SMOKING 101 – Things You Need to Know About Smokers and Smoking

Savoury Table is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

The modern smoking of food method evolved from a preservation process. Much earlier than refrigerators and chemical preservatives, smoking of food has been used to extend the shelf life of foods, especially meat.

Nowadays, when it comes to grilling, smoking has to do with taste and texture, not so much that foods last longer. Smoking adds flavor, softens, and transforms some of the worst cuts of meat into an excellent meal.

When we consider smoked meat, we first think of smoked fish, bacon, or ham. But in the world of traditional barbecue, smoking is something else.

On the grill, smoking is food in a "slow and low" manner; it requires specialized equipment (or a charcoal grill) and lasts one hour to ten hours or more.

Aside its health benefits, smoking is much more of an art than science, it takes a lot of time and patience, and it's very different from putting a piece of meat on the grill. These are some of the things to consider when smoking


1. Types of Smokers

A smoker is an open-air cooking tool that can maintain low cooking heats for long periods while releasing smoke and keeping the meat on absorption.

A good smoker does this effectively and provides the space needed to produce the required amount of barbecue.

There are many ways to smoke slowly, and there are also many types of smokers and in the market. You can buy wood smokers, coal smokers, offset smokers, electric smokers and pellet smokers, propane smokers, and the likes.

Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but an essential factor to consider is the type of grill you want to smoke and the level of effort (and money) you want to spend on it.

a. An Offset Smoker

Offset smokers commonly called an offset is a two-part smoker.

The main cooking room is usually a barrel or a metal box with an elevator door and a smoking basket. Attached to one end of the cooking cabinet, the oven has a side or top access door and an adjustable opening.

The heat and smoke generated in the firebox enter the cooking chamber through a small hole between the two spaces. Then the smoke comes out of the chimney, usually at the other end of the cooking chamber.

b. Vertical Water Smokers

Vertical Water Smokers

Vertical water smokers are generally the cheapest and are often simple to use. This makes vertical water smokers ideal for beginners.

Also, vertical water smokers do not occupy much space, so they are ideal for those with limited outdoor space.

c. Box Smokers

There are some things in this world that are simpler than a box.

Box Smokers (also known as a smokehouse) is essentially a box with a heat source downstairs and a cooking room at the top. 

Since the heat source is directly lower, as in the case of a vertical smoker, the heating is maintained.

d. Drum Smokers

Drum smoking (usually called ugly drum or UDS smoker) has become popular as it is the easiest way to use and smoke; if you buy a kit, it's a cheap project to do it yourself.  

Whether purchased or not, battery-powered smokers are easy to use, economical and lightweight, making them portable.

e. Electric Smokers

Electric Smokers

Generally, electric smokers have several advantages, such as the ability to adjust the temperature before you start grilling and not having to check it during the process.

However, its main disadvantage is probably the most important, and the tastes suffer because you don’t get to have that smoke taste.

It's not that you make bad foods, but compared to smoked meat with charcoal, wood, or pellets, there is almost no comparison.

f. Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers use wood pellets as fuel, which are fully compacted and extruded into small 1/4 inch round pieces.

In general, wood pellets have a predictable BTU yield and produce clean burning with a slight smoke odor. Most wood pellets were used for grilling and indoor stoves, but since the 1980s, they have been used for outdoor cooking.

Burning wood pellets in a barbecue or smoker produces authentic smoke and flavor, such as high-quality logs.

g. Propane

First of all, each type of smoker can give excellent results. There is utterly no way to avoid that. 

For this reason, propane smokers may be the right choice. They are unloaded from a propane tank, just like a gas grill.

2. Choosing a Smoker

how to Choosing a Smoker

When it comes to supplies and equipment, to smoke food, it takes a container to keep smoke, a source of smoke and food for smoking. A smoker can be anything from digging a hole in the ground to a $10,000 smoker, and the fuel can go from electricity to hardwood.

The type of smoker you buy depends on certain factors: the space you have, the fuel you want to use, the amount of effort you want to invest, and the budget.

Smokers can vary by size, from small drum to large box smoker, so the amount of food each model can hold varies. Once you know the length to which your smoker can go, then you can look to consider what kind of fuel does your smoker requires.

Some smoking fan will say that hardwood such as oak, hickory, or apple are the best option for use, but a smoker's fuel can also be coal, wood pellets, propane, or electricity, but we will be sticking to just hardwood and coals in this article.

Smokers who use charcoal are often the cheapest, while smokers who heat the wood are the freest. Choose the type of fuel that's right for you, but remember that if you do not use hardwood, your smoker will not be able to give you the smoker's taste.

3. Using Wood

smoker wood chips

If the characteristic smell of smoke is an essential aspect of steamed meat, you must choose a smoker that uses hardwood.

Freshly cut wood is best because half of its weight is water and therefore produces pleasant and moist steam that will help flavor the meat.

Although dry wood contains only 5% water, it still contains many sugars and carbohydrates that give it a smoky flavor. The varieties of wood, as well as the place where they are grown, will have a direct effect on the taste of food.

The hickory, for example, has a very smoky flavor reminiscent of bacon, while maple wood is mild and sweeter.

If you use hardwood, it is essential to soak the wood in the water about an hour before using it: wet wood will take hours, while fresh wood can burn in 20 minutes.

If you use wood chips after immersing them, put them in an aluminum bag and drill a few holes. This will secure smoke for several hours.

4. Choosing Pieces of Meat for Smoking

Choosing Pieces of Meat for Smoking

Deciding what type of meat you want to grill is just a matter of taste. The most popular types of meat are pork chops, ribs, and shoulders (usually for pulled pork).

But don't confine yourself to that, you can also smoke high-quality ribs, thighs, or legs, as well as whole fish and poultry, as well as cheese and nuts.

The smoking process has developed around some pieces of meat that traditionally do not work well with other methods, such as the breast, which is not very easy to eat if it is not simmered at low temperature.

5. Temperature Control


Smoking requires reasonable temperature control.

Meat smoke is best in the range of 200 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. To be safe, most meats must be cooked at an internal temperature of 145 degrees and birds at 165 degrees.

However, to obtain authentic barbecue, a higher final temperature, for example about 180 degrees, is required. Smoking is a long process of excessive meat to get a tasty and flavored meal.

It is best to have two accurate smoking thermometers, one inside the smoker in the area where the meat is placed to inform the temperature of the smoker and a meat thermometer placed on the meat to inform you of the internal heat of what you are smoking.

There are a couple of reasons to keep the temperature low: one is to allow enough time for the smoke to penetrate the meat, and the other must naturally soften the meat.

A slow cooking process gives the natural fibers of the meat time to soften, becomes tender, and to become a basic sugar.

Collagen, the hard connective tissue of meat (think cartilage), breaks down into different types of sugar when it is slowly prepared. This gives the meat a sweet taste.

6. Holding the Smoke

Another fundamental rule of smoking is to place the meat in the smokehouse so that it is girded by smoke.

You want a thick smoke flow around the meat at intervals to give the meat the kind of susceptibility required to enhance the taste.

The smoke must move to prevent the smoke from becoming bitterer due to creosote build-up.

7. Keep the Humidity

smoker with humidity control

In addition to making sure the smoker smokes properly, you must make sure it is steaming. Keeping the water tank full for most smokers is a crucial part of the smoking process.

If you have a heavy smoker, it may be necessary to fill the water tray several times while you smoke.

Adding a marinade before cooking or gravy while smoking the meat will help conserve moisture, but it depends entirely on you.

8. Calculation of the Cooking Time

To determine how long you need to smoke meat, you need to consider three factors: the type of meat, the girth of the meat, and the temperature of the smoker.

On average, this lasts between 6 and 8 hours, but the breasts can last up to 22 hours.

When some chefs smoke food, they follow the "3-2-1" rule — the first 3 hours when smoking is allowed. Then the meat is wrapped in foil for 2 hours so that the inside of the meat is well cooked. During the last cooking time, the leaf is removed to give the meat a fresh appearance.

If you cook the meat properly, you will see a pink ring (which is nitric acid) around the flesh inside the dark outer layer.

Recommended Gears Needed for Smoking

Precise control of temperature and heat absorption are two fundamental aspects of producing high quality smoked meat. To succeed, it is essential to have the right tools and provisions for smoking.

Professionals and smoked meat enthusiast rely on these tools to get great results and advise beginners.

a. Basics on the Temperature of the Meat

Before you begin to improve your smoking skills, it is essential to understand the temperature of the meat better.

It is not only necessary to maintain a constant temperature inside your smoker, but it is also crucial to control the heat absorption.

Smoking at too low a temperature can cause the meat to produce harmful bacteria, especially in significant cuts.

Smoking at a very high temperature can put everything in danger, from moisture to taste. These temperature errors reduce the quality of the meat.

Some people use water tubs in their smokers to add moisture and control heat absorption. Some even use sand in their bins for better heat absorption.

These tips can significantly reduce the large heat fluctuations in the smoker's room.

In addition to water tanks, thermometers, two-wire wireless transmitters, injectors, etc., they are essential components for the production of excellent smoked meat.

Here are some instances of suggested items to buy when preparing smoked meat at home.

b. Insulated Food Gloves

Insulated Food Gloves

Handling smoked foods can be very dangerous. Because it is necessary to cook a lot of meat at temperatures above 500 degrees, a good pair of gloves is essential. These gloves have been rated with five stars by more than 370 users.

Made with insulating rubber, these gloves are very durable, yet flexible enough to move your fingers smoothly.

In practice, no ability is lost during the process, which is a considerable advantage. These gloves are not only excellent for handling meat but also for grinding. This means that you can hold hot meat for a few minutes without burning your fingers.

c. Flavor Injector

using a flavor injector

Taste is the ultimate goal of smoking. Is not it? Therefore, a quality flavor injector is an essential element. Although you can flavor injection is the best method.

You will find many types of syringes for commercial syringes, but you need a simple version with finger holes to fill and inject with one hand.

d. Wireless Dual Heat Probe

These are thermometers equipped with two transmitters that record the temperature of the meat and the camera, then send the data to a remote screen that can be found at 300 meters at home.

This makes temperature monitoring much more comfortable, especially when it's cold outside or if you have a business to have fun.

e. Commercial Grade Quick-Read Thermometer

Commercial Grade Quick-Read Thermometer

Digital profitable reading thermometers are an excellent tool to use if you want to protect yourself against overcooked or undercooked meat.

Consuming undercooked meat, such as pork and chicken, is dangerous, while too much meat is merely unpleasant.

This tool allows you to quickly read the temperature of the meat without flying over a large fire. Many models are resistant to water, dust, and shock.

f. Coal Brick

If you are thinking of burning charcoal for smoking meat, you can benefit from a charcoal fireplace. They are a cylinder with ventilation holes, allowing quick lighting and reaching the temperature.

These are very useful for beginners because it only takes a dry paper and a game to start and activate your charcoal. It is also easier to add carbon and maintain constant temperatures.

g. Spray Mist

Sprays are an essential tool. They are excellent for covering a large amount of surface in smoked meat, allowing a quick and easy application. 

The good thing about these tools is that they are the cheapest and easiest item to buy. You can also go to the local store and find one that works perfectly for smoking. You should buy more at this price to always have extra cleaning of the hands.

h. Cuisinart CGS-5014 Set of 14 Pieces

If you can afford only one accessory, this is the best option. This grill set has everything you require to cook and handle the meat you cook.

Made by Cuisinart, this set is superior to others. The following are included in this fantastic set

  • Corn holders
  • Basting brush
  • Grill brush
  • Tongs
  • Spatula

These items will ensure you have the last thing you need to cook delicious smoked dishes at all times.

The set also comes with a beautiful aluminum case. A one-year warranty is also included to ensure that if your items are damaged, they will be replaced free of charge.

i. Ivation Wireless BBQ Smoker Thermometer Set

Ivation Wireless BBQ Smoker Thermometer Set

The era of a manual thermostat is over. There was a time when you should have taken into account the temperature of your meat to make sure not to cook too much.

Now, the best smoker and thermometer can be used at hundreds of meters. This allows you to know what is the temperature of your meat without having to get up close to the grill for hours.

The Ivation Smoking meat thermometer is the best in the industry and can read temperatures above 570 degrees.

The probes are straightforward to insert, and users will find that the readings are accurate and up-to-date. The LCD receiver will warn you if something goes wrong. A beep or flash indicates that the grill or smoker's temperature is out of range.

There is also a timer and a wireless receiver (with batteries) that allow you to smoke meat at the right temperature.

Bear Paws Meat Handler Forks with Claws

One of the best grill tools is the claw of the bear. When cooking a turkey, chicken, or other meat, it is often difficult to transfer from the grill to the plate. The big forks are merely uncomfortable, and their handling with the hands is simply out of the question.

These claws are heat-resistant nylon and have been approved by the FDA. Users can easily take the meat with these claws or use them to break their flesh.

If the chefs cook pork more often, these claws are excellent for the grinding process. They are very comfortable to hold and offer users maximum protection.

Final Words

When it comes to outdoor grilling, we expect perfection, and hence, we are afraid to make mistakes. This article is more of a guide to help you in deciding what smokers to get and how to go about your grilling like a professional.

Keep this info in mind and always enjoy delicious traditionally smoked meat.

Leave a Comment