Maintaining Steady Temperatures in an Offset Smoker

How to Maintain Steady Temperatures in an Offset Smoker
To maintain temperatures in an offset smoker you need to start off with a strong and good burning fire. How do you do that?

Steps to follow for steady temperatures in an offset smoker

Select your method of starting the fire whether it be charcoal or kindling we recommend using Mallee Root charcoal and our charcoal starter wand.  Check our blog post on How To Light Charcoal Easily and Quickly

In this picture you will see a charcoal starter wand being used to light the fire in an Offset Smoker 

In this picture you can see Mallee Root charcoal burning red hot

Next, you need to make sure you have the dampers (pin wheel dampers on the side of the fire box) open and the flue on the smoke stack /chimney open also. Build up the fire in your offset meat smoker, getting as much airflow and oxygen as you can so it breathes and takes light if you have to add more charcoal do so now.


Once the fire has started and is going strong, close the firebox door and watch the temperature rise. When your smoker temperature reaches around 20¬∞c less than your desired cooking temperature, close of some of the dampers so you slow down the temperature rise and start to maintain that desired temperature. This can be tricky at first but you will start to learn just how much you need to adjust the dampers. With the Flaming coals offset smoker, if you are trying to reach a pit temperature of 105¬∞c then when the grill level temperature has reached around 85 - 90¬∞c you would close the 2 top dampers of your firebox, close the bottom damper to about half, and close the top damper on the flu about 1/2 - 3/4. If your smoker gauges are playing up or you wish to add a temperature gauge at grill level, take a look at our range of smoker temperature gauges
By this stage, you should start noticing clear heat coming from the flue with smoke that has a blue tinge to it. If all you see is white smoke, adjust the dampers so you get a clean fire burning. The last thing you want is all that dirty smoke containing creosotes flavouring your meat.
Now you have the grill up to temperature, it's time to add some Smoking wood to get the flavoursome smoke. The flavour wood you use will vary depending on what you're cooking. If you need some help determining what woods are suitable, check out our previous post, How to choose Smoking Wood for your BBQ Smoker. Whichever wood you decide to use MAKE SURE IT IS DRY WOOD AND SEASONED as doing this will ensure a much easier cook and clean smoke. Leaning the smoking wood on the side of the burning fire is the best location for a longer smoke time and minimal temperature spike.
Once you have added your wood to your offset meat smoker, you may notice the temperature will rise so adjust the dampers accordingly and wait 15 minutes to see the results of your adjustment. Now you are ready to put your meat on. Check out our range of meat rubs and BBQ Sauces for sale

This picture shows the damper that is used to maintain steady temperatures in an Offset Meat Smoker

Maintaining the Temperature in your offset meat smoker

Now if you have built a nice clean fire, half the job is done for you and it will be much easier to maintain that desired temperature. Keep in mind that temperatures may change throughout the cook as fire can be unpredictable. If you experience temperature fluctuations, you may need to do the following.

  • Open up the dampers to allow more airflow if the fire is slowly going out and the temperatures are slowly dropping.

  • Add more fuel i.e. charcoal or wood if your charcoal/timber is starting to run low. 

  • Use a Charcoal Starter Wand on the fan setting to blow in clean hot air to build the fire back up if your dampers were closed too much and you choked it out.

  • Close off the dampers if the heat is running too high. This will choke the fire so be sure it doesn't go completely out. Open the dampers up a little after 10 minutes and check the results. 

Remember, every minor adjustment you make to your smoker dampers will take about 15 minutes to show results at your temperature gauge. Be patient!

This is a picture of an Offset Meat Smoker that is loaded with meat


Handy tips to make temperature control in an offset smoker easier

  • Make sure that your cook chamber is sealed as best as you can. Some Smoker sealing tape around the doors will help eliminate any major leaks.

  • If it's windy, reposition the smoker so the wind doesn‚Äôt affect and cause spikes in the fire. Shield your firebox. Forces air entering your firebox will lead to increased temperatures

  • If it's hot outside, the temperatures can really get away from you if you are using the same technique as when it's cold. Try to cook at a lower temp.

  • If it's raining, make sure to keep your fire source i.e. wood dry and push through it. Also, try not to cook with your smoker in the rain as that will make temperature control a nightmare but manageable and a talking point for years to come. 

  • Use an electronic temperature monitoring device like an EZ Temp to measure your grill temperature and the internal temperature of your meat.

  • The easiest way to maintain a consistent smoking temperature is to automate the process. If you want to Automate the temperature control of your smoker then we recommend you add the Tempmaster pro Digital Temperature control for smokers. This is the next easiest way to smoke after a Pellet Smoker



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Want to take your barbecuing to the next level? Download our Smoking Masterclass to get access to 15+ step-by-step cooking videos. Learn how to master an offset smoker, manage a fire, prepare and cook multiple cuts of meat and so much more. 


By: Rhiannon Peterson