How to Use Mesquite Wood in a BBQ

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Mesquite is used to grill many kinds of meat and fish.
Mesquite is used to grill many kinds of meat and fish. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Using wood in a grill adds a smoky flavor to food. While you can use most woods for grilling, with each bringing a different flavor to the food, many outdoor cooks use mesquite in their BBQ to add a light, sweet taste suitable for many meats and fish.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 bag mesquite chips or chunks
  • Lighter fluid
  • Matches or kitchen lighter

Arrange the mesquite chips or chunks in a pyramid in the center of your grill. Use dried wood to avoid the bitter taste sometimes associated with green mesquite. Spray the pile with a small amount of lighter fluid, approximately three half-second squirts.

Light the chips with matches or a kitchen lighter. Set the rack on top of the grill. Leave the lid off.

Wait approximately half an hour for the fire to die and the mesquite chips to reduce to charcoal. Knock the pyramid over with a stick or grilling utensil to spread it out.

Keep quick-cooking food such as chicken or fish to the outer edge of the grill, as mesquite burns hot. Add more wood chips as needed.

Replace the lid on the grill and leave the air vents open to speed up the cooking process.

Tips & Warnings

  • Reapply lighter fluid and light the chips again if the fire goes out before the chips are smoldering.
  • Mesquite logs or chunks can also be used in a grill. Start the fire as you would a normal campfire, using a small amount of newspaper and kindling.
  • Avoid spraying too much lighter fluid on the wood. The burst of flame when you light the fire could injure you and the taste of lighter fluid can permeate the food.

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