Charcoal isn’t the only fuel you can use when grilling meats or veggies. While charcoal is certainly a popular choice, an alternative fuel source to consider is wood.
Whether it’s whole logs, split logs, or chunks, high-quality wood excels in its ability to create a hot, clean fire. If you’re hesitant to switch away from charcoal, check out these nine benefits of grilling with wood:
#1) Better Flavor
The greatest benefit of grilling with wood rather than charcoal is the flavor. Nothing is more important than how your food taste. Charcoal offers little in terms of flavor. It burns fast and hot, but it doesn’t have a substantial impact on the flavor of grilled food.
If you’re looking to grill delicious meats and veggies, you should consider using wood instead. Wood contains organic compounds that are released in the form of flavorful smoke when burned.
When grilling with wood, this flavorful smoke will rise and be absorbed into your food, enhancing its flavor. Keep in mind, however, that different varieties of wood produce significantly different flavors.
Hickory, for instance, offers a robust flavor that’s comparable to bacon (because most bacon is smoked with hickory wood), whereas oak lends a milder and less-overbearing flavor that complements most types of meat. Wood is an ingredient in addition to a heat source.
#2) Longer Burn Time
Wood typically burns longer than charcoal. Most types of charcoal, including lump and briquette, only burn for about a half-hour.
When grilling thick cuts of meat, this may not be a sufficient amount of time to get the job done. Wood, however, burns longer than charcoal, making it a better choice when grilling big chunks of meat.
Unlike charcoal, cooking wood can burn for an hour or more.
#3) Easier to Handle
Wood is easier and cleaner to handle when grilling than charcoal.
If you’ve ever grilled using charcoal, you probably know just how messy it is. If you touch charcoal, it leaves a black powdery residue on your skin that’s difficult to clean off. And if it gets on your clothes, it can cause stains that are equally hard to remove.
Wood, of course, doesn’t contain this carbon residue.
Assuming it’s dry, it will be clean and free of stain-producing powder or soot. You can carry wood from your rack or storage area to your grill without fear of getting dirty.
#4) All Natural
You can rest assured knowing that wood is an all-natural fuel source.
High-quality cooking wood, as well as smoking chunks, are derived from hardwood trees like oak, hickory, and cherry. The trees are cut down, after which they’re processed into logs or chunks and allowed to dry.
Some types of charcoal are also all-natural. Charcoal is typically made from slow-burning wood in an oxygen-free environment.
With that said, some charcoal brands contain filler ingredients, binding agents, or adhesives. When burned, these synthetic chemicals will be released into the surrounding air where they are potentially absorbed by your food (and lungs!)
#5) Fragrance & Aroma
In addition to enhancing flavors, grilling with wood produces a fragrant aroma that’s simply not found in charcoal.
Nothing beats the smell of a wood-burning fire. when used for grilling, that same pleasantly smoky aroma fills the surrounding space. Whether you’re grilling on your lawn, patio, or elsewhere, you’ll appreciate the fragrance that comes from the burning wood.
This is one more benefit of grilling with wood rather than charcoal.
#6) Easy to Light
High-quality cooking wood is surprisingly easy to light.
If it’s been kiln dried, such as the wood sold here at firewood for cooking, you should be able to light it with nothing more than a match, some tinder, and a little kindling.
Charcoal, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to light. Unless it’s pre-soaked in lighter fluid, you may struggle to light it. And, even then, you should never use pre-soaked (“quick-light”) charcoal when grilling because it contains harsh chemicals that will most certainly affect the flavor of your food, and not in a good way.
#7) Produces Lots of Heat
Yet another reason to grill with wood is that it produces an abundance of heat. Dry wood burns hotter than charcoal.
On a chilly evening, grilling with wood can help keep you and your family members, as well as other guests, warm. The key thing to remember is that you need to use high-quality wood.
If your wood is wet or otherwise has a high moisture content, It will still produce some heat, assuming you can light it in the first place, but damp wood doesn’t produce nearly as much heat as dry wood. High-quality wood that’s been kiln-dried, gives you get better heat because dry wood will burn hotter thanks to its low moisture content, making it an excellent choice when grilling on a cool evening.
Remember for the perfect Reverse Sear, you need a whole lot of heat. The higher the temperature, the better.
Along with using dry, high-quality wood, you can build hotter fires with wood by following these tips:
- Arrange your wood so that air can easily flow through the center.
- When grilling with wood, open the damper vents to further increase airflow.
- Keep the lid on your grill closed as much as possible.
- Store your wood in an area where it’s dry, covered, and off the ground.
Unlike charcoal, wood is a multipurpose fuel source, meaning you can use it for more activities than just grilling.
For instance, you can use wood to smoke meats. Smoking is an alternative cooking method that involves slow-cooking meat at a low temperature with the addition of smoke. The heat and smoke from burning wood will cook meat while, at the same time, enhancing its flavor.
Along with smoking meat, you can use wood to build fires in a fire pit or chiminea. Charcoal is designed exclusively for grilling, so it’s not a viable source of fuel for these activities.
#9) Combine With Charcoal
Of course, you can always combine wood with charcoal when grilling. It is perfectly fine to mix charcoal and smoking wood when cooking over fire. For a more advanced experience, use all wood.
Just layer a mound of charcoal in the bottom of your grill’s fuel compartment, followed by a separate mound of wood logs or chunks.
You can place the wood either directly on the charcoal or off to the side. When placed directly on the charcoal, wood will burn hotter and faster. When placed off to the side of the charcoal, wood will burn more slowly and at a lower temperature. This is referred to as “off-set” grilling.
You can use this combination to achieve a delicate balance that offers the benefits of both worlds.
Find the best quality wood chunks for smoking by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan, and whiskey that you can use when grilling steaks or other meats.
We offer complimentary shipping for our smoking chunk products across the United States.
Did we mention it makes your food taste better?