Should I put a water pan in my smoker?

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It might seem weird to use water with smoke in a barbeque, but using one may be an excellent option for low and slow techniques.

Many people use water pans with the idea that water (steam) is used to add moisture to items, but they can be used for so much more than that. We will find out what and answer some of the questions below:

  • Should I use a water pan for brisket?
  • Should you use a water pan in a pellet smoker?
  • Does apple juice in a water pan for smoking pork work?
  • Where to put a water pan in an offset smoker?

Why a water pan, among other possible ideas?

Some of the common answers to that would be:

  • Water is a good element for controlling the temperature, specifically low temperatures. Due to water’s ability to have evaporative cooling, once it boils, the steam allows the cooking chamber to work at low heat, which is perfect for slow barbecues.
  • Water also works as an accessible heat sink that makes the chamber’s temperature even in all areas, and it helps in the balanced cooking of the foods. It also helps to control any potential hot spots and heat instability.
  • One of the best uses of a water pan is moisture production in the cooking chamber. The process allows the meat to become dry and gain moisture continuously. This, in turn, builds the “bark” that’s full of flavors.
  • It also causes the meat to cook longer, thus making it more tender and moist at the end. In a smoker using direct heat, having a water pan helps block the heat from burning the meat.
  • This may not be an issue for many, but the water pan can also help collect the excess grease that falls off the meat, making the grill easier to clean.

Should I use a water pan for brisket?

The idea of using a water pan for brisket may primarily depend on personal preference. But apart from that, it’s not a bad idea to use it.

You could use a water pan if you want the brisket to have more moisture circulated throughout its cooking. 

Most brisket recipes may recommend temperatures of 225 F, so by adding a water pan, the heat becomes easier to control. This could help you in avoiding hard and crusty barks.

To test if you would prefer the pan, try two types of cooks where you use the water pan in one and avoid in the other. That way, you may get an idea of what works better for your tastes.

Should you use a water pan in a pellet smoker?

In general, most pellet smokers may not require a water pan, but if you are keen on having controlled temperatures, adding one might be okay too. 

If you’re concerned about where to put the water pan, you can keep it in the cooking grate then place a cooling rack on top of it to keep the meat, or if there’s no room, you could get an extra upper grill that fits your smoker. 

But if you do small portions, keeping the pan on the same grate beside the meat is acceptable. 

Do you put water in a pan in an electric smoker?

The best use of a water pan is temperature control. Electric smokers are easiest to handle due to the amount of freedom you get in heat control.

 With that in mind, one may like to use a water pan while others may not.

You can put a water pan if you want more steam in the cooking chamber or avoid overheating the smoker.

Some smokers like the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker come with a removable water pan. You could use it if you care a lot about the meat drying out or having good heat regulation. 

Do you need a water pan to get a smoke ring in an electric smoker?

This claim can differ with opinion, but the common idea is that a water pan can help because it lets the smoke stick to the meat.

But first, we have to understand the science behind smoke rings. 

Carbon Monoxide(CO) and Nitric Oxide(NO) reactions cause the formation of smoke rings. This can happen only when there’s enough smoke produced inside the smoker.

In simple words, if there’s a lot of gas and moisture in the chamber, smoke rings may form on the meat. 

Although it may be easier to achieve these rings using charcoal or wood-powered smokers, an electric smoker could make it work by adding charcoal briquettes or hardwood sawdust along with high heat.

A water pan might help in this process by creating the moisture needed for the smoke to settle onto the meat. 

Just be aware that it could become a long-time and energy-consuming process.

Where to put a water pan in an offset smoker?

Adding a water pan in an offset smoker is a good idea to control heat spikes or moisturize the meat. 

To put one in your smoker, you could include a different platform or rack below the main cooking grate, and if it’s not possible, you can simply keep the pan on the same grate as the food.

How do you keep the meat moist in a smoker?

We can keep the meat moist by either holding a water pan in the cooking chamber or spritzing water every couple of hours. These two techniques can have different results depending on the amounts, but the usual result would be more moisturized meat.

Does apple juice in a water pan for smoking pork work?

Contrary to popular belief, adding anything else but water in a water pan is little to no use.

This is because the main point of a water pan is to control temperatures in a cooking chamber while also adding moisture to the meat.

Indeed, adding apple juice may make the cooking station smell nice, but it won’t impact the food itself unless you have a professional sense of taste.

But if you want to add some flavors through the apple juice, you may choose to spritz it onto the meat every two hours or so. This can be more effective than keeping it in a water pan.

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.