We can all agree that nothing smells better on a cold day than a smoker with some succulent pulled pork or brisket wafting out over your neighborhood.
Assuming you’ve whipped up the courage to brave the chilly weather, you’ll soon realize that smoking in cold weather is no mean feat.
In any case, reaching and maintaining the ideal smoking temperatures is quite challenging at the very least, and it can be frustrating if it’s windy.
Metal smokers are particularly challenging to use in cold weather because the metal is a good conductor and will quickly conduct heat away from the cooking chamber.
Fortunately, we’ve prepared a detailed guide that will explore some of the effective tips and pointers you should follow when using an electric smoker in cold weather.
Setting your Electric Smoker
When using an electric smoker in cold weather and winter, your priority should that be of preventing as much wind, rain, snow, or cold from cooling down the smoker.
Here, you would want to build a shelter to protect the smoker from these elements as much as possible.
A simple structure made from plywood would suffice, and this should offer the protection needed against these elements.
Regardless of which materials you use or what type of structure you construct, you should still be able to access the controls when you need so, and you shouldn’t therefore fully enclose your electric smoker. Check this article for the best electric smoker under $200.
While at it, you might get tempted to use your smoker in your garage or basement, but this is not advisable. This is because the smoke can damage your house, not to mention the lethal effects of carbon monoxide.
Keeping your Smoker Hot
For optimal performance, your smoker should maintain a steady hot temperature.
However, in cold weather, opening the lid or door of your smoker can drastically affect the temperature in your smoker.
This is because once the door is opened, the hot air is replaced with bitterly cold air instead, and this affects the overall temperature, not to mention the quality of meat.
While it’s not possible to avoid opening the lid altogether, we advise that you check the status of your meat only when necessary.
The best way to avoid constant opening of your smoker lid is to get a wireless Bluetooth thermometer that will stay inside the smoker during the entire cooking period. This will allow you to monitor the temperature and status of your meat without needing to open the lid.
During winter, the outside air is going to cool your smoker, and that’s just common sense. So what do you do about the chilly weather?
Insulate your smoker.
Adding on layers on your smoker will help in preventing your smoker from getting cold from the outside.
There’re a plethora of smoker insulation materials including furnace insulation and insulation jackets from the manufacturer.
If you’re a DIYer like me, you can even use water heater blankets.
While at it, you must keep the vents free of any coverings to avoid the smoke from getting back to the smoker and your meat.
Still, on the issue of insulation, you would also want to ensure that you’re using the right electric cord for your smoker. Ideally, you would want to use a heavy-duty insulated electrical cord that won’t circuit-blow because of the extreme environment.
Again, make a point to check the extension cords for any cuts, nicks, and tears and make the repair or replacement if damaged.
Assessing the Weather
In all likelihood, even with the best smoker preparations, understand that weather can make it extremely difficult to cook outdoors.
I would not recommend using your smoker in the middle of a hail storm, a torrential downpour or white-out snowstorm.
We recommend that you pick a day when it’s a bit milder and the weather is at least favorable for smoking.
Pre-Heating your Smoker
Expectedly, in chilly weather, your smoker should take longer to heat up than in normal conditions.
Therefore, you should wait for at least 10 minutes before placing your woodchips, sawdust, or pellets in your smoker.
Also, ensure that you check on your smoker’s manual to see the kind of wood that needs to be put in, and when it starts to smoke, you can place your meat on.
Pre-heating is a crucial step during winter and failure to do so will mean that you lose a tremendous amount of moisture in your meat.
Given that the weather is chilly in the outside, many smokers will naturally steam, but you don’t need to worry about that.
A common misjudgment in such cases is for the homeowners to want to put more woodchips all at once, thinking that the smoker is going to need more fuel since its cold. On the contrary, adding more fuel than the recommended will only but allow for the production of more smoke.
It’s therefore advisable that you go with the recommended amount of fuel, only adding more when it’s needed.
Keep it Simple
As you have already seen, using a smoker in cold weather than transform a simple task into something that is downright difficult.
It’s therefore crucial that always keep things simple to avoid frustrations.
For instance, rather than cooking the complex recipes, we advise that you start with something simple and one that will not require much effort.
Also, have everything pre-staged; the cooking utensils handy, your fuel dry and in an accessible area and enlist the help of others.
A Recap on How to Use a Smoker in Cold Weather
- Pick a good day
- Insulate your smoker
- Don’t cover the vents
- Work in a sheltered location
- Open the lid only when necessary
- Preheat your smoker
- Start with a simple recipe
Using a smoker in cold and chilly weather should never be a problem. You now have all the information on how to effectively use a smoker.
I hope that the above guidelines will allow you to have a more gratifying barbequing experience.