How to Use an Outdoor Smoker For the First Time?

19 minutes read

Using an outdoor smoker for the first time can be an exciting experience. Before you begin, it's important to familiarize yourself with the type of smoker you have and read the manufacturer's instructions carefully.


Start by seasoning your smoker according to the manufacturer's guidelines. This typically involves coating the inside of the smoker with oil and running it at a high temperature for a period of time to burn off any residues or impurities.


Once your smoker is seasoned, you can prepare your meat or other items for smoking. Make sure to marinate or season your food beforehand, as smoking tends to impart a subtle flavor rather than a strong one.


When you're ready to start smoking, preheat your smoker to the desired temperature. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature throughout the smoking process and adjust the fuel source as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.


Place your food on the racks inside the smoker and close the lid securely. Depending on the type of smoker you have, you may need to add wood chips or chunks periodically to keep the smoke going.


Cook your food according to the recommended time and temperature for the type of meat or other items you are smoking. Remember that smoking is a slow cooking process, so it may take several hours for your food to be fully cooked and infused with smoky flavor.


Once your food is ready, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy the delicious results of your first outdoor smoking experience!

Best Outdoor Smokers of July 2024

1
Masterbuilt® 30-inch Digital Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Leg Kit, Side Wood Chip Loader and 710 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070421

Rating is 5 out of 5

Masterbuilt® 30-inch Digital Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Leg Kit, Side Wood Chip Loader and 710 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070421

  • Vertical digital electric smoker with 710 square inches of cooking space
  • Digital controls to easily set cooking time and temperature up to 275°F
  • Four chrome-coated smoking racks
  • Removable water bowl to add moisture and catch food drippings
2
EAST OAK 30" Digital Electric Smoker, Outdoor Smoker with Glass Door and Meat Thermometer, 725 Sq Inches of Cooking with Remote, 4 Detachable Racks Smoker Grill for Party, Home BBQ, Night Blue

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

EAST OAK 30" Digital Electric Smoker, Outdoor Smoker with Glass Door and Meat Thermometer, 725 Sq Inches of Cooking with Remote, 4 Detachable Racks Smoker Grill for Party, Home BBQ, Night Blue

  • 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗺𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗿 𝗙𝗹𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗿: The smoker features a side wood chip loader for continuous smoking for 2-3 hours without opening the door and adding chips, preserving the internal heat, and locking in the smoked flavors
  • 𝗧𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗝𝘂𝗶𝗰𝘆 𝗧𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲: The 800W power heating tube in the electric smoker creates consistent smoke from wood chips, guaranteeing tender, juicy meats through low and slow cooking. Follow EAST OAK's website for more delectable recipes
  • 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗢𝗯𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝗱: The visual glass door allows you to directly observe the food in the smoker, and the internal light also aids in illumination. The meat probe detects food temperature and keeps track of smoking progress and heat in real-time
  • 𝗘𝘅𝗰𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗗𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆: The digital smoker features a casing made of three layers of high-quality materials. Additionally, aluminum plating along the edges reduces deformation and damage, ensuring long-lasting durability for outdoor use
3
Ninja OG951 Woodfire Pro Connect Premium XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker, Bluetooth, App Enabled, 7-in-1 Master Grill, BBQ Smoker, Outdoor Air Fryer, Woodfire Technology, 2 Built-In Thermometers, Black

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

Ninja OG951 Woodfire Pro Connect Premium XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker, Bluetooth, App Enabled, 7-in-1 Master Grill, BBQ Smoker, Outdoor Air Fryer, Woodfire Technology, 2 Built-In Thermometers, Black

  • 7-IN-1 FUNCTIONALITY: Grill, BBQ smoke, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Broil, and Dehydrate with 100% real woodfire flavors​ all in one place.
  • WOODFIRE TECHNOLOGY: Powered by electricity, flavored by real wood burning pellets for all the flavor and none of the flame. Add woodfire flavor you can see and taste. ​
  • FOOLPROOF BBQ SMOKER: Authentic BBQ bark and flavor—fast and easy with just ½ cup of pellets.
  • DUAL THERMOMETER COOKING: Includes 2 built-in thermometers so you can cook 2 different protein types to 2 different doneness settings from rare to well.
4
Ninja OG701 7-in-1 Outdoor Electric Grill & Smoker - Grill, BBQ, Air Fry, Bake, Roast, Dehydrate & Broil - Uses Woodfire Pellets - Portable & Weather Resistant

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Ninja OG701 7-in-1 Outdoor Electric Grill & Smoker - Grill, BBQ, Air Fry, Bake, Roast, Dehydrate & Broil - Uses Woodfire Pellets - Portable & Weather Resistant

  • MASTER GRILL, BBQ SMOKER, & AIR FRYER: All in one with 100% real smoky flavor..Voltage: ‎120 volts
  • MASTER GRILL: Get all the performance of a full-size propane grill with the same char and searing.
  • FOOLPROOF BBQ SMOKER: Create authentic BBQ bark and flavor fast and easy with just 1/2 cup of pellets.
  • OUTDOOR AIR FRYER: Add smoky flavor to your air fried favorites and cook all your side dishes outdoors.
  • WEATHER-RESISTANT: Cook and store outdoors year-round.
  • 1760-WATT ELECTRIC POWER: No charcoal, propane, or flareups. Balcony & apartment friendly.
5
Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control, Four Removable Shelves, 36", Black

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control, Four Removable Shelves, 36", Black

  • Product Dimensions: 19.3" L x 18.1" W x 38.6" H | Weight: 69.5 lb
  • FOUR 14 X 14-INCH REMOVABLE STAINLESS STEEL SHELVES: Four stainless steel racks can be easily removed for smoking whole birds or large cuts of meat. Racks are dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy.
  • BUILT-IN THERMOMETER: Features easy-to-read thermometer on the front door for accessible monitoring of the internal temperature.
  • SEAL-TIGHT TWIST-LOCK DOOR AND HANDLE: The door stays tightly sealed with a twist of the handle.
6
Masterbuilt® 40-inch ThermoTemp Propane Gas Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control and 960 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20051316

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

Masterbuilt® 40-inch ThermoTemp Propane Gas Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control and 960 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20051316

  • Vertical propane smoker with 960 square inches of cooking space
  • Ignition button to easily light fuel with the push of a button
  • Four chrome-coated smoking racks
  • Woodchip tray to add delicious smoky-flavor to food
  • Adjustable air damper for smoke control
7
Royal Gourmet SE2805 28-Inch Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Cooking Grates, 454 sq inches Cooking Area in Total, 1350W Output, Outdoor BBQ Smoker with Adjustable Temperature Control, Black

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

Royal Gourmet SE2805 28-Inch Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Cooking Grates, 454 sq inches Cooking Area in Total, 1350W Output, Outdoor BBQ Smoker with Adjustable Temperature Control, Black

  • Better Smoked Flavor: The bottom heating tube works with a removable stainless steel water pan and a chip box to add smoked flavor and make it more tender.
  • Outstanding Heating Performance: 1350-watt heating power and an insulated chamber provide an even and consistent heating experience.
8
Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature Control, BBQ Smoker Grill Outdoor Heavy Duty Three Removable Smoking Shelves, Black

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature Control, BBQ Smoker Grill Outdoor Heavy Duty Three Removable Smoking Shelves, Black

  • With its simple design and a large smoking chamber, this vertical gas Smoker is the perfect choice for any enthusiast of smoked food, its compact design fits nicely on most patios or decks.
  • Incredibly solid and well-built, this sturdy smoker’s door seals in the smoke. The extra wide racks allow for ample airflow around the meat. Both the water bowl and wood chip tray are easy to access.
  • Smokers with wider racks to allow for larger-format smoking or big cuts of meat. The door of the cooking chamber can seal tightly shut, to trap smoke inside with minimal leaks.
9
Masterbuilt® 30-inch Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control, Chrome Smoking Racks and 535 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070210

Rating is 4.2 out of 5

Masterbuilt® 30-inch Electric Vertical BBQ Smoker with Analog Temperature Control, Chrome Smoking Racks and 535 Cooking Square Inches in Black, Model MB20070210

  • SPACIOUS VERTICLE DESIGN with 535 cooking square inches that fits up to 3 chickens, 2 turkeys or 3 racks of ribs
  • REMOVABLE WOOD CHIP TRAY – Add rich smoky flavor to your food and experiment with different wood chip types.
  • THREE chrome coated smoking racks included


How to properly position the food in the outdoor smoker?

  1. Make sure the racks or trays in your outdoor smoker are clean and have been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  2. Arrange the food in a single layer on the racks or trays. Leave some space between each piece of food to allow for proper air circulation and smoke penetration.
  3. If you are smoking different types of food at the same time, position the foods that require longer cooking times closer to the heat source or smoking wood. This will ensure they cook evenly and reach the proper internal temperature.
  4. Place meats with the fattier side facing up. This will allow the fat to render and baste the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful during the smoking process.
  5. If you are smoking smaller items like vegetables, fruits, or nuts, consider using a mesh grill basket or wrap them in foil to prevent them from falling through the grates.
  6. Check the temperature of your smoker regularly and rotate the racks or trays if necessary to ensure even cooking. This will help prevent any hot spots in the smoker that could cause some food to cook faster than others.
  7. When the food is done cooking, remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute and ensure the best flavor and texture.


How to control the airflow in the outdoor smoker?

There are a few different ways to control airflow in an outdoor smoker:

  1. Ventilation dampers: Most outdoor smokers have adjustable dampers that can be opened or closed to control airflow. Opening the dampers allows more oxygen into the smoker, increasing the heat and making the fire burn hotter. Closing the dampers restricts airflow, lowering the temperature inside the smoker.
  2. Firebox vents: Some smokers have vents on the firebox where you can control the amount of air that flows into the fire. Opening the vents allows more air to flow into the fire, increasing the heat. Closing the vents restricts airflow and lowers the temperature.
  3. Use a chimney: A chimney can be added to your outdoor smoker to help control airflow. Opening the chimney allows smoke and heat to escape, while closing it can help trap heat inside the smoker.
  4. Use a fan: Some advanced outdoor smokers come with a built-in fan that can help regulate airflow. You can adjust the fan speed to control the temperature inside the smoker.


Overall, the key to controlling airflow in an outdoor smoker is to experiment with different combinations of vents, dampers, and fans to find what works best for your specific smoker and cooking preferences.


How to protect the outdoor smoker from the elements?

  1. Use a high-quality cover: Purchase a cover specifically designed to fit your outdoor smoker to protect it from rain, snow, and UV rays. Make sure the cover is waterproof and UV-resistant to provide maximum protection.
  2. Store the smoker in a covered area: If possible, store the smoker in a garage, shed, or covered patio when not in use to keep it out of the direct elements.
  3. Build a shelter: If you don't have a covered area to store the smoker, consider building a shelter or awning over the smoker to protect it from rain and snow.
  4. Use a tarp: If a cover or shelter is not an option, use a heavy-duty tarp to cover the smoker when not in use. Make sure the tarp is securely tied down to prevent it from blowing away in the wind.
  5. Clean and maintain regularly: Regularly clean and maintain your outdoor smoker to prevent rust and damage from occurring. Remove any built-up grease, debris, and residue after each use and regularly inspect the smoker for any signs of wear and tear.
  6. Use a rust-proof coating: Consider applying a rust-proof coating to the exterior of the smoker to provide an additional layer of protection against the elements.
  7. Invest in a weatherproof smoker: If you live in an area with harsh weather conditions, consider investing in a weatherproof or stainless steel outdoor smoker that is designed to withstand the elements.


What is the purpose of a chimney in the outdoor smoker?

The purpose of a chimney in an outdoor smoker is to allow smoke and heat to escape from the cooking chamber. It creates proper ventilation and airflow, which helps regulate the temperature and ensures that the meats or food being smoked are cooked evenly and thoroughly. The chimney also helps in controlling the amount of smoke that builds up inside the smoker, preventing it from becoming too smoky or overpowering the flavor of the food.


How to add flavor to the food cooked in the outdoor smoker?

  1. Use a flavorful rub: Before cooking, season your meat with a flavorful rub made of herbs, spices, salt, and pepper. This will help enhance the natural flavors of the meat and create a delicious crust as it cooks.
  2. Marinade your meat: Marinating your meat before smoking can infuse it with additional flavors and help keep it moist during the cooking process. Use a marinade made of oil, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and herbs for best results.
  3. Use wood chips: Different types of wood chips can add unique flavors to your food as it cooks in the smoker. Experiment with different woods like hickory, apple, cherry, or mesquite to find the flavor profile you prefer.
  4. Baste while cooking: Basting your meat with a flavorful sauce or liquid while it cooks in the smoker can help keep it moist and add an extra layer of flavor. Make a basting sauce with ingredients like honey, maple syrup, soy sauce, or mustard.
  5. Add aromatics: Place aromatics like onion, garlic, herbs, or citrus fruits in the smoker while cooking to add subtle flavors to the meat. These ingredients will release their flavors as they heat up and smoke, infusing the meat with delicious tastes.
  6. Finish with a flavorful sauce: After the meat is cooked, finish it with a flavorful sauce or glaze to add a final burst of flavor. Make a sauce with ingredients like BBQ sauce, honey, mustard, or hot sauce to complement the smoky flavors of the meat.


By incorporating these tips, you can enhance the flavor of your food cooked in the outdoor smoker and create delicious, mouthwatering dishes for your next BBQ or gathering.


How to add wood chips to the smoker?

  1. Soak the wood chips: Before adding wood chips to the smoker, it's a good idea to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. This will help them burn more slowly and produce more smoke.
  2. Prepare the smoker: Make sure your smoker is set up and preheated to the desired temperature.
  3. Add the wood chips: Once the smoker is preheated, carefully add the soaked wood chips to the smoker. You can do this by placing them directly on the hot coals or in a designated wood chip tray, depending on the type of smoker you have.
  4. Monitor the smoke: As the wood chips start to burn, monitor the smoke production. You want to see a steady stream of thin, blue smoke coming out of the smoker. If the smoke is thick and white, the wood chips may be burning too fast and you may need to adjust the airflow in your smoker.
  5. Add more wood chips as needed: Depending on how long you're smoking your food for, you may need to add more wood chips throughout the cooking process. Simply add more soaked wood chips as needed to maintain a steady smoke level.
  6. Enjoy your smoked food: Once the wood chips are added and the smoke is flowing, you're ready to add your food to the smoker and enjoy the delicious, smoky flavor it imparts.
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