After drooling over ceramic kamado style grills for about a year, saving my pennies and doing
as much research as possible, I finally decided on the Primo Oval XL over the Big Green Egg XL the following reasons.
All of the high-end kamado grills are well built and their quality provides excellent heat retention resulting in moist BBQ and crispy pizza’s but after researching the Primo Oval offered the most cooking flexibility which is important if outdoor space is limited because you don’t have the room for multiple grills and smokers.
Related Articles: Ceramic Grill Overview & Best Kamado Grill Brands
Primo Oval XL
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Primo’s first round style Kamado grill launched in 1996. They patented and introduced the first innovative oval style cooker in 2002 and have been innovating ever since. Made in the USA in Tucker, Georgia.
Oval XL Advantages
Plain and simple the patented oval design affords more surface area at the bottom of the cooker. The increased surface area makes it easier to create two zones, hot and cold giving the chef flexibility and the ability to cook juicy steaks hot and fast and roast tender chicken at lower temps all at the same time. In fact, the Oval XL was designed with two zone cooking in mind and does the best job of any ceramic cooker. They’ve created a custom cast iron divider plate that inserts into the fire box to make zone cooking as easy as possible.
If flexibility is at the top of your “must have” list as it was mine. The Oval XL’s extensive list of accessories is what achieves that flexibility. The list below is forced ranked by accessories which will let you do more with the cooker so you’ll know what to buy first as most of these come with additional costs.
1. Cooking Grates (included)
The first accessory is the Oval XL’s well-designed cooking grates. The reversible grates allow you to turn them over and cook close to the coals in one position for searing, flip them around and they become raised for indirect cooking. The grates are split down the middle so one side can be placed low close to the fire and the other raised creating different temperature zones.
2. Cast Iron Fire Box Divider (additional) Must Have
As mentioned above the fire box divider is custom made and designed specifically for two zone cooking. Hot on one side of the divider cool on the other. This flexibility allows you to cook a multitude of food at different temps all at once.
3. Heat Deflector Plates (additional) Must Have
Ceramic deflector plates allow you to turn the grill into a smoker for low and slow cooking. They sit above the coals and make it possible for indirect cooking.
4. Extension Racks (additional)
The additional extension rack provides even more flexibility and surface cooking area. They sit above the cooking grates and do two things. First you can create even more cooking zones because of the vertical distance from the coals and second the racks add 280 sq. inches of cooking surface area. Go from 400 sq. inches to 680 sq. inches which make this cooker the largest in terms of surface area on the market.
5. Primo Heat Deflector Racks (additional)
These racks sit below the cooking grates and above the heat deflector plates mentioned above. Place a drip pan or water pan for additional moisture when smoking or roasting.
Worth Mentioning (additional)
Primo offers additional Pizza Stones, a cast iron griddle, cast iron grates, and a rib rack all specifically built for this model.
My last determining factor is versatility. Because of all of the accessories listed above this grill can cook virtually anything.
- A pizza achieving temps north of 750 degrees when you add a pizza stone and open up the dampers
- A traditional grill when you lower the porcelain cooking grates
- A smoker capable of maintaining 200 degrees on one load of coal for 15 hours
- And an oven capable of doing anything your kitchen stove can
Moreover because of the two zones and additional rack extensions it can do a lot of what’s mentioned above at once. A chef with an imagination can create a ton of different configurations to create the temperature zones for any style of cooking.
Specs From The Primo Spec Sheet
- Grill weight: 200 pounds
- Cooking area: 400 square inches
- Optional rack system:280 square inches
- Cooking grid: 18½” x 25″
- Temperature range 150°F − 850°F+ (66°C − 454°C)
- Patented oval shape
- Premium grade ceramics
- Reversible cooking grates
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Limited lifetime warranty backed by a 20-year guarantee
I struggled with a couple of things when deciding upon this cooker.
1. Price – quality Kamados are expensive and the Oval XL is no exception. Add on the cost of accessories and you are talking big $$$$. But, when I weighted the versatility of the cooker vs. the competition I suppose it felt like at least I was getting “value”
2. Additional Accessory Costs – I really wish some of the “Must Have” accessories came standard. Primo’s competitor Kamado Joe does come with a number of accessories that are additional to this model but in the end the Oval design made the difference.
Overall taking everything into consideration I found the Primo Oval XL to be a good value and a tremendous cooker.
See it set up new out of the box below!