Cold Smoking Jerky On The Big Green Egg
©2007, The Naked Whiz and Scott Borders

This "tutorial" was written and provided to The Naked Whiz by Scott Borders, a Big Green Egg owner who posts on the BGE forum as "Scotty's Inferno." This is his method for preparing beef jerky using cold smoking on a ceramic cooker. If you have any questions or comments regarding this information, please contact Scott via the Big Green Egg forum. This information is posted with Scott's permission.


Long before I bought my egg, I made lots of jerky on my dehydrator. Everyone loves good jerky, and I was pretty good with the dehydrator. However, I always wished that I could do it with smoke and fire, like our forefathers.

When I got my first Egg, it wasnít long before I was trying to push the lower limits of smoking temperatures. I wasnít just after

The "brilliantly funny" double smoker setup
jerky; I wanted to smoke salmon, peppers and cheeses at low temps. It seemed the best I could do was 190 dome temp on a cool day, and this was short lived. Iíd soon be at 210 or greater.

I tried that brilliantly funny double smoker with the dryer vent going from either my small or my mini Egg to my large. That was an ďair flowĒ nightmare, and I gave it up after lots of effort.

Today, I have combined several ideas of others and improvements to reach the point where I am very happy with my ability to cold smoke. I wanted to share this with everyone, both to help and to see even better ideas evolve.

Important Equipment:

  • Plate setter
  • 2 or 3 pound coffee can
  • Used lump
  • Smoking chunks
  • Wiggle stick
Editor's note: The plate setter is an accessory that is available in sizes for the small, medium and large Big Green Egg. Click here for more information. The wiggle rod is a home-brewed accessorie consisting of a piece of wire bent to allow you to reach into your cooker's lower vent and give the fire a wiggle in order to dislodge ash and improve airflow. See photos below:

Big Green Egg Plate Setter
Big Green Egg plate setter
Home made wiggle rod
A home made Charwoody wiggle rod

Very Helpful Additional Equipment:

  • Extruded Coconut Lump
  • BBQ Guru
  • Lawn Ranger Wiggle Stick
  • Mickey Tís #1 Temp ring
Editor's note: Extruded Coconut Charcoal used to be available from The Kamado Company, but as far as we can tell, they are virtually out of business and their latest charcoal was, to put it bluntly, rubbish. You could also use the extruded coconut charcoal available from aFire. The BBQ Guru makes several models of temperature controllers for barbecues. You can find them at Lawn Ranger makes all sorts of custom barbecue tools including the Charwoody Wiggle Rod. Here is a link to the Lawn Ranger BBQ Tools Website. Finally, Mickey T is a long-time poster at The Big Green Egg Forum. He made a set of disks with different size holes in them for precise temperature control. If you want to make your own, the hole in a #1 ring is about 3/8". Photos below:

Kamado Extruded Coconut Charcoal
Kamado extruded coconut charcoal
BBQ Guru Competitor Temperature Controller
The BBQ Guru Competitor
Lawn Ranger's Wiggle Rod
Lawn Ranger's wiggle rod
Mickey T's ring #1
Mickey T's #1 Ring

Start With A Cool Egg...

Yes, we know your Egg is always cool. But what Iím talking about is temperature. If you want it to, the Egg heats up nice and slowly. This is a big advantage. If you have your food ready to go right when you light your Egg, then you are starting out at ambient temperature, whatever that might be. Today, I was starting out at a sweet 58 degrees.

One of the problems with lighting an Egg and putting food on is bad smoke. If you put fresh lump in there, you are going to ruin your cold smoked treats. This can be avoided at least two ways. The easiest is to use used lump. Save your best pieces from fires where no fat has dripped on them and youíll be ready to light a fire that only smokes when and how you want it too. The other way is to use Kamado extruded coconut charcoal as your fuel. This stuff is really nice and burns clean right away, but itís very tough to get. It is not critical, but is most helpful in very extended cold smoking, such as in making jerky.

Build A Small Efficient Fire...

I got on the subject of making my own chipotles with my good friend HolySmokes, from the Big Green Egg Forum. He told me that he maintains a cool fire by building his fire within a coffee can, inside his egg. This information was the functional equivalent of showing me a bottle opener after trying to open beers with a screwdriver for 2 years! It was the key to getting a fire that didnít get out of hand on me.

HolySmokes was using a 3 pound coffee can with the top and bottom cut out so itís like a chimney. I could only find a 2 pound can, and it has served me well. The effect of the coffee can is to build a small, contained fire, that keeps burning because itís packed in a small area and the fire spreads well.

Lots Of Oxygen In...

The key to keeping a cool fire burning, is to give it access to plenty of oxygen. There are 2 ways to skin this cat. One is to leave your Eggís bottom vent wide open. The other is to have the help of a BBQ Guru. Your fire is not going to get out of hand for 2 reasons. One, your daisy is going to be barely open. Two, you donít have enough lump in the Egg for it to really crank up.

The Concepts In Action...

With the above ideas in mind, Iíll show you how I use this method to make jerky just the way I like it. This jerky was brined for 24 hours in a proprietary blend of teriyaki, herbs and spices. Just joking about the ďproprietaryĒ part. I didnít record the recipe, but it was something like:
2 Ĺ lbs eye of round, sliced 3/16Ē with the grain
2 tbs Dizzy Pig Raising the Steaks rub (see Editor's note, below)
3 tbs fresh ground ginger
1 tbs fresh ground lemon grass
2 pints Teriyaki sauce
1 cup almost boiling water
All the spices were put in the hot water and stirred well. This mix was then added to the teriyaki and then the sliced beef was added. I put the mix in a food saver jar, sealed it and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Editor's note: Feel free to use any recipe for a jerky brine that you may already have. The recipe isn't critical. We're all about the method here. Also, you can find Raising The Steaks, and other great rubs at the Dizzy Pig web site.

The Set Up...

Here in pictures are the details of setting up your cooker for a cold smoke:

Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Hereís a clean Egg with the coffee can sitting right on top of the grate.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Here's the first layer of lump and cherry chunks.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Hereís the coffee can filled with lump and cherry chunks and chips. I used 13 pieces of Kamado lump and they lasted 11 hours at 153 degrees grid temp.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Hereís the beef, laid out on the racks. The chunks of wood on the racks are used to set another rack on.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
This is a prime time to put some finishing spices on your jerky. Here my darling assistant is sprinkling some of HolySmokesí proprietary ground chipotle on the strips to make sure we have some heat!

Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
I fire up a couple of piece of lump to be dropped on the coffee can.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Donít pick up a recently used Mapp torch by the tip, or your finger will look like this.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
First layer of racks goes right on the plate setter.
Cold Smoking on the Big Green Egg
Here's the full load.

The Cook...

Because I have a Guru, I used it. This is not a necessity, but it helps keep the temperature dead on. Iím shooting for 155 degrees, as this smokes and dries the beef without cooking it.

My Egg was 58 degrees at start up, 12p.m. I set the guru pit temperature for 100 degrees just to get it rolling, but not overshooting. By 12:45, the pit temperature was 110 degrees. I let it hang for 30 minutes, then I moved the setting to 120. By 2:25, the pit temperature was 130 and I moved my setting to 145, knowing that it would settle in around 155.

Every couple of hours, I carefully use a wiggle stick to clear the ashes and settle the coals in the can. This inevitably results in coals hitting a new piece of wood, and fresh smoke releasing.

At 12 hours my jerky was ready and looks like this. I let it cool completely and then put small portions in Food Saver bags. The combination of the salt, dried meat and lack of oxygen makes for a jerky that will stay safe without refrigeration for more than a month.

Final Thoughts...

This method works great for smoked cheese as well. Since I get good results smoking cheeses for less than an hour, I can have the cheese off the egg before the grid temperature is 90 degrees. A guru is not needed at all. Cherry wood is my favorite so far.

Smoked peppers, like chipotles are more like jerky. Itís a very long cook, but worth the effort. The smell of the Egg after 12 or more hours of smoking peppers with mesquite is unbelievable. Smoking and drying peppers in the Egg is a significant improvement over dehydrating peppers in a dehydrator.

Hot smoked salmon, done between 180 and 200 is childís play with this method. I use a variation of Russellís method on The Naked Whizís site with great success: Smoked Salmon

Have fun, Scott       Home       Search Our Site       Email The Whiz       Listen To Whizcast       Whizlog       Buy Whiz Gear       Privacy Policy      
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