Creating your own meat masterpiece has become a prevalent hobby of our day. Smokers provide meat with great flavor that you can customize and adjust to just the way you like it, but recently, quite a few people have questioned the amount of smoke flavor they have failed to find in their T-Bone Steaks.
Pellet grills do not create a smoke flavor like other grills. To get a more smokey flavor, use good and cold meat, try different smoke pellets, and consider getting a smoker tube. These suggestions and others will aid in creating a more smokey flavor in your meat and vegetables.
A smoked piece of meat that lacks a smokey flavor is not going to make you the barbecue king of the neighborhood, as a matter of fact, it will be hard to get your neighbors to come back when your meat tastes bland. Pellet grills have been known to produce less of a smoke flavor than its competing smokers like propane, gas, or charcoal smoker. That doesn’t mean that pellet grills don’t also have amazing benefits of convenience though. Below, we will weed through different ways to get a smoker flavor in your meat even though pellet smokers aren’t known to be the best at it. There are many ways to get a better flavor regardless!
1. Use Good, Cold Meat
While this doesn’t directly change anything about your pellet smoker, it will still help the meat to become infused with the smoky flavor that you’ve been missing out on. Typically, we are told that fatter cuts of meat are the best type for smoking, and that’s true as fat absorbs the smoke much better than thick muscle. These more fatty and popular smoked meats are brisket, pork ribs, and pork shoulders. Whatever cut you may choose though can still be smoked to create a great flavor, the time will just vary depending upon its thickness.
Fat gets better flavor, but if there is lots of fat around the outside of the cut, then it will absorb the smoke and not let it penetrate the entire slab of meat. If there is a layer of fat around the meat, ensure that it is cut off to be no more than 1/4 of an inch thick so that the smoke can still infuse the interior of the meat slab. Be conscious of what cuts you are using because their thickness and fat content have the potential to drastically change the flavor.
Another preliminary adjustment you can make as you work toward a more smokey flavor is to ensure that your meat is as cold as it can be without being frozen. Meat is known to stop absorbing smoke when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 135 degrees. Therefore, if the meat starts off cold, it will take longer for the meat to reach that threshold and typically will have more time to absorb the smoke and develop the flavor.
2. Cook Lower and Longer
Since we now know that the real good smoking stops at a 135 degree internal temperature, it is important to turn the smoker down a couple of notches and cook that meat nice and slow. Most pellet smokers these days have adjustable temperature gauges, making it possible for you to just set the temperature and relax while you wait a couple of hours. This is possible because the auger (or screw) will move the pellets from the storage place called the hopper, into the fire pit to burn at the correct rate in order for the smoker to burn at a semi-consistent temperature. It is recommended that you set your smoker below 250 while trying to smoke the meat, and then adjusting it to whatever you would like after it has reached the 135 degree internal temperature. 180 degrees would probably be a good place to start so that it cooks slowly.
Once you take your temperature down though, that means your meat will not cook nearly as fast. It could potentially add an hour or more the lower you drop the temperature. Overall though, it will definitely help you achieve a smoke flavor that will penetrate even to the middle of your steak. This could mean that it takes anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to smoke, so be sure to plan it all accordingly, and if needed, after it has reaches 135 or a little higher, you can turn the smoker up to finish off the cooking.
A common problem in doing this is that your meat becomes dry from being on the smoker for so long. A great way to avoid this and to help your meat to remain moist is to put a pan of water on the smoker with your meat and shut the lid, once you do this then there will still be moisture amongst the smoke and it will help to keep your steak nice and juicing as it smokes throughout the day.
3. Get A Smoker Tube
If your trying to get better smoke production and smoke it longer at a lower temperature, then a smoker tube will also be a great help. A smoker tube, tube smoker, or smoke tube is exactly what it sounds like, it is a steel tube with lots of holes to enable smoke to escape from it easily. The purpose of a smoker tube is to have prolonged smoke over time, and it accomplishes its task well as it most often can last up to 5 hours. To do this, you fill the smoker tube with wood pellets of your choice, and use a butane torch to ignite the end of the tube, and then pat the flame out. This will enable the smoker pellets to just slowly burn or smolder and produce lots of smoke.
There are many different kinds of smoke tubes, but most commonly they come as a 12-inch cylinder. You can also find larger and smaller sizes though. They also come in different shapes, including cylinder, rectangle, and hexagonal shapes. The circle tube will roll around in the hopper making it less productive, while the rectangle one will only allow smoke out of three faces. The best option will be the hexagonal tube which won’t roll but allows the most amount of smoke to escape.
A really popular smoke tube is the Lanney Pellet Smoker Tube. It is 12 inches of stainless steel. On Amazon, it has 4.7 stars out of five and over 5,000 ratings. It holds enough pellets to be able to smoke for about 5 hours and comes with 2 ‘S’ shaped hooks so that you can hang the tube if needed. Plus, because it is hexagonal in shape it won’t roll around. It can be found on amazon here for $15.45. Another great smoker tube is created by LizzQ. It comes with an eBook containing free grilling ideas. It is also made of stainless steel and won’t roll around. It also has a 4.7-star rating with over 7,000 ratings. You can find it on Amazon here for $15.95.
4. Try out Different Smoker Pellets
There are a variety of different flavored wood pellets out there. There is anything from applewood, to fruit, classic, and charcoal. They also offer trophy and competition mixes. Of all these flavors to choose from, some defiantly produce more of a smoky flavoring than others. As a matter of fact, if you are already lacking in getting a good smoking taste from other factors like the ones we have discussed, your choice in wood pellets could also be causing an even greater lack of flavor.
The fruit flavors like apple and cherry won’t produce much of a lasting flavor and sometimes don’t seem to taste different from one another, or like anything at all. The most popular type of wood pellets to get a smokey flavor is either mesquite or hickory. Both of these have potent flavors that allow greater absorption into your meat. Mesquite is recommended for beef and chicken, while hickory works best for pork.
Another important thing to consider is the brand of smoker pellets you are using. As a good example, some smoker brands recommend only using their in-house-made pellets. These pellets are the preferred pellet of many the company but have often been said to not produce much of a smoky taste, and as you change flavors of wood pellets the blandness remains the same. That is not to say that they are bad wood pellets, but trying other brands may help you to find a wood pellet that gets you the smoky flavor your desire.
A couple of top-rated ones pellets are the ones below, they last long, don’t leave a lot of ash, and are overall great flavors.
- Bear Mountain BBQ Pellets – These are 100% hardwood, they burn at a consistent heat, and they don’t leave behind a bunch of ash for you to clean up. They also offer a lot of different flavors to try and don’t add any unnecessary fillers. On Amazon, they are about $16.99 for a 20-pound bag.
- CookinPellets Smoking Pellets – Today, they are a pretty popular company for wood pellets and are known for their good flavor. Sadly, they do not have a large variety of flavors, one of them being mesquite. They do have one called the ‘Perfect Mix’ though, which has hickory, apple, maple, and cherry. On Amazon, it is $35.99 for a 40-pound bag.
- Pit Boss 55436 BBQ Wood Pellets – These pellets come in more than just a variety of flavors, but a whole plethora with cool names as well like “fruitwood,” “competition,” and “pitmaster.” They are reasonably priced and made of 100% hardwood. On Amazon, they are $24.99 for a 40-pound bag.
5. Don’t Open the Lid – Wait
When smoking, waiting becomes your favorite game. It is so important to wait for things, like waiting for the internal temperature to reach a good degree, or waiting for the smoke to be absorbed into the meat, or waiting for the grill to get hot. No matter what you’re waiting for, it is a good idea to leave the lid of the smoker shut, so that the smoke you’ve been trying so hard to conjure up stays there and the internal temperature is not fluctuating so much. It is best to set a timer and leave it there for a prolonged amount of time in between checking it. This will allow the meat to better absorb the smoky flavor.
Another waiting game that is also important to keeping that smoking flavor is after the meat has finished. After the meat is cooked and smoked, try not to cut right into it. Believe it or not, this will release a lot of the flavor and take the smoky flavor down a couple of notches. The best way to do it is to take it off the grill, wrap it up, and put it in the fridge for a while before getting it out to eat. This way the smoky flavor has time to sit and soak into the meat and make way for a great flavor.
6. Aim for Clear Blue Smoke
Throughout the entire time you are cooking, you will see different kinds of smoke as the temperature of the fuel increases and decreases. While the smoker is between 500 and 650 degrees Fahrenheit it will be blowing off large clouds of white smoke which will often smell burnt. Cooking your meat consistently in this smoke will cause it to taste bitter and burnt.
The optimal smoke is clear and blue and doesn’t come off in big billows like the white smoke. This smoke is most likely to happen when the wood has sufficiently burned off the water, after this has happened, burning has started but has not completely worked out to being consistent and contains harmful chemicals you don’t want in your food. After this stage, the smoke will become clear-like and blue and that is when the best smoking is done. We recommend that you wait for the smoker to get to this point before adding your meat.
In the end, a good piece of smoked meat is totally possible, even with a pellet grill. Trial and error and following these suggestions will help you have the best possible results and a great smokey flavor.