Looking to put a serious spin on a classic cookout? Whether you own one of the many brands of dedicated charcoal smokers or just a simple kettle grill, you can take advantage of this flavorful grilling technique by following the below guide. Just a few steps, and you’re on your way to smoked perfection!

Keep it Cold

Cold meat absorbs smoke much better than that at room temperature, so make sure you’ve got the grill fired up and ready while your meat is still cool. You’ll want to use a combination of wood and lump charcoal as your fuel, as an overload on wood can result in a bitter, ashy overall flavor.

Use a Water Pan

Many dedicated smokers have a built in water pan that’s designed to add moisture to the smoke and help the meat take in that delicious, barbeque flavor. If using a kettle grill or other charcoal cooker, make sure you add a foil pan with hot water. In addition to infusing flavor into your food, a water pan also helps to regulate heat and ensure that your meat doesn’t dry out due to temperature fluctuation.

Track Your Temperature

Most grill thermometers are mediocre at best, but maintaining a stable 225-250 degree temperature is absolutely imperative to the smoking process. Consider investing in a digital air probe, or simply place a meat thermometer in the top vent of your grill so that the probe hangs down and measures the temperature of the inside of the grill (not just the top, like many built in grill thermometers).

Patience is Key

A real barbeque is cooked over low, indirect heat. The process of smoking takes time, so you’ll want to account for several hours or more of cooking time.

No Looking

It’s tough, but try your best not to open the lid and check on the food unless necessary. Every time you open the grill, you lose heat and smoke — the two essential elements for a great smoked meat.

What do you think of charcoal smokers? Have you ever tried one?