As grilling aficionados seek to expand their horizons, kamado grills have become more popular. Although the technique has been around for centuries–kamado is a Japanese term meaning place for the cauldron–it’s only beginning to pick up steam in the Western world.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a kamado grill, you should start with a quality model. In this review, we’ll pit Primo vs Big Green Egg to determine which company should earn your business.
Primo Grills is an Illinois-based outfit that manufactures ceramic kamado grills in a variety of sizes. Their website offers tips on which of their grills are best suited for specific situations, even providing a number of tasty recipes.
For the purposes of this Primo vs Big Green Egg review, we’ll pit the company’s extra-large versions against one another. This should give you a rough idea of how the rest of the grills in their respective lineups compare.
Primo X-Large Charcoal Kamado Grill
- Grid Diameter: 18.5 x 25 inches (oval shape)
- Cooking Surface: 400 square inches
- Temperature Range: 200-750 degrees Fahrenheit
- Weight: 250 pounds
- Grilling Capacity: 2 Whole Turkeys, 8 Whole Chickens, 12 Steaks, 20 Burgers, 10 Rib Racks
- Ingenious oval-shaped design
- Optional rack system
- Impressive temperature range
- Heavy-duty construction
- Expensive unit
- Cooking surface is relatively small when compared to similar models
Big Green Egg
Based in Atlanta, Big Green Egg (or BGE, as it’s sometimes called) has built up an outstanding reputation for quality and customer service. Their ceramic kamado grills have traditional dome-shaped lids and flat bottoms, so they can be set down anywhere. The company also offers a bevy of tantalizing extras, but they’re all sold separately.
XLarge Big Green Egg
- Grid Diameter: 24 inches
- Cooking Surface: 452 square inches
- Temperature Range: 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit
- Weight: 219 pounds
- Grilling Capacity: 2 Whole Turkeys, 11 Whole Chickens, 12 Steaks, 24 Burgers, 12 Rib Racks
- Company has an excellent reputation
- Quality construction
- Flat, stable bottom
- Wooden handle stays cool to the touch
- Most key accessories are sold separately
- Finding the correct temperature zone can be tricky at first
Primo vs. Big Green Egg: Features Face-To-Face
How do these two units compare when it comes to the most basic features? Let’s take a closer look.
Primo’s offering eschews the traditional round design for a unique oval shape. In addition to providing a better environment for indirect cooking, this shape also helps to maximize the cooking surface.
By contrast, the round shape of the Big Green Egg translates into a lot of wasted space. That’s probably why the two units can accommodate roughly the same amount of ingredients, even though the Egg is technically larger (see Cooking Surface, below).
Aside from that small detail, the grills are fairly similar in terms of design. They’re both sold as stand-alone units, with installation options available at an additional price. We think the Big Green Egg has a more stable base than Primo’s, which is good news because their accessory list is pricey.
If you purchase Primo’s “All In One” package, you’ll receive a cradle stand outfitted with side tables, along with an ash removal tool and grate lifter. This option, coupled with the oval shape, is enough for us to give Primo the lead in this race.
As a company, Big Green Egg prides itself on using only the best ceramics available to create state-of-the-art kamado grills. Their units are heavy, exceptionally durable, and built to last a lifetime.
Primo’s grills also feature a ceramic construction. The X-Large version is noticeably heavier than the XLarge BGE, despite the fact that the grid diameter is slightly smaller. While this makes the grill more difficult to maneuver, it also means that the materials are sturdy enough to withstand many long years of grilling.
We should also point out that Primo prides itself on using materials that were crafted in the USA, while Big Green Egg models are manufactured in Mexico. Keep this in mind if the provenance of your grill is a major factor in your purchasing decision.
Primo also offers a lift-and-lock lid system. This means that the lid will stay in place when it’s raised for grilling and searing. The lid also sits high enough for you to cook whole chickens and turkeys vertically, so the heat will distribute evenly.
The handle on the Big Green Egg is made of wood, which stays cool to the touch during cooking. Meanwhile, the Primo grill comes with a metal handle. The difference is largely cosmetic–the grills are so well-insulated that the handles shouldn’t get too hot anyway–but we prefer the earthiness and contrast of the wooden handle.
Winner: Big Green Egg
The X-Large Primo features 400 square inches of cooking space, while the Big Green Egg offers 452 total.
As we mentioned, the oval shape of the Primo model allows you to make the most of the grilling space, so you can prepare 24 hamburger patties or 8 whole chickens at once. The Big Green Egg may be able to accommodate 11 chickens, but it holds the same amount of burgers. Depending on what you have in mind for the grill, this might make a difference.
We should also point out that Primo offers an optional second rack for their X-Large unit. This additional rack boosts the available space by a whopping 280 square inches, thereby improving the overall versatility of the model. The BGE has similar offerings, but none are quite so generous as this.
The grilling grates on Primo’s X-Large grill are constructed of stainless steel. They’re also reversible, so you don’t have to worry about placing them in the firebox upside down. The stainless steel cleans up easily and imparts impressive-looking grill marks on steak, pork chops, and burgers.
Stainless steel grates come standard with the Big Green Egg as well. As far as quality goes, they’re on the same level as the ones offered by Primo.
Note that Big Green Egg also sells cast iron grates to fit its different models, but they’ll cost you extra.
These two grills are quite similar in this regard, with Primo advertising a potential span of 200 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit and Big Green Egg claiming a 225 to 750 degree range. However, those 25 degrees can make or break certain recipes, such as homemade beef jerky. At the other end of the spectrum, both units get hot enough to prepare grilled pizza.
If you’re the type of griller who just wants to throw a few burgers on the grill at the end of the day, you’ll probably be just as happy with either grill. On the other hand, if you have your heart set on smoked beef brisket or pulled pork, you should consider the Primo version.
Most people purchase kamado grills specifically for their ability to perform low-and-slow cooking applications with minimal interference. That’s why we prefer the Primo model to the BGE in this case.
Primo’s extra-thick ceramic walls and porcelain glaze give it high marks in this category. The top and bottom halves of the grill create a tight seal that won’t allow heat to escape during long hours of cooking. If you’re using the unit as a regular grill rather than an oven, the surface can stay hot for hours.
Still, the same can be said of the Big Green Egg. The company’s devotion to quality is on full display when it comes to heat retention. It’s obvious that only the best materials were used in the construction of these grills. Even though some buyers might scoff at the “Made in Mexico” designation, there’s no denying the stellar performance of the Egg.
Winner: Big Green Egg
On the same subject, the Big Green Egg has the ability to reach the desired temperature in no time, providing a steady, even heat to the entire surface. You can’t fault the grill in this regard, so it’s difficult to declare a clear winner in this category.
That said, we have to give Primo the edge, based solely on the dual-zone cooking surface. When you insert the optional cooking rack, you create two separate heat zones, making it possible to grill and roast at the same time. If it weren’t for this detail, this race would be a draw. As it is, Primo comes out on top.
The Primo X-Large grill features a cast iron chimney cap, which is both durable and efficient. On the lower level, you’ll find a stainless steel vent door that’s easy to manipulate to get the temperature you want. There’s also a built-in thermometer that allows you to check your progress.
The lower vent on the Big Green Egg is one of its best features. When it’s slid nearly closed, you may be able to achieve a lower temperature than the one advertised by the company, though it won’t be able to maintain it for long before the coals are extinguished. Conversely, when the vent is opened all the way, the coals will burn red-hot.
BGE also offers a top vent cap called the rEGGulator, which further calibrates the airflow to control the temperature. It can be opened fully, thereby letting in plenty of air when you want a smoking-hot fire. When it’s closed, it has the effect of trapping all the flavorful smoke inside the firebox, giving your ingredients an unbelievable flavor.
Just like the wooden handle, both of the vents on the BGE remain cool to the touch during cooking. That’s another reason why we’re calling it the winner of this race.
Winner: Big Green Egg
Primo’s system utilizes a soft-close felt gasket that’s designed to protect the ceramic when the lid is closed. Given the unit’s superb heat retention, the system obviously works well. Should the gasket wear out at any point, replacements are available through the Primo website.
Big Green Egg’s felt gaskets are designed to withstand temperatures up to 625 degrees Fahrenheit. Eagle-eyed readers will note that this number falls far below the maximum temperature advertised by Big Green Egg. However, since the gasket doesn’t come into direct contact with the firebox, this shouldn’t be a major issue.
Is one gasket system better than the other? We don’t believe so. Both contribute to the overall performance of their respective grills, and both can be replaced easily.
However, while Primo’s warranty covers the felt gasket for only 30 days, BGE’s gaskets are under warranty for a full year (see Warranty, below). For this reason, we think the Big Green Egg earns higher marks.
Winner: Big Green Egg
Both companies offer limited lifetime warranties on their ceramic kamado grills. That said, the details are a bit more complicated.
Primo’s warranty offers a 20-year guarantee on all ceramic parts, and all metal parts (except for the cast iron ones) are covered by a 5-year guarantee. The cooking grates and cast-iron parts are covered for one year following the date of purchase. Built-in thermometers and felt gaskets, meanwhile, are backed by a 30-day warranty.
The ceramic components of all Big Green Egg units are under warranty for as long as the original purchaser owns the grill. Note that in order to make a warranty claim, you’ll need to register your BGE as soon as possible. This guarantee is only in place for non-commercial (or residential) use of the grill; otherwise, it’s covered for just one year.
Any ceramic components that are sold separately–for example, pizza or baking stones–are covered by a 3-year warranty. Metal components are under warranty for five years, and the wood and composite parts are covered for one year. As we mentioned, the felt gaskets also come with a 1-year warranty, as do the built-in thermometers.
Winner: Big Green Egg
Standout Features: Primo vs Big Green Egg
Does the Primo X-Large grill have anything to offer that the Big Green Egg doesn’t? Or is it the other way around? Let’s find out.
- Oval Shape-Great for maximizing the cooking surface and performing low-and-slow cooking applications
- Dual-zone ability-Allows you to grill and roast simultaneously
- Reversible Cooking Grates-No need to worry about installing the grates upside down
- “All-in-One” Option-Comes with a cradle stand, side tables, grate lifter, and ash removal tool
XLarge Big Green Egg
- Compatible Accessories-BGE offers an impressive array of components that are sold at an additional price
- Wooden Handle-Aesthetically pleasing and cool to the touch
Use the Primo Grill if:
- You want the option of purchasing a kamado grill with a few built-in accessories
- You prefer to buy products that were manufactured in the US
- You plan to use the grill for indirect cooking techniques
- You want to be able to roast whole chickens and turkeys by standing them up vertically
Use the Big Green Egg if:
- You don’t have as much money to spend up front
- You don’t mind waiting to purchase many accessories separately
- You want the peace of mind that comes from buying from a well-established company