Barbecued foods are delicious, and the lightly burned, smoky taste is delightful to the taste buds. But getting the right amount of smoky texture in your grilled recipes is not that simple. There are different types of grills, different varieties of wood, and many accessories related to grills.
So if you love to have backyard barbecue parties, but don’t have much idea about smoking wood, then you’re in the right place. We’ll discuss the basics of wood smoking and equip you with enough information that you’ll be able to get started with your grill by the end of this guide.
Different Ways of Using Wood to Smoke Foods
The first thing you need to know is that there are two ways of smoking foods with wood.
One way is to use wood as the primary fuel. If you have a traditional wood fire grill, then you’ll already be burning wood to cook the food. So, the food will automatically get the smoked flavor as well.
The second way is to use the wood separately just for smoking. This is the case when you have a smoker, electric, charcoal, or gas grill. Since another fuel source is already acting as the source of heat, so you need to add wood to the grill separately and burn it to create smoke.
Smoking Foods in a Wood Fire Grill
When you are using wood as the primary source of fuel, there’s not much to discuss. All you have to do is light up some wooden logs inside the grill and place the food on the grilling tray. The burning wood will cook as well as smoke the food.
Smoking Foods with Other Fuel Sources
When using smokers or grills with fuel sources other than wood, you need to know about two things beforehand.
- Different types of wood and their uses
- How to use wood in the smoker or grill
Different Types of Smoking Wood
Here’s a quick overview of the different types of smoking wood and their best use.
- Oak: Gives a gentle smoky flavor to foods. Best for those who are smoking for the first time or are new to it.
- Maple: Gives a light smoky flavor with a little bit of sweetness. Best for poultry meat like chicken and turkey.
- Hickory: Has a strong smoky flavor so it must be used in moderate quantity. Best for grilling red meat goes perfectly with pork ribs.
- Mesquite: Also gives a strong and intense smoked flavor. Best for grills, but must be used in a suitable quantity.
- Applewood: Smoke from Applewood has a sweet and light texture. Takes a longer time to be absorbed by the meat. Good for poultry meat.
These are some of the common smoking woods that should be enough to get you started. Later on, you can experiment with other types of woods as well. You can source these wood chips from the barbecue or grill section of your nearby store.
How to Use Smoking Wood in a Smoker or a Grill
Before you place the wood chips in the smoker or grill, you need to soak them in water first, generally for about 20 to 30 minutes. However, there are certain products that don’t require soaking and that will be mentioned in the packet label.
Most smokers have an in-built smoker box, like Yoder YS640 pellet grill. Even some grills have smoker boxes these days. But in the absence of an in-built smoker box, you can buy one. They are just metal boxes made of heat resistant materials, with holes to let the smoke escape. Put your wood in the smoker box and then place it on the grill tray on high heat.
One-time smoker boxes made from tin foil are also available in the market. You can even make your own smoker box with tin foil by wrapping the wood chips with foil and poking some holes on it.
Let’s do a quick recap on how to smoke foods with wood. First, pick the right type of wood depending on the smoky flavor you desire. Check the label to see how long they must be soaked, or if they don’t need to be smoked at all.
Finally, place the wood in the smoker box and put them in a preheated grill along with your choice of meat or other foods. And just like that, you can enjoy a variety of mouth-watering smoked foods.