3 Common Smoking Mistakes That Ruin Your BBQ

If you’re a beginner at the smoker, you might be sabotaging your barbecue efforts – even if you don’t realize it yet. So, make sure you avoid these smoking mistakes that amateur smokers often make. Then, you can see to it that your next family cookout goes off without a hitch.

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When smoking meat, especially brisket, cover the grill and resist the urge to open it often, as this will cause the temperature to fluctuate. Image Source: Best Products

1. Using the Wrong Wood Chips and Pellets

Think back to the reason you bought a smoker in the first place. The odds are that you were looking to add a little personality to your grilled fare. Before you run out to the store or add a bunch of wood pellets to your online shopping cart, do yourself a favor and research wood chip flavor pairing guides.

One of the quickest ways to overwhelm the flavor of your meat is to use a wood type that’s too strong. Three common wood types come to mind – mesquite, hickory, and walnut. When first working with your smoker, it might be best to use more mild wood types. Then, work your way up. For example, pecan wood offers a sweet taste that’s much milder than hickory but provides a similar flavor profile. Best of all, pecan pairs well with a variety of meats, including pork, ribs, beef, chicken, and turkey.

Once you feel more confident in your smoking and pairing abilities, you can experiment with other types of wood. But for now, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the basics.

2. Dousing the Charcoal in Lighter Fluid

Unless you want to set your entire backyard ablaze, never use lighter fluid to start your coals. Doing so will make it impossible to keep your charcoal or wood chips at a constant temperature. Instead, use a chimney smoker. This handy piece of equipment lets you heat up your charcoal until it just starts to ash over.

Start by opening the intake and chimney baffles. Next, fill the chimney starter with charcoal, add newspaper or lighter cubes on the grate and light them. Then, place the chimney starter over the flames and allow the charcoal to heat up. In just about 10 or 15 minutes, you should be able to pour the coals directly into the firebox.

To maintain the desired temperature, you can make adjustments to the intake baffle, which controls the flow of oxygen to the coals. Add more fully-lit coals from your chimney starter as needed while you cook.

3. Under- or Over-Smoking Your Meat

Correctly smoking meat takes time. But, while you have to be careful about under-smoking your meat, you have to be extra cautious about over-smoking it, too. If you’re looking to become a pitmaster, you have to strike a balance between the two.

The key to smoking your meat just right involves standing next to your smoker and adjusting the heat every five minutes or so. You should also regulate the amount of smoke by manipulating the chimney baffles once every 15 minutes. By abiding by these two steps, you’ll be able to maintain the smoker temperature to cook the meat thoroughly. Additionally, you’ll have total control over the amount of smoke produced to avoid drying out the meat.

Already Ruined Your Smoked Meat?

Let’s face it: smoking is not for everyone and smoking mistakes happen. It requires a good amount of patience and the right techniques to make mouthwatering ribs, pork shoulder, brisket and more. Fortunately, you can savor all the flavors you love without having to invest your time or money into a smoker grill when you visit Chad’s. We smoke all of our meats, and we even make our very own sauces.