Are You Ready for Grilling Season? Order Your Accessories and Parts Now!
Your Guide to Cooking with Smoke

Welcome to BBQ 101! Char-Griller and Kingsford have teamed up with Susie from Hey Grill Hey, and each week we're going to go through the basics of barbecue to help you become a backyard barbecue pro in no time.

A key part of getting great BBQ is having the right smoke, so in this episode we're going to give you a crash course in all things smoke. From what hardwoods to use to white smoke vs. blue smoke, we're going to make sure you make the best BBQ this summer.

After you've already chosen your charcoal, there are a few different options when it comes to wood for your offset smoker like the Char-Griller Smokin' Champ.

You have wood chips which are a good option if you want to really be able to control the amount of smoke in your smoker. You can also use wood chunks which is the preferred type of wood as it gives you a longer burn time and helps you keep the lid closed for longer. Finally, there are split longs. Split logs are good if you are going to be smoking something for a long time like a brisket and want to make sure that you get a lot of smoke exposure to your meat.

There are a lot of different woods to choose from that will impart flavors into your meat when you add them in with you charcoal. A few options are cherry, apple, mesquite, hickory, and oak.

Hickory and oak are the tried-and-true favorites. They add a mild and subtly smoky flavor and are the best option if you are new to using hard woods in your smoking. Fruit woods like cherry and apple are great for meats like poultry and pork. They add a mild and fruity flavor to the meat that complement them both nicely. Finally, there's mesquite. Some pitmasters love it, others think it is far too strong. It adds a strong and bold flavor that can tend to overpower milder meats. I would recommend using it sparingly.

Regardless of what wood you choose to use, don't be afraid to experiment so you can figure out what your favorite flavor profile is to add to your BBQ at home.

Now, on to the technical side of wood and smoke. If you're new to smoking, you have likely already heard about white smoke versus blue smoke. The color smoke is key to getting the best BBQ.

White smoke or sometimes referred to as "dirty smoke" is the smoke that you get right at the start of lighting up your charcoal or adding wood to your ignited charcoal. This smoke can make your meat taste bitter and generally happens when there isn't enough airflow in your smoker.

Blue smoke on the other hand is what you want. Blue smoke happens when you charcoal and added wood are at the ideal temperature, usually around 225 to 250˚F. You can easily spot when it happens. Gradually, the smoke coming from the smokestack will turn thin, consistent, and a little bit blue. That's how you know it's time to get cooking. Once the smoke is blue, you can throw your meat on and let the grill take care of the rest.

Another important note on smoke, the smoke flavor only gets into the meat in the first hour or so of grilling. After that, the meat has really taken on all the flavor it can. We recommend avoiding adding more than one wood chunk or a handful of chips are that first hour. This will help you avoid getting more dirty smoke and give you the best BBQ.

In general, look at BBQ as a journey. Take the time, learn about what hardwoods you like and be patient with the white smoke. With a little patience and guidance, you'll be well on your way to mastering barbecue.