Do you struggle to get your Big Green Egg (Kamado Joe) above 600°F for searing steaks or baking pizza? I know just how frustrating this can be, and I’m here to help.
In most cases, the culprit behind getting low temperatures is ash-filled holes and grates from previous cooks. Luckily, they’re easy to clean.
Today, I’m going to highlight seven proven troubleshooting tips and tricks to boost your Egg’s high-heat performance and help it achieve scorching temps beyond 600°F.
Read on to learn how to get your Big Green Egg hotter!
Cleaning Your Big Green Egg for Maximum Airflow
Whenever you are going to cook over 500 degrees, it is best to start out with a freshly cleaned Big Green Egg. This eliminates the possibility of old ash from previous cooks potentially reducing the allowable airflow.
It is recommended to completely clean every 2-3 cooks but best to always do it before anything over 500 degrees (or if you ever have trouble getting the temperature you are looking for).
How to Properly Clean the Big Green Egg for Maximum Airflow?
To clean the Big Green Egg, simply follow these easy steps:
1. Pull the fire ring out of the Big Green Egg and set it safely aside.
2. Get a paper or plastic grocery bag, Tupperware, or garbage bag and place the remaining coal in it temporarily while you clean the egg.
If you are looking to stay clean simply use a rubber glove to remove the ash. However, the black ash easily washes right off your hands in the sink too.
3. Pull the metal grate that was holding all the coals and set aside.
4. Carefully reach in and pull the firebox out. This is easily done by grabbing the lower vent draft door opening and pulling it out carefully with one hand.
5. You now just have an empty egg with nothing but leftover ash in it. Simply grab a shop vac and suck all of this ash out.
I prefer the Dewalt vacuum because it can operate on a battery without needing a chord. It’s also equipped with a cord so should your battery not have a good charge, you can still run it directly off a receptacle.
A great alternative vacuum would be the Micro vacuum by Shop Vac as it is small and easily portable. While you have the shop vac out ensure all the holes in the firebox are also clean and clear of previous ash.
6. Simply put everything back inside the Big Green Egg including the lump coal. When setting the firebox be sure that the draft door opening on the firebox is lined up with the draft door vent on the BGE.
Upon completion, you will have maximized your maximum airflow and you shouldn’t have any issues getting the BGE blazing hot, well above 600 degrees.
This is an example of a firebox that isn’t positioned correctly. It should align with the draft door like the previous photo.
Still Not Reaching 600 Degrees? You’re Closing the Lid Too Soon
A freshly cleaned BGE with the daisy wheel removed and the draft door open should have no problem getting to temp with the dome closed. That said, if there is existing ash from previous cooks, you could be dealing with less airflow.
To overcome this, simply leave the lid of the BGE open for a good 10-15 minutes, during which you should have good grapefruit-size coals burning before closing the lid.
This will prevent the BGE from smothering the flame out.
Other Tips to Ensure a Successful 600 Plus Degree Cook
If you’re still having trouble reaching or exceeding 600°F, try the following tips:
Remove the Daisy Wheel (Top Vent)
The daisy wheel is basically your minor temperature vent. It’s used to adjust the temperature within 10 or so degrees. So, when you’re cooking at high temperatures, the daisy wheel can just be removed altogether.
For more information on vents and temperatures please reference my other article Big Green Egg Vent Settings (The Function of the Top and Bottom Vents) here.
Ensure the Draft Door Is Completely Open (Lower Vent)
The draft door is your major temperature control used to adjust the temperature to more than 10 degrees at a time. For example, if you are looking to go from 250 degrees to 400 degrees, this vent is to be used.
When cooking things like pizza or searing a steak, this vent should be wide open.
Align Firebox With Draft Door (Bottom Vent)
To ensure maximum airflow ensure the firebox opening is aligned with the draft door of the Big Green Egg. If not, you could be reducing the airflow that is needed to achieve the high heat temperatures.
Hold on Inserting the Accessories Into the Big Green Egg
If you have all accessories installed in the Big Green Egg before the coals start to heat up, you could also run into issues.
Don’t add any accessories until the BGE gets to 300-350 degrees but don’t wait much longer as you want things like the pizza stone or conv”egg”tor to heat up to the hot temperatures slowly.
If this isn’t done you run the risk of cracking or breaking either the pizza stone or conv”egg”tor.
Fill Lump Coal to the Top of the Firebox (Myth)
Quite a few people say that the firebox needs to be full of lump charcoal to achieve these hot temperatures above 600 degrees. This just simply isn’t true as ½ filled firebox will still get the job done.
It is, however, recommended to fill the BGE to the top of the firebox. This ensures that you have enough fuel to last the entire cook (because the last thing someone would want to do is run out of fuel before being completed with the cook).
It also doesn’t hurt anything because the leftover lump coal can be used on the next cook.
Common Foods That Require High Heat
While really high temperatures may seem extreme, they’re necessary for the proper preparation of various foods and cooking methods
Here are some of the most common foods that call for blazing heat above 600°F:
- Pizza: Traditional pizza ovens can reach temperatures beyond 700°F to quickly bake the crust without overcooking the toppings. The high heat cooks the dough rapidly to get that charred exterior while keeping the inside chewy.
- Steak: Searing steaks at 600°F+ triggers the Maillard reaction that produces those tasty browned bits on the surface. The high heat also caramelizes sugars and amino acids for a rich and complex flavor profile.
- Burgers: Like steak, burgers need high heat to sear the outside and achieve that crispy crust. That’s not to mention grill marks and juicy goodness.
- Vegetables: High heat is great for getting crisp, charred veggies. Broccoli, carrots, and Brussels sprouts come to mind. The high heat also caramelizes natural sugars.
- Fish: Fish meat is quite delicate. High heat can help sear the outside before the inside overcooks. Tuna, salmon, and other fish can benefit from 600°F+ temperatures for the perfect balance between crust and moisture.
- Flatbreads: Naan, pita, and other flatbreads get that puffy, charred look when cooked at a really high temperature. The rapid heat creates air pockets and nice outer char.
Hopefully, all of these tips and tricks will help prevent your Big Green Egg from not getting hot enough all while assisting with keeping it clean.
Following these steps should prevent the frustrating nights of not being able to get the BGE above 600 degrees.
For the best way to start the Big Green Egg, check out these four popular ways to start up your Big Green Egg.
Feel free to comment or reach out to me if you have any other issues or questions, and if not, then happy Eggin’!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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