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So, you’ve got a vertical smoker and you’re not sure how to use it. We get it — vertical smokers, at first glance, are a little perplexing. But, with our expertise, you can make the most out of your machine to produce the best quality food possible.
The first thing we’re going to do is walk you through the three kinds of vertical smokers and explain exactly what it is that a vertical smoker does — how it works, what kinds of flavor it produces, and what you should know about them before you buy.
Vertical smokers are known for their specific smoky flavors. If you want to infuse your meat with a smokier, more flavorful taste, this is a device you may want to consider investing in.
Vertical smokers are different from regular smokers in a few ways. First, they’re generally less expensive. This isn’t necessarily due to lesser quality — vertical smokers are typically a lot smaller than regular smokers. Because of that, they take less time to heat up and run on a lot less power. This is why they are less expensive.
There are three types of smokers in this style, just as they are three main kinds of regular smokers: charcoal, gas, and electric. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages and is used a little differently. We’ll walk you through each of these kinds in just a bit.
When using a vertical smoker, regardless of what kind, be aware of the amount of water you’re putting into your device: not too much and not too little. If there is a specific guide or recommended amount of water that’s clearly outlined in the instructions for your smoker, you must stick to it. You also have to make sure you’re maintaining a consistent temperature. Taking care of your device and being precise about its set-up is instrumental in cooking the best possible food and maximizing the quality and flavors it produces.
Step 1: Remove the water pan from your vertical gas smoker. It’s located on the bottom of the food shelves in the smoker itself. Once the pan is removed, fill it with whatever liquid you’re smoking your food with. Water is the easiest and perhaps the most popular but you can also fill up your pan with beer, wine, or anything else. Be creative! Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Step 2: Connect your propane tank to the back of the smoker. These two things are connected by a cord or small hose running from the back of the machine to the open valve on your propane tank. If you need more specific instructions, consult your smoker’s guide.
Step 3: Turn on the burner! There is likely a push button ignition on the front of the unit a knob you have to turn. If it’s not exactly clear how to ignite the burner or if you’re having trouble, again, consult your instruction manual to make sure you’re not doing any damage to the machine.
Step 4: Set the temperature and preheat using the knobs on the front of the smoker.
Step 5: Fill the tray above the burner with wood. You can use different types of wood: chips, chunks, or even sawdust. Don’t pack the tray so full that the wood is actually falling out.
Step 6: Place the food on the trays and you’re off to the races!
Step 1: Just like with a gas smoker, the first thing to do is fill the water pan or bowl at the bottom of your device with whatever liquid you want to use to smoke your food. Once the bowl is full, place it back in the smoker in its proper place.
Step 2: Use the chimney starter (on the metal grate, under the water bowl) to light the charcoal for the smoker. Sliding a newspaper under the stater, filling it with charcoal, then lighting the newspaper is probably the best method to use here.
Step 3: Place the food in the correct chamber.
Step 4: Make sure to keep checking the temperature once you’ve set to the proper cooking temperature.
Step 5: Add more liquid and charcoal as it is needed, depending on the length of time the smoker is running and the amount of food you’re cooking.
Step 1: Electric smokers are a lot less complicated — all you need to do is plug it into the wall to begin the process.
Step 2: Fill the water bowl and add the chips as necessary, just as in the last two sets of instructions. Make sure not to overfill the bowl of liquid or the pan of chips! You don't want anything falling out of place or it could interrupt the cooking process.
Step 3: Set the smoker and timer using the digital controls, place your food on the rack, and there you go! You’re practically a smoker pro!