How to Use a Barrel Smoker


A barrel smoker has a barrel-shaped cooking chamber, an offset firebox with a damper and an upturned elephant trunk-like chimney with a damper. The whole thing looks a bit like a steam engine. Cooking is done using indirect heat and smoke. Similar to barbecuing, the food is placed in the cooking chamber, with the fire in the firebox. The dampers are used to control the temperature.

Things You'll Need

  • Briquettes
  • Wood chunks
  • Firelighter
  • Matches
  • Season the interior steel. Brush all interior surfaces with vegetable oil, then build a small fire on the grate inside the firebox and sustain the fire for two hours. This will help prevent corrosion.

  • Soak your choice of well-seasoned wood chunks in a bowl of water for an hour or so. Your choice of wood will depend on the type of food you're cooking. Use hickory and mesquite for long-smoking red meats and lighter alder for fish.

  • Position cooking grates in the cooking chamber and a fire grate in the firebox. Build a fire on the grate in the firebox using easily charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid. Keep all lids and dampers open until the fire is established. Allow ample time to burn off the fluid. Add some wood chunks to the fire before closing both lids. You'll start to see smoke.

  • Adjust the dampers; close the dampers to decrease the temperature, and open them to increase it. The temperature change can take several minutes, so be patient. Once you've got the temperature you want, it'll remain pretty constant. Add wood from time-to-time.

  • Add the food to the cooking chamber. Remember that indirect cooking can take considerable time. A hickory-smoked pork shoulder can take eleven hours; cook the pork for five hours at 225 degrees F, then wrap it tight with foil and cook it for another six hours at 200 to 225 degrees F.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider smoke some cheese along with the meat.
  • Smoking takes place at a temperature of 140 to 225 degrees F.
  • Keep both lids closed as much as possible to prevent unnecessary heat loss.
  • Smoking in winter can take longer because of the ambient temperature.

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  • New Braunfels Recipie Book; New Braunfels Smoker Co.; 2001
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