How to Season a Smoker in 3 Easy Steps

Learning how to season a smoker can help you to prepare your appliance for its first use. It’s also a fantastic way to ensure you maintain it regularly to preserve its integrity.

In this guide, we explore the best ways to season your smoker in just three easy steps, as well as a few tips and tricks for doing it correctly.

Do You Need to Season Your Smoker?

One of the most common questions that people have is how to season a new smoker. Seasoning typically has two purposes: to clean contaminants and to extend its life.

When you are seasoning a new smoker, there are likely trace elements of contaminants left behind. With seasoning, you’ll be effectively burning all contaminants, so it’s safe to cook.

In terms of preserving its life, seasoning your smoker adds an extra layer of protection to ensure the metal doesn’t deteriorate.

You might also find that it’s substantially easier to control your smoker’s internal temperature so that it cooks perfectly every time.

Many people use seasoning as a natural, sure-fire way to clean the smoker after cooking, particularly fat meats.

The temperature you typically smoke at will be lower for more extended periods, which isn’t powerful enough to eat away at fats.

With seasoning, you’ll use moderately higher temperatures to help incinerate most of the grease left behind.

Fortunately, the task is quite simple, as long as you have the right oil to use to season everything adequately.

What Is the Best Oil to Season a Smoker With?

There isn’t a specific rule that says you need to use one type of oil to season your smoker. Often, people simply choose the cheapest oil, such as vegetable oil made from soybeans or canola.

Others suggest it could be better to opt for lard, cooking spray, or grapeseed oil. The most important thing to think about is the burning point of the oil you’re choosing.

As you’ll be cooking at moderately high temperatures, you’ll want an oil with a high burning point. A few examples of the most used oils for seasoning include:

  • Canola oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • High-temperature palm
  • Lard
  • Peanut oil
  • Bacon grease
  • Vegetable oil from soybeans
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Almond oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil

All in all, the oil that you choose won’t have a significant bearing on how to season a new smoker.

When doing so, you’ll want to make sure that you start with a clean rag to make it easy to get into crevices.

You will then need to reach every nook and cranny, which is why some prefer using a cooking spray as it’s easy to put anywhere.

how to season a smoker
Season smoker before you use it for the first time and then a few times a year, depending on how often you use it.

What Temperature Should I Season My Smoker?

When you’re figuring out the ideal temperature for seasoning, you might want to refer to the owner’s manual.

Some models require higher temperatures to get a full coating, while others can be seasoned at much lower temperatures.

It appears to be that most models will require temperatures between 225 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

At these temperatures, you’ll be able to make sure any trace contaminants can burn off and that the oil can seep into imperfections.

You’ll also be able to rest assured that it’s not hot enough to start a fire, which makes seasoning incredibly safe.

How Do You Prepare a Smoker?

Before you start curing a smoker, one of the most important things to do is make sure you prepare the smoker.

Cleaning

Cleaning the smoker is by far one of the most critical steps, and it’s as easy as learning how to smoke food effectively.

You surely wouldn’t want to apply the oil to a dirty surface, which can negatively affect the protective coating.

Fortunately, the steps that you would use to clean a smoker also apply to a grill that needs to be seasoned.

Then again, depending on the type of grill grates you have, you might have specific cleaning instructions.

You can also use a soft rag to wash away any manufacturing particles from other areas inside the smoker.

You must give the smoker enough time to dry, as you’ll need the most accessible possible surface to apply the oil.

If you aren’t seasoning a new smoker, you might need to use dish soap (just a little bit) and a more abrasive sponge for cleaning.

You’ll want to clean the inside and outside, helping to eliminate any layers of black smoke. Take special care to get rid of any food particles that could be left behind, as well.

Remember, your oil will be creating a protective seal, and you won’t want anything stuck to the smoker that could break the seal.

Finding a Location

When you decide to season your grill, you must put safety first. Although you’re not going to use temperatures as high as 400 degrees, it will get quite hot.

On average, you’ll likely have to leave the unit smoking for up to two to three hours consecutively.

With that said, you will want to make sure you choose a safe location for it to work, especially if you have pets and kids.

It’s also essential that you put it somewhere with plenty of ventilation, as a lot of smoke will be produced.

Ideally, opt for a part of your backyard or front yard that is shielded from children and pets. It should be away from open windows.

Another tip is to make sure you choose to season your appliance when there’s decent weather. The last thing you’d want is to spend time preparing and curing a smoker only for rain to ruin the job.

How to Season a Smoker

At this point, you should have a properly prepared smoker ready to be seasoned. Luckily, these steps are straightforward to follow, even if you’ve never done seasoning before.

Step 1: Season the Smoker

Gather the oil you’ve chosen and a rag you can use to season hard-to-reach areas. Dip the rag into the oil and rub it into the metal on the inside of your smoker.

You must pay attention to all areas and ensure it is fully coated; otherwise, the seasoning won’t work.

You can also use a soft brush to make sure the lid, sides, and grates are entirely coated. If you use a paper towel, be sure it doesn’t tear apart on the grates and into the smoker.

You will leave the racks inside the appliance as it cleans itself.

You must make sure you thoroughly coat the bottom and top of the rack for optimal protection.

Most manufacturers suggest that one area to avoid is the water pan; however, you can coat the outside.

Once you’ve reached every possible crevice, wait for 10 minutes for the oil to soak into the metal.

how to season a smoker

Step 2: Heating the Smoker

For the next step, you’ll need to make sure you properly heat your smoker to a moderately high temperature.

Then, you’ll likely need to leave it for up to four hours, depending on your smoker size.

Smaller designed smokers can be thoroughly seasoned in one to two hours, while larger ones will need more time.

To decide on the perfect temperature for your smoker, think about the temperatures you typically use to cook.

You’ll want to make sure you choose a setting that is higher than your usual preference. Ideally, this should be anywhere from 225 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you have set the temperature, it is also recommended to establish a cooking timer so that you know when to stop the process.

If you let your smoker run for too long, it can warp any thin metal pieces. To prevent damage, you will also want to make sure you give the smoker time to cool.

Depending on the type of smoker you have, the heating steps may differ.

Electric Smoker

Because electric smokers have the most straightforward digital controls, it should be relatively easy to set up.

All you need to do is set the temperature to your desired level and then close the lid. Let the device season for a minimum of an hour.

Gas Smoker

Gas smokers work similarly to electric models in terms of adjusting the settings. Use the digital controller to choose the correct temperature and season for a minimum of an hour.

Charcoal Smokers

With these units, you’ll need to take a few extra steps during the smoking process. Make sure the coals reach the ideal temperature and then add wood to boost the heat.

Since you won’t need a water pan to retain moisture, you can take it out or choose to leave it empty.

Fire up your charcoal smoker and ensure the vents are opened to allow heat to flow through the entire appliance.

You can time the seasoning process or keep it going until the coals burn themselves out.

Pellet Smokers

Like charcoal models, the best pellet grills need more than enough time to consume their pellets.

Fill the hopper with your wood pellets and use the digital controller to choose high heat settings. Allow it to run for up to four hours or until the wood pellets have been entirely consumed. 

Some of the most popular pellet flavors include mesquite, oak, pecan, and hickory.

Step 3: Letting the Smoker Cool

The last step is to make sure you give the smoker enough time to cool on its own. Once it has been air-cooled, you can guarantee it’s ready to use.

Learn how to smoke perfect rack ribs. Get started with some delicious irresistible barbecue recipes.

How to Season a Grill: A Step-by-Step Guide

Seasoning a Smoker

Interestingly enough, once you learn how to season a smoker, you’ll also know how to season a grill.

All of the steps apply to both, and you should make sure you do it a few times a year to protect the integrity of your smoker.

Seasoning is one of the only ways to make sure a brand-new smoker is clean, which is the reason why it’s essential.

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