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Many modern grill enthusiasts are torn between the convenience of using an electric grill and the authentic smoky flavor of a traditional grill. Thankfully, there’s a way to use the hassle-free electric grills without missing that charcoal aroma and flavor.
So, how do you get the charcoal flavor on an electric grill? Many models come outfitted with wood chips or come with a box that can contain charcoal in foil. As the food cooks, smoke from the burning wood chips or charcoal infuses into the food to create that old-world charm.
In this post, we will discuss the two popular and easy methods to achieve that charcoal flavor you love without going through the hassle of using a traditional grill. You will be able to enjoy the benefits of using a contemporary electric grill, while still indulging in the aroma you love so much.
#1. Charcoal in Electric Grill
Just like wood chips, you can also ignite charcoal in the electric grill while roasting your steak or chicken breasts to get that perfect taste. One popular way of doing this is tossing a few pieces of charcoal into the pit of the electric grill.
Whether you use wood chips or charcoal, make sure you adjust it well to get the perfect intensity of flavor. When the wood pieces are burned, they turn into charcoal. Many grilling enthusiasts prefer this in the place of fresh wood chips.
The wood used for making charcoal is usually derived from maple, cedar, cherry, alder, and hickory. You must stay away from pine and cedar varieties as these are softwoods that are prone to forming thick blinding smoke.
Each type of wood has its unique aroma and smokiness so you must choose the right variety to get the taste you are craving. There are plenty of wood chips and charcoal available in the market that provide an array of aromas and flavors, so choose one as per your needs.
If you are wondering how to use wood chips on the grill to get that charcoal aroma then here are the steps you need to follow:
Place the wood chips inside a sizeable can that does not take too much space on the pit. Make the can stand upright at the center of the coils. You must do this before you activate the grill. If the grill is turned on already then use a pair of tongs or else you will burn your hands.
Turn on the grill if it’s not on already. You will need starting gels or a barbeque lighter to light the wood chips on fire. When the coils in the grill get hot, the grates can also help them start a fire.
Keep the meat on the grill area with the lid shut and allow the smoke coming from the burning wood chips to dissipate into the meat. If you are using hardwood chips then the smoke may stay minimal and subside after some time. Typically, it takes about 30 minutes to produce red smoke-free charcoals on the grill. You may decide to use just one variety of wood or a mix of different varieties, but remember not to use softwood.
When your meat is cooked, you will notice that it has a subtle aroma of the wood used in the process. And so, you were able to use a convenient mode of grilling and still get to enjoy the classic charcoal flavor.
#2. Wood Chips In A Smoker Box
We have just told you about a good way of getting that authentic charcoal flavor with your electric grill is to use wood chips wrapped in a foil or can. However, a smoker box is a much better alternative that is not only safer to use but easier to use as well.
These boxes are specially designed to contain charcoal or wood chips that burn within. The boxes usually have a vent in the corner or sometimes all the way around to let out the smoke so that it infuses properly into your chicken, beef, lamb, or fish.
Smoker boxes are typically small but they do come in different sizes. Most models will have a base of nearly 6” x 2” and holes all around. You simply need to keep this smoker box on your electric grill to let that irresistible flavor permeate into your food.
Weber is known to be the leading maker of smoker boxes, and one such popular product is Char-Broil Cast Iron Smoker Box. To use this product, you just need to add a few pieces of charcoal or wood chips intp the smoker box while you cook.
You may soak the chips in water beforehand to reduce the speed of combustion, which results in a lot of smoke very quickly. Much of the flavor that grill enthusiasts seek comes from the smoke, so adding moisture is a good idea.
Make sure you place the smoker box as close to the meat as possible for the best results. When using an electric grill, you can place it over the coils. Set the temperature at the highest level possible so that the box gets heated up much faster. It usually takes about 10 minutes to start producing smoke.
When you see smoke coming out of the vents and enveloping the coils and grills, you may adjust the temperature as you see fit. It’s worth noting that once a few chips of wood or bits of charcoal catch fire, the rest will follow even if the temperature is reduced.
Benefits of Using Electric Grills with Wood Chips
Some people might wonder – what’s the purpose of using an electric grill when you crave a charcoal flavor? Well, there are several benefits of opting for the contemporary way of cooking over the “traditional” method.
Firstly, by using wood chips, the food that you cook on an electric grill will have an authentic flavor without you having to cook in the backyard or garage. So you can do it even when the weather outside is bad.
With a bit of help from smoking the wood chips, an electric grill can quickly create an amazing flavor for your steak and chicken. You can get a similar flavor using a traditional barbeque within an hour, much longer than an electric grill. To get that juicy BBQ flavor, try out the smoker box.
If you live in an apartment or a condo, the electric grill is the best option you have to enjoy authentic barbeque without getting into the mess of a charcoal grill.
Also, if there are fire regulations in your neighborhood this is a safer option as there are no open flames and not too much smoke. You can safely entertain your friends and treat them to delicious homemade grilled meat without violating any laws.
Which is better – an electric or charcoal grill?
This will depend entirely on your grilling needs and any restrictions in your residential area. The electric grills work best for those who wish to skip the hassle of setting up a charcoal grill. For that authentic taste, you can always use wood chips or a smoker box.
How does an electric grill work?
An electric grill works by generating heat using electricity instead of gas or charcoal. As the electric grills do not create any smoke or fumes, they are one of the safest types that you can use indoors. They are also considered more environmentally friendly because they pollute less and use less energy.
Is it safe to keep the aluminum foil on a grill?
Yes, it is absolutely fine to keep the aluminum foil on an electric grill. Similar to the other types of grills, electric grills have heated surfaces for cooking food and you can safely put aluminum foil on them. In fact, many people prefer to put the wood chips in foil and keep it on the grill to produce smoke.