Smoker Tips for Beginners


Smoking meat is a great way to feed a crowd at your next barbecue. With a few easy steps and the right equipment you can turn any cut of meat into something special. The main ingredient you will need is time. Smoking meat take hours, but the preparation can take days. You want to start by rubbing or marinating your meat, then prepare your fire and get your meat cooking.

Rubs and Marinades

  • Rubs and marinades impart flavor into your meat before it is cooked. A rub is generally dry, while a marinade is wet. Make your own instead of investing in a store-bought one. Popular spices used to make a rub are salt, pepper, brown sugar, garlic, paprika, ginger, cumin and chili powder. Marinades can have a variety of bases: stock, beer, fruit juice and even cola. When you choose your base, add spices and pour over your meat. Always refrigerate rubbed or marinated meat for at least six hours, though 24 hours is best.


  • Choose the right smoker for you. A basic smoker will have an offset base for a fire and then a different place to put your meat. The smoke from the fire is directed to the food and it cooks it very slowly. Traditional smokers require a thermometer to determine how hot they are cooking. This allows you to figure out your cooking time. Even easier is an electric smoker. Instead of having a fire to watch they are powered by an electric base that slowly burns the wood chips you place right on the burner. They burn at a constant temperature, taking the guess work out of your cooking time.


  • When using either a traditional or electric smoker you want to make sure to keep it away from anything that could catch fire. Remember you are still dealing with a hot element. You will also want to keep in mind that outside temperature and weather conditions can affect the cooking temperature of your smoker, therefore affecting your cooking time.

Doneness of Meat

  • Always check the doneness or your meat with a meat thermometer prior to removing it from the smoker. Even if your smoker has run at a constant temperature, on a sunny day without rain, there can be unknown factors and you want to be sure not to consume raw or underdone meat.

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