How to setup a Kettle charcoal grill for smoking

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My kettle grill is fantastic. Quite a bit. I possess six various kinds of grills and smokers, but if I had to choose only one for the rest of my life, it would undoubtedly be my loyal kettle.

The kettle grill can easily cook conventional outdoor items such as burgers, steaks, and chops, but it is also fantastic for smoking meat. On my kettle, I first learned how to smoke items like ribs and hog shoulder.

Later, I bought a specialist smoker only to discover that I liked the simplicity of the kettle. My smoker now lies mainly unused in the shed, while the kettle is used a couple of times each week.

The Basics of Smoking on a Grill

How to setup a Kettle charcoal grill for smoking

Many houses have a kettle barbecue on their back patio that is seldom utilized to its full potential. Many kettle owners are unaware that they can use their grill as a smoker to produce great smoked meats with a little know-how and patience.

Instead, the kettle is utilized in the same way as a gas grill is. It is used to prepare hot dogs and hamburgers once or twice a week. The irresponsible owner merely throws some charcoal in, douses the briquettes with lighter fluid, and lights a match. Pity.

Low and slow smoking on the kettle is surprisingly simple to master. With sufficient effort, you can easily obtain burn durations of 12+ hours. In this essay, I’ll explain in full how you may accomplish the same.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on electronics (though there are some cool toys out there that we’ll discuss later), but the fundamentals, such as a charcoal chimney starter and a good digital thermometer, will come in handy in the long term.

While this post focuses on converting a Weber Kettle style grill for smoking, the advice is applicable to the majority of charcoal barbecues.

There are several methods to smoke on a kettle type barbecue. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. We’ll go through some of the greatest approaches and help you figure out what works best for you.

2-Zone Method

How to setup a Kettle charcoal grill for smoking

A 2-zone arrangement is one in which you have charcoal on one side (a hot zone) and cook your meat on the other side (a cool zone). This allows the meat to gradually warm up without ever being exposed to strong direct heat.

This is the most simple technique to smoke meat on a kettle grill, and Malcolm Reed of Killer Hogs Competition BBQ Team does an excellent job of describing how to do it in the video below.

How To Set Up A Charcoal Grill For Smoking | Smoke Meat with your Weber Kettle

Watch this video on YouTube

What Youll Need

You won’t need much to set up your barbecue for 2-zone cooking. You will need your kettle, charcoal, a charcoal chimney to fire your charcoal, some hardwood pieces, and a disposable tinfoil water pan.

How to Prepare Your Grill for 2-Zone Cooking

  1. You may fire your charcoal using your charcoal chimney, then just pour the coals to one side of your Kettle.
  2. Using hardwood pieces like cherry or hickory will smolder and smoke your dish while it cooks, imparting a delightful taste. Wood chips may also be used, but I feel that chunks work better since they emit smoke for a longer period of time.
  3. If you want to understand more about what sorts of wood work best for seasoning your food, we offer a full guide to smoke woods.
  4. A water pan next to your charcoal is useful for a number of reasons. According to Meathead Goldwyn of, a water pan protects the meat from direct heat, helps control temperatures, and adds humidity.
  5. You set your meal on the portion of your grill grate over the water pan. This should be enough room to smoke a chicken or small turkey, as well as 1-2 racks of ribs. If you wish to smoke many racks of ribs in your Kettle, you may purchase a rib rack.

The Snake Method

While the 2-zone configuration is excellent, it is best suited to short cooking of less than 3-4 hours. If you know your pork shoulder or brisket will take all day to cook, another quick alternative is the snake technique (also known as the fuse method).

The Snake Method In A Weber Grill – Charcoal BBQ Kettle Tutorial, Low and Slow Technique

Watch this video on YouTube

What Youll Need

All you’ll need, as with the 2-zone arrangement, is a kettle and some charcoal. Briquettes, in my experience, work best. A water pan is also useful for the same reason that a 2-zone approach is. Finally, you’ll need some pieces of your preferred smoking wood.

How to Prepare for the Snake Method

  1. Dump a mound of unlit briquettes into the kettle and stack them 22 around the outside edge of the kettle until you have a huge C.
  2. You’ll need to experiment with various snake configurations. The 22 snake should sufficient in warm weather. If it’s chilly outside or you need a hotter smoke, try placing another single row of briquettes on top.
  3. Next, fire 6-10 briquettes and position them towards one end of the C to make it burn like a candle wick. This approach will enable you to burn for up to 16 hours at a constant temperature of 225-250F.
  4. To generate constant smoke, place 2-3 pieces of wood spread apart along the snake.
  5. Fill the C with water and place the biggest aluminum pan you can fit inside.
  6. Allow your vents to fully open at first, then adjust as needed.

As mentioned below, placing the wood closer to the beginning of the C is a good idea.

Perth BBQ School, How to: The Snake Method

I normally wrap a couple pieces around the snake’s head.

I usually skip the second half since the meat absorbs the most smoke early in the cook and I may be wrapping later in the cook. Once the lighted beads are on, I’ll usually add a final piece on top of them.

It is entirely up to you how much wood you use. Do you want a lot of smoke? More wood should be run along your snake. I like chunks, although chips may also be used.

You are now ready to smoke. Simply set the meat on the grill racks over the water pan and let it for 12-15 hours.

Accessories for turning your grill into a smoker

There are numerous cool accessories on the market that take the guessing out of smoking on a kettle grill. While they are not required, they do have their uses and should be considered by anybody.

The Smokenator

The idea is straightforward: a bent piece of stainless steel intended to retain as many briquettes as possible to just one side of your kettle. Remove your grill grate and insert the Smokenator to utilize it. Next, fill the unit with around 45 briquettes. Remove about 7=8 briquettes, fire them, and re-ash over.

The Smokenator has a stainless steel water pan, which may be placed on top of the burning briquettes. The Smokenator, like the Snake Method, enables charcoal to gently burn down within it, much like a wick.

I possess a Smokenator, and although it is a fantastic device, I think it works best for shorter cooking of less than 6 hours. It might be difficult to add new charcoal after all of the charcoal has burned away.

The Slow N Sear

The Slow N Sear may resemble the Smokenator in appearance, but it is a completely separate machine. Its concept is straightforward: a concave holder that fits snugly within your kettle and can accommodate a full chimney load of charcoal.

Simply fill the Slow N Sear with unlit charcoal and build a fire in the corner to prepare it for a lengthy low and slow cook. It will burn gently, much like a candle.

I have this attachment as well, however unlike the Smokenator, it can easily last 10+ hours on a single load of charcoal.

Controlling your grill temperature

To put it simply, oxygen is required for the fire to burn, thus the less oxygen you let into your kettle, the lower the temperature, and the more oxygen you allow into your kettle, the higher the temperature.

Your kettle will have two vents: one at the bottom and one at the top. Place your top vent directly above your meat. This forces oxygen to enter the kettle from the bottom, then travel over the food and up through the vent. If you place the vent above the fire, you will just be sending heated air up and out of the kettle.

However, learning how to manage your temperatures may involve some trial and error. I propose that you start by leaving your bottom and top vents completely open. As your temperature increases, you may gradually shut one of your vents until it reaches the ideal temperature.

If you truly want to focus on temperature management, a quality digital thermometer that rests on the cooking grate will monitor your temperature directly next to your meal.

How Long to Smoke Your Food

There is no simple or fast response to the issue of how long it will take. A wise guy once told me that barbeque is finished when it is finished.

One thing I can tell you is that the interior temperature of the meat will usually be the decisive factor. The time it takes for the meal to reach that temperature is determined by a variety of variables, including the weight and thickness of the meat as well as the temperature you are cooking at.

We offer a simple time and temperature chart to assist you with your estimation.

Wrapping it up

Slow smoking meat is, in my view, one of the greatest joys in the world. Yes, it takes a long time, and yes, it requires a lot of patience and tending to a fire, but once you taste that first bite of smoked ribs or pulled pork, you’ll know the effort and time were well worth it.

What were your thoughts on this article? Do you believe we’ve got it when it comes to smoking meat on a kettle grill?

Do you believe you have a better solution? Please let us know in the comments section below. Please share this post on social media if you like it or believe your relatives and friends will benefit from it.



How do you set up a charcoal grill for smoking meat?

The best approach to prepare your charcoal grill for smoking is to build a two-zone fire. Simply said, you place the coals on one side of the charcoal grate and leave the other side empty, creating two heat zones. One will be heated directly, while the other will be heated indirectly.

Is a kettle grill good for smoking?

Kettle grills make excellent smokers. The biggest downside is that you must open the lid to add additional charcoal and wood or to inspect your meat, which allows heat and valuable smoke to escape. So, to avoid doing that as much as possible, I advocate utilizing hardwood pieces rather than wood chips.

How do you keep a charcoal grill at 225?

How to Maintain a 225°F Charcoal Grill
Purchase a decent temperature probe. You’ll need to keep an eye on the temperature to maintain your grill constant at 225°F.
Light a charcoal fire for fuel.
Adjust the dampers.
Make a two-zone grill.
As required, adjust the vent.
Keep an eye on the gasoline.

What temperature should a kettle be to smoke?

The kettle’s temperature should be approximately 250°F. This is accomplished by restricting the passage of oxygen via the grill’s top and bottom vents. To begin, shut the top vent nearly completely and slide the lower vent halfway closed.

How do you guide charcoal smoking?

How to Use a Charcoal Grill
Get your gasoline ready.
Fill the water pan halfway with cold water.
A charcoal chimney is used to light the coal.
Place the meat in the cooking area.
Temperature control.
Insert the wood bits.
Allow your meal to cook slowly and for a lengthy period of time.

How much charcoal does it take to smoke meat?

Fill about a quarter of the chimney with charcoal for delicate meats like white fish. For medium heat, use half to three-quarters of a chimney for burgers and sausages. If you want to sear meat or cook anything hot and quick on your grill, use three quarters or a full chimney.

What is the best meat to smoke on charcoal?

Fatty portions of meat, such as beef brisket, pig shoulder, and ribs, are ideal for smoking. Although smoking may cause certain meats to dry out, the substantial fat content of brisket and pork shoulder helps keep them moist, tender, and flavorful.

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