Smoking and grilling are two very different cooking processes; grilling refers to fast cooking over high heat, which locks in the meat’s flavor, while smoking refers to low and slow cooking, which helps retain the smoky flavors in food.
As you can see, they are both really great ways to cook meat. But, what if you also desire to have meat that’s both flavorful and smoky? Well, good thing we have smoker and grill combos already available to use.
The problem is that since we’re using both techniques here, there’s no doubt that it can be challenging to use. So, we’re sharing with you five tips on how you can use a smoker grill effectively:
1. Set up two temperature probes
Start by setting up two temperature probes. You need to make sure that the smoker grill’s temperature stays at 225 °F. Effective and accurate monitoring is needed here, and sadly, depending on the smoker grill you get, built-in thermometers can get inaccurate readings.
This is because a smoker grill’s temperatures tend to differ from one end to another, where one is hotter. So, by placing two temperature probes on each end, you can accurately read how hot the area surrounding your food is.
This way, you can adjust the temperature as you please if it’s getting higher or lower than 225°F.
2. Light Charcoal in a Chimney Starter
A chimney starter is a device or tool you can use to light up charcoals initially. This way, you’ve already burned off the charcoal before you place them on your smoker grill.
So, instead of using lighter fluids, this is what you’ll use. The problem with using lighter fluids is that you cannot burn off the charcoal yet, so there are some smelly fumes released that might spoil the flavor of your meat.
Using a chimney starter is very easy. As you can see, it’s a cylindrical chamber, and you just need to fill that up with charcoal. It’s up to you if you want to put charcoal until it reaches the top or just half, depending on how long you’re cooking.
After that, place a lighting material underneath those charcoals and light it up. This fire will begin burning the charcoal, and the flame goes upwards. Usually, it takes about 10-15 minutes before the charcoals are all lit up.
You want all charcoals to already start ashing over before you pour them on your grill. And that’s it!
3. Open the Intake and Chimney Baffles, Then Add Lit Coals
Now, once those lit coals are ready, you can finally pour them into your smoker grill. However, you need to make sure that the intake and chimney baffles are open before doing that.
Intake baffles are responsible for the oxygen flow and can have a significant impact on the temperature of the smoker grill. On the other hand, chimney baffles help control the smoker and a bit of the temperature.
It’s important to open both of these vents so that oxygen can come in and light up those coals more, increasing the temperature.
Once you’ve reached the desired smoking temperature, which is about 225 °F to 250 °F, you can now add the meat.
4. Maintain Your Temperature
Once you’ve added the meat inside your smoker grill, all you need to do now is to maintain the desired temperature. Remember, don’t open the smoker or firebox doors as it can greatly affect the temperatures inside. Because of this, meat might take even longer to cook.
Instead, you should rely on your temperature probes and your baffles to ensure that you are in control of the temperature changes.
To start, close the intake baffle half-way or gradually until you get a stable temperature around 225 °F to 250 °F. As for the chimney baffle, keep it wide open. Throughout the whole cooking, adjust the intake baffle frequently depending if the temperature is rising or going down.
If it’s going down, it’s also advisable to check your firebox as it could be that you’re already low on charcoal. If you are, start a new batch of charcoal in a chimney starter again and pour it on your grill.
Continue this until the meat is cooked.
5. Add wood chunks / Add Moisture
Lastly, add some wood chunks and moisture.
Adding wood chunks adds that tasty and smoky flavor to your meat. It’s highly recommended to use large wood chunks as it burns slower and is much more consistent. It’s best to note that you don’t need to add a lot because over smoking your meat might only make it undesirable.
So, just 1-2 chunks are enough. Or about 2-3 handfuls if you’re using wood chips. It’s also important that you choose a wood that compliments well to your meat.
You can get an idea about this below:
|Wood||Flavor||Type of Meat|
As you can see, sweet and fruity flavors are perfect for pork and poultry, while beef works best on smoky flavored woods.
You should also know how strong the smoke flavor is. If it’s mild, then probably you can put more. But if it’s strong or medium, less would be best.
Other than flavor, add moisture, too. This way, you don’t get a taste of flavorful but dry meat. There are two ways o do this:
- Add a water pan on the grate to humidify the smoker entering.
- Spray the meat with a bit of water or apple juice in the later part of your cooking.
If you wish to do the second option, remember always that less is better. You want that meat to be juicy, but you don’t want to strip it off with its smoke coating.
Wrap up – Essential to give it time
As you can see, using a smoker grill is not as hard as you probably thought. However, just like with regular smokers, you need to give it time.
Meat has different cooking times, and since we’re using low heat, unlike when we’re just grilling, some meat might take 3-4 hours to cook. Patience is really important. But, it’s best to know that you’ll also get rewarded with a tasty, tender, and smoky meat – just overall delicious.