Ready for your next cooking competition with your flashy new grilling equipment? Before you start, clean and prepare it properly. Learn how to season a new grill with my guide.
You may have heard of “spicing up” or “restoring” a grill or smoker. This is a really important step that needs to be done before using it. As tempting as it may be to unbox your new toy and get started, it’s important that you do so before using it.
The word “spice” can be confusing here. Unlike general cooking, it doesn’t mean sprinkling salt or black pepper on food, it means cleaning the inside of your gear.
To flavor a smoker, its components are lightly coated with cooking oil to protect it from rust and contamination before the chamber is heated to dry the oil.
There are many different ways to flavor a smoker and the best one can depend on the brand used. However, I’ll try to keep things simple by giving you the best I know.
If you have a vertical smoker, check out my specific guide on how to flavor a vertical smoker .
Whether you’re new to grilling or just looking for a quick guide, I hope I’ve got everything covered so you’re ready to fire up your new gear.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare it properly.
What do I need to clean my smoker?
Not preparing and preparing to fail. Thank you, much of what you need to clean your smoker you already have or can easily be purchased at a souvenir store or online.
You’ll need old-fashioned water, dish soap, cooking oil, a piece of cloth, and firewood for grilling. Do not use a cloth that could scratch the interior or the ventilation openings. If you need a charcoal or offset smoker, you also need coals and a way to light them.
Remove main components
The ideal starting point is actually before you’ve even assembled your smoker. Once you’ve broken it down into its individual components, you’ll have better access and better cleaning.
If you can’t disassemble it completely, the important component you can access is the smoking shelves. You should be able to remove it easily like you would a grill or oven.
Start with the inner camera
Clean the inside of the chamber body, the grids and the trays with dish soap and water. Use a delicate cloth to wipe excess water off the parts, being careful not to scratch any of them. let dry.
Pro tip: Use a mild dish soap. This can act as a degreaser and help remove any accumulated oil or dirt from the surfaces of the components.
Apply cooking oil
Spray or wipe the inside of the chamber with cooking oil. Rather simple, apply a thin, even coat to your surfaces. I use cooking spray for this, but a light coat of cooking oil is fine too.
Again, it’s best to do this while the smoker is disassembled to ensure you get the oil onto all surfaces, edges, and corners of the chamber.
Assemble your smoker
At this point, reassemble the parts according to the instructions that came with your model. Handle the components with care to avoid removing the layer of oil just applied. Place the water bowl on the base of the chamber, but leave it empty. Open the top and bottom air vents.
Oil the outside of your smoker
Before heating, we need to apply oil to the outside of the smoker. This step might seem a bit odd, but just like our cooking grates, it helps prevent rusting.
Simply apply a very thin layer of oil to the outer shell of your camera with a soft cloth.
Turn up the heat
Before you begin, make sure you know how to control the temperature of your smoker .
Turn on your smoker and increase the temperature daily, increasing every 5 to 10 minutes before reaching maximum temperature. Once this maximum is reached, run for 3 hours.
Note: Your smoking guide may recommend a full cook cycle, in which case a different length of time may be suggested. If so, follow his suggestion.
Why should you season a barbecue?
When smokers arrive new, they likely contain or are coated with manufacturing residue. This may sound strange, but it’s actually quite common.
This waste can come in the form of metal shavings, oils, cardboard or even wood. Additionally, manufacturers often report smoking components with oil to prevent them from rotting on the store shelf.
Seasoning allows us to remove all those unwanted residues and preservatives and close the pores of your incense pans and surfaces.
Seasoning is a plentiful way to clean your smoker before use, while also getting it in the ideal cooking condition. Ultimately, it helps prevent chemical aromas or flavorings from leaching into the food. In the attempt we offer, we ensure that your smoked food tastes as authentic as possible.
It also protects against future wear and tear, reducing the risk of rusting.
Most seasoning simply involves soapy water with a soft cloth. Quickly wash the inside of your smoker with soapy water to remove any oil from the inside surfaces of the smoker. Be careful not to scratch the surface. When you’re done, leave the smoker open and air dry.
Part of dressing a smoker relies on applying oil to its interior surfaces, particularly its grates. However, when flavoring an electric smoker , be careful not to apply oil to the electric heating elements. Likewise, if you use a propane smoker , avoid getting the oil on your gas lamps.
I recommend that you use a liberal amount of oil but definitely don’t look like a ray of the stuff inside. We’re looking for a relatively thin layer here, not a lump of it!
The final stage is to heat the smoker to remove any crystalline residue or debris inside. While you could just leave it on a high temperature for several hours, I recommend ramping the temperature up to the max over about 60 minutes before leaving it at that temperature for a few more hours. Others might disagree, but this feels like a much safer and smarter way to test your smoker right out of the box.
How often should I season my smoker?
Smoking grills can be a messy business, so taking good care of your cooking equipment is very important.
It is recommended to clean the grids after each use. Yes, this can be a bit of a hassle, but it ensures good hygiene and helps protect your grates from general wear and tear. Not to mention that leftover meat will be pretty nasty next time!
However, your smoker’s main chamber doesn’t need attention as often. It doesn’t come into contact with food as much as the grates, if at all, so I recommend cleaning it 2-3 times a year. Doing it thoroughly should be enough to prevent unwanted grease or dirt build-up.
What is the best wood to flavor a smoker?
One of the challenges of grilling smoking is choosing the right wood, and the same goes for cleaning.
As part of the drying process, we need to run the smoker for a while while pairing a wood with it. The truth here is that no wood is a wrong choice as no specific type of wood hardens less when grilled. I would suggest using a traditional wood that doesn’t leave any unusual aroma or aroma in the chamber. For me, oak is therefore the best choice for grilling.