How to Set Up a Charcoal Grill for Smoking Just in 6 Steps

Set up a Charcoal Grill and Smoke Just in 6 stepsSmoking is just traditional BBQ. Basically, you cook your food at low temperatures on hot coals and add in hardwood for that special smoky flavor. Whether you have a standard kettle-type grill or a smoker, setting up a charcoal grill for smoking is easy. Just follow these 6 simple steps and learn how to set up a charcoal grill for smoking.

Gather Necessary Equipment and Ingredients

Before you begin, gather all of the necessary equipment and all of your grilling ingredients so that you have them on hand. Make sure you have the right charcoal smoker for the job. Grab your coal, wood chunks, and a water pan. You’ll need these for making food.


Steps to set up a charcoal grill

Step One: Heat the Charcoal in a Chimney First

Light an entire chimney full of charcoal and divide it in half.

set up a charcoal grill: it's easy when you know the trickStep Two: Add the Charcoal to the Smoker

This step is pretty self-explanatory.

Step Three: Enhance the Smoke with Wood Chunks

You can set up a charcoal grill to get that smoky flavor by adding hardwood. Using flavored hardwood will determine what kind of smoky flavor the meat ends up with. Mesquite, oak, and hickory build a bold flavor for meats like pork and beef. For more delicate meat like chicken there are fruity flavors like apple and cherry.

Step Four: The Water Pan

Fill the water pan ¾ full with cold water and put it in the middle of your coals.

Step Five: Place the Food on the Grate

Now you can place your food on the grate, making sure it’s over the smoke area.

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Step Six: Set the Lid

The lid should be positioned so that the vents are positioned above the meat.


set up a charcoal grill: charcoal snake arranged with wood chips

What to Do if You Need to…

Sometimes there are special circumstances when you’re learning how to set up a charcoal grill for smoking. In order to build your confidence, here’s what to do if you need to…

If you need to cook for a long time on a smoker, the best way to do it is called the burn down method. Fill your charcoal bed with unlit coals and light some of the ones on top. The coals on the top will slowly light the coals on the bottom, letting the smoker cook gradually over time, making sure your food smokes thoroughly.

If you need to cook in high heat, use a hot water foil pan. It will create a moist and hot environment as well as help in maintaining the temperature by retaining heat, which prevents any drastic temperature fluctuations during grilling.

If you own a kettle grill, build a charcoal snake. In order to do this, lay unlit briquettes in a single row around the grill edges. Then add two more layers over the first. Also add wood chunks or chips for additional smoky flavor. Take a foil pan with hot water and place it in the center of the briquettes.

Light 6-8 more briquettes. Pile these at the beginning of the charcoal snake. This will allow the briquettes to burn slowly and for a longer period of time. Wait a few minutes and put your meat on for grilling. If you want a longer burn, add coal to the snake’s end.

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Knowing how to set up a charcoal grill for smoking is simple with these 6 steps. It sure beats having to buy a smoker if you already have a charcoal grill! Just remember not to peek at your food too often or you’ll let the smoke escape.



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