How to Smoke With Charcoal


Cooking over charcoal creates a distinctive taste in the finished food. Adding aromatic barbecue wood chips adds another flavor profile to whatever you cook, namely smoke. It's not difficult to smoke foods on your charcoal grill. It just takes a little extra time and patience. The key to success is careful monitoring of the charcoal's temperature and making sure to have a ready supply of wood chips and charcoal since smoking is a slow process.

Things You'll Need

  • Aromatic barbecue wood chips
  • Beer, wine, water or juice
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Oven mitt
  • Barbecue tools
  • Drip pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Grill thermometer
  • Meat, seafood, poultry or vegetables
  • Pour the wood chips into a large bowl or bucket. Cover them with beer, wine, juice, or water so the liquid just covers the wood. The longer you soak the chips, the longer they'll smoke on the grill. Give them minimally 30 minutes during which time you can prepare the charcoal. Some ideas for wood chip choices include using apple wood with poultry or pork, cherry for ham and fish, pecan for chops or poultry and mesquite for beef.

  • Put about 30 to 40 charcoal briquettes on the right hand side of the charcoal grill. Douse them with lighter fluid and wait five minutes. Put on an oven mitt, then carefully ignite the charcoal on the edges using long matches or a barbecue lighter.

  • Let the charcoal burn until it begins to turn white. While you're waiting, put the drip pan on the left side of the grill and pour a little water into it. This helps keep food moist while you smoke it and also makes clean up easier.

  • Use barbecue tongs to separate the charcoal on the right side of the grill. Make sure they're touching and evenly laid out. Drain your wood chips thoroughly letting them sit for a few minutes longer so they don't put out the coals.

  • Put about 1 cup of wood chips directly on the charcoal. Take the cooking rack and coat it with spray-on cooking oil. Put it in place over the top of the coals. Check the temperature of the grill. About 225 degrees Fahrenheit is a good level for smoking most food.

  • Place your chosen food on the cooking grate above the drip pan. Put the lid on the grill leaving the vents open about 1/3 of the way. Follow the cooking directions for your recipe, turning the food regularly so the smoke flavoring penetrates completely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Marinate or rub your chosen food previous to smoking for another layer of flavor.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check your food for a safe level of doneness. Smoking takes place at lower temperatures and requires longer cooking times.

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