1. heating methods in hot smoking

Smoker cabinets can be heated both classically with wood, and with an electric heating coil or a gas burner. In some units, the heating element is even included or available for a small additional charge. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Smoking barrels are in principle fired only with wood, otherwise they can not be closed. Custom designs are offered on some units. You can also use a cold smoke generator to cold smoke in a smoke barrel. Smoker grills are also fired exclusively with wood or charcoal.

1.1 Wood

Smoker oven test wood smokingLighting with wood takes about between 15-25 minutes. First, you should fill the wooden bowl (also called ember box) with smaller logs and biological kindling and ignite them. We recommend beech wood, because it burns evenly and glows for a long time. You can find out which other types of wood you can use and what flavors are created in our article about the different types of wood. The coarser the wood chips, the higher temperatures can be achieved. This is especially important for poorly thermally insulated smokehouses. After the lighter has burned, you should add some beech wood again. After the meat or fish is cooked, simply place the smoking tray filled with the smoking flour on the bottom of the smoking interior. As soon as this begins to smoke, remove the ember box. If too little smoke is produced, simply put two to three embers in the smoking tray. The ventilation flaps should be opened. As soon as the smoke stops coming out, check if the desired browning level is sufficient, if not, prolong the process.

1.2 Charcoal/Briquettes

Smoker test charcoal for smokingHere, too, the firing up takes about 20 minutes. Simply place the desired amount of coal or briquettes over two to three biological lighters and ignite them. For uniform results thanks to a good air supply, we recommend using a charcoal chimney starter. Since good quality charcoal hardly produces any smoke today, a somewhat larger amount of wood chips is necessary here to achieve the typical smoked flavor. When the charcoal or briquettes have glowed through, simply place them in the ember box and after the smoked product is cooked, place the smoked flour tray in the cupboard. When the flour starts to smoke, you can remove the ember box. If there is not enough smoke, simply light the charcoal again briefly. Remove the smoked product as soon as the desired degree of browning is reached.

1.3 Electric heating coil

The easiest way to achieve a certain temperature offers electric heating. Especially for beginners, it has proven to be very good. Unfortunately, however, you are dependent on electricity within reach here, which means that this method is not always equally suitable. Especially during the winter months, hot smoking with a heating coil can be difficult, as the power is often insufficient for large and not thermally insulated cabinets. Heating with electricity is the most expensive, but also the cleanest option.

If you use an electric heater, proceed as follows:

  1. Heating methods for smoking 4Simply turn on the heater and monitor it via the thermometer. If necessary, subsequently adjust via the temperature controller. Once the desired temperature is reached, hang the fish or meat and cook in it. Once the cooking process is complete, go to step 2.
  2. You simply place the bowl filled with smoked flour on the electric heater and wait until it starts to smoke. Make sure that the bowl rests evenly on the heating coil. After that, turn off the heat and close the oven. If you no longer see smoke rising through the ventilation flaps, even though the desired degree of browning has not yet been reached, turn the heating on again briefly and, if necessary, add some more smoking flour.

If you only want to smoke cold, start at step 2.

You can find our best electric heaters under accessories – heaters.

1.4 Gas burner

The gas burner is so popular because it does not depend on electricity, so it can be used anywhere for smoking. Unfortunately, it can be more difficult to find the right temperature with this device. Often the temperatures achieved are too high. However, this can be advantageous in the winter, compared to the electric heating coil. If you try around a bit, you’ll quickly get the hang of it. Unfortunately, it can also happen that the gas burner goes out again and again when there is a lot of wind at a low level. You also need to make sure that the flame is not too big or even touches the inside of the cabinet and sooty. When burning butane and propane gas, the humidity increases slightly.

Use the gas burner as follows:

  1. For hot smoking, simply turn it on and wait until the desired temperature is reached, which you monitor via the thermometer. If necessary, turn the flame up or down a little. As I said, you will have to experiment a bit. Once this is done, hang your smoked food in the smoker until it is done.
  2. Then place the filled smoked flour bowl directly over the gas burner and ignite the smoked flour. As soon as it starts to smoke, turn off the gas burner and close the door. If you don’t see any more smoke rising through the ventilation flaps, even though the desired degree of browning has not yet been reached, turn on the gas burner again briefly, add some smoking flour if necessary and wait until it starts smoking again.

If you only want to smoke cold, always start right away with step 2.

You can find the best gas burners on our page under accessories – heating elements.

Vorteile:+ große Hitze ist schnell erreicht
+ niedrigste Betriebskosten
+ Temperatur einfach zu regeln
+ konstante Temperatur
+ sofort abschaltbar
+ sauberes Räuchern
+ nicht stromabhängig
+ konstante Temperatur
+ sofort abschaltbar
+ gut bei niedrigen Außentemperaturen
Nachteile:- kompliziert für Anfänger
- bedarf ständiger Kontrolle
- Temperatur schwer regelbar
- Ofen muss robust sein
- schwer abschaltbar
- stromabhängig
- höchste Betriebskosten
- schlechteste Methode bei niedrigen Außentemperaturen
- Gasflasche wird extra benötigt
- schwer bei Wind zu benutzen
- bringt Feuchtigkeit in den Ofen

2. cold smoking

For cold smoking, the smoked flour in the so-called smoked flour bowl or smoked flour screw is lit in one place and placed in the closed smoker. In the process, the embers slowly „eat“ their way through the smoking flour and produce smoke. This process generates very little heat, usually never exceeding 30 °C. The glowing time depends on the location and weather conditions, as well as the grain size of the smoked flour. The finer the smoking flour, the lower the temperatures and the longer the glowing process. Therefore, the smoker sawdust should have a grain size of no more than one millimeter. Both the smoking flour bowl and the smoking screw can be used with smoking cabinets, smoking barrels and smoker grills.

Smoker tray:

It offers the advantage that the embers „eat“ their way very evenly along the path through the smoking flour, burning very slowly. As a result, the smoked flour is used extremely efficiently (approx. 99%) and generates very little heat. The glow time can be up to 20 hours without needing to be controlled. We have also compiled the best smoker trays or cold smoke generators for you.

Unfortunately, cold smoking really only works if you do everything right. It takes a little practice and experience until you achieve optimal results.