I’m a huge fan of my Big Green Egg. I have
been a casual griller for a long time, mostly on a gas grill. At some
point I decided I wanted to look at a grill that had more capabilities
and that is when I found the Big Green Egg. After I got the Egg, set it
up and used it, I put my previous gas and kettle grills on Craigslist
and they were gone in a couple of days. I think I can count about ten
people who have Eggs now in part on my recommendation. A number of
friends that decide to get a Big Green Egg have asked me for advice on
what accessories to get, or which Egg to get.
This post is a collection of those recommendations so I don’t have to
repeat myself, and to share with the larger group of soon-to-be
Before we start on what to buy, let’s address where to buy. Big Green
Eggs are always the same price so you won’t find a better price at one
place or another. You may find some stores that will throw in a class or
something, but not a discount. I bought my Egg, and recommend others in
Minneapolis to check out Kitchen Window. I
also buy a lot of supplies at Settergren Ace
is really close to my house.
I would encourage you to buy your Egg local, and buy it from a place
where the person that runs the store has his own Egg at home. The guy
that runs Settergren’s has an Egg at home. The manager at Kitchen Window
does too. They know their Eggs.
You need more than just the Big Green Egg. These items are things that I
view as a requirement to get with your Egg, starting with the Egg I
Large Big Green Egg
I strongly recommend that people get the large Big Green
Egg. I started with
a large and have added a small Egg to my setup as well. I’ve never owned
a medium or x-large but have talked with people who have them. The
medium seems an odd choice to me, sort of “no man’s land” between small
and large. The x-large is really big and with that you need to factor in
longer time to come up to temperature and more charcoal required.
The large will accommodate nearly everything you do on the egg. You can
do a half-dozen or more full racks of ribs. Whole fresh hams fit fine.
All but the most giant of turkeys will be fine. If you get a whole
packer brisket you will likely need to cut it to fit it on the large,
but you would on the x-large as well.
I also have a small so that I can have two temperatures going. Mainly if
I want to do a tenderloin and corn on the cob, I can do both at the same
time. Or if I’m smoking a brisket for 20 hours and need to prep some
burgers for the kids I can use the small one. It’s very handy, but is
certainly a luxury.
Getting a Big Green Egg without getting a plate
setter isn’t really an
option. I’m not even sure why it is sold separately. I guess if the only
thing you plan on doing is typical grilling you could maybe skip it. But
you really aren’t taking full advantage of the wonderful capabilities of
the Big Green Egg. The plate setter is how you make indirect heat on the
Egg and is required for anything other than high heat grilling.
The plate setter is required for smoking, but it’s also used for pizza.
It’s not just a low temperature thing, it is about managing the heat
distribution on the food.
Update (Sept. 2016): It looks like the marketing department at Big
Green Egg got excited and renamed the plate setter to the convEGGtor.
I’m going to flatly refuse to use that name but be aware that it may be
called that in the store.
The design of the Egg leaves the ash in the bottom of the grill. The
vent is there to control air flow and heat during cooking, as well as to
reach the ash that has collected there. This is where the ash
tool is used.
I don’t think there is anything that you could use besides the ash tool
to clean it out. It seems like a required accessory.
Paraffin Fire Starters
I’m a big fan of the paraffin fire
starters for the Egg. Feel free
to start with the Big Green Egg brand, but I would quickly switch due to
price. I get these in boxes by the hundreds at my local hardware store
and I swear it is the same product inside.
Over time I’ve learned that I use one block to start a fire “slow” and
two to get going faster. So if I’m smoking something and want a low
temperature I use one block. If I’m doing steaks and want something
closer to 500 degrees I light two separate blocks and start the fire in
two spots. This is a handy shortcut.
A few advantages of the paraffin starters:
- There are some new reusable blocks that you put fluid on. I don’t
want to have to find the blocks in the charcoal to reuse them. I
like that the paraffin is a single use.
- They are made of recycled product.
- They tend to emit a burst of light-grey to white smoke, and the
smoke increases a bit at the end. I use this to tell visually by
looking at the smoke from the Egg how far along the starting process
is, without opening it.
I’ve used these all the time and I could count on one hand the number of
times I’ve had a failed start.
Big Green Egg Charcoal
You’re buying a charcoal grill, you need some charcoal. If you
previously used charcoal briquettes throw those away. Use only natural
lump charcoal in your Egg.
I tend to think of charcoal like film photographers used to think of
film. I don’t experiment a lot. I’ve learned a couple of charcoals and I
stick with them. I know how they work, how they flavor the food, how
they burn. If I’m using new charcoal I’m always a bit on edge about how
it will behave.
I only use Big Green Egg
is composed of oak and hickory, has a good flavor and consistency and
burns consistently. I do use Wicked Good charcoal at times when I want
less of a smokey flavor. Oak and hickory are powerful, and if I want to
bring more subtle flavors I use the Wicked
Good as it is a more mild flavor.
An important note, if you are adding wood chunks to your charcoal to add
smoke you must consider that in conjunction with your charcoal. Using
a mild, sweet smoking wood with the oak and hickory in the Big Green Egg
charcoal is a waste. The flavors will be completely overloaded by the
If you decide to play with other charcoal, make sure to consult the
Serious Hand Protection
Working with the Egg you are going to need some very serious hand
protection. I have two options that I use. I have a pair of very thick
welding gloves. These work well
for handling heavy and very hot pieces of ceramic, such as removing the
plate setter from the grill when it is hot. However, if they get at all
moist I’m in for big trouble. The heat will flash through in no time.
For more cooking uses, I have a pair of liquid resistant Kitchen
Grips mitts that are rated to 500
degrees. These work great and protect my hands even when there is some
moistness to the surface.
I like having both because the mitts don’t have fingers so I can’t do
anything complicated with them. The gloves are fingered, and work well
for lifting or setting things in place. I would recommend a similar
Table or Stand for the Egg
You will need a place for your Egg to sit. The cheapest option is to get
the Egg nest and set it in their. You can also get “wings” which are
swing out little tables on it. If this is all you can accommodate from
budget or space, it would be fine. However, I think you are going to
want more space.
While I think a table for your Egg is required, I’m not a fan of the
table from the Big Green Egg company. I got one of these to start with
and was never happy with it. It is strong enough, but barely. Boards
started to sag after a year. I had problems with mold on it. It absorbs
every mop sauce or rub that ever touches it and was just very dirty.
I had a custom table made by a wonderful woodworker and am a huge fan.
If you are handy with tools there are plenty of kits to building your
own table, and for many Egg owners there is great pride in building
their own custom table.
These items are not required, but they are highly recommended. You’ll be
able to grill and get things done without them. But, I think you will
make better food and enjoy yourself more with these items.
Cast Iron Grid
It took me a while to get a cast iron
grid for my
Egg. I just used the porcelain one for everything. Mostly that is fine,
but the cast iron grid is really needed if you want to get good char
marks (and the flavor!) on steaks or even vegetables.
The cast iron grid holds a good amount of heat. I can tell just from the
sound when you put a steak on the cast iron grid that you are getting
that true steakhouse look and taste.
The cast iron grid is also very useful for veggies. The spaces between
the grid are smaller and easier to cook on. Grilled romaine actually
grills on a cast iron grid, on the porcelain you get more of a high temp
Thermapen Instant Read Digital Thermometer
My good friend and grilling mentor Mike introduced me to the
Thermapen and I can’t imagine
grilling without it, and certainly not smoking anything. The Thermapen
is a must have for me, but I left it as recommended since you can cook
without it. You can also drive a car with your feet if you like. Yes, it
is $100 for a thermometer, but it’s worth it.
I’ve written before about the miracles of the Thermapen. The speed that
the instant read works at allows for amazing uses. For example, when
smoking a brisket you can put the probe in and pull it out slowly over
several seconds seeing the temperature at each location from the center
to outer region of the brisket.
The grill gripper is more needed
than you may think. I use it every time I grill. It is what I use to
lift the porcelain grid out of the grill and get the fire started.
You will also find this useful if you are pulling a deep dish pizza pan,
or cake pan off of the grill.
Unfortunately, you cannot grip the cast iron grid with this. The gripper
doesn’t open wide enough.
You may have a pizza stone already, but be careful. The Egg can get
really hot, hotter than a lot of grills. I have read temperatures that
exceed my infrared thermometer and just show +999 on the surface. When I
do pizza I have a full firebox, and the top and bottom air vents are
wide open. It’s very hot.
A lot of stones will crack in these temperatures. I’m not sure why, but
it is a common problem that people mention on the EGGhead forums. I have
a Big Green Egg
stone and it is
fine. It is also thick and heavy.
If your stone doesn’t indicate a rating, or is less than ¾ inch thick
I would not put it in your egg.
The ash pan isn’t required but
you will miss not having it. You use this with the ash tool to collect
the ash out of the Egg. You could use anything else to catch it, but the
key is that the Egg is round so there is a curve. The winning feature of
the ash pan is that it is the same curvature as your Egg, and has a
little lip that sits into the vent mechanism to make a tight seal.
It is worth noting that even with the ash pan you should plan that there
will be some ash spill when you clean out the Egg. Like many Egg owners
I place a 18” square paving stone underneath mine so that the ash falls
on that instead of any wood.
There is nothing Big Green Egg specific about the meat
hook, I just find it to be such a
wonderful tool for dealing with meat on the grill. I find that I can
deal with a tightly packed cooking surface better with it.
Just get one, I think you will find it very useful.
These optional items you can probably skip.
I have one of these riser racks and it is handy for times when you are
doing a lot of food. If I do a full brisket I will often cut off the
point and put it on the riser rack. It also is handy if you are doing a
lot of corn and want to get another 8 or so ears on the grill.
Beware that it isn’t very heavy-duty so I wouldn’t put a dutch oven on
it. It’s fine to hold most any food, but beware of weight limits.
Cast iron Griddle
I have one of these for two reasons. I like to have it to sear meat or
do a burger in a fried (versus grilled) style. I also like it for
cooking vegetables on, or if you are doing up some potatoes to go with
your meal. If you’re doing breakfast on the Egg this is a great way to
do some hash browns while your sausage cooks on the other side.
These are some things that you may think you should buy, and I really
recommend you don’t.
Electric Charcoal Starter
I’m biased against the electric starters for a lot of reasons. I will
say that a couple of friends of mine got them and they like it. I also
know that my favorite Egg seller, Kitchen Window, regularly recommends
these to customers. I don’t have one and won’t be buying one.
The first reason I don’t recommend these is really out of principle. You
are working with an Egg and charcoal. I just don’t like the idea of
introducing electricity to the setup. It seems, well, wrong for some
The better reason I don’t recommend them is that I feel it limits your
ability to start the fire with a specific intent. I mentioned above when
talking about the starter blocks that I use one or two depending on the
type of fire I’m building. I also will top or bottom-start the fire,
again depending on intent. I don’t see how you can start different kinds
of fire with the electric starter.
To elaborate, if I’m looking for a 220 degree Egg temperature for a
brisket I top start the fire with a single starter. It’s slow and
gradual, I can keep it in line and it will burn for 24 hours. If I want
to do pizzas at full blast, I’ll top and bottom start to get a ton of
fire going quickly.
If you are looking at one of these your probably coming from a kettle
grill. You don’t need these at all on an Egg. The lump charcoal starts
easily, and the firebox of the egg is its own containment area. If you
are used to using one of these on your existing grill, please don’t try
to use it on your Egg.
I will admit that I was foolish enough to buy a drip pan. One of the
great things about the Egg is that you really don’t clean it. If it’s
dirty, just start the fire. At 800 degrees it will be clean. 😀 Don’t
worry about dripping from meat getting on anything, just let it burn
You may think you want a drip pan to catch drippings. That is what I got
one for. I just haven’t ever seen that work. The pan boiled empty and
was destroyed with black residue.
If you wanted to introduce a mop sauce into the cooking chamber, you may
want a drip pan for that. But in that case just get a cheap aluminum pan
or old cake pan and keep an inch of liquid in it.
Hope that helps. You should also download the Big Green Egg community