Smoking Meat 101 – How To BBQ And Different Types Of Smokers

There are many different ways to cook meat- roasting, frying, braising- but one of the most delicious methods is to smoke your meat, also known as BBQ.

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This style of cooking is very popular in the United States and there are lots of BBQ restaurants in America and countries all over the world. 

When meat is cooked low and slow over a fire it takes on a wonderful smokey flavor, a soft, juicy texture, and it is so tender it melts in your mouth. It's no wonder that this method has become so popular.

Smoking Meat 101 – How To BBQ And Different Types Of Smokers

You smoke lots of different kinds of meat and you can season it however you choose, so it is also a versatile style of cooking. 

Perhaps you have been to a BBQ-style restaurant and you want to recreate your smoked meat at home? Or you are a food enthusiast and you are looking for a new way to impress your guests? Whatever your reason for getting into smoking meat, you have made a good decision.

Once you get to grips with this way of cooking meat you will want to do it all of the time. 

But how do you smoke meat? What equipment do you need? Which joints of meat are best for smoking? What type of smoker should you use? We have answered all of these questions and more in this helpful guide to smoking meat.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to get you started on your BBQ journey. 

The History Of Smoking Meat

The origins of meat smoking began with the cavemen, who smoked meat to preserve it. Once humans were able to create fire, they began cooking meat and finding different ways to eat it.

They realized that by hanging joints of meat in a smoke-filled area, such as a cave with a fire pit, the meat would last a lot longer. This custom spread across many different cultures as the human species diversified and took over different corners of the Earth.

The style of BBQ cooking that is associated with the Southern states of America began with the Native Americans who smoked meat and fish as a way to preserve them and make them last longer.

They built structures that were specifically designed for smoking meat, trapping the smoke from the fire inside the shelter so it could circulate around the meat. 

Over time, this method of preserving meat was combined with influences from Europe and Central Asia for cooking meat. Eventually, it was developed into the BBQ style method of smoking meat to cook it rather than to preserve it.

The modern way of smoking meat is also called barbecuing. The meat is cooked low and slow over a fire of wood or charcoal. As the meat cooks, it is tenderized and the fat melts to create delicious juices.

Families would leave the meat smoking for hours whilst they worked their land or went to work, coming home to a tasty feast. 

The cheapest cuts of meat that are often tough and chewy can be transformed into succulent meals with a smoker oven, so BBQ food was very popular with poor families or families with lots of mouths to feed. 

Some people still smoke their meat in their backyards, but a lot of people get their BBQ fix by going to a BBQ or grill restaurant. These restaurants smoke lots of different meats overnight and serve them up every day with a delicious array of side dishes. Smoked meat is also a very popular kind of street food. 

Lots of different cultures have their take on smoked meat, but we are going to be focusing on BBQ-style smoked meat which is one of the national dishes of Texas. 

What Is So Great About Smoked Meat?

What is it about smoked meat that has made this method of cooking so popular? After all this time, people are still flocking to BBQ restaurants or buying smoker ovens for their backyards. Here are some of the things that make smoked meat so special.

Flavor

Cooking meat over a charcoal fire or a wood fire gives it an irresistible smoky flavor. This works particularly well with meat that has a rich flavor, like beef or pork. This method also brings out the natural flavors of the meat.

The cuts of meat that are marbled with fat tend to come out the tastiest, as the fat melts into the meat and intensifies the flavors. This helps bring out the natural flavor of the meat and is great for meat with lots of fat, as it melts and delivers even more flavor!

Bark Or Burnt Ends

If you cook a joint of meat in a smoker oven, the outside tends to develop a crispy edge. This is called bark, or burnt ends, and is usually found on brisket.

Those crispy edges are packed full of flavor and have a great texture that contrasts with the soft, moist meat underneath. Burnt ends are often used as a topping for burgers, or enjoyed as an appetizer or side dish. 

Texture

One of the things that people rave about the most when it comes to smoked meat is the texture. It falls off the bone, melts in your mouth, and is so tender.

The process of smoking meat will soften joints of meat that are otherwise tough or chewy. You will be surprised at the transformation! 

Indirect Heat

When you grill meat, it is being cooked with direct heat. If you smoke your meat, it is getting cooked by indirect heat from the fire and the smoke. As the heat circulates, the meat is cooked nice and evenly.

You don't have to keep checking it and turning it, and you don't need to worry about it burning.

The Science Of Smoke

The Science Of Smoke

So how does it work? How can smoke from a fire cook meat? 

Well, it's the heat from the fire that cooks the meat. On an open fire, the smoke escapes into the air and doesn't get much chance to flavor the meat. With a smoking oven. The smoke is trapped inside. But why does the meat take on a smokey flavor?

Smoke is a product of combustion, which means it is part of a chemical reaction. It will contain particles of whatever fuel was used to create the fire. This is why the flavor of your meat will differ depending on whether you use charcoal, applewood, or hickory wood. 

It is a delicate balance, as too much smoke can ruin the flavor of the meat. You don't want a fire that is billowing with thick, white plumes of smoke. You are aiming for a more gentle fire with blue/gray smoke. 

What Meats Are Best For Smoking?

Now that you understand a bit more about what smoking meat is and why it is so brilliant, let's look at which types of meat are best for this method of cooking.

Theoretically, you can cook any type of meat in a smoker oven, but certain joints work better than others. The meat is going to be cooked low and slow, so you want meat that is going to hold its structure and not disintegrate or dry up into a crisp.

For example, you would be better off smoking a whole joint of pork rather than trying to smoke individual rashers of bacon. 

Fattier joints tend to work best, as the fat releases plenty of flavor and moisture into the meat as it cooks. Not too dry, flavorsome, won't disintegrate when cooked for a long time, etc.

The fatty cuts of meat also tend to be the cheapest, which is why smoking meat is such an affordable way to feed your family. 

Whichever meat you choose, make sure it is good quality and from a reputable source. Beef should be a deep red color. Avoid any pork that looks gray or green rather than pale pink. Any fat on the meat should be white, not gray or yellow. 

You might be tempted to pick grass-fed meat, but this isn't the best choice for smoking as it has a lower fat content. For the smaller cuts of meat like lamb shank, steak, or beef cheeks, you will likely be cooking several at once.

Make sure you choose cuts that are roughly the same size so they will take the same length of time to cook. 

There are two terms that you need to know to help you understand joints of meat - primal and subprimal. When a carcass is processed, the first step is for the primal cuts to be removed.

These are the main, large cuts of meat. These primal cuts are then separated into smaller sections called sub-primal cuts which are more specific such as a particular type of steak or a roasting joint. 

You should also understand what connective tissue is. Connective tissue is the fibers that hold muscles together and it is made up of two types of protein - elastin, and collagen. Collagen melts as it cooks and gives the meat a silky, soft texture.

This is why the dense, tougher cuts of meat are best for cooking low and slow, as the collagen is gradually released into the meat which makes it soft and tender. 

Here are some of the most popular joints of meat to put in a smoker oven.

Pork Ribs

Pork ribs are a great choice for beginners as they are easy to cook and they come out well every time. There are four different types of pork ribs- spare ribs, St Louis style ribs, back ribs, and baby back ribs. A rack of ribs should always include at least 10 ribs but can have up to 13. 

Spare ribs come from the belly section of the pig at the bottom end of the rib cage. The bones are long and relatively flat. There is a good amount of meat on spare ribs, but they also have a high-fat content. This makes them very flavorsome, but quite unhealthy. 

St Louis style ribs are spare ribs that have had the rib tips trimmed to make the rack into a uniform, rectangle shape. This way of processing meat was made popular by meat processors in St Louis in the 1930s. 

Back ribs are taken from further up the rib cage closer to the shoulder. They are smaller than spare ribs but still fairly large. The bones are more curved, giving the rack of ribs more of an arched shape. They have a little bit of fat on them but not much. 

Baby back ribs are from the very top of the rib cage where it joins the spine. They are much smaller than the other types of ribs which are where they get their name from. They have a lot of very tender meat and very little fat, making them very popular. 

Baby back ribs tend to be the most expensive, but they are also the most readily accessible in shops and butchers. Due to the low-fat content of baby back ribs, they are not always as flavorsome as spare ribs.

You might find that you need more seasoning or that they work best when slathered with a rich BBQ sauce. 

Brisket

Brisket is slightly harder to cook than ribs, but it is still pretty straightforward and it is a staple cut of meat for smoking. Brisket comes from the chest of the cow, which is a very dense muscle.

The pectoral muscles are responsible for supporting a lot of the animal's weight since they don't have a collar bone, which means that the brisket has a lot of connective tissue. It is also nicely marbled with fat, giving it a rich, Beefy flavor.

A full joint of brisket, called a full packer, is a primal cut. It is then separated into two sub-primal cuts- the flat and the point. The flat is a rectangular piece of meat that can be uniformly carved, so it is ideal if you are looking for a neat presentation.

The point is an uneven triangular-shaped piece of meat that is marbled with fat and has an irregular grain. It is ideal for pulled or shredded beef.

You can either smoke the whole brisket joint or smoke a flat or a point. It depends on how much meat you need and what kind of texture you are looking for. When you are choosing your brisket joint at the butchers, make sure it is pliable rather than stiff. 

Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder is another favorite when it comes to smoking meat. It is commonly used to make pulled pork due to its flavor and texture. The pork shoulder is the primal cut, which is then divided into two sub-primal cuts- the butt (or Boston butt) and the picnic. 

The butt is a large, wedge-shaped cut of pork from the top of the shoulder, which also includes some of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm of the pig. It is fairly dense with quite a lot of connective tissue.

When cooked, pork is very juicy and is packed full of flavor. It is also a very affordable joint of meat. 

The picnic is the lower part of the shoulder which can sometimes also include a bit of the upper leg. It is also quite fatty, though not quite as much as the pork butt. Like the upper part of the shoulder, it is very succulent when cooked.  

Whole Chicken

You can also cook poultry in a smoking oven. A whole chicken or a whole turkey would work well, as individual portions of the bird would probably be too small and would easily overcook. You will need to wrap the bird up well to keep all the moisture and juices in. 

You may also need an additional cooking liquid such as cola, beer, cider, or fruit juice to prevent the bird from drying out as it will be cooked for a long period of time. 

Lamb Shank

If you like lamb then perhaps a lamb shank is going to be your favorite kind of smoked meat. The lamb shank is the bottom section of the sheep leg, just below the knee.

Lamb can be expensive, but lamb shank is quite affordable compared to a lot of other cuts of lamb. It works perfectly for slow cooking, as the dense meat softens and by the end, it will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. 

Beef Cheeks

As the name suggests, beef cheeks are the cheek muscles of the cow. This can be a very tough joint of meat as cows use their facial muscles for lots of chewing.

This is why beef cheeks need to be cooked low and slow to make them tender, which makes them the perfect candidate for smoking!

Beef cheeks are marbled with fat, so as they cook the fat melts into the meat and creates a delicious flavor and a buttery texture that will make your mouth water.

They might seem like quite a small cut of meat to cook for such a long period of time, but they aren't at risk of drying out. Beef cheeks are packed with collagen which softens the meat as it cooks. 

Tomahawk Steak

If you are a fan of steak then you will be pleased to know that you can cook steak in a smoking oven. Larger steaks tend to work best, and tomahawk is a great example.

Tomahawk steak is also known as a bone-in rib-eye and it is carved from the beef rib. It is marbled with fat and served on the bone. It has an intensely rich, beefy flavor when smoked and an irresistible texture. 

Meat Preparation

Meat Preparation

Before you can start smoking your meat, you will need to prepare it. There are several steps to preparing your meat, but which ones are relevant to you will depend on what cut of meat you are using.

Trimming

Some people trim the meat to remove some of the fat before it is cooked. But if fat adds flavor, should you trim the fat off your meat or leave it on?

Certain cuts of meat like a pork butt or a brisket come with a thick layer of fat on top called the cap. A little bit of this fat will melt into the meat, but not much. Mostly, the fat acts as a seal to prevent moisture from escaping from the meat. 

It can also be crisped up to form a crunchy outer layer of fat which some people like. If you want to remove the cap, it won't make much difference to the overall outcome of your meat. 

The fat that contributes most to the flavor is the fat that is marbled throughout the meat. This is what makes the meat juicy and flavorsome.  

Tying

Tying or trussing is when you bind the joint of meat together with string to help it hold its shape during the cooking process. A lot of poultry like a whole chicken or turkey come trussed when you buy them from the shop.

You should leave your bird trussed while you smoke it, as it will help to keep the juices closer to the meat and will prevent the bird from drying out.

Some other joints of meat like pork butt can be quite irregular in shape with lots of folds of fat. It is a good idea to truss up a joint like this as it will make it easier to cook and handle. It will also keep the fat closer to the meat for extra flavor. 

Salt

A lot of chefs like to salt their meat before they smoke it. You might think that adding salt to your meat will make it dry, but this is not the case. The salt will penetrate the meat and start to break it down, making it much more tender.

It also helps the juices to reach deeper into the meat. One of the obvious benefits of salt is that it makes the meat extra tasty by bringing out its natural flavor.

You can add salt to your meat using a dry brine. This is when dry salt is rubbed on the meat. Alternatively, you could use a wet brine where the salt and spices are mixed with water.

The joint of meat is then soaked in the water for up to 24 hours, which makes it more tender and adds flavor. 

The length of time that you soak the meat will vary depending on what kind of joint you are using and what size.

Leaving the meat soaking in a salt solution will make it more tender, but if you leave it in too long you risk compromising the texture of the meat which could cause it to fall apart during cooking. Dry rub- seasoning added before cooking

Seasoning

Before you cook the meat you will need to season it. The most common way to season the meat before it goes in a smoker is with a dry rub. This is a mixture of various herbs and spices which is rubbed onto the meat to flavor it as it cooks. 

You can buy pre-mixed dry rub seasoning or you can experiment with flavors and make your own. Most BBQ-style restaurants have their secret recipes for dry rub seasoning which gives their meat a signature flavor. 

Some of the most popular ingredients used in dry rubs are smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano.

Sauces

Some people who smoke meat like to add a sauce at the beginning of the process, such as a BBQ sauce. Others like to add it partway through, and some only add a sauce once the meat is fully cooked.

This comes down to personal preference, but if you want to coat the meat in sauce before it is cooked then this will need to be part of the preparation process. 

Should You Wrap Meat During Cooking?

Should You Wrap Meat During Cooking?

There are different opinions in the meat smoking community when it comes to whether or not you should wrap your meat during the cooking process. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of wrapping your meat and what you need to consider.

Wrapping your meat as it is smoked can help to keep it moist as the juices are kept close to the meat. The foil prevents some of the juices from evaporating and stops the meat from drying out. This is why a lot of people choose to wrap their meat.

The downside to wrapping your meat is that it can prevent a crispy edge or bark from developing.

This might not be a big problem if you are smoking meat to eat at home, but if you run a food truck or a restaurant burnt ends make up part of your menu then you need to make sure that the edges of the meat are getting crispy.

Another thing you need to consider is that wrapping your meat will speed up the cooking process. The tighter the meat is wrapped, the quicker it will cook. You will need to be careful not to overcook your meat and to adjust your cooking times accordingly.

A lot of people start cooking the meat unwrapped, then wrap it after several hours. This slows down the cooking process so the meat can still be cooked low and slow like smoked meat should be cooked.

If you are keen on getting a crispy edge then you can remove the wrapping towards the end of the cooking process to let the edges dry out. 

Alternatively, you could make a small hole in the top of the wrapping so that some of the moisture can escape and air can flow around the meat, as this will help to make the edges crispy.

If you decide to wrap your meat, what should you wrap it with? Traditionally, people used baking parchment or greaseproof paper to wrap their meat. Some people even used large leaves.

Most chefs now use aluminum foil as it is available in most kitchens and can easily be bought from a store. It holds its shape well which makes it easy to form a nice seal around the meat. It is also very efficient at keeping the heat in.

You can also use butcher paper to wrap your meat, but you will need to wrap it carefully as it doesn't form a tight seal like foil. The good thing about butcher paper is that it is more breathable than foil, which gives it a different flavor- less pot roast and more smoked. 

Should You Flip The Meat During Cooking?

If you are used to cooking meat on a grill or in a frying pan then you will be in the habit of flipping the meat halfway through to make sure that each side is cooked evenly.

One of the great things about smoking meat is that this cooking method uses indirect heat which circulates around the meat, cooking it evenly. This means that you don't need to flip your meat all. 

Theoretically, if you don't need to unwrap your meat and you don't want to add a cooking liquid or sauce part way through cooking, then you don't need to touch the meat at all while it is in the smoker. 

What Is The Stall?

There is a point in the smoking process where the internal temperature of the meat stops rising and temporarily drops. This is called the stall. But why does this happen?

As the internal temperature of the meat rises, it will eventually reach a point when the fat melts. The melted fat is cooler than the rest of the meat, so as the melted fat spreads through the meat it will bring the temperature of the meat down. 

The temperature of the meat will then rise back up to where it was before, and continue to rise until the meat is fully cooked. 

How Do I Smoke Meat?

How Do I Smoke Meat?

You should be feeling more confident in your knowledge of meat smoking and how it works, now it is time to take you through some guidelines for how to smoke different joints of meat. 

How To Smoke Ribs

There are several different methods for smoking ribs, but the most reliable is the 3-2-1 method. 

Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your ribs by coating them in a dry rub. Once the smoker has reached the right temperature, smoke your ribs for three hours. If you are using back ribs instead of spare ribs, then two hours will be sufficient. 

After the initial smoking period, carefully remove the ribs and wrap them in foil. Before you seal the foil packet, add a bit of cooking liquid like cider, beer, cola, or apple juice. Make sure the ribs are tightly wrapped and place them back into the smoker for a further 2 hours.

This is an important part of the process, as the steam that builds up inside the foil tenderizes the meat so that it will fall off the bone. 

The final stage in the cooking process is when you add the sauce. Take the foil packet out of the smoker and gently lift out the ribs. The meat will be very soft at this point, so handle the rack gently to avoid knocking the meat off the bone. 

Slather the ribs in your favorite BBQ sauce, then put them back in the smoker without any foil on them. Leave the ribs in the smoker for one more hour, and then they will be ready to eat. 

This is the most foolproof way to cook ribs to get the right texture and flavor every time. Once you have mastered this method you can experiment with different methods and see how it changes the final result. 

How To Smoke Brisket

Before you smoke your brisket, trim off some of the excess fat and then season it with your dry rub.

Preheat your smoker to around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, then place the meat inside. It doesn't matter which side of the meat is facing upwards, the end result will be the same as the smoker will cook the meat evenly.

If you have a temperature probe, it is best to insert this at the beginning of the cooking process and leave it in so that you can check the temperature as the meat cooks. If you don't have one, you will need to periodically check the internal temperature of the meat.

You will want to smoke the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit which should take around 5 hours. 

The next step is to remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap it. You can wrap it in foil, or you can use pink butcher paper. Be wary that foil will speed up the cooking process. You can also leave the meat unwrapped, but it will take longer to cook and might not be as juicy. 

Somewhere between 165 degrees and 180 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature will dip as the melt fats. Once the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat will begin to cook quickly. 

Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the smoker and check if it is done. You can do this by sticking a probe or a thin knife into the meat. If you feel resistance, the meat isn't done.

It should feel like pushing a knife through butter. If the meat isn't ready, put it back in the smoker. You can let the temperature rise to a maximum of 215 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There is no set time to cook brisket, as the length of time it takes to cook the meat perfectly depends on the individual cut and the fat content. Once you are happy with the texture of the meat, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before you start carving. 

Leave it wrapped up so that all of the juices are absorbed back into the meat. If you cut the meat too early without letting it rest then all of those delicious juices will run out onto the chopping board. 

Remember- when you are taking the temperature of the brisket, make sure you are not inserting the thermometer into a pocket of fat. This will give you an inaccurate reading of the internal temperature of the meat.  

How To Smoke A Pork Shoulder

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare your pork shoulder by trimming the fat and seasoning it with a dry rub.

Fill a baking dish with water and place this in the smoker alongside the meat, or underneath the meat if your smoker has multiple shelves. This will help to keep the meat moist. 

Once the pork is in the smoker, prepare a spray bottle with equal parts apple juice and apple cider vinegar. After the pork has been smoking for one hour, open the smoker and spritz the pork with the contents of the spray bottle. Do this every hour for the first 4 hours of cooking. 

After approximately 4 hours, the pork should have reached an internal temperature of around 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure it has reached this temperature before you move onto the next stage, don't worry if it takes longer than 4 hours as each joint of meat is different. 

Remove the pork from the smoker and spritz it one last time, then wrap it. You can use aluminum foil or butcher paper. 

Reduce the temperature of the smoker to around 225 degrees Fahrenheit then return the wrapped pork to the smoker for approximately four hours. You don't need to disturb the pork during this time.

Once the pork has reached an internal temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit it should be ready, but make sure you test it. You should be able to push a knife into the meat without any resistance.

Anywhere between 195 degrees Fahrenheit and 205 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for smoked pork shoulder. 

When the pork is done, remove it from the smoker but leave it wrapped. Let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes, but if you can be patient then the longer the rest the juicier the meat will be. You can let your meat rest for up to 2 hours.

Once the meat has rested you can shred it to create your pulled pork.  

How To Smoke A Whole Chicken

Start by preheating your smoker to between 250 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your chicken by rubbing the skin with olive oil, as this will stop the skin from going leathery. Then add your dry rub.

If the chicken isn't already trussed, then tie it up with butcher's twine to keep the legs and wings close to the body. 

Place the chicken in the smoker and leave it for around 2 and a half to 3 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. Check the internal temperature of the meat to see if it is cooked.

The chicken breast should reach a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the thighs should be 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for around 20 minutes before you slice it. This will ensure that the meat is nice and juicy. 

There are two optional steps for this method of smoking chicken. If you want crispy skin on your chicken, then you will need to monitor the internal temperature of the meat more closely. 

When the meat is around 10 to 12 degrees under the final temperature, increase the temperature of the smoker to at least 350 degrees Fahrenheit. blasting the chicken at high heat will give you nice crispy skin. However, you will lose a little bit of moisture this way. 

The other change you can make to this recipe is adding a sauce. Around 30 minutes before the chicken is done, remove it from the smoker and baste it in your sauce of choice.

You could use BBQ sauce, honey sauce, or a maple and bourbon sauce- whatever you fancy. Return the chicken to the smoker for the final 30 minutes of cooking.  

How To Smoke Lamb Shanks

When it comes to lamb shanks, you can choose between a dry rub or a marinade. Remove the membrane or thick layer of fat from the shanks, then season them with your dry rub or marinade. It is best to leave the meat in the seasoning for 24 hours before cooking to get maximum flavor.

If you are using a dry rub, you will also need to coat the meat in oil. Leave the meat in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator to let the flavors soak in. 

Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, then place your lamb shanks in the smoker. Monitor the internal temperature of the lamb- you are aiming for a final temperature of 185 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

This will take approximately 4 to 5 hours, but it depends on the thickness of the lamb and the fat content. The lamb shank will develop a nice, crisp crust on the outside which is packed with flavor. 

If you want to make sure that your lamb meat is soft enough to fall off the bone, you can wrap the lamb shanks in foil for the last 30 minutes or so of cooking. This could soften the edges of the meat so the bark won't be as crispy, so it depends on what your priorities are. 

Once the meat is cooked, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

How To Smoke Beef Cheeks

Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim any membrane or thick fat away from the beef cheeks, then apply your dry rub. Once the beef cheeks are prepared, place them inside the smoker. 

The length of time it takes to cook beef cheeks can vary greatly depending on how dense they are, so it is very important to monitor the internal temperature. You are aiming for a temperature of 210 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take around 4 to 5 hours. 

You have the option to wrap your meat for the final hour of cooking. Foil works best, as it forms a tight seal around the meat to keep the heat in. It can also help to speed up the cooking process if you have a particularly stubborn beef cheek that is taking a long time to cook. 

Do not be tempted to take your beef cheeks out of the smoker before they are ready. If the internal temperature is not high enough then the fat and collagen will not have had time to break down, and the meat will be tough and chewy. 

Once the beef cheeks have reached the right temperature, remove them from the smoker and let them rest for 10 to 20 minutes. This will ensure that they are nice and juicy. 

How To Smoke A Tomahawk Steak 

The first thing you need to do is dry brine the steak. Sprinkle the meat with coarse salt, then lay them flat in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours depending on the thickness of the meat. Once you have done one side, repeat the process on the other side of the meat. 

Don't use too much salt as you won't be rinsing it off afterward- the meat doesn't need to be completely coated. About half a teaspoon per pound of meat is enough, so if you have a 2-pound tomahawk steak you will use half a teaspoon on one side and half on the other side. 

Once the dry brining process is complete, it's time to season the meat. Add a little bit of olive oil to each side of the steak and then add your dry rub, making sure that the meat is evenly coated. Don't forget about the sides of the steak as well. 

Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You can add a tray of water into the smoker if you want to, but this is optional.

Place the steaks in the smoker and cook them until they reach an internal temperature of around 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which should take around 1 and a half hours. You should check the temperature every 30 minutes or so. 

The final step is searing the steak. As the searing is done at the end of the cooking process it is called a reverse sear. Fire up your grill or heat a heavy-based pan and brown the steak for a few minutes on each side. 

You can keep an eye on the internal temperature to make sure that the steaks are served as you want them - 130 degrees Fahrenheit will get you a medium-rare tomahawk steak. 

Once the meat has reached the desired temperature, wrap it in foil and leave it to rest for 10 minutes to let the juices soak in. This is the perfect amount of time to prepare your side dishes and pour out some wine. 

How To Calculate Cooking Time?

How To Calculate Cooking Time?

When it comes to figuring out how long you will need to smoke your meat, there are several things you need to consider. Think about the type of meat you are cooking and the thickness of your particular cut. You will also need to take into account the temperature of the smoker oven.

Some chefs follow the guidelines that you should smoke the meat for one hour for every pound of weight. For example, if you have a 20 pound joint of brisket then you should smoke it for 20 hours. 

However, this can get complicated when you are smoking joints of meat with bones such as a rack of ribs- do you count the weight of the rib bones or not? And what if you remove the fat cap from a pork shoulder- should you cook the meat for less time? 

When considering the cooking time, you need to ensure that the meat has enough time to reach the desired final temperature.

For example, for pork butt the smoker oven should be at a temperature of 225 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit and the final temperature of the meat should be 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This should take approximately 14 hours depending on the size of the joint. However, back ribs should be cooked in a smoker over that is between 225 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature.

The final temperature of the ribs should be around 180 degrees Fahrenheit which will take about 8 hours. 

What Internal Temperature Should The Meat Be?

Knowing the internal temperature of your meat can help you determine whether the meat is properly cooked, and also how tender it is likely to be. It is very important to make sure that your meat is cooked to a safe temperature to kill off any harmful pathogens and bacteria. 

The USDA advises that beef and pork need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit whereas chicken and turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

However, cooking the meat low and slow will also kill the harmful bacteria over a longer period of time, so you don't need to overcook your meat and risk making it dry and chewy.

By the time you have finished smoking a joint of brisket, it will reach an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees Fahrenheit, so you don't need to worry about bacteria. 

What Should You Serve Smoked Meat With?

Smoked meat is versatile- you can flavor it with any seasonings you like and serve it in many different styles. However, if you want to create a traditional Southern feast then you should serve your smoked meat with any of the following side dishes:

Cornbread

The origins of cornbread can be traced back to Native American cuisine, but it has also become closely associated with the Southern States of America.

It is a type of bread with a spongy consistency that is made out of batter rather than dough. The main ingredient of cornbread is cornmeal. 

Corn On The Cob

Corn and smoked meat is a classic combination. The sweetness of the corn complements the sweetness of the meat, and the simple fresh flavors make a nice contrast to the strong smoky flavor of the meat. Slather the corn with salted butter to make it extra tasty. 

Corn fritters

Another way to enjoy sweetcorn with smoked meat is by serving it with corn fritters. These little savory patties are made with corn, vegetables, and spring onion combined into an egg batter then fried in a pan. You can customize them to include whatever ingredients you fancy. 

Creamed Corn

We can't talk about corn side dishes without mentioning creamed corn. It is such a simple creation but it tastes heavenly and goes especially well with sweet meats like pork. 

Fried Pickles

Fried pickles first became popular in America in the 1960s. The dill pickles have a sour taste from the vinegar which cuts through the sweet and smoky flavors. The acidity of the fried batter goes very well with the richness of the meat. 

Fried Green Tomatoes 

Fried green tomatoes originate from Jewish culture and were introduced to America in the 19th Century by Jewish immigrants.

They were eaten by Jewish families in the Northeastern and Midwestern states, but it was in the South that their popularity took off. By the 1970s, they were a staple side dish in many Southern homes. 

Baked Beans

Baked beans are another Southern classic. They are often served as a side dish with fried chicken, but they also go well with smoked meat. add a dollop of butter to your beans to make them even more indulgent. You can also make bourbon baked beans for a real treat. 

Fries

You can't go wrong with meat and fries. Golden and crisp on the outside, but fluffy on the inside - the perfect accompaniment to smoked meat. You could even swap your traditional fries for sweet potato fries. 

Mashed Potato

Mashed Potato

If you fancy a change from fries then some creamy mashed potato is also a great choice to serve with smoked meat. You can even put your stamp on it and experiment with different flavors, like cheese and chive mash, spicy chipotle mash, or black peppercorn mash. 

Baked Potato

Another option for potato lovers is the humble baked potato. The deep brown crispy skin is nice and crunchy and the potato on the inside is soft and fluffy.

Add some butter and a sprinkle of cheese and you have the perfect side dish for your smoked meat. You could even use the burnt ends as a topping for your baked potato. 

Green beans

Green beans are such a simple vegetable but they taste fresh and vibrant and make the ideal accompaniment to meat. Toss them in a little butter and black pepper to finish them off. 

Salad

Perhaps you want to pair your smoked meat with something a bit healthier? A crisp, refreshing salad would be an excellent choice.

There are so many options when it comes to ingredients for your salad- lettuce, rocket, tomatoes, sweetcorn, cucumber, zucchini, celery, apples, berries, pine nuts, pickles, olives, onions, bacon, carrot - the choices are endless! 

Coleslaw

Coleslaw is an ideal side dish for smoked meat on a warm day. The mayo is cool and refreshing and cleanses your palate of the smoky, meaty flavors. The crunchy textures also contrast well with the soft meat. 

Grits

Grits is a classic Southern dish made from boiled cornmeal. It has a similar consistency to porridge. It might not sound very exciting but it has a nostalgic flavor that will bring a touch of home comfort to your smoked meat feast. 

Cheesy Grits

If plain grits aren't exciting enough for you then you can add in plenty of grated cheese and make cheesy grits instead. The salty cheese contrasts with the sweetness of the cornmeal, and also makes it even more creamy. 

Mac N Cheese 

It doesn't get more indulgent than Mac n Cheese on the side of sweet, smoky meat. The soft pasta, the rich, creamy sauce, the melting cheese - it's a flavor sensation.

The smell will make your mouth water, and when you combine it with some melt-in-your-mouth brisket you will be blown away by the flavors. 

How To Make Your Own BBQ Sauce From Scratch 

How To Make Your Own BBQ Sauce From Scratch

You can buy BBQ sauce from your local grocery store, or you could order a specialty BBQ sauce online. These sauces will work very well for your smoked meat. However, there is nothing quite like your own homemade BBQ sauce.

You can experiment with the different ingredients, add your special touches, and create your ideal BBQ sauce. Your friends and family will be begging you for the recipe. 

The basic ingredients for BBQ sauce are: 

  • Brown Sugar
  • Ketchup
  • Red Wine Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Paprika
  • Salt And Pepper

Some recipes also include additional ingredients like honey for sweetness, mustard for a savory kick, and hot sauce for spice. You might want to make a bourbon BBQ sauce or an extra spicy BBQ sauce. It depends on your personal preference. 

Certain recipes require you to cook the ingredients in a pan and reduce them into a sauce, whereas others just need the ingredients to be blitzed together in a blender. It depends on which recipe you choose and how much work you are willing to do. 

Can You Smoke Fish?

Using a smoker oven is great for cooking meat, but what about fish? If you have friends that don't eat meat or you are a lover of seafood, can you use your smoker to cook fish? 

You can smoke lots of different kinds of fish in your smoker oven. It is best to smoke a whole fish, or choose a chunky fish filet with the skin still attached as this will help the fish to keep its shape in the smoker and not fall apart. 

Fish tends to be smoked at a lower temperature than meat- between 175 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal temperature of the fish should reach around 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to eat. 

How long it takes for the fish to reach this temperature will depend on the size of the fish and the thickness of the filet. A good method is to allow 3 hours of cooking time for every pound of fish, plus an additional 30 minutes on top. 

A great way to flavor fish in a smoker is to wrap it in a foil parcel along with some slices of lemon and fresh herbs. This will create tasty steam that will permeate the flesh of the fish as it cooks. 

Types Of Smokers

Now that you know all about the method of smoking meat, it is time to learn about the smoker oven itself. There are several different types of smoker ovens, with various features and fuel types.

We will take you through the different smoker ovens so you can decide which one will be best for you. 

Gas Smoker Oven 

Gas smokers are one of the cheapest options for a backyard smoker oven. They come in a small tabletop style or a larger free-standing style.

The downside to gas smokers is that the smoky flavor of the meat is not as intense, as you don't get that wood smoke or charcoal smoke to permeate the meat as it cooks.

The best kind of gas smoker oven has a vertical design with a fire at the bottom. This allows the smoke to rise and circulate around the meat, as opposed to circular or drum-shaped gas smoker ovens which tend to collect the gas around the sides.

You can get natural gas smokers or propane gas smokers.

Propane

Propane smokers are another popular choice for backyard barbecue enthusiasts. These smokers are very similar to gas grill smokers, except they burn propane instead of natural gas. Propane is cheaper than natural gas, and most propane tanks last longer than natural gas tanks. 

Propane smokers are usually bigger and heavier than gas grill smokers, making it harder to move from place to place. However, propane smokers have a much greater heat output than gas grill smokers. This makes them ideal for smoking large amounts of food at once.


This free-standing smoker runs off propane gas and has an easy push-button ignition. The locking door has a built-in temperature gauge which easily lets you monitor the temperature of the oven.

Inside the oven, there are four smoking racks made of chrome. This gives you an impressive 717 square inches of cooking space. It also comes with a wood chip tray and a water pan. 

This smoker oven has a simple rectangular design and comes in a sleep black color. Once assembled, it measures 43.5 inches tall, 21.1 inches wide, and 21.4 inches deep.

This means it doesn't take up too much space in your garden. If you want to customize your smoker oven, the manufacturer offers a range of optional extras that are sold separately. 

Natural Gas

Natural gas smokers tend to be smaller and easier to transport than other models. Natural gas has a higher BTU content than propane, making it more efficient when used in a smoker. Some people prefer using natural gas over propane due to its cleaner-burning properties.


Broil King 923617 Smoke™ Vertical Natural Gas Cabinet Smoker

This is a dual fuel smoker oven that can run off natural gas or charcoal. It has easy move wheels which let you move it around, so you can store it in your garage and wheel it out to your yard when you want to use it.

It has two doors made from sturdy steel along with a double-wall steel construction, so you can be confident that this oven is well built. 

This oven comes with four stainless steel cooking grids which are adjustable and multi-purpose. This gives you a total of 770 square inches of cooking space.

There are also 16 integrated meat hooks, four tool hooks, a stainless steel water bowl, and a smoking tray. When assembled, the oven is 48.5 inches tall, 28.5 inches wide, and 25.5 inches deep.

Charcoal Smoker

Many people believe that a charcoal smoker creates the most authentic flavor of smoked meat. This is because charcoal gives off a lot of smoke.

However, the downside to using a charcoal smoker is that it is quite tricky to control and maintain the temperature of the oven.

You will need to add more charcoal to keep the smoker going for a long smoke, and you will also need to learn how to use dampers and vents to control the temperature. 

Whilst it can be a challenge to get to grips with a charcoal smoker, the results are worth the effort. You can tell the difference between meat cooked in a gas smoker and meat cooked in a charcoal smoker.

Charcoal is a more expensive form of fuel than gas, however, a charcoal smoker will take up less room in your yard as you don't need to attach a gas tank. 


Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker, Heavy Duty Round BBQ Grill for Outdoor Cooking, Black

This charcoal smoker is very affordable and doesn't take up much room in your garden. When assembled it measures 35 inches tall, and 22 inches wide. It is very versatile, as you can use it as a fire pit, one or two BBQ grills, or as a smoker oven. 

This oven comes with 2 cooking grids which offer you a total of 453 square inches of cooking space. There are also crossbar hangers inside the lid which gives you the option to hang meat for smoking.

The dual access doors make it easier for you to check the temperature of your meat and the built-in thermometer allows you to constantly monitor the temperature of the smoker oven.

There is a pan for the charcoal fuel, and a water pan if you want to make your meat extra moist. 


Weber 22-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

This bullet-shaped charcoal smoker has one large door on the front and a temperature gauge on the top to show you how hot the oven is.

You can use the vents to create more or less heat to give you more control whilst you are smoking your meat. There is also an aluminum fuel door which makes it easy to add more charcoal as you are cooking. 

You also have the option to use wood pellets and charcoal at the same time in this smoker oven, allowing you to create unique flavor profiles. You can choose from 3 sizes- 14 inches, 18 inches, or 22 inches.

The 22-inch option has two shelves so you cook two large joints of meat or you can fit up to 6 racks of ribs in the smoker.  

Wood Smoker

Wood smokers are the middle ground between gas smokers and charcoal smokers. They are easier to use than charcoal smokers as controlling the temperature is fairly simple, but they are not quite as straightforward as a gas smoker which you control with a simple dial.

They don't produce as much smoke as a charcoal smoker, but they still give you that authentic flavor that is missing from a gas smoker. 

There are lots of different types of wood that you can use to fuel your wood smoker oven, but we will cover these in more detail later. First, let's have a look at some products.


Z GRILLS Wood Pellet Grill Smoker with Digital Controls, Cover, 700 sq. in. Cooking Area for Outdoor BBQ, Smoke, Bake and Roast, 700D

This smoker is more expensive than some of the others, but it is also very versatile. You can smoke your meat, but you can also braise, sear, roast, BBQ, and char-grill.

It has 700 square inches of cooking space which is enough for 5 whole chickens, 6 racks of ribs, 30 burgers, or several large joints like brisket or pork shoulder. 

You rest assured that this product is of good quality and will last you a long time. It has a sturdy steel construction and comes with a 3-year warranty. The powder coating finish is resistant to rust.

The oven has a well-designed automatic pellet feeding system, with a hopper for the wood pellets, an augur that carries them towards the flame, a hot rod to ignite the pellets, and a grease bucket to catch the drippings from the meat.

On top of the fuel chute is a tray side table which you can use to prepare the meat. 

Even though this is a wood smoker, you can still control the temperature with a dial. The dial allows you to change the temperature within 20 degrees Fahrenheit of the burning temperature. 


Country Smokers CSPEL015010497 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, Black

This is a portable smoker oven which means it is smaller than the others, with a total cooking space of 256 square inches. There is one main cooking rack and a smaller, removable cooking rack.

The hopper can fit up to 3.5 pounds of wood pellets at any one time and the oven can reach a maximum temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The features of this oven are quite simple, but it is a very affordable option so you wouldn't expect it to have a complex design.

However, it does have a digital dial-in temperature control with a smoke option to create even more smoke. The lid lifts so you can easily check on your meat as it is cooking. 

Drum Smokers

Drum smokers used to be looked down on in the smoker community, but recently they have had a surge of popularity. They have become very popular with street food vendors as an easy and inexpensive way to smoke meat.

Drum smokers are usually made from repurposed metal drums or barrels. A charcoal fire is created in the bottom and a shelf is inserted inside. When the lid is closed, the drum becomes a smoker oven.

They are similar to vertical smokers, but they have a more basic design. They are very different from horizontal or offset smokers, like the design of most wood smokers. 

How do drum smokers work? They smoke your meat in a similar way to vertical smokers. The fire is at the bottom of the barrel, and the shelf is located towards the top. As the charcoal fuel burns, the heat and smoke rise the barrel to cook the meat and create a smoky flavor. 

The heat bounces back off the lid of the barrel, causing it to circulate back around the meat and cook it evenly. This is why you don't need to turn the meat as it is cooking to get an even finish. 

The downside to drum smokers is that it can be very challenging to maintain or control the temperature of the oven. This makes the cooking time for the meat quite unpredictable. The upside is that they are cheap and you can even make them yourself. 

How do you make your own drum smoker? First, you will need to find a 55-inch drum. You can repurpose a second-hand drum as long as you scrub it clean and remove any toxic chemicals that could be lingering inside.

Alternatively, you can buy one new for less than 80 dollars. Next, you make a charcoal basket out of a charcoal grill and steel mesh and attach it to the drum at the bottom using bolts and screws. 

Next, attach a door handle to the lid, and one on either side of the drum so you can move it, and then attach a 22-inch grate inside the drum. Finally, drill 8 evenly spaced air holes around the lid of the drum and three evenly spaced holes in the bottom section of the drum. 

Alternatively, you can buy a drum smoker that has already been made.


18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

This 18.5-inch drum smoker comes with all the parts you need and is very easy to assemble. IT has a standard grilling rack along with 8 steel hooks and 2 hanging rods so you can hang your meat inside the drum.

The charcoal basket is the perfect size to give you enough fuel for a long smoke. This smoker also comes with an outdoor cover to protect it from the rain, and handy utensils like meat tongs and a spatula. 


Oklahoma Joe's 19202100 Bronco Pro Drum Smoker, Orange

If you have a bit more money to spend, this product is the ultimate drum smoker. It comes in a funky orange color that will look great in your backyard, but you can also get it in black if you want something more classic in design.

This smoker has 17 pounds of fuel capacity, so you know it's going to stay hot for the duration of the smoking process even if you are cooking a large joint of meat. 

This oven has a 21.5-inch cooking grate, 3 meat hangers, and 9 meat hooks, so you can cook plenty of meat in your smoker at one time.

The large ash pan and drain cap make it easy to clean up the smoker when you have finished cooking. With a heavy-duty steel construction, this smoking oven will last you for many years. 

The side shelf is perfect for preparing meat or keeping your tools handy. It has a well-designed airflow system to ensure that your meat is evenly cooked every time.

Earth Smoker Pit

You can also cook your meat in a very traditional way, which is by digging your own earth pit. 

Start by digging a hole that is 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep. This will make a pit large enough to cook enough meat for 6 people. If you plan on cooking a lot of meat you will need a bigger pit.

Create a teepee structure out of twigs at the bottom of the pit and stuff some lint inside, then set it on fire. 

Once the twigs start to catch fire, you can slowly build it by gradually adding wood chips. Your aim is to fill the pit up to 2 thirds full with glowing embers rather than a blazing fire. 

Next, you will need to add some hardwood branches to give your meat the smoky flavor you are after. You can soak the branches in water first to make them burn more slowly.

Layer the branches in a grid pattern on top of the wood chips with approximately 4 inches between each branch. 

Prepare your meat for cooking by seasoning it and wrapping it in brown paper, like butcher's paper. Then wrap each brown paper parcel in several sheets of wet newspaper.

This will ensure that your meat is moist and soft and it doesn't catch fire. Place the meat parcels on top of the branches. 

To seal the oven, lay a wooden board over the top of the hole. Add a layer of soil on top of the board for insulation. You can use the soil that you dug up when you created the pit.

Leave the meat to cook for 12 hours - overnight is best. Be careful when retrieving the meat as there will be trapped heat underneath the wooden board. 

Whilst this is the traditional method of smoking meat, it takes a lot of effort and can make a mess of your garden. This is why a lot of people choose to buy a smoker instead. 

Buyers Guide

Once you have decided what kind of smoker oven you want to buy, you will need to narrow down your choice to one product. This can be challenging as there are so many good products to choose from. There are some things you can consider to help you make your decision.

Earth Smoker Pit

Size

First of all, you need to think about the size of the oven. How much space do you have in your yard?

Where are you going to store your smoker in the winter months or poor weather? Remember that gas smokers take up more room as you have to account for the gas tank that will be attached to the oven.

Once you have figured out the maximum size oven that you have space for, you will then need to decide how large you need your oven to be. Are you planning on cooking feats for large groups of your family and friends?

Perhaps you have a large family in your home and you will need to cook a lot of meat at one time? Or maybe you only plan on cooking for around 4 to 6 people at any one time and a smaller smoker oven would be fine.

Fuel Capacity

The other factor to consider when you are looking at the size of the smoker oven is the fuel capacity. How much fuel can the smoker oven hold? Is it enough for a long smoke, or will you need to keep topping up the fuel? 

If the wood hopper or charcoal basket is large enough to hold enough fuel for a whole smoke then you can let the meat cook overnight.

If you will need to maintain the temperature of the smoker by adding more fuel then you will need to be on hand throughout the whole smoking process.

What’s It Made Of?

Another important thing to think about when buying a smoker oven is the materials used and the build quality. Most good-quality smoker ovens are made from steel - a durable metal that can withstand high temperatures.

Certain parts of the oven might be made from aluminum. A double-wall construction is a good sign of a sturdy smoker oven. 

Design

Look at the design of the smoker oven. Does it have good airflow and ventilation? Does it have double doors that are lockable to seal in the heat? Is it easy to get access to your meat to check the temperature? Is there a temperature gauge on the oven so you can check how hot it is?

Are there meat hooks included so you can choose to hang your meat? These are all features that could make it a lot easier for you to smoke your meat. 

How Much?

The final thing to consider is the price. Figure out your budget and make sure that you stick to it. Smokers can range in price from less than 200 dollars to over 1000 dollars, and you don't need to spend a fortune to get a good product. 

Types Of Wood 

If you have chosen to buy a wood smoker oven then you will need to also select which type of wood you want to use as fuel. You must use hardwood as softwood contains a lot of air and sap which can make your meat taste unpleasant.

Hardwood will produce the nice, gray smoke that will give your meat the perfect flavor.

You can use wood chips or wood pellets in your smoker oven. It is not advised to use large pieces of wood as they will not burn evenly, and will make it harder for you to control the temperature of the oven.

The type of wood you use can impact the flavor of the meat, so you might want to switch it up depending on what cut of meat you are smoking. These are the most common types of wood used to fuel a wood smoker.

Applewood

Applewood produces a fruity, smoky flavor that works well with pork. It is often used for cooking large joints of ham. Although it doesn't taste specifically of apples, you can still pair it with meat cooked with apple juice or cider to create a wonderful flavor.  

Hickory Wood

Hickory wood produces one of the strongest flavors out of all of the wood fuels. This flavor works well with all types of meat which makes it a versatile choice. However, it would go well with rich meat like lamb or beef.  

Oak

Oak is one of the milder woods to use for smoking meat. This makes it versatile as you can use it for any type of meat. It is great for meat with an equally mild flavor, like chicken or fish, as the oak won't overpower the natural flavor of the meat.

Cherry wood - sweet, fruity, and smoky- goes with all meats. 

Maple Wood

Maple wood creates a particularly sweet smoke with a mild flavor. This is perfect for bringing out the flavor of pork, which is a sweet meat. It also pairs very well with chicken.

Mesquite

Mesquite produces a very strong smoky flavor. This works best with meats that have a strong flavor to match it, like beef.  

Should You Soak The Wood?

When you speak to people about smoking meat, there is a split of opinions as to whether you need to soak the wood chips or pellets before you use them.

The main reason that people soak their wood chips is to make them burn slower. This means that the fuel will last longer and you won't need to top it up as often.

This can be useful if you are planning to smoke your meat overnight and you don't want to have to keep topping up the hopper.

The downside to smoking your wood chips is that it will lower the temperature of the smoker oven, which could make the meat take longer to cook.

You also run the risk of producing too much steam instead of smoke, which will prevent your meat from having the intense smoky flavor that you are looking for.

If you want to create more steam inside your smoker oven as well as smoke, it is best to use a water tray. Some smoke ovens have a built-in water tray, but if not then you can use any heatproof dish filled with water and place it inside the smoker oven alongside the meat. 

Another way to create steam is to wrap the meat in foil and add a cooking liquid like beer, cider, or fruit juice into the foil package. This will create a build-up of steam around the meat which will help to make it moist and tender. 

What Else Can You Use Your Smoker For?

What Else Can You Use Your Smoker For?

A smoker oven is ideal for cooking meat, but what if you are vegetarian? Or what if you want to use your smoker oven to cook some tasty side dishes. The great thing about smoker ovens is that you can use them to cook all sorts of different things. 

You can smoke vegetables like asparagus, squash, peppers, or tomatoes. You can also use your smoker oven to smoke cheese, which is great if you are having guests round and want to serve a cheese board. You can also smoke nuts and fruit. 

Safety

Smoking meat can be dangerous as it involves fires and high temperatures. Make sure that you carefully read the instructions of your smoker oven so you know how to operate it safely and correctly, and you understand the safety features.

Can be dangerous - use heat proof gloves and always check the instructions on your smoker oven.

You should invest in a good pair of heat-proof gloves before you start smoking meat. These could be made from silicone, leather, or synthetic fabric, depending on your preference. 

The other safety concern with smoking meat is making sure that the meat is properly cooked before it is consumed. This is why you should always use a thermometer when cooking meat. 

A digital probe thermometer is the best kind as it lets you check the internal temperature of the very middle of the meat, without having to get too close to the heat source and risk burning yourself. You will also need to check the temperature of the oven during the cooking process. 

Accessories

Before you start smoking meat, there are some accessories and utensils that you will need to make it much easier for you.

As we have already mentioned, you will need heat proof gloves. You might also want to wear heat proof goggles in case of spitting fat or steam. A lot of people choose to wear an apron to protect their clothes from meat juices.

A thermometer is essential for smoking meat, as you tend to cook by temperature rather than time. 

It is a good idea to get yourself a good set of chef's knives. A paring knife is good for trimming meat and removing excess fat. A nice, sharp carving knife will come in handy when the meat is cooked.

There are lots of other types of knives that could be useful depending on how much of the meat preparation you want to do yourself and how you plan on serving the meat. 

You will also need some meat tongs to make it easier to handle the hot meat. They will need to be large and strong to handle heavy joints like a brisket or pork shoulder. A large meat fork will also come in handy. 

Summary

Smoking meat is a cooking method that has been used for many years and can be traced back to when humans first discovered fire. It is a simple and affordable way to cook meat that results in incredible and intense flavors. 

Smoking meat makes it soft and tender and is a great way to make cheap, fatty cuts of meat into a really tasty feast for your family. Smoked meat has become so popular that there are now many BBQ-style restaurants all over the United States and the world. 

If you want to make your smoked meat at home, you can choose between a gas smoker, a charcoal smoker, or a wood smoker. The different types vary in price and ease of use, and they create different flavors for your meat. 

There are different methods of smoking meat depending on the type of meat and the joint that you are using. There are also different opinions on whether you should wrap your meat and the various stages of the cooking process.

A lot of it comes down to personal preference and what you feel works best. 

One of the great things about a smoker oven is that it is versatile. You can smoke meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, cheese, nuts, and much more. Some people even use their smoker oven to bake bread!

Smoked meat is closely associated with Texas-style BBQ food, but you can also experiment with different flavors and seasonings to create new and exciting dishes.

You could use oriental seasonings and serve your smoked meat with fried rice and noodles, or Tandoori seasonings and put your smoked meat into a curry. The possibilities are endless. 

If you want to start smoking your meat, make sure you get all of the necessary utensils and accessories beforehand as this will make it much easier for you.

You must stay safe while you are using a smoker oven, as there will be an open flame and the oven will reach very high temperatures. 

We hope you have enjoyed this helpful guide to smoking meat and wish you luck on your BBQ journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you leave us, get your last-minute queries answered below!

How Often Should You Check The Meat In A Smoker?

This depends on the joint of meat that you are cooking. a larger joint will only need to be checked every few hours, but a smaller joint will need to be checked every 30 minutes to an hour to prevent overcooking. 

Can You Smoke Precooked Meat?

Pre-cooked meat won't take on as much of the smoky flavor. It will also dry out very quickly. It is best to start with raw meat and cook it in the smoker. You can use the smoker to cook big joints of ham and beef that you can then cool and slice up to enjoy as cold meats. 

What Is A Drip Pan And What Does It Do?

A drip pan catches all of the drips of fat and meat juices that come off the meat during the cooking process. By collecting the drips, it makes it much easier for you to clean the smoker afterward.

It also keeps the fire burning clean. Some people use the contents of the drip pan to make gravy or sauces. 

What Is The Smoke Ring?

You will often hear smoked meat enthusiasts talking about the smoke ring. This is a thin layer of pink meat just inside the bark. It is not caused by the smoke itself, but by the smoking process. Not only is it visually appealing, but it is also a very tasty part of the meat.

John Rinder
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