How Does a Bbq Smoker Work: A Beginner’s Guide

How Does a Bbq Smoker Work

Last Updated on June 22, 2021

How does a bbq smoker work? In this article, you will learn a lot about barbecue smokers. Then, we will talk about charcoal smokers, electric smokers, and other options available on the market.

The purpose of a smoker is the same, no matter how it’s powered. You intend to start smoking meat to make everything as tasty as possible. It may not sound very easy, but the entire process is much easier than you may think.

You don’t even need to have that much experience smoking meat to achieve something you can be proud of. In short, this outdoor cooking appliance could become a mainstay of your outdoor summer eating.

The Basics of Smoker Grills

We should begin by looking at the basics of a smoker grill, leading us to describe how it works.

The basic idea is that a smoker will smoke meat in a cooking chamber. Cooking meat with smoke produces a different taste, but it takes longer to complete the process. Furthermore, it takes a different approach compared to a normal bbq.

The Advantages of Offset Smokers

These types of smokers come with many advantages. First, it involves you cooking meat slowly, which can be a great thing for keeping control of the entire process.

Next, the cooking temperature is lower than it is compared to a normal bbq. It needs to have a reduced heat source simply because you will be cooking food.

Also, even though this may not be your usual cooking method, you will see that creating the correct heat, and stoking the fire, so to speak, is also a whole lot easier than with most charcoal grills.

The Setup of a Bbq Smoker

It is with the setup of the smoker where things change to a normal bbq. Here, you have the fuel source to one side in the chamber, and the meat is located elsewhere. In a way, that means it uses indirect heat when it comes to cooking meat, rather than the direct heat of a bbq.

However, this setup, which can also be referred to at times as an offset smoker, does have its advantages.

Your Options With Smokers

When it comes to smokers, your options will primarily be linked to the different fuels that can be used for cooking. Of course, you can purchase an electric smoker, which will still create the smoking process, but some people prefer to go for something more authentic.

That means you are looking at something such as charcoal smokers or using wood chips as a source. A pellet smoker is another option, but it’s certainly not as popular as others.

Of course, there are also gas smokers. A propane smoker helps you control every aspect with ease. Also, it makes it easier for you because you don’t have as much cleaning up to do after the fact.

Vertical Smokers and Horizontal Smokers

As you can imagine, the difference between a vertical smoker and a horizontal smoker is how it’s all aligned. The heating element is still to one side, and the barrel or drum aspect is either to the side or above the fuel source. It is entirely your choice as to which one you use, as both will produce smoked food to die for.

Step-by-Step Guide When Using a Bbq Smoker

Now we can move on to the actual operation and take you through how to carry out this slow cooking process.

So, we will presume you have one of the many drum smokers that are on the market. You want to start producing smoke, so get your wood chips or chunks of charcoal and be prepared to light your smoker.

Step 1: Get Your Temperature Gauges

You want to start by getting two temperature gauges. This is low and slow cooking, but you still want to know you can maintain low cooking temperatures that result in the food being cooked correctly.

Your smoker may have a temperature gauge, but it only measures one part. Also, it would help if you made sure the temperature is the same all over. That’s why we recommend having two. Lastly, a meat thermometer will help since it lets you know when it has reached the correct temperature.

Step 2: Lighting a Charcoal Smoker or Pellet Smoker

Lighting the smoker will be different depending on the type you have.

A. When Lighting a Charcoal Smoker or Pellet Smoker

Whether you are using a charcoal smoker or pellet smoker, you need to add the fuel to the bbq smoker. This is in the chimney part, and it’s the smaller compartment on your smoker. Different types of smokers will have the chimney in various parts, but open it up and add your fuel.

If you are even using wood chips, you then need to light the fuel in the same way as you would with a normal bbq. That’s going to start to get the smoke up to the desired temperature.

B. Light an Electric Smoker or Propane Smoker

If you have a propane smoker, you need to connect the propane to the gas attachment. If you have used a gas bbq before, this will work in the same way.

After that, you need to create the spark to kick the smoker grill into action.

For electric smokers, plug it in and start generating heat.

Step 3: Open the Intake

Once you have done this, open the intake. Do note one may be at the chimney, and one may be at the firebox. You need both to be open to creating the perfect smoky environment for this slow cooking method.

An important note, please do not add the meat yet. You may be cooking at low temperatures, but your box smoker still has to reach a specific temperature before you go to the cooking part.

Step 4: Add the Meat

Once the temperature goes up, you need to add the meat. Add the meat cold as it absorbs the smoke more easily and leads to a better result.

For this, use your temperature probe to check the temperature. Once you are satisfied, add all of the food to the grill.

Step 5: Avoid Opening the Doors

As the process is low and slow cooking, you want to maintain a constant temperature as much as possible. That means you should avoid opening the doors on your box smokers wherever possible.

You want to produce smoked meat, and when you produce smoke, you want it to cook meat rather than be allowed to escape from the door.

Step 6: Maintain the Temperature

Your main focus now should be on the heat source. Wood smokers will need those wood chunks added to the fire now and again, so check if the volume of smoke is dropping. If so, add more, and the same applies to wood pellets. If you have ever used a charcoal grill before, you will be familiar with this entire process.

Step 7: Watch the Intake Baffle

Aside from the fuel, it would help if you also watched the intake baffle. The baffle is the part that controls the amount of oxygen that gets into the smoker. This has a direct impact on the level of smoke that’s produced by the coals, and this, in turn, changes the temperature.

Also, keep an eye on the chimney baffle. That’s going to control the smoke volume in the actual chamber, as well as the temperature where the food is cooking. You want to cook meat but in a very controlled manner to get that smoky flavour.

As long as you maintain this temperature, you will get some fantastic food from smoker ovens. However, there are several other things you can do that will make things even better.

Extra Tips to Get the Best Results

You want to have the food tasting the best it can, so consider the following tips.

Tip 1: Use Wood Chips Even With Charcoal

Using wood chips will add a whole new dimension to the taste of the smoke. Large chunks of wood will work best of all. Consider hardwood, fruitwood, and nutwood for the best results.

Tip 2: Add Moisture

Have a water pan nearby, as adding moisture can profoundly affect making a smoker work better than before.

Take your water pan, and add water to both the meat and the coals. This makes it easier for the meat to absorb the smoky flavour you are looking for successfully. Next, add a water pan to the grill, as it will then humidify all of the smoke just as it makes its way into the chamber.

For the meat, splash some on throughout the cooking process. It will keep the meat moist, make it more tender, and taste better as well.

Tip 3: Take Your Time

The most important thing of all is to take your time to make your smoker work. Of course, we are talking about it taking hours, but this depends on what you are cooking.

By the end, you will have meat that is soft, tender, and if you have something on the bone, then be prepared for it to just fall off with ease. Having a smoker at home can be a wonderful way to produce amazing food. Just remember you don’t need only a wood smoker as any option on the market will work. All you need to do is determine the fuel source you prefer and then get to work.

Chill and Grill

You know how a bbq work will enable you to get the best results when using one. Keep the temperature consistent and add some water to the mix, and you will be enjoying so low and slow-cooked delights in no time.

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