Do you own a charcoal grill and are wondering how to use a smoker box on it. The purpose of using a smoker box is to add wood chips in it and use it to add smoke flavor and aroma to the meat. You can also throw the wood chips directly on the burning coals, but they are consumed quickly. The benefit of using a smoker box is that it slows down the burning process, and wood lasts for a long time.
In this article, we will discuss how to use a smoker box on a charcoal grill. Before buying a smoker box, make sure your charcoal grill has enough space to adjust a smoker box. You may need to buy a small smoker box if you have a small grill. Let’s learn how to use it with a charcoal grill.
How to Use a Smoker Box on a Charcoal Grill
Make sure you have all the supplies ready and go through all the steps before starting grilling.
- Wood Chips
- Smoker Box
Step 1: Before you start grilling, clean your charcoal grill grate and other things. Remember, a clean grill is a secret behind tasty grilling.
Step 2: Heat some coals using a chimney starter or lighter fluid. It is easier to ignite the coals using a chimney starter than lighter fluid and is a safer option. Once the coals are poured into the grill’s firebox, you are ready to proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Now, you will need to prepare the smoker box. Add some of your favorite chips to the smoker box. Fill it ¾ of its total size. Here you need to take 2 things into account. First, which type of wood chips is best for a charcoal grill? Second, should you soak the wood chips or keep them dry. Let’s answer these two questions first.
What are the best wood chips for charcoal grills?
The purpose of adding wood chips is to infuse extra flavor and aroma in the meat being grilled. There are a lot of wood chips available to be used with a charcoal grill. We suggest you don’t go for backyard wood chips or any other wood, which is not recommended. The following wood chips work best with a charcoal grill. We have also explained the flavor strength of each wood so you can make a better decision.
Pecan: It is best for giving a mild flavor to your food and is suggested to be used for all types of meats.
Alder: Alder is also a mild flavor wood and is best suited for grilling fish, turkey, chicken, and pork.
Almond: If you want to add a nutty flavor to your meat with a mild sensation, almond chips are an excellent option. It is best for beef, turkey, chicken, and fish.
Apple: For a fruity flavor, apple chips are best. You can use them with all the meats other than fish.
Mesquite: If you like to make things extreme, mesquite is a great choice. It is highly recommended for red meat. Don’t use this with chicken and fish.
Hickory: Another strong flavored wood and is excellent for grilling pork and red meat.
Cherry: Cherry is commonly used to bring a sweet and mild flavor. You can use cherry chips with pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, and fish.
Oak: It is perfect for pork and adds a mild flavor to the meat.
Choosing the best wood is a gradual process. You may need to try a few wood chips before you finally settle on one.
Do I Need to Wet the Wood Chips for Charcoal Grill?
There is an ongoing debate in the world of grilling about soaking wood chips. Some people are of the view that you must add wet chips to a smoker box. It takes more time for the wood chips to burn, and they last for a long period. Resultantly, the wood chips burn for more time.
Others believe that wet chips will delay smoke production, and chips will not last for a long time. The chips are soaked for 30 minutes-24 hours usually, and the chips don’t take enough water to decrease the burning rate. If you burn wet chips, the water will boil first, and then wood chips will start to smolder. It is basic science. The water boils at 212F, and the wood ignites at 400-500F. Hence, soaking the wood will delay smoke production.
Our suggestion; use wood chips dry. If you want to have more smoke, use wood chunks instead of chips. You can still use wet chips if you prefer it that way.
Step 4: Once you have the smoker box ready, place it in the grill’s center or side. You will need to arrange the coals on the sides of the smoker box. It will ensure that the box gets enough heat so that the smoke production starts soon. The smoker box will take around 10-20 minutes to start producing smoke.
Step 5: After you see the smoke coming out and achieve your desired cooking temperature, place the meat on the grill. Close the lid and cook the meat according to the recipe. You may need to add more coal and chips while cooking the meat.
How do you add more Chips to the Smoker Box?
You may need to add more chips during grilling. To add chips to the smoker box, you will need a 12-inch tong. Open the smoker box with the help of tongs and add some chips/chunks. Make sure you are wearing gloves while doing this. Don’t just fill up the smoker box entirely a second time. Add wood chips according to the amount of meat left to be grilled. It would help if you didn’t waste wood chips.
Will the Smoker Box eventually warp?
Your smoker box is likely to twist and get de-shaped in some time. To avoid this from happening in a couple of months, buy a smoker box with cast iron or heavy-duty stainless steel. Warping is inevitable.
How to use Wood Chips other than Smoker Box?
Don’t have a smoker box, don’t worry. You can employ the following techniques to get your work done.
Aluminum Pouch: You will need aluminum foil for this method. Make a tight ball of aluminum foil and add wood chips to it. Poke some holes in it and throw it in the firebox. The aluminum pouch will take 15-20 minutes to start burning and producing smoke.
Direct Application: You can also add wood chips to the charcoal grill directly. All you have to do is add some chips or chunks to the burning coals. If you are adding the wood directly on the coals, we suggest you go for wood chunks. Chunks last for more time. Just a pro tip: If you are adding the chips directly, reduce the oxygen content in your grill. You can do this by closing the bottom damper in your grill.