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About Hot Smoking

Smoking meat or fish in a barbecue smoker is easy. Whether you have a fancy barbecue pit, a built in barbecue, a "standard" Weber barbecue, or some cheapy cheap barbecue grill on sale at your local hardware store, as long as you can cover the grill to keep the heat and the smoke inside, YOU CAN SMOKE !!!

On this website you will find smoked meat recipes>, tips on creating a "charcoal barbecue grill smoker" for >hot smoking and indirect grilling, tips on bbq smoking in a Weber or other kettle grill, and tips on how to smoke meat on the bbq.

On this page you’ll find the difference between hot smoking and cold smoking, info on the use of charcoal briquettes, and tips on how to use smoking wood and which tree it should come from.


Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

On This Page:

Which is Which ?

Cold Smoking

During "cold smoking" food is placed or hung in the smoke of a smoldering fire. The food is smoked at a temperature of around 85°F (30°C) for a period of typically a day or a couple of days, or even longer.

The primary goal of cold smoking is to conserve the food by drying, most often1 after prior brining, while that delicious smoke flavour is thrown in as a bonus.

After cold smoking the food in essence is still raw, while that beautiful dark-red color developed by the smoking process runs deep into the food - or all through the food.

During cold smoking, the texture of the food will remain dense, or will become even denser. For example, cold smoked salmon can be sliced without crumbling.

The cold smoking process is mainly used for "fatty" food like salmon, eel, mackerel, sausages and ham.

Hot Smoking

During "hot smoking" food is smoked at medium-high temperature of, say, 200°F to 300°F (90°C to 150°C) for a period of typically 2 to 24 hours.

During the hot smoking process the food is cooked by the heat of the gasses of the fire, while the smoke adds extra flavour.

After hot smoking the food is done or even well done, while the dark-red color caused by the smoking process does not run deep under the surface. (the deeper the better - the thickness of your "smoke ring" is a measure of your mastership as a barbecue artist... )

During hot smoking, the texture of the food will become softer and less dense, like during any cooking process. For example, hot smoked salmon will flake when sliced.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Hot Smoking

Barbecue set up for indirect grilling with smoke wood just added (this time a chunk of European beech) The focus of this website - what we tend to do in a closed Weber kettle grill, oil drum, offset Texas smoker or brick smoker - is in fact hot smoking.


We fire the barbecue with wood - or we use smoking wood on top of a bed of glowing charcoal - and we ensure that the smoke from the wood gets into maximum contact with the food before leaving the closed barbecue;


We put the meat away from the direct radiation of the flames - or at least as far away as possible - to achieve slower and more gradual heating of the food when compared with direct grilling;


During smoking we achieve a temperature within the range of 200oF to 250oF (90oC to 120oC).

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal Briquettes

Hot Smoke BBQ - Charcoal Briquettes I always use charcoal briquettes because of their even shape and size. I also found they have a more constant quality when compared with regular "lump" charcoal (mostly small lump charcoal, that is...).

Click HERE to read more about CHARCOAL BRIQUETTES !

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Smoking Wood

Once the charcoal in my barbecue is glowing and grey, I put a few water soaked chunks of smokewood (say about 1"-2" thick and 3"-5" long) on top of the charcoal.

You could also use wood chips but I like to make my own smoke wood and those chunks I can cut myself. I also found that wood chunks burn slower than wood chips, thus transferring smoke flavour to the food over a longer period.

The juices and protective substances in freshly cut wood from deciduous trees (eg. oak, beech, apple) and in any wood from coniferous trees (eg. pine, hemlock, cedar, juniper) will cause an unpleasant taste in your food.

Therefore I recommend to only use wood from deciduous trees, matured at least six months after cutting of the tree. My own personal favorites are apple, oak, beech and cherry.

Juancho's BBQ Tip
Smoke is like a condiment, adding a specific taste to your food, like salt and pepper. And just like you don't want your food to get too salty or too spicy, you don't want too much smoke either.
Too much smoke will leave a bitter and/or creosote taste on your food. In general: do not exaggerate on the smoke.
                                            Just a whisp should be enough.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Wet Wood or Dry Wood?

Wet wood will give more smoke, you'd think. However, this is not entirely true. During burning - or smouldering - of wet wood, most of the "smoke" that you see is actually wet steam caused by the boiling of the water inside the wood.

During smoking of food we are primarily interested in adding a smokey flavour. Steam does not add any flavour. So, to add a smokey flavour it should not make a difference whether we use dry wood or wet wood.

While for cold smoking this might be the case, for hot smoking the water in the wood and the resulting steam do a couple of things to help us:


Dry smoking wood on top of a hot bed of charcoal briquettes will burn too fast, giving an intense but relatively short burst of smoke that will pass the food on the grill too quick to allow optimum transfer of flavour.

The water inside wet smoking wood will slow down the burning of such wood, thus improving the transfer of smoke flavour to the food.


During hot smoking in a Weber Kettle Grill - and probably also in other closed grills - it is fairly difficult to maintain a constant medium temperature. While the effects on the food of a low temperature can be compensated quite harmlessly by increasing cooking time, I found out the hard way that the effects of too high a temperature can be devastating...

The heating and evaporation of the water inside the wet smoking wood will help us to keep the temperature inside the barbeque down and more constant, thus decreasing the chances for the food to overcook or burn.


During hot smoking hot and dry gasses are passing the food. While during indirect grilling the danger of burning are less than during extremely hot direct grilling, these hot gasses will still tend to dry out the skin of the food.

The addition of wet steam to the dry hot smoke will help avoid the skin of the food from drying out too much during the hot smoking process.

For these reasons it is better to use wet wood for hot smoking.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

"Real" Barbecue ?

Even though I am very fond of the combination of hot smoking and indirect grilling, that does not mean that I would have something against the "usual" grilling.

To the contrary!

Go get a pack of sausages or hamburgers from your local supermarket, stick 'm on a grill - coal, gas or electric, no matter what - and I'll be there!   "You got Que?   I will travel"!

Without feeling any desire to get involved in the ongoing discussion about what's "real" barbeque:

  1. I believe that in the Southern States of the USA (i.e. Tenessee, the Carolinas, Texas, etc.) this combination of indirect grilling and hot smoking in a closed pit or barbecue is called "barbecue".
    The rest (i.e. what 99% of Swedes, Brits, Belgians, French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Icelandics, Norwegians, Singaporeans, Austrians and Aussies do) is not considered barbecue but merely "grilling".
  2. The Dutch importer of Weber grills advises that a Weber barbecue - if used correctly - does not produce smoke...
  3. Just recently I read a barbecue publication in which an "expert" - probably in a state of utter confusion - quoted a dictionary to prove the true meaning of the word "barbecue"...

I just thought y'all wanted to know...         ;o)

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

At Hot Smoke BBQ we love Chile Peppers!

Keep Smokin' !