Hungry for great smoked flavor? Our guides below will get your fire started whether you're using a charcoal grill, a gas barbecue, or a traditional smoker. We've got tips for beginners and a comprehensive Smoking Woods Chart to match the right woods with specific foods. Check out our list of recipes to get you started.
Woods: Start by soaking wood chunks in water for at least one hour; chips (including wine barrel chips) and aromatic twigs (grape vines or fruit wood twigs) need only 30 minutes of soaking. Shake all excess water off woods before adding them to your fire or smoker box. (See our chart below for available wood types.) You can find smoking woods in hardware stores and home centers-or if you're lucky, in your own backyard! Wine barrel chips are available in specialty food stores and gift shops, and some hardware stores.
Water: Water adds moisture to the smoking process so meats come out flavorful and tender. If you're using a traditional smoker with a water pan, try adding barbecue sauce, marinades, wine, beer, fruit juices, or herbs and spices to the water pan for additional flavor. Be sure to keep the water pan full. For large roasts and turkeys, you may have to add water to the pan a couple of times throughout grilling. Check the water pan when you add charcoal-a watering can makes replenishing easy. (Note: When smoking cheese, add ice to the water pan so the cheese doesn't melt above it.) You can use a water pan with charcoal and gas grills, too.
Food: Place food in the center of the cooking grate above the water pan (if you are using one). Remember that smoke and heat escape every time you peek into the grill, so add 15 minutes to cooking time for each peek (more if you are smoking in cold weather). Boneless meats, such as beef brisket and pork shoulder, will shrink considerably during smoke-cooking, unless they have a heavy layering of fat. Simply cut off the fat before serving. (Note: Consider cooking your menu up to two days before serving. The smoke flavor becomes richer after a day or two in the refrigerator. That's why smoked foods make great leftovers.) All Weber recipes are based on 70-degree weather with little or no wind at average altitudes, so add more cooking time for wind, cold, and high altitudes.
Preparing your Charcoal Grill, Gas Barbecue, or Traditional Smoker: Virtually all Weber Gas Barbecues can be equipped with or are sold with a smoker attachment (exceptions: Spirit Series and Genesis Junior). The smoker attachment makes it easy to turn your barbecue grill into a hot smoker. You can also improvise with a foil pan. Before preheating your grill, simply fill the water pan on the smoker attachment with hot tap water. Place presoaked wood chunks or chips/twigs in the other compartment, or in a foil pan directly on the Flavorizer Bars over the lit burner. (Use a separate pan for water if you are using a foil pan for the wood pieces.) Begin cooking after preheating and when grill is fully smoking. You can get a smoker attachment for your grill by visiting your local dealer, or calling Weber Customer Service at 1-800-446-1071. Please have your grill model number available.
Smoker: Always position smoker on a level, heatproof surface away from buildings and out of traffic patterns. It's best to find a place away from the house, since smoke aromas can linger for hours. Weber's Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker has three grates-one for charcoal and two for food-and a water pan. To prepare the smoker, heap charcoal in the center of the charcoal grate, ignite the coals, and when coals have a light coating of grey ash, spread them evenly across the inside of the charcoal chamber. Check recipe for number of charcoal layers needed. If you are using the water pan, place it on the lower bracket of the center ring and fill it with hot tap water. Add seasonings to water, if desired.
Place soaked woods on the coals through the door on the front of the smoker. Keep all vents partially closed for smoke-cooking. Place food on the top and/or middle cooking grate, depending on recipe and food quantity. Arrange food in a single layer on each grate, leaving space for smoke to circulate around each piece. Add 12 to 14 briquets and as many wood chunks as needed to fire, and replenish water and seasonings.