Operating a smoker grill doesn't have to be rocket science. It is a myth that you have to have special training in order to properly use a smoker grill, but that just isn't true. Oftentimes, just following a few simple steps and using common sense is enough.

Smoker grill with a side saddle.

Step 1

Make sure your grill is on a hard, flat surface and is away from any trees, brush, buildings or structures. You should be using a grill with which you are familiar and one that suits your specific grilling needs.

Step 2

Fill the charcoal pans with charcoal briquettes in a pyramid form to get a nice bed of coals once you spread them out, coating them with lighter fluid. Hickory, apple or maple wood chips tend to provide the best flavor. Soak the chips in water to prevent flair-ups, adding approximately 1/2 a cup to the charcoal or as desired.

Step 3

Add water to the water pan. Light the charcoal first and then the wood chips using a long match or fireplace lighter. Let them burn 15 to 20 minutes, or until no flames appear. Usually, charcoal will turn a light gray color from the original black color. Next add your water-soaked wood chips, and let them get hot for about 5 to 10 minutes, but not burn. Place the lid over the grill, and open the vents immediately upon adding wood chips.

Step 4

Place meat on the grill. If seasoning the meat, only use dry rubs, adding them during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Monitoring the temperature of the smoker, make sure you add more coals or wood (about 15 briquettes every hour) accordingly to make sure you are maintaining consistent temperature during the cooking process. Keep the water pan full, and rotate the meat as often as possible. Using a meat thermometer is also a good idea.

Step 5

Put the preferred flavored chips into the side saddle, if using a smoker grill with a side saddle. You put the meat into the main part of the grill. This is different from the traditional smoker grill because it only uses the smoke to cook, rather than the heat and the smoke.

Cedar planking method used for grilling shrimp

Try cedar plank smoking, typically used to cook fish. It works by keeping the main heat to one side of the grill and allowing the smoke do the actual cooking of the fish. You first soak the cedar plank in water. The moisture of the board is what will create the smoke and the flavor because the water absorbs the cedar smell.