Primo Oval XL GrillMy quest for a ceramic grill started about 6 months ago. I wanted a grill that was very versatile, used hardwood lump charcoal as its fuel source and would last a long time. These requirements narrowed the field to two choices; The Big Green Egg and Primo. While both are great grills I decided on the Primo Oval XL and I am glad I did.

When my Primo arrived on a freight truck it was very well packaged in a wooden crate. After a careful inspection to make sure the ceramic was still in one piece, it was time to get the grill to its new home. This is definitely not a one man job as the grill weighs 200 lbs. The nice thing about this grill is that it requires very little assembly. The band assembly is factory installed which is a big plus. The band assembly on the Big Green Egg is not, you must assemble this yourself; and it isn‘t the easiest job, I have assembled many. The only item I needed to put together was the cradle the grill sits in. That took about 15 minutes.

There are some other reasons I decided to go with the Primo Oval XL over The Big Green Egg. First, I prefer the oval shape to the round. I do lots of ribs and the oval shape allows me to do more racks of ribs lying flat on the grate than the round shape would. The Primo also offers a wide range of accessories that allow you more flexibility when cooking. It has a cast iron firebox divider that allows you to cook over direct heat and indirect heat at the same time by only having charcoal in one half of the grill. It also helps conserve charcoal for smaller cooks. The main cooking area uses two cooking grates. These grates have legs on them and when in the standard position the cooking grate is flush with the lip of the ceramic shell. You can also flip the grates over allowing you to get the food closer to the heat. Another great accessory is the extender racks. These extend the already large cooking area of 400 sq. inches to up to 680 sq. inches. Also, if you take one main grate and flip it over so the feet are up and add the extender grates you can give yourself 4 different cooking levels. The accessories I use the most are the ceramic heat reflector plates. These are placed over the charcoal and allow you to cook totally over indirect heat. These are great for low and slow cooks. You can also install only one to allow you to cook over direct heat on one half of the grill and indirect on the other.

Primo Grill Extender Racks     Primo Grill Heat Deflectors Plates

I have only owned the Primo for about 5 months but in that time it has got quite a workout. As with most ceramic grills the range of cooking is unmatched. You can easily hold temps as low as 200 degrees or well over 750 degrees. The temperature is regulated by the vents on the top and bottom of the grill. With a little practice I was surprised how easy it was to dial in and maintain a certain temperature. I have done cooks as long as 15 hours and the temperature didn’t move more than 5-10 degrees.

I have also found that the ceramic is a great insulator and helps keep your food moist. Regardless of the outside temperatures the Primo maintains and recovers heat loss very well. Colder temperatures just don’t have any effect. This also helps conserve fuel. On my last low and slow cook I filled the firebox with Wicked Good Lump Charcoal and held 225 for 15 hours. When I was done less than half of the charcoal was gone. Now, this also has to do with the quality of charcoal you use, and I haven’t found anything that comes close to the Wicked Good brand, but that is for another review.

There are only a couple negatives I have found using this grill. First, the weight. This thing is a beast and I have already hauled it to one bbq competition and have three more on the calendar this year. However, this grill isn’t meant to be a portable grill, I have just chose to make it one so I can’t really call this a negative. Second, the felt gasket that lines the top and bottom edges of the grill. The first time I did a pizza I had the grill close to 700 degrees and a portion of the gasket melted off. I rarely cook this hot and the gasket is easily replaced but if you plan on doing a lot of high heat cooks this could be a problem. You can find some high heat gasket replacements, not sold by Primo, on the web.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the Primo and would easily recommend it to anyone. The customer service is great and the grill is backed by a great warranty. If you are in the market for a ceramic grill I highly recommend the Primo Oval XL.