13 Tips for Better Smoked BBQ

Smoking meat is one of the most pleasant culinary experiences - at least it is for us. Welcome to our Smoking 101 class where you'll get 13 tips that will help you smoke meat better:

Choose the Right Meat

Some meats are better suited for smoking than others. Fattier cuts like pork shoulder, brisket, and ribs handle the low and slow smoking process better because they retain more moisture and flavour than a chicken breast, for example. Even chicken thighs will be better for smoking than chicken breast. So, those meat cuts with higher fat content is what you're looking for.

Do NOT Soak Wood Chips

Wood Chips in Smoker Box

Contrary to the myth (and a ton of YouTube tutorials), do not soak your wood chips. Think about it... if your wood chips are soaked in water and they're not actually catching fire, you're producing steam not smoke. Could the steam add some moisture to your cook? Sure it could, but a water bath under your meat will do a better job at that, and you'd save your money and wood chips for the next cook...

Water Pan or Drip Pan

Placing a water bath or pan full of water underneath your meat will help keep your smokers chamber moist, thereby keeping your meat moist as well. The water bath also helps with temperature control and reduces ambient temperature spikes.

Prep the Meat Properly

Trim Silver Skin On Meat

Trim silver skin and excess fat from your meat. This helps the smoke penetrate the meat and reduces the risk of any bitter flavours from overcooked fat. Be careful not to trim too much fat off though, or you'll lose a protective layer that keeps your meat moist. It's about finding the perfect balance of fat... kind of like a Uncle Johnny's dad bod.

Brine or Marinade

Brining or marinating the meat before smoking is absolutely KEY to maintaining your moisture and flavour. 

Maintain Consistent Temperature 

Temperature control is a central pillar for smoking meat. You want to keep the temperature at a range of 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C). If you have a pellet grill, you'll have an easy time doing this - it might be a little harder if you have a charcoal grill though because they typically don't come with the technology that can automate your temperatures - except for the new Konnected Joe.


Choose the Right Wood

The wood you choose to use will undoubtedly affect your end flavours. Most people will use hickory, mesquite, apple, cherry, and oak - or their own personal mixed and matched blend. A good rule of thumb: Mild woods are great for poultry and fish, while stronger woods work well with beef and pork.

Best Charcoal In Canada


Patience is Key 

Remember that smoking meat is a slow process. You're the turtle, not the hare, that will finish first if you can learn to take your time and let the meat absorb the smoky flavours over a longer period of time.

If you're looking, you ain't cookin'

Broil King baron 500 pellet smoker

Some wise words from Yoda himself. Ok, maybe it wasn't the green guy, but the rule is still just as old. When you lift the lid, you lose your heat and smoke and extend your cooking time. Although it looks and smells amazing, avoid taking pictures and videos for Facebook and Instagram until your cook is done. 


Use the "Smoke Zone"

The "smoke zone" is the coolest part on your grill where the smoke will travel along your meat. To elaborate, it's the spot between smoke exhaust and heat source on your grill that is closer to the former than the latter. 

Use a Meat Thermometer

A good pellet smoker will come with built in temperature probes that will tell you the internal temperature of your meat. However, if you don't have that, you definitely need a remote Bluetooth thermometer, like the MEATER+.

Rest the meat

This goes for all meat that you cook, but especially your smoked meat. Once the meat reaches it's target internal temperatures, remove it from the grill and let it rest so the juices can redistribute and stay "locked in."

Experiment and Learn

Smoked Tri Tip Steak

Last but not least, you need to try again. Smoking meat is an art and a science - and as we recall, neither Picasso or Da Vinci found their success on their first try. So try again with different meats. woods, rubs, cooking times, etc., and you'll get closer to the perfect cook every time.

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Barbecues Galore has the best selection of barbecues, patio furniture, and outdoor heating supplies. We sell barbecues, accessories, and everything else you need for exceptional grilling and backyard experiences. With locations in Calgary and the GTA, you can visit us in store or shop online. North Calgary Store: (403) 250-1558 | South Calgary Store: (403) 258-4440 | Burlington Store: (905) 639-5952 | Oakville Store: (905) 844-3224 | Etobicoke Store: (416) 546-3266
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