Using bricks in your smoker is a great way to grill meat, especially when the recipes require you to cook for hours on end. Using bricks won’t make that much of a difference when it comes to a short cooking session, though.
I find bricks to be a complete game-changer, especially when you’re cooking with a cheap smoker.
It’s a great way to control and capture heat. And a fantastic way to add extra smoky flavor to your food.
But it only works when time allows the bricks to make a difference.
You get to have more control over temperature when you’re cooking for long periods of time. I’m talking about the kind of thing that will take more than three hours to make. A pulled pork recipe, for example.
For your average steak or burger (something that’ll take you a couple of minutes), it’ll make little to no difference.
Some people swear on bricks no matter what they cook, though. Check it out and see for yourself. I prefer to use them when necessary.
What kind of bricks can I use in my smoker?
You should only put fire bricks inside your smoker. Other bricks will not stand the heat and either break, dissolve, or release toxic fumes when you’re cooking – and that’s not the kind of thing you want to be cooking with.
The best thing about fire bricks (other than helping you cook better) is how cheap they are.
You can probably buy 6 of them for $20 or $30 tops. You can find them for $2 apiece if you’re lucky.
You should forget about cooking with bricks if you can’t find fire bricks, though. That’s your only choice for this kind of stuff.
Why can’t you use anything other than fire bricks? Because it’s downright dangerous. This topic is so important I’ll dedicate an entire section to it.
Can I use anything other than fire bricks in my smoker?
You should use fire bricks alone when using your smoker. Any other option is either a bad idea or a dangerous one. Certain bricks will become toxic when put over heat, others cannot take the high temperatures and will break, and some bricks may even explode.
I can’t stress how important it is for you not to use anything other than fire bricks.
You may think concrete bricks are not that bad for cooking. Well, they absolutely are.
Best case scenario, you cook with concrete bricks, and they’ll crumble inside your smoker.
Worst case scenario, you cook with concrete bricks, and they’ll (quite literally) explode inside your smoker.
You may have read you can take the impurities out of certain types of bricks, and that’ll be enough to use them in your smoker. So, can you?
Well, your smoker can’t come anywhere close to the temperature necessary to pull that trick – so don’t try it.
Keep it simple, keep it safe, and get fire bricks for your smoker.
Why should I use bricks in my smoker?
Fire bricks will help you to control the temperature, especially when using cheaper smokers. When it comes to cooking for a long time, the metal is not enough to keep the heat inside. Fortunately, fire bricks work as insulators, and they do a fine job at that.
A smoker has one big problem it cannot solve on its own, and that’s uneven cooking. When you throw a steak on top of it and cook it quickly, you don’t have to worry about anything coming out uneven. When you’re cooking for a long period of time, uneven cooking leads to having half your meat undercooked and the other one overcooked. Fire bricks prevent that from happening.
As I have said above, the great thing about fire bricks is that they work as insulators, making sure the temperature stays nice and even. Because of that, you will be able to cook for longer periods of time using less charcoal or any other source of energy you prefer.
You can change the flavor of your meal when you change something inside your smoker. Meat tastes different when you choose charcoal over wood and vice-versa. Well, cooking with fire bricks changes how your food will taste – in a good way.
Great for the winter:
Fire bricks are a great choice for long cookouts, especially during winter. You probably know how difficult it is to grill during cold temperatures – but what you probably didn’t know is how much help a few fire bricks can give you.
How to use bricks in a smoker
Using fire bricks in your smoker is simple. You need to put a few bricks in the firebox, then put a few more bricks on top of the charcoal (or whatever you’re using as fuel) in the main chamber. After that, light a fire and start cooking!
You can play around and find out how you like to lay the bricks.
For example, some people prefer to put two bricks standing up in the firebox and lay down a few more bricks in the main chamber.
Others prefer to put everything lying down. It’s up to you, the space in your smoker, and what works best.
What you need to know when cooking with fire bricks
Pick the right bricks
You can read above why fire bricks are the only type of brick you can use when cooking.
In this part, I’m going to tell you that you need to choose the right kind of fire brick. You need the thick ones, and you may have to shop around to find them.
Using anything other than that will leave you with poor insulation – and proper insulation is the main point of cooking with fire bricks.
How are you going to know which fire brick is thick enough? Don’t worry about that. You will realize it on your own when you see three or four fire bricks.
The amount of bricks matter
Use few bricks, and you’ll lose insulation. Use too many bricks, and you’re overcrowding your smoker.
How many bricks you use matters – and it matters a lot!
The average smoker needs at least four bricks. Two will go in the firebox. Then, you can put anywhere from two to six bricks in the main chamber.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how many to put in the main chamber without looking at your smoker and the size of your fire bricks. You’ll have to trust your gut and try different numbers.
Of course, bigger smokers will need more fire bricks. Play around with it and figure out the right amount.
Are fire bricks necessary to cook using a smoker?
You don’t need fire bricks to use your smoker. With that in mind, fire bricks add a lot of good things to the grilling experience when you use them at the right time. They have zero drawbacks and plenty of benefits for you to enjoy.
As you know by now, the longer you have to cook something on your smoker, the more fire bricks will help you get the job done properly.
And if you need to cook a quick burger, then fire bricks will make little to no difference.
The great thing is, you can put your fire bricks in place – and then forget about them!
They will help you when you need them and make no difference when you don’t. It doesn’t get any better than that.
So, no, fire bricks are not necessary when you’re using a smoker. Then again, they help a lot and ask for nothing – why not use them?
Are fire bricks safe to cook on?
Absolutely! As long as you choose fire bricks and nothing else (such as concrete or clay bricks) you will have nothing to worry about when it comes to cooking. Beware of other brick choices, though – they can become toxic or break down when you cook.
Not only are fire bricks safe to cook on, but they are made for you to use to cook. So, don’t worry about it.
Any nightmare stories about bricks being unhealthy, breaking down, or causing any sort of trouble are related to any type of brick that isn’t the fire brick kind.
Can I cook on top of firebricks alone?
Cooking on top of firebricks is a great idea if you have a brick oven – but not so much if you’re using a smoker. When it comes to grilling in a smoker, the fire bricks will go right next to the charcoal, so it’ll be close to impossible to cook on top of them.
For the most part, the fire bricks will share space with the charcoal, and both of them will be away from the food.
In that scenario, cooking on top of the fire bricks will put your food dangerously close to the charcoal. Moving the bricks away from the charcoal will make you lose most of the heat insulation you had.
You can try to cook with a brick oven if you want to, though!