Great Backyard Barbecue and Grilling

How To Properly Season Your New Smoker

Okay! You have decided on your first smoker. You got it assembled - hopefully without too many parts left over and you are ready to start smoking up a storm. Right?

Well, not quite.

Once you have your new smoker put together, and this goes for charcoal, gas or electric smokers, you need to season it before you start cooking in it. To season it, spray all of the inside surfaces with some kind vegatable oil - something like PAM will work nicely. Be sure that you get the sides, top and bottom of the smoker as well as the doors and/or lid.

Next you need to get it fired up and get the heat going in it. The purpose of seasoning your smoker is to make sure that you burn off as much of the contaminants as possible, seal the pores, and bake the paint. You want to burn off the oils and residues that are inside your smoker so that this stuff does not effect or become part of the flavor of whatever you smoke the first time.

Once you get your smoker going with all the dampers and/or vents wide open, get it as hot as you can and let it go for about 30 - 45 minutes. Next, you will put enough wood chunks or wood chips over the heat source that the wood can do its thing and produce lots and lots of smoke. When you do this, you are coating the inside of your smoker with carbon and smoke. When you use your smoker after the seasoning stage, you will find that there is a certain amount of smokey flavor even without using wood chunks or chips.

During the seasoning process, which could/should take an hour or two (I strongly suggest that you read and follow the manufacturers recommendations on how to season your grill), is a good time to check for leaks. When and where you find smoke leaking from your smoker other than where it is suppose to, you have heat and smoke loss and heat loss, which is going to be one of your biggest headaches. Heat and smoke loss means you will be cooking longer and adding more wood than you should be. Ideally, you have a smoker where all the parts fits together pretty well and you aren't losing much heat or smoke. Make sure that the doors or lid fit snugly. If they don't, you may be able to work the metal a bit to get a tighter fit and this will make your smoking experience easier and more enjoyable.

Trust me when I say that while this may seem like a lot of extra trouble, you only need to do this once before you start cooking in your smoker. And once it is done you will begin to reap the rewards of some fantastic smoked meat, fish, poultry or whatever it is that you decide to cook. Just as with your favorite cast iron skillets, proper seasoning is the key to great flavor and taste.

So Why Season Your New Smoker or Grill?

  • The manufacturing process leaves oils, solvents and other undesirables inside the smoker
  • Seasoning cures the paint and promotes rust prevention
  • Seasoning removes any odors from inside the smoker caused during the manufacturing process

So take my advice and spend a little time seasoning your new grill or smoker now and you will enjoy smoking your meats and hearing the raves of those who eat with you. I promise you will not regret it!