How do you regulate the smoke flavor intensity?

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Original poster
Jan 8, 2011
SF Bay Area
Hi, I just started smoking.  I have a small electic smoker oven - a Smokin'-It #1.  I've made two batches of pork and beef ribs and am now eating some pork shoulder, basically following recipies out of a popular smoking cookbook (Smoke and Spice).  So far everything's been delicious but the smoke flavor can be a little harsh.  I'm using cherry, apple, and a little bit of hickory.  My smoker's limit is supposed to be ~8oz of wood at once, and I usually load it up and mix in new chunks with the coals as the day goes on.

Here's some questions:

How much smoke is too much?  How can I tell without tasting?

How much of the cooking process should be smoke from new chunks of wood, smoke from the burnt wood's charcoal, and no smoke at all?

Is it better to start with a lot of smoke and finish with clean heat, or have a little bit of fresh smoke going the whole time?  What about alternating smoke-clean-smoke-clean . . . . ?

I'm mixing my rubs in with olive oil, then massaing that into the meat.  Could the olive oil mess up the flavor?

Any tips on what kinds of spices & sauces work best with smoke, and what don't?

Would it help to have a little pan of water in there for steam?

With your smoke you want small whiffs of thin blue smoke,if you can smell smoke then your smoking.You don't want big white billowing clouds of smoke,that can make the meat taste harsh. You can smoke the whole time while cooking just make sure its not the white smoke.Olive oil will not give you that harsh taste,i have used it before and never had it.Using the waterpan is a great idea because it help keep moisture going and it helps to stabilize smoker temps.
Watch out for the thick white smoke.  That's when you get that really harsh unpleasant flavor.  I've never used an electric smoker, so I can't give you much advice, but play around with your setup until you are generating that thin blue smoke.  Some folks around here call it "ninja smoke" and I think that's a great way to describe it.  I think you are fine with the olive oil rubdown.  Rubs and sauces are all strictly personal preference.  Do some looking around here and you'll find more ideas than you can try in a lifetime.  But most of all, if you can keep the thin blue smoke going, you should never go wrong.
The mistake most of us make in the beginning is we want to see the smoke.  I like what someone here called it, ninja smoke is what you what.  
I looked at the specs on your smoker..nice.

You are probably putting too much chips/chunks in the hopper.

 This is a great place.

 Check out the WIKIs and try using the handy dandy search tool.

 Good luck and have fun!

Also you can basically stop adding flavor wood sooner to also cut back on smokiness. A lot of times I only add wood chunks for the first half of the smoke, then I just let it cook.
The mistake most of us make in the beginning is we want to see the smoke.  I like what someone here called it, ninja smoke is what you what.  
This is so true!

We all do the same thing, but eventually get smart

If you want a stronger smoke taste, you can try woods like Hickory & Mesquite instead of Fruitwoods like Apple, Cherry and Maple

Or.... pour on the heavy white smoke and it will taste EXACTLY like the inside of your smoker!

I used to have issues with my SmokinTex regulating smoke. Now I only use the AMNS and it works great every time. Takes the door opening -heat loss issues away completely.   
Look for that TBS, less is more in the smoking world. I also mix my rubs with oil, I like using wet rubs myself, that's just my thing.

I'm like most of the good folks here and say that you will learn the woods as you smoke more. I really like a light smokey flavor so I use alot of apple. Then if you want more than I would recommend hickory or maybe a mesquite.
thanks!  that's exactly what I was doing, filling the smoker with lots of chunks and getting just too much damn smoke!  I'll try just a chunk or two at a time. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.