Lighting Your Big Green Egg

There are several methods for lighting your Egg. Whatever you do, don’t use lighter fluid! It is unnecessary, and will impart your food with the flavor of the fluid. Lighting the egg is very easy, as long as you have the bottom draft door and chimney wide open. Keep in mind that the type of charcoal you are using may impact how easily the coals ignite.

Using a Firestarter

This is my preferred method of lighting the Egg. It is very quick, easy and works perfectly every time. There are many brands of fire-starters available, the brand is less important than making sure it is made of natural ingredients that won’t taint the flavor of your food. Generally these are small blocks of sawdust pressed together with paraffin.

You don’t need much. I am able to easily light my Egg in the dead of winter with a chunk of fire starter no larger than a quarter. I break the full-sized starter blocks into smaller pieces, as a full block is usually overkill.

Open the bottom draft door all the way, then just light your chunk of fire starter and drop it into the center of your charcoal pile. Once the starter is burning well, you may close the lid of the Egg, making sure that the top control is wide open.

Electric Starter

Using an electric charcoal starter is a popular lighting method for Eggheads. It is a quick and reliable way to light the Big Green Egg. If you have an electric starter, it will work great with the Egg. Just jam the thing into the coals until they’re burning on their own. Remove the starter and you’re good to go. I've also heard of using a soldering iron in the same manner, but apparently the high temperatures may end the life of your soldiering iron prematurely. Therefore, it's probably best to use an electric starter designed for this purpose.

I haven’t adapted this method, as it requires extra equipment and an extension cord, but many Eggheads are fond of this method.

Newspaper and/or Charcoal-Starting Chimney

Many Egg owners light their Eggs with newspaper. This technique works just fine, but I prefer firestarter if I have some on hand. Burning newspaper in the Egg results in more ash accumulation, so you may have to empty the ash more often, but the difference is small. Stuff two or three sheets of crumpled, non-glossy newspaper below the coals. Light the newspaper, and close the lid once it is burning well.

Alternatively, you can use a charcoal-starting chimney, which is essentially a metal cylinder which you fill with coal and light from below using newspaper. The advantage of this technique is that it doesn’t produce extra ash in your Egg, but to me, it just seems like an extra unnecessary step. Usually you just want to light a portion of your coals, and the chimney typically gets lots of coals very hot immediately. This may be a good method for searing or grilling over high heat, but I prefer the alternatives above for most cooking styles, including indirect and smoking techniques.

Propane Torch

MAAP torch

Using a standard propane torch is another popular lighting method for lighting the Big Green Egg. It is quick and simple.

I haven’t adapted this method, as it requires extra equipment and fuel. Also, if you are the forgetful type, there is more of a fire hazard leaving a flaming torch unattended on your deck or patio.

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