Whatever our skill level we can always do with smoked BBQ ideas and smoking tips from the experts.
We’ve collected the best tips from a number of different BBQ experts and sources to provide as much value as possible in one post to help you up your BBQ game.
If that sounds good to you, then read on.
Be warned though, some of these BBQ tips could be considered incendiary and might just spark a heated debate.
- Smoked BBQ Ideas (17 Actionable Tips From BBQ Experts & Pitmasters)
- 1 Use ‘Raichlen’s Rule’ – Keep it Hot, Keep it Clean, Keep it Lubricated,’ for Your Grills
- 2 Use Lump Charcoal for Grilling & Briquettes for Smoking (Malcom Reed)
- 3 Feature the Star Attraction (The Smoke Itself) – Jamie Purviance
- 4 Burn Seasoned Wood – Aaron Franklin
- 5 Start With Quality Meat – Smoked BBQ Source
- 6 NEVER Forget to Rest Your Meat – Thermoworks
- 7 Skip the Pre-Smoke Wood Chip Soaking – Simply Meat Smoking
- 8 Learn to Calibrate Your Grill to Low, Medium & High Heat – Meathead
- 9 How to Get Thin, Blue Clean Smoke (FoodFireFriends.com)
- 10 The Perfect BBQ Bite (Phil Johnson)
- 11 Brining Large Pieces of Meat – Turkey, Pork Butt Etc
- `12 Inject Your Meat Before Smoking (TheOnlineGrill.com)
- 13 Myron Mixon’s Simple BBQ Approach
- 14 Make Sure Your Meat is at Room Temperature – DJ BBQ
- 15 Be Patient – Tom Kerridge
- 16 Learn to Control the Heat in Your BBQ or Smoker
- 17 This is Good BBQ (Myron Mixon)
Smoked BBQ Ideas (17 Actionable Tips From BBQ Experts & Pitmasters)
1 Use ‘Raichlen’s Rule’ – Keep it Hot, Keep it Clean, Keep it Lubricated,’ for Your Grills
Let’s start off with an all-round winner of a BBQ tip.
This great BBQ tip from Steven Raichlen of BarbecueBible.com will help in so many ways – from stopping food sticking to your grills to clean and efficient cooking and grill maintenance, not to mention generally better tasting food.
“Memorize Raichlen’s Rule: Keep it hot, keep it clean, keep it lubricated. In other words, always clean your grill grate while it’s hot, brush it with a good-quality grill brush , and oil it well with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and clasped in the jaws of long-handled tongs.”
2 Use Lump Charcoal for Grilling & Briquettes for Smoking (Malcom Reed)
Pitmaster and competition BBQ’er Malcom Reed has a great BBQ tip that helps clear up misconceptions about what type of charcoal to use and when.
“FOR ME, I USE BRIQUETTE WHEN I’M COOKING LOW AND SLOW AND I WANT LONGER BURNS FROM MY CHARCOAL.”
“FOR LUMP WE’RE TALKING HIGHER HEAT HERE, IT’S GOING TO BURN FASTER AND HOTTER AND YOU WANT USE IT FOR HOT & FAST COOKING.”
This deceptively simple tip is so important because it is such a fundamental piece of BBQ knowledge. A lot of people waste time arguing about whether to use briquettes OR lump charcoal – even seasoned BBQ’ers.
3 Feature the Star Attraction (The Smoke Itself) – Jamie Purviance
Sometimes you can get caught up in complex BBQ rubs and marinades. This great smoked BBQ tip helps you keep it all in perspective and make the smoke the star of the show.
“The main ingredient in any smoked recipe is like the lead singer in a rock-and-roll band. Every other figure should play a supporting role. In other words don’t upstage something inherently delicious with a potent marinade, heavy-handed seasonings or thick coats of sauce. Harmonising flavours in ways that feature the main ingredient is what separates the masters from the masses.
Jamie Purviance ‘Weber’s Complete Barbecue Smoking.’
4 Burn Seasoned Wood – Aaron Franklin
Aaron Franklin barely needs an introduction. He was awarded best chef in 2015 by the James Beard Foundation, and he is still the only chef specializing in BBQ to win the award. With many bestselling BBQ books and long queues outside his Austin Texas restaurant Franklin’s BBQ he’s definitely worth listening to.
“You can eventually get good smoke with green wood, but you’ll have to go through a lot of dirtier smoke to get there. The best smoke comes from well-seasoned dry wood that will burn vigorously and fairly quickly. You go through more wood this way (and have to keep a watchful eye on the smoker), but the results are worth it.”
Aaron Franklin ‘Franklin BBQ, A Meat Smoking Manifesto.’
5 Start With Quality Meat – Smoked BBQ Source
You might think this tip is just stating the obvious but you couldn’t be more wrong.
Far too many people buy cheap, low quality meats which pretty much set you up to fail from the start.
Animals that have plugged full of antibiotics and hormones, and haven’t been ‘raised right’ organically in a pasture-fed environment do not make for good eating.
If you have sourced your meat from a local butcher you will know exactly what we mean here.
“If you are shopping for meat at the grocery store, the Certified Organic or Certified Humane/Certified Animal Welfare Approved marks are the best way to ensure that the meat you are buying was raised in a reasonably ethical manner.”
6 NEVER Forget to Rest Your Meat – Thermoworks
Again another crucial part of any BBQ adventure that too many people think is trivial and irrelevant.
If you think you know everything before you begin, you are likely to miss the fundamentals of any topic, including BBQ.
Any piece of meat that is warm and sizzling is by definition going to be a piece of meat that is not relaxed, juicy and tender.
Resting meat leads to meat that is more tender because the juices have had time to redistribute throughout the whole cut.
“After cooking and before slicing and serving meat should be allowed to rest undisturbed. During the cooking process, protein fibers uncoil and then coagulate, recoiling and becoming firm. As the protein molecules become firm they expel the moisture that was previously held in their cell walls. While resting, the protein fibers are able to relax and reabsorb some of the moisture that was lost.”
7 Skip the Pre-Smoke Wood Chip Soaking – Simply Meat Smoking
This is quite a controversial BBQ tip and may raise a few eyebrows.
Apart from the fact that it takes a long time for wood to absorb moisture (24hrs won’t make much difference), there is a very good reason why you should NOT soak wood chips in water before you barbecue.
“Wet chips can impact the effectiveness of your barbecue.
Whether you are using a gas grill, electric smoker, or fuel-fired, the heat will be dramatically reduced by the addition of a damp product.
When you add wood chips or wood chunks that have been soaked in water onto hot coals, the temperature will fluctuate and dip until all the moisture has steamed off. The evaporating water absorbs the cooking heat, drawing it away much faster.”
8 Learn to Calibrate Your Grill to Low, Medium & High Heat – Meathead
“You want to know how to get the air temp in the indirect zone of your cooker to three important numbers: 225°F, 325°F, and Warp 10. Almost all my recipes call for one of these three temps.”
225F (107C) is the optimum temperature for cooking low and slow (e.g. for brisket or pork butt), 325F (163C) is medium heat which allows the surface of the meat to crisp up, and Warp 10 is Meathead’s way of describing the high heat required for searing steaks etc.
If you have a wood pellet grill or electric smoker you won’t need to worry too much about this, but if you are using an offset smoker (or basically any smoker that isn’t digital) this is crucial information.
He suggests firing up your smoker and making small adjustments to the temperature one variable at a time and taking notes. This is a great way to get used to your grill without adding any food to it.
Even if you do have a digital modern smoker it will still be vital to get used to how your grill works, how many pellets you will need, how it behaves in different weather conditions etc.
There are so many variables to smoking food outside so you need to get to know your grill.
9 How to Get Thin, Blue Clean Smoke (FoodFireFriends.com)
Even if you have a wood pellet grill you need to burn off chemicals etc for around 10-15 minutes with the lid open to get clean smoke.
This great smoking tip from FoodFireFriends.com is even more important if you are smoking in an ordinary grill. Along with making sure your grills don’t have any bits of old food or ash in them, this is an important piece of knowledge for getting clean smoke.
“For as much as charcoal users love to tell anyone who’ll listen (and anyone who won’t) that charcoal is the “real” way to barbecue, it’s not the critical ingredient for smoking. Wood is for smoke. Charcoal is for heat.
If there’s smoke from your charcoal, it’s either just been lit, or it’s starved of oxygen and creating ‘dirty’ smoke.
Don’t put your meat on the grate until the charcoal is ashed over and no longer spewing smoke, and you’ve added your wood chips or chunks.”
10 The Perfect BBQ Bite (Phil Johnson)
This next tip is about the final balance of flavours in your smoked BBQ. We all have our own preferences when it comes to salt, spice, smoke and sweetness but this a very useful point of reference.
“Barbecue is salty and sweet and spicy in a smoky way. It has to have those 4 elements. So the perfect bite of barbecue in my world has to have a little pop of salt, it’s got to have a little spice, it’s gotta have some pepper, and any pepper you put in there needs to be a little sweet. Sweet balances of salt.”
Phil Johnson Memphis Pitmaster ‘Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Cookbook.’
11 Brining Large Pieces of Meat – Turkey, Pork Butt Etc
Brining your meat is optional but it is a great way to infuse flavour and moisture into meat in advance of smoking. Especially if you want to secure a tender and flavourful outcome.
Essentially a brine is a mix of water and salt (sometimes sugar, herbs and aromatics too) but people are often a little unclear on how long to brine their meat for.
So here’s an awesome little actionable tip you can use right away.
“A standard ratio is to leave your meat in its brine for approximately one hour per pound. You never want to brine your meat more than the designated amount. The proteins can break down too far, causing the meat to be inedible. Remember, the longer it sits the higher the sodium levels are going. The goal is not salty. The goal is juicy, tender meat that everyone will rave about.”
`12 Inject Your Meat Before Smoking (TheOnlineGrill.com)
No-one should ever dictate to you what their personal preference might be because we all have different ideas about things. That being said, it might be worth considering injecting your meat.
Well, it’s an undeniably great way to impart more flavour of course.
It’s not that this is non-negotiable, it’s just that this could lead to an outcome that works well for you and anyone you are feeding.
Injecting a piece of meat (especially a large cut like a whole turkey or beef brisket) secures a moist and appetising result, and does not require hours of marination.
“Wet and dry brines are fantastic preparation methods for ensuring moisture retention for barbecue smoked meats. However, neither method can provide the amount of flavor that injecting marinade can. They also take far longer to do, usually needing 1 hour per pound of meat. This means you need to leave your food to brine overnight for it to do its magic.
Injecting with marinade gives us full coverage, permeating the very inner layers of our meat, while only needing minutes to do it. All while ensuring the same levels of moisture and flavor that any other method would.”
This fantastic BBQ tip will help you impart direct flavour in minutes rather than hours. Well worth considering!
13 Myron Mixon’s Simple BBQ Approach
Myron Mixen is a 5 time World Champion for BBQ, and has been described as the ‘winningest’ man in BBQ.
He really knuckles down on the whole process and is efficent and effective. This is not so much a tip but an actionable general approach.
“There’s value in preserving tradition,” Mixon states, “but that has very little to do with the world of competitive barbecue cooking. Our concern is the same—making delicious food—but our methods need to be different. Staying up all night over an open pit is just completely impractical, whether you’re at a competition or in your own backyard. There’s an easier way,” he says.
Take his chicken: Mixon’s signature Old-Fashioned Chicken has just two ingredients—rub and bird. It relies on the magical combination of smoke and meat to produce exceptional flavor, proving just how simple smoking can be.”
14 Make Sure Your Meat is at Room Temperature – DJ BBQ
We have found that this particular tip from DJ BBQ still holds true.
“That thing is a muscle. It needs to relax. Don’t make it angry by taking it straight from the fridge and throwing it straight on the heat. It won’t like it and you can do better. Pull it out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before cooking, depending on the size”
If your meat is going to be optimum in terms of the final result, you absolutely need to make sure you set it on the grills when it is at room temperature.
DJ BBQ ‘Fire Food.’
15 Be Patient – Tom Kerridge
This is a really sound approach to grilling and smoking BBQ. Too many over eager people can ruin good barbecue because they are in a rush. Giving yourself patiently to the process of cooking with fire is an act of mindfulness and patience.
“Barbecuing is about waiting, watching and reacting: waiting for the coals to reach the right temperature; watching as the food cooks and turning it over to cook on the other side at the right moment. Boosting the heat if the temperature drops, or moving the foos to a cooler area if you think it’s cooking too quickly; brushing on more glaze to layer up those flavours and taking the food off when you think it’s ready.”
Tom Kerridge ‘Outdoor Cooking. The Ultimate Modern Barbecue Bible.’
16 Learn to Control the Heat in Your BBQ or Smoker
This quote from the best selling book ‘Pitmaster,’ is fundamental to smoking barbecue. As with most things you want to get good at, you need to put first things first and build on the essentials.
‘A fancy recipe cannot cover up issues with fire control. Clean charcoal, seasoned wood, and proper airflow are key.’
Andy Husbands and Chris Hart ‘Pitmaster.’
17 This is Good BBQ (Myron Mixon)
We thought finishing this article off with another valuable quote from the ‘winningist’ man in BBQ would be a great idea.
This is what good BBQ should taste like, and what BBQ enthusiasts can aim for.
“Good barbecue should obviously be moist and tender, but it should also have layers of flavor that are balanced and should cooperate in your mouth. So the first layer of this is the natural flavor of the meat you are cooking. On top of that are the flavours it picks up from the marinade and the rub you apply, and the sauce you finish the meat with. Finally, and just as important, is the flavor of the smoke that enters the meat. Because at the end of the day, smoke is what makes barbecue.”
Myron Mixon ‘Smokin’ With Myron Mixon.’
We hope you enjoyed this collection of expert BBQ tips. If you liked the article or tried any of these tips out, leave us a comment below. If you think there are any other BBQ tips worth including drop a comment below too.
Share this article with other BBQ enthusiasts!