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Stick Burners Better?

I have had my XL for a few years and love it.  Cook the usual stuff - briskets, pork butts, ribs, burgers, etc.  The food is great but I am wondering if a stick burner would produce better tasting food (perhaps with a better smokey taste).  I add pecan, oak, or apple wood chunks to my cooks on the egg but the smoke flavor is mild usually.

I have thought about adding a stick burner such as a Lang or Shirley to my arsenal (I would never get rid of the egg!).  However, if the food quality is only marginally better with a stick burner, why go to the expense?

For those of you who have used both an egg and a stick burner, what are your thoughts?  Thanks!

A northern Colorado Egghead since 2012!

XL and a Small BGE.

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Comments

  • littlerascal56littlerascal56 Posts: 1,238
    edited February 5
    I had a gravity feed, and it’s smoke profile was much better than I could produce on my XL. Cooked for some larger groups(50 people) when I had it, and all agreed it tasted like a stick burner.  
    I always wanted an offset, but didn’t want to babysit it overnight.  Guess I like my sleep too much. One of the locals had a giant stick burner behind his restaurant.  Best bbq I ever ate.  The IRS took it (and everything in the restaurant) when he got behind on his taxes.  That cooker was “awesome”.

    BGE XL++Flameboss 300 WiFi++Blackstone 36"++Weber 26" kettle

  • thetrimthetrim Posts: 9,942
    I only have eggs, but I don't think anyone would argue that a stick burner brings better results for a low and slow smoked meat profile.  It is much more work than the egg, but it will give better results. I've had my eye on the Pecos smoker at Academy for some time....
    =======================================
    XL 6/06, Mini 6/12, L 10/12, Mini #2 12/14 MiniMax 3/16
    Tampa Bay, FL
    EIB 6 Oct 95
  • vb4677vb4677 Posts: 632
    Not trying to be a jerk, but have you ever thought about adding more smoking wood?  I do what I call a 'wood salad' - basically a lump bottom layer, a hardwood layer, another layer of lump, one more of hardwood, then guess what - some more lump with a few chunks of hardwood near where I lit the starter.  Seems to bark up whatever large chunk of protein I'm doing that day pretty nicely...
    Kansas City: Too Much City for One State - Missouri side
    2 Large BGE's, Instant Pot, Anova Sous Vide, and a gas smoker...
    Barbeque, Homebrew and Blues...
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,594
    Better results if under the control of a skilled pit master.  
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 620
    The fire in a stick burner is fully oxygenated, so the wood doesn’t smolder the way it does in an egg. For that reason, the stick burner will get a cleaner, better smoke flavor. That said, if you pre-burn your wood, then bury it in your lump, the smoke will purify as it rises up through the coals (this per @The Cen-Tex Smoker). Doing it that way, I have gotten very close to the smoke quality you get out of a stick burner.
    Southern California
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 32,777
    Well said.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 32,777
    In the parlance of chemistry, you can say the stick burner runs in an oxidizing environment (actually my pellet cooker does too) and the kamados and WSMs run in a reducing environment.

    There are obviously a lot of nuances here, but to burn the dirtiest fuel and get the cleanest smoke is all about an abundance of oxygen and hot hot fire.  
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • billt01billt01 Posts: 1,127
    SciAggie said:
    I enjoy my offset. I runs happily at 250 degrees with high airflow and clean smoke. It’s a lot of work but I like the smoke profile on the food. 

    As I said it’s a ton of work. It eats a lot of wood. I use as much wood cooking a brisket on my offset as my wood oven burns keeping it hot for an entire week. Mine must be fed every 20 minutes. It requires more maintenance than all the rest of my cookers combined. If you leave rancid fat and grease in it after a cook the flavor suffers on the next cook. I my opinion you have to keep them clean. There was a thread about that a few months back.

    You ask if it produces better tasting food. For me - I love the flavor I get on brisket, ribs, and pork butt. My family loves a double smoked ham from the offset. Pulled leg of lamb is da bomb too. That’s about all I cook on it. I prefer my egg for wings and sausage. I’ll cook butts on the egg too if I don’t want to mess with tending the offset all day. 

    Pretty much everything else I cook is on the egg or in the wood oven. I guess I’d tell you that if you want a clean smoke flavor and don’t mind the work the offset produces that better than any other cooker. You can get close with other cookers - and that’s good enough for many folks - but there is a difference. 

    The real question is not if it is worth the money, but rather if it is worth the time and effort. Only you can answer that. And here’s the thing (in my opinion) - the high airflow and clean burning wood fire is what makes the magic. Any device that makes tending the cooker more convenient generally does it by restricting airflow and employing a smaller, less vigorous fire. This defeats the point. So be clear about what you are getting into before you decide what to do. 
    Absolutely This↑↑↑

    Coming from a Lang..this is 100 percent true.
    Have:
     XLBGE / Stumps Baby XL / Couple of Stokers (Gen 1 and Gen 3) / Blackstone 36 / Maxey 3x5 water pan hog cooker
    Had:
    LBGE / Lang 60D / Cookshack SM150 / Stumps Stretch / Stumps Baby

    Fat Willies BBQ
    Ola, Ga

  • QDudeQDude Posts: 692
    I appreciate everyone's comments.  How do you pre-burn wood for the egg?

    A northern Colorado Egghead since 2012!

    XL and a Small BGE.

  • I have 2 LBGE's and I still love my Klose offset. Its results are hard to beat. I have had the Klose for in the neighborhood of 20 years and I would only let it go for another stick burner...
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 20,920
    Give the below thread a look focusing on @The Cen-Tex Smoker 's comments about wood and fire in a BGE.  Very insightful.

    Aaron Franklin Masterclass  

    I cannot come close to the exceptional post by @SciAggie.  For me the decision to get a stick burner was the challenge of fire, air and fuel (wood sticks) management and I wanted to deal with first-hand.  This was my last Q challenge and I would not have wanted to wonder about it.  
    Louisville; "indeterminate Jim" here; L&S BGE's, PBC, Lang 36; burnin wood in the neighborhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer!
  • alaskanassasinalaskanassasin Posts: 2,806
    feed it every 20 minutes? wow.
    South of Columbus, Ohio.
  • SonVoltSonVolt Posts: 2,083
    I came from a large offset to the BGE. The flavor of smoked brisket, ribs and pulled work was (and still is) noticeably  lacking on the BGE.  That said, the BGE more than made up for it on the grilling and low-roasting side. I could never not have an egg now. 

    That said, I've got a deposit down on a Shirley b/c the BGE just isn't cutting it as a smoker. Flavor aside, you run out of room really quick on an Egg and that starts to become increasingly annoying.  Had I never owned an offset I probably wouldn't have known the difference and been perfectly satisfied... 
    South of Nashville  -  BGE XL  -  Alfresco 42" ALXE  -  Alfresco Versa Burner  - Sunbeam Microwave 
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 620
    QDude said:
    I appreciate everyone's comments.  How do you pre-burn wood for the egg?
    I pre-burn my wood by starting it in a chimney with the lump. Fill the chimney about 3/4 full with lump, then throw three fist-sized chunks of wood on top. Light the chimney and let it burn until the chunks are awash in flame and blackening, then dump the chimney into the egg. If you do it that way, you'll pre-burn the wood, and since your chunks are sitting on top of the lump, they will end up buried beneath coals after you flip the chimney to dump (though you may need to add a few more pieces of lump after the dump to be sure the wood is completely buried). 
    Southern California
  • SonVoltSonVolt Posts: 2,083
    I should add... I want another offset b/c I live on a farm and can source wood on the property. If I lived in a subdivision I'd rather not deal with the hassle. 
    South of Nashville  -  BGE XL  -  Alfresco 42" ALXE  -  Alfresco Versa Burner  - Sunbeam Microwave 
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 4,763
    SonVolt said:
    I should add... I want another offset b/c I live on a farm and can source wood on the property. If I lived in a subdivision I'd rather not deal with the hassle. 
    That’s an important point. I’m in the same situation. We have ranch land and live in a rural area. Mesquite wood is cheap and readily available. I also have a covered storage area and can keep 2-3 cords of wood easily. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven. LSG 24” cabinet offset smoker. There are a few paella pans and a Patagonia cross in the barn. 
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
    ”One can never go wrong with fried dough and grilled meat”
                                                                                  Smokingal
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 4,763
    QDude said:
    if the food quality is only marginally better with a stick burner, why go to the expense?

    Work was cancelled today due to icy roads so I have time to piddle on a food forum...

    I think your above question is a good one. Just how much difference is there and is it worth the effort? We have to take a step back and consider an average consumer and what their definition of good bbq may be. 

    I was watching “Worst Cooks in America” the other night and Anne Burrell was demonstrating a tailgating recipe. She BOILED spare ribs then grilled them on a CI grill - made me want to cry. Ok, it’s TV and she’s teaching folks that can’t cook - but that’s my point. Many folks might think it’s great. I’m sure the ribs were tender, had caramelized bits, and tasted good. But were they “great”? 

    Ribs, butts, and briskets off my egg are good. I’ve always had compliments from guests. I think that’s why pellet grills are the rage right now. They make really good smoked foods without as much work. I have a friend with hunting business. He has a huge custom made smoker he adapted to use pellets. He doesn’t have the time to tend a stick burner so the pellet “set and forget” is good for him. People in town rave about his smoked foods. It’s definitely good enough for a lot of people. I’ve had his food too - it’s good.

    So if eggs and pellet smokers are so good why do Franklin and Valentina’s and others still use offset smoker? There IS a difference. I come back to this because frankly it is just marginally better. Marginally better though is the difference between good and excellent. 

    Pizza ovens like my full size or a Roccbox illustrate that difference as well. My egg makes really really good pizzas. They were way better than any I made before getting the egg. Pizzas out of my wood oven though are just better. Are they worth the trouble and expense of a dedicated cooking device? Each person has to answer that for themselves. 

    I really like playing with wood fire. I enjoy tending the fire and cooking over wood. It’s no trouble because it’s fun for me. That makes it worth the effort. Adding wood every 20 minutes? No big deal - I had to get up for a beer or a snack or to let the dog out anyway. 

    I don’t know how much any of this adds to the discussion. As I mentioned I’m just at home enjoying an easy day so I thought I’d make another comment. 

    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven. LSG 24” cabinet offset smoker. There are a few paella pans and a Patagonia cross in the barn. 
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
    ”One can never go wrong with fried dough and grilled meat”
                                                                                  Smokingal
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 4,763
    lousubcap said:
    Give the below thread a look focusing on @The Cen-Tex Smoker 's comments about wood and fire in a BGE.  Very insightful.

    Aaron Franklin Masterclass  

    I cannot come close to the exceptional post by @SciAggie.  For me the decision to get a stick burner was the challenge of fire, air and fuel (wood sticks) management and I wanted to deal with first-hand.  This was my last Q challenge and I would not have wanted to wonder about it.  
    I went through and read all this thread. Man, there is great stuff in there. @The Cen-Tex Smoker You dropped a lot of wisdom in that thread. I particularly like the the “If they’re that good let them cook the [email protected] brisket and drink a beer” comment. Well said. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven. LSG 24” cabinet offset smoker. There are a few paella pans and a Patagonia cross in the barn. 
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
    ”One can never go wrong with fried dough and grilled meat”
                                                                                  Smokingal
  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 7,987
    As long as you're willing to take some time and figure one out it's a lot of fun. Something with man and fire is awesome. You are the one who makes/creates that cook. It's no easy ride. It's not a set it and forget it type of smoker. That smoke profile makes you earn it. It's up to you how bad you want it.....

    I didn't know crap about stick burners before jumping into it. It's definitely a learning curve and a technique to them. I was also looking for something else besides lighting an egg and walking away. Half the fun is learning along the way. I don't see being without one. I just recently picked up a 2nd stick burner as I liked the first one so much. 

    I say go for it. Have a little fun. Look for something 2nd hand that might save you some cash if you don't find it to be your thing. 
    "The pig is an amazing animal. You feed a pig an apple and it makes bacon. Let's see Michael Phelps do that" - Jim Gaffigan

    Minnesota
  • speed51133speed51133 Posts: 464
    does anyone make a built-in stick burner that doesn't look so...ugly and industrial?
  • SonVoltSonVolt Posts: 2,083
    edited February 5
    does anyone make a built-in stick burner that doesn't look so...ugly and industrial?

    If you're concerned with aesthetics you should probably stick with a drop-in stainless gasser. "Industrial" is just the nature of their utility. To me, these big steel beasts are a work of art.



    South of Nashville  -  BGE XL  -  Alfresco 42" ALXE  -  Alfresco Versa Burner  - Sunbeam Microwave 
  • ThatgrimguyThatgrimguy Posts: 4,173
    QDude said:
    I have had my XL for a few years and love it.  Cook the usual stuff - briskets, pork butts, ribs, burgers, etc.  The food is great but I am wondering if a stick burner would produce better tasting food (perhaps with a better smokey taste).  I add pecan, oak, or apple wood chunks to my cooks on the egg but the smoke flavor is mild usually.

    I have thought about adding a stick burner such as a Lang or Shirley to my arsenal (I would never get rid of the egg!).  However, if the food quality is only marginally better with a stick burner, why go to the expense?

    For those of you who have used both an egg and a stick burner, what are your thoughts?  Thanks!
      Because it's way  more than marginal?   There is no comparison to me in the flavor off my shirley and basically anything else.  It's cleaner, better, and, for me anyhow, easier to use.  People act like it's hard getting off the couch every 30 minutes to toss a single stick into a fire box. It's not hard. I do it at work sometimes.
    XL & Small Green Egg, Shirley Fab Trailer, Pitmaker Vault, Blackstone Griddle, 6 gal Cajun Fryer, BlueStar 60" Range
  • SonVoltSonVolt Posts: 2,083
    Not to mention that bark you get on an offset... you don't have to resort to trickery like overly-thick rubs or injections to pull of the most amazing BBQ you've ever tasted. 
    South of Nashville  -  BGE XL  -  Alfresco 42" ALXE  -  Alfresco Versa Burner  - Sunbeam Microwave 
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 7,573

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 7,573
    edited February 5
    SonVolt said:
    I came from a large offset to the BGE. The flavor of smoked brisket, ribs and pulled work was (and still is) noticeably  lacking on the BGE.  That said, the BGE more than made up for it on the grilling and low-roasting side. I could never not have an egg now. 

    That said, I've got a deposit down on a Shirley b/c the BGE just isn't cutting it as a smoker. Flavor aside, you run out of room really quick on an Egg and that starts to become increasingly annoying.  Had I never owned an offset I probably wouldn't have known the difference and been perfectly satisfied... 
    @SonVolt, I guessing that you know this as a previous offset owner, but what's not obvious to many is that unlike the BGE which acts like an oven and is not dependent as much on airflow, on an offset you can't just cram food in there until it is full.  Depending on the tuning, you probably don't want meat too close to the firebox and if you put in anything that comes close to the sides and restricts airflow, nothing downstream will see anywhere close to the same level of heat.  I guess what I'm saying is the when a BGE user looks at an offset, one has to know that the offset doesn't have as much capacity as one might think on first glance.  

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 9,918
    Foghorn said:
    SonVolt said:
    I came from a large offset to the BGE. The flavor of smoked brisket, ribs and pulled work was (and still is) noticeably  lacking on the BGE.  That said, the BGE more than made up for it on the grilling and low-roasting side. I could never not have an egg now. 

    That said, I've got a deposit down on a Shirley b/c the BGE just isn't cutting it as a smoker. Flavor aside, you run out of room really quick on an Egg and that starts to become increasingly annoying.  Had I never owned an offset I probably wouldn't have known the difference and been perfectly satisfied... 
    @SonVolt, I guessing that you know this as a previous offset owner, but what's not obvious to many is that unlike the BGE which acts like an oven and is not dependent as much on airflow, on an offset you can't just cram food in there until it is full.  Depending on the tuning, you probably don't want meat too close to the firebox and if you put in anything that comes close to the sides and restricts airflow, nothing downstream will see anywhere close to the same level of heat.  I guess what I'm saying is the when a BGE user looks at an offset, one has to know that the offset doesn't have as much capacity as one might think on first glance.  
    Another excellent point.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 620
    I'd love to get a stick burner at some point, but that point will probably be retirement. It's true that it doesn't take much energy/effort to toss a log into a firebox, but it does take the flexibility to be present, at home, for an entire day. With work and kids, I just don't have that luxury. Besides, I feel firmly that, although you'll never perfectly match the flavor of a stick burner, the BGE can get you ninety percent of the way there if you're using it right.
    Southern California
  • SonVoltSonVolt Posts: 2,083
    edited February 5
    I'd say 75%.  Which is still great considering it's versatility. 
    South of Nashville  -  BGE XL  -  Alfresco 42" ALXE  -  Alfresco Versa Burner  - Sunbeam Microwave 
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