How To Smoke Meat On A Charcoal Grill?

Most people who love to eat bbq food use a grill twice a week to add a smoky taste to their food. It is good to eat delicious smoked meat but use inexpensive smokers. Here in this guide, I tell you how to smoke chicken, fish, pork, meat, and salmon. 


Temperature control is a key feature of cooking delicious food. Regular charcoal grills are often used to get smoky meat. Place wet charcoal on one side of the grill and meat on the other to allow the smoke and indirect heat. Smoke the food until the temperature reaches a fixed time.

Material required to smoke meat on a charcoal grill

The following material is required to smoke meat on a charcoal grill.

  • Charcoal grill
  • Meat that you want to cook
  • Chunked wood with the flavor of your own choice
  • Coal

Woods that you can use for smoking 

Various fruitwoods and hardwoods are available in the market to get yummy smoky food. The woods that are common in use are:

  • Hickory
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Oak
  • Mesquite 

How to smoke meat on a charcoal grill with a smoker box

These steps will help you understand how to smoke meat on a charcoal grill in detail.

Prepare coals for slow but long cooking.

An indirect form of cooking is called smoked food. To smoke the food, set the temperature to low so less time should be consumed. When you burn coal, they reduce its smoke after some time, making the food raw. To avoid it, use such a configuration of coals that they would run for a long time. Some tips are given below. Have a look at them:

Parallel configuration

Fill either side of the grill with coal and place the cooking pan in the center. Also, fill this foil pan with water. It helps you to regulate temperature and moisture. 


Charcoal snake

charcoal snake method

The most popular method for smoking food is to make a snake of charcoal in the corners of the grill. Now place the cooking pan there and add soaked chunks of wood in the bottom and over the coal to get more smoke.

When the coal arrangement is made, burn it and leave it for five minutes. After five minutes, place the meat in the cooking pan. 

Burn-down method

In this method, fill the corners of the grill with already burnt coals and make a layer of new coals. When the upper coals are burned, they slowly give heat to the lower coals.


Addition of smoke wood

Hardwood gives more flavor to meat which is why it is commonly used in cooking smoky food. The size of the woods is optional. If you use large-size chunks, then soak them for 20 minutes. After that, place them on the grill, but you can use chips without soaking them.

Different wood flavors have a different impact on the food according to their taste. Some woods like oak and mesquite give a bold flavor. And if you want a delicate flavor, go for Apple and cherry flavor woods.


Smoking temperature

Consistent temperature and a recommended cooking time are necessary to cook a delicious meal. The ideal temperature for smoking meat should be 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. But the main problem is how to adjust this temperature. 

It is good if your grill has an automated temperature, but what to do if you do not have such a temperature probe? Use a manual probe. Hang it outside the grill according to heat and smoke production. It would tell you the inside temperature. 

Temperature maintenance is necessary. If the temperature rises to 250, open the lid or vents to let the oxygen out and reduce heat and smoke inside the grill. If the temperature drops from 225, close the lid. To learn more about temperature control, read our guide in detail.

Keep the fire burning.

Some meat like ribs, pork, and briskets consume more smoke. To improve taste, you need to add more coals. Two strategies are there to add coals.

  1. The unlit method of adding coal involves placing burned coals over new coals. Then after some time, add more coals to the already present coals. 
  2. The second method is the addition of new coals. It takes time to burn at the start, but it produces more heat once burned. Use a chimney for the addition of new coals. And while pouring the coals, make sure they fall in a warm place. 

Do not peek

The most important trick of bbq is to maintain the temperature. If the temperature is not fixed, it is the point that falls the ratings of your campus are. Every time the peak is not good. Open the lid after a few intervals to ensure the proper ventilation of air inside the grill. Check the temperature after 5-10 minutes of low cooking.

Video Guide

difference between wood chunks and wood chips

The size of wood chunks varies. The wood size of the chunk is larger than wood chips. Besides, the size of wood chunks must be one inch thick, and the width should be 3×5. Moreover, the size of wood chips should be one-fourth thick, and half should be the square size of the chips. 

Where To Get Wood For Smoking Food?

There are two options for you to get wood: either cut it yourself or buy it. You would put the chunks of wood of your favorite flavor in larger and smaller bags. If you are going to get wood by yourself, you need the company of another person.

For free woods, storm damage and dead limbs are best. You could easily get larger wood chunks. Read complete guide about how to use wood chips for smoking.

Can You Smoke Food With Just Charcoal? 

Yes, you can smoke meat with just charcoal. You can use hardwood charcoal, briquettes, and lump charcoal. The significant difference is in the burn time that the wood produces.

You will get better results by starting with a mix of hardwood and coal, about 50-50. If your fire is too strong, it will not give off enough smoke for smoking food well.

You need a fire that produces lots of smoke from all parts of the meat at once. You want to avoid hot spots where there is little or no smoke. A log will help by giving off more heat at the bottom than at the top, so you do not have to worry about having a hot spot in your smoker box (unless it is because you are using a smaller smoker box).

How to Reduce Smoke in Charcoal Grill? 

Follow these steps to reduce smoke in the charcoal grill: 

  1. Remove the grate from your smoker, and clean it with vegetable oil. Use a paper towel or a clean cloth to wipe the grate off, then place it back in place.
  2. Fill up your charcoal with about half an inch of mesquite pellets or chunks. Then add more chunks or pellets until you get as much as 2 inches deep. Place the lid on top of your smoker and close it tightly. It will help keep all the heat inside while you are cooking.
  3. Utilize the grill brush to scrub away any debris inside the smoke box. You will want to ensure your charcoal is well-lit before you begin cooking. If there are any ash remnants, they will prevent proper airflow and could lead to problems with keeping your food warm.
  4. Place your food into the smoker without closing the vents on top yet. This way, you can monitor how hot things get by looking at them through an open vent window.

Final Words

If you are interested in cooking with charcoal, the best way to learn is to start. Try the fish, meat, and chicken recipes to provide different variations. Why not try something special at your next family gathering? Using this simple method, you will be astounded at how easy it is to cook delicious food for your guests.

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