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Smoking Woods: Strike While the Grill is Hot

Use wood chips to add a great flavor to your barbecued food.

Written by

Kevin Kolman

I'm a pretty adventurous guy, especially when it comes to grilling. I spice up rubs and whip up marinades that work with any type of food. But there's another way to add great barbecued flavor to food – by using wood chips to smoke your food.

Just like spices, you can combine different types of wood chips to enhance your grilled fare.

It's easy to do. Soak the wood chips for about two hours. Then put the moist wood chips in a smoker box attachment on gas grills or directly on the coals for charcoal barbecues. It's that simple!

If you don't have a smoker box attachment, there are a few external accessories—such as the Weber Stainless Steel Smoker Box —that will make smoking on a gas grill easy. Again, remember to soak the wood chips before smoking and place these external smoker boxes on top of the cooking grates for smoking.

If you don't have one of these handy items, you can also place a drip-pan filled with damp wood chips, covered with foil (with holes punched in the top), on top of your cooking grates.

Close the lid, and allow the chips to begin to smoke. Wait until smoke begins to billow out of your grill. This may take up to 20 minutes for certain woods and grills.

Be sure to experiment with the woods to see how they react to the food you're grilling, but remember not to overuse the more pungent woods like hickory or mesquite or you'll end up with a bitter, campfire taste.

Instead, combine woods that complement the flavors of hickory and mesquite – woods like alder, cherry, apple, or even pecan. You'll get a nice sweet flavor that won't overpower your meal.

Of course, the longer the wood chips have to smoke, the more taste and coloring your food gets. A steak that takes 10 minutes to cook won't have the smoky taste of a pork shoulder cooked for four hours.

Use the Wood Flavor Chart* to figure out what will work for you, and enjoy the taste of a smoky treat.

2013 04 01 05 48 09  Smoker Tips  Wood Type  Chart

*Wood Chart from Weber’s Smoke™ by Jamie Purviance