Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Cooking slowly over low heat infused with wood smoke is what smoking – and what some call “real barbecue” – is all about. The smoking process exposes food to aromatic wood smoke to preserve the meat and add flavor. The result is succulent, fall-off-the-bone tenderness with a tangy, complex combination of spices, smoke, and natural meat flavors.
Cooking “low and slow” is a way to break down connective tissue and tenderize tough (and typically less expensive) cuts of meat like beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork butts, and spare ribs. For smoking these kinds of foods, time is measured in hours rather than minutes. But boy, is it worth it!
Of course, you can also smoke other types of foods that do not fit the standard profile. Fish, turkey, nuts, vegetables, and even cheeses do not need to be tenderized with slow cooking, but they taste even better when kissed with the essence of wood smoke.
What Temperature is Best for Smoking?
True smoking temperatures generally range from 225° to 275°F. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake to adjust the draft openings to set the proper temperature. But unlike a true pit master, who must work hard to maintain those low temperatures steadily throughout the extended cooking period, an EGG can retain heat at precise temperatures for sixteen to eighteen hours or more on a single fill of natural lump charcoal.
Big Green Egg vs. Metal Smokers
With an EGG, the temperature stays in the desired range, so your results will be predictable every time – and your cooks are usually faster than in a traditional metal smoker, which is affected by external weather conditions such as wind and temperature.
Unlike some metal smokers that require a water pan to create steam to keep foods from drying out, food smoked in an EGG retains its moisture. There is no need for a water pan or the hassle of continually refilling one.
How Do You Use a convEGGtor?
A convEGGtor – for a long time known as a plate setter – is a ceramic disc with 3 “legs” that allows for indirect, or convection, cooking. It acts as a barrier between the food and the direct heat of the fire but allows the hot air and smoke to flow around the food. In addition, it eliminates the need to turn food during the smoking process.
Do I Need to Add More Charcoal During the Cook?
A single load of Big Green Egg natural lump charcoal should be all you need for just about any cook. If you are preparing your EGG for a very long, slow smoke, we recommend you alternately layer the lump charcoal with wood chips to ensure sufficient smoke flavor throughout the extended process. Pour a layer of charcoal into the Fire Box, then sprinkle a handful of wood chips over the top. Add another layer of charcoal and another handful of chips, alternating until the layers reach the top of the Fire Box. This should provide enough heat and wood smoke to last for a long period of smoking – at 225° to 275°F.
Smoking Tips and Tricks
Don’t over-smoke or over-season foods – Providing a subtle ingredient to your favorite meats, aromatic wood smoke delicately seasons food as it cooks. Because each wood imparts different flavoring to various types of meat or food, the combinations are endless. Have fun trying all the wood flavors – discovering which add a stronger flavor and work well with hearty cuts, and which are best paired with milder flavored meats, fish or vegetables. Smoking chips are ideal for quick bursts of smoke, while chunks are larger pieces of hardwood better suited for creating more smoke over a longer period. Apple, pecan, cherry, hickory and mesquite smoking woods are well-known favorites of famous pit masters and backyard chefs alike.
Keep the seasoning simple; too much seasoning decreases that beautiful smoke flavor you’ve worked for.
Don’t rush! It’s called low-and-slow for a reason! When starting your fire, give yourself plenty of time. Once you get your EGG to the optimal temperature, wait until the heavier white smoke, which is bitter, is gone. Add your food when there is a clear or thin blue stream of smoke. Avoid getting your EGG too hot on start-up; this wastes cooking time and charcoal while waiting for the EGG to cool down.
Also, longer cooking times allow the collagen in the meat to break down, so tougher cuts of meat (pork shoulder, brisket, etc.) become melt in your mouth tender. Best results come from smoking at lower temperatures (200-275°F) for longer cook times. And don’t skimp on the meat – purchase the best quality meat that you can afford.
No Peeking – Resist the urge to peek under the lid to check the progress while you are smoking. Every time you raise the cover, you release precious heat and smoke and extend your cooking time. Simply check the reading on the external thermometer and follow the timing in the recipe.
Don’t overload the grill – Give the food room to breathe! Overloading the grill increases cooking time and decreases the smoke flavor.
Only use all-natural wood products – Just like our signature lump charcoal, Big Green Egg wood chips and chunks are sourced from only 100% natural wood, with no additives, fillers or chemicals of any kind. You don’t want chemicals on your food – it’s not good for you or the flavor.
Be creative – Try smoking foods other than meats. Smoke vegetables to eat on their own, or to use as flavorful ingredients in recipes. Lightly smoke fruits like pineapple or peaches for a deliciously different dessert.
Big Green Egg Packages
Order your EGG online with all the needed EGGcessories to start smoking right away. Add on White Glove Delivery to have your EGG setup for you on your deck.