Should I use charcoal or wood as a smoker fuel?

by Jeff

The manual for my offset smoker says that I should burn wood in the firebox because charcoal will not get hot enough.

It seems that this is true, as I have only been able to reach about 180 degrees in the cooking chamber with charcoal. However, with hardwood I can easily reach up to 375 degrees.

The problem is the wood smokes like crazy for the first hour or so. If I were cooking ribs or brisket, I would need to add wood at least a couple times and I think I'd over smoke the meat ruining what could have been a tasty meal.

Should I try smoking with charcoal again or use wood? What kind of wood would not smoke too much?


(by arkansasbbqpitmaster)

Use whatever wood you want (hickory, mesquite, etc.) and don't worry about the smoke. When you feel you've achieved the proper amount of smoke, just cover you meat with foil, then continue to cook with no worries of over smoking.

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Should I Use Charcoal Or Wood In My Offset Smoker?

I just bought a large smoker on a trailer and I fired it up for the first time yesterday using cherry wood in the firebox.

We had trouble getting the temp up there where we wanted it for doing leg quarters ..but we did get it up to 285

I put the meat on but after it was done I found the smoke flavor too overpowering so should I try charcoal and wood chunks to bring down the amount of smoke its putting out.


Did you continually stoke your firebox with more wood? If so you'd get the white smoke of new combustion and this would give your food a big smoky flavor to the point of being unpleasant. Let the fire die down so you've got glowing embers before putting your food in.

Try working on your fire building technique without trying to smoke any food. Learn how your smoker works and how to maintain a constant temp for low and slow cooking without the added pressure of turning out some decent meat. That way, when you come to smoke for real, you'll have everything under control and can relax with a beer and enjoy your cookout.

Don't move away from wood forever, but experiment with charcoal. If you find you're having problems with temperature when using charcoal then you can conclude that fuel type is not the issue. It's gotta be in how you've got the draft set up. Mind you 285 is a pretty good temperature and certainly higher than I would normally use.

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