If you want to know why the Big Green Egg is green, then you’re out of luck. Ed Fisher, who founded the company a half-century ago after seeing the popular tradition of kamado ceramic cookers in Asia, once told Atlanta Magazine: “Green is a nice enough color. Why not?”
That’s it. But if you have other questions about the hugely successful star of backyard barbecues, then I have answers. What makes this so different than a kettle grill, pellet grill, gas grill or other charcoal smoker? Can you reduce the temperature if it’s way above your target? What kind of EGG should you buy in the first place and what accessories should go along with it?
There are so many questions. Some of them are even “burning” questions, of course. I picked just five of the most common ones, and you can look for the answers to help you achieve star status in your family and neighborhood because great food is a cook away.
Things You Should Know First About Owning A Big Green Egg
Let’s start with some basic facts and figures about the Big Green Egg.
- The Big Green Egg is an investment, but it’s a lifetime one. Oval-shaped Kamado cookers are based on the original clay cooking vessels first used during the Qin Dynasty, which is also when work began on the Great Wall of China. The kamado tradition lasted because of their heat and moisture retention, their durability, and their versatile ability to cook, smoke and bake almost any food. Big Green Egg has been the industry leader since 1974 in bringing this BBQ tradition to North American backyards.
- There are seven sizes to choose from: Mini, Mini Max, Small, Medium, Large, XL and 2XL. These range from $429 for the Mini to $2,199 for the 2XL Big Green Egg in cooker prices alone, but you’ll need a stand nest or table nest. Large is the most popular with its spacious 18.25-inch diameter cooking grid, and it’s about $1,100 for the actual EGG and then $210 for the stand nest, or $660 for the Acacia wood table. That’s a $1,760 sticker price at Ace Hardware for the Large with table, but you can shop around on Facebook Marketplace like I did and get the whole set used for $900 cash in excellent condition.
- Take care of your Big Green Egg kamado grill and it will take care of you. That means just be sure to clean out the ash after at least every couple of cooks, brush the cooking grid after usage while the EGG is still warm, keep your setup covered and dry when not in use, and replace the seal gasket if you see wear and tear.
- It’s a ceramic cooker for all seasons. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside your Big Green Egg, thanks to NASA-assisted technology in the ceramic shell. If yours comes with the old-fashioned, dual-function daisy wheel cap, do yourself a favor and buy the rEGGulator cap so that you can add the special rain cap that fits onto it. That allows you to cook with the top vents open even if it’s pouring down, and you never have a worry.
- Each new Big Green Egg smoker comes with a limited lifetime warranty as long as you’re the original owner, and your local BGE dealer will generally do a nice job of taking care of any issues. But the main selling point of these is really the durability as these get passed down for generations.
Here Are My Answers to the Top 5 Questions About the Big Green Egg
You may be browsing around and thinking of joining the Big Green Egg community, or you might have an EGG and simply want to get more enjoyment out of it. Now that you know some of the basics above, here are some answers to common questions:
1. What Big Green Egg Accessories Do I Really Need?
Big Green Egg lists 122 accessories on its website, and that doesn’t include the hundreds of “feeder” accessories made by other brands. This is where the cost can really soar and you’re not even buying food yet. Look for packages when you initially buy your EGG from a dealer, or look for sellers who include their EGGsessories if you buy a used kamado ceramic cooker. Your EGG will come with these basic ceramic items: a fire plate, a fire box, fire ring and probably a cast iron or stainless steel cooking grid. After that, there is only one must-have accessory: a ceramic convEGGtor plate setter. That lets you enjoy indirect cooking such as smoking a brisket or baking a pizza. Next on the priority list is the ash removal tool and you might as well get BGE’s ash shovel while you’re at it. You’re probably going to want the five-piece EGGspander so you can go vertical with three tiers of cooking surfaces and 35 possible combinations. Here are 12 Big Green EGGsessories you need, and remember you don’t have to get everything all at once.
2. How Do I Build a Fire on the Big Green Egg?
Start with a clean egg to ensure optimal cooking temperature. Follow these 11 steps to clean it the right way. Shake out the coals from the previous cook and then use your ash removal tool and pan to get your ash into the trash. Now you will have great air flow to ensure optimal cooking temperatures. Use natural lump charcoal, like Jealous Devil Chunx or Big Green Egg 100% Natural Oak & Hickory, and store the bag between cooks in a dry and cool space with no humidity. Never use briquettes or lighter fluid in a Big Green Egg, as the ceramics are porous and you will have an ongoing nasty smell with sketchy additives that ruin your meals. Arrange charcoal lumps with large chunks on the base. Fill to the top of the fire box if you’re smoking low and slow for a long period, or a little less if you’re going to grill at high temperatures for a quicker BBQ. Insert a couple of SpeediLight starter cubes and just use a BIC butane lighter for easy ignition, no need for fancy and expensive starter gadgets.
3. How Do I Control the Temperature?
If you want to get over 400 degrees quickly to grill a steak or burgers, leave the dome open for the first 7-10 minutes. If you are smoking low-and-slow, just leave the top and bottom vents open and it will gradually get up to that magical 235-250 range. The biggest issue with a Big Green Egg is letting it jump far above your target temperature, because it’s not so easy to bring the temperature down, so keep that in mind if you’re smoking meat. As a general rule, open the top and bottom vents allow more oxygen and feed more fire, so you’ll want maybe ¼ inch opening at the most on the bottom during your cook, and then just a fraction of opening on the top. You’ll master this process after a few cooks. Invest in a good thermometer to help you manage the internal temperature of the meat, at least a dual probe wireless set that lets you monitor your temperature while walking around your house. Even better, go big with the ThermaPro Flame Boss 500 WiFi Controller, which lets you attach a small fan to the lower draft door so it can add wind as needed to nudge the temperature higher. Bottom line, you don’t want to open the dome while you’re cooking, any more than you absolutely have to.
4. What Are Some of the Best Foods to Cook on a Big Green Egg?
So many recipes, so little time! The Big Green Egg is great for smoking, grilling and baking. Soak a cedar wood plank and grill a seasoned wild salmon filet on top of it. Fire-grilled dishes are superstars, but some of your recipes will definitely need indirect heat like a conventional oven. Follow any recipe to smoke an easy and delicious Texas style beef brisket, maybe some St. Louis style ribs or Memphis dry ribs. With the convEGGtor you can enjoy juicy roasts or a succulent holiday ham. Add the pizza stone and try your hand at making incredible pizzas like you’re in Italy. Smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving by standing it up on a special rack, or spatchcock your bird like so many EGG smokers by splitting it down the middle and flattening it onto your cast iron grid. Char veggies and enjoy your favorite kabob recipes using Fire Wire flexible stainless steel skewers. Go to the annual EGGtoberfest in the Atlanta area and follow the massive community of #BigGreenEgg chefs on social media, and you will be inspired to try new recipes and cooking techniques. Here are 25 recipes you’ve gotta try!
5. How Long Will the Fire Last Without Adding Charcoal?
You never need to add charcoal during a Big Green Egg BBQ cookout. If you’re smoking low and slow, build your charcoal pile to the top of the fire box and then insert the convEGGtor. If you’re grilling and going for high heat and faster cooking, then start with a little less charcoal chunks. No matter what, your lump charcoal is going to outlast your cooking process, and it’s economical because much of the charcoal fuel will still be there for the next BBQ after you close the vents. If you’re smoking a brisket for 6-8 hours, you can even remove the convEGGtor plate after it’s finished and then dial up the heat so you can change over to grilling with your remaining fire. It’s not uncommon to hear people say their original fire lasted at least a full day. PRO TIP: When you set your convEGGtor, make sure that one leg is in the front-center of your EGG so that it lines up with the external thermometer. That way it will also block direct heat and ensure that your thermometer has an accurate readout.
These are just some of the many questions that arise for Big Green Egg owners, and nothing beats trial and error and experimentation in mastering the answers.