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Tips on how to use a smoker

Are you looking forward to some tasty, smoked meal but not sure how to use a smoker?

Although gas or charcoal grills are great for fresh, flavourful home-cooked meals, nothing brings out the rich flavour quite like a smoker. Smokers allow you to slow-cook food on a low heat over longer periods of time. However, a smoker can be quite complex to use and will only deliver great results when you know how to use it right. Here is a simple guide on how to use a smoker, whether it’s a charcoal, propane, or wood chips type.

  • 1. Set up the temperature probes

Smoker temperatures are usually set between 200 to 275°F, depending on what you’re trying to cook. It is recommended that you buy a good digital thermometer to accurately track the temperature fluctuations as coals burn down, airflow is adjusted, and fuel is added.

  • 2. Light the charcoal

When your meat is ready to cook, fire up your smoker grill by first lighting a full load of charcoal in a chimney starter until just starting to ash over. This should take about 15 minutes.

  • 3. Open the intake and chimney baffles and add lit coals

Most smokers have both an intake baffle near the firebox and a chimney baffle at the chimney. Open both baffles and place coals into the firebox and wait until the smoker grill reaches your desired temperature. Then add the meat to the smoker once the temperature probes indicate that the smoker has reached your desired temperature and close the door again.

  • 4. Maintain your temperature

Adjust the intake baffle to start controlling the heat, by gradually closing it halfway or more until the temp stabilizes in the 225-250°F range on the hot side of the smoker. Keep the chimney baffle wide open. When coals fade out replenish as needed with fully lit coals from the chimney starter.

  • 5. Add wood chunks

Wood chips come in many varieties like hardwoods and nutwoods and are used to create the smoke flavour. Usually, large chunks of wood instead of chips are recommended because they smoulder more slowly and consistently.

  • 6. Add moisture to the smoke

To ensure your barbecue absorbs that delicious smoky flavour, add moisture to the smoke and meat. This can be done by either placing a metal rack over the coals in the firebox and adding a water pan on the grate or spritzing your meat with a bit of water or apple juice.

  • 7. Take your time

Cooking times will vary based on the exact temperature, the type of meat and the type of smoker you’re using. A good rule of thumb is to allow one to one and a half hours for each pound of large chunks of meat. 

  • Looking for a smoker to purchase in Australia?

Contact The BBQ Store, Australia's largest online BBQ specialists, offering an extensive range of leading brands and competitively priced charcoal and gas BBQs, pizza ovens, outdoor kitchens, smokers, patio heaters, BBQ accessories and more.


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