You don't have to restrict your outdoor culinary activities to using either charcoal or wood chunks for smoking. You can use both to smoke delicious meats and veggies, with the charcoal providing the heat and the smoking chunks providing the flavorful smoke. It's a simple but highly effective combination that will take your cookouts to the next level. When using charcoal and smoking chunks together, though, you should position them correctly in your smoker or grill. So, can you place smoking chunks directly over charcoal?
Yes, You Can Place Smoking Chunks Directly Over Charcoal
Because of their thick composition, you can and should place smoking chunks directly over charcoal. When preparing to smoke meats or veggies, go ahead and light your charcoal. Once they've turned white -- this usually takes about a half-hour -- place 2 or 3 smoking chunks directly over the smoldering charcoal. Because chunks are larger than chips, the smoking chunks will burn slowly and release flavorful smoke that's absorbed into your meats or veggies.
While smoking chunks are perfectly fine to place directly over charcoal, you shouldn't place smoking chips over charcoal. Smoking chips are similar to smoking chunks, only they are smaller and thinner. As a result, they'll quickly burn when exposed to direct heat. If you place smoking chips directly over charcoal, they'll release some smoke, but it won't be enough to create a truly distinct and rich smokey flavor.
Placing Smoking Chunks Away From Charcoal
Alternatively, you can place your smoking chunks away from the smoldering charcoal. Even if you're using a standard grill, you can still create two separate piles: one for the charcoal and another for the smoking chunks. If you place the smoking chunks next to the burning charcoal rather than directly on it, they'll take longer to ignite and burn more slowly.
If you're doing a really slow cook, it may be a good idea to place one chunk directly over the heat, with the other two spaced a bit further away. As the heat spreads, your chunks will ignite throughout the cook and continue to provide flavor.
Use a Smoker Box for Smoking Chunks
Some people like to use a smoker box to keep their smoking chunks from burning too quickly. A smoker box a metallic container, typically square or rectangular shaped, that's used to store smoking chunks or smoking chips. Just open the lid of the smoker box, place your smoking chunks inside and close the lid. You can then place the smoker box directly over your charcoal. The smoker box creates a barrier between your smoking chunks and the charcoal, encouraging the wood chunks to burn more slowly. Smoker boxes are available for as little as $5 to $10, but are only necessary when using lower quality chunks.
If you choose to use cooking wood chunks from Cutting Edge Firewood, you can trust your chunks to last for a long time and provide amazing flavor the whole time!
Control the Temperature
Whether you place your smoking chunks directly over the charcoal, next to the charcoal, or if you use a separate accessory like a smoker box , you'll need to control the temperature of your grill or smoker. If your smoking chunks aren't releasing smoke, the temperature is too low.
To control the temperature of your grill or smoker, use the air vents. You should see at least two air vents on your grill or smoker. Start by leaving both of these vents partially open. As your smoking chunks begin to burn, monitor the temperature to determine whether you need to make it hotter or cooler. If the temperature is too low, you can make your grill or smoker hotter by opening the air vents more. If it's too high, you can make it cooler by closing the air vents. With that said, you'll usually need to keep both air vents at least partially open in order for your fuel, including charcoal and smoking chunks, to stay lit.
You shouldn't need to add more smoking chunks
One of the disadvantages or smoking chips is that they need to be replaced multiple times. Quality smoking chunks, however, can last for hours inside your grill or smoker. Granted, they cannot last forever, but using large chunks of the best firewood available will ensure that your chunks provide a consistent burn throughout your cook.
Find the best cooking wood available on our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers complimentary shipping on all of our high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and whiskey, all of which will allow you to smoke delicious meat. Choose from some of our most popular options below: