If you don't get a good answer to this, shoot me a PM and I'll ask our sales guys to check with some distributors or reps. they know...I've probably seen these guys (we make wood/pellet stoves but it's the same industry as BBQ products), but I don't personally know anything about them...all I keep hearing is how you can't beat BGE at what they do, though.
I have a Kamado (not Komodo Kamado) and it's great. I can't say it's better than a BGE or any of the others. My guess is the performance is very similar for all of them (Grill Dome, Kamado, Komodo Kamado, Primo, and probably another I'm forgetting).
To me it came down to aesthetics. Big Green Eggs and Primos are ugly, Grill Domes slightly less so, and Kamados are works of art (Komodo Kamados look good too but they weren't around when I bought mine).
Kamado has a gas insert available. As a charcoal purist, it's not for me, but to each their own. Some of the others may have a similar option.
With a Kamado (I'm sure it's the same with the other ceramics), I can be at a pretty steady 350-750+ F in 15 minutes. It takes me maybe 30 minutes to get 215-225 F dialed in for true barbecue or brisket. What's the advantage of gas again?
The really heavy gauge steel offsets (10 gauge or so) are great for low and slow (I cook on one very part time with an amateur barbecue team) but are not very versatile. Ribs and pork butts they'll do; pizzas they won't.
Well, I pulled the trigger and ordered the largest Grill Dome and cart - if I'm lucky it'll arrive before the 4th! Compared to most of the competitors, the thicker ceramic and stainless hardware and relative cost were enough to convince me to buy.
Business has been booming so the color choices were limited - couldn't get the blue without a month wait, so I went with the green.
Kurt, I'm totally new to ceramics, so I'll be picking your brain.
I like the look of the Kamado but other than that, it doesn't seem to be any better feature wise than the Grill Dome or Primo. There's also a site dedicated to Kamado problems, which makes me leary. Some of the pictures show cookers missing 25% or so of their tiles. Even if it's an easy fix, that's not something I want to deal with - glad you are not having that problem though.
Well, you've had your new GrillDome a while and I'm sure you've been cooking on it. What do you think? My wife wants me to get a smoker of our own (we have one at work that I use alot and I use my brothers on occasion at home and at his house). I must admit that a smaller size and less "tending" do sound attractive.
I must admit that the GrillDome style smoker do look neat, but I've always had real good results on an offset smoker. Do you still get a good smoke flavor or is it more of a brick oven slow roasted flavor with a hint of wood? I have come to prefer using lump as a small base to my fire and mainly sticks for heat and flavor. With the reduced flow of smoke in a ceramic I would imagine that the mainly natural wood days would be gone
The other concern I have is the size of the cooking area. If there is a single grate there doesn't seem like there is much room. You mentioned that you have the large, that is the 18" correct? How many slabs could you fit on there? I've got my wife and I with three smaller kids. Would the smallish 18" GrillDome be large enough? There is a med. BGE used on craigslist in my area for $350 (with nest and one shelf). I'm sure the medium will be too small....but I'm thinking about trying this one just to see if it's for me.
I just bought a used Big Green Egg (large) and I have experience using an offset cooker for many years. I've actually been without a cooker for about 3 years because our offset rusted up and was looking like Crud so I ditched it...knowing that my next one would be a ceramic so it took a while before I could justify to myself spending a lot of money on a cooker.
I can tell you that the hype you read about ceramics is not false. These things literally cook all day without the temperature moving. You just set the intake to 1/8" or so and get a daisy-wheel top and set it for a small amount of exhaust. Voila. You are set for all day (all night?) cooking. Such a nice change from my offset (which was admittedly a cheapo one) where I had to fiddle with the fire every 1 1/2 or so and then make sure that the temp settled to where I needed it to be. That and combating the problem of uneven heat distribution inside the cooker with anything on the firebox end obviously much hotter than the far end. I suspect that operationally, the ceramics must be in close comparison so I really doubt you can go wrong with either brand.
Size would be a consideration for a large family. At 18"..it's pretty big..but not huge. You can get a second rack to have two levels of cooking which is a substantial amount of space. I'd recommend you get the extra large if you have a big family and will be doing a lot of entertaining.
I thought the same thing about 18" but made the purchase anyway. After having a decent size off-set, I was used to lots of room. You have to be more judicious with placement, but you can fit plenty. I cooked a 9lb brisket and could have fit a slab of ribs, maybe two on the grate, and if had used the double decker wrack, could have done a couple more.
On the 4th, we did fajitas and hotdogs for 4 families with lots of kids.
As far as smoke flavor, I am still working on that. On my brisket, I added in wood chunks (NOT chips - can't do cut logs though) and it did not give as much flavor as I had hoped, however, I think that was in large part because I forgot to soak the wood until about a half hour before I started the cook. With an off-set I could just keep adding wood, but with a ceramic, you need to be ready for a long cook so really soaking the wood makes a difference. I'm going to do a pulled pork either tomorrow or the next day and will soak the wood overnight.
Otherwise, the brisket was great - far and away the most tender I have ever made.
Yep, I have forgotten to soak my chunks for the BGE and they burn up in no time...but if you soak them for at least an hour (or better yet, overnight), they seem to last fine...I've never smoked over 2 hrs. or so, but I would think you could keep dropping chunks in every couple hours or so if you did a long project.
TnTHudson,Sean and linusb212...thanks for your thoughts on the Egg type cookers. I'm just a little reluctant and hearing your stories does help. I'm still not sure if I should wait until I could get a large dome or if I should look into the used medium egg with nest for $350. I'm thinking if I get the used one for a bit less...then I could get a taste of what it's like...and buy another large later. Then I'll have the extra one for parties.
You can fit plenty on an 18 or 20 inch ceramic. Here's about 5 or 6 racks of ribs and a pork butt on one and I'd say you could get 2 more slabs and 2 more butts on there without a problem.
I never soak my smoking wood on the ceramic. One fist-sized chunk typically lasts at least several hours at a dome temperature of 215-225; more than enough time for the smoke to penetrate as far as it's going to penetrate (maybe 3/4" max ), no matter how long you smoke the meat for. If your chunks are burning up in no time, my guess is that your fire is too big and you're probably grilling rather than barbecuing (e.g. dome temp north of 250).
Dan, after less than 2 weeks of use with my large Grill Dome, I have made the most tender brisket I've ever made, some excellent pulled pork, oven fired pizzas, fajitas and very moist bbq'd chicken breast.
It's the best cooker I've ever used. I just can't see any way you'd regret getting the large one.