If you just got a brand new outdoor cooker, making sure it is properly seasoned is crucial to ensuring the best results for your outdoor cooking. Seasoning a smoker or grill is one of the essential first steps before any meat touches the grates.
But, you may be wondering exactly how to season a smoker / grill properly? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we break down what seasoning is, why it is so important, and how to season a smoker or grill the right way.
Seasoning, sometimes called curing or pre-seasoning, involves applying a coat of oil to the inside of a smoker or grill and heating it at a high temperature for several hours. Simply stated, seasoning a smoker or grill ensures that it is ready for use. According to Oklahoma Joe’s Smokers, “Seasoning a new smoker before initial use is crucial to laying the foundation for great BBQ results”.
This process is also a good opportunity to get to know your new smoker/grill and how to control the temperature, without worrying about ruining a good piece of meat.
There are two main reasons why seasoning a smoker is essential before your first cooking session:
The manufacturing and shipping process of smokers and grills usually leaves some forms of debris inside the cooker. This can be dust, metal shavings, oils, grease, metal shavings, wood splinters, or cardboard. This is totally normal and occurs with many different types of products. But none of these things you want in your food.
The inside of the grill may also be lightly coated with oil that the manufacturer applies to prevent any rusting until it reaches its new home.
So, seasoning your smoker or grill helps get rid of any debris, eliminates contaminants, removes unwanted odors, helps seal the interior surface, and cures the paint. This leaves a proper interior condition that is ideal for cooking over heat and prevents anything from tainting the taste or condition of your food.
Because seasoning cures the interior surface and the paint of your grill, it will also help protect it from any rust and corrosion building up. This greatly helps to keep it in optimal condition and extends the life of your cooker.
Source: Oklahoma Joe’s Smokers
Of course, there may be variations in the seasoning process depending on the specific type of smoker or grill, but in general, it follows a pretty standard process. Make sure to look in your cooker’s information/instruction manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. (This book is always a good thing to read through in its entirety.)
The general process of seasoning a smoker for the first time follows these steps:
Before you get out the oil, it’s important to clean the inside of your smoker/grill well. The goal is to remove anything that could contaminate your food or leave unwanted flavor.
To clean the inside thoroughly:
Check out our article on properly cleaning a grill or smoker for more info on this.
After the cooker has been cleaned, you want to grab a high smoke-point oil like refined avocado oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil. You want to use one that has a smoke point of at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Using an oil like this will leave a nice, hard protective surface after it has been heated inside the grill, which is a process known as polymerization.
If you feel like experimenting with the oil you choose, other options that people use include red palm sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, bacon fat, suet, (raw beef fat), and lard.
To oil your smoker/grill:
Source: Chosen Foods
For this step of the seasoning process, you want to bring the smoker or grill to a high internal temperature (at least 275-300 degrees Fahrenheit) and keep it there for anywhere between 1 and 4 hours. The temperature should be higher than it would be for a normal cooking session to get a proper seasoning on your smoker/grill. Do not put anything inside except for the oil you’ve already applied or wood chips or chunks, see below.
There are many different recommended desired temperatures and times for this step, but a general rule of thumb is to bring the temperature up to the maximum temperature rating of your smoker and leave it there for a couple of hours. *Remember, make sure to check your cooker’s instruction manual for the specific seasoning instructions suggested by the manufacturer. But, in general:
Use a chimney starter to get your coals up to the desired temperature. Then fill the pan with the hot coals and add some hardwood chunks or chips. If you have oiled the exterior of the water pan, leave it in without water, if it is not oiled take it out. Open all of the vents wide to let the air flow through and generate a good high heat inside. Let the charcoal burn hot until it's reduced to ash. Once it’s cool, dump the ash and brush out the pan.
Pro Tip: Make sure that for the first seasoning, when using wood, use a lighter type/flavor, like oak, pecan, or Applewood. Strong wood flavors like Mesquite and Hickory can end up adding a much stronger flavor to your foods than you were intending in the next few cooks.
Load the hopper with your wood pellets and set the temperature dial to a high heat. Leave it running like this for at least an hour (usually 2-3). Remember, go with a lighter flavored hardwood.
(Check out our article on pellet versus charcoal smokers/grills!)
Set the temperature dial to high and leave it running for about 2 -3 hours. You can load wood chips into the smoker box with about 45 minutes to go and add that great wood smoke flavor as well.
With a propane gas smoker or grill, set it to the highest temperature and leave it running for at least an hour. For the last 30-45 minutes you can add wood chips or chunks to a pan to get the wood flavoring.
Pro tip: No matter what type of smoker or grill you have, after the set time for heating during the seasoning process, you want to make sure you slowly bring the cooker down to air temperature. This will ensure that the relatively thin metal of the smoker (most smokers) does not warp.
Source: Green Mountain Grills
There are some insider tips and tricks you can follow to help ensure your seasoning process goes as smooth as possible:
Seasoning a new smoker or grill is an essential first step to great outdoor cooking. As you can see, it is not a complicated process. You can have your new cooker cleaned, protected, and ready to go in just a few hours!
Do you have any other seasoning tips you’ve discovered? Have you developed your own seasoning method? Have questions on the process? Leave a comment below, we want to hear it!
Once you’ve finished seasoning your smoker or grill, chances are you’re anxious to get cooking. If you’re ready to become barbecue king or queen of your culdesac, check out the virtual Championship Backyard BBQ Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn a variety of great recipes step-by-step straight from some of the top pros in the game, as well as get all the insider tips you need to know. Start mastering your smoker or grill today!
Ready to take your outdoor cooking up a level and learn competition smoking and grilling techniques for a variety of meat cuts? Grab your All-Access pass now and join Champion Pitmasters and Grillmaster in these first-of-their-kind in-depth virtual BBQ classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You can be cooking competitor-caliber barbecue in no time!
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Maybe you are wanting to get into backyard cooking or maybe you are wanting to step up your game with a higher quality grill. In either of those circumstances, you may be wondering what type of grill or smoker you should get. With so many different options available these days, it can be overwhelming to think about.
One common question lately is which is better, pellet vs charcoal grill? This is a tough question to answer definitely because they operate very differently from each other. Pellet grills have been growing in popularity over the last several years and are a favorite of many cookers. But, of course, there are still faithful supporters of charcoal. Both types of grills have their own set of advantages and best use-case scenarios.
So, in this article, to help you pinpoint which grill would make a better fit for your cooking needs, we’ve broken down the comparison of a pellet vs charcoal grill, including the differences between the two and the best use cases.
In general, using a pellet grill is very easy. It’s as simple as filling the hopper with your wood pellets and setting the desired cooking temperature. The internal auger that is attached to the hopper then feeds the pellets at a controlled pace down to the firebox where they are burned. So, turning up the temperature would increase the rate that the pellets are being fed into the firebox and create a hotter fire.
Pellet grills do run on electricity, so you will need to have an outlet nearby your cooking area outside. This is no big deal for some people if they have multiple outlets outside, but for others, this can be a significant drawback, since it would require having a new outlet put in outside.
Using a charcoal grill does require a little more work and there is a significant learning curve when it comes to cooking with charcoal properly. You’ll need to light the charcoal first (using a charcoal chimney is the best way!) and then it will take 20-30 minutes for them to be ready to cook over. Learning how to set up your charcoal grill to reach and maintain the desired temperatures will definitely take some practice. But once you’ve got it down, you can utilize multi-zone cooking to cook low and slow and sear at high heat.
Source: Green Mountain Grills
Since pellet smokers are technically cooking with raw wood, a more nuanced and refined taste of the wood flavor comes through in the food you are cooking. And different flavors/types of wood pellets mean different flavors imparted on your meats and other food.
When it comes to charcoal grills, you will always get the unmistakable char flavor that comes from cooking over charcoal. Because of the charring process used to create charcoal, most types of wood will give a similar flavor, unlike the differences you can taste from wood pellets.
Some people do complain that cooking on a pellet grill will not give the food as smoky a flavor as when it is cooked on a charcoal grill. Adding wood chunks or chips to the charcoal will give a strong wood flavor.
Another thing to note when it comes to the flavor differences in a pellet grill vs charcoal grill is that because of the higher temperatures you can achieve on a charcoal grill, the food can be seared more than on a pellet grill. This will give you more of that Maillard reaction on the exterior of the meat. (Unless the pellet grill has a searing station as an attachment/accessory.)
You’ll never have an easier time controlling the cooking temperature, especially during a low and slow smoking session, than you will with a digital pellet grill. As mentioned above, all you have to do is turn a dial to the desired cooking temperature and sit back.
With a charcoal grill, the temperature control is totally done manually, either by opening and closing air vents or manually adding more charcoal. The more air you allow to flow through the grill, the hotter it will get. So, controlling the cooking temperatures in a charcoal grill is definitely a learned skill, especially when trying to slow-smoke meat. Setting up a two-zone cooking setup, with a direct heat side and an indirect heat side can help when cooking with charcoal, but it will still have to be manually controlled.
Pellet grills are most often used for cooking/smoking at lower temperatures versus high heat grilling since they excel at being able to hold a steady smoking temp of 250 °F. The temperature range in most pellet grills will not go much higher than 550 °F, with some having a hard time getting that hot.
One thing you can do to increase your surface cooking temperature in a pellet grill is to utilize a GrillGrate. This is an accessory that can either sit on top of the existing grill grates or temporarily replace the normal grates and get up to 100 °F hotter.
Charcoal grills do have a wider temperature range and can get much, much hotter very easily. They can be used to cook at lower temperatures for smoking as well as high temperatures for quick grilling, like putting perfect sear marks on a thick steak. Depending on the type of charcoal you are using (lump charcoal tends to burn hotter than briquettes) and the size of the grill, it is possible to get to temperatures over 800 °F.
Most pellet grills are designed to easily be able to cook for 8 or more hours without needing to add more wood pellets. If the pellets do start to get low during a cooking session, all you have to do is simply open the lid to the hopper and add more pellets.
With a charcoal grill, during a low-temp smoking session, you can easily cook for over 12 hours on a single load of charcoal. But, if you are grilling hot and fast, you can quickly burn through all your charcoal in just a couple of hours. So, depending on your cooking temperatures, it’s important to always have enough charcoal on hand to get you through your whole cook.
There’s no denying it, charcoal can get messy fast. The carbon from the charcoal itself can get on your hands, your clothes, and definitely all in the bottom of the grill. Alternatively, when using wood pellets, there is virtually no mess. In fact, when you get high-quality pellets, there will be almost no dust in the bag.
With a pellet grill, you’ll have to do regular cleaning every couple of cooking sessions to help extend the life of your grill. A charcoal grill will require cleaning out the ashes after every cook. No matter what type of grill you use, it’s important to keep it properly clean.
In general, a good pellet grill is going to be a bigger investment than most charcoal grills. Pellet grills can range anywhere from $499 (check out this one from Green Mountain Grills) to $2200 (like this one from Traeger). Though, with increases in competition between grill manufacturers, high-quality pellet grills are not as high-priced as they first were.
Of course, some high-quality charcoal grills, like a Kamado grill, can cost just as much. But, in general, charcoal grills will usually be slightly less expensive compared to pellet grills. For example, you can get a good kettle grill from Weber Grills for less than $300. Compact charcoal grills, which are perfect for tailgate parties, are less than $100.
Source: B & B Charcoal
Wood pellets are often more expensive than charcoal. And like with high-quality charcoal, the best pellets for smoking are going to be more expensive than others. In pellet grills, if you can, you want to go with high-quality pellets to prevent the auger from jamming.
For charcoal, briquettes are cheaper than lump charcoal and can be used for cooking low and slow or grilling hot and fast. Lump charcoal tends to burn a little hotter and faster. Many people prefer to use lump charcoal just for high-heat grilling due to the added expense.
But, the thing to keep in mind is that wood pellets burn slower than charcoal. So, if you are cooking frequently, the cheaper cost of charcoal can add up very quickly compared to a large bag of pellets that will last five times longer. Long-term costs of fuel will just come down to how often you are cooking.
The other thing to consider with pellet grills is the cost of replacement parts if they break down the road after your grill’s warranty has run out. With so many electric and mechanical parts, this is always a possibility.
Outside of fuel, there aren’t really any other costs associated with the charcoal grill itself.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both pellet grills and charcoal grills. If you have to choose one over the other, try to find the best-quality options. When trying to decide between a pellet grill vs a charcoal grill it’s really going to come down to what is most important to you (ie. ease of use, cost, etc.). You should especially consider what you are cooking, the cooking temperatures you need to cook at, and what kind of flavor you want to achieve.
We want to hear your opinion on the pellet vs charcoal grill. Do you prefer the ease of use of a pellet grill over charcoal? Or do you prefer the taste and method of charcoal? Leave us a comment below!
Once you get your grill, whether it be pellet or charcoal, if you want to elevate your outdoor cooking game, check out the step-by-step virtual Championship Backyard BBQ Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn a variety of great recipes, along with all the insider tips you need to know, directly from some of the top competition Grillmasters and Pitmasters. Start mastering your grill or smoker today!
Make sure to also check out the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel! Click Subscribe to ensure you never miss the latest competition barbecue news and insider info straight from the pros!
*Feature image from Food & Wine Magazine
Your grill or smoker and the BBQ tools to go with it are an investment. Especially if you are a frequent outdoor cooker and want quality things that will last. So, it only makes sense to do what you can to protect them and extend their life as much as possible. After all, you don’t want to have to be replacing things every year.
If you’re wondering how to make your grill last longer, along with all of the BBQ accessories you use, we’ve got everything you need to know. By following the suggestions below, you can keep cooking with much less worry about what you’re going to have to replace next.
A build-up of food residue, grease, and carbon is your grill and tools’ worst enemy. So, being proactive and keeping everything clean is critical to extending the life of your equipment. Make sure you are taking the time to properly clean your grill.
Before and after you use your grill or smoker, crank up the heat and use a metal-bristle grill brush or ball of aluminum foil to clean off any leftover food particulars and build-up. Then, if you are frequently using your grill, do a deep cleaning every 4 to 5 months.
Avoid harsh chemicals and save money on expensive cleaners by making your own homemade natural grill cleaner.
Keeping the food grates of your grill or smoker clean will not only help them last longer but will also help ensure your food tastes good. A leftover build-up of grease and carbon can cause your cooker to smoke more (not the good smoke), tainting the taste of your food. It can even cause a flare-up in your grill, which will totally ruin anything you’ve got in there.
Make sure to also thoroughly clean and dry your tools after each use to reduce the chance of them wearing down too soon as well. The last thing you want to do is go to cook and discover that your tongs or spatula have rusted.
Important note: If you are going to use a metal bristle brush, use a high-quality stainless steel or copper bristle brush. The bristles in cheaper brushes can become loose, stick to the grates, and end up in your food. Always make sure to use a damp paper towel to wipe down the grates after brushing to ensure any loose bristles are picked up.
An important part of helping extend the life of your grill or smoker is to ensure it is properly seasoned before use. Moisture and premature wear will quickly break down your grill grates and the interior of the cooker. Keeping it seasoned will protect your grill, prevent food from sticking, and make cleaning easier in between cooks.
You always want to season a brand new grill before using it and also after you deep-clean your grill. It’s also a good idea to re-season it occasionally if you’ve been cooking frequently. Especially if you notice food starting to stick more than usual.
When it’s time to season your cooker, coat the grates and interior of your grill with a high-heat-resistant oil like canola oil. Then, turn up the heat on your cooker to high-heat and let it sit for about 30 to 40 minutes.
One easy method to quickly re-season your grill is to turn up the cooker’s heat, cut an onion in half, dip it in the oil, and rub it over the grates before adding your food.
Properly storing your BBQ tools and your cooker itself will help keep everything protected from the elements that can quickly break down metal items and components. Many tools and parts of your grill are usually made of stainless steel. While stainless steel is more resistant to rust than other metals, it is not completely immune to it.
So, storing everything properly will involve several things:
One of the fastest ways of damaging or breaking BBQ tools is to try and use them for things that they were not intended for. For example, using your metal spatula to try and lift up the grill grates. So, to get the full life expectancy of your tools, only use them for their intended purpose.
It’s important to perform regular checks on all of the components of your grill or smoker. are important. Yes, a cooker will probably still work even if one or two parts are damaged but that can further degrade the unit and even lead to dangerous usage. So, inspect your cooker often and if something needs to be repaired or replaced, don’t wait. Fixing small issues now will prevent larger, more costly issues later.
You also want to be checking your cooker and tools for any early signs of rust and eliminating it as soon as you notice it. Rust can be removed fairly easily if caught early and will prevent it from spreading.
Also, if you are using a metal grill brush, check that the bristles are not starting to come loose and fall out. If they are, throw it out and buy a new one.
If you are grilling or smoking often, it will be advantageous to the life of your cooker if you set up a dedicated outdoor cooking area. The space needs to be somewhere where you don’t have to worry about chemicals from the lawn, a pool, or even natural elements from trees. All of these things can damage your grill. So, make your own grilling space to give you a place to enjoy cooking while also keeping your grill protected.
Like any appliance or machine, your cooker will operate best when it’s actually being used regularly. So, enjoy some time outside and fire up your grill often. This will not only keep everything running smoothly but also allow you to check for any issues with components that may need to be addressed.
By following the simple things above, you can extend the life of your BBQ tools and cooker. The biggest take-aways to remember are to keep things clean and protected. In doing so, you’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor cooking much longer!
Do you have a trick you use to help protect your grill? Have you come up with a creative way to store your BBQ tools? Let us know below in the comments. We want to hear from you!
Want to learn how to really put your grill to good use and up your backyard cooking game? Check out our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You can learn directly from Champion Grillmaster and Pitmasters how to cook a variety of different BBQ favorites.
If you want to take it up a level with the pros and get all the best smoking and grilling techniques, competition-BBQ tips, and more, get your All-Access pass now for our one-of-kind online BBQ cooking classes. Start cooking like the pros today!
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Are you wanting to expand your barbecue skills and tackle cooking a large piece of meat? Try your hand at cooking on a rotisserie grill or smoker attachment. This tool opens up the possibilities of what you can cook and makes cooking even entire animals easy.
Sometimes referred to as spit roasting, rotisserie cooking on a grill can be done on gas grills, charcoal kettle grills, or smokers. Many of the grill manufacturers now make rotisserie attachment kits that can be easily mounted to the cooker. So, this type of cooking can be done using propane gas, charcoal, wood, or even infrared as your fuel source.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into using a rotisserie grill or smoker and give you some must-know tips on how to use a rotisserie grill, ensuring your rotisserie cooking is successful.
The main component of a rotisserie is a long metal rod that sits horizontally across the grill. Your meat goes on this rod and is suspended over the heat source. The rod itself is referred to as either a spit or skewer (or you may even hear “turn spit”). Then, large metal forks or prongs at either end of the food item secures it to the spit so it stays in place.
Within the closed chamber of the grill or smoker, the spit is turned at a constant speed over the heat, either by an attached motor or by hand, roasting the attached meat. This allows your food to cook evenly at the same degree of heat the entire time it is cooking, which will often be quicker than slow cooking the traditional way directly on the grates.
Because the meat is being turned constantly, it bastes itself through the whole cooking process while it is being slowly roasted. This creates some of the most succulent pieces of meat you’ll cook. The exterior of your food on the spit will sear quickly and lock in all of the natural juices while it cooks to temperature on the interior.
As we mentioned above, rotisseries are generally used for cooking large cuts of meat, entire animals, or even whole fruits. (See more on what you can cook below!)
Source: Weber Grills
There are a variety of different options when it comes to how to cook on a rotisserie. Most of the time you’ll see the horizontal rotisserie attachments that are made by several different companies to fit into your existing grill or smoker. For example, Char‑Broil offers a universal electric rotisserie attachment that can fit a variety of grill models, from two to six-burner sizes.
But, there are also portable, stand-alone rotisseries that have a battery-powered spit motor. These make for great outdoor cooking while camping or at tailgate get-togethers and similar events.
No matter what type of rotisserie you are using, it is important to make sure the one you get will turn at a constant speed without interruption. This is critical to ensuring that your meat sears properly and is cooked evenly and quickly.
Though cooking on a rotisserie grill is fairly easy overall, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help ensure you do it successfully. These include:
You want to make sure your food is sized as equal as possible from end to end on the spit rod. This will keep things consistent and even while cooking.
The food should always be centered and balanced on the spit. If it is not, your food won’t cook evenly and it can put excess strain on the spit motor since it won’t turn smoothly. After putting your meat on the spit, roll the spit in your hands before putting it on the grill to check the balance.
Use butcher’s twine to truss (tie up) the meat to prevent any of the meat from falling apart or burnt chicken wings or legs etc. Make sure to trim any excess twine with scissors and do not use cotton twine. The cotton will burn very quickly.
Make sure that the food is not directly over the heat source. You want the coals on the other side of the grill or the burners to the side of the meat on.
The lid of your grill or smoker needs to be kept closed as much as possible during your cook. This allows the convection currents to cook your food evenly.
Make sure to place an aluminum drip pan below the meat with a little bit of water in it to collect drippings and reduce flare-ups. Beer, fruit juice, and even wine can also be added to the pan for extra flavor infusion with the meat. You can even put vegetables (onions, etc.) in the pan and use what’s left in the pan after cooking to make a gravy.
Some rotisseries allow you to adjust the rotating speed of the spit. A speed setting of 4 to 6 rpm (revolutions per minute) is good for cooking smaller meats like chicken, ribs, etc. A lower speed, from 1 to 3 rpm, is best for larger items like a whole pig.
Even though the meat is self-basting on a rotisserie, barbecue sauce or rubs can still add any additional flavors you may want. If you go with a sugar-based sauce, wait until the last ten minutes to brush it on. Sugar will char quickly and can cause the exterior of your meat to burn if done too early.
Like when grilling directly on grill grates, the air temperatures, wind, and humidity can affect how long it takes to cook. So, you’ll still want to have a good instant-read meat thermometer on hand. It can be harder to test the temperature of the meat when cooking with a rotisserie. To avoid overcooking, about 15 to 20 minutes before your estimated cook time is up stop the rotisserie motor and test the meat’s internal temperature.
There is not much checking or flipping needed when rotisserie cooking, so just make sure the fire stays consistent through the whole cook.
Don’t immediately start carving the meat after you take it off the rotisserie. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the interior juices to settle, keeping the meat tender and making the carving easier.
Source: Dad Cooks Dinner
Rotisserie grills make it possible to cook a wide variety of things, even large meats and multiple things at the same time, to a delicious and tender finish. And you can do it without it taking hours and hours. Here are some of the things you can cook on a rotisserie grill or smoker:
Using a rotisserie attachment on your grill or smoker (or even getting a dedicated rotisserie cooker) is a great way to expand your outdoor cooking repertoire. As you can see, a rotisserie grill makes cooking large pieces of meat and even whole fruit easy. Follow our tips above to turn out some deliciously tender meat!
Do you cook on a rotisserie? Have a favorite when it comes to cooking on a rotisserie grill? Let us know in the comments below. We want to hear from you!
If you are interested in learning even more outdoor cooking techniques and BBQ secrets straight from the pros, join us here at BBQ Champs Academy. Our one-of-kind online BBQ cooking classes with Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters will show you exactly how to cook everything from a deliciously cooked brisket to a perfectly grilled steak and more.
Make sure and also check out and subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel. You can catch all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the pros!
* Feature image from SeriousEats.com
If you’ve ever been to a teppanyaki restaurant or a diner where they were cooking on a flat-top then you’ve seen a griddle. But, cooking on a flat-top griddle is not just reserved for restaurants anymore. Over the last several years, outdoor griddle grills have been growing in popularity in backyards throughout the country.
Many people will agree, metal flat top griddles make for excellent outdoor cooking stations, providing the opportunity to easily cook a variety of different foods.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about cooking on a griddle grill and why you might want to give this method of cooking a try.
When used indoors, commercial-grade flat top griddles require extensive ventilation systems that can pull the heat and smoke out as well as a natural gas supply. But, as manufacturing in outdoor cooking grills has evolved, we’ve seen a rise in what is now commonly known as a griddle grill, further expanding the possibilities of outdoor cooking in your own backyard.
The main component of these grills is one flat, uncoated steel cooking surface. This surface will usually also include a raised lip that helps contain oil and juices. When it comes to things to cook on a griddle grill, the possibilities are endless. You can cook all types of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, pizza, and even desserts.
Griddle grills can come in a variety of sizes. From 17” long table-top models with a single burner to a 36” long backyard griddle grill from Blackstone with four individually controlled heat zones, putting out a combined 60,000 BTUs.
If you don’t want to purchase a whole dedicated griddle grill, there are also grill-top griddle plates available. These plates can sit right on top of part of the grates of your traditional charcoal or propane grill. With this setup, you can combine the advantages of cooking on a griddle with the delicious taste imparted from wood smoke.
Griddle plates can come in a variety of different types of metal including cast aluminum, cast iron, modern alloy. There are even some made out of salt blocks or stones like soapstone.
Source: Blackstone Products
Of course, any grill has its advantages and disadvantages. But, using a griddle grill offers some unique advantages. These include:
Here are some tips to follow to help ensure your cooking on a griddle grill is successful:
Source: The Hungry Hussey
It is important to clean your griddle grill after each use to help extend its life and ensure it is ready to go for your next cook. There are some specific steps to follow to ensure you are cleaning a griddle properly:
It is also a good idea to do a little deeper cleaning every couple of weeks to help extend the life of your griddle grill. During this time you should:
As you can see, a griddle grill can make for a highly efficient and easy way to cook a wide variety of different meats, sides, and more. But, it is important to properly maintain your grill to ensure it lasts long enough to get good use out of it.
Go ahead and expand your outdoor cooking prowess with a flat-top griddle grill. By following the tips above and cleaning it properly between uses, you can cook a great feast and extend the life of your grill.
Did you recently get a griddle grill? Have a favorite recipe for cooking on a griddle grill? Tell us all about it below in the comment box. We want to hear from you!
To learn even more grilling and smoking techniques and insider info straight from the pros join us in our one-of-kind virtual BBQ classes with the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy. Master how to cook everything from a perfectly grilled steak to deliciously tender brisket and more.
Make sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay on top of all the latest insider info and BBQ news straight from the pros!
In many parts of the country, winter is in full swing and there are already several feet of snow on the ground. But, you may not be one to brave the elements and cook in the cold weather. Or, after this past year, you may be looking to do some traveling soon.
Either way, this means that you need to store your smoker or grill and keep it protected. After all, chances are you’ve spent some good money on your cooker and you don’t want it to get ruined by the elements.
So, if you are wondering how you store a grill for the winter (or even for long periods between cooks), we’ve put together the top things you need to know. Let’s take a look:
Moisture is a smoker or grill’s number one enemy when being stored for any length of time. Rust and corrosion can quickly build up and ruin your cooker if you don’t take measures to keep it protected.
So, your number one goal when it comes to storing your smoker or grill is to keep it dry both inside and out. (We’ll get into some specific ways to do that below.)
Keep in mind, stainless steel will resist rust better than other metals/compounds but isn’t 100% resistant.
Cleaning the smoker or grill is the most important first step for any type of cooker that will be stored away. It’s actually a good habit to get into between cooks even if you aren’t going to be storing your cooker away for a while.
When it comes to cleaning it before storing, there are some critical things to do:
Check out our blog post on how to properly clean your grill or smoker for more detailed information.
Source: Saber Grills
Cooking oil, like canola oil, is great at helping to repel any moisture that could build up in your smoker or grill. Use the oil to coat the grill grates, burners, and other metal parts to help prevent any rust or corrosion issues from moisture while your cooker is being stored.
This might be obvious, but ideally, the best place to store your smoker or grill is under a covered patio or in a garage. As mentioned above, the moisture from rain or snow can wreak havoc on your cooker’s sensitive metal parts, quickly causing rust and corrosion.
Direct sunlight can also have adverse effects on your cooker if it is not protected. The UV rays can quickly deteriorate the exterior finish or paint, leaving your smoker or grill’s metal more susceptible to moisture.
Storing your smoker or grill inside a garage is fine but keep in mind that when you are cooking, it should always be done outside in a well-ventilated area.
If you have invested in a smoker or grill, one of the best ways to protect it when it’s not being used is with a good quality cover. This is especially true if it is not possible to store your cooker under a covered area.
The hardy material of a quality cover will hold up for a long time and keep moisture out, protect from direct sunlight exposure, and help keep unwanted pests out. Avoid skimping out on protection by buying a cheap cover that will just end up tearing quickly.
Many of the top brands of cookers also make covers that are available for your specific model. Or, if you’ve spent the money on a custom smoker or grill, it’s a very smart investment to have a custom cover made as well.
If you don’t have an area to keep your smoker or grill sheltered and are expecting a good amount of snow, securing an additional tarp on it over the fitted cover is very helpful as well. This provides another layer of protection from moisture.
Source: Green Mountain Grills
As with any type of grill or smoker, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your pellet grill. Because of the way these grills operate, especially with the electronically operated components, it is even more important to keep them protected from the elements and the fuel source (pellets) properly stored.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, specifically for a pellet grill, when it comes to storage:
Just like with pellet grills, there are some specific things to keep in mind when you want to store a propane smoker or grill properly. These include:
*You always want to store propane tanks outside to avoid any chance of a dangerous gas leak in an enclosed space.
Of course, every grill is different, but prepping your smoker or grill for storage is not an overly difficult task. As you can see, the more TLC you give your cooker when you go to store it away the longer it will last. By following the tips above and knowing how to winterize a smoker or grill, you can help keep your cooker protected and ensure it keeps performing optimally for you.
Your cooker will be all ready to go when you are ready to start cooking some delicious barbecue.
Have you recently prepped your cooker to be stored for the winter? Are you getting ready to winterize your grill? Let us know below. We want to hear from you!
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Buying a new smoker can elevate your outdoor cooking game like never before. Smokers allow you to cook low and slow at controlled temperatures, imparting a delicious smoky flavor into your food. But, with so many types of smokers available today—from large offset smokers to portable smokers you can take to your next tailgate—it can be hard to decide which one you should get.
Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Some types of smokers use more direct heat while others use more indirect heat. It just depends on how they are set up. Neither is necessarily better than the other. It is just a matter of being able to keep a consistent temperature and ensuring there is enough space between your meat and the heat source.
In this article, we’ll break down the different types of smokers to help you decide which one is right for you. Let’s take a look:
Charcoal smokers are the most commonly used types of smokers by backyard BBQ enthusiasts and even some competition cookers. Vertical charcoal smokers, sometimes referred to as vertical water smokers or “bullet smokers”, are one of several types of charcoal smokers.
These smokers have a bottom compartment (firebox) that holds the charcoal/fire, then above that a water pan that deflects the direct heat and provides a moist cooking environment, then the smoking chamber with the grates your meat will go on. The amount of heat in the smoker is controlled by air intake vents at the bottom near the coals. Many models of vertical smokers then have exhaust dampers/vents at the top that help control the flow of smoke, though some do not.
You can also add wood chunks or chips to your charcoal for extra flavor in your meat.
The key to being successful with these smokers, and any charcoal smoker, is being able to effectively control the flow of air and smoke. (Keep in mind: cheaper models without adjustable vents will make this more difficult)
Vertical charcoal smokers have quickly become some of the most popular available on the market. This is mainly because they are often the least expensive choice when it comes to smokers, some models only costing a couple hundred dollars. They are also smaller in size and weight compared to other types of smokers, which makes them a good choice for someone looking for something that can still be portable.
A popular higher-end and higher quality choice in vertical charcoal smokers is the Weber Smokey Mountain.
Another type of charcoal-fired grill is the Kamado grill. You may not have ever heard the term “Kamado” but you’ve probably heard of one of the brands of Kamado grills, Big Green Egg.
These oval-shaped smokers, made of ceramic, are based on Japanese rice-cookers used over 3,000 years ago. Acting somewhat as an oven, the shape and thickness of the clay walls aid in heat and moisture retention.
Similar to the way the vertical smokers work, you’ll have the fire at the bottom and the food and water pan are placed on the grates above the heat. The vents at the top and bottom are then used to control the amount of heat, though you will have less airflow compared to other types of smokers. The shape of these smokers directs the smoke and heat over the food, allowing you to get a great smoky flavor and keep the meat moist.
One of the great things about Kamado smokers is their versatility. Because of the thick ceramic walls, it can also be used to grill, bake, and even cook a pizza like in an old-school pizza oven. The thickness of the walls and level of heat insulation also make these a great option for smokers that will do well when smoking in cold climates.
Though they often make it easier to maintain consistent temperatures, Kamado grills will be more expensive compared to other charcoal smokers. Some top of the line models, like those from Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe, will be over $1500.
Drum smokers have become a fairly popular option when it comes to types of smokers. This is largely due to the inexpensive, build-your-own kits for what are called “ugly drum smokers” or UDS. These kits, often less than $200, come with everything you need to turn a 55-gallon drum into a large basic smoker. You’ll end up with a smoker similar in size to a 22.5-inch vertical bullet smoker.
These smokers normally consist of simply a firebox in the bottom and a cooking rack at the top, with a lid that helps seal in the smoke. You’ll then use the vents to control the temperature. Drum smokers are still fairly lightweight, making them an option if you are looking for something portable.
Most of the time, with a UDS, you will be cooking over charcoal without a water pan, relying on direct smoking and radiant heat. (Unless of course, a modification has been included to add one.) This can make it tough to ensure you don’t dry out your meat so it can take some mastering.
To up the ante on drum smokers, there are higher-quality ones like those from Short Rib Drum Smokers that are pre-made, fully assembled, and ready to go. They also look much better than a traditional 55-gallon drum.
If you are looking for a large smoker with enough room to smoke multiple pieces of meat together, an offset smoker is a great option. These are definitely for serious pitmasters. Offset smokers take practice to master and are far from a “set it and forget it” cooker.
Offset smokers were originally created from unused oil drums that were turned on their side. Many offset smokers today still resemble this barrel shape. They are called “offset” because of the fact that the firebox is offset to the side and below the main cooking chamber. The chimney is then usually situated on the opposite side of the firebox. This draws the smoke and heat across the food and out of the chimney.
In many offset smokers, you can use either wood or charcoal as your fuel source, depending on the flavors you want to achieve.
Make sure to avoid cheap offset smokers. The poor construction in these will result in bad heat retention, leaking smoke, and dry food. If you are going to cook on an offset smoker, spending the money on a good quality one will always pay off. Quality offset smokers start around $800.
Source: Green Mountain Grills
A pellet smoker (also called pellet grill) is a high-tech cross between a smoker and an oven. These cookers combine the delicious smoky flavor you get from burning wood with the convenience of an electric smoker.
Pellet smokers get their name from the food-grade compressed wood sawdust pellets that they use for their fuel. When cooking, these pellets are in a hopper on the side of the smoker and an auger drill feeds the pellets into the firebox. A heated metal rod inside the firebox causes the pellets to combust, creating both heat and smoke in the cooking chamber.
The “set it and forget” feature is the fact that pellet smokers use built-in thermometers to keep the temperature stable and heat consistent. Based on what the temperature is reading, the smoker will automatically change the airflow and amount of pellets that are being fed into the firebox.
Also, like Kamado grills, pellet smokers are versatile and can actually be used as a smoker, grill, and oven.
All of the main components of these smokers are run by electricity so you will need an outlet nearby. Keep in mind that if a mechanical problem happens, this can also mean expensive repairs if not covered under warranty.
When looking at buying a pellet smoker, make sure to do your research and select a good quality smoker from a brand that stands behind their products with a warranty. One source for high-quality pellet smokers/grills is Green Mountain Grills, whose smokers start at $499.
Sometimes called box smokers, these vertical cabinet-style smokers run on either propane or natural gas. Most of the time this gas will come from refillable gas tanks unless you have a gas hookup on your home.
These smokers basically have a burner and vents at the bottom, the cooking chamber above that, and the chimney and exhaust dampers at the top. The gas flows from the bottle (or home hookup) through a manifold and down to the burner section. Here, as it flows out of the burner valves, it is ignited to produce the heat to cook. Because these smokers don’t naturally produce smoke on their own you can use wood chips near the burner to produce the smoky flavor.
It is much easier to control the temperature in these smokers compared to charcoal or pellet smokers. They are also usually pretty light, so these are another option if you are looking for a portable smoker.
The thing that will differentiate good gas box smokers from bad ones is the amount of insulation (or lack thereof). If you get a good box smoker that has good insulation and a door that seals well, you can produce great barbecue in an easy-to-use controlled environment. The price ranges greatly between cheap thin box smokers and high-quality ones.
Sometimes referred to as smoker ovens, electric smokers are very similar to propane vertical/box smokers. The main difference is that they are controlled by electric power versus gas. In electric smokers, an electric heating element is what is used to control the heat and temperature. They are technically a large appliance used to cook and smoke meat.
Most electric smokers have the heating element at the bottom, then the wood and water pans where wood chips smolder to create the smoke and the water creates the internal moisture. Above these pans, a funneled piece of metal blocks direct radiant heat and collects drippings to prevent flare-up fires and keep the heating element clean. Then above that, you’ll find the food grates where you put the meat and hook up the meat temperature probes.
These smokers are the ultimate set it and forget it option. Using an electric smoker means setting the temperature, potentially from a Bluetooth app with some higher-end models, setting a time, and sitting back and waiting. The smoker’s computer will then automatically control the temperature and cook your meat to the desired temperature. It can then drop it to a holding temperature mode to keep it perfect until you are ready to eat.
Like many other types of smokers, you get what you pay for. So if you’re going to go for an electric smoker, make sure to get a good quality one that will last. There are some great quality digital electric options from Masterbuilt that run between $230 and $400.
Keep in mind, to make your electric smoker last, you have to remember it is an electrical appliance. It has to be used outdoors because of the smoke but it cannot stay outside in the elements all the time. Between cooks, it should be stored in a garage or other protected area.
Source: Weber Grills
Though not technically a type of smoker, chances are you probably have a traditional, cheap kettle grill around. If you are not quite ready to pull the trigger on buying your new smoker or you won’t be smoking meat often, you can turn your round kettle grill into a smoker with some modifications.
The easiest way to do this is to arrange the coals in the bottom so that they are all in one half of the grill, creating a two-zone grill. Then you place some wood chunks or chips on top of the coals so that they will smolder and create the smoky flavor you are looking for. You then set a water pan on the grill grate above the coals. Your meat then goes on the opposite side of the grill grate over the indirect heat side. Then place the lid on so that the air vent is above the meat.
The vent in the base of the grill then draws air in, over the coals, wood chips, and water, causing the smoke and moisture to flow over the food on the way out of the lid vent.
Because it can be hard to control the airflow and temperature and get consistent results, this is best used as a temporary option when it comes to types of smokers. Or for someone who only wants to smoke meat occasionally.
As you can see, there are quite a few different types of smokers. All of them, when used properly, have the capability of smoking some great-tasting meat. Hopefully, after reading this article, it’s now a little easier to narrow down which type would be the best smoker for you.
The things you need to consider revolve around what kind of meat you’ll be smoking and how much you want to put into it, both money and effort.
Once you’ve decided on the type of smoker you want and you are ready to truly take your meat-smoking game to the next level, get started on our online BBQ cooking classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters will take you step-by-step through competition BBQ cooking techniques and secrets and help you master your smoker. Elevate your outdoor cooking game like never before.
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