Q & A 2017-09-06T12:02:03+00:00
The best and most efficient way to learn how to smoke meats step by step is through one on one instruction. While reading books and articles will help provide insight and specific knowledge, learning the basics and more advanced aspects of smoking meats can significantly increase your meat smoking options and build your confidence. I have produced a twenty-one short video tutorial series located on the Videos page you can watch one at a time or all twenty-one in about ninety minutes that covers the basics on how to smoke meats. Once you understand the basics, it is easy to learn how to smoke meats step by step. Also, be sure to download and printout all the Essential Meat Smoking Resources and place them in a three-ring binder for future reference.

Your friend’s “secret” is called experience. While smoking time charts may be helpful in some cases, they can be wildly inaccurate when it when it comes to your specific smoker and all the relevant variables considered. The problem with smoking time charts is they can cause smoking enthusiasts to second guess the internal meat temperature and under/overcook the meat. Nobody cares about what the smoking time chart states when they were expecting their prime rib to be medium rare and it came out well done. The smoking enthusiast’s famous last words were “based on the smoking time chart, that internal meat temperature can’t be right…we’ll go another two hours.” Also, your friend keeps a Smoker Log and knows exactly how long the meat was in his smoker.

While some smokers feature automated heat and smoke control for easy use, most smokers can produce remarkable results with some basic knowledge and understanding of how to control the heat and smoke through use and gaining experience. Propane and electric smokers offer the most beginner friendly features, while offset smokers require a much higher level of skill.
Successful meat smoking is determined by consistently producing delicious, tender and juicy meats that contain the pleasant fragrance and taste of smoke.

While there is some latitude in maintaining a specific temperature using brackets like (225-250 F), much lower or higher temperatures can result in under or over cooked meat. Never rely on the smoker temperature alone. Always use an internal meat temperature probe and alarm to monitor when the meat is cooked to your preferred “doneness” level and ready to remove from the smoker.

The best and most efficient way to learn how to smoke meats on a gas grill is through one on one instruction. While reading books and articles will help provide insight and specific knowledge, learning the basics and more advanced aspects of smoking meats can significantly increase your meat smoking options and build your confidence. I have produced a twenty-one short video tutorial series located on the Videos page you can watch one at a time or all twenty-one in about ninety minutes that covers the basics on how to smoke meats. Once you understand the basics, it is easy to smoke meats using your gas grill. The main difference between using a gas grill instead of a smoker is placement of a simple smoke generator recommended on the Tools and Equipment page inside the grill. Also, be sure to download and printout all the Essential Meat Smoking Resources and place them in a three-ring binder for future reference.

More smoke does not mean “better.” More smoke can mean “bitter” and render your meat unfit for consumption. Smoke particles are attracted to moist meat, so the smoking process can be completed much faster than anticipated, usually in the first few hours. The pros know when to remove the meat, wrap in foil to stop the smoke from coming in contact, then return meat to the smoker to finish cooking.

Some factory installed temperature gauges can be off by as much as 50 degrees F. While using only the time and temperature method of smoking meats without monitoring the internal temperature of the meat will work sometimes, it is much better and more reliable to use a quality internal meat temperature probe and alarm to determine exactly when the meat is at your preferred “doneness” level. I do not use the preinstalled temperature gauges on any of my smokers. I use and recommend a high-quality temperature alarm that monitors BOTH the internal temperature of the smoker AND internal temperature of the meat.

Sure. Some folks have special needs that are best addressed by either custom designing and building a smoker or having it built to their specifications.

First, you must understand the basics in smokehouse design so you will learn how to use it correctly and to its fullest benefit. Start by reading my preferred technical resource on smokehouses recommended on the Tools and Equipment page.

The best and most efficient way to learn how to smoke meats on a charcoal grill is through one on one instruction. While reading books and articles will help provide insight and specific knowledge, learning the basics and more advanced aspects of smoking meats can significantly increase your meat smoking options and build your confidence. I have produced a twenty-one short video tutorial series located on the Videos page you can watch one at a time or all twenty-one in about ninety minutes that covers the basics on how to smoke meats. Once you understand the basics, it is easy to smoke meats using your charcoal grill. The main difference between using a charcoal grill instead of a smoker is placement of a simple smoke generator recommended on the Tools and Equipment page inside the grill. Also, be sure to download and printout all the Essential Meat Smoking Resources and place them in a three-ring binder for future reference.

It would help to know the grade and cut of meat you are referring to unless all your results are the same regardless of the meat selection, which leads me to believe you are smoking with too high heat and/or for too long. For example, assuming you are smoking a beef brisket at the correct smoker temperature (225 F) and remove it precisely when the internal meat temperature is (190 F). If you are smoking a USDA Prime grade it will be very tender and juicy. If you are smoking a USDA Choice grade it will be moderately tender and juicy. If you are smoking a USDA Select grade it will be barely tender and juicy. Also, consider marinating/injecting the meat to add flavor and juiciness.

Not necessarily unless that is your desire. The thick dark crust is formed when smoke particles accumulate on the meat surface due to continued exposure throughout the smoking session and can add an undesirable bitter taste to the meat. While some folks agree that the thick dark crust adds to the smoked meat appearance, everyone agrees that the bitter taste is best avoided. Most of the smoking process is complete in the first few hours, after that period be careful not to over-smoke the meat by wrapping in foil until the internal meat temperature reaches your preferred “doneness” level and signals time to remove the meat from the smoker.
The “smoke ring” often referred to as a sign of good BBQ is a chemical reaction between the protein myoglobin, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide gases crated when wood or charcoal combust, and imparts no additional flavor to the meat.
Sure, if you want however, I personally do not, unless I need to delay additional trays of chips from igniting until after the first tray has burned. I prefer the wood chips to burn “hot” helping produce the white smoke I am seeking.

The best and most efficient way to learn how to smoke meats in a smoker is through one on one instruction. While reading books and articles will help provide insight and specific knowledge, learning the basics and more advanced aspects of smoking meats can significantly increase your meat smoking options and build your confidence. I have produced a twenty-one short video tutorial series located on the Videos page you can watch one at a time or all twenty-one in about ninety minutes that covers the basics on how to smoke meats. Once you understand the basics, it is easy to learn how to smoke meats in a smoker. Also, be sure to download and printout all the Essential Meat Smoking Resources and place them in a three-ring binder for future reference.

While a coating of olive oil will help seasoning stick to the meat surface, it also blocks the smoke from coming in direct contact with the meat surface. Oil is a barrier and shields the meat from the smoke. I personally do not apply oil to meat before smoking.
Yes. If you are using dry seasoning, homemade or prepackaged, avoid using the container the dry seasoning came in and transfer the contents to a stainless-steel shaker with holes that are closest to the grain size of the dry seasoning. The prepackaged seasoning containers usually have extra-large holes that allow too much seasoning to come out. I keep three stainless-steel shakers with small, medium, and large holes for this purpose. Once you use the correct size shaker, your meat will be evenly seasoned.
Absolutely, just make sure the seasoning is fresh and avoid applying too much. Remember, your family and guests can add more seasoning to suit their personal tastes. Always use fresh ground pepper. If you cannot remember when you purchased the seasoning, it is too old, replace it.
Yes. Some meats can benefit from marinating overnight before smoking. This process can infuse additional seasoning and flavoring into the meat surface. Try different marinades until you find some you like. My family likes the Korean BBQ marinades best.

I personally use a chamber vacuum sealer. These vacuum sealers are commercial in nature and generally found in restaurant kitchens. Once you own one, you will wonder how you ever managed without it.

You will notice smoking residue, oil/grease, mold, and other particulates collecting on the inside surfaces, grates, and temperature probes of your smoker. Follow the smoker manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning after each use. I also wipe all surfaces down with vinegar right before a smoking session.

There are two steps I take before a smoking session to help with clean up later. First, I spray the smoker grates with cooking oil, next, I use stainless steel prep trays also sprayed with cooking oil to lay out the meat. I do not lay the meat directly on the smoker grates. After a smoking session, I use nonabrasive pads to clean the grates and prep trays in warm soapy water followed by placing them in the dishwasher.

Yes. While there are some good store-bought BBQ sauces, I prefer to make my own. This way I know the freshness and quality of ingredients. You can mix your own spice blend or purchase a blend. I prefer the Viper Original Spicy BBQ Sauce spice kit to make my BBQ sauce.

The best and most efficient way to learn how to smoke meats is through one on one instruction. While reading books and articles will help provide insight and specific knowledge, learning the basics and more advanced aspects of smoking meats can significantly increase your meat smoking options and build your confidence. I have produced a twenty-one short video tutorial series located on the Videos page you can watch one at a time or all twenty-one in about ninety minutes that covers the basics on how to smoke meats. Once you understand the basics, it is easy to learn how to smoke meats. Also, be sure to download and printout all the Essential Meat Smoking Resources and place them in a three-ring binder for future reference.

Generally, no however, you can try adding BBQ sauce to ribs and beef brisket 20-30 minutes before removing the meat from the smoker to add a nice gooey glaze.
Pecan is the best all-around wood for smoking meat if you do not have a specific preference.
That depends on the type of smoker you are using. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results. Generally, smokers with an offset fire box use wood chunks and logs, while smokers without an offset fire box use wood pellets or chips.

Cold smoking meats is extremely problematic and dangerous since the smoking process temperature is typically under 85 degrees F and within the danger zone of 40-140 degrees F where rapid microbial growth can occur, so I recommend you not consider cold smoking meats. However, if you want to try cold smoking cheese or nuts, use a simple smoke generator recommended on the Tools and Equipment page inside the grill. No other heat from your smoker, charcoal, or gas grill is necessary.

Start with the highest USDA grade beef tenderloin, ribeye, or New York strip 1.5-2.0 inches thick you can afford or find, preferably Prime however, Choice will do but will not be as tender. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator using your favorite beef marinade. Using your outside BBQ grill or inside cast-iron grill pan on the kitchen stove burner, coat grill pan with grapeseed oil first then sear each side of the steak for three minutes on medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 375 F and immediately place cast iron grill pan into oven for six minutes. Remove cast-iron grill pan and let rest five minutes. Cut steak into quarter inch slices going against the grain. Arrange overlapping slices on plate and top with garlic herb butter. This method usually results in a medium rare steak (130 F internal temperature) so always use a quality, accurate temperature probe to determine if cooked to your preferred doneness level and adjust time/temperature to suit your specific cooking style.

You will not need to, she will convince herself once you show her how savvy families save time and money using their smoker. This is what we do in our home. I marinate and smoke forty boneless skinless chicken thighs at a time in my smoker specifically for freezing. I taste one of the chicken thighs and freeze the other thirty-nine in thirteen vacuum sealed bags containing three chicken thighs each using a chamber vacuum sealer. The bags are labeled with the date and marinade I used and will stay fresh in the freezer for a few years. It did not take my wife very long to figure out that she can have delicious juicy tender marinated smoked chicken on or in just about anything she wants by simply dropping a frozen vacuum sealed bag into boiling water for five to ten minutes. Not only will that wonderful smoky aroma fill your kitchen, you will not be able to taste the difference between the chicken thigh right out of the smoker and the ones a year old right out of the pot of boiling water. My wife likes chopped marinated smoked chicken in a salad. I like it in a burrito, wrap or taco. Either way, dinner is ready in minutes not hours. Bon Appetit.

VacMaster VP 215. These chamber vacuum sealers are typically found in restaurants and food service environments so they are commercial in nature however, fine for home use. Before we began using a chamber vacuum sealer, we used to throw away a fortune in frozen foods we could no longer identity that was not vacuum sealed. This savings alone paid for the chamber vacuum sealer and we use it constantly.

Liquids. Since the contents of the vacuum bag are enclosed inside the chamber, liquids remain in the bag and are sealed with other contents. Therefore, chamber vacuum sealers are perfect for marinating meats under vacuum. For example, my wife will make a pot of delicious soup and vacuum seal single servings then freeze. Months later, she can drop the frozen bag of soup in boiling water for 5 to ten minutes and enjoy the soup like it was freshly made that day.

The best and most efficient way to learn how to smoke meats at home is through one on one instruction. While reading books and articles will help provide insight and specific knowledge, learning the basics and more advanced aspects of smoking meats can significantly increase your meat smoking options and build your confidence. I have produced a twenty-one short video tutorial series located on the Videos page you can watch one at a time or all twenty-one in about ninety minutes that covers the basics on how to smoke meats. Once you understand the basics, it is easy to learn how to smoke meats at home. Also, be sure to download and printout all the Essential Meat Smoking Resources and place them in a three-ring binder for future reference.

how to smoke meats at home