Follow me on the web
Powered by Squarespace
Search this site

Subscribe to email updates:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Tip: Avoid burns from the Bubba Keg | Main | Ceramic Repair on a Big Green Egg »

Throwdown: Bubba Keg vs. Big Green Egg

NOTE:  The Bubba Keg has been re-branded to the Big Steel Keg.


If you're a frequent visitor to, you know that I'm the proud owner and devotee of the Big Green Egg and that I've been evaluating a Bubba Keg for the past couple of months. Well, on Sunday I had the chance to do a side by side comparison and share the results here.
One of the things the Bubba Keg is missing is the array of accessories that the Big Green Egg enjoys. This includes an accessory for cooking indirect. While the Big Green Egg has the platesetter, Bubba Keg owners are left to their own devices to create an indirect cooking solution. Many of the Bubba Keg owners have resorted to pizza stones on the bottom grate, but that cuts your cooking capacity in half.

Recently, I repaired a busted platesetter that I had lying around. I then discovered that it fit perfectly inside the Bubba Keg, making the indirect setup identical to the Big Green Egg without sacrificing one of the cooking grates.
With identical setups between the two cookers and the need to smoke ~20 pork steaks, I decided it was time for a throwdown between these two cookers. First, I loaded each of them with the same amount of lump charcoal and lit them each in two places with my MAPP torch. Next, I installed a platesetter, disposable drip pan, and upper & lower cooking grates in each cooker. Once they came up to temp, I loaded each with pork steaks and settled in to make a few observations.

  • Fire control - Advantage Big Green Egg. This was no surprise and I've blogged about it here before, but I find that temperature/fire control is much more consistent on the Big Green Egg and requires much less tuning. I find myself chasing the temperature on the Bubba Keg... a lot. In fairness, maybe I'm trying to apply too many BGE principles to managing the fire on the Bubba Keg.
  • Heat Retention - Advantage Bubba Keg. I thought my BGE was well insulated, but then I discovered the Bubba Keg. I suppose the double walled construction with insulation makes the difference. I can lay my hands on the outside of the Bubba Keg with it at 300* and it's cool to the touch. The ceramic on the Big Green Egg is cooler than a metal cooker would be, but you still can't hold your hand on it for long at that temperature.
  • Cooking Environment - Advantage Bubba Keg. The BGE has always produced moist and flavorful meat, so you can imagine my surprise on Sunday when I discovered that the Bubba Keg was even more moist. I don't use liquid in my drip pans, so I was shocked when I lifted the lid on the Bubba Keg after 2 hrs to find the pork steaks even more moist and juicy than those on the Big Green Egg. In fact, I'm still wearing the burn on my forearm from the escaping steam.
  • Taste Test - Advantage Bubba Keg. As much as I'm an advocate for the Big Green Egg ( I've convinced about a half dozen people to buy one), I was stunned when my guests identified that the pork steaks from the Bubba Keg were more moist and tender than those from the Big Green Egg. In fairness, they were all good but there was a difference.

For this particular attempt (and much to my dismay), the Bubba Keg is the clear winner. However, I'll perform additional side-by-side tests to see if the results are consistent. Additionally I haven't weighted any of these areas but considered them equally for now. Every individual will value the characteristics differently and for me the fire control issue is huge and would outweigh the Bubba Keg advantages as it was only slightly better in the other areas.
Both cookers do a fine job and there are many other characteristics to consider when selecting an overall winner.

  • Availability of accessories
  • Online community/support
  • User population & knowledge base
  • Portability
  • Durability
  • Cost

But I'll save those for another day.



Update: Here's a link to Round 2 of the Bubba Keg vs. The Big Green Egg.

Reader Comments (12)

thats very interesting. In the future I wouldn't mind adding a cooker like that to my arsenal. I'd like to see one in person, but I doubt they will sell them on this side of the pond any time soon.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhil

I'll be honest and say I was hoping the Egg would win. But This was a great head to head throwdown. Maybe an overnight cook throwdown is in order? If the Keg beats the Egg on that one, then maybe I should quit trying to find a used Egg and buy a Keg to pair with my Large BGE.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I agree Chris. I expected the Egg to win, and I was shocked when I saw the results first hand. If I can figure out the temperature control on the Bubba Keg, I'll try a head to head overnighter. But at this point, I can't leave the Keg for more than a half hour or so at a time and that's a deal breaker for me.


July 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbraddog

Thanks for the great review. I have been following any information that I can find on the web to make up my mind as to what should buy. I don’t know anyone who has this style of cooker and I don’t have a local egg dealer. I do have a few questions about the Bubba Keg.

Would you buy the BBK as your primary cooker if you didn’t have the egg? You said that you seemed to chase the temperatures around and it was much less stable than the Egg. Is that at all temperatures or just at low? It would seem that the temperatures should be more stable than a kettle or one of the cheap charcoal bullet style smokers. I don’t want to have a smoker/grill that must be monitored every hour to do a good cook. From what I have read it seems to have a problem with airflow. Do you know of anyone who has set it up with a BBQ GURU to maintain a steady temperature?

Have you tried any high heat cooks for pork butt or brisket considering it has a problem with long low and slow cooks?

I like the idea that the BBK is the most portable of the komando style cookers but I wonder if I would be sacrificing a lot for the couple of times a month when the cooks would be over an hour?

Please continue with more reviews in the future.

July 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoy Langworthy


If I could only buy one cooker, it'd be the Big Green Egg. I say that based on the temperatrue control challenges that I've had with the Bubba Keg. I don't know if these issues are mine, the Bubba Keg's, or a combination but I haven't yet mastered the temp control on the Bubba Keg. There are some folks over at the Bubba Keg forum that seem to be having better luck than I am though.

To me, it seems that the Bubba Keg wants to run at higher temps and seems more stable at 35-400 degrees. I do cook at high temps to sear steaks and for grilling and the methods I use on the BGE translate nicely to the Bubba Keg. I see no advantage there to one vs. the other.

I don't use any of the electronic draft control devices ( i.e. BBQ Guru or Stoker) but I can build a fire in the BGE, go to bed, sleep peacefully, and wake up to a rock solid temperature on the cooker. I swear that cooker holds onto 250 degrees like a bad habit. I'm also not aware that the folks at BBQ Guru or Stoker have introduced a replacement door to allow their devices to work with the Bubba Keg (yet).

Personally, I do tons more BBQ'ing than grilling so the right solution for me is still the Big Green Egg even though the Bubba Keg was the clear winner in this throwdown. I plan to do some additional head-to-head testing to see how the two cookers stack up.

Good luck, what ever you decide and thanks for the feedback.


July 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbraddog

WOW! I was expecting the Egg to beat down the Keg. Anyhow, I am an avid lover of the BGE and now seeing this, I am going to be purchasing a Keg just to see for myself. Thanks for the info. and keep on putting them head to head. Very entertaining and a joy!

July 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBig Green Egg

[...] my first head-to-head throwdown, I was surprised when the Bubba Keg came out on top.  In that test, I smoked a load of pork steaks [...]

Awesome review!!! I'm sure this will influence a lot of decisions.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhuckjr

Pork steaks?

That's great. Now I know you are a fellow St. Louisan

Great review

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErnie D.

Thanks Ernie. It's true, I'm from the St. Louis area. Pork Steaks are a mid-western delicacy that folks in other parts of the country don't know about....yet!


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBraddog

I've been researching this since I saw one at Home Depot. I've wanted a Big Green Egg for about 5.5 years. My brother got one 6 years ago, after a friend of his let him use one he'd had for about 6 years prior to that.
The biggest thing I still wonder about is the longevity of this grill. The BGE has a fantastic lifetime warranty. The Keg only has 3 year on the cast iron and seals, and 5 yr on the rest. My brother's friend had to get his lower grate replaced a couple of months ago and was able to do so w/o hassle. Also, how does the metal shell hold up in Florida humidity, compared to the ceramic on the BGE.
Outside of those two things, the Keg seems to be the far better deal.

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill B

Thanks for the information regarding the head to head test. I've been investigating the two cookers and have wondered about everything you presented. I'm just starting down this path and am anxious to make a purchase and jump in!! thanks again. Great site.

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe H
Member Account Required
You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.