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Water pan or not

vicki blair

SMF Premier Member
Joined May 6, 2021
I only use the water pan in my smoker during long overnight cooks or when the outside humidity and dew point are extremely low.
Save the apple juice for mops or spritzes. Save the beer for drinking.
I presume you're also using a separate thermometer probe set up to monitor grate temps?
Your assumption is correct! I monitored the unit internal temp as well as the brats when I cooked them but didn’t the ribs! I will modify that next time!

there is some wonderful info here everyone! I can’t thank you enough!!


SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
Joined Sep 12, 2009
To add water pan to my smoker or not? I have. Seen and lots of great info but seems to be a divided camp. My first batch of ribs were a little tough and dry for my liking and what I’m use to from my grill. Next batch I’m going to go lower temp for longer as my first change. AND then try adding a water pan! I would love insight and suggestions from this site! Thanks in advance for your input!!

Happy Smokin’ everyone
A lot depends on your Smoker.
If you use a Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse "MES" you should not put water in the water pan. The MES is so well insulated that the humidity in the Smoker is already too high without adding water. We just cover the pan with foil to keep it from getting too disgusting, and leave it in place empty. Some guys put sand in it as a Heat Sink.



Master of the Pit
Joined Apr 25, 2015
Vicki, if you have a Pit Boss vertical box electric (analog) smoker, your unit is pretty much like a Masterbuilt MES unit which many have posted about here. You could try re-posting your question direct in the electric smoker section and you'd probably find the "no water" crowd exceeds my tribe.
Electric smokers generate 90% of their cooking heat from the wall plug so no air flow (no oxygen) is required to generate that heat. I assume you have some chips or pellets in a pan for flavor...that will generate a very slow "draft" of air in your smoker, far less than those of us who generate all (or nearly all) their cooking power from burning wood. As others have said, that keeps humidity naturally higher in your style of smoker. Cooking meat releases considerably more moisture than your smoking chips do so if there's not much air flow through your unit, you can naturally achieve higher levels of humidity than many of us do, and therefore find a water-filled pan unnecessary or even undesirable. Still, feel free to experiment and see what you and yours like.

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