Last Updated on October 12, 2021
If a smoker has just become a part of your backyard kitchen, you’re probably really excited to get cooking. Chances are, you’ve got a plan, and some meat, and you’re ready to roll. We get it, a new smoker is really exciting.
But, before you dive into your first smoker adventure, there is a step, a very important step you need to do first.
You need to season your smoker.
In this article we will cover some basics of seasoning a smoker and five steps to successfully seasoning your new smoker.
1. The Basics of Seasoning a New Smoker
Image Courtesy: Todd Dwyer
Seasoning a new smoker has two major purposes:
- First, you want to get rid of anything left in the smoker from the manufacturing process. This can leave undesirable flavors in your meat.
- Second, seasoning your smoker protects it from heat, smoke and wear.
And while it’s not a critical reason, seasoning your smoker allows you to practice with your smoker, without ruining a meal.
The two main reasons why a new smoker should be seasoned:
Cleaning After Manufacturing
It’s important to remember that while it looks clean, your new smoker has remnants from the manufacturing process. Things like uncured paints, adhesives, oil, dirt and solvents are still on your smoker, and you want to get rid of them before you start cooking.
Seasoning removes these remnants (some can be toxic), gets rid of potential unwanted flavors, and provides a bit of protection for your new smoker.
Extending the Life of Your Smoker
Seasoning your smoker with a layer of oil will add a level of protection that doesn’t come with the manufacturing process. This oil coating allows moisture and condensation to drip off, much like a non-stick coating on a pan.
This wicking of moisture reduces the risk of rust and extends the life of your smoker. And since this is a big investment, you want it to last as long as possible.
2. Tips for Seasoning a Smoker
Here are a few tips to help your smoker seasoning procedure go smooth and successful.
3. What You Will Need to Season a New Smoker
- Mild dish soap
- Warm water
- 1-2 rags
- Cooking spray or cooking oil like grapeseed oil or canola
- Fire-making materials- charcoal and wood
- 2 – 4 hours
Your smoker probably came with specific instructions for how to season it. You should follow those for best results, but we will give you the basic process to get you started.
Step 1 – Cleaning
Make sure that you remove all of the racks, grates, pans and any other removable part from the smoker. Using a mild dish soap, wash these items just like you would dishes or parts from your grill.
Then clean the inside of the smoker with soap and water, making sure you rinse well. Allow the smoker to completely dry before starting to season.
Step 2 – Coating with Oil
Using a high heat oil (canola, grapeseed or avocado), you’ll want to coat the entire interior of your smoker with a thin layer of oil. This layer of oil will create a protective layer on your smoker through a process called polymerization.
Use a spray bottle or a can of pre-packaged oil cooking spray. This will allow you to get a nice even coating.
Don’t forget to coat the racks, pans and grates with oil as well.
Use paper towels to smooth the oil across all the surfaces in the smoker, including walls, doors, lids, grates, pans and racks. The goal here is to get a nice even layer without pooling or drips.
Before you start heating, allow the oil to soak into the surfaces for at least 5 minutes.
Step 3 – Prepare Coals
You’ll want to pull together enough charcoal and wood for 2 to 4 hours of cooking time. Use the same materials that you will when you are actually smoking food.
Add charcoal to a chimney starter or a metal can, and light. Allow the charcoal to heat for at least 10 minutes. This will create nice coals.
While the charcoal is heating, make sure that all the intake and exhaust vents of the smoker are wide open. This creates maximum air flow, and the highest heat conditions in the smoker. Remember, when you’re seasoning your smoker you want a temperature higher than normal cooking temperatures.
Step 4 – Heating and Seasoning
When your coals are ready, transfer them to the firebox of your smoker. And allow the heat to ramp up as high as recommended by the manufacturer. Once you reach this point, allow the temperature to slowly come down to around 300 °F. This heating and slow cooling will protect the metal of your smoker from warping.
Once you’ve reached the 300°F point, you’ll start the seasoning process by maintaining this temperature. Closely monitor the temperature in the smoker, and add wood as needed to maintain at 300°F for 2 to 4 hours.
At the end of this time, open the door or lid and look for a dark brown color on the walls, racks and grates. This means that you have achieved a good protective coating on your smoker.
Step 5 – Cool Down
Allow the smoker to cool, by letting the wood and charcoal in the fire box to burn to ash. Remove the ashes when they are complexly cool and allow the smoker to fully cool before cooking foods in it.
Seasoning your smoker is an important first step to amazing tasting meat. It’s a simple process, but one that shouldn’t be skipped. Not only will proper seasoning make your foods taste great, but it extends the life of your smoker, allowing for years of use and cooking enjoyment.