Help! Chicken had bad smoke taste

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by jeffed76, May 15, 2013.

  1. jeffed76

    jeffed76 Meat Mopper

    I had a smoking fail! The chicken came out with a nasty smoke flavor. Could it be that I put the chicken on to early? How long does it usually take to get your fire established? I have a brinkman offset smoker. If you have any ideas please share!
  2. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi Jeffed.

    Can you give us a little more information?  There are a number of variables that would affect the correct answer to your issue: 

    Was the taste of the chicken very bitter with a bitter aftertaste, or did it simply taste burned or overcooked?  What was the temperature in your smoker when you put the chicken in?  Did you maintain a fairly constant cook temp?  What were you using for fuel?  What kind of wood were you smoking with?  How long was the chicken in the smoker, and what internal temp was the meat when you took it off? 

    The more info you can provide, the better the chances are that we can provide you with accurated advice.

    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  3. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    What did your smoke (color ) look Like?

    If you had white smoke like from a freight train that thats your problem

    tell us about your fire
  4. Hello and welcome.  Well, you opened a can of worms here!  So many questions come to mind.  Is this your first time using this smoker?  If not the first time, did you use or do anything different this time?  Ect. Ect.  Short answer to your question is I only use lump wood charcoal in my offset and I leave my firebox open for 45 mins. to 1 hr. before I put any meat on the grill; but I'm impatient.   Wood chunks,briquettes or lump wood charcoal?  Instalight or instant lighting briquettes are REALLY soaked in lighter fluid ( i avoid them ).  If your are seeing white smoke out of the stack, wait.  Should see thin blue smoke coming out of stack.  Without more info best advice I can give.


  5. jeffed76

    jeffed76 Meat Mopper

    Yea, more info probably would help LOL.  Here you go:

    Was the taste of the chicken very bitter with a bitter aftertaste, or did it simply taste burned or overcooked?  bitter aftertaste

    What was the temperature in your smoker when you put the chicken in?  Put it in around 150 degrees and it steadily rose above 200

    Did you maintain a fairly constant cook temp?  not really, probably should have waited to put the chickn on

    What were you using for fuel?  lump, no lighter fuel

    What kind of wood were you smoking with? apple

    How long was the chicken in the smoker, and what internal temp was the meat when you took it off? They were pretty thin cutlets, so they were in only a few hours.   Not sure about the temo.

    Is this your first time using this smoker?  no, but i'm still a rookie.  I think I've used it around 7 or 8 times.

    Wood chunks,briquettes or lump wood charcoal? lump charcoal with some wood chunks thrown in

    If your are seeing white smoke out of the stack, wait.  that somke was white.  I'm betting my impatience got the best of me.

    SMF to the rescue, THANKS GUYS!!!
  6. what color should the smoke be when its ready for food to be put on?
  7. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    All better now!!!!
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
  8. Sounds like my first smoke, I did chicken as well and lets just say I was told to go easy on the smoke. I quickly found out chicken takes on smoke REALLY fast hence the harsh almost burnt tongue smokey flavour or close to it.  Also white smoke when adding new wood is normal, what you want though is for it to get to e Thin Blue Smoke after a bit (TBS). Remember, even if you can't see the smoke but smell it, the flavour is getting to the food.  Get yourself a good meat therm and put it in the meat this will also help you know when to pull. 

    I try to keep my temps at 250 when smoking. Hope this helps. I am a newbie only been smoking for almost 2 months, but have learned a LOT from this form and the amazing people on here helping me with my posts.

    BTW: If you dont' post pics, failed smoke or passed we turn into a crazed mob, we love the Qview :) Also remember, even a failed smoke wil help you learn, take notes, see what went right and wrong, soon you will be the one giving advice to others.

    P.S. On a side note, I am like you, a wee bit on the impatient side, that took a while to fix and not "fiddle" with stuff while the smoker is doing it's job lol

  9. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Don't give up, Jeff, you'll get the hang of it!  Once you have your methods dialed in to your smoker, you'll be turning out great food in no time!

    Hope this helps...Good luck!

    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  10. jeffed76

    jeffed76 Meat Mopper

    The smoke (blue) made all the difference!  I smoked a bunch of thighs,breasts, and went well!!!  I had to go redneck with the fan for some extra oxygen.

  11. LOOKS GREAT!  A little advice and some trial and error can produce great results.  Keep smokin!
  12. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    That's some delicious looking bird, Jeff!  Nice job...I like the fan idea, sometimes we have to improvise! 

  13. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    New batch looks GREAT!  Good job.

    Now you are really rolling.

  14. millerbuilds

    millerbuilds Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Also make sure you always have you output stack open all of the way, control your temp with the inlet. You want the smoke to wisk across your food, not soak in it.  That can cause build up on the meat as well giving you a strong taste.

    Glad it worked out for you!

    Happy Smoking,

  15. Oh oh, sounds like you got the hang of it now. Watch out! Ribs are next. Post pictures
  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm thinkin' you nailed it to the wall right there, Jason.

    When I saw the photo with the fan after reading bitter smoke and the mention of low smoke chamber temps, my first thought is that the OP had low ventilation rates. This would account for the bitter taste, which is caused by stale smoke just hanging in the smoke chamber and not really moving like it should be. If the vent stack is open and this is happening, then there could be a mod which has hampered the flow, or there needs to be a mod to improve it, such as vent-stack lowering (to the grate).

    My experiences have led me to believe that smoke color or concentration is not much of a factor when dealing with bitterness, tingling or numbness in the mouth after eating smoked food, etc. Stale smoke is what will kill your meal. I've had instances where I had heavy mesquite smoke flavor on brisket, and it never turned was such a heavy smoke flavor that I almost could not eat it, but bitterness was not a part of that equation. It was good smoke, just way too much for my liking at that time.

    Most of us here on the forums have been preaching thin blue smoke like it's gospel. The color and density of your smoke is not the issue, and different smoke can be used for different applications. If you're new to smoking, yes, thin blue smoke is probably what you want to achieve UNTIL YOU decide it's time to step it up a bit more. If you're on a long smoke with pork shoulder or beef brisket and you don't want a heavy smoke flavor, here again, thin blue smoke is probably your best approach, but if you get periods of heavy smoke, or thick white smoke during this brisket or butt smoke, you won't ruin your prize'll just get a bit more smoke than you would have if you kept it thin and blue.

    I've laid on some pretty hard-core smoke to birds recently (I mean white, and long running) and didn't find any issues with the pulled meat...smoke was not bitter or harsh, and the skin had a superb color. What you do want to avoid is burning meat drippings giving off a grey/black smoke (gives a grilled taste instead of smoked), or black smoke from flare-ups of wood or fuel.

    I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what proper smoke is, and what it is not, in the world of BBQ and smoked meats. Thick white smoke plays just as important of a role in certain applications as thin blue smoke does...there are differences in what is in each type of smoke, and each has beneficial characteristics regarding the flavors from resins produced by certain species of wood and smoke color/density. Finding that prime smoke (wood species and smoke color.density) for a certain cut of meat is the fun part.

    There is a lot more to smoke than most of us would care to want to know, but for those of us who really want to grab the bull by the horns, jump on and take the full 8-second ride, here's some info which explains it better than I ever could hope to in this reply, so I'll just let you take it from here:

    This piece gives a little more explanation of thick white smoke vs thin white/blue smoke, and what it can do for long-term cold smoking...different application than hot-smoking for BBQ, but I think you'll see similarities in the overall process:

    This really hits on the topic of creosote, how it forms and condenses, and touches a bit on controlling where it condenses (cooler areas in specific)...creosote, BTW, is what gives you that numbing/tingling effect, as well as the bitter taste, when eating improperly smoked meats:

    Hope that helps to clear up the smoke dilemma a bit. Sure, there's a ton of science behind smoking meats, but for the beginners, the basic understanding that the smoke needs to keep moving in the smoke chamber with proper temps for cooking, and that a heavier smoke will produce a stronger flavor earlier, will take you far....knowledge is power...power will allow you to build your skill level and confidence. The only real limitation is your own level of far are you willing to ride through the smoke?

    jeffed76 and millerbuilds like this.
  17. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks for the great picture!!!!

      Looking good!!!

  18. ashaw

    ashaw Newbie

    Hi there, this is my first post and I found this thread while looking for why my bacon wrapped chicken breast tasted awful.  An almost chemical taste to them.

    I read through this and I am positive that my reason was the white smoke.  I had white smoke billowing out of the sides and top of my smoker.  

    I have been looking for recipes/advice on smoker cooking but my smoker is different than most, it's an attachment to my pretty cool campfire cooker.  

    Anyone with tips on smoking better with a smoker like this:
  19. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    ashaw, if that smoke shack is vented on the bottom to allow heat in from the fire below, it could have been the fuel you were burning that caused the off taste in the food. Be sure you're burning hardwood, and it may help to have it burned down to hot coals instead of high flames, as they can impart some strong flavor...just a theory. In recent years I have been using very heavy smoke at times, and have yet to create a bad flavor as a result. Adequate flow of heat and smoke through the smoke chamber seems to be a major factor, and I always run with fully open exhaust vents on my smokers, even my kettle grills, when smoking. Stale or stagnant smoke is one of your biggest enemies.

    This may help...very good informative reading here:

    Hope that helps...keep the faith and try again, with a little difference in how you set it up and fire it...somethings gotta make a difference.

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
  20. ashaw

    ashaw Newbie

    Thanks SO much.  I appreciate the feedback.  I made the mistake of NOT opening the little chimney on top at all, based upon the advice of another.  This was my first time smoking and since I ruined $10 in chicken and $8 in bacon I think I did pretty good LOL.

    I will give it another go with some good hardwood, lower flame, and keeping the chimney open.

    You are right, there are vents in the bottom of the smoker.  

    Thanks for taking the time to help me out!

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