The 101 of How to Use a Smoker Grill

Updated March 15th, 2020
This article contains affiliate links. If you click on these and make a purchase, we will receive a small percentage of the sale. However, this does not influence our editorial content. You can read our disclosure to learn more.

So, you have searched, researched and found the perfect Smoker for those outdoor cookouts. She’s arrived and you feel the excitement, like a kid with a new toy, as you watch the delivery guy place her careful-like in the doorway. You hear the wife squeal with delight and she is immediately on the phone inviting all and sundry for the first barbecue of the season … this weekend … at your house … and you are expected to produce a Masterchef feast.

You feel the blood drain from your face. Now what? You barely know how to use the damn thing! You are about to suggest that she let you test drive the sucker a few times before launching your fantastic cooking skills on the neighborhood. But alas, she has, miraculously, already invited ten couples. Take a load off and calm down to a panic. We have put together a fail-safe how to use a Smoker grill guide, which will have you lashing out gourmet meals in time for the weekend “barby”.

If you don’t already have a Smoker, but are in the process of looking for one, why not take a look at our article about the best smokers to help you along?


big-smokerNo matter what Smoker you have or intend to buy, the preparation of your Smoker and your food is just as important as the actual process of cooking. Once you have repeated these simple steps a few times, you will be doing this in your sleep. So, don’t balk at the idea just yet.


Buy or gather wood chunks, chips and twigs. You can get a variety of wood flavors on the market and depending on what you are cooking, each type of wood will suit a certain meat, from pork to chicken, beef to fish and even cheeses. Smoked cheeses are just awesome!There are many varieties of wood to choose from. But, here are a few of our favorites:

Soak your wood chunks and chips in water for at least one hour, twigs for 30 minutes. This helps with the smoking process. While the wood is soaking, unveil your new toy from its box and wrappings, set it up in the area where you will be cooking and just admire it for a while. Due to the smoky nature of a Smoker, you want to ensure you cook away from your high traffic areas and everyday living, unless your family likes the lingering scents of barbecued meats.


Fill the water tray up with water and any sauce, marinade, beer, fruit juices, wine and herbs or spices to add to the aromatic flavor. These flavors will flow through the smoke into your food as well. Make sure you keep the water pan full and every time you check on the meat, top it up.


While not a prerequisite, we suggest that you “season” your cooker before using it for the first time and get into the habit of doing this each time before you cook. The “season” process is simple. Spray the entire interior of your smoker with cooking or vegetable oil and “dry” cook at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. “Dry” cooking means cooking without food. After this, do a steam cleaning process.

Keeping the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, open the smoker cooker door and spray water on the walls of the cooker, the grills, in fact all the surfaces. Following that, place a few pieces of wood inside and let it “dry” or “smoke cure” cook at 45 degrees Fahrenheit again. Be mindful of your eyes and hands during this process, as that steam can burn like a …!Friends enjoying a BBQ

Shake off the excess water from your pre-soaked wood pieces and place them in the firebox. Preheat your smoker, much like you would do with a conventional oven before cooking. Wait till the temperature is at the desired point, as per your recipe instructions. When the smoker is fully smoking, you are ready to start with the food

You’re almost there and have systematically followed our simple steps on how to use a Smoker grill. Congrats! Now begins the fun part. The actual cooking!

5, 4, 3, 2, BEGIN

When you have your recipe all set out and know how long it will take to cook your desired piece of protein, place the food in the center of the grill plate. If you are cooking a variety of meats or including some veggies, make sure you space them so that the smoke can circulate and infiltrate all the food evenly. Continue checking the cooking meat and preferably use a meat thermometer to test for when it’s ready, according to your recipe. Some Smokers come equipped with meat thermometers. If yours doesn’t you can purchase this at any retailer or here on Amazon. Here are a few options:

Or you can go real old school with this,

Just stick him in and read the dial. You want to be checking the temperature of the coals as well, from time to time, unless you have a Smoker that has a built in temperature indicator.

If yours doesn’t then much track-of-lambhe same as an open fire barbecue, you want to be moving those coals around, with a tongs and definitely hand mitts, to ensure an even distribution of heat. Keep adding wood to the top of the coals as you see the embers fading. If you are worried that you will let the coals die down too much to finish off your cooling, then purchase a portable thermometer from any retailer or here on Amazon. The Thermometers mentioned above have a dual function to measure both the meat and smoker temperature.


man-serving-foodAs in the Preparation you should be steam cleaning your smoker before and after each cook. Add to your shopping list, if your Smoker didn’t come automatically with one, a stainless steel grill brush for scraping down the grills and drip pan. This will be your lifesaver. Believe us!

Most Smokers come with a neat cover, which, once the cooker has been cleaned and cooled, you can pop over and store away. So, the day has come and you are ready to impress. Now that you have followed the steps on how to use a smoker grill, you are all set. So, don your “I’m the Masterchef” apron and let loose with your new Smoker.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *