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« Review: Peace, Love, and Barbecue | Main | Beer in a Box? »
Monday
Aug032009

Round 2 - Bubba Keg vs. Big Green Egg

Round 2 Cookers The Contestants

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

If you’re a regular visitor, you know that I’ve been cooking on the Big Green Egg for a couple of years and recently acquired a Bubba Keg to add to my arsenal.  While both follow the tradition of the Kamado style cooker, they employ slightly different construction materials and techniques.

In 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 on each cooker and submitted the results to family & friends for their choice of the best.

Round 2 BKG Before Bubba Keg - Ribs on

Round 2 BGE Before Big Green Egg - Ribs OnI took advantage of the great weather over the weekend to conduct Round 2 of my throwdown between the Bubba Keg & the Big Green Egg.  In this head-to-head competition, I bought a package of baby-back ribs from Sam’s Club, prepared them identically, and put half on the Bubba Keg & half on the Big Green Egg.  I started the fires at the same time (actually one right after the other since I was working alone), using the same fuel & indirect setup in both cookers. 

I typically do ribs in a modified 3-2-1 method.  However I decided that to keep things as consistent as possible and eliminate as many variables as I could, I’d go low & slow for ~5 hrs and evaluate the results.  Here’s how things turned out.

 

  • Fire Control – As I’ve said before, I find it much easier to control temp on the Big Green Egg.  This cook was no different, but I do find that I’m getting better with the Bubba Keg.  The thing I took notice of on this cook was the elapsed time to “ready to cook”.  In order to keep the Bubba Keg fire under control, I really have to take my time in bringing the fire up the target temp.  However, I can rush the Big Green Egg right up to temp and be ready to cook very quickly.  Advantage here remains with the Big Green Egg.
  • Cooking Environment – I commented during the last throwdown that the cooking environment seemed to much more moist with the Bubba Keg.  Again, I was impressed by how much so during this cook.  As stated earlier, I did not employ the 3-2-1 method.  However, the ribs from the Bubba Keg were falling apart as though I had foiled them.  The ribs off of the Big Green Egg were a little firmer and more like competition ribs that have a little tug but pull clean from the bone.  This one’s too close to call as it really is a matter of preference as to how you prefer your ribs.

  • Taste Test – I was really surprised in this category.  My family & the friends who helped in the blind judging are used to eating ribs from the Big Green Egg prepared with the 3-2-1 method.  So I really expected the preference to be for the ribs from the Bubba Keg, since the expectation has become that the ribs fall off the bone.  However, 6 out of 8 testers actually chose the ribs from the Big Green Egg.  Advantage, Big Green Egg.

 


Round 2 BKG After Bubba Keg - Finished Ribs

Round 2 BGE After Big Green Egg - Finished Ribs

Round 2 of the head-to-head throwdown goes to the Big Green Egg.

So I’ve spent two glorious afternoons cooking on a couple of pits that produce some awesome BBQ.  I’ve tried to quantify the differences and find an advantage to one or the other, and I think I’ve done so.  However the margin of victory in each head-to-head competition is so slight that it’s really difficult to call a winner and in some cases it’s a matter of personal preference.

If you’re cooking on either the Bubba Keg or the Big Green Egg, you have chosen a cooker capable of grilling, baking or producing great BBQ.  If you're considering either of these cookers, you're making a great choice.

Cheers,
Braddog

Reader Comments (5)

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

Great side by side comparison! I've been waiting to see this part II.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Thanks for the excellent review. I'm considering one of the BK's on sale for $300 at Home Depot. How durable has yours been, and given the price difference which would you buy now? Thanks!
May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Hey Mark;

My Bubba Keg has been very durable. The finish has worn a little bit from hauling it about, but I don't see much here that can go wrong.

Given the price difference, the fact that the Bubba Keg ships with the tailgate/hitch adapter (at least it did), and I believe it's an option on the Big Steel Keg, I'm pretty sure I'd go with the Bubba Keg.

In fairness, I've never cooked on a Big Steel Keg. I understand that the vent modifications may make low 'n slow cooking easier and that's been a challeng for me on the Bubba Keg..

Good luck with your decision.

Cheers,
Braddog
May 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterBraddog
Having cooked with ceramic tandoors in the past I think I have your answer to why the bbk produces moister meats. The steel constructions retains moisture much better than ceramic. Ceramic is slightly porus and wicks away some of the moisture. Whereas steel is absolutely non porus and seals in steam. This is also the reason the temperature was tough to control on the bbk. You will always find the first few bites to have more moisture from the bbk. But in ceramic ovens the marinade, rub, glaze clings much better because the slight evaporative qualities of the oven thickens the liquids and makes them stick. So when cooking things like tandoori kababs you will find they turn out much better because the flavorful yogurt marinade becomes firm and the flavors bond. If you were to cook the same thing in the bbk you would have a thinner watery marinade which won't stick as well.
October 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjones
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