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Smoking on a Ketlle BBQ


Joined Aug 4, 2014
I'm a proper newbie to this forum and smoking.

I want to used a charcoal kettle grill to make pulled pork, ribs, brisket etc.

I have done some research and come out with various different set ups that have left me a little confused on which is best.

This information may already be somewhere else on the forum and if it is apologies and please direct me, otherwise can anyone give me a beginners set up that'll work and then I can through trial and error works on and improve to suit me?

Many thanks!



Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Sep 7, 2013
Howdy Paul.  Yes, there are many ways to smoke on a Kettle.  By asking what is best you'll get techniques people have used successfully.  Here's mine.

I have a Smokenator in my Kettle, a $70 "heat fence" that is really just a bent piece of metal but it does work great.  What it does is direct all the heat vertically instead of letting some of it radiate horizontally.  You get nice air circulation with it and can control your temps with the top vent.  It takes a little trial and error to control your temps but you can get quite good at it.  You can smoke like the pros with it.  A hinged cooking grate is a necessity with either the Smokenator or a firebrick setup.  Hinged grates are like $15.  I took the hinged section completely off mine so I could more easily access the space when I needed to recharge the fuel. 

You can make your own Smokenator type setup much cheaper though by buying a couple firebricks from HD or Lowes to use as a heat fence.  Lay them next to each other longwise on the charcoal grate standing up on one edge over toward one side of your kettle.  You can use the little half-moon charcoal baskets or just put cold charcoal and wood chunks on the charcoal grate, filling it up about half way.  Add 15 or so hot briquettes to the top of the cold pile. 

Below is a picture of my Smokenator in my 22.5".  Just replace the long side with firebricks and you're good to go. Put the vent on the lid opposite the fire to maximize circulation.  If using a One Touch, leave your bottom vent fully open.  If using a three vent bottom, close the vent on the bottom opposite the fire. 

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camping hoosiers

Fire Starter
Joined Aug 14, 2007
I found myself in an unusual situation this year. We purchased a 5th wheel camper this year and now when we travel I just don't have much room in the bed of the truck. So I've started taking my Weber Kettle Grill with me instead of my larger smokers. I really don't miss the smokers too much unless I'm cooking for a crowd then rack space becomes an issue. I've been turning out Q from my Weber that I feel is as good as anything I've cranked out on my GOSM's. 

This is what I use most of the time... it's often called the "ring of fire method" or the "snake method". Light one end and depending on your temps you can get six to eight hours of cooking time. You can control the heat with the vents. You can set a drip pan / water pan in the center between the coals. I keep the bottom vents about one third open and the top about three quarters open, however that's cooking in the upper 200's range. I usually do this when cooking Boston Butt or Beef Brisket. I also have a Smokenator that I use sometimes when smoking ribs and want to keep the temps really low. OR if I plan to cook in the space behind the Smokenator itself. 

The Weber Kettle Grill is probably the most versatile grill / smoker ever built... 

BTW: I did not take this picture; I ripped this pic off of Google pics... 


Joined Nov 16, 2014
I smoke on my weber kettle all the time. I just had some thighs that turned out as amazing. I use a brick to seperate my direct heat from my indirect. I use a pan of apple juice.


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Nov 20, 2014

What kind of temp can you control? Will it get up to 275 with the smokenator? How long will it hold the higher temp before adding fuel?




Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Apr 1, 2014
My very first smoke was in a Weber with a fire made of only maple wood, no charcoal. Just control the flow with the top vent.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 15, 2011
I have been using my Weber One-Touch-Gold 22.5" grill for smoking this year because my MES heating element failed and I haven't put the new one in yet. I've done about a dozen pork butts and will do my third brisket of the year Labor Day weekend. I've also done chickens and Cornish hens.

Here is what I've learned. Because smoking wants a low temperature and a long, slow cook, the charcoal and wood chunks have to be arranged so that they don't all burn at once. Search here for "Snake weave" and you will find what I use. I normally have a row of charcoal briquettes (KBB) around about 90-95% of the rim of the kettle at the coals grate. This row is made up of 4 briquettes interspersed with blocks of your favorite wood chunks. I use hickory, pecan and oak and occasionally mesquite. Use chunks, not the shredded chips. I try to have wood chunks about every 6 inches or less in the charcoal ring. I put charcoal on top of it and try to get a couple of briquettes up against the sides of the blocks. I then put 8-10 briquettes in my chimney starter and place them over a tuna can with a bit of rubbing alcohol in it - maybe half full, or a shot glass full. I then light the alcohol and place the starter briquettes over the lit tuna can of alcohol. In 5 minutes I have glowing, grey-coated embers that I pour on one end of the 'snake' ring in my kettle being careful not to light both ends. I let this fire catch the unlit coals and put the top on with the bottom vent at half open and the top vent at 3/4ths closed. At this point I put the cooking grate in with my Maverick ET-733 smoker probe in the little grill snag or in a potato and watch chamber temps. It usually takes about a 10 minute wait. for me know how much heat I've got once the unlit begins to burn. I adjust vents top and bottom until I have a heat range between 220 and 260. I have my Maverick set to alarm if either of those limits aren't maintained. IOW I want to know if its getting too hot or if I'm losing heat. Too hot and I remove the lid for a bit then close the vents a bit more. Too cold and I add more lit coals and/or open vents more. After opening the top, for about 5 minutes, you should know within a quarter hour if you've got the heat where you want it. Remember, it is not an electric or gas oven and temps will range widely during a smoke.

I've found that I can get anywhere from 12 to about 16 hours out a smoke. I think wind, temperature and humidity have a lot to do with how long you will have heat as will how carefully you place your lid to prevent heat loss or air intake. I keep a full chimney of unlit coals at hand and I keep another handful in the smaller chimney in case I need to add unlit fuel or need to light some more starter coals. Depending on what I'm cooking, when the fuel is about exhausted and smoker temps are dropping, I either finish in the kitchen oven or add more coals around the perimeter of the Weber cooking grate. On brisket, I do not get the temp to 195 on the Weber and usually just take it off when the coals die our and bring it to 200-205 in the kitchen oven. For butts, I usually remove the lid and the cooking grate and add charcoal around the perimeter on top of the ashes and add a chunk or 2 of wood. I like for the butts to stay on smoke for the whole ride. Of course chickens and other foods - like pork loin - will cook to IT before a full ring of charcoal is consumed. I remove the meat and the cooking grate. I keep a small hoe at the grill - 20" long - and rake a gap in the unburnt fuel to stop the fire when the meat is done. I then take my long handled metal headed grill brush and brush the cooking grill if I place meat in a foil pan. Otherwise, I take the whole cooking grate inside before I remove the meat. (I need to work on better technique in this regard. I think I should be able to remove the meat and clean the grill straightaway, but butts tend to fall apart and a bit of bark gets wedged in the grill. I get so focused on managing the heat loss on buts that I neglect the grill. I'd appreciate any pointers in this regard.)

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!


Smoke Blower
Joined Feb 22, 2015
I'm a proper newbie to this forum and smoking.

I want to used a charcoal kettle grill to make pulled pork, ribs, brisket etc.

I have done some research and come out with various different set ups that have left me a little confused on which is best.

This information may already be somewhere else on the forum and if it is apologies and please direct me, otherwise can anyone give me a beginners set up that'll work and then I can through trial and error works on and improve to suit me?

Many thanks!


I just went through the same predicament you are in. I researched for awhile before I decided what to do, this is what I've learned.
Smoking with a Weber is FREAKING easy! It all depends on budget. If your budget is:
$15 - go pick up some KBB on sale w/ some wood and use the "Snake Method". It's cheap, It's easy, it's controllable.
$75 or less- get a Smokenator. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about them except some people had issues with the finish on the inside of their grill from long use of coals resting in the same spot.
Got a $100? Do yourself a favor & pick up a Slow N Sear from Adrenaline Barbecue Company. Used mine for the first time yesterday and love it. It is everything it said it would be. Going to do my first long smoke Sunday. Here is my little write up I did last night. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/233944/slow-n-sear-is-the-real-deal

With all that being said you don't need all the little toys, and gimmicks to make good BBQ but it makes life easier & I love toys!


Joined Sep 2, 2014
I have a Napoleon Charcoal Kettle (pretty much same as a weber).

I put all my charcoal to one side and use FireBrick to hold it.  This also prevents heat from the charcoal from "burning" the meat to allow for a true convection cook.

Maintain temps and add wood every 45mins for smoke.  Did ribs last night and they were 10x better than what I've ever made on my MES30.

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