First of all, before you light any fire in your Big Green Egg, make sure you are using the right fuel.
If you’re coming from another charcoal cooker like the Weber, you may have been using charcoal briquettes. That’s a no-no for the Egg.
You don’t want the ‘added ingredients’ found in most briquettes building up along the inside walls. This gets pretty nasty after just a few cooks.
Instead, you want good lump hardwood charcoal that has no added ingredients.
Most lump burns a long time so it can last through long cooks for food like a brisket or pork butt. I’ve even cooked pork butts for up to 18 hours without a fill up and there was still unburned lump at the end! You have not lived until you have devoured an 18 hour low and slow pork butt [link]
I know there are some brands of briquettes that say they contain no fillers, just hardwood. That may be so, but I’ve found they produce a lot of ash compared to lump charcoal.
A great source for comparing lump charcoal is from The Naked Wiz’s Lump Charcoal Database. Now, the data is a bit old, but it’s pretty much still valid. Here a link to the Database where you can see the readers’ ratings and the Wiz’s rating: Lump Charcoal Database
OK, once you get your lump hardwood charcoal, you’re now ready to load up the fire box.
Yes, there is a “right” way to doing this.
The first time is actually the easiest because you’re starting with a clean firebox. Once you have done one cook, you’ll have ashes left in the Egg. This is where you need to apply the “right” easy technique so your next burns are as good as your first one.
Depending on whether you are cooking steak, fish, or chicken or doing a low-and-slow cook, you’ll need to adjust the way you load the charcoal.
Follow these simple rules in the video below and you’ll never have a problem getting your Egg up to temp and keeping it there.
Here’s a video from the Modern Pitmaster that lays it out perfectly:
Here’s another take on the subject from the Flaming Rooster…