A smoker is an amazing cooking appliance that allows you to add a delicious smoky flavor to your food that your friends and family will love! Be it vegetable, fruit, lamb-chop, pork slices or chicken breast–a smoker machine will let you barbecue all types of food.
A propane smoker comes in two different builds—one runs on only propane gas, while another version runs on electricity as well. They are quite similar with a few important nuances. So, how to use a propane smoker?
A propane smoker runs on propane gas. The main essence of cooking using a smoker are two things—the woodchips and the water tray. The type of wood-pieces you have decided to use to smoke your pork-belly will decide the flavor of that dish—therefore you need to choose the woodchips to type carefully.
This article will inform you on how to season propane smokers and use them properly. Let’s open the pantry door, shall we?
How to use a Propane Smoker (Vertical Smoker Grill)
Vertical propane smokers look like small cabinets or gym lockers, and they use propane gas as the fuel to add a lip-smacking smoky flavor to your meat and vegetables. Certain versions of vertical propane smokers have a vintage vault-look, that will add a classy tone to your backyard.
Propane smokers have gas burners at the bottom that are attached to the propane tanks. At times, some propane tanks are attached directly to the natural gas line, but that is rare.
Located right above the burner is a tray or a shelf to house woodchips, charcoal or sawdust. This tray is one of the most important additions to the smoker, in fact, this is where the heart of the smoker lies. The delicious, unforgettable smoky flavor added to your food derives from these wood chunks that you use for cooking.
The type of woodchip added is also crucial—different woodchips will add a different flavor to your food, be they chicken, pork or vegetables.
Above the woodchip tray, is a smoking chamber where the flavored smoke accumulates and slowly diffuses into the water tray right above it.
The water in this tray evaporates and adds moisture into the cooking process—long hours of heat may dry your food out, and the moisture from the water tray helps alleviate that possibility.
At the very top of the unit, is a vent or a chimney that lets out excess smoke. This reduces any possibility of the food getting burnt or the temperature inside the smoker to exceed requirements.
Smokers come with manuals, therefore, if you have never used a smoker before, it would be better if you look through the manual and work your way through.
How to Season a Vertical Propane Smoker
If you are a newbie or your smoker machine is brand new, the first thing you should do is “season” it. The season is basically “breaking in” a new smoker. How will you do that? You may season it using the “oil” process.
Spray the interior cooking area of the smoker with canola oil, or any other kind of vegetable oil. After this, you would need to fire-up your smoker by kindling using charcoal or fat lighter, or by using a propane brush burner. Then open the door, the vents and dampers, and let the machine smoke.
Use 4-5 chunks of dry hardwood if you need to continue the burning process—the aim is to produce as much smoke as possible. Continue this unless black smoke forms and bellow out of the chimneys.
At this point, close the door of the smoker slightly in a “propped open” position. When the fire starts forming in the fire-box, then close the firebox door also in a “propped up” position.
Now measure the temperature. When matters have gone hotter than 300°F, open all the doors, and spray the interiors using a water hose. Humongous steam clouds will explode out of the smoker, thus this step of seasoning is called the “steaming” process.
Repeat the “fire-up” and “steaming” steps before carrying out the “smoke cure” segment. Place a large piece of wood inside, then close the damper of the chimney at a 45° angle and the vent doors almost closed. The “smoke-cure” process will start that will smoke-glaze the hardwood.
Now it is time to pre-cook and pre-grill before starting the actual cooking. Sizzle the oil and pre-grill for 30-40 minutes, followed by another bout of “steaming”, that is, spray water in the heated places again, so that steam is produced. Steaming is an effective way of cleaning a smoker after every cooking round.
How to Cook Using a Vertical Propane Smoker
Now that your seasoning is complete, you can finally start cooking. Follow the steps below:
- Take the water pan out, line it with aluminum foil, then pour in water, beer or any fruit juice, preferably apple cider.
- Connect the propane burner and the smoker, then open the valves. Open the door of the smoker, then following the package instructions, light the burner.
If the burner fails to turn on, immediately switch the propane gas off, and turn the burner off as well. Turn it on again, only after you are sure that all smoke has cleared off.
- After the burner has successfully turned on, maneuver the temperature between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit for slow barbecuing. Some smokers come with calibrated thermostats for you to be able to set the temperature at required levels—low, medium or high.
- Pre-heat for 10-15 minutes and then add wood-chunks in the tray just above the burner. Pre-heating should continue unless smoke does not bellow out from the top.
- Place the food tray, lined with aluminum foil, on one of the top shelves (vegetables and fruits could be kept in the topmost shelf since they do not require that high a temperature to be smoked).
- During the entire smoking process, keep checking on the woodchips and the water trays. If you observe that the smoking from the wood tray has stopped, add new wood-chips. Replenish the water tray from time to time as well.
- Meat takes about 4-5 hours to be smoked, while vegetables/fruits take 1-2 hours. After your food has barbecued to the level of brown you would want them to, take them out and serve them!
- Do not forget to clean the grills!
How to use a Masterbuilt Propane Smoker
Masterbuilt smokers look similar to vertical smokers, with basically two main differences. While propane smokers may come with maximum 3-4 racks, full-sized Masterbuilt structures sometimes have up to six shelves.
Also propane smokers run on propane gas, whereas certain versions of master build smokers may run on electricity as well. There are separate doors to access the fire or tinder box, and the gas smoker grills chamber, though the two compartments are one continuous part. Full-sized Masterbuilt smokers come with dual burners too.
Masterbuild propane smokers come with temperature dials therefore regulating temperatures becomes a child’s play. Another pro of using Masterbuild structures is that as they can run on electricity as well, therefore you can use them inside your house.
How to Season a Masterbuild Propane Smoker
You would need to wash and clean the smoker first. Get a wet washcloth dipped in soapy water, and clean all the parts of the smoker—the trays, racks, the inside walls, the grates, even the exteriors. After this, just air-dry the smoker.
The rest of the seasoning steps resemble the seasoning process that you used for the propane smoker.
Propane smokers are an essential part of modern households. They can make amazingly smoky-flavored meat and vegetable dishes that will not only entertain your guest but will help you to build strategic relationships and expand your network.
Your guests will literally dare to ask for more food because the first helping just wasn’t enough! So, how to use a propane smoker?
Propane smokers are available in two builds—one runs on propane gas while the other is fuelled by electricity. Propane gas smokers are great for outdoor barbecue parties, while electrical smokers are ideal for beginner cooks.
If you live for smoky-flavored food, don’t wait. Rush to get one, and entertain your family and friends with some good-quality home-made food they cannot forget.