Every March it happens. We have that first day of sun and mild temperatures and my mind starts to think – Big Green Egg time! But if you are like me, you were lazy and left your Egg in a sad state last fall. So before you get smoking, grilling and roasting, your Egg needs a good spring cleaning.
Here are my 6 tips for spring cleaning your Big Green Egg.
Take a cold hard look
I say cold, because that first mild day that gets you Egg-cited, usually doesn’t last. The weather turns to cold again, but you don’t care. The BBQ sauce is out of the bottle.
Take the cover off, open up the lid of your Egg and just check it out. Take a good look at how things were left. The winter is long and I am sure you forget what you cooked last and the Egg may not be in the best of shape (and probably still smells like meat).
Now some of you cook all winter outside and if you are in a cold climate, nice work. I used to do the odd winter smoke, but maybe I have grown weak in my old age? In the cold of winter it’s just easier to put something in the oven and hunker down inside. But it’s just not the same right? You don’t get that smoky flavour you normally get from charcoal.
What needs work? Cleaning out the fire box? Tightening some screws? Is your cover looking beat up after months of being buried in snow and ice?
I am not much of a car guy, so fine tuning my Egg before hitting the BBQ road is about as close as I get to tinkering in an auto shop.
Are you happy with your set up? Would a change of placement of your Egg be fun? These are things I consider each spring. The grilling season is a wonderful time of year and you will spend a lot of time tending to food outside, so might as well make it awesome.
Once you get a lay of the BGE landscape, it’s time to get spring cleaning your Big Green Egg.
The burn off
Depending on what you last cooked, you will have some old charcoal and definitely some ashes to remove. But before doing any of that, I like to do one of the most exciting things you get to do as an Egg owner. The burn off.
Basically you are going to get the temperature to a ludicrous heat and burn off all of the build up of gunk from previous cooks. If you use your Egg a lot, it no doubt is very black on the inside. But the burn off will pretty much get it back to the lovely white colour it was when you bought it.
Start by stirring up any left over charcoal so the ashes fall into the fire box. Check that the remaining charcoal is still good (not wet or moldy) and add some more if needed. Roughly half full.
Now the goal is to get the Big Green Egg as hot as you can get it which is anywhere from 700 F to 1,000 F. Yeah I know, that is hot. Don’t have the kids around.
Light the Egg however you do it. Get some charcoal glowing, close the lid and open the draft door wide open. Forget the daisy wheel for this. You want it going full throttle.
Hang out until you see the temp rising fast and it gets to at least 700 F, then set a timer for an hour or two and go do something else. Maybe read BBQ recipes? Maybe work on a puzzle. One thing I suggest is you don’t go that far. I mean it is an insanely hot fire roaring in your backyard, even if it’s relatively safe.
For the next hour or so the high heat will burn off any buildup inside the Egg. The grill, the fire ring, the inner dome, even the daisy wheel if you leave it inside will get cleaned up.
The first time I did a burn off I was skeptical. I missed having my Egg look clean and new. But it definitely worked.
One thing to mention that I have read. Don’t do a burn off if you have nothing to burn off. Like, if your Egg is pretty new. Some say it can do damage.
So get the fire raging, take a photo for IG of the temp gauge maxing out like a noise meter at a Metallica concert and enjoy the heat.
Next we take everything apart.
So fresh, so clean
After your timer goes off, head back outside and close everything up and let the Egg cool down. If you did not set a timer no worries, the charcoal will run out eventually and it will cool itself down. I like to set a timer just so it does not become and all day project.
Your Egg should look pretty damn clean again. Bringing back memories of the day you brought it home from the hospital. Whoops, got confused for a sec. Have I mentioned I love my BGE.
No it’s time to give it the final clean. Take out the grill, fire ring, grate and fire box and put them on the ground. Brush off any final bits of gunk and ashes and move back to focusing on the inside of the Egg.
Try and scoop out any remaining ash at the very bottom and if you want, use a dustbuster. I have not because I don’t really like the idea of the ashes inside my house dustbuster. But if you don’t care, buzz away. I guess if you have a shop vac, that would be perfect.
Once you clean it all up, it’s time to put the pieces back in.
One note. Don’t use any cleaning products on ANYTHING that is inside your Egg. The ceramic will soak it up and pass the chemicals on to the flavour of your food. If you must, just use water and thoroughly dry the pieces before putting back in.
Add the fire box, grate, fire ring and grill back in and admire your work.
Looks like new I bet. I am not saying you need to call the family out to look, but maybe you should. Show them this is the beginning of where their awesome dinners come from.
Now that the inside is clean, let’s focus on the next part of spring cleaning your Big Green Egg. The outside. You know, the green part.
Outer Egg maintenance
Your Big Green Egg not only looks great in the yard, it was mostly likely a crazy investment. This is not one of those $99 BBQs we have all bought and let rust to death until we buy a new one.
You really want to follow through on up keep each year. Thankfully, there is not much to do as the Egg is incredibly durable.
Look back to your initial assessment. Anything seem loose? Any noises when you open and close the lid? It could be more green?
Very bad things could happen if you ignore this step. Just think Humpty Dumpty.
Focus on where the top and bottom bands come together. There are two carriage bolts. One holding each band together. Make sure these are good and tight. If these bolts are loose the lid of your Egg could fall right out of the top band when you open the lid and crash to the ground. I can’t even imagine the feelings I would have. So please, tighten them. While you are there, give it a small spritz of WD40, around where the springs are. Not much.
Next, simply go around the top and metal band of your Egg and gently tighten anything if needed. Then check the hinge bolts and work your way down and around your Nest (if you have one). For those wondering, the Nest is the stand the Egg sits in. Check the attached side tables. Check anything and everything that is attached.
How is your super clean daisy wheel? Does it need a quick tighten?
Is your draft door sliding smooth? I have never had to do anything to mine as for the most part the Egg is low maintenance. But do dust off any ash.
The one part I have had to change a few times is the gasket. It’s the seal that goes around the lid and the bottom section. So when the lid is closed you don’t have any heat escape. It’s like a felt-like material that meshes when the lid closes. Over time it can burn off, stick and just wear down. It’s normal. You can order a new one online pretty easy and it’s like putting on LEGO stickers. Or at least I think so. Just make sure you fully clean off the old one before sticking a new one over it.
I ripped mine off once when trying to open a frozen Egg once. Water had gotten on the gasket and it froze together. So pro tip, keep your Egg covered in winter especially if you want to open it on a freezing day.
Now that everything is tight. Give your Egg a good wipe down to get rid of the gunk build up on the outside. It likes to congregate in the dimples. Make that Egg shine again.
I usually just use a mix of warm water and any grease fighting dish soap. Again, don’t get any INSIDE your Egg.
Wipe down the dome, wipe down your Nest and let the sun dry it. Obviously if it’s cold, maybe skip the outer wash until it’s warmer. Again, you don’t want the gasket freezing together.
If your temp gauge needs centering do that. But otherwise, your Egg should be all clean and ready to rock at this point.
Open up your Boomerang feature and open that lid to show everyone your success. Open, close, open, close. Nice. You are almost done spring cleaning your Big Green Egg.
Don’t forget your gear
You don’t want to have a pristine Egg and then use dirty gear and accessories. Clean those too. Anything cast iron, you could add it to the burn off stage.
How is your cleaning brush looking? Be honest, did you leave it on the ground again?
Wipe down your grills. Shine up your rain vent. Wash your side tables.
How is the area around your Egg looking? Sweep up the ashes left on the ground. Get those seven leaves that are still stuck under your Egg from the fall.
Is your spot the best spot for optimal Egg usage? I pretty much based my location on trying to reduce smoke for neighbours. While the smells are delicious, not everyone enjoys sitting in a camp fire.
Do you need to replace anything? A new flipper? Cover looking rough?
What about brand new gear? This is the best time to think about what you want for the season ahead. I think I want a chimney starter next.
Last summer I got a large cast iron skillet that I hardly used. I can’t wait to use it more this season. Stay tuned.
Batteries working in your WI FI thermometer? Okay, now I am going overboard.
You are ready. Spring cleaning your Big Green Egg is complete. So the real question is what are you cooking first?
Bonus tip: What to cook
So your Big Green Egg is clean as can be. It’s ready to provide you with summer dinners. It’s ready to do the heavy lifting. Now, what do you cook first?
Do you go low and slow for a pork shoulder or brisket? High heat for a juicy steak? Or do the kids just want crispy hot dogs?
Whatever you pick, it will be great to be back, standing at the grill, smelling the smoke and feeling alive. Spring is the best.
My suggestions to kick off the grilling season? Here are a few.
Beer can chicken was a bit of a gateway food for me. We had it at a friend’s house that had a Big Green Egg before I even knew what one was. I was hooked as soon as I had that juicy chicken.
Burgers are my favourite thing grilled. So many possibilites. Add a grilled veg like asparagus or some peppers and it’s a pretty easy meal.
Underrated all-star of smoking. Ham seems boring and there is not a lot of work to it. But damn, it’s tasty. Even those who never liked ham were a convert.
Kid favourite. Who doesn’t love some good wings? I usually make two kinds. Plain and spicy.
The Egg is the only way I can get steaks to be even close to a steak house. Get a good cut of meat, use the reverse sear method and it’s heaven.
There are so many other recipes that are protiens, veggies, even desserts. What do you love to cook on your Big Green Egg?
Did I miss anything when it comes to spring cleaning your Big Green Egg?
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