You may have heard the term ‘seasoning’ or ’curing’ of a smoker or grill. This is an important process that should be completed before you use your new smoker or grill for the first time. There are many different ways to season a new smoker and they will generally differ depending on the brand of smoker you own. But we’re here to make things simple for you.
If you’re new to smoking or are just looking for a quick guide to seasoning your new smoker then keep reading to find out everything there is to know about seasoning a new smoker. We’ll take you through step by step so you can confidently start smoking some of the best tasting food you’ve ever tried.
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What is Seasoning a Smoker?
During the manufacturing and shipping process of smokers and grills there is usually forms of debris left inside the new smoker. This is perfectly normal and happens with many, many types of products, not just barbecuing cookers. The debris will usually take the form of dust, oils, grease, metal shavings, cardboard and wood splinters. It’s likely that your new smoker will have a light coating of oil or something similar on the inside. The manufacturers coat the inside with oil to stop it from rusting. What seasoning does is removes all of this debris, destroys contaminants, helps to seal the pores and bakes the paint of your new smoker.
In short, seasoning or curing a smoker will make it ready for use and is a must to do once you’ve finished constructing it.
Why is it Important?
Seasoning a smoker is vital to help burn away any contaminants that might have been left by the manufacturing process. This will prevent the undesirables in the smoker from tainting the taste or smell of the food. If the smoker isn’t seasoned, it will not only ruin the taste of your food, but in some circumstances, there may be solvents or glues that are burned that can be dangerous if consumed.
Seasoning also helps to cure the paint in the smoker and will work towards ensuring protection from rust and the weather.
How to Season a New Smoker
There are different ways to season a smoker depending on the type of smoker you own. There will always be a brief description in the instruction booklet to tell you exactly what you can and can’t do with your smoker and we’d recommend giving that a thorough read to make sure you do it correctly.
The first thing to do is to start with some soapy water and a wash cloth. Give the inside of your smoker a quick wash down with the soapy water to remove any oil on the insides. Be careful not to scratch the surface. Once you’ve finished that leave it to air dry.
Once it has dried, get a can of olive oil or some cooking oil and put it inside a spray can. Lightly but thoroughly cover the inside walls of the smoker with the oil. You don’t need to, but we recommend covering the cooking grates and any racks or accessories that came with the smoker or grill. There is no need to coat the water pan if you have one, a lot of the time you’ll take this out anyway when heating it.
If you’re using an electric smoker don’t get any oil on to the electric heating element. Likewise, if you’re using a gas smoker, don’t get any oil on to the burner. It is recommended that you use plenty of oil, but not enough that it starts to noticeably drip and run down the walls. Let the smoker sit for a while so the oil settles before starting the next step.
The next step is to heat up the smoker to burn off anything left by the manufacturing process. There are many different recommended temperatures and times for this, but a general rule of thumb is to gradually bring up the temperature to the maximum temperature rating of your smoker and leave it at that for a couple of hours. This part of the process is to simulate a smoke. It’s not ready for food yet, so do not put anything inside it except the oil.
For an electric smoker set it to high and leave it for a minimum of an hour. Check the instructions for specific details.
With a gas smoker set it to the highest temperature and leave it for a minimum of an hour. Check the instructions for specific details.
For charcoal smokers, use a chimney starter to get the coals up to temperature, fill the pan and add some wood. There is no need for the water pan so take that out and fire it up. Open the vents wide to get a good heat flowing through it and a high temperature. Leave it for at least an hour, or until the coals burn out. Check the instructions for specific details.
Pellet smokers work in a very similar way. Load up the hopper with pellets, set the temperature to a high heat and leave for a at least an hour. Check the instructions for specific details.
Here’s a video of how to do the initial burn on REC TEC Pellet Smoker, one of the best pellet smokers you can buy.
They don’t mention cleaning or oiling the insides. We’d still do this personally as it will ensure everything is as cured and clean as possible but if you want to skip it then go ahead. You’ll find some of the more expensive smokers and grills take less work when seasoning and some don’t need it at all.
Read More: How to make Jerky in a Smoker
After the hour or so open the grill up and let the fire burn out and let it cool down. Your smoker is now ready to use for making some of the best BBQ you’ve ever tasted.
Seasoning the Grates
The only time you need to season the grates is before your first use. This is because of the oils that the manufacturer places inside the smoker to prevent rust will likely be on the grates as well. Seasoning a grill or smoker later in its life is sometimes recommended to act as a deep clean, but you should be cleaning your grates as you go.
In short – Only season your grates before you use your smoker the first time. Wash them after every use.
Here’s what Meathead Goldwyn has to say about seasoning grates later in the life of the smoker:
“The idea of “seasoning” grates is a myth. You want them spotlessly clean. You do NOT want carbon or grease on them. Carbon insulates them and can come off on the food. Ditto for grease, and it can burn or smoke and add acrid flavor. There is no amount of coating on the interior of the grill or smoker that will influence the flavor. Get your flavor from spices and wood.” – Meathead Goldwyn
We hope this gave you a good idea of how to cure a new smoker. Seasoning and curing are always something that people get confused with but it’s generally very simple. If you need additional help or have some questions then please comment down below with them and we’ll gladly help out.