How to Smoke Food on a Charcoal BBQ


Smoking Page    

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pork ribs on a professional smoker

Brisket, pork ribs and a rainbow trout on a professional smoker.

Absolute perfection in design the American backyard smoker barbecue, designed by people who love to barbecue.

Smoking Concept Purchase

Open up a new world of barbecuing by smoking your food using wood chips and wood pellets.

A big advantage for the British is that the Americans have been perfecting the art of smoking for years, so there's plenty of advice and recipes available.

You can achieve a successful result using a standard barbecue with a lid, which will give you an introduction into the wonderful taste of smoked food.

The concept of smoking is  long and slow indirect cooking, to impart the flavour of the wood being used and to tenderize the chosen meat.

So the challenges facing the regular barbecue griller is to keep the barbecue going for 4 to 6 hours at a lower temperature and to stop the meat drying out during cooking.

Air inlet/outlet control on your barbecue is vital to the success of your smoking. The first challenge is to find a barbecue which is actually designed to barbecue.

The first step when purchasing your barbecue is to make sure that when the lid is down the cooking chamber is controllable by adjustable air vents and check for exposed gaps in the chamber which will inhibit control of air flow during cooking.

Its a real shame that barbecue designers these days are obsessed with gadgets and gismos and eye catching designs and totally forget about simple barbecue science.

Remember you want to purchase a barbecue, not a spaceship!

Wood Pellets in charcoal

Wood Pellets

Increasing array of flavours to choose from, most natural and some impregnated with herbs and spices. Soak for around an hour and then add to your charcoal or as above wood pellets can be used dry in a cast iron pot. Which allows the pellets to smoke for longer.

Smoker BBQ


A relatively cheap barbecue can get you started. The small smoker barbecue above is well designed with a total air controlled chamber.

You can also use it for grilling and roasting if you wish.


Basting sauce


Rubs, marinades and basting is an integral part of the smoking process and will increase your chances of obtaining excellent results.

Experiment and you will soon have a list of personal favourite ingredients.


smoked chicken using wood-pellets

A smoked chicken using wood-pellets from charcoal filters used for filtering Jack Daniels Whiskey.

During smoking the air was filled with a definite aroma of wood soaked whisky, the chicken was pre rubbed with garlic, pepper and lemon grass seasoning. The result was a taste of medium flavoured smoked chicken on the outer with a delicate sweet smoky flavour towards the inner.


Access door at the side makes replenishing charcoal easy.

American Style Smoker.

On the left is an off set fire box of the American smoker. This firebox contains the charcoal and woodchips while the cooking chamber on the top right of the picture is used for a selection of meats or fish.

When the charcoal is ready for smoking (covered in white ash) the woodchips are added and the lid of the firebox and smoking chamber are closed and smoking process commences. Air is controlled via closable vents in the firebox and chamber.

Smoker BBQ from the USA

A temperature gauge is fitted to the smoker chamber so that the desired heat can be controlled and observed during smoking.

Smoked pork ribs with Pecan Wood Pellets

Full Range of Charcoal Barbecue Smokers  

A step by step guide to smoking food on your barbecue





Portable Charcoa Smokerl Charcoal

Place the charcoal on your barbecue covering around 30 to 50% of the grid. This will allow the food to be smoked indirectly,

Light the charcoal and leave for around 20 minutes.

Heat Control

We do not want the smoke directly underneath the food as this would result in a bitter taste.

Note the vents on the portable smoker barbecue, slide vent at the bottom and top. The top vent should always be left open to allow free flow of smoke.

You can control heat by using the bottom vent.

Charcoal Ready to smoke Charcoal Ready

The charcoal is now ready and should look like this.

Covered in a white ash, don't worry it will last 3 to 4 hours because we control the speed of combustion using the bottom vent.

The charcoal is now ready to add the wood chips.

Keeping the Charcoal going

Not a problem with this size barbecue but if you want to try long slow smoking then a Charcoal Chimney Starter is a must, especially for larger barbecues.

Wood Chips on hot charcoal Wood Chips

Your wood chips will require a 30 to 60 minutes soak in water before using. You can soak them in wine or beer if you feel adventurous.

Place an handful of pre soaked wood chips onto the hot white coals and close the lid.

Alternative Method

Use a stainless steel smoke box for your wood chips. You don't need to soak them and they will smoulder rather than burn and last a lot longer.

Smoker box

BBQ Smoking Important Bit

Wait for the barbecue to smoke before you place the food on the grill.

Once smoking from the vent open the barbecue and carefully place your food on the grill, away from the coals.

Why Important?

When meat or fish is placed into an hot oven or barbecue it will heat seal on the surface.

We want the smoke to penetrate the food, so wait until the woodchips are smoking before placing the food on the grill.

Fish ready for the grill Start Smoking

The 2 rainbow trout on the left are ideally placed for smoking on the grill.

We do not want the smoke directly underneath the food as this would result in a bitter taste.

Make sure the top vent is open to allow free flow of smoke.

If the barbecue is to hot adjust the bottom vent to cut down the flow of air feeding the coals.

Starting to smoke Cooking Time

Always a difficult one as it depends on your barbecue, the amount of charcoal used and the outside temperature.

Fish does not take long so open the lid after 10 minutes and if the fish flakes back its ready to eat.



Meat will take longer and will be more tender if you barbecue long and slow.

Its a good idea to buy a food thermometer as this will give you clear indication that the food is cooked.


2 smoked fish Smoked

2 delicious smoked rainbow trout smoked with apple wood.

Now you can look at some more recipes on Planet Barbecue and start marinating and adding rubs and spices to your chosen dish.

Just imagine: a joint of pork marinated in pure apple juice for 24 hours, rubbed with spices and herbs, slow smoked with oak woodchips and basted with your favourite sauce during the last hour of cooking.


Sauces and Flavoured Olive Oil

Brilliant for basting food during smoking to stop the food drying out during slow smoking.

If smoking joints of meat or chicken remember each time you lift the lid add another 10 minutes to your cooking time. Usually its best to only open the lid every 30 minutes when barbecuing joints.

Use a basting brush (included in good barbecue tool kits) to apply the sauce or Flavoured oil.

Smoker Open

For Larger Barbecues

Slow cooked food using an offset BBQ smoker is hard to beat.

Also known as a Pit smoker, these units offer the most succulent and flavoursome food you will ever taste.

Smoker Griller Instructions pdf

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