First time smoker - last nights initial smoke - issues and questions!

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Original poster
Oct 12, 2010
NW Pennsylvania
Ok, so last night I finally got around to firing up my Smoky Mountain smoker and giving this a shot.  I had 3 things I wanted to smoke and while I don't know if it was wise to do it that way or not, that's what I did.  I had a large steelhead fillet that I cut in half, patted dry, seasoned with some cajun spices, and let sit in the fridge overnight.  Then, I had a piece of elk loin (about 2 lbs) that I covered in yellow mustard and cajun seasoning, let it sit in the fridge overnight and then wrapped it in a bacon weave.  Lastly, I did a pizza fatty (just a Bob Evans original chub, sauce, cheese, and pepperoni then wrapped in bacon).

I fired up my "new to me" Smokey Mountain propane smoker and got the water pan lined with foil and filled up with water and filled the wood chip box with a good handful of Webers Hickory wood chips (not soaked).  While the smoker got up to temp and started smoking I lined the racks with foil, sprayed them down with Pam and put the meat on them.  Once the smoker reached about 250 and the smoke was rolling pretty good (?) I added the racks.

I put the elk loin on the bottom, the steelie fillets next, and the fattie up top. I didn't really think that the the temp difference would matter in that small of a space, but with hindsight, I'm pretty sure it did.

I put the meat on at 730 and watched the temperature gauge on the door.  I had to play with a it a little to keep around 250 but not much.  I had to re-fill the water pan once, and I added some more hickory chips part way through (these ones were soaked, just to see if there was much of a difference in smoke output, which I didn't really notice a difference).

I used my thermometer about 2 hours in and the steelie fillets were right at 140 and looked "done" to a rookie, so I took them out.  Then I stuck the thermo in the elk loin and it came back at 160!  I really wasn't expecting that to be that far along and I yanked it out as I only wanted it to reach 140 as well.  I then put it in the fattie and it wasn't even at 130 yet.

Here are some pics of the smoker when I first put everything in and what the fish and elk looked like when I took them out.  The fattie took forever and was still only at like 160 when I pulled it at 11 (because I was ready for bed), and I'd moved it to the bottom of the smoker for the last hour it was in there as that appears to be the hotspot.  So I don't know what the deal is with that...

Questions I have:

There doesn't appear to be much of a smoke ring on the elk loin, but maybe the bacon locks it out some?

The fish tasted good, but wasn't very smoky either for that matter.  Maybe I need to up the amount of smoke?  (One thing I found out is that the lid for my smoker box is missing.  I guess I can try a foil packet of wood chips to see if that helps?)

How good / bad of an idea is it to smoke multiple meats like this at the same time?

What other tips / advice can you guys offer?

This was my VERY FIRST attempt at smoking anything so even though it didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped, it is still very tasty and quite edible, which was goal #1!  Goal #2 was just learning about my smoker and how it functions.  So, I've met both goals already, just looking for ways to improve!

Thanks for the help!
Update on the "fatty": I put it in the oven last night to heat it up and crisp up the bacon and once that was done, I dug in!  With some extra pizza sauce to dip it in, it was excellent!  It had a pretty good smoke ring to it as well.  So the fatty, while it took much longer than expected, especially relative to the elk loin and fish, actually turned out the way I'd hoped it would.
You may want to forget the foil on the racks, it may be effecting heat circulation. Just my thought.

I was thinking the same thing. Also the bottom part of that meat is sitting on the foil and not on a rack so the smoke cannot penetrate that part of the meat. Not usually a big deal as I smoke butts and what not in a tinfoil pan all the time but if you don't have enough smoke flavor it is something you can try. Your fish might stick a bit but spray the rack first and then when it is done just grab the whole rack out of the smoker and bring it inside. It stinks trying to remove the fish from the rack out in the smoker it can stick and then rip apart and what not. It just much easier to remove it from the rack when it is inside on the counter so you have room to work. Also are you monitoring the internal temp of your smoker with any digital thermometers? You might want to consider getting a few more if you don't have any as the factory ones installed on the door are well known to be inaccurate. Also you can check to see if there are any temp differences between the bottom and top racks.
The first thing is to check the temperature of the smoker with a thermometer you know is accurate. The stock thermometers that are mounted on the door are not usually correct.

I don't foil the racks as that affects the way the heat and smoke flow inside the smoker. If you need to foil them to hold something just foil a small area

As for foil packets instead just foil the top of the chip pan you have and poke some holes in the foil for the smoke to come out.
Makes sense, next time I try it I'll loose the foil and I'll pick up a thermometer or 2 to monitor the inside temp as well.  I've seen people mention various wired & / or wireless models of thermometers on here too, but I'm guessing that's to monitor the meat itself?  (You'd jam the probe into the meat and leave it and then you'd have the read out portion somewhere outside the smoker?)  Or are they talking about using it to monitor the internal temp of the smoker?  Perhaps both?

This is the one that I have bookmarked (Maverick Industries ET-73 Maverick RediChek Remote Wireless Smoker Thermometer), I'm not sure as to which it would be used, meat temp or smoker temp?

Piney, just covering the chip box with foil would probably work too, but I was thinking if I needed to add more, it might be easier to just retrieve the burned out packet with tongs and replace with a fresh one then to juggle the foil cover off, fill it with new chips and put the cover back on.  Thoughts on that idea?

Thanks for the help guys!
This is the one that I have bookmarked (Maverick Industries ET-73 Maverick RediChek Remote Wireless Smoker Thermometer), I'm not sure as to which it would be used, meat temp or smoker temp?
The Maverick ET-73 (and it's big brother, the 732) both have dual probes.  One is to measure the temperature inside the smoker (like your door thermometer) and the other is to inset inside the food to measure its internal temperature.  The 732 has better range so you can go farther away with the receiver.  The 732 also has more features than the 73.

Now it looks like everything came out all right. Now you really don't want to trust the thermo meters that come with your smoker. So i would go get a few maybe one for the smoker and then a couple of what ever you put into the smoker. Heck go out and get a Food saver system so you can satrt buying meat in bulk and heck there's a few mre things I could come up with if you are in a buying mood. Sorry I get carried away when I start talking smoking stuff.
Ok, so Saturday I smoked a turkey (wild, hen) that my dad shot this past fall.  I removed the foil from the shelves (actually removed all the shelves but the one I put the bird on too), and hung a thermometer on the shelf with the bird.  The door temp was off around 25 degrees (lower) than the temp of the thermometer on the rack.  So I was able to track that better.

The problem I was having though was that I couldn't get much in the way of smoke.  I did a lot of reading on the subject and know that I'm looking for "thin blue smoke" (TBS) and not thick white smoke and that if I could smell smoke or it made my eyes burn, that was good enough.  The problem was, neither was the case.  I couldn't see, smell, or feel the burn of smoke for the majority of the 6 hours the bird was in the smoker.

I tried a foil cover on the wood box and I tried it open and neither seemed to matter.  I was using Weber Hickory wood chips, but ran out of them at the end of the smoke so I don't have anymore.  The wood was black with very little going to ash, so I don't know what the deal was.  The bird did have a smokey flavor, but not much of one.

I have the smaller GOSM model, with no vents in the bottom.  I was considering drilling a couple 3/8"'s holes on the bottom on either side of the cabinent to increase air flow into the unit.  What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks for the help! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Hot Threads