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How to Use a Smoker BBQ

Updated February 21, 2017

Cooking meat on a smoker barbecue is a slow process, but the results are worth the wait. When cooking a brisket, expect to devote an hour per pound of meat. (This is for the weight of the largest roast, not the total meat on the grill.) Chicken will take less time. Meat can be prepared the night before by marinating it and refrigerating it until you are ready to cook. Using woodchips is optional, yet they help add flavour and a smoky taste to the meat.

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  1. Familiarise yourself with your smoker barbecue. It typically has a grill with a lid, and a firebox. The firebox is where the fire will be built, and the grill is where the meat will be placed.

  2. Place a large pan under the grill. The pan will catch the juices that drip down from the meat on the grill. Add water to the pan to provide moisture during the cooking process.

  3. Build a fire in the firebox using charcoal. Pile the charcoal in the firebox, squirt lighter fluid over the top of the charcoal and light it with a match or barbecue lighter to start the fire.

  4. Soak the woodchips in water for about 30 minutes. Add a handful of drained woodchips to the firebox every hour or so, after the charcoal is white-hot and fully lit.

  5. Add the meat to the grill when the temperature is about 82.2 to 107 degrees C. It will get much hotter at first, and then will cool down to 107 degrees C.

  6. Add charcoal and a few damp woodchips to the firebox every hour or so, to keep the fire going.

  7. Tip

    Wood can be used instead of charcoal. See Resources for recipes to use with the smoker.


    Not all wood is safe to cook with.

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Things You'll Need

  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Matches or barecue lighter
  • Wood chips
  • Pan

About the Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.

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