What The Color Of Smoke Means For Food On The Grill

We all have grilling hacks we wish we knew sooner. This is because backyard grilling is not without its perils — it's easy to under or overestimate how long it will take food to cook. Allow meats and veggies to stay on those grates too long and you'll literally have a hot, burnt mess to deal with. But there's a sign you should be looking for to help you manage and become the grill master you were meant to be. Smoke colors have meaning, especially when you are cooking or smoking some of your favorite foods on the barbecue. 

As it turns out, if you are hosting a cookout and your grill is producing a thick white or dirty smoke as your steaks and hamburgers achieve that beautiful sear, this is not the grill goal you are searching for. In fact, if your grill is producing white smoke, you are likely not only burning your foods, but they may develop an overly smoky taste and smell that is unappetizing. Instead, you are looking for a smoke that is transparent or blue in color.

Smoke can signal proper ventilation and a clean grill

How does the undesirable and thick gray smoke happen? This is a result of little to no oxygen, which can happen when your grill doesn't have proper ventilation. The vents and exhaust need to be completely open otherwise the end result will be dirty smoke basting your food. But that's not the only precaution you need to take to avoid the wrong color of smoke. Dirty grills can also produce dirty smoke. So make certain you start with a clean grill and this becomes less of a worry. 

The point of cooking food on the grill is to impart some of that smoky flavor to your recipes. But get too much, and it's like adding too much salt to a dish. You only want to see a little smoke coming out of the grill, and as long as it isn't thick, white, or fluffy, you can assume you are doing it right.