Setting up the Big Green Egg for low and slow cooking is easy to do. This post shows you how to get your Big Green Egg setup for a temperature between 200° and 275° which is the perfect range for classic BBQ. Now sit back, grab an ice cold beer and and enjoy this post for How to set your Big Green Egg for Low and Slow.
How to set your Big Green Egg for Low and Slow
First thing you do is clean out the ashes from the bottom of your Fire Box. Make sure all the ash and debris is cleared from the Draft Door and the holes in the Fire Box, as airflow is key to successful temperature management. Here I am using the new Big Green Egg Fire Stainless Steel Fire Bowl. This device sits in your Fire Box and lets you clean up ash quickly.
Next add some fresh Big Green Egg Lump Charcoal to your Fire Box.
I like to use wood chunks for my low and slow cooks. They burn slowly and 2-3 chunks are all you need for a long cook. Remember, the first 3 hours of the cook is where you get the smoke flavor, so you do not need to add wood chunks to your Big Green Egg after the 2-3 chunks are gone.
Now that your lump charcoal and wood chunks are in place, it is time to light the Big Green Egg. I am using the new EGGniter to light the charcoals. For long cooks with a low temperature, I light my charcoal in one small spot. This helps me bring the temperature up slowly to the desired range of 200° to 275°.
To help me manage the temprature for a long cook I use the Big Green Egg EGG Genius. This device hooks up a fan to the Draft Door and monitors the pit temp with a probe. If the temp drops from the target, the fan blows. If the temp gets to high, the fan shuts off starving the burning charcoal of oxygen. (NOTE: If you do not have a device like this, you can still set this up by closing the bottom vent 90% of the way after reaching your desired temperature).
Make sure to place your ConvEGGtor inside as that sets you up for indirect cooking which is how you create the best BBQ.
Once you are close to the desired temperature (within 50°) close the top vent 90% of the way. This way you have enough air coming in and being able to escape to keep a small fire lit to hold your temperature.
That’s it, you now have a desired temperature of 250°. For cooks 8-12 hours, you should not need to refill your lump charcoal. Happy cooking everyone!
23 comments on “How to set your Big Green Egg for Low and Slow”
Hi Chris. I am used to the addage of having your charcoal at the white ash stage before putting your food on.
I start my charcoal in a chimney starter, then put in the Egg, and add more charcoal on top. I then leave it to come to the white ash stage. By this time the temp is 500 – 600 F and I now have to tamp down & wait till I get back down to the temp I want.
From what you’re saying, I can close the vents when I reach the desired temp, even though some charcoal is still black?
Correct. Lump behaves differently than charcoal. Specifically for a longer cook. What I want is to start a small fires that burns slowly through the whole cook which gives me two things: wood smoke flavor whole cook as the wood chunks catch at different times over the duration of the cook and second is I do not have to reload fuel.
Hi….I just sent you a question about charcoal and wood chips for cooking baby back ribs on the big green egg and guess what…I found my answer in this presentation on low and slow…awesome….thank you Chris…
You’re welcome ?
Hey Chris I’m having a helluva time getting my green egg to maintain a low temp. If I were to leave my top vent open as much as you I’d easily eclipse 300 (I’m using the egg genius as well). Mine seems to balance on a razors edge between increasingly hot and out. I’ve now put this thing out 3 times. I tried to reduce the heat really slowly but apparently that is just the bge’s natural temp decline after it goes out and by the time I realize it, it’s far too late. After a few hours at a steady temp it seems to climb and that’s when I have to close it down further. It’s getting pretty frustrating. Any advice and at what temp at the beginning do you shut the vent down? I’m usually 225 and let it slowly climb to 250 but again, I can’t have the vent open or it continues to climb.
Typically I leave the top vent open just a sliver so you are correct there. I think your issue may be related to lighting the fire? Are you doing it in one small place, letting it burn 10 minutes to set, then closing down vents, etc.? I have always found getting temp up is easier to control than getting it down. Perhaps set the EGGgenius to 25° lower than desired temp, let that hold for a bit then bump the temp up using the app. I never have issues described above so there must be something you are missing in the firing up phase.
You don’t worry about burning off the VOC’s from the charcoal? I seem to get an off flavor with lump that I don’t get in my WSM with briquettes when I just start with a small patch of lit coals on my BGE.
Nope. Works well and tastes great!
If you are using briquettes that’s true for me. Lump is just plain old wood.
Question specific to the XL: I have become proficient at starting and maintaining a low temp and my question is, have you noticed a low/slow fire move in any particular direction with the XL or does yours burn out to all sides from the middle? I feel like mine always moves towards the back (opposite the vent). I’m planning to do a pretty long cook this weekend and was thinking about starting the fire more towards the vent side and letting it move towards the back, as it seems to want to … have you noticed this or is it particular to mine?? Thanks!
Great question! I typically light my lump at the front i.e. near the front air vent. That way it is closest to the oxygen coming in and the fire will burn towards the back of the BGE catching the lumps of wood I have nestled in the lump along the way.
So I just watched your video. I need to keep my egg at 225 to smoke my butts. I had everything set up like you did (different thermometer) but my fire went out twice. What did I do wrong? The second time it went out I let the fire get really warm first to make sure it was solid.
Were you using a thermometer with a fan assembly to help monitor and control fire? Did you clean all the ash and debris?
I don’t have a thermometer with a fan, but I did clean all the debris.
Really bad advice all around.
The bge charcoal is crap.
Also most competition cooks know to place soaked wood on the bottom. Never on top.
If your having to force air into your bge, you do not have it setup correctly.
I would sell that fan and invest in one of the new stainless domes. Better heat control.
Lots of cheap mods you can do to your egg to make it work better.
Thanks for your positive energy and point of view. Hopefully you can start a blog and share your journey with all of us so we can learn from your experience. Have a great day.
Thanks for doing this blog! Do you find a large temp variance between the BGE thermostat and the Egg Genius? It would make sense there would be a variance, but do you just go by the Egg genius temp and ignore the thermostat?
The probe from the EGGgenius is measuring at the grilling surface which is what you want to know. The temp gauge on the BGE is high in the dome which can be as much as 50°F degrees higher. Managing that variance helps with effective use of the BGE’s vertical space.
should the rack that holds the ribs have the stone rack underneath the ribs? or should the rack be exposed to the charcolds
When smoking meat always use the ConvEGGtor to create indirect cooking environment.
you start the fire on the top, 1/3 at the front, right? Why not at the bottom and put the other charcoal on top?
And: I have red, some people water their smoking chips before putting them into the bge. You do the same?
Will have my first brisket on Monday… 8kg, flat & point.
Would you go for 110°C and 12-24 hours or 135°C and a shorter time till core temperature is reached?
And: how long would you run the bge before putting the meat on? 1 hr?
At the front correct! You can start it at the bottom but risk the fire taking longer to set and/or go out. As for soaking wood chips, I cover this topic in my first The Four Fundamentals of Smoking, and recommend never soaking your chips. There is a longer explanation there, but the short answer is I do not soak them. As for your first brisket, here is a great resource for you: https://thebbqbuddha.com/how-to-smoke-a-brisket-on-the-big-green-egg/