Things You'll Need
Fuel (charcoal or hardwood chunks)
Built-in external thermometer or portable chef's thermometer
Maintaining a consistent temperature is the key to slow-cooking meat successfully in an outdoor smoker. Too hot, and the meat dries out and becomes tough. Not hot enough, and your food might spoil before it is cooked sufficiently. The ideal smoking temperature is between 200-225 degrees F for large cuts of meat and 175 degrees F for fish. Thick meat cuts, such as beef brisket, can take 12 hours or more to smoke, depending on weight, so it's important to know how to keep up the smoker's internal temperature.
Never attempt to kick-start a fire with lighter fluid or another accelerant once the food is inside.