The process of adding flavor, cooking and preserving food items especially meat and fish by exposing the same to smoke emanating from burning wood is called smoking. Learning temperature control of the smoker is easy if the steps mentioned in this article are precisely followed. Starting off with the process might be a little tricky, but would prove beneficial in the long run.

Controlling the temperature is crucial for preparing and enjoying that steak you love. Without proper temperature control, the food may get overcooked, undercooked or even get spoiled.

Failing to do so due to lack of knowledge or simply negligence boils down to a bizarre scenario where a person is driving his or her car at night without the headlamps turned on!

If the temperature controlling process is mastered by an individual then the process of grilling or smoking becomes a lot more fun and effective activity. This enables the user with a complete control over the operational temperatures of the smoker.

This ensures optimum output and also the flexibility of quick adjustments with the changing conditions inside the smoker.

This article chalks out in detail the processes involved in precisely controlling the operating temperature of smokers during cooking.

Why regulate the temperature of a smoker?

Regulating the temperature inside a smoker proves beneficial due to the following two factors.

  • You end up with perfectly cooked food
  • The chance of overcooking or undercooking food drops drastically

Temperature control ensures the even distribution of heat and smoke that is required for preparing dishes with consistency and accuracy mentioned in the recipe. Complete control over the air quality and heat content inside the smoker can be maintained if heat is controlled by the user.

How to regulate temperature in a smoker?

Generally, a smoker or a grill comes equipped with two vents, one at the top and the other at the bottom of the firebase. By changing the amount of air that goes inside and subsequently outside, desired temperature can be achieved. This is mainly done by achieving the aperture openings of the same.

The bottom vent acts as the air intake and the one at the top acts as the exhaust for the gases to escape. If both the apertures of the openings are kept fully open then it can be observed that the draught out of the top speeds up and rates in change in fire intensity.

The more air is let inside the box, the more intensely it burns. The moment the desired temperature and fire intensity is reached, the vent at the bottom act as a crude regulator and the one at the top acts as a tool for fine tuning the same.

The bottom when the fire just started off the bottom vent should be kept half closed for 5 minutes and the one at the top should be kept fully open. With the subsequent rise in temperature, the top vent should be closed by quarter of an inch.

Over time, once you get used to the whole process, it is amazing to see how much power actually has over the whole process. It is recommended to change any one variable at any point of time.

It is recommended to raise the internal head content after adding meat or the food product you are grilling or smoking. The added meat or food will absorb a lot of heat from its surroundings to match the temperature of its surroundings. This involves in experimenting with the vent controls initially.

If water bath is added in to the picture then the effects and subsequent actions that are to be performed by the user are dramatic. Adding water bath in to a smoker or grilling oven adds up to the following benefits

  • The water adds humidity to the internal environment of the firebox
  • Adds stability to the cooking temperature
  • Acts as a buffer between the sudden spikes and fluctuations in temperature

Factors on which temperature control depends

There are several variables that add up to how much you have to be involved in adjusting the dampers of your smoker.

The rate of rise in temperature and wind speed plays a crucial factor on the temperature inside the firebox. On a windy day, there is always a chance of extra oxygen entering the cooker and over stoking the fire.

Adding dampers with an initial 10% adjustments and letting it run for 20 minutes is recommended. Another factor should also be kept in mind that in outdoor conditions, especially on a windy day, the cooker should be allowed to come up to the desired temperature at a slow pace.

The adjustments you are making and the frequency at which you are doing so plays a crucial role in temperature control. Over adjustment may also pose a hurdle in achieving the desired goal.

Leaky cookers are mainly a problem faced by many if they have opted for a more cost effective and cheap variant of the same. Such cheap variants are laden with manufacturing defects.

They may also have fissures and tiny holes on their surface that act as chimneys thereby letting the heat and smoke out. Find out whether the lid and the cooker surface is air tight or not, if not try sealing the gap with gaskets or food safe silicon.


Temperature control plays a vital role while cooking in a smoker. This ensures that a consistency is maintained while cooking your favorite dish.

Learning the tricks of temperature control is beneficial to those who regularly use smokers and grills for cooking purposes. Adding the strong aspect of perfection which is essential in cooking can be achieved by following the steps described in this article.

Please feel free to comment and give feedback on this article in the comments section below. If you find that I have missed out on some of the issues that you have faced in the past or regularly while operating a smoker, add the same. And in the end, don’t forget to share this article on the social networks with your friends and family.