You wouldn’t believe the variety of outdoor cooking appliances people sweep beneath the term “BBQ smoker!” Depending on the fuel type of the smoker you own (or the one you’ve been eying the past few hours), there can be an overwhelming number of considerations, cooking methods, and difficulties in squeezing out their very best cookouts — and that’s before you consider features like advanced cooking systems, control panels, warming modes, and smartphone connectivity. Others are simpler machines designed for ancient, mountain-top grilling sages who can low-and-slow smoke a tender pork shoulder asleep and underwater (tip: don’t do that).
No matter what kind of smoker you own or plan to buy, there are some tried-and-true accessories that absolutely level that difficulty curve. That’s why our experts have taken the time to assemble this list of the top 10 essential smoking accessories — all things no pitmaster should be without. If you still have any questions about BBQ smokers, smoker accessories, or anything else we offer, our knowledgeable advisors are always just a call away at 1-877-743-2269 to answer any of your questions. Check out our BBQ Smoker FAQ for many of their most common questions, conveniently already covered!
Smoking Wood Chips & Chunks
When it comes to smokers, heat and power are taken from a variety of places. Smoke is simpler — generally, that’s your hardwood chips and chunks. Wood chips are outstanding for a large burst of smoke when you need it; larger wood chunks excel at a moderate amount of smoke over a longer period. Depending on what you plan to smoke, different species of hardwood impart complementary flavors through aromatic particles.
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BBQ Smoker Temperature Controllers
Charcoal and Kamado smokers control airflow by use of air vents & dampers, which require more effort and have a wilder margin of error. Enter the temperature controller — these handy attachments basically do the work for you. While you still need to monitor fuel and hardwood levels, a solid temperature controller follows your pre-programmed settings to adjust airflow & keep your cooking chamber at your desired temperatures. Their results and ease truly speak for themselves.
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Remote BBQ Thermometers
Temperature is, by far, the most critical factor within your smoker (and your meat — food safety first!). Most backyard grillers keep a meat thermometer on hand, but a good wireless or remote probe is a serious quality-of-life boon. You’ll especially appreciate one with multiple probes; they allow you to monitor your smoker’s heat and your food’s internal temperature at the same time, and sometimes offer helpful, programmable temperature alerts or alarms.
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Smoking Drip Pans
Whether it’s a dripping catcher beneath your latest conquest or a water pan between the meat and the heat, these are an important barbecue mainstay. Traditionally, water pans are more in the water smoker purview… but we still firmly recommend you always use a water pan in any smoke. Their very nature stabilizes temperature by absorbing and redirecting heat. The evaporative moisture also raises relative humidity, keeping your precious meats from drying out.
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Hot, dry air moving through your smoker generally dries out the surface of your meat — this results in a layer of crust (we call it “bark”) that holds those succulent juices hostage. Now, bark’s not a bad thing. But there’s a sweet spot, and it takes finesse to get there if you want your juicy, well-seasoned meats to stay that way. Seasoning isn’t so great at moving through dried tissues; wetting the surface gives your rubs and seasonings, particularly salt, a little boost in bringing flavor to the bigger picture. Plus, smoke sticks better when the meat stays wetter!
We strongly recommend grill covers for every type of grill, but they’re especially important for pellet smokers. These grills contain electrical components that are essential to operation, and if they were to become wet, your pellet cooker would basically become an expensive paperweight. The only way to be totally confident that excess water won’t creep into the guts of your grill is to use a grill cover that fits your specific model.
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Marinators & Injectors
Don’t you want your meat extra tender, extra juicy, extra tasty… and extra everything? Marinade can take it there. Injecting before a long smoke works flavor deep into your meat; even an overnight marinade firsthand helps seasoning (especially salt) infiltrate the deepest layers, supporting deliciousness throughout the entire cook.
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Heat Resistant Gloves
A great pair of grill gloves turns a painful headache into a walk in the park: for brisket alone, there come points when you must handle the meat to wrap, unwrap, place into an ice chest to rest, and so on. On the other hand (ha!), steel smokers can get incredibly hot to the touch. Outfit your fingers with heat-resistant gloves, and you’ll be free to safely adjust vents, maneuver drip pans and cooking racks, and more.
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Charcoal, Pellets, & Lighters
The fuel you consume with each cook is more recognizably finite. Having enough of it on hand for long cooks is a real concern. Pellet smokers generally boast large hoppers (but extra fuel never hurts); charcoal and wood-burning smokers require some fine-tuning, but either one needs fueling upfront and potentially throughout. Charcoal lighters make a fiddly process easy and consistent, especially with all-natural lump charcoal. Remember — nobody likes the taste of lighter fluid.
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