The Big Green Egg is one of the best pieces of BBQ equipment money can buy. But much like all great tools, you need to take care of it for it to take care of you. That is where a clean burn comes in.
If you are somewhat of a regular griller, doing a clean burn once a year is something I recommend from my years of grilling experience.
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Through this process, you can burn out all the leftover grease and gunk from inside your Green Egg.
So why wait? Let’s talk about all there is to know about big green egg clean burn.
Let’s jump right in:
How To Do A Clean Burn On A Big Green Egg?
It may seem pretty daunting to literally play with fire that hot, but rest assured because the clean burn is a pretty easy method to pull off and anyone with little experience with the grill can get it done with relative ease.
The Things You’ll Need:
Charcoal: This one is a no-brainer. You will need lump charcoal to burn at high heat. That is kinda the whole point. Using coal left over from a cook is perfectly fine or if you do not have enough in there you can top it up with any lump charcoal of your choice.
Firestarter: Again, another no-brainer. Any method of your choice to light the charcoal is fine here.
Ash Tool: The Big Green Egg ash tool, while not mandatory, is a great tool to have on hand for this process. You can use it on multiple steps of the process and it will make your life a lot easier. Alternatively, you can use any similarly shaped tool.
A Scraping Stone/Tool: After the fire turns “everything” into ash, you will need something to clean out the ash. You do not strictly need any tool as most of the time rubbing the dome down will get the job done.
A Wire Brush: This one is to clean your cooking surface, grates, and whatnot. The intended purpose is to scrub the gunk off.
Non Abrasive Cloth: This is to wipe down the exterior of your Big Green Egg. It is important as you’ll have a lot of ash flying around throughout the process and it is a good idea to get them off the exterior.
A New Gasket: It is always a good idea to keep replacement gaskets on hand before doing a burn-off. The gasket is the only part inside the grill that can not sustain in really high temperatures and sometimes it will get damaged. So just replace it if it does.
Let’s Start Clean Burn – Step-by-Step Process
Step-1: Moving around the coal: At first, we will prepare the big green egg for its burn-off. If you have any leftover coal inside the fire ring, this is especially important.
Start off with a cool grill. Take your ash tool, and move the coals around so that all the ash and tiny pieces accumulate at the bottom.
Step-2: Cleaning the ash: After all the ash is off the coals, open up your bottom vent, and use your ash tool to get all the ash out. You can even use a vacuum to make this process easier but that is entirely up to you.
Step-3: Refilling with coal: You will need your firing about ½ to ⅔rd filled up with charcoal. If you do not have that much leftover, use fresh coal.
Do not overfill as overfilling will lead to unreasonably high temperatures inside the egg. It can lead to permanent damage so be careful.
Step-4: Lighting the coal: Now we are ready to light the coal. Again, any regular method is fine here.
Step-5: Putting the accessories in: If your grill grates or the Conveggtor needs cleaning, now is the time to put them in as well.
Step-6: wait: Now we are going to wait until the coals are fully lit before closing up the dome and vents. This is so that your fire gets enough oxygen to burn really clean and with minimal smoke.
Step-7: Close the dome and open the vents: Once you are happy with the fire, you are going to close the lid. Then you are going to open all the vents of the BGE.
Opening vents will keep your fire fed with proper oxygen and let the flame get to a really high temperature.
Step-8: Wait again: The hard work is almost over. We are going to wait for the fire to do its magic now.
Keep a close eye on the temperature as you would want it around the 650 to 750 degrees F range. That is 350 to 400 in C.
All the charcoal will burn out and the whole process might take around 2.5 to 3 hours or 4 hours. Then you will wait for the entire big green egg to cool down.
Might take around 3-4 hours. Seems like a long time for the whole process but trust me it is all worth it. Also in this phase, do not open the lid.
You might be tempted but unless you want a huge fireball on your phase, resist that temptation.
Step-9: Scrubbing and wiping: When your green egg cools down properly, you are going to open the lid and see how your pitch-black dome has become almost brand new.
All that is left to do now is wipe everything down to get rid of the ashes. That includes the vent openings, plate setter, and grill grates.
There should be no excess coal as all of it should be burned off by now but if there is, get rid of them as well.
Step-10: Show some love to the exterior: Now that the insides are squeaky clean, you will do well to wipe the exterior down with a non-abrasive cloth to get it clean. Maybe even use a ceramic cleaner if you want to put in the extra effort.
And you are done. Your Big Green Egg should be as clean as new and all your barbeques should have the cleanest flavor.
What Is A Clean Burn On A Big Green Egg?
After multiple uses, any kamado grill like the Big Green Egg will turn into a grayish-black color instead of the beige-white that characterizes a fresh new kamado.
This color is basically from the fat and residue from all the times you fired up some meat inside it.
Generally, this is pretty undesirable and it can give your cooked meat a pretty nasty flavor as well.
To make matters worse, it can be a genuine hassle to clean it up using conventional cleaning products. A clean burn is the perfect solution to this problem.
A clean burn is basically running the grill with a fire so hot that all this gunk is burned off and turned into ash.
The ash can then be simply wiped off for a grill that will be looking almost brand spanking new.
Should You Clean Burn Your Big Green Egg?
If you take a look around the internet, there are a lot of contradicting opinions floating around about clean burns. A lot of people will tell you that you absolutely should not do it while others will swear by clean burning as the best method of deep cleaning.
I agree with the latter group here. I’ve done clean burns at least a hundred times on various grills throughout the last decade and I have had perfect results nearly every time.
Yes, sure there are certain things you need to be careful about and you might even cause minor damage to your grill but all that can be fixed by simply buying an inexpensive new part.
So yes, you should clean-burn your big green egg after around a year of use. Never ever do it on a brand-new egg though.
Only a thick layer of old grease, fat, and residues call for this method of deep cleaning.
Why Do A Clean Burn?
Let’s talk about why for a second. A clean burn is only done because you can not really get similar results with any other method of cleaning.
Especially the dome will get so gunked up after continuous uses that getting all that off using a scraper and solvent will take a really really long time.
That is why experienced grillers will always recommend you to do a clean burn. It is genuinely the easiest way to get your grill looking brand new.
It is also the cheapest method as you do not need to buy any fancy expensive cleaner and your regular grilling tools will get the job done with ease.
Additionally, this kind of cleaning is necessary because, after a certain amount of fat is built-up on your grill, your freshly grilled food will have a nasty old flavor to them.
A good clean smoky flavor will be out of the question. So to have your barbeque come out great every time, keeping your grill clean is important.
Big Green Egg Clean Burn Temperature
Whenever you are doing a clean burn, it is important to keep a close eye on the temperature the flame is burning at.
Too low and your Egg will not be properly clean. Too high and you might damage the grill. Here, you can use a big green egg temperature controller to keep BGE temperature in balance.
The sweet spot is anywhere between 650 to 750 degrees F. In smaller grills, you might get away with 575 to 600 degrees F as well.
But be careful not to let the temperature get past the 750 degrees mark as after that point your gasket is sure to be burned.
How Much Charcoal Do You Need For A Clean Burn?
One of the best things about this method of cleaning is that it can be done with leftover as well as lower-quality charcoal. But the amount is something you should be aware of.
You should never fill the entirety of the fire ring with charcoal. That will surely get the temperature inside way too high and the process will also take a lot longer.
The optimum amount is keeping the fire ring half full. You can do a little more than that and go ⅔ rd full but no more than that.
Should I Keep The Thermometer For A Clean Burn?
Well, the thermometer is another thing that divides the pro-clean-burn crowd into. Most will say that you should not and others will tell you that it not only will do no harm but also clean the clip.
My opinion is that if you know you will be able to keep the fire at a manageable temperature, leaving the thermometer in is fine. However, if this is your first time trying to clean burn, maybe take it out and clean it separately.
Additionally, if you are taking the thermometer out, you will need another way to monitor the internal temperature of the egg.
Do You Leave The Conveggtor/Plate Setter In For A Clean Burn?
There are both pros and cons to leaving the plate setter inside the egg while doing a clean burn.
On the flip side, your Conveggtor will also get clean. However, it might also stop the really hot flames from reaching the inside of the dome. This in turn will not burn away all the grimes stuck to the dome.
The best solution I can offer here is that, if your dome is not very dirty and still has some resemblance to the factory white color in there, leave the Conveggtor in. However, if your dome looks almost pitch black, you’ll need to do a double burn.
Yes, that is doing the clean burn twice. The first time you will leave the Conveggtor out and clean everything else and the second time you will put the Conveggtor in and repeat the same process except with a slightly lower temperature.
How Often Should You Clean Burn Your Big Green Egg?
The answer to this question depends entirely on how often you use your Big Green Egg. If you are a frequent user, do the whole process at least once a year. Less frequent grillers might get away with doing it only once every 2 years or so.
Either way, you should have a pretty good idea if your Green Egg needs a clean burn by just looking at it. Observe the dome closely to see how much grease has built up there.
Clean burning is kind of a waste if there is not a lot of grime so just adjust how often you do it according to your use.