Looking to up your backyard cooking game? Ditch the generic BBQ that you don’t even know how to use properly and start smoking your meat instead.

Smoking meat produces some of the best flavors in many different types of meats, from steak to pulled pork, and even mahogany smoked meats. And not only can you use them to cook traditional cuts of meat, but you can smoke fish from the lake, make your own jerky, or even cook a pizza.

Variety aside, you are probably wondering how to smoke meat. Every type of cooking process is equal parts art and science, and smoking meat is no exception. Before you even bring home a smoker, you need to have a game plan.

Keep reading below for some grilling tips that will equip you to start smoking meat to perfection. 

Know the Different Types of Smokers

So you want to start smoking meat at home, so you can enjoy the incredible flavor offered by smoked meats? The first step is knowing what types of smokers are available, and choosing which one you’d like to bring home.

Each has its advantages, disadvantages, and high price tags, so it pays to research ahead of time. Here are the most commonly used types of grills used for meat smoking today.

Gas Smokers

Gas smokers are cabinet-style smokers that utilize propane to smoke your meat. The gas ignites a flame in the bottom of the smoker to burn wood chips in order to produce smoke, which rises up towards the grill racks.

These are easy to use and can be affordable depending on the size. 

Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal smokers obviously use charcoal to create smoke. And most people would agree that the smoke produced from charcoal is some of the deepest, most flavorful tasting smoke.

The tradeoff is that setting up and maintaining consistent output and heat with a charcoal smoker is a bit more labor-intensive. 

Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers are very popular as they are versatile machines, able to act as an oven and grills along with a smoker. The pellets used to produce smoke are made of sawdust, which is formed into small pellets, which combust in the heating chamber. 

With a pellet smoker, you get the flavor of the wood without the work. You can set up the grill, put your meat on, and walk away. 

Electric Smokers

One of the easiest smoking solutions is an electric grill. Just plug it in, set the temperature, add meat, and walk away. Without anything burning, there isn’t much to clean up. 

And all you need is a wall socket, so you’ll never have to go to the store to replace your propane tank, or buy charcoal or pellets. 

Kamado Smokers

One of the most traditional style, yet most popular types of smokers is the Kamado grill. While there are my brands producing Kamado grills, the Big Green Egg is one of the most commonly seen.

These are large, egg-shaped grills made of ceramic that works to sustain optimal and even temperatures, as well as the ideal moisture level. They use pellets to produce heat and smoke and give you full control over the process.

And thanks to the materials and design, they work well in cold climates, even outside in a Northeastern winter. Plus, they produce some of the juiciest smoked meats. 

Cold Smokers

Yes, unlike the smokers listed above, you can smoke your meat, and other types of food using cold smokers. Now, to be clear, these aren’t meant for cooking raw meat. In fact, because these use such low heat, you aren’t cooking at all.

Rather, cold smoking is all about adding a rich smoky flavor to your food. As such, these are best suited to fish such as salmon, different types of cheese, and other foods like nuts. 

Cold smoking is also used for preserving food since it works to extract moisture. As a result, cold-smoked foods can last for months, which is why this food preparation method has been around for eons. 

Essentially, a cold smoker is a chamber that is connected to your hot smoke. Smoke is transmitted to the cold chamber without bringing much, if any, of the heat. 

Know the Best Meats to Smoke

So you have an idea of what to smoke with, but what type of meat should you put in it? 

If you like to hunt or fish, then anything you bring home is worthy of putting in the smoker. Smoked salmon, for example, is food from the heavens. 

If shopping from the store is more your style, there’s plenty to try. Beef brisket is one of the first things you should try

Pork shoulder is great, too, as you can make some incredible pulled pork. Ribs, either pork or beef, are also excellent things to try right away. 

Grilling for Beginners; How to Smoke Meat

So you have a smoker, and you brought home some fresh meat to test out for the first time. What should you do? 

It really depends on your specific grill. You can either follow instructions and recipes in your owner’s manual, look up grilling tips for your grill on YouTube, or purchase a cookbook for your type of grill.

Though, you should probably do all three of those things. But here are some cooking tips to get you started. 

First off, plan ahead. Smoking meat is all about taking it low and slow. Most things you will cook will probably take eight hours or longer. t’s not uncommon to smoke certain meats for 16 hours. 

And since this is such a long process, you should keep a journal, tracking each thing you smoke. As a novice, you need to learn the nuances of smoking, and with such long timeframes, the only way to keep track is to write it all down.

Write down the weight of the meat you are using, the temperature, how far the gate is open, and so forth. 

Always let your smoker get up to temperature before putting your meat on the rack. 

Most of your job as a smoker is to adjust the airflow in the smoker by opening or closing the gate. This controls the temperature, and how fast food cooks. Master the movements. 

Oh, and use a meat thermometer to check for doneness and safety

Just Start Smoking

So, if you are wondering how to smoke meats, the only way you are going to learn is by doing. Sure, your first few batches aren’t going to be perfect. But even if you botch it, it’s going to taste way better than if you cooked it in the oven or the crockpot.

Just pick up a smoker and get started, so that in a few weeks, you’ll be making some seriously delicious meals.

Looking for more tips like this? Head over to our blog to keep reading.