Smoking on a BBQ is usually left to the ‘BBQ experts’ which is a shame because it is incredible easy to do. All you need is to understand a little about wood flavours and the difference between chips, shavings, wood chunks, smoke bombs and smoke chunks….
Smoking can be be for hours and hours in your Hot Smoker or Ceramic BBQ or in your BBQ just to do some sausages – the fun is the experimenting. No one can tell you what wine you like and its the same with wood flavours, it is simply a question of trying them out and seeing what wood you like with what food and how intense you like the wood flavour.
Never smoke with wood unless you know what wood it is, where it has come from and are 100% sure it hasn’t been treated with anything. Lots of people have wood hanging around in the garden but not all woods can be smoked with and you certainly don’t want anything that may have been treated. If you are not sure – don’t use it.
It may sound obvious but the best smoking wood is dry wood : chips, shavings, chunks and BBQ Planks have been air dried and that allows the wood to soak in your clean water.
BBQ Wood Chips
BBQ Chips are quick and convenient way to produce delicious smoked foods using a gas or charcoal BBQ for a longer smoke time. Chips can be bought from all BBQ shops and Garden Centres, please try to buy FSC wood chips.
Charcoal BBQ: Soak your chips in water ( with some beer ?) for at least 30 minutes and then place a handful onto your hot coals, place your food on the grill, close the lid and enjoy the smoke. Using chips will last longer than shavings because they are bigger, so they are better for BBQing food that needs 40 minutes plus BBQing time. But how much you put on depends on you…add more or less as you need.
Beech Smoking Chips and my Fish BBQ Plank Platter
Gas BBQ: you will need a smoker box or make a tin foil papillote to use on your gas BBQ.
BBQ Wood Shavings
Smoking Shavings are a quick and convenient way to produce delicious smoked foods using a Stovetop Home Smoker or gas or charcoal BBQ. Due to their size they smoulder for a shorter time to produce a delicious smoky flavour.
Shavings are more difficult to get hold of, unless you buy online or happen to work with wood. Again, make sure you know what wood it is and make sure it hasn’t been treated – Granny’s old oak table that has had years of varnishing and painting is not a good idea for shaving down and smoking with (we were asked that once).
Charcoal BBQ : Simply soak in water ( add some beer if you want ) for 10 -15 minutes, sprinkle onto your coals, add your food and close the lid.
Home Smoker: follow the instructions of your Oven Top Smoker for some delicious in-house smoking. This is a very effective way of smoking in your oven, we suggest you visit Cameron’s website for more details.
Gas BBQ : you will need a smoker box or make a tin foil papillote to use on your gas BBQ.
BBQ Wood Chunks
Weber, Big Green Egg etc sell Wood Chunks and they are pieces of wood the size of my fist, they need to be soaked for 30 minutes plus and then nestled into the charcoal. I think they are expensive and I always prefer to buy British wood. Again, if you have wood lying around your garden, make sure it is a smoking wood and air dried,
BBQ Smoke Bombs
We have found an easy way of smoking which makes chips and shavings last longer and that is by making Smoke Bombs. Buy some muslin from a material shop and cut into squares – wrap up a good handful of shavings or chips and tie a pretty bow !
Soak in water for up to an hour, take out and squeeze out any excess water and nestle the Smoke Bomb into your charcoal and start barbecuing. They smoke for longer like this than just putting handfuls of chips or sawdust on the charcoal – a great money saving tip.
I love soaking my Smoke Bombs in beer for over an hour – it really adds a delicious flavour and is a great excuse to buy lots of local beers. It is to cook with..honestly.
Oak Smoke Bomb Burgers
BBQ Smoke Chunks ( Mojo Bricks = US)
Unfortunately very difficult to find unless you import from the US. These Smoke Chunks are compressed sawdust in the same machine as they make compressed wood logs, they come in individual woods and smoke beautifully for hours and hours. They work brilliantly for the 3 hour plus hot smoking but I’ve used them on all our BBQs when I want to crank up the smoking intensity to full on.
They work by nestling in the charcoal or by resting on the grill – I love them but I need to find another UK supplier.
What Smoking Woods Should You Use ?
Wood flavours are a personal choice of taste but here is a brief description of my favourites:
Oak gives a heavier smoke flavour and is great for red meat and game; this is probably the best wood for the best steak. A fantastic wood for smoking too as it gives a lovely colour and a deep smoky flavour.
Cedar is the traditional wood for fish it is also fantastic for fruit and seafood. In the US cedar is used a lot to to cook other food such as chicken, this is a matter of taste as cedar imparts a sweet, spicy flavour so not for all! Smoking in cedar is amazing.. but again very spicy. You either love it or hate it !
Cherry has a subtle mild, fruity flavour and is excellent for poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit. Smoking in cherry gives a fantastic colour and a subtler, sweeter smoky flavour. This wood should be used when you want to compliment the flavour of your food and not overpower it.
Beech gives a subtle sweet flavour, great for poultry and vegetables. A really under used wood which is a shame as it adds a lovely flavour and when used for smoking; a deep golden colour and a subtle sweetness. Like Cherry, it won’t overpower your food but will compliment it.
Hickory has a rich, smoky flavour and is terrific with red meat, game and poultry. Quite a strong smoking wood and is very popular in the US to smoke almost everything. A lot of US BBQ sauces are flavoured with hickory.
Apple has a sweet, fruity flavour is excellent for smoking chicken, pork and fruit. Quite a strong wood considering so can really add sweet flavour to any of your foods – we love smoking fruit in apple and really adds a lovely flavour to pork. Apple chips are harvested from apple orchards that have to be replaced every ten years.
Whisky Oak really does pack a punch, whisky oak chips come from Scottish whisky oak barrels and they add a marvellous deep oak smoky flavour. If you buy some, have a big sniff before you use them – they really smell of whisky ! I prefer whisky oak to the US versions using Jack Daniels – but that is just my opinion.
Need any help with wood flavours or smoking – just send me a message.