Can You Use Wood and Charcoal Together?

I’ve already covered how you can use wood instead of charcoal for grilling. Another question that pops up often is whether it’s possible to use both wood and charcoal together.

Yes, you can use wood and charcoal together for grilling or smoking, as long as you manage the fire properly. Combining wood and charcoal can add flavor complexity to your food, as wood can provide a smoky flavor, while charcoal offers a consistent heat source.

Advantages of Combining Wood and Charcoal

Both charcoal and wood can offer unique advantages when used separately. Combine them together to get the best of both worlds.

Charcoal by itself does not alter the flavor of your food much, but it is an excellent source of heat that lasts for a long time. On the other hand, wood burns much quicker but its smoke provides various flavor options. I’m sure you can see how these two complement each other.

The greatest advantage of wood is that there are many varieties available, each with its own flavor. Some woods are better suited for beef, while others work better for poultry. You can experiment and find the combination that works best for your recipes!

Disadvantages of Combining Wood and Charcoal

The main disadvantage of combining wood and charcoal is what was already mentioned – they burn at different rates. So if you don’t regularly add more wood to the grill, you might find yourself grilling just on charcoal.

The different rates may also cause fluctuations in the temperature of the grill, making it difficult to maintain an even heat. Not a huge deal most of the time though.

Additionally, unlike charcoal, wood will burn with flames, so you may have to give the food a little more attention to avoid getting it burned badly.

Tips for Combining Wood and Charcoal

  • You can mix both fuels in whatever ratio you want, however, if you want higher heat and longer cooking, then use more charcoal. On the other hand, if you want to add more flavor, use more wood chunks.
  • Make sure the wood is cut into small chunks and evenly distributed over the charcoal. Whole logs are not the way to go. You can either cut the wood yourself or buy pre-cut wood chunks.
  • Wood chips are too small and thin and will burn way too quickly.
  • For best results, use a charcoal chimney to light the charcoal and get it ready before adding it to your grill. You can add the wood later, there’s no real need to start it in the chimney.

Is It Safe To Use Wood In a Charcoal Grill?

Yes, you can safely use wood in a charcoal grill as it doesn’t burn hotter or cause more mess than charcoal. Charcoal is made from wood after all.

One thing to be aware of is that you should not add too much wood to your grill. The reason is that once it starts burning it will create tall flames which can cause problems especially when you are grilling on a covered porch.

To avoid tall flames, add just a few chunks at once. You just want the flavor. You don’t need the heat that wood can produce.

Wrapping up

To sum it up, incorporating wood and charcoal together is an excellent way to take your grilling experience to the next level of flavor complexity.

The combination of charcoal and wood is an ideal way to enjoy both a reliable heat source as well as the unique smoky flavors that different types of wood can offer.

Although there are some minor drawbacks, such as varying burn rates and potential temperature changes, these can be easily managed with a bit of proper monitoring.

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John Carder

John Carder is the founder of FreshAirChef.com. He loves to cook outdoors, especially over a campfire. John has a lovely wife and two cats who he loves dearly. In his spare time, he likes to play soccer and paint; he's not particularly good at either, but he enjoys the process nonetheless. He also has silly long hair which often gets in his way while cooking!