Never smoked before

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Original poster
Jan 4, 2014
We got a Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite electric smoker as a Christmas present. Neither my girlfriend or me have ever smoked anything before and could use some help. The instructions that came with it were just for putting it together, nothing about how to use it.

We are going to smoke some brisket and pork tomorrow and have a few questions after googling some recipes.

First, from what I've read that we're suppose to add more wood chips when the smoke dies down, is that a good rule of thumb to be following or is there a better way to know when to add more?

Also, the smoker has a closeable vent on the side. It does not close completely shut, there is a small gap left when it's closed. So when we're smoking meat should we leave the vent closed only allowing the small amount of smoke to vent out, open it all the way, inbetween...? Or is this one of those things that depends on preference?

Is there much difference in where in the smoker certain types of meat should be placed? Should beef, chicken, pork ect be placed in particular racks within the smoker for best results? Or if we're only doing one cut of meat would it matter whether it's on the top, middle or bottom rack?

I'm tellin yall, we are smoker ignorant. ANY and all tips, advice and instruction will be gratefully received.
Hello and welcome to the fun.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  The trial and error method works well.  We will try to help you keep the errors to a minimum since we already made ‘em for ya.  We look forward to your contributions.  I don't have your particular smoker.  You can find some "how to" videos on youtube that might help.  As a rule of thumb keep the exhaust vent fully open.  I will assume you have seasoned your smoker and sealed every leak you can.  I always advise the same with this question.  Chicken leg quarters and maybe some burgers.  I know!  I know!  You have been reading for weeks, now have your smoker, you are ready to get started.  The neighbours’ cat is in danger of being smoked and this idiot says chicken legs and burgers??  WHAT??  The first few smokes are about learning to control temps in YOUR smoker.  Each one can be different.  If that first smoke burns, the dog gets a good meal.  If it ain’t done, finish it in the oven.  Little money lost and with luck you still get a good meal.  As for stacking different meat, NEVER chicken on top.  Chicken on the bottom rack when smoking different meats for safety purposes.  Don't want chicken dripping on your pork.  TEMP CONTROL!! IS THE KEY!!  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

Just started smoking on year's day and already addicted. Have sweet potatoes and whole chickens on right now and did wings last night. This site, and the search function regarding all questions is amazing.

KC5TPY's advice is spot on...

Have fun with the smoker....
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