Better tasting smoke

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nlife

Meat Mopper
Original poster
Nov 16, 2023
299
503
I don't like the flavor of the smoke from the Bradley smoker. Neither does the rest of my family. We really like the flavor of the smoke from my Traeger. I've been pouring over posts about how to get a better tasting smoke. I've read posts about thin blue smoke as the only smoke you want. Then I've read about how thin blue smoke doesn't matter. Of course then there's discussions about wood, or too much smoke, etc.

I picked up a pellet tray, nuked the pellets like I've read about here. I've tried using dust. Also something I've read from here. I have also tried the mailbox mod for my Bradley, but it doesn't seem to help.

I've also read about how it's the air flow that matters. How can I get the bradley smoker to give a better tasting smoke? I'd like to get it sorted out since I can pack a bunch more into it than my Traeger, but it doesn't matter how much I put in it if no one likes the taste.
 
Don't know a whole lot about the Bradley's. But I found this article from their website. Assuming you use the puck things. This could be part of it.
Screenshot_20240608_215931_Chrome.jpg
 
"No red chemical smoke ring"

I am so confused right now.
Same here, apparently "Bradley" thinks the smoke ring is bad. So they change things in their pucks. After reading that my guess would be that's where the bad taste comes from.
 
"No red chemical smoke ring"

I am so confused right now.
Yeah that's absolutely bizarre. No chemicals in my wood. Maybe they are referring to the chemical reaction that creates the smoke ring?
When I hear bad smoke flavor I always think poor air flow but I have no experience with a Bradley and don't know how it works. Could be the fuel I guess. Could be that you just prefer a very light smoke flavor. I love my Yoder pellet grill. The capacity and ease of running it is great but the smoke flavor is a bit weak to me. LOTS of air flow.
 
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Someone on here was a Bradley rep but sorry I can't remember who. Maybe they'll see this and have an option for ya.
Didn't get enough smoke with the tray or too much smoke flavor?

Keith
 
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I've read about airflow being key, but frankly I'm not sure how to get more airflow in the Bradley since I have the damper fully open. Perhaps leaving the door open a crack will help?

In terms of the pucks and chemical, I had heard Bradley discuss it before in that they use natural binders to hold the pucks together and that it burns clean or something to that effect.
 
I have great results from my Bradley, but a smoke ring is not one of them. The pucks generate smoke flavor, but they are not combusted at the temperatures needed to create the quantities of nitric oxide and carbon monoxide necessary for smoke ring production. It is a cosmetic item, and if that is important to you there are alternate ways to generate it.

The type of wood colors the flavor, and the original post does not differentiate the wood used between the Bradley and Traeger. This could be a differentiating factor. Of course, the first bite is with the eyes, so if a smoke ring is important, there is no getting around having one. There are other subtle differences, as the Bradley will have less airflow compared with a pellet grill.

I personally enjoy having separate control of smoke generation and cook temperature, but I accept other's choice of linked control. Great Q can be made either way.
 
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I've read about airflow being key, but frankly I'm not sure how to get more airflow in the Bradley since I have the damper fully open. Perhaps leaving the door open a crack will help?

In terms of the pucks and chemical, I had heard Bradley discuss it before in that they use natural binders to hold the pucks together and that it burns clean or something to that effect.
Not really that familiar with Bradley but Auber makes PID specifically for them. IIRC they have smoke control (fan?) unlike the units for out MES.

https://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_reviews&products_id=72
 
Other than a smoke tube and possibly different pucks seems to me there is very little you can do to adjust in a Bradley. I had one and did a couple cooks on it before selling to go in a different direction.
 
I enjoyed my Bradley years ago. Did you try different pucks? Turning off the pellet feeder after say 2 hours if you want a lighter smoke? Top vent should be open. I usually used apple or hickory pucks. I can confirm no pink smoke ring. But the food was always good. Pucks were a bit pricey was the only downside for me.
 
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My first thought is simply wood flavor, in case you are using two different woods in your smokers (some folks draw a hard line between mesquite and cherry, or even pecan and hickory). Second thought is, if the Bradley is brand new, there might be some residue or foreign material that is creating the unpleasant flavor. Third, oversmoking is a thing, and will sometimes make the food taste more acrid, not more 'smokey.'

Got any more detail on the difference between the flavors, other than 'don't like'?
 
Also, on long smokes makes sure the water bowl doesn't dry out. The pucks need the water to extinguish them quickly.
 
Thanks for the replies all.

For a bit more clarity, I've had the Bradley for about 10 years now. I used it for a long time, then my parents got a Traeger with the purchase of a car a few years back. They're seniors and had no interest in using it so they gave it to me. Granted, both smokers give off a light smoke, but the difference in flavor is night and day. The Traeger tastes "clean" while the Bradley has an element of "dirty" to it. That's the part that we don't care for.

When it comes to the Bradley,
  • I have the vent fully open.
  • I have used various puck "flavors", ensuring the water bowl extinguishes the puck when it gets pushed out.
  • I have used a pellet tray in it using the same pellets that I use in the Traeger.
  • I have used the mailbox mod with the pellet tray
  • I've scraped out the buildup inside the Bradley and wiped it down.
  • I have tried turning the pellets to a dust in an attempt to get a thinner smoke.
The only thing I can figure is that there isn't enough air flow, though I don't know how to get better airflow in the Bradley since it's rather limited to the vent in the top.
 
I'm back at this and think I may have made a small step towards figuring it out.

Having gone through countless posts on the topic, and doing my best to stay out of the weeds when it comes to TBS vs well take your pick of smoke, I figured I could either reduce the amount of smoke going into the Bradely, or increase the airflow.

As previously mentioned, I have done the mailbox mod and I have a pellet tray. I also have the top vent fully open.

The pellet trays sure spit out a lot of smoke. Granted, it's all relative of course, meaning a pellet tray in a 4'x4'x6' smoker isn't going to produce a heavy smoke. A pellet tray pumping smoke into a small Bradley is a different story.

I've tried increasing the quality of smoke by nuking the pellets for 2 minutes (30 seconds at a time like I've read on these forums); breaking the pellets up into smaller pieces; using pellet dust created by soaking pellets in a bit of hot water, then drying in the oven. I probably need to work the the second two methods since I wasn't able to reduce the amount of smoke or to produce the TBS everyone talks about. I had issues keeping the pellet dust burning as well.

I originally thought about adding a computer fan like I've seen other folks do here on the forum, but also seen that they ended up melting the fan since the pellet tray was too close.

Last night I decided that rather than stick the duct into the Bradley, I set up the mailbox mod so that the duct was about 1/2" away from the smoker. Once I fired up the Bradley and set it to 120f, it was pulling smoke from the tube along with a good amount of fresh air.

Hopefully the video works. It's a bit hard to see, but you can faintly make out the smoke being drawn into the smoker.



I tested it on a pastrami I made last night before transferring the brisket to the Traeger for finishing. Kinda hard to tell how the smoke was on such a large piece of meat since they can really take a lot. I'll need to test how it works on a small batch of sausage or pepperoni and see how it goes.
 
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