In this corner we have the Weber Original Kettle, $80. It dots the backyards of millions of American homes, making it practically synonymous with summer grilling.

In this corner, the Big Green Egg, $1,120 (as shown in the video above). Since it debuted in the 1970s, the Big Green Egg has inspired a cultlike following and many copycat cookers.

Consumer Reports’ grill testers put them head-to-head to see how they match up.

(Read our review to find out whether the Big Green Egg grill is worth it.)

The Weigh-In

Weber (18-inch). At 23 pounds, the molded metal Weber is lightweight and readily maneuverable, with a domed lid that sits securely, if not snugly, in place. Two dampers, one at the bottom and one in the lid, control airflow and, in turn, temperature.

Big Green Egg (large). The Big Green Egg tips the scales at 165 pounds, thanks to cast ceramic walls an inch thick. Heatproof gaskets form a tight seal when the lid is closed, leaving the dampers as the only source of airflow and giving users superior control over cooking temperature.

The Fuel

We tested each grill with its recommended type of charcoal: Weber-brand briquettes and Big Green Egg lump hardwood coal, respectively.

Weber. We filled the Kettle with 3 pounds of briquettes and allowed the coals to ash over. The weight is equivalent to the number of briquettes Weber recommends; and it fills a typical charcoal chimney starter.

Big Green Egg. We weighed out 3 pounds of lump hardwood and lit it in the Egg. (Lump hardwood burns slightly hotter than briquettes, but the difference is statistically insignificant.) But because the Egg’s deep cylindrical shape is designed to hold more coal, we also ran our tests with the Egg loaded to capacity, with 5 pounds of lump hardwood.

The Cooking Face-Off

High-Heat Cooking
To see how differences in cooking temperature would play out in the real world, we seared 1½-inch-thick sirloin steaks on both grills over 3 pounds of coal. As you would expect, given the laws of physics, both fires burned at similar temperatures and produced similar steaks. When we filled the Egg to its capacity, however, things looked a little different.

Weber. The Weber produced lightly charred steaks with a few sear marks when we pulled them off at medium rare. But the Weber isn’t built to withstand a blazing-hot fire. The manufacturer recommends a maximum cooking temperature of 575° F, similar to the temperature we recorded when cooking with 3 pounds of charcoal.

Big Green Egg. The Egg’s larger capacity and heatproof walls give it a clear edge. When we packed it to capacity and opened the dampers, we recorded average surface temperatures of 850° F, which resulted in a roaring-hot fire and beautifully seared steaks.

Low-and-Slow Test
To grill foods such as ribs and brisket, it’s critical to maintain a low temperature over a long period, because a temperature spike can dry out the meat before it’s tender. You want it to inch toward doneness. We filled each grill with charcoal, wired the grates with thermocouples, and adjusted the dampers until we found the sweet spot to cook continuously at 330° F, the halfway point between low-heat smoking and medium-heat grilling. 

Weber. The Weber was able to hold a steady temperature for 4 hours, but we had to add charcoal throughout the process, readjusting the dampers each time.

Big Green Egg. CR’s experts were able to dial in a specific temperature twice as fast as they were on the Weber, and the Egg held its temperature for 6 hours without adding charcoal or making adjustments.

The Decision

By all objective measures, the Big Green Egg is the better grill. Whether it justifies the price is up for debate.

Weber. For the burgers and brats and chicken breasts many of us routinely grill, it’s hard to beat the Weber. It’s a classic for a reason: It heats with impressive evenness, so you can cook similarly sized foods like salmon filets and have them finish at the same time, with uniform grill marks.

Big Green Egg. The Egg heats evenly too, but it won’t do anything for your hot dogs that the Weber wouldn’t. What the Egg excels at is temperature extremes, thanks to a design that allows it to get significantly hotter than the Weber Kettle and to hold heat for prolonged low-and-slow cooking without frequent fussing.

So if you’re a grilling fanatic with money to burn, splurge on the Big Green Egg. But if you’re a casual summer griller, save your money and opt for the Weber Kettle—the difference in price is a sum that’ll buy you plenty of briskets and pork shoulders for the long summer ahead.