How to Use a BBQ Smoker

With a bbq smoker, you can easily cook a tasty steak with a smoky flavour and is perfectly tender. While using a bbq smoker might seem complicated at first, it is a process that is quite easy to master.

In this post, we will show you how to use a BBQ smoker by taking you through each step. Let’s jump in.

What Is a Barbecue Smoker?

Simply put, this is an appliance that makes it easier for you to cook and smoke meat in a low and slow style with indirect heat. While there are various types of smokers in the market, the most popular one is the offset smoker.

An offset smoker comes with two separate high-quality compartments. It features a cooking chamber and a firebox for fuel combustion on one side of the smoker. As the name hints, the firebox is a separate section that is located right next to the main compartment; it acts as a heat source.

In most models, the firebox is usually located to the left or the right of the smoker. However, in other models, the firebox is located behind the main compartment. To fire up a smoker, you can use wood chips or charcoal.

The heat and smoke produced from the firebox chamber travel to the main compartment and infused a smoky flavour on your steak.

An offset smoker also makes it easier for you to control the internal temperature, making it easier for you to cook in a low and slow style. An offset smoker also has a chimney and a vent that can reduce the internal temperature. Plus, it features various vents that are used to increase the temperature by speeding up fuel combustion.

 

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Step by Step Guide to Using Barbecue Smokers

Step 1: Start a Fire

You can use charcoal or wood chips to start a fire in a charcoal smoker.

  • A good chimney smoker or a smoking chamber might be a handy tool for you if you want to ignite fire quite quickly.
  • Place some logs in the firebox to increase the intensity of the fire. Don’t use large logs of wood.
  • The logs should be placed directly over the charcoal.
  • Doing this makes it easier for you to attain the optimum temperature for cooking.

To speed up the fire ignition process, you should keep the firebox door open. Also, all the vents should be open.

Step 2: Attaining the Optimum Temperature for Cooking Meat

An optimum temperature makes it easier for you to cook meat at a low and slow temperature. The best temperature to smoke meat is at 225F. Due to this, you have to regulate the temperature inside your BBQ smoker and keep it low.

You can do this by placing a good probe on the grill grate. A probe is a special thermometer that shows you the internal temperature of a grill. It also shows you whether the steak is fully cooked or still raw.

  • Once you place the probe on the grill grate, wait for the bbq smoker to attain the optimum temperature required to smoke meat.
  • To regulate the internal temperature of the grill, open the chimney and the side vents. It also makes it easier for you to keep the temperature at a constant level, making it easier for you to smoke meat.
  • You should also open and close the vents based on your temperature preferences. If you want to reduce the internal temperature of the grill, open the chimney and close the vents.
  • Check the firebox to determine whether the logs are producing enough heat or not. If the logs are not producing enough heat, add a few more.

Step 3: Fire Regulation

Fire regulation is the process of maintaining the internal temperature by keeping it at an optimum level. You can do this by opening the vents, adding more wood to the firebox, or opening the chimney.

  • Check the temperature of your grill after every 20-30 minutes.
  • If there’s a drop in the overall temperature, you should add more logs to the firebox. Open the vents to speed up combustion and thus increase the temperature.

Other Tips That Will Help You Smoke Meat Easily in a Low And Slow Heat

Use Probes at Both Ends of the BBQ Smoker

Now, here’s the thing:

From time to time, the temperature between one end of a bbq smoker and the other might differ; one end might be hotter than the other. While most smokers might come with in-built thermometers, such thermometers are not always accurate.

To get accurate temperature readings while smoking meat, you have to use two probes on both ends of your barbecue smoker; one on the grill grate and the other on the firebox.

Make Sure to Rotate Your Steak Regularly

Due to the temperature difference on different parts of the grill, you have to rotate your meat regularly. For instance, you can turn the steak after every 45 minutes and expose each side to some heat. By doing this, your steak will cook evenly on each side.

Add Some Water to Enhance the Smoky Flavour

Water enhances the smoky flavour that is produced by wooden chunks. You can use a water pan to enhance the smoky flavour absorbed by the piece of meat you are cooking. Put a water pan under the grill grate and refill it once it evaporates completely. After that, you can put your steak on top of the water pan.

If you do not want to make your steak dry up as you are smoking it in low and slow heat, you can use water. Sprinkle some water on your steak as it cooks. You can also use some apple juice instead of water to add some extra flavour to your steak.

Wood Chunks Are Much Better Than Wood Chips

Wood chunks smoulder consistently and slowly, infusing a smoky flavour into your steak. Examples of such wood chunks include nut woods, hardwoods, and fruitwoods; they have the best flavours. Not to mention, such wood chunks burn consistently and slowly. While some enthusiasts might soak chunks of wood in water before using them, it is not advisable. Soaking chunks of wood in water might affect the combustion of charcoal in the firebox, making the fire inconsistent.

 

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Be Patient With Time

Smoking meat takes around 10-15 hours. Not to mention, smoking large chunks of meat might take even longer—almost 20 hours. When it comes to smoking meat, you have to be patient before you can get a crispy, juicy, and tender steak that melts in your mouth. Also, smoking doesn’t expose your steak to direct heat. Think of it as an indirect way of cooking meat. Cooking meat for long periods makes it more tender.

Keep the Lid of the Cooking Chamber Closed While Smoking Meat

You should close the lid of your barbecue smoker to prevent heat loss. Opening the door might cause the internal temperature to drop significantly. Once you finish rotating your steak/checking the internal temperatures, close the lid of the cooking chamber.

Closing the firebox door also makes it easier for you to maintain a steady temperature in the firebox. It should be opened when you are adding more wood to the fire. If you want to speed up combustion in the firebox, you can open the door.

Preheat the Barbecue Smoker Before You Start to Smoke Any Meat/Steak

Before you put your steak on the grill, preheat the smoker by adding enough wood chunks and charcoal to the firebox. Wait until the smoker attains the optimum temperature for cooking.

Doing this makes it easier for you to avoid excess smoke produced in the early stages of combustion.

Use a Combination of Both Charcoal and Wood to Smoke Your Meat

To get that smoky flavour that tastes so good, you have to use a combination of both charcoal and wood to smoke your steak. Add wood chips to your firebox in every instance that you use a smoker.

If you use charcoal only or wood only, your steak might have a bitter taste that is not quite welcoming. To prevent this from happening, you have to use both charcoal and wood while smoking your meat.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Barbecue Smoker

grilling meat and sausage

Now, once you have finished smoking your steak, the next thing that you need to do is to clean your barbeque smoker and store it in a safe place. It increases the lifespan of your barbeque smoker and also reduces the risk of food poisoning. Not to mention, a flame from a greasy smoker produces acrid smoke that can affect the flavour of your steaks. You don’t want this to happen the next time you are smoking meat, do you?
Here’s how you can easily clean your smoker after you finish cooking your steak:

Remove the Ash

Start by removing the ash that might be in the firebox. The byproducts of charcoal and wood chunks might cause chemical reactions that could lead to rusting. Before you start this process, extinguish the fire completely.

Clean the Grilling Plates

Some of the carbon that might be left on the grilling grates could make your steak taste bad in your next grilling session. To prevent this from happening, you have to clean the grilling grates.

Use a grill brush and soapy water to scrape off chunks of meat that might have been on the grill. You can also soak your grilling grate in soapy water for about 30 minutes. It will soften any residue and make it easier for you to clean it effortlessly.

Clean the Cooking Chamber

After that, clean the bottom part of your barbecue smoker. You can use paper towels to remove any puddles of grease that may have accumulated at the bottom part of your cooking chamber. Once you finish doing that, scrape off that stains using soapy water and a brush. Also, don’t forget to clean the corners.

Clean the Lid

The next thing that you need to clean is the lid of your smoker. If you don’t clean it thoroughly, carbon particles that might have been stuck to the hood of the door may fall into your steak in your next cookout. Scrape off some of the carbon particles with a brush. After that, dip a sponge in soapy water and clean the interior part of the grill’s door. Rinse it off with some clean water.

Finishing Off

Use clean rags to remove any excess water that might have accumulated in the cooking chamber. Place it in an open space so that it dries out. While you can place it in an open space, don’t let it sit in the sun for a long time. Store it in a safe room once it dries out completely.

To prevent the formation of rust on different parts of the smoker, you have to oil different parts using vegetable oil. Also, use some oil to lubricate the movable parts of the vents.

Seasoning Your Offset Smoker

In some instances, a smoker might come from a manufacturer with different parts that are oily. If this happens, you have to season it and remove the oil puddles in the interior compartment. The first thing you need to do is fill the interior compartments with a fuel source like wood chips. After that, ignite the fuel source and let it burn for a short time. Don’t smoke any meat while carrying out this task. It should be a dry run to get rid of any oil that might be in the smoker.

Start Grilling Your Meat

Well, by following some of the listed steps, we hope you know how to use a BBQ smoker so you can cook some tasty meat. Make sure that you attain the optimum heat for smoking meat while using a smoker. It makes it easier for you to get a juicy and tender steak that melts in your mouth, giving you a smoky flavour.

Also, maintain your offset smoker by cleaning it and using it regularly. If you don’t use it regularly, you might find some cobwebs in the cooking chamber, and it won’t be ready for your next cookout.

How do you use your BBQ smoker? Do you have any tips for us? Let us know below.

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