It’s the single most essential skill that any backyard Pitmaster can improve in order to up their barbecue game: how to control smoker temperature! Whether you are just starting out with smoking meat or a meat smoking veteran wanting to improve your skills, this one’s for you.
How To Control Smoker Temperature – Temp Control Tips & Tricks
Managing the temperature inside your smoker might seem overwhelming at first, but it essentially comes down to one thing: Controlling air flow. Fire needs air (oxygen) to burn, and changing how much air flows into your fire has an impact to its intensity.
The thing is, every set up is different! The best (and maybe the only) way to learn how your smoker behaves, is to fire it up and experiment for yourself. If this is your first smoker, take it easy and don’t load it up with meat just yet. Just get some fuel (whether it’s charcoal or something else) and try out what happens every time you adjust the dampers on the intake and exhaust. If your pit does not have a built-in temp monitor, you can find cheap thermometers in many hardware stores.
Here is what’s happening inside your smoker, to give you a better understanding of what you should look out for:
Cold air enters the firebox through the intake, and fuels the fire with oxygen. The fire burns through the charcoal and/or smoke wood, producing smoke and heating up the air. This hot air then travels through the smoker, carrying hot smoke with it, towards the exhaust. While it passes through the cooking chamber, it cooks your food, embedding it with that beautiful smoky flavor. It then leaves the chamber through the exhaust.
As you can see, you need to make sure there is enough air to allow for a nice, clean burn, and a proper “exit route” for the air to allow for a steady flow inside the smoker. The most famous indicator of a smoker that is running properly is thin (almost invisible) blue smoke coming out of the exhaust.
Knowing how the process works will allow you to problem solve most beginner issues with smoking meat. If the temp is too low, simply allow more air through the intake. Temp too high? Maybe you need to open the exhaust some more, to allow hot air to leave the smoker faster. Find out how to control smoker temperature for the setup you own, and you’ll be hitting home run cooks in no-time!
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