Stop right there. Before you pick up a generic brand of charcoal, there’s one thing you need to know: not all charcoal is created equal. Some are just plain better than others.
When buying charcoal for your next cookout, you want uniform briskets with thin edges dusted with grey ash. You also want charcoal that adds to your food’s taste rather than take away from it. Here, you can learn about the best charcoal to use in your Big Green Egg. Continue reading to learn more.
Lump Charcoal Is the Best for Your Big Green Egg
Charcoal is wood in its most simple form: hydrogen and water. It’s the “last frontier” for many organic-based lifeforms. However, when using it in your Big Green Egg, it finds second life fuel your barbeque.
The makers of Big Green Egg recommend using 100 percent natural lump charcoal. It burns easier and can reach higher temperatures than other forms of charcoal. The only drawback is that, because it doesn’t last very long, you’ll constantly have to clean your grill and replace the charcoal.
You Have Other Charcoal Options
Natural lump charcoal isn’t the only charcoal you can use. Here are some other considerations:
- Charcoal briquets. Many grilling experts swear by charcoal briquets for one reason: they burn slowly. Under the right conditions, they can burn for days.
- Hardwood briquettes. Yeah, yeah, hardwood briquettes are typically more expensive than other types of charcoal. But consider this: they burn slower, meaning if you’re planning an all-day cookout, you can’t go wrong with this option.
- Coconut shell charcoal. Fun fact: coconuts have nothing to do with coconut shell charcoal. Instead, the name comes from the coals’ shape. While many retailers don’t carry these charcoals on hand, their shape allows for low-and-slow cooking.
If you want to give your food a rich, smokey flavor, you can sprinkle some pellets on top of the charcoal. However, you cannot use pellets alone. Your grill is not made for those materials, and the pellets will burn more quickly than you can cook.
What Brand of Charcoal Is the Best for My Grill?
Big Green Egg recommends that you use its own brand of natural oak and hickory lump charcoal. It notes that this charcoal doesn’t come with fillers, nitrates, chemicals, or other byproducts. It also creates less ash than its competitors, limiting how often you clean your grill.
However, other highly-rated brands include:
- Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Black XL Lump Charcoal
- Masterbuilt MB20091621 Lump Charcoal
- Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- FOGO Premium Oak Restaurant Grade All-Natural Flavored Coals
- Royal Oak BBQ All Natural Premium Lump Charcoal Starter
These bags generally run from 15 to 25 pounds. They’re all available on Amazon.
How To Use Charcoal in Your Big Green Egg
No matter what charcoal you use, here’s how to use it:
- Open the grill’s lid.
- Pour coals into the grill, not passing where it says “Big Green Egg.”
- Slide open the air filter on the grill’s side.
- Place fire starters on top of the coals.
- Light the fire starters.
- Wait until the coals catch fire.
- Close the dome and open-air valve on the grill’s top.
When your grill gets to the desired temperature, you can start cooking. You can control how hot your grill gets by adjusting the air valve and air filter on the grill.
Do Not Pour Water on the Charcoal When You’re Done
When you’re done grilling, you might be tempted to pour water on the charcoals to put out the fire. However, this isn’t just ineffective; it’ll make it difficult to clean your grill. That’s because the water will cause the coals to stick together, sending ash everywhere.
Instead, just cut off oxygen to the flames. As noted, this involves closing the air filter door and air valve. How long it’ll take for the charcoals to burn out depends on the intensity of the fire.
Commonly Asked Questions About Using Charcoal in the Big Green Egg
Whether you’re an experienced griller or a first-time barbequer, here are some questions you may have about using your Big Green Egg:
How Often Do You Need to Change Out the Charcoals?
You can generally use charcoal twice before you have to change it out. However, this depends on many factors, including how often you use your grill and for how long.
Can I Put New Charcoals on Top of Old Ones?
Absolutely. Yet, you should avoid putting new charcoals on top of a bed of ash. This will “choke” the grill, making it difficult to get and maintain a solid flame. If it takes more than 10 minutes for the coals to catch, remove the new coals, clean out the ash, and try again.
Can I Throw Out Old Charcoal?
At the end of the day, charcoal is an organic material, so it’s fine to throw out. However, you can also use it to:
- Deter pests. Ants and other bugs hate coal, keeping them from invading your picnic (or cookout, rather).
- Fertilize your garden. Ash is rich in potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus––all of which help plants grow.
- Relieve an upset stomach. Ash is an acid reducer. So, if you have a bellyache, dab some charcoal on your tongue and wait for the magic to happen.
A Final Word
The best charcoal is 100 percent natural lump charcoal. However, based on your personal preferences, you can experiment with other types, as well.