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Bubba Keg Temperature GaugeWe recently had the opportunity to test out the Bubba Keg convection grill and let me tell you, it kicks some ass. Having cooked on a Big Green Egg I can honestly say it stacks up nicely. There are some pros and cons to each, which I’ll get into today.

On the same camping trip where I gave you the camping style shrimp boil recipe, we tested out the Bubba Keg to the extreme. Upon arrival on Friday at our campground/gun range/smelting can area/archery golf range, airfield racing strip, fishing hole I needed to season the grill. However, first I have to point out real quick my favorite part of this thing: the trailer hitch adapter.

Bubba Keg Trailer Hitch Adapter

It’s easy to attach (although requires two people) but it’s much easier than stuffing a smoker in the back and better than a trailer model for off-road terrain which I knew I would be plowing through. Okay, on to seasoning.

I applied some Canola oil to the grates and the damper to get started. (Random fact: Canola oil is genetically engineered from the Rapeseed plant. I guess in the 14th century they weren’t very PC. Who would name a plant Rapeseed)? Anyway, I took a small pile of lump charcoal to get it going. I used a very small amount thinking I would burn it up to 500 degrees or so and then let it burn out. Little did I know it would get extremely hot (see above picture), and would last at least 6 hours or more because it was still around 400 when I went to sleep. I knew right then it could hold heat just as well as the Green Egg. Another interesting thing to note, even at 800 degrees the outside was warm to the touch but not scalding as you would think. It has double steel walls and oven grade insulation to keep the heat in.

Day two arrives and much to our delight our tents stood up to the torrential rain and thunderstorm that hit us during the night and had stopped by the time we woke up. Nor did we have hangovers. WIN. For lunch I thought something simple would suffice and I had some chicken thighs marinating in Houston style BBQ sauce I scored from my barbecue sauce of the month club. So I fired it up again with about the same amount of charcoal (I was also testing out the Kingsford Competition Briquets for the first time as well, which performed nicely).

The first thing I had to get used to was the heat control. It takes a bit of getting used to but after messing with it for a bit I got it to where I wanted it. They have numbers on the top and bottom dampers so you can keep track of exactly how you set it. I scoffed at “cooking by numbers” at first but it was actually pretty handy. I tossed the chicken on the bottom grate set at the higher level (bottom grate has two levels, super sear and regular sear I’ll call them) and brushed them with some more sauce and let them cook. Final result: juicy Houston style chicken thighs.

Bubba Keg Top DamperBarbecue Chicken Thighs

In between lunch and dinner, we did…outdoor stuff.

The evening meal was the one I was really concentrating on. We originally started with fresh steaks and potatoes but during our “outdoor stuff” we added duck, four frog legs, and two squirrels to the mix. The keg was still warm when I was getting ready so I just added a few more briquets to the pile and let it heat up to about 550 degrees (I wanted to use the searing method for the steaks). I gave the steaks a good rubdown of Fast Eddies Steak Seasoning (available Thursday), and did some seasoning to the wild things that got blasted during “outdoor stuff.”

Cooking time! I started out with the potatoes, as I really wasn’t sure how long they were going to take. We wrapped them in foil and set them on the top rack. The top rack is a handy feature for cooking at a bit lower temp farther from the heat and for smoking. It swings out so you can access the bottom grates. It does turn into a pain when you’re not using it, so just take it out if you’re not going to. About 30 minutes into the potatoes, I checked them and decided to put them on the bottom rack to finish them off, and put the duck, squirrel and frog legs on the top for some appetizer action. The duck was small (as were the frog legs obviously) and only took about 8 minutes to cook. The duck came out spectacular. I was told the frog legs were good as well (I had a bit, but I don’t really like frog legs). The squirrel we’ll leave for another day :)

Steak time! At around 40 minutes the potatoes were done (quicker than I though) so I needed to get the steaks going. I had lowered the grate down to the lowest setting and tossed them on. I seared them for approximately 3-4 minutes per side and they came out perfectly medium rare and were nice and juicy. Well done Bubba Keg.

Grilled Steaks

Now for a little rundown on the features of the Bubba Keg:

  • Setup: Only required a screwdriver. Took me about 30 minutes to assemble and I needed help attaching it to the stand. It actually took me longer to unpack the thing.
  • Airflow Dampers: Took some getting used to, and the numbering system is probably unnecessary but really made it easy.
  • Cooking Grates: 3 tier system worked pretty well. The top sliding one gets in the way if you’re not using it, but easily removable.
  • Bottle Openers: Errr, duh. Everything needs bottle openers. They even give you two on the front handle.
  • Base: It’s sturdy and has wheels, but it’s kind of hard to get the keg on and off. Takes at least two people and three makes it easier. It would be nice to have wheel locks.
  • Multipurpose Tool: I forgot to snap a pic, but this is one handy accessory. Rake ashes out of the bottom, adjust dampers, lift your grates in and out, etc.
  • Removable Side Trays: Plastic, snap on and off really easy. Big enough for me, although my friend Jay demanded bigger ones.
  • Cover: Wait? I didn’t get one. I’m out of garage space and need a cover. My only big complaint.
  • Versatility: Superb. This thing can pretty much cook anything.
  • Smoker: It doesn’t come with a heat deflector, drip or water pan which I would like to have seen included but others have smoked on it and say it comes out great (I’ll be trying it soon and keep you posted).
  • Look: It looks like a keg man, super sweet. I got lots of comments on my three hour journey with it!

Overall a great cooker for the price and easily comparable if not better than the Green Egg. You can pick up a Bubba Keg at Home Depot or select Sam’s Club stores for $599 (they recently reduced it from the starting price of $799 so super great deal)!

Bubba Keg Grill

- Steaks courtesy of cow #18 from the Lazy H Ranch in Colorado.
- Duck courtesy of himself for flying over the pond when we actually had our shotguns out.
- Squirrel courtesy of themselves for being stupid enough to come out of their little hideout.
- Frog courtesy of Warren and his 22.
- Live music courtesy of Jukeboxx Media.

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Discussion

  1. Great review guys! I too tested out the Bubba Keg Grill and found it to be a great piece of equipment. I’ve been using it primarily to smoke things (including a bacon explosion thank you very much) but I have used it to sear stuff as well. I liked the “cook by numbers” feature and it helped to idiot proof it so I couldn’t screw up dinner unless I really tried hard. The manufacturer didn’t send me a cover either so don’t feel too bad.

    My review of it was more from a point of view of taking it tailgating so if you are interested in my findings check it out at TailgatingIdeas.com

  2. Aaron says:

    Thanks Dave. Actually saw several of your posts on it the other day. It was awesome for our 2 night camping trip for sure. Will be tailgating with it if I’ve got the time to do it…it’s a bit tough to get from hitch to stand and back. The thing needs wheel locks for sure.

  3. Braddog says:

    Just did my first cook on the evaluation unit also. Just burgers but they turned out nicely. On our second cook, the fire didn’t seem to go out as quickly as I would like/expect with the vents closed. The cooker was hot for 6+ hrs after shutting down the vents.

    Curious if you experienced anything similar.

    Cheers,
    Braddog

  4. Aaron says:

    Mine indeed stayed hot for a lot longer than I would have thought at first, but I had the vents open. I shut them before we hit the tents and it rained like mad all night so I’m not sure how long it stayed hot after closing the vents.

    I’m firing it up again at competition this weekend, I’ll keep an eye out.

  5. Jay says:

    The Bubba Keg was freaking awesome. As for the shelving, I just always need more. I mean, each shelf held one cow skull comfortably, but then I had no room left to set the barbecue sauce and my beer. Apart from that, perfection.

  6. I’m a retailer in Tempe AZ. We featured Fast Eddie’s in our steak cooking class last Friday, and it was hands down the crowd favorite. We cooked steaks with a variety of spices, including just plain old pepper. Fast Eddie’s was chosen as the best rub overall, and as one customer said “That’s what a steak is supposed to taste like!”

  7. Aaron says:

    @Shelton,

    It is indeed one of my favorite steak rubs as well. Restaurants should be using the stuff.

  8. [...] The BBQ Addicts do their own Bubba Keg Grill Review and call it A Manly Man’s Convection Grill [...]

  9. Gabi says:

    The Bubba Keg Grill is a lovely thing to behold. But at $600 one really needs to be “convected” that BBQ-ing is what they’ll do when they grow up.

    I am still a kid that doesn’t know what I want to be when I grow up – Lol.

    Great post guys!

    Gabi @ Mamaliga.

  10. Pete says:

    Somebody needs to warn people not to use the grill while hooked to the trailer hitch. Should be common sense but sense ain’t so common. I had a grill too close to the side of my house one time and warped the siding (luckily I caught it in time before major damage ensued). I can only imagine what the heat of a grill would do to the paint on your tailgate.

  11. Aaron says:

    @Gabi – You’ll be hooked soon enough :)

    @Pete – LOL, yes it says that front and center on the manual. I actually put it back on my hitch when it was sitting at around 200, but the outside was cool due to the double walled steel and insulation. However, the paint on my truck is of little concern so people probably shouldn’t do that either :)

  12. clouscure says:

    Hello. I am Jenny. Im new to the forum and just wanted to say i welcome all of you and hope we will have some fun here together :)

  13. Jason says:

    @clouscure – Welcome to the site Jenny! We’ll be rolling out a new look here before too long, so keep an close eye on us. :)

  14. andy says:

    so if i was in the market for a new grill the bubba keg is what you rec.

  15. Aaron says:

    @andy – well, really depends on what you’re going to be using it for the most. It’s certainly a very versatile cooker, but if it’s never going to leave your backyard, then it’s worth weighing your options. Budget, durability, smoker or not, etc.

  16. andy says:

    i have got in to smoking in the last year and love it,but i would use for both smoker and just grilling
    and would prob take it camping considering that option and have small kids so i love that it dont get scalding hot on the outside,while i watch them closely you know how they are …

  17. Aaron says:

    @andy – then the Bubba Keg is perfect for you. Easy to take camping and much more durable than ceramic so it won’t crack. I haven’t smoked anything on it, but the owner informed me they are coming out with a heat damper soon to make it easier for indirect cooking. Two thumbs up from me!

  18. andy says:

    thank you man look forward to getting more ideas from yall thanks keep it up

  19. Casey says:

    @Pete I own ceramic cookers, and this comment makes me suspect the BubbaKeg doesn’t quite keep the heat in as well as a ceramic. I’ve had my ceramics up to close to 900F for pizza, and unless something is in direct contact with the side, there was no way it could warp siding or damage anything nearby. It radiates very little heat, and at normal grilling temps (say 400 to 500F), even touching the surface of the dome would not cause any injury unless held there for an extended period of time. I often have mine very near my vinyl siding to be under my awning during rain (around 8 inches from the house) and have never even worried about it damaging the siding. I worry more about the heat exhaust coming from the top than the heat radiating from the sides (the top lets off ALOT of heat if fully open).

  20. Gar says:

    So…if i’m looking for a combination smoker/grill, what would you recommend? BTW, loved the Bacon Explosion!

  21. Aaron says:

    @Casey – I had the Bubba to at least 900F, it held the heat in fine. I could lay my hand on it. It’s double walled steel so it acts similar to the egg.

    @Gar – Depending on if you’re going to be traveling with it. If it’s not moving from your backyard, either the green egg or the bubba keg depending on what you want to spend. If you’re taking it places (via the trailer hitch) the bubba keg is your best choice. Both can smoke/grill very well.

  22. Trevor Rowbotham says:

    As a 28 year veteran of owning and using a Kamado “Early Green Egg” I secured a Bubbakeg at the Hardware Show in Las Vegas. Wow! I am impressed, it does everything that the Green Egg will do and more. My Green Egg now lives with a friend in Pomona, Australia who loves it, but my passion is now with the Bubbakeg and we use it at least three to four times every week. Why heat up the kitchen when you can add so much flavour cooking on charcoal. The small features of the Bubbakeg all add up to make it the most useful and versatile cooker on the market. Next week I need to use it to make bread which is one of my faavourites.
    Thanks Drew and the Bubba team for a great design.

  23. I’ve done a bunch of articles on the Bubba Keg Grill if anyone wants to read more. I have many more planned since it’s now my primary method of feeding my family!

    I don’t know how you can pass on it given the price. The only thing I’m waiting for is the XL version :)

    @GrillReview

  24. Fred says:

    What size plate setter from BGE fits the Bubba?

    Thanks

  25. Steve says:

    You , all of you rock! I sort of thought I was alone in this BBQ world. Here in Maine some of us are bolder and seek adventure in cooking, but most are not. I have built a fire pit in the backyard and many scoff at this. Man, I love it! I listen to the Red Sox with my dog by my side and screw the rest when they laugh at my cooking/smoking style…however, they all come when time to eat!

    Cheers!

  26. Phillyjazz says:

    I’ve been using a GrillDome for about three years now, and it is developing some nasty cracks. The firebox cracks don;t bother me, but the small ones forming around the vent say this won;t last for its “lifetime” guarantee.

    If this expensive piece of clay eventually splits one evening, I’m pretty sure a Bubba Keg would replace it.

  27. Dex Henschel says:

    I like all the comments about the Bubba Keg Grill. I might have bought one if I hadn’t recently bought a medium Big Green Egg. We cook on our BGE at least 3 nights a week, and really like it. I have always been a Charcoal cooking fan and used mostly an old Smoky Joe, being it is usually just the two of us. I use only lump style charcoal and only light it with a chimney or electric starter, NO LIGHTER FLUID! I use a platesetter and a pizza stone with the BGE a lot. Will have to see if we cook on it this winter, (we live in Minnesota)
    Best Regards – Dex & Jan

  28. Vincent says:

    AARON

    Found an easy way,for 1 person to mount BKG to stand. Mount the stand to the BKG.

    I layed the BKG on it’s back, then stabbed the stand into the grills mounting bracket. Then it’s easy to start your hitch pin. Stand it up, and tighten your hich pin.

    Hope this helps, Vince

  29. Aaron says:

    Man, I totally should have done that. I had to attach it myself the other day…took me quite a bit of effort. I even dropped it on my foot. That was fun!

  30. wow so cool easy to move

  31. Fred says:

    Anyone know what size plate setter I should get for my cooker? Has Bubba Keg come out with an indirect option yet? Thanks

  32. bbqrfan says:

    Fred-the bubba keg is 18″–so anything that would fit a large big green egg should apply as well

  33. Frd says:

    Thanks BBQRFAN, I got one for Christmas and haven’t stopped using it! I absolutely love it!

  34. Dave says:

    Smokin deal at Home Depot 449 do not pass this up. I have a small green egg and love it. I was going to get a large to increase my capacity for the Superbowl, but I could not pass up the Bubba Keg. It gets up to temp quickly and uses very lttle lump. Very rugged.

  35. Frd says:

    Don’t forget a plate setter…I cannot tell you how much this increases the versatility of your BK!! You’ll want the one for the Large BGE, 18″.

  36. WALT L. says:

    I totally agree with most of the other guys, it works great it take very little charcoal to cook with and I like that, it’s no doubt it is five stars. thanks (wel)

  37. bryan says:

    Never cooked on a Bubba but have cooked on a BGE all winter at up to -30!!! Love it

  38. Dan says:

    Brand new to this type of grill – just head of the BGE and stumbled across your review and these things sound great.

    Has anyone tried to cook homemade pizzas and homemade bread? I was going to build my own clay oven, which is a real pain in the butt, but wonder if I can bake my homemade sour dough bread and sour dough pizzas?

    Great review, BTW, especially the outdoor stuff that goes bang and pow!

  39. Fred says:

    We do pizzas all the time, in fact just last night. You’ll want the plate setter (BGE Large), some well seasoned pizza stones and a peel. Get the Bubba as hot as you can, (700+), keep your dough thin and use lots of cornmeal on the peel. There’s nothing as good!

  40. Adam says:

    I just bought the Bubba Keg at my local Home Depot for $299.00! I got the last one, but if you can find it at your local store at this price it is a no-brainer. I cant wait to give it a shot.

  41. Brett says:

    I also just picked one up at Home Depot for $299 and used a Lowe’s 10% off coupon. Everything I’ve read about this grill is great. I know they have recently came out with a newer version, but for the price I couldn’t resist.

  42. Rawson Coleman says:

    The grill is $299 at HomeDepot.com with free shipping! That’s a steal.

  43. Daniel Vincent says:

    Its sold out online @ HD.

  44. Randy says:

    I just bought the BK and the instructions direct not to use within 5 feet of decks, i.e., combustible material. My deck is recently built using kiln dried wood so I don’t want to catch on fire or destroy the finish.

    Has anyone experienced any mishaps or problems setting the BK on a deck?

  45. Angie says:

    I just got the Bubba Keg yesterday…excited to start
    cooking on it. Home Depot had just marked them down
    to $299.00!!! Very easy to put together, Happy cooking!!

  46. Grizz says:

    They are 299.00 at Home Depot right now. The best BBQ I’ve ever had.

  47. Beverly says:

    I got mine for $249 at Home Depot. Negotiated down the $299 price because it was the floor model and I did not get the manual and perhaps other parts are missing that I’ll find out about later. Used it on the fly — gets really hot, I’ll have to play with at a bit. First impressions — so glad I waited and did not buy an expensive Kamado.

  48. Greg says:

    Purchased the Bubba Keg in June 2009 and have been using it for a year now. Food has been great and has never let me down. It does everything from Kabob’s to filets to fresh caught Snapper to a whole ham at Thanksgiving. Fantastic! However, now the paint is flaking off the inside of the grill and falling on my cooking food. This is unnerving to say the least. I am concerned and will contact the manufacturer. Anyone else have this situation?

  49. Brett says:

    Greg,

    I’ve read that posted from a couple of people and from what I can tell that’s not really paint from the keg. It’s stuff that has built up and can be cleaned off. I haven’t seen it myself since I’ve only had the BKG for about a month, just what I’ve read online. If you haven’t visited the Bubba Keg forums, I highly suggest you do so. YOu can get some really good help and info there.

  50. Bo says:

    I was about 30 days away from purchasing a Big Green Egg until I saw the Keg at the base exchange. It’s $599 there. I’ve seen a few people state that they got there’s from Home Depot for $299. I tried online but they don’t list.. My local Home Depot doesn’t carry it either. I would love to save $300 bucks.

  51. Harold says:

    Fred, I have the BKG and love it, I got a cheap pan (4 bucks)from the Dollar General Store that fits the grill, works for me. Don’t remember the size, sorry, will try to remember when I get back home to get and post the size.

  52. Matt says:

    I am new to using the Bubba Keg. I have pretty good success with it; however, I am having trouble with it getting to hot. How do you keep the heat around 200 – 250? It seems like no matter I do it wants to creep up around 350 – 400. I crank down the vents to 1 or 2, but once it gets hot it seems like you can’t dial back the heat. Am I starting with too big of a fire?

  53. Chris says:

    @Matt Definitely starting w/ too large of a fire. When smoking (lower temps like you’re discussing) I put the lump in a pile and then light only two or three larger pieces. I like to place all three pieces on one side working under the assumption that the fire will then burn across the pile over time. I can maintain 200 degrees for 8+ hrs easily with my Keg.

    Regardless, this grill is a so well insulated that it’s easy to heat up and darn near impossible to cool down. The key is DEFINITELY not to let the heat go over wherever you want to cook at. You’ll never get it back down.

    Strictly from memory, on my grill using a blend of Cowboy and Royal Oak 225 degrees was less than 1 on both top and bottom dial. I think both were open to little more than a sliver to maintain the low temps.

  54. You ever wait to late to start your fire and wish you could hurry it along? I bought a TurboQue smoker fan ($5.99 on clearance at SurLaTable.com) and built a floor stand for it out of scrap 1×4′s. Place it in front of the bottom vent for two or three minutes and you’re cooking with real heat. I’ll post a few pictures on my website later today.

  55. John says:

    Great write up! And completly AWESOME grill!! On clearance now (08/10)at Home Depot for… drum roll please…. $299.00!!! (Virginia – perhaps other states too)

  56. Sean says:

    This is a great smoker/ grill.. For about 300 if you can find one at Home Depot is far too good a deal .. With the dubble steal insulated wall shell it only requires a couple handfulls of lump coal and I kept mine at 225 – 250 for about 6 hours so far.. incredible .. I would like to get a water bowl for it to smoke a brisket any ideas??

  57. Here’s a picture of the TurboQue in action as a fire booster.

    http://pages.prodigy.net/rawsonb/_uimages/TurBQue004aSmall.jpg

    Still available at SurLaTable.com for $5.99.

  58. I picked up a deep 15″ pizza pan and use it as a drip pan and a water bowl. At the low heat there’s very little moisture boiling off. But many users say you really don’t need to add a water bowl since there is so little air leaving the keg.

  59. Larry McCartney says:

    Hey guys and gals, fellow BBQrs’,
    Messed up last email. Got my Keg and utilize a ceramic pan, found at a thrift store, removed the handle and works well for the smoking of brisket as well as a turkey. I as well didnt get a cover or a handle for removing the lower grate. I would like to see a couple more grates to stack on the top for additional room of food. Anyone know where I can get them or do I have to make them?
    Man, this thing holds heat well!

  60. This looks like a quality grill. I think I will add it to my gas grill site as well. Nice work.

  61. Brian says:

    Spend a little more and get a Big Green Egg. There is nothing better. The Bubba Keg is just a cheap imitation.

  62. lol says:

    Sounds like someone is mad that they spent $1200 or more for the BGE and accessories when they could have got the BSK less which does the same thing.