If you are reading this, then you probably already know what a Big Green Egg is. Just in case you don’t; a Big Green Egg is a kamado style ceramic charcoal barbecue that is one of the most magical pieces of ceramic in existence. Seriously. It’s amazing!

A Big Green Egg (BGE) can transform a simple cut of meat into something that melts in your mouth with so much flavor that it knocks you off your feet. Or it can act as a really nice heavy paperweight/egg looking decoration that takes up space on your patio if you never use it. That’s what this post is about making sure never happens.

Tips and tricks to get the best results and the best experience out of your BGE. It can be a little intimidating, but once you learn the basics, you will be making the best barbecue you have ever eaten.

While these tips are for the Big Green Egg (because that’s what I use) they are also relevant to other kamado-style grill cookers like the Kamado Joe and other types of smokers.

Always consult the user manual for best practices and safety information for using your grill.

Tips & Tricks for the Big Green Egg

  1. Always start with a clean Egg.
    Completely remove ash so air can flow freely from the bottom vent up to the fire. Stir up any remaining charcoal with an ash tool so the ashes fall to the base and can be scraped out of the vent. You can also use a shop vac to easily remove the ashes from the base.
  2. Always use high-quality natural lump charcoal in the egg.
  3. Use more charcoal for long cooks.
    The more charcoal you start with will mean less airflow and lower temp that is easier to regulate for long smokes.
  4. Use less charcoal for high heat grilling.
    Use less charcoal for high heat grilling, less charcoal will allow more oxygen to flow, getting the grill really hot for searing.
  5. Use wood chunks in combination with charcoal for live-fire high heat grilling to sear steaks and other meats.
  6. Never use lighter fluid to light charcoal. 
  7. To light the charcoal;
    use either natural charcoal starter cubes (affiliate) made of sawdust and paraffin or use an Electric Fire Starter to quickly light the charcoal.
  8. Use larger wood chunks when smoking for long periods. These will burn more slowly, lasting longer for more smoke in your meat.
  9. Bring the temperature up very slowly for low and slow smoking.
    If the egg gets hot too fast, it will be difficult to bring the temperature down because of the heavy ceramic insulation of the egg. 
  10. Use a water bath with plenty of water when smoking.
    The water adds humidity to the air which is good for the meat and also makes clean up much easier by catching the drippings. Place the pan on top of the ConvEGGtor (affiliate). You can use disposable aluminum drip pans or restaurant steam pans work great too.
  11. Start with hot water in the water bath pan so the smoker doesn’t cool down while it comes to temperature.
  12. Monitor the level of the water bath during long smokes as it will evaporate and you might need to add more.
  13. Always cook with the lid closed.
    The Egg is designed only to cook with the lid closed. If the lid is open, the temperature will rise too quickly.
  14. “Burp” the egg before opening when it’s hot.
    Burping is opening the lid just a few inches repeating a few times to allow the hot air to escape without causing a “flashback.”
  15. Adjust the temperature by making micro-adjustments to the vents (primarily the bottom vent).
    You want the temperature to change slowly to stay in control. If you need to increase or decrease the temperature, only open or close the vent a very small amount at a time and wait. Then adjust again as needed.
  16. Face the “BIG GREEN EGG” on the top gasket vent away from you so the vent lid doesn’t slide open when you open lid.
  17. Remotely monitor the temperature of both the egg and the internal temperature of the meat with a Thermoworks Smoke 2-channel thermometer or a Signals 4-channel thermometer device.
  18. Automatically maintain a constant temperature of the Egg and even adjust it remotely with a Thermoworks Billows BBQ Temperature Control Fan. It kind of feels like cheating!
  19. You can calibrate your built-in BGE thermometer by putting the tip in boiling water. Use a pair of pliers on the back to adjust the temp and re-calibrate. It’s best not to fully rely on the built-in thermometer and use a second Thermoworks thermometer in conjunction.
  20. Clean the grill grates right after using rather than waiting until next time. They are way easier to clean when still hot.
  21. Re-use leftover lump charcoal.
    After your cook is over, you can re-use the chunks that are left by adding fresh charcoal to it. This is one of the big advantages of using lump charcoal and a kamado grill.
  22. It’s time to change the lid gasket when you see smoke leaking out the side of the lid. 
  23. Invest in some essential BGE accessories to make your bbq life even more enjoyable with the best results possible.

Big Green Egg FAQs

How do I add more charcoal during long smokes?

There’s no need to add more charcoal to the egg. Depending on how you are cooking, a full load of hardwood lump charcoal can last up to 18 hours for low and slow cooks.

How do I cold smoke with the green egg?

You can set up the BGE for cold smoking by slowly bringing the temperature up to 200° F with the convEGGtor in place. Meanwhile, fill a large aluminum or restaurant steam pan with ice and place it on top of the convEGGtor with the food placed on the grill grates over the ice pan.

How much does a Big Green Egg Cost?

A large Big Green Egg costs approximately $859.00. Check your local dealer for current official prices.

Can I re-use lump charcoal?

Yes, you absolutely can. Whatever lump charcoal pieces remain from your last cook can be in the mix with fresh charcoal for the next one.

How do I cook with indirect heat on the egg?

Use the Big Green Egg convEGGtor (affiliate) which is an accessory that puts a barrier between the fire and your food. The heat travels up around the perimeter of the egg, which will indirectly cook the food.

Favorite Big Green Egg Recipes

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  1. Hi Justin,

    I’m relatively new to my big green egg (I have a small). Yesterday I smoked a pork shoulder and had a pretty good result, and maintained my temp pretty well, however, I had two quick drops in temperature down to 220, one about 3.5 hours in and the second around 5 hours in. In both cases, I added more charcoal, adjusted the vent settings and brought the temp back up to 250. Wondering if it’s possible I was running out of fuel? Can you smoke for long periods of time on a small egg? Maybe I really need to load in charcoal? Any tips? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Liz! I would definitely say it’s possible you were running low on fuel. I don’t have experience cooking low and slow in a small Big Green Egg, but it should last around 6 hours with a full load of lump charcoal at 225-250°F. The small egg is much more suited for shorter cooks and grilling, but you can still do low and slow but will have to reload more often.

      How much charcoal did you add from the start? I would fill slightly past the rim of the firebox.

  2. I just purchased a BGE and burnt my burgers. 🙁 I’ll keep practicing. In the meantime, how do I ‘maintain’ the temperature? I know how to adjust it, but once I get to my desired temp, how do I maintain it? I thought I’d just leave the vents as they were, but then I saw the temp rise, so I closed them a bit. But then the temp got too low. It was non-stop like this.

    1. Hi Michele. Oh no! Sounds like it got a little too hot. What size egg do you have and how much lump charcoal were you using? Were you cooking with the lid closed? What target temperature were you going for?
      The more charcoal you have in the egg, the easier it is to maintain a consistent temperature. The egg is like a big ship where it takes time to speed up or slow down. Always bring the temperature up slowly, as it is difficult to bring it back down. You only want to make very small changes to the vents, or else you will likely over-correct and it will either get too hot or too cool by the time the temperature gauge changes.
      Bringing the temp up slowly will allow you to stop it right where you want it and keep it there. It just takes a little practice of using it and you will get it down in no time.
      Happy to help with more questions.

  3. Hi Justin, some great tips there. We just got a BGE and did our first cook. We did some wings which needed a higher temperature and then cooked a shoulder of lamb which needed lower and slower temperature for three to four hours.

    My question is can you go from a high heat cook to a low and slow in one session? It was not easy to bring the temperature down. Is this even possible?

    Sometimes you may want to eat lunch and leave something to cook i their low and slow for a few hours for dinner.


    1. Hi Dee. That’s a great question. It’s always easier to go the other way (starting cool and then raising the temp) since the egg is so insulated, it takes a while to come down in temperature.
      There are a few things you can do to cool down the egg’s temperature:
      1. Close off the lids almost completely so oxygen flow is reduced but not so much that the fire goes out.
      2. Carefully place a large pot of cold water (you can even add ice) on the grates. This will cause the heat from the egg to transfer to the cold water, warming up the water and cooling the egg. Be sure to use gloves when moving the pot of water and have somewhere to put it. You may have to cycle through a few pots of cold water until the temperature gets to where you want it to go.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can help further. 🙂

  4. Hello! I smoked 3 racks of ribs yesterday, keeping as close to 250 as possible. Used lump mesquite, I had 1 rack kind of char a bit too much on the bone side, even though the temp was low. Maybe should have only used 2 racks, too crowded? Please advise, thanks!

    1. Hi Patty,
      Did you have the conveggtor in place for indirect cooking? If I do more than one rack, I will usually use one of those rib racks to stand the rib slabs on their side. Sometimes the ends get more color when they are near the open part of the conveggtor that lets more heat through. You can rotate the racks a few times to prevent this, or wrap them in foil. Let me know if you have other questions.

      1. I found an old pizza stone in the kitchen that fits inside kettle, a couple inches space on all sides. I put 2 bricks (short ends up) and put the stone on it so the stone wasnt sitting directly on lump charcoal. Could it work for in direct method? Thanks again

  5. How is the best way to clean the inside of the BGE? It’s pretty dark from use Ann’s would like to clean it up.

    1. Hey Dan,
      Here’s a good video on youtube going through the steps to really clean up the egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLeWzEU8_7M

      A few tips for keeping it clean:
      – Use a drip pan to catch the drippings so they don’t fall into the egg.
      – Clean out the coals in between uses. I use the ash tool to get the majority of the ash and small coal fragments out; then a shop vac to really clean out all the dust and anything left.

      I hope these help.