How Much Charcoal to Use in Offset Smoker?

charcoal briquettes,cooking chamber,charcoal chimney,maintain temperature

How Much Charcoal to Use in Offset Smoker? read the complete information in this article. If you are looking for a new way to cook your food, consider cooking it in an offset smoker. An offset smoker is a type of barbecue that uses charcoal to heat up the grill. As the smoke from the burning charcoal rises it travels through tubes on one side of the cooking chamber and out vents at the top.

The food then cooks with indirect heat by being placed on grates above or below where all this action takes place. There are many things that go into how much charcoal you should use in your offset smoker so let’s take a look at some tips for getting started!

How much Charcoal to Use in Offset Smoker?

Offset smokers have become increasingly popular over recent years because they can be used as either a grill or oven depending on what you want to cook, but if you use too little charcoal you’ll end up with food that doesn’t cook properly. If you use too much, you can create clouds of toxic smoke that will ruin the flavor of your meat. To avoid this dilemma it’s best to get an idea of how much charcoal is right for your offset smoker so you can have a successful barbecue!

If you’re having trouble knowing how much charcoal to use in your offset smoker, we’ve created a few guidelines that you can follow. These tips will help you get started with using your cooking device so you can begin grilling and smoking meat as soon as possible.

The first thing to remember is that both too much or too little charcoal will lead to poor results. If the temperature either begins to rise or fall rapidly, you’ll need to adjust the amount of charcoal you’re using.

If the temperature falls below 200 degrees Fahrenheit, use more charcoal and vice versa if it rises above 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit.

When adding charcoal briquettes to the firebox, make sure they are spread evenly beneath the grate; otherwise, an uneven cook can result.

Once you have mastered how to light, use, and maintain your charcoal grill, you’ll be able to start smoking different types of food that will make your family and friends happy for years to come.

Temperature Differential between Low & Slow:

This style of cooking is all about the slow and steady. The charcoal will be burned in order to create low temperatures (about 250°F) over a prolonged length of time, sometimes many hours. There are some variations on how you can go about creating this type of smoker though; let’s explore them!

There’s No Need To Fear The Crowd – You don’t need an expensive spit or rotisserie machine for these recipes as long as your pet has enough room between its walls/roof because they’re larger smokers than standard residential units ̵similar to that of a commercial smoker ̵for the charcoal-fueled heat source to fit. They can also accommodate large quantities of meat/veggies since you won’t have to worry about space constraints as much as you would in smaller units. You can use wood chunks or logs instead of lighter fluid or chips but they are harder to light and require more attention.

maintain temperature,grate level,fire management,digital thermometers

Larger smokers are generally made with double-layered walls so there is insulation between the outside metal and the hot burning fuel within, meaning your meat will not be exposed to too much intense heat directly. Some pitmasters use fireproof concrete blocks, bricks, or rocks inside their smokers for this same reason – cooking on an open flame can lead to setting your meat on smoke which is not what you want.

This may seem like common sense, but many rookie barbecue lovers make the mistake of cooking on more heat than their meats can handle, leading to burnt ends or crispy skin instead of tender and juicy barbecue nirvana.

Offsets are generally big enough for a couple of racks of ribs or one whole hog (although they require constant attention), but if you’re just getting into barbecuing it might be better to build up your skills with smaller smokers first. Check out our list of best smoker grill types before you jump into buying an offset – this will give you an idea of which one fits your needs best depending on how much meat you plan to cook at once.

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How much charcoal do I need for 225 degrees?

This is a question often asked by people wanting to smoke, low and slow. It would seem like an easy answer; you need x number of pounds per hour. The problem with that much charcoal is it quickly becomes too much for even the large grills, taking much longer than expected to cook. That’s enough time you’d spend messing with the vents (if you don’t have an automatic smoker), trying not to kill your food via creosote (a chemical in wood). Instead, do this:

Take two cinder blocks or similar weight objects.

Put one on each side of the grill, evenly spread apart.

fire management,chimney cap,weber kettle,fully lit coals,drum smoker

Make sure they are flush along the edges so there aren’t any spaces allowing heat out. Next comes the wood. Take pieces of hardwood (oak, hickory, etc.). Cut them into manageable chunks that can nestle between the cinder blocks without falling through. Put these in the center of the grill, two or three per side depending on how long it takes to heat to 225 degrees (see chart below).

Close the lid and turn burners up to high until you reach the desired temperature. Then reduce all but one burner to medium-high (if you have three burners go with 1/3 – 2/3 split) and close the lid. After 45 minutes check the temp again. If it didn’t quite make it, increase the heat slightly and wait another 15 minutes. This time will vary based on your grill size, brand, weather conditions, etc. But it should never exceed an hour’s total time once you’ve reached 225 degrees.

Suggested charcoal quantities for direct heat grilling at different temperatures:

  • At 225 Fahrenheit – 1 chimney full (Coke can-sized pile of charcoal)
  • At 350 Fahrenheit – 2 to 3 chimneys full
  • At 450-500 Fahrenheit – 4 to 6 chimneys full.

How much charcoal do I need to smoke for 10 hours?

The amount of charcoal you need to use depends on how hot you want your smoker. You can smoke at low temps (225-275 degrees) for an extended period of time using less charcoal, or crank it up hot and fast to maintain a temperature between 350-400 F for 10 hours with about 8 pounds.

You will need approximately 50 briquettes in the chimney starter, another 30 or so spread out under the grate, and 10 more split into 2 piles, one on either side of the other 20/30 briquettes already in place. This will get your smoker heated to 350 F which is about where you want it for smoking ribs.

Many people like to smoke meat and other things over a wood fire. One of the most popular fuels used is charcoal briquettes. You can use about 5 pounds for every hour that you need to maintain your smoking temperature. If you’re using chunks, it’s generally 2 to 3 pounds per hour.

hot coals,charcoal basket,wood chips

If you’re smoking something large such as a turkey, just be aware that the larger the item, the more heat it will absorb and therefore the more charcoal you’ll need to supply.

So if we were cooking a turkey say 18 lbs and we wanted to keep it over a grill at 250°F:

18lbs = 832g 169min / 60min/hr = 2 .98kg / hr

5lb/hr = 2.27kg/hr

3lb/hr = 1.39kg/hr

2 .98kg / hr + 1.39kg / hr = 4.37 kg/ hr (round up to 4 to 5lbs)

So for this estimated scenario; we would need approximately 4-5lbs of charcoal per hour in order to maintain the temperature at 250°F for 10 hours, maybe more depending on the weather outside and if the grill is placed in a windy area since it can block airflow from getting to your coals. Steaks and other smaller items only require about 2 pounds every hour or so as well! Hope this helps you out next time you want to smoke something nice on a wood or charcoal grill! Happy cooking!!

If you want to smoke for 10 hours at 250°F, then you’ll need to use about 4-5lbs of charcoal an hour. This is just a rough estimate though since it will vary depending on the weather outside and so forth. You may need more or less next time. You might also only need 2 lbs every hour or so if it’s something smaller, like steak.

How much charcoal do I need to smoke for 8 hours?

Have you ever been smoking a brisket all day, and get to the end of your 8-hour window only to realize that your fire is out? Don’t get caught unprepared again! Use this handy guide from Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly for some easy math on how much charcoal you’ll need:

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charcoal chimney,weber smokey mountain,fire box

9 lbs in my chimney starter will give me about 70 briquettes. That’s just over what I use when cooking 4-6 lb. butts or ribs for between 5 and 7 hours

12 lbs in my chimney will give me close to 100 briquettes—just enough to cook an 8-10 lb. butt or packer cut for 10 hours.

20 lbs in my chimney will give me about 160 briquettes—enough for a 12-13 lb. butts or packer cut for 13 hours.

Not all Charcoal is Equal:

The good news about charcoal is that it’s widely used as a natural way to clean water, but the bad news is that not all charcoals are alike.

” The three types of activated charcoal – animal, wood, and petroleum – have been around for a long time, but they’re used in very different ways,” said University of Illinois agricultural engineer Jodi Axelson, who studies activated charcoal’s effects on soil fertility.

lump charcoal,charcoal chimney,weber smokey mountain,water pan

“There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to what kind of activated charcoal you should use.”

Petroleum-based activated carbon has been employed for decades to filter drinking water and treat wastewater at industrial facilities like refineries. However, its success with some significant drawbacks: it doesn’t degrade, it can leach heavy metals into water supplies and it contains very low levels of the nutrients that plants need.

Animal-based activated carbon is derived from animal waste products like bone char (charred bones), which are rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous. But there’s not enough waste product to meet global demand for activated carbon; the current market could sustainably produce less than half of all charcoal needed.

Wood-based activated charcoal boasts much larger supplies but doesn’t contain high concentrations of plant nutrients like animal-based activated carbon does. It also degrades much more quickly than petroleum-based activated carbon.

Lump charcoal smoker:

The best part of having a charcoal grill is cooking with hardwood lump charcoal.

 charcoal smokers,lit coals,barrel smokers,air intake

Pitmasters everywhere agree that one’s choice in what type of charcoal to use can make or break the final flavor of your barbecue. Lump Charcoal made from 100% hardwood sawdust, sans chemicals and binders, burns hotter for longer than traditional briquettes which allows you to sear meats at higher temperatures, resulting in more caramelization (those coveted yummy-looking “bark” lines) and less smoke penetration. The absence of any chemical additives also means no harsh chemical aftertaste either.

How Much Charcoal to Use When Grilling?

The good news is that quantity isn’t dependent on the size of your actual grill. Rather, quantity boils down to how long you want your charcoal to last… That’s right; quantity is all about time. Let me explain.

You see, there are two main factors when it comes to grilling using charcoal – quantity and quality.

water pan,stick burners,cooking temperature,unlit coals

Now while quantity can be easily measured in “number of briquettes”, quality is based on a few less-easily measured variables, namely air flow, and heat intensity. Now let’s focus on quantity before we touch base on quality.

Now quantity in this case amounts to how long you want your charcoal grill to last. For example, I’m cooking a few racks of ribs on my kettle grill for an afternoon get-together. My quantity will be determined by the number of hours I plan to barbecue. The longer that I’ll be barbecuing, the more charcoal briquettes that I will need in order for them to last throughout the entire time period. The quantity is based solely on duration.

A good rule-of-thumb when grilling with charcoal is 1 pound per hour when using lump charcoal and 2 pounds per hour when using briquettes. These amounts can lower slightly if you increase airflow (i.e., open up your vents).

If you need to add more charcoal halfway through your barbecuing session, don’t panic. You can always add some, and then again toward the end of grilling.

On a side note, I use quantity as a way of determining how many briquettes I’ll need for specific recipes. For example, if I’m using my barbecue smoker and want to use 3 hours for cooking time, I know that each hour will equate out to about 2 pounds of charcoal (assuming 1 pound per hour). My barbecue recipe calls for me to cook on low heat for 6 hours. Since 3 x 2 = 6, this means that I will use 12 pounds total (6 pounds in the beginning and 6 more at the end).

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There are a few variations to the charcoal setup here. Let’s look at the most common.

Minion Method:

The minion method works by burying unlit coals below lit coals. This process is repeated until the smoker reaches the desired cooking temperature, then food is added to cook slowly over long periods of time.

This setup allows for 20-30 minutes before having to refuel the coals.

minion method, smoking wood,smoke downward,cooking grate

The minion method is effective for smoking meats at low temperatures, typically 200-250°F (93-121°C), for long periods of time, usually 2+ hours. It also allows for quick recovery when heat drops, such as during wind gusts or opening the grill lid to add more food or ingredients.

The key with this setup is giving the heat enough fuel to keep on rolling while maintaining a consistent temperature inside the cooking chamber and doing so without too much attention from you.

Charcoal Snake:

The Charcoal Snake setup is great for making charcoal quickly and easily. The best part about the snake method is that as long as you keep adding wood to it as it smokes, you can use it until there’s nothing left.

target temperature,thin metal,sheet metal,medium heat

The following steps will help you set up your snake:

  1. First, pack a loose ball of aluminum foil at one end of the snake; this will be your “ignition” (the end where all the heat and smoke come from). You should make sure that this area includes some small holes or other ventilation to let out gases and allow airflow throughout the rest of the snake.
  2. Use soaked chunks of wood laid across one another like dominos to create a grid inside your chimney.
  3. Place the chimney on a solid, level surface next to your smoker or grill, being careful not to tip it over.
  4. Fill the snake with unlit coals from your fire, but leave a small open pocket between them and the ignition at one end of the snake.
  5. Poke a few ventilation holes in the bottom of a lump-free bread loaf pan and place it inside your cooking chamber underneath where you will be placing the snake to catch any drippings that fall from above.
  6. Open up all vents on both your firebox and lid to ensure airflow throughout your entire system; make sure there is also clearance between each component for smoke heat to pass through unhindered.
  7. Insert the lit end of your snake into the slot between your firebox and cooking chamber, then let the freshly ignited charcoal roll down into the bread pan for 20-30 minutes to preheat it.
  8. Once preheated, carefully and slowly remove the bread pan from inside your cooking chamber and place all hot meats in a row directly on top, noting that nothing should be in direct contact with any metal components of your smoker (aluminum foil may be used as necessary to create a barrier).
  9. Carefully replace empty loaf pan over meat row, close lid, and shut off all vents EXCEPT ONE on top of the lid, ensuring one open vent remains at the bottom near igniter so as to provide airflow.
  10. At this point, smoke will begin escaping from the top vent, rapidly filling inside the cooking chamber with smoke until the entire chamber is full (this may take 5-10 minutes).
  11. Carefully place food probe into the center of loaf pan over aluminum foil. Close lid and set temperature controller to maintain 225°F/107°C for 24 hours before opening lid and removing meat row; your smoker should still be free of oxygen because you left one very small bottom vent open, plus any little puff of air coming out the top vent will make its way down to the bottom vent like a snake (hence this method’s name), preventing oxygen entry.
  12. Let meat rest an hour or two before serving.


Offset smokers are a great way to smoke food and charcoal is an important part of this process. This blog post will help you figure out how much charcoal to use in your offset smoker, as well as what type of fuel source works best for it!

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