers: 18.5" WSM, 22.5" OTG, 22.5" Kettle Premium, WGA Charcoal, Summit S-620 NG

    Bay Area, CA
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    Huh, They usually dis the egg cause of the price


    Caledon, ON


  • jeroldharterjeroldharter Posts: 549
    Hard to beat a Weber kettle grill for the money. I found one last year for $10 used. For the average person, I would say that a Weber is more useful than a BGE. 

    But the Egg is far and away better for the grilling enthusiast willing to exert thought and effort. I have Weber kettle, TEC infrared, Traeger Pellet, Holland gas, and BGE grills and I use the BGE 90+% of the time. 

    But if I had $100 and a bucket of hamburger - I would buy the Weber.
  • Fred19FlintstoneFred19Flintstone Posts: 7,458
    Hard to beat a Weber kettle grill for the money. I found one last year for $10 used. For the average person, I would say that a Weber is more useful than a BGE. 
    But if I had $100 and a bucket of hamburger - I would buy the Weber.
    This is true, but the review was for which was better.  I maintain the egg is far superior.
    Flint, Michigan
  • GQuizGQuiz Posts: 701
    No one is perfect. So let Cooks Illustrated live with its mistake. I live with an XL BGE. Best decision I ever made.

    XL BGE; Schertz TX by way of Stow OH. #egghead4life
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,986
    Who cares what they think? :-SS
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • GQuizGQuiz Posts: 701
    @henapple for President!

    XL BGE; Schertz TX by way of Stow OH. #egghead4life
  • My egg motivates me to become a good cook. I actually think it's user-friendly for beginners like me with no solid frame of BBQ reference other than hit-or-miss steaks and hamburgers on a propane grill.
    Gittin' there...
  • Can you make a pizza on a Weber Smokey Mountain?
    Gittin' there...
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