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How to Keep a Smoker Going Overnight (Tips for an Overnight Smoke)

How to Keep a Smoker Going Overnight (Tips for an Overnight Smoke)

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Just about everyone who has ever worked with a smoker knows that it can take an extraordinarily long time for things to smoke properly. This can sometimes mean that you are left smoking something overnight.

If you are someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time smoking meats before, you might not know the best way to keep a smoker going overnight, when you can’t necessarily keep watch over it.

Considering the fact that many people manage to make this work, you can rest assured knowing that there are plenty of ways that you can get the job done.

First things first, you need to think about the supplies you will need to get the job done. As you might be able to imagine, you are going to need some different supplies than you would normally use to smoke meats when you are there and able to tend to the smoker.

Generally, you are going to want to look for much larger chunks of wood that you can add to the coals before you go to bed. You are also going to need to keep in mind that some of these methods take time and practice to perfect, so you shouldn’t cook your best meal first if you aren’t used to overnight smoking.

You will also need to know some tips on the best way to retain heat within the smoker so that even if the fire does die down over time, the heat from the smoker will continue cooking the meat while you sleep.

What Should You Do to Keep the Heater Warm?

If you are working with a thinner metal smoker, you should make sure that it is insulated. As you might be able to imagine, that is going to help it retain the heat, which will also mean that you won’t need to invest in as much wood to keep everything going.

When it comes to the placement of the logs and charcoal, you are going to want to make sure that the logs are as close to the vents as they can get, while the charcoal remains as close to the meat as it can get.

This helps keep the meat from being completely burnt from the fire, and it will also ensure that the logs are burning close to their source of oxygen.

This should go without saying, but when you are placing the logs and charcoal in the firebox, you are going to want to use up as much space as you possibly can. In an optimal situation, you will want to have the firebox so full that the lid should pop up just slightly, but not enough to affect its durability or its ability to open and close. The more that you cram into the firebox, the longer you will be able to keep a fire burning.

You should consider using a trick that is a twist on the popular minion method of smoking meats. This involves placing an unlit piece of wood or charcoal underneath the logs of wood.

As the burning fire heads toward the unlit portion, the fire will flare back up and send the fire back upward. This helps keep the fire going for as long as it can go.

You should typically be using fattier meats when you are using this kind of cooking method. A good slab of fatty meat can help the fire kick up as the fat burns, and while this happens, the meat itself isn’t going to get burnt.

This is a good way to burn the fat off the meat, while also keeping the fire going throughout the long, long hours of the night.

This will take a bit of time and effort, but you should try and figure out what the best vent placement is. This will help you get a good idea of how you can adjust the vents so that they still allow the fire to burn, but won’t let anything affect the fire inside the smoker.

Finally, you should remember that logs always work better than chunks of wood. Chunks tend to burn considerably faster than logs, and when you need to have something slow-burning overnight, this is not the best fuel that you could use.

Logs, on the other hand, take a much longer time to completely burn up, allowing you to make the most out of it.


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Joan Sanborn

Sunday 11th of October 2020

Hi Ben, Love reading about your tips and recipes for the BGE. I would love to know how you prepare and smoke a 16 lb. brisket. What temp, how long to smoke, and what type of wood you use to smoke. I look forward from hearing from you soon, Joan

Ben Esman

Monday 19th of October 2020

The good old brisket can be a tough one to nail, but when mastered, it is absolutely delicious. After trimming I usually put a thin layer of yellow mustard on the meat followed by a moderate amount of either Cow Lick or Raging River by Dizzy Pig. The Cow lick spice barely beats out the Raging River in my opinion. I recommend setting the BGE up for a indirect cook (feet facing up) and getting it dialed into around 225-250 degrees. Brisket cooking time varies by the piece of meat but is usually around 50 mins per pound. So a 16 lb brisket is 800 minutes or about a 13.5 hour cook but don't be surprised if it stalls out around 160 and pushes the cook to a 15 hour cook. With the stall being common, I also shoot for 3 hours prior to dinner time as it is also best to wrap the brisket, put it in a cooler and let it rest for 1-3 hours. This will not only help tenderize the meat but also allow you to get your sides going. When pulling, the brisket should achieve tenderness between 195 and 205 degrees in which you'll want to probe it for tenderness. When sticking a fork in, it should slide in and out like butter without any resistance. Once achieved, wrap it in tin foil and get it in the cooler until the sides are ready for dinner (1-3 hours). As for smoke, I just use regular royal oak lump coal without adding any flavored wood and get great results. Good Luck!