Big Green Egg Instructions

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Big Green EggThe Big Green Egg is one of my newest smokers slash cookers slash grills and while I am not hung up on the brand name like some folks, it does exactly what it was designed to do and it does it well. I have a feeling that all of the ceramic cookers do a pretty good job regardless of the brand name.

The folks at the store tried hard but were not able to talk me into the absolutely necessary stand or cart since I knew that it would sit just perfectly on some blocks until I had time to build a table for it and I have to tell you that it is very solid and has no chance of falling over or being blown away by the Oklahoma winds. The fact that it’s an XL or extra large makes it even more solid.

I unloaded this off of a flatbed truck and moved it about 100 feet to where it is now with absolutely no help and if you are wondering why that’s such a big deal then you probably do not realize that it’s huge and weighs in at over 250 lbs.

Fortunately, I have a background in engineering and that along with my intense creative abilities helped to get that thing unloaded and set up without mishap.

Once the Big Green Egg (BGE) is in place, fill with lump charcoal to just above the bottom air holes.

Fill the Big Green Egg with lump charcoal

Here’s a couple of different brands of lump charcoal. I have used everything from BGE brand to the offbrands and in my opinion, the Royal Oak works best.

Royal Oak lump charcoal

So why lump charcoal instead of briquettes? I thought you’d never ask!

Lump charcoal is real hardwood that has been burned or charred in a low oxygen environment. The product that results burns cleaner than charcoal briquettes, is all natural and does not contain any additives. It also tends to burn hotter than briquettes.

The BGE uses very little charcoal and you will find that once you fill it up, you’ll be able to use that same charcoal multiple times before having to add more especially if you keep it at normal smoking temperatures.

It is very fuel efficient and the amount you save in charcoal, will offset the high cost of these units. They are not cheap but they are lifetime purchases. If you take care of it, it should last you a very long time.

To start the charcoal, I simply place a piece of firestarter down in the center of the coals and light it.

Place a firestarter in the center of the charcoal

Place a little charcoal over the top of the flames and let it burn for about 7 minutes.

Place charcoal over the flames

This is me experimenting with creating the right amount of smoke. I sprinkled wood chips around the charcoal like the instructions said but that was just not enough for me. I purchased a stainless steel woodchip box, filled it with wood chips and set it just off center to hopefully create the extra smoke that I wanted.

Filling the box with wood chips

Wood chips but extra wood chips in the box

Put the plate setter in place to create the indirect cooking environment required for smoking. I do recommend purchasing one of these. They are not cheap but they are worth it. I tried it without it and it was just not right.

The plate setter is the ceramic piece that goes into the egg over the charcoal and forces the heat from the coals to be directed to the sides of the smoker. The heat then travels up to the dome and down creating the indirect cooking method perfectly for smoking meat.

The grate fits over the plate setter as shown in the picture

Plate setter and grate into place

While the egg is still coming up to temperature leave the top vent open all the way.

Top vent all the way open when starting

Bottom sliding vent is also all the way open until it comes up to temperature

Bottom vent open when starting

Once the thermometer gets within about 10-15 degrees of your target temperature, I recommend closing the top and bottom vents to a “just barely open” configuration. You will have to practice to find out what works for you but this is the setting that works for me.

Top vent barely open

Bottom vent open about ¾ inch

I placed the probe from my Maverick ET-732 dual probe meat thermometer at grate level and it seemed to be very close to what the dome guage is measuring.

Dome guage and thermometer at grate level seem to agree

I have been using this cooker for a while now and I really like it. It is fun to use, allows me to walk away from it for several hours knowing that it will maintain the temperature and cook the food without much adieu.

These are a little on the pricey side but I do believe that they are a lifetime purchase. Perhaps something that will get passed down to the kids one day. In my opinion, they are worth the money.

I have seen several of these on craigslist and in the local classifieds so if you are in the market to buy but don’t mind buying something already broke in, then you should be able to find something a lot less expensive.

I will continue to add to this page as I learn more about the Big Green Egg ceramic cooker. Right now the testing is in progress, I have a lot to learn and I promise to share my findings.


Free Smoking Meat Newsletter

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Comments

  1. Hopsing says

    After you finish smoking or grilling, how do you put the coals out so you can reuse them….fixing to by a green egg….can’t stand it any longer….lol

    • Stephen Shreve says

      Simply close the vent to kill the oxygen flow. Fire won’t burn without it. Hope this helps. Oh and definitely stick to lump charcoal. There is a reason you wait for briquettes to turn white before cooking. It burs off additives. The egg is designed continuously start new charcoal as it cooks. It’s why its a set and forget style cooker. Hope this helps.

      • James says

        Thank you….bought the kamodo and was just messing around with the temp control and closed all vents at 9pm and at 7am was still warm and a little over 100 degrees…..going to cook ribs and chicken and corn tommorow. Hope it turns out good….will just take practice….thanks again

  2. says

    I have had my large BGE for about two years. Our friends think I am a genius when cooking out. It’s not me, it is the egg!! I have prepared some great meals. Then I got Jeff’s Rub. Now, it is a whole new game. So far I have used the rub on everything from chicken, brisket, pork ribs, boston butt and recently mahi mahi. So far, I tell all my friends that I came up with a secret rub…..It is actually Jeff’s and I make it exactly as he describes. I really enjoy the egg!! I saw an article recently on cleaning the egg with a bag of cheap of lump do a long burn at 700 degrees plus. Take out all the plate setters and grills and let her cook. Turns out as white as when new!!

  3. Hoodma says

    My husband was the BGE expert in our family. He died in February. I am determined to carry on his love of the egg and wish I had paid more attention how he cooked all the wonderful things he did. I am so glad I found this site which has answered many questions. I know I will never be as good as he was but I think he would be glad that we (me and our two sons) are using his recipes as we experiment and learn. Thank you.

  4. Jerry Belsha says

    The reason most of the el-cheapo bullet style smokers require a water pan is that they are not insulated and therefor require much more fuel and air to maintain the smoking temps.  The steam coming off the water pan helps counteract the moisture loss from all that air flow.  Kamado style smokers, whether they be ceramic or metal (double wall insulated BSK) require about 1/10th the amount of fuel and air flow to maintain the same temps.  I have used both and can attest to the fact that the kamado style produces moister meat.  Jeff, have you noticed the moisture accumulating around the bottom air intake door while cooking low and slow?  Proof that no water pan is needed!

  5. Ken says

    Just bought a large BGE this past week- broker in with two 4 hour burns- then cooked baby back ribs- just so so- then today did a rib eye– not even so so- tender and moist but the BGE lump charcoal leaves a bitter burnt wood taste– I am in Texas and have smoked with off set wood smoker for years and gas grills and weber charcoal- never had food taste this bad before– am I doing something wrong?

    • Mark says

      Ken,

      I can tell you with the ribeyes that my favorite is to sear them at about 600 for 5 minutes, flip them for a couple then shut it down. Finish by “baking” for about 6-7 more or until 140

       

    • Mike says

      Ken,

      That can happen if you put meat on before the BGE has heated up enough to drive off all the volitiles from fresh charcoal. Normally, you can tell when it's ready when there is no more white smoke and what comes out of the top smells good. If it's not ready, the smoke will smell acrid and your meat will taste like it was cooked in a house fire. I suggest you smell the smoke to see if it's sweet or acrid. I say this because if you have wood chunks mixed in before you start the fire, you could still have white smoke from the smoking wood instead of TBS even though the nasty stuff is burned off.

      Hope this helps.

  6. John Lange says

    When using the plate setter…do you place your fire temp prob in the center of the grate or close to the side where the heat is coming up from under the plate setter?

    Thanks

    • Bocaboy says

      I try and position the thermometer near the meat, chicken or fish I'm cooking. If that's to the side, so be it, ditto the center. I've also tried clipping it to the part of the dome thermometer that is inside the BGE but surprisingly the two never agree. I use a DigiQ 2 or a Maverick 732 probe, depending on what I'm doing and I've learned that a 10º swing one way or the other isn't really a big deal. Pork butt is very forgiving, and ribs will cook beautifully in the BGE anywhere from 225º all the way to 250º. The thermometer position is less important than learning to control the temperature in the BGE and not let it get away from you. If you're doing it without a DigiQ, which automates temperature maintenance, then you just have to figure out the right flue settings to maintain the temps you're looking for.  Just keep experimenting with your probe placement and remember that most home ovens have a normal fluctuation of at least 10º to 20º. For what it's worth, I'm convinced that putting aluminum foil on the plate setter also affects temperature by absorbing or deflecting some of the heat generated by the ceramic material. I still do it since it makes clean-up easier, but I've noticed that the few times I don't do it, the temperature is much easier to maintain.

      Anyway, hope some of this helps you. Welcome to the BGE community!!

      • John says

        Thanks for the info. Very helpful. I also put foil on the placesetter for cleanup but did not think about it affecting the temp 

  7. BarryGS says

    I have been looking at the Kamado style cookers for the last couple of days and have settled on the Bayou Classic Ceramic cooker.  Saw it at Lowes and became infatuated.  Checked out some video on youtube and decided it was my goal to own one of these things.  Thank you, Jeff for the informative article about these awesome cookers.  Can't wait until I have one of my own.  

  8. Brenda Hampson says

    Hi.  I just bought a BGE.  I have not used it yet.  I also bought the book "Smoking Meat" by Jeff Phillips.  I will do my homework first and then try it.  I have bbq' ed  for years but this is very new to me.  I am a home chef and would like to try some new "hogies and wraps Asian style.  Thankyou for writting the book it is very informative.  I have the whole summer to experience this smokin thing before I go back down to Mexico for a winter of serching and trying mexican flavors with a chef friend of mine.  I think I would still like to use a water bath in with the meat as i am not experienced at this and i don't want the meat to be dry due to my inexperience.  Do I set it to the side for indirect moisture or on the place setter inside the egg?  Can I use beer or juice in this water pan?  Happy smokin everyone!

    • Bocaboy says

      Brenda,

      Congrats on your purchase. I've owned a BGE for 20 years and still use it at least twice a week. You're in for a real treat if you like smoked food.

      I know your question was to Jeff, but I'm going to throw in my 2¢ here regarding moisture.

      Use the plate setter for everything you cook, unless you're grilling something like a steak or hamburger. The plate setter allows the heat to radiate up rather than the protein being exposed directly to the fire, where it's much harder to control, especially over a long cook. There is no need to add a water pan for moisture if you control the temperature.

      Here are couple of hints I'd offer for your cooking success.

      First and foremost, use a good brand of charcoal. Natural lump charcoal is by far the best. BGE makes their own brand or you can use other brands like Royal Oak and Cowboy Charcoal. BGE makes a Fire Starter to light their charcoal which works like a charm, or use an electric starter. Just don't use any liquid starters that are oil based. They leave a terrible taste in the coals.

      Leave the top and the damper wide open to let the fire start. You'll have a basic fire in about 10 minutes. Put the place setter on top of the firebox (with the feet up if you're using the grill grate), close the top and let the BGE get to temperature.

      Here's the only tricky part. I don't add the wood for smoking until I've got my BGE up to temperature as I don't want to waste the wood generating smoke until I add the meat, chicken or fish. Using a BBQ mitt or an old rag, move the plate setter out of the way by tilting it, or just removing it for a minute. It'll be hot, but if you're heating your BGE to, say, 250˚, the plate setter is still very easy to handle and won't be difficult to handle. Add your wood for smoking in a pile in the middle of the coals, put the plate setter back in place, put the grill in place, add the meat you're cooking, close the top and let the temperature come back up. Close the adjustable flue on top from being wide open to just having the holes wide open.

      Once the BGE is up to temperature, adjust the lower dampler and upper draft to keep it steady. The lower damper really only has to be open a half inch or less. The top flue should also only be about a quarter open. That'll keep the temp stable. With some practice you'll get the hang of it!

      Some other quick hints.

      Do NOT soak your wood in water. It's an old wives tale and all you do is keep the wood from releasing smoke.

      Use a thermometer like a Maverick 732, available on Amazon. It monitors both the temperature at the grill level as well as the interior temp of the protein you're cooking. It makes the BGE much easier to monitor.

      If you really like cooking on your BGE, make an investment in an electronic thermostat like the DigiQ DX2 from BBQ Guru. I bought one a year ago and it's a life changer! It will maintain the termperature in your BGE without any fuss, as well as monitor the protein temperature. Whether you're smoking fish at 170˚ for two hours or pork at 250˚ for ten or more hours, the thing is magic!

      Good luck with your BGE! Welcome to those of us who use it to make some of the most delicious smoked food you can eat! If you need some advice or hints on usage, this forum is a good place to come! You should also check out amazingribs.com, a cornocopia of grilling and smoking information!

      BTW, enjoy your trip to Mexico!

      • scarri3r says

        Have you ever used Myron Mixon's recipes with the Big Green Egg ?  I want to try his baby back rib recipe but he uses pans to cook in.  I see mixed reviews and I have both place setter and a pizza stone.  If I'm cooking in the egg and using the pans then would I even need to use indirect cooking ? The total cook is only 2 hours uncovered and spritz'd, 1 hour covered in foil, and 30 mins glazed and dwelling.  Any thoughts ?

        • Bocaboy says

          Scarri3r, I own Myron Mixon's book but have yet to try his recipes. I make as little use as I can of foil or foil pans as I'm convinced they play havoc with the heat distribution in my medium BGE. I think the recipes that have worked the best are from The Bob Gibson BBQ Cookbook by Chris Lilly. He cooks at at 250º. 4 hours for St. Louis cut ribs and about 3 hours for baby backs. Occasionally I wrap for the last hour with a glaze of brown sugar and margarine, then cook an additional 30 minutes unwrapped with a coat of BBQ sauce. Either way they come out perfectly tender. For Boston butt, I use 225-230º and cook it as long as it takes to get the meat to 195-200º. I don't wrap although many people do. After I bring the pork butt off my BGE, I wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil, place it in an Igloo (or Styrofoam cooler), wrapped in a towel. I leave it there for 2-3 hours. Then I unwrap it and pull the meat for the best pulled pork you'll ever eat! One last suggestion. You MUST use a thermometer. Either use a Maverick 732 or a DigiQ DX2. I use a DigiQ and can't imagine cooking without it, especially on long cooks. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  9. Bocaboy says

    I have a medium BGE that I've owned for close to 20 years. While I've had to replace the seals and the grate, the rest of the cooker is very durable. I've cooked hundreds of meals in it.

    My "words of wisdom" would be that if you're doing a long cook, say brisket or a Boston butt, don't use leftover coals. Clean out the entire firebox and start with 100% new coals. The only problems I've encountered with my BGE have come from long cooks when I added new coals on top of old, and the fire started to go out, or couldn't be controlled.

    Secondly, I'm not a fan of using a metal box to hold the wood, at least in the medium size BGE. It plays havoc with the temperature and doesn't give out enough smoke for my tastes. Instead, after the fire is started, sprinkle the wood directly on top of the coals in a pile, with additional wood as needed outside of the center. It should resemble the same pattern as if you took a salt shaker and emptied it on a table: a pile in the middle and lighter as you move out towards the edge. I use chuncks on a long cook for Boston butt, brisket or ribs and chips for a short cook, with fish or chicken wings.

    Once you get the hang of controlling temperature, the BGE is easy to use. Just remember that for a lo-o-ng cook, use all new charcoal. And as Jeff says, use hardwood lump charcoal for the BGE.

  10. Toby says

    I bought a Chargriller Kamado Kooker last June and I love it. Will do everything the BGE will do for $299 plus $39 for the smokin stone (plate setter on BGE). I made a few modifications to make it more airtight for smoking in windy conditions that cost me less than $20. One tube of hi-temp RTV sealant and one roll of nomex high heat gasket did the trick. If you are wanting to get into the world of Kamado cooking without breaking the bank it is a great option.

    • Cliff says

      Absolutely agree. I have had my Akorn since September and I use it at least twice a week. I have not made any modifications to mine as I have not had a problem with any air leaks.

  11. Tim says

    Jeff is absolutely right.  The BGE keeps meat quite moist while smoking. I occasionally flip the plate setter over and put a pie pan with water and wood chips directly under the meat I am smoking, but its really not necessary.  Glad to see Jeff in the Egg world.  I am pretty crazy about mine.  My only regret is not buying the XL Egg.  

    • Damon says

      I had that regret as well Tim. I bought the large model about 5 years ago, it has had a fire in it every weekend. 2 months ago I purchased the XL. I can cook a whole weeks worth of food on Sunday. Keep looking at the XL and talking about it. Eventually your wife will say "Just go get it so you will shut up about it"…. That's how I ended up with it anyway.

  12. Don says

    Why no water pan with this vs Weber barell smoker. Years ago I had a cheap Brinkman that used a water pan.I now have a Chargriller w/ side box and use a water pan but I think the old Brinkman did a better job but was difficult to add more fuel. I am going to junk the chargriller an get either the Weber or the egg. Your thoughts?

    • says

      I agree that the water pan is a great thing in smokers but when you use a ceramic cooker, you will notice that there are quite a number of things about this smoker that make a water pan not so important. There is very little radiant heat coming from the coals due to the small number of lit coals required to maintain smoking temperatures. The walls of the smoker are very thick and hold heat really well and this is what actually radiates heat to cook the food. It is a tight unit and while there is plenty of airflow for the smoke, it seems to do a great job of naturally reducing the drying effect of the heat.

      As far as the weber vs. the egg, I love both of them and the biggest difference between the two is $$$. The Egg is what I call a lifetime purchase and if you take care of it, you will pass it on to your children one day.

      The Weber is a lot less money and while it probably won’t outlast a normal person, it is a blast to use, easy to maintain heat and can produce some of the best smoked food you ever tasted.

      Final thoughts: If you can afford it, go with the egg and you will love using it. Otherwise, go with the Weber WSM 22.5 and it will serve you very well.

      • Mark says

        Had a Kamodo comped to me. I know, lucky guy!  Tipped it over with my mower, then they don't work so well. Lucky day #2, bought a BGE in a divorce fire damage.  I can't even tell you what a gem this is. I wake up thinking of what to make next. Invite yourself over and i'll make you dinner. But…..must have Jeff's rub, i put it in a big shaker to use all of the time. I do put a caserole pan with water on the diffuser. Love the remote thermometer, only wish there was an iphone version. Other than something with digital controls or a pull behind version, this is the only grill I feel comfortable walking away and going to church (after temp is stable).  This is now the only site I use for smokin advice, just makes life easier and tastier!

    • Mark says

      The BGE is VERY EASY to get started using. I hadn’t ever used the BGE, but used one at my nephews shop while demoing it. It was so easy to use. Start your fire, put in the defuser, set your vents and you are ready to go. I haven’t used a Weber Smokey Mountain yet, (Next big purchase for me. LOL) but I’m looking forward to it. The BGE’s are expensive, but if you can handle the price I say go for it!

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